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Meet the Press - November 19, 2017

NBC News - Meet the Press

“11.19.17.”

ANDREA MITCHELL:

This Sunday politics, sexual harassment and re-examining old adages. Nine women now have come forward with accusations against Republican Roy Moore.

TINA JOHNSON:

He just grabbed my behind.

BEVERLY NELSON:

I thought that he was going to rape me.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

But Moore and his supporters remain defiant.

ROY MOORE:

And I'll quit standing when they lay me in that box and put me in the ground.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Are Republicans better off without Roy Moore in the Senate? Then, Democratic Senator Al Franken facing his own accusation.

LEEANN TWEEDEN:

He just mashed his lips against my face and he stuck his tongue in my mouth so fast.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

And now the country is revisiting previous allegations and denials. My guests this morning, Republican

Congresswoman Barbara Comstock and Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Dingell. Plus House Republicans pass their tax plan.

HOUSE SPEAKER PAUL RYAN:

This is about getting hardworking taxpayers bigger paychecks, more take-home pay.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Now it's the Senate's turn.

SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D-OH):

I just think it would be nice just tonight before we go home to just acknowledge, well, this tax cut really is not for the middle class, it's for the rich.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Is the tax plan really for the middle class? I'll ask White House budget director Mick Mulvaney and Republican Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri. Joining me for insight and analysis are Amy Walter, national editor of the Cook Political Report, Robert Costa of the Washington Post and PBS' Washington Week, Joy Reid, host of AM Joy on MSNBC and Rich Lowry, editor of National Review. Welcome to Sunday, it's Meet the Press.

From NBC News in Washington, the longest running show in television history. This is Meet the Press with Chuck Todd.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

And good Sunday morning. I'm Andrea Mitchell. Chuck Todd is off today. When the stories about Harvey

Weinstein first broke last month many thought the outrage over sexual misconduct would pass like a summer storm. Now it feels more like climate change with nine women coming forward with accusations against Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore, Republicans are trying to figure out whether to accept him, disown him or if necessary, expel him. Then just as Democrats were enjoying Republican hand wringing over Moore came the compelling accusation by a radio host and former model against one of their own, Senator Al Franken, of Minnesota. And if that were not enough the national revulsion towards this kind of behavior is forcing Republicans to, again, confront the fact that the president from their own party stands accused by more than a dozen women of sexual misconduct. And it has compelled Democrats to reexamine their unwavering support for Bill Clinton, especially how quickly they once dismissed charges against him as pure right-wing politics. Still this week's accusations against Moore and Franken differed in degree and in their response.

ROY MOORE:

Yes, I have taken a stand in the past. I'll take a stand in the future. And I'll quit standing when they lay me in that box and put me in the ground.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Roy Moore now facing accusations from nine women including molesting a 14-year-old, assaulting a 16-year-old and unwanted sexual advances.

TINA JOHNSON:

He just would grab my behind. I mean Forcefully grabbed it.

BEVERLY NELSON:

I was terrified. He was also trying to pull my shirt off. I thought that he was going to rape me.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Moore denies all of the claims and defended by his wife says he wills say in the race.

KAYLA MOORE:

Even after all the attacks against me, against my family, against the foundation and now against my husband he will not step down.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

A Fox News poll shows Moore now trailing Democrat Doug Jones by eight points amongst likely voters, while Senate Republicans call on Moore to get out.

SEN. MITCH McCONNELL (R-KY):

I think he should step aside.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

President Trump is dodging questions.

REPORTER

Should Roy Moore resign, Mr. President?

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Leaving responses to the White House staff.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS

He said if the allegations are true he should step aside.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

But Mr. Trump was quick to weigh in on new allegations against Democratic senator Al Franken tweeting, "The Al Franken signed picture is really bad. Speaks 1,000 words. Where do his hands go in pictures two, three, four, five and six while she sleeps?" The picture is this one of Franken in 2006 before he was in politics. Radio host Leeann Tweeden says he forcibly kissed her while rehearsing for a skit on tour with the USO.

LEEANN TWEEDEN:

He stuck his tongue in my mouth so fast.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Franken has apologized.

LEEANN TWEEDEN:

Dear Leeann, I want to apologize to you personally. I don't know what was in my head when I took that picture but that doesn't matter. There's no excuse and I understand why you could feel violated by that photo.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Many Democrats now calling for a Senate ethics investigation which Franken agrees to. By condemning

Franken the president is also renewing a focus on allegations closer to home. More than a dozen women came forward during the campaign accusing Mr. Trump of sexual misconduct after this Access Hollywood tape surfaced a year ago.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:

When you're a star they let you do it. You can do anything.

BILLY BUSH:

Whatever you want.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:

Grab them by the (BEEP).

ANDREA MITCHELL:

The White House is struggling to make a distinction.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS:

I think in one case specifically Senator Franken has admitted wrongdoing and the president hasn't.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Also getting new scrutiny President Bill Clinton who held a campaign reunion of his 1992 victory in Little Rock Saturday night, two days after Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand who the Clinton's helped elect said he should've resigned in the 1990s following the Monica Lewinsky scandal. In a radio interview Friday Hillary Clinton firing back.

HILLARY CLINTON:

This was a painful time not only in our marriage but in our country, as I've written about. But it was

investigated fully. It was addressed at the time. He was held accountable.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

And joining me now are two members of Congress, each of whom has shared stories that they’ve heard or experienced of sexual harassment on Capitol Hill. Republican Barbara Comstock of Virginia and Democrat Debbie Dingell of Michigan. Welcome, both.

First to you, both of you, about what you’ve experienced and seen on the Hill. Debbie Dingell, you’ve talked about experiencing sexual harassment over the course of your long career.

REP. DEBBIE DINGELL:

You know, on Friday, I wasn’t planning on going out and doing that “Me Too” moment because I know that there are consequences. And the point that I was trying to make on Friday was that there are women across the country - restaurant workers, tip waitresses, factory floors, law firms, corporations - so I don’t know a woman that doesn’t have a story, Andrea, in all places all across the country. And what are we trying to accomplish from this right now? And that is to look forward and how do we change the culture? And make this not - it’s safer for us to talk about it. But - if you’re from Hollywood or the Media or on Capitol Hill - though I got a lot of ugly comments on Monday or Friday. But also had a waitress that was 21 years old say to me, "You spoke for me today." A woman who told me, a 22-year-old woman, that her boss told her to close the door and get up on a table to dance. Let's really make this a watershed moment. That men and women across the country work together to look forward to changing the culture.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Barbara Comstock, we've been here before. I covered the Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill hearings. I was on Meet the Press that Sunday during that horrible weekend. And nothing has changed over these decades.

REP. BARBARA COMSTOCK:

I serve on the committee, the House administration committee, that had the hearings this week. And I shared a story that had been relayed to me anonymously.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

I wanted to ask you about that story.

REP. BARBARA COMSTOCK:

It was a friend of mine who told me about a victim who wanted to remain anonymous. But a current member, sitting member of Congress. I don't know if it's Democrat or Republican. I don't know who it is.

But asked this staffer to come over, bring some papers to his residence. And then arrived in a towel at the door. Had the staffer come in and then exposed himself. She left. She then quit her job and has now moved on. But my friend relayed this story to me to understand this is going on right now.

And I can tell you from the hearing that we had this week, we had a lot of consensus on the changes that need to be made. I got together with Congresswoman Jackie Speier and Congressman Byrne. And we both went through all of the items in Congresswoman Speier's bill and additional things that we want to put in the bill. And we're on the same page. And we're going to get mandatory training, universal, uniform anti-harassment, zero tolerance policies in place. We are not going to allow members to have any kind of fund pay for their harassment. That is universally agreed on. And we're also going to have better policies for the victims.

So I think this is going to be a change. And I think both Debbie and I want to keep the focus on these women who are experiencing this and use our voices in this moment to change this. And we've had a great response from both the men and the women on a bipartisan basis. And like Debbie said, people are coming up to us--

ANDREA MITCHELL:

But one of the things that came out of your hearing, congresswoman, is that $15 million was spent over the last two decades to pay off all kinds of harassment.

REP. BARBARA COMSTOCK:

--and that's been incorrectly reported. We don't know exactly what portion of that is. Because this includes the architect of the capitol, capitol police. It includes allegations against staff. So we're trying to find out--

REP. DEBBIE DINGELL:

And it's not all sexual harassment.

REP. BARBARA COMSTOCK:

--and yeah, it's age--

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Correct. No I was going to make that point.

REP. BARBARA COMSTOCK:

--age discrimination and wage and hours, overtime. But we're going to clearly say any kind of member harassment cannot come out of any fund. They have to pay that themselves.

REP. DEBBIE DINGELL:

And be transparent. You forgot to mention that. The other thing there's total agreement on is that if something is found that they must be transparent. We're going to try to find out. One of the problems that--

REP. BARBARA COMSTOCK:

And corporate America has been doing this for years.

REP. DEBBIE DINGELL:

For years. We were talking about how do we make this a movement that makes it across the country? What infuriates me is these confidentiality agreements so that they go and they do the settlement and nobody can talk about it. We should be talking about it on the Hill. We should be talking about it across the country. Let's look at what happened in Uber in Silicon Valley.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

But let's talk about politics here. Roy Moore, nine women have now come forward. Many people say credibly reporting actions, to someone who was as young as 14, a molestation. Forced sexual attention on a 16 year old. Congresswoman, do you find these women credible?

REP. BARBARA COMSTOCK:

Yes, I do. And last week I think I was the first woman in the House to come out and say, "You should step aside." I've been consistent on all these matters we've talked about because--

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Well, how do you view the fact that the president refuses to even comment on it?

REP. BARBARA COMSTOCK:

Well, I appreciate that the president actually was working with the White House and they've cut off funding to him. The National Senatorial Committee is not funding it. So you've seen people across the board, Ted Cruz, Mike Lee withdraw their support, say he should step aside. I still hope he will do that and do the right thing.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Roy Moore was tweeting saying--

REP. BARBARA COMSTOCK:

For that matter, Al Franken can go hit the door with him.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

In fact, Roy Moore was tweeting, “Al Franken admits guilt after photographic evidence of his abuse surfaces. Mitch: ‘Let’s investigate.’” Mitch McConnell. “In Alabama,” according to his tweet, “ ZERO evidence, allegations 100% rejected. Mitch: ‘Moore must quit immediately or be expelled.’” Is there a double standard here?

REP. DEBBIE DINGELL:

No, I don’t think that there’s a double standard. I think we’ve got to be very careful. I am going to say this: that everybody is entitled to be innocent until proven guilty. But when people come forward, there’s a large group of people, Al Franken’s going to the ethics committee, let’s see where that goes. Are there more stories? We can’t defend any of this. These gotcha questions. There is despicable, ugly behavior across the country. And men and women together - you know, here we are, a women’s panel - this isn’t going to get fixed. Men have wives, sisters, daughters, friends, families, we’ve got to fix this together and change the culture. And - by the way - it’s been going on for too long. It’s not just these men. There are a 1,000 names out there - many of them are dead now - let’s fix the problem.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Is Democrat--

REP. BARBARA COMSTOCK:

And let's get the focus back on the women too. The women--

ANDREA MITCHELL:

--is Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand wrong when she says that Bill Clinton should have resigned back during the Lewinsky scandal. Debbie Dingell?

REP. DEBBIE DINGELL:

I have 1,000 thoughts on all this. And, by the way, the names we're talking about now, you and I both know these stories go back forever. I want to go forward because I don't want to make sensational news. "Do you beat your wife?" I think it's despicable. I was a Tsongas delegate. But I think that we've got to focus on what the future is. Doing got you questions to people like us isn't going to solve the problem. And we've got to start moving forward.

REP. BARBARA COMSTOCK:

Well, and I think one of the things that we've talked about too is having these workplace surveys really understanding the problem. The politics is going to sort itself out. But for the women in our workplace, but also women workplaces across the country we need to make sure they are really understanding what the problem is, who are victims and we know predators target people who are weak and can't come forward.

So we need to use this moment where those of us who are in a position to do it can come forward and get - say there's going to be zero tolerance. We want it enforced in Congress, same rules as everybody else. And we want the corporate world and--

REP. DEBBIE DINGELL:

Across the country.

REP. BARBARA COMSTOCK:

--Hollywood, one of the things we're doing is saying Harvey Weinstein was running all these settlements and payments perhaps through his business. You cannot take a taxpayer deduction for that. That is going to end.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

We're going to have to leave it there. We'll see whether this is a change, a real change. Or whether it's just more of the same.

REP. BARBARA COMSTOCK:

We are committed to getting the legislation--

REP. DEBBIE DINGELL:

We all, all of us, have to bring about real change in this country.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Debbie Dingell, Barbara Comstock. Congresswomen, thank you both very much.

REP. DEBBIE DINGELL:

Thank you.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

And as we mentioned, Roy Moore is digging in, refusing calls from follow Republicans that he back down and get out of the race. Moore campaign strategist, Dean Young, spoke out this week on why his candidate is keeping his campaign going.

DEAN YOUNG:

What's happening is we're watching a coup attempt by the people of Washington D.C., the elitist, Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham and all that type. They're trying to stop an election of the people of Alabama before it even happens because they have already been beaten badly after they spent $31 million trying to beat Judge Moore.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

And joining me now is the Republican Senator from Missouri Roy Blunt. Senator, great to see you.

ROY BLUNT:

Good to be with you.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Thank you very much. So, Roy Moore is accusing Mitch McConnell and the rest of the Senate establishment Republicans of trying to drive him out of office. Is he correct?

ROY BLUNT:

Well, I don’t know if he’s correct or not, but we’re at a point now where really Alabama voters are going to make that decision and in the Senate, no matter who gets elected from Alabama or what happens with anybody else, we need to be sure that we’ve got an environment where people want to come and be part of that, where women are comfortable being part of that. My chief of staff’s a woman, my legislative director’s a woman, my press person is a woman. Wouldn’t want to have an environment where you couldn’t have the best people come, so we put together a working group, Senator Klobuchar and Senator Cortez-Masto and Senator Capito and I, Senator Shelby joined us, we proposed changing our rules so there’s mandatory um orientation toward these things. It shouldn’t happen, uh so people know what is perceived to be inappropriate and also to change the law, going back to the 1980s where it may have seemed reasonable at the time, but in the current law if uh you report harassment you’re the one that has to go into 20 hours of counseling--

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Right

ROY BLUNT:

-- before you can decide whether you were really harassed or not. That’s just totally inappropriate.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Now politically, are Republicans better off if Roy Moore wins or if he loses? If he loses the seat or whether he wins and Democrats think they have an issue going forward?

ROY BLUNT:

Well, you know I said that I thought the women's story was more credible than his response, that Alabama voters deserved a better choice. But they're going to have to make that decision. They know Roy Moore a whole lot better than I do. I've met him once. They've watched him at a pretty controversial career for 20 years. And we'll just have to see what they do.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

You say that the women's stories were credible. What about the women, more than a dozen, who came out during the 2016 campaign against President Trump? Were they credible?

ROY BLUNT:

Well, whatever whatever they had to say people heard that. And they elected President Trump the president of the United States. So at some point I think you have to let the voters have a say here.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Now with Al Franken Republicans are seizing on that. The president has been silent on Roy Moore since he came back from his trip in Asia. Yet he seized on Al Franken's misconduct, acknowledged misconduct. Franken immediately apologized and welcomes an ethics investigation. Not to excuse what he did but the fact that the president is so quick to jump on Al Franken but is so silent on Roy Moore, of his own party.

ROY BLUNT:

Well, you know I think somebody I think Congresswoman Dingell just said you're innocent until proven guilty unless you say you did it. And Al Franken of course has said, "I did this." He said, "I'm sorry," for it. But he's also said he did it. And uh I think the president understands you can be accused of lots of things in politics. And we'll see what voters decide.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

I want to briefly ask you about your own colleague in Missouri, Claire McCaskill, has talked about the fact that she was a victim of sexual harassment when she was an intern. Your own women colleagues have experienced this as well.

ROY BLUNT:

Uh-huh (AFFIRM). Well, absolutely. And it's totally unacceptable. And back to what I said to start with, in the Congress of the United States you want to have an environment where people are comfortable, wanting to work there, saying they work there, putting on their resume in future years they worked there without feeling like there was an environment that wasn't open and appropriate in both seeking opinions and uh seeking the kind of advice that the country and the Congress needs.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Now after event on tax reform which is the big issue facing the Senate now your colleague in Arizona, Jeff Flake, was caught on an open mic saying this.

JEFF FLAKE:

Come the party of Roy Moore and Donald Trump. We are (UNINTEL) toast.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

What about the political fallout from all of this and from the impression that this tax bill is opposed by 59% of Americans right now according to the Quinnipiac Poll.

ROY BLUNT:

Well, you know I think your comment there after a um event on tax reform. So all these things do is they take attention if we don't handle the environment correctly, if we don't have the rules correctly because tax reform clearly is going to affect the country, it's going to affect our economic future. Looking at the way that um the tax bill has been reported I could understand people's concern about it. But when you look at the real tax bill, both House and Senate, I think it's designed to do two things. One is to create immediately more take-home pay for hard working families. And the second thing is at the other end of the scale do whatever we can to be sure that there are better jobs in the future for those very same families. We've had eight years of economic stagnation for hard-working families. And this tax bill I think creates the opportunity to move dramatically beyond that.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

There's plenty of evidence from Republicans as well as Democrats that, first of all, the corporate taxes are permanent. The individual taxes expire in about a decade. And it blows a hole in the deficit of at least $1.5 trillion. But by many non-partisan estimates as much as $2.2 trillion if you take away the gimmicks to just get it under that budget ceiling for now.

ROY BLUNT:

Well, it doesn't take much in economic growth to uh offset both of those numbers. If we get back to the 70-year average of 3.2% growth instead of the Obama year average of less than 2, we're up to three already. We're anticipating in this bill 2.6.

And every every tenth a percent of growth there makes a huge difference in federal revenue. If you believe tax policy has economic consequences you don't statically score that. You score that based on what those consequences will be. And I've talked to lots of economists about this who are usually pretty gloomy who have been very optimistic that this bill does what we hope it would do in terms of making us more competitive all over the world.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

At a recent Wall Street Journal interview with Gary Cohn, of course the top economic advisor in the White House, they polled the audience, the CEOs in that group, "Who among you would actually reinvest this tax cut into your company and raise wages?" And only five people in this large group raised their hands. That has not been the history. Corporations don't reinvest this kind of money. And when have any of these projections actually proved to?

ROY BLUNT:

Oh, well, I think they do reinvest. And I think one of the things you do in this tax bill is you create an opportunity to bring maybe as much as $2 trillion back into our economy that's currently overseas because of our tax policy. You want to talk about a stimulus, we've never actually even imagined a stimulus that would be $2 trillion of other money coming back to the country. I've asked CEOs who have that money over there how much of it they'd bring back. Generally the answer is all of it that we haven't invested there. And that's most of it.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Is it going to pass the Senate?

ROY BLUNT:

I think we'll pass the Senate.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Thank you so much.

ROY BLUNT:

Thank you.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

And then of course has to be reconciled with the House which is another whole issue.

ROY BLUNT:

I think these bills are very reconcilable. On the big issues there's some things in--

ANDREA MITCHELL:

With or without the repeal of the Obamacare individual mandate?

ROY BLUNT:

It depends on where the votes are. I think the poor people pay that tax. 80% of the people that pay that tax have total family income of less than $50,000. It's one of the many fallacies of Obamacare, taxing the people that you theoretically are telling--

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Of course without the mandate though you could 13 million people could be--

ROY BLUNT:

Well, but the mandate--

(OVERTALK)

ROY BLUNT:

--all of the incentives and all of the copayments, everything else are still in there. There's nothing that changes in terms of people's ability to take full advantage of the parts of the ACA that encourage people to have insurance. It just decides you're not going to tax people for something that they think they can't afford to do.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Senator, we have to leave it there. Thank you very much. Good to have you here.

ROY BLUNT:

Good to be with you.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

And a quick programming note, Monday on The Today Show Savannah Guthrie will sit down with Leigh Corfman in her first television interview since she accused Roy Moore of sexual harassment when she was only 14 years old. And when we come back much more on Roy Moore, Al Franken and our changing definition of what is unacceptable behavior. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL NOT TRANSCRIBED)

ANDREA MITCHELL:

And welcome back. The panel is all here. Robert Costa of The Washington Post and host of PBS' Washington Week, Joy Reid, host of AM Joy on MSNBC, Amy Walter, national political editor of the Cook Political Report and Rich Lowry, editor of National Review. Welcome, all.First of all, I want to ask you, let's talk about Roy Moore. Andrew Sullivan wrote that, "There is a moment here that no party is immune from evil. No tribe has a monopoly of good. If these bipartisan sex abuse revelations can begin to undermine the tribalism that so poisons our public life to reveal that beneath the tribes we are all flawed and human they may not only be long overdue turning point for women, they may be watershed for all of us." Amy Walter, what do you think? We've been--

(OVERTALK)

ANDREA MITCHELL:

--here before.

AMY WALTER:

We do--We have been here before. I thought it was important that you raised the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas moment where it felt like the world had changed, sort of spun on its axis. We elected more women to Congress in 1992, a year after those uh hearings. And yet it's now 2017. It feels like we haven't gone very far. I feel like where we are right now though is that the dam has broken. And yet we don't know what to do with all the water. Right? So we say yes it's there. But now what do we do with the situation that we're in? And I don't think it's going to be solved in one election cycle with one candidate. And I don't think it's going to be solved for the whole host of other women who aren't in, as Congresswoman Dingell said, powerful positions or feel like they still are without a voice. They still feel scared and vulnerable.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Rich Lowry, Peggy Noonan wrote this weekend that, "The women of Alabama are now uh being challenged." He said, "Roy Moore targeted the deplorables." That was an intentional word. "They were people with no sway, no pull. Some of them in the presidential election voted for Donald Trump. There are better conservatives in Alabama than Roy Moore. Republican women rise up and raise hell. That would be real loyally-loyalty and to those who really are your own." What is the impact--

RICH LOWRY:

Well--

ANDREA MITCHELL:

--on Republicans in Alabama?

RICH LOWRY:

--I really think it should have been incumbent on the Republican Party to give their voters a better choice. And that would have meant fundamentally President Trump weighing in very heavily against Roy Moore and pressuring state party officials saying, "Look, you don't have a future in this party unless you find some way to leverage this guy out of this race. It didn't happen. Now Roy Moore is running the only race he can which is saying, "Look, all these attacks on me are attacks on you, my supporters," and envying against Mitch McConnell. And it really goes to the cynical demagoguery of the likes of Steve Bannon who if Roy Moore killed someone with an ax Steve Bannon would say, "It's Mitch McConnell's fault."

ROBERT COSTA:

But but -- There's a real challenge--

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Jump in here.

ROBERT COSTA:

--here for Republicans because in Washington the Republicans I'm talking to in the Senate, they feel totally boxed in. President Trump's not weighing in. He's not trying to get Moore out of the race. And they know if Roy Moore wins, the Senate--the Senate, if you're running next year, he becomes a huge burden.And if he somehow loses, the 52-seat majority becomes a 51/49 just as they're trying to pass tax reform. That's a very difficult situation when you have Governor Kay Ivey, a Republican woman down there, saying she's going to vote for Roy Moore. Mitch McConnell, the majority leader has sway. But not enough sway to change this race.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

He's viewed as part of the Washington establishment.

JOY REID:

But the fact that this is even a calculation, right, we're talking about something of such a different degree. You know you talks about all the past scandals. You talk about the Monica Lewinsky itch which was a clearly improper relationship. But we're talking about children. We're talking about multiple allegations of the abuse of children. And the fact that it's even a question I think speaks to the position that the Republican Party finds it's in morally. This should not be a question. And the fact that people are struggling with whether or not they should continue to support Roy Moore for reasons of party, politics, power and tribe is incredibly disturbing.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Well, is is the president's silence on this, Robert Costa, according to your reporting, because of his own past? And why did he jump on Al Franken then so quickly? Because that made it inevitable that people would be talking about his own record.

ROBERT COSTA:

Talking to people inside of the White House and around President Trump I said, "Why did he jump in on Franken?" And they say, "He could not resist. That he had to take a shot at Franken." But he's reluctant because of what happened last year with Access Hollywood. He knows he was able to escape that controversy and win the presidency. But he doesn't want to wade into his own experiences in the past. And so he's trying to have the best of both worlds, they tell me.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

How--

RICH LOWRY:

Can I say just partisan tribalism obviously affects both sides. And now all of a sudden we have a lot of liberals and Democrats are getting virtue on Bill Clinton saying things they could have said not just 20 years ago but could have said last year. And they're only saying it now because the Clintons are yesterday and the past of the Democratic Party.

JOY REID:

But they're yesterday. But the Republicans perennially drag them back out of the political crypt-- out of the political crypt every time they need an excuse for--

ANDREA MITCHELL:

But it was Kirsten--

JOY REID:

--what they're doing.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

--Gillibrand who dragged this out.

JOY REID:

Democrats always default to sort of self-immolation. It's what they do. Democrats torture themselves because it's part of being a Democrat. But I think uh uh the question of Franken and Trump I think is important because these two things took place one year apart.One year before that USO uh event at which Al Franken admits now and at least has attempted to repent of what he did in 2006, one year before that Donald Trump was saying, "Because I am a celebrity," which Franken was, "I can forcibly kiss women and I can forcibly grope them." The identical behavior that he was on Twitter attacking Franken for, again, admitting and apologizing and repenting for, he was boasting one year earlier that he could do that because he was a star.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

We're going to have to leave it there for now. We'll have a lot more time in a moment. But when we come back I'll talk to White House budget director Mick Mulvaney about the Republican tax plan and what did the Democrats say about the Senate's tax bill to make Republican Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah respond like this.

ORRIN HATCH:

What you said was not right. That's all I'm saying. I come from the lower middle class originally. We didn't have anything. So don't skew that stuff on me. I get a little tired of that crap.

(COMMERCIAL NOT TRANSCRIBED)

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Welcome back. House Republicans passed their version of a tax plan this week. And now the Senate is debating its bill. Democrats oppose the Republican approach because they say it gives big tax breaks to corporations and the wealthy while the effect on the middle class is unclear. Republicans argue that the top down cuts will spur economic growth that will create more jobs and higher wages for the middle class. That debate was at the heart of a heated moment at a Senate finance committee session Thursday between Democrat Sherrod Brown and Republican Chair Orrin Hatch.

SHERROD BROWN:

I just think it would be nice just tonight before we go home to just acknowledge, well, this tax cut really is not for the middle class. It's for the rich.

ORRIN HATCH:

But I’m gonna just say to you that I come from the poor people. And I've been here working my whole stinking career for people who don't have a chance. And I really resent anybody saying that I'm just doing this for the rich. Give me a break.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Joining me now is the director of the Office of Management and Budget Mick Mulvaney. Director Mulvaney, welcome to Meet the Press. So who is going to get the break, the middle class tax cuts, the individual tax cuts, they expire in a decade. The corporate tax cuts are permanent.

MICK MULVANEY:

Yeah, a couple different ways to answer that question. Keep in mind, one of the reasons, Andrea, that a lot of this different pieces and parts expire during the course of the ten years is simply to force this bill into these strange rules in the Senate. We're using what's called the Byrd rule in the Senate.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Right.

MICK MULVANEY:

We're using reconciliation so that we only need 50 votes in the Senate instead of 60. In order to do that the certain proposals can only have certain economic impact. And one of the ways to game the system is to make things expire. The Bush tax cuts back in early 2000 did the same thing. They supposedly would expire after nine years. What we tell folks is this is if it's good policy it will become permanent. If it's bad policy it will become temporary. That's just the way that it is. So this is done more to force, to shoehorn the bill into the rules than because we think it's good policy.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Isn't that an admission though that it's a gimmick. You're saying it's a $1.5 trillion tax cut. The impact on the deficit. But in fact, it's, according to most analyses, $2.2 trillion.

MICK MULVANEY:

Well, not most analyses.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Number one, because you're--

MICK MULVANEY:

According to one analysis I think I've--

(OVERTALK)

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Well, a non-partisan analysis. And the fact is that you're squeezing it into these rules. But you really do intend for it to be extended down the road which will explode the deficit even farther--

MICK MULVANEY:

Well, come back to your--

ANDREA MITCHELL:

--in future generations.

MICK MULVANEY:

--first point about the $1.5 trillion. That's the CBO score, the non-partisan CBO, Congressional Budget Office score. But everybody knows it's 100 percent static. It doesn't, it doesn’t consider the possible impacts on the economy of lowering taxes. It's sort of like saying if you sold this coffee mug last year, you sold a 100 of them for five dollars, this year you lowered them to four dollars, do you think you might sell more? That's dynamic scoring which is what the CBO scoring and what so many other outside groups that scored this have used. So we're absolutely confident that this will lead to economic growth. It's built into our models of the Office of Management and Budget. The Council of Economic Advisors looks as it as well. But, yeah, to the extent it's a gimmick, a lot of this is a gimmick. Obamacare was a gimmick to get through these rules in the Senate. And what you should really be looking at is the policies themselves. And we think these are excellent policies.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Well take a look at what economists from both political parties have said in the past. We've got economists such as Douglas Holtz-Eakin. He said, "There's just no evidence that the tax cuts actually pay for themselves." Jared Bernstein, a Democratic economist working for Joe Biden said, "Cutting taxes loses revenues." Greg Mankiw, president of Council of Economic Advisors for Bush, 43, said, "About 1/3 of the cost of the tax cuts is recouped via faster economic growth." Never in history have we had the kind of growth from tax cuts that pay for themselves.

MICK MULVANEY:

We have a tremendous opportunity here and I think one thing that gets overlooked is that the country's sort of operating at the new normal. In fact, it was until President Trump got elected. So for the last eight years we're averaging below 2% growth. You go back to that Congressional Budget Office and that's what they think the new normal is. That forever and ever and ever the country will only grow at 1.8 or 2% growth. Since President Trump got elected we're growing at 3% and we think we can sustain that.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

3% only for the first quarter. That's not annualized. That's not a 3% annual growth rate.

MICK MULVANEY:

Actually it was three percent in the second quarter, it's three percent in the third quarter. We're looking now probably having three percent in the fourth quarter. That's even with the hurricanes in the middle. So we do think we're actually there. Now granted, we have to have additional policy changes to make that sustainable and tax reform is part of that. But the amount of money that generates not only for you, me and the ordinary American, the amount of money that generates for the government over the ten years is $2.5 trillion.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Well, President Trump said that he would get nothing from this tax cut. Let's watch.

(BEGIN TAPE)

QUESTION #1:

So you wouldn't benefit under your tax plan?

DONALD TRUMP:

No I don't benefit. I don't benefit.

QUESTION #2:

You don't think--

(OVERTALK)

DONALD TRUMP:

In fact--

Question #2:

--benefit?

DONALD TRUMP:

In fact, very, very strongly as you see, there’s no -- I think there's very little benefit for people of wealth.

(END TAPE)

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Now we only have one year of tax returns because he has failed, refused, he's the first president in modern history to not release his tax returns. We have the 2005 1040 from President Trump. Our independent NBC news analysis of that showed that he would, himself, he and Melania Trump would gain at least $22 million from this tax cut from the estate tax as well. His heirs would benefit $1.1 billion. So it's not true that the president would not benefit from the tax cut.

MICK MULVANEY:

Yeah, I can't speak to the president’s taxes. I think that was sort of litigated by the American public during the election. I will say this, listen, the president's going to pay much higher taxes on a lot of his properties, excuse me, because of because he has properties in high tax states. So I laugh every time I come on networks like this, they accuse us of cutting taxes on the rich. Every time I go on different networks, and you may understand who those are, they accuse us of raising taxes on the rich. So I think it looks -- depends on how you want to look at it.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

We're not taking a political point of view here. We are actually going by nonpartisan groups like the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, all the impact on the exploding deficit which will impact future generations. I do want to ask you though because the president has refused to talk about Roy Moore since he's back from his trip. And the White House is saying that, well, he said on the Air Force One he would talk about Roy Moore in Alabama. You were a member of Congress. This debate over sexual harassment now has spread to politics as well as to every industry starting with Harvey Weinstein. Let's talk about Roy Moore and whether or not he should be the Republican nominee and whether he should be seated if he's elected.

MICK MULVANEY:

I do think the president has talked about Roy Moore. I think he said that he thinks the voters of Alabama should decide. I think that's probably the most common sense way to look at it. He doesn't know who to believe. I think a lot of folks don't. I think the way--

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Well, nine women have come out. Many of them since the president came back from Asia. He's said not a word. He's ducked every question.

MICK MULVANEY:

And the allegations are very serious. And they should be taken very seriously. But ultimately these are up to the voters in the state. You and I are here in Washington D.C. To think we know what's going on on parts of the country, we're just--

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Well, if the president has been silent, which he has been on Roy Moore, then why did he jump all over Al Franken? The minute that an acknowledged episode of this behavior before Al Franken came into politics. That, in fact, was something that the president tweeted about immediately.

MICK MULVANEY:

Well, I think one of the significant differences there, Andrea, is that Franken admits it and Roy Moore denies it. So I do think that puts them in two different categories.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Do you believe that the women who've come out against Roy Moore are credible?

MICK MULVANEY:

I believe they're credible. I don't know who to believe. Again, I'm at the Office of Management and Budget--

ANDREA MITCHELL:

You don't believe them?

MICK MULVANEY:

No, I said they're credible. I don't know who to believe. And I do think, as the president said, that --

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Well, if they're credible--

MICK MULVANEY:

--voters should decide.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

--why wouldn't you believe them?

MICK MULVANEY:

Andrea, I run the office of management and budget in Washington, D.C. You work for NBC News in Washington, D.C. My guess is we've not spent that much time looking at the specifics of these allegations. You've arrived at a certain conclusion because of a certain political persuasion. We're simply--

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Not because of a political persuasion at all. I’m -- I am simply asking whether you believe that they are credible. They have been out in public. They have spoken on the record. Some were brought, some stories were brought out by Alabama journalists in the local newspapers down there, not just by The Washington Post. And I have no political axe to grind here other than to ask you whether you believe they are credible.

MICK MULVANEY:

I believe that the folks who vote in the Alabama election are gonna ultimately decide that. And that's the right folks to make those decisions.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

And when you were in Congress do you think that there was sexual abuse going on? Were you aware of it?

MICK MULVANEY:

I never saw anything like it. I really didn't. And maybe it was just the group of men and women that I hung out with. But I never saw anything like that. I believe folks who are saying now that, you know, they think it's been there, they've seen evidence of it, I think actually there was some hard evidence of it that was referenced on an anonymous basis. So I have no reason to disbelieve those allegations. But I never saw it personally.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Director Mulvaney, thank you very much for being with us today. And when we come back, why Roy Moore could be more vulnerable in Alabama than you might think. Stay with us.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

And welcome back, it's data download time. Could Roy Moore win the Senate seat in Alabama despite allegations of sexual misconduct against him? It's true, Alabama is a deep red state. Donald Trump won there last year 62% to Clinton's 34%. But while many view Alabama as populous Republican country, ripe for a Moore victory, the state may be home to more skeptical Republican establishment voters than you think.

In the 2012 general election with Mitt Romney running for president Roy Moore was also on the ballot for Supreme Court chief justice there. Those two Republican candidates compare across the state. How did they? Well, Romney, the textbook definition of an establishment Republican won 61% of the vote for president in Alabama, while Roy Moore won 52% of the vote for chief justice.

Romney even won nine more counties than Moore did. Fifty-two counties for Romney versus 43 counties for Moore. Plus, Romney even did better in Moore's home county of Etowah. 68% for Romney compared to 55% for Moore. And of course this all happened long before those allegations of sexual misconduct about Moore came out publicly.

Sure, there are big differences between running for Alabama Supreme Court and for the U.S. Senate. But these 2012 numbers show that Moore has been a divisive figure even among Alabama Republicans for a long time. If that divide reemerges next month this could be how deep red Alabama elects a Democrat to the Senate on December 12th. And when we come back end game and what some Trump voters now say they think about the president.

(COMMERCIAL NOT TRANSCRIBED)

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Back now with end game. Okay, taxes, a lot of confidence among the Republicans that they're going to win this in the Senate. Amy Walter this does- you have to believe in trickledown economics, that all of a sudden all these tax cuts are going to boost the economy and really help the middle class after all.

AMY WALTER:

Yeah. Well, and I think for a lot of Republicans, especially a lot of Republican voters what they think they have in a President Trump is somebody who's a business person. I hear that over and over again from voters, even voters who aren't completely complimentary of this president. Saying, "Yeah, but at least he knows about business. That's why I trust him on the economy." The challenge is that they don't trust Republicans right now. The approval ratings of Republicans in Congress, quite low. And the approval ratings of the tax bill itself at best, at best, is mixed and ambivalent. And Republicans are spending more time right now worrying about getting the votes in the Senate than they are convincing voters that this is the right thing for the country. That's going to be a bigger challenge. Forget about what the vote is. If they succeed, are they going to be able to and are they willing to spend 2018 making a positive case or will that vacuum get filled by Democrats and others that are attacking it?

ANDREA MITCHELL:

And at the same time we've got this sexual harassment on both sides, not equivalent. But Roy Moore front and center. Robert Costa?

ROBERT COSTA:

Roy Moore is front and center. And Republicans are worried he could lose that race or win that race it's a problem for them. On taxes I don't buy the confidence yet based on my reporting. You've got Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

They think they've got him. They think they have a fix for him on small--

ROBERT COSTA:

They think--

ANDREA MITCHELL:

--businesses.

ROBERT COSTA:

--they have a fix. But, look, you talk about trickledown economics. That still remains the core of the Republican Party, that Reagan orthodoxy. But this is a change party. You look at the discussions in the Senate, they're concerned about how this bill adds to the deficit. They're concerned about being seen as too pro-Wall Street, heading into 2018. McConnell still has some work to do.

JOY REID:

And not only that. But it has also become a proxy health care fight again because you, again, have Republicans talking about cutting Medicare, cutting Medicaid. This would trigger sequestration. You have Republicans even in the administration admitting that they consider social security disability benefits to be welfare. And saying, "Well, we're going to reform that and cut that as well." So, you know, Democrats will go back to the playbook of reminding Americans, "This is a rehash of trying to repeal Obamacare which, as we know, was incredibly unpopular, including with some very important--"

RICH LOWRY:

But given--

JOY REID:

--"Republicans."

RICH LOWRY:

--how the House majority the last several years has almost been ungovernable, it's a stupendous achievement that they passed this so quickly and so relatively easily in the House. And it is a good bill. If you put a gun to head to Democratic economists they would admit reforming the corporate tax code is good for the economy. And on the individual side it's not so much a typical Republican tax cut. There aren't big cuts at the top rate. And the Senate change this week I think was very important, big increase in the child tax credit. That is a huge benefit to middle class families.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

A lot of this is going to depend on how people think about the president himself. So I want to share with all of you something that NBC News observed a 12-person focus group this week in Wilmington, North Carolina led by Peter Hart, the Democratic partner in our NBC News Wall Street Journal poll organized for Emory University. And this group consisted of seven Clinton voters and five Trump voters. Peter asked the voters just how they feel about the president one year after his election. Watch.

JAMES, CLINTON VOTER:

He comes out and calls your names and these types of things. I mean, what are we in the third grade again? Come on.

MELISSA, TRUMP VOTER:

To me it's like firing out these tweets, it's just childish a lot of times.

ANNE, TRUMP VOTER:

When he's away, he's great being a president. He's the showman. But at home he's kind of like two-- I can't imagine how they let him build a country club let alone be in one because we don't behave that way.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

It's very clear from these conversations that many of these people say they would still support him, Amy, but support him for reelection. But they are not happy about Twitter.

AMY WALTER:

They are not happy about Twitter. And he's not up for reelection in 2018.

JOY REID:

Good point.

AMY WALTER:

His Republican colleagues are. And they don't want to have to be able to defend this. A lot of these people may show up for Donald Trump. Are they going to show up in a 2018 mid-term election if they're feeling frustrated about the fact that things aren't happening on the legislative front.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

And how are we still talking about the Clintons? After Kirsten Gillibrand came out with the New York Times and said that at this stage she looking back would not have supported Bill Clinton staying in office after impeachment and Lewinsky. Philippe Reines who is, of course, the long-time advisor to Hillary Clinton sent a warning shot across saying on Twitter, "Ken Starr spent $70 million on a consensual blank for Sunday morning television. Senate voted to keep POTUS WJC but not enough for you, Senator Gillibrand, over 20 years you took the Clinton's endorsements, money and seat. Hypocrite. Interesting strategy for 2020 primaries. Best of luck."

RICH LOWRY:

Well, she is a cutting edge on this I think, Gillibrand. Because what Republicans learned in 2016, you no longer had to defend George W. Bush. You could actually attack him, as Trump proved. And I think you'll see the same thing playing out in Democrats in 2020. You can disagree with the Clinton sand you can even throw Bill Clinton under the bus for his appalling personal conduct.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

But does the president having jumped all over Al Franken bring up his own past to the point where people are going to re-ask themselves, "How about the credibility of those women? More than a dozen women accusing him?"

ROBERT COSTA:

It's going to haunt Republicans in the coming year because you have Leader McConnell and other senators saying, including Mulvaney in your interview, they say the women are credible in the Roy Moore situation. Does that mean the women are not credible when it comes to President Trump? These are questions Republicans are going to have to answer.

JOY REID:

And let's not forget that Donald Trump faces a lawsuit from one of the women who he called a liar. So this is going to be adjudicated in part, his credibility versus hers. And look, the bottom line is Republicans have now decided to migrate to the position that we believe women, that we are going to believe women when they make accusations. Well, Donald Trump has more than a dozen women. Well over a dozen women who have accused him of behavior that he also bragged about in that Access Hollywood tape. They cannot escape the allegations against the president of the United States. And we should discuss it. And, the world, we talked about Clarence Thomas earlier. He's still sitting right there on the Supreme Court.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

We are going to have to leave it there. Thanks to all of you. And thanks for a great conversation today, Amy, Rich, Bob and Joy. And that's all for today. Thank you for watching. Everyone have a great, healthy, safe Thanksgiving. Chuck Todd will be back next week because if it's Sunday it's Meet the Press.

ANNOUNCER:

You can see more end game and postgame sponsored by Boeing on the Meet the Press Facebook page.

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