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Meet the Press - November 5, 2017

NBC News - Meet the Press

“11.05.17.”

(BEGIN TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:This Sunday, the Russia investigation grows. Two indictments one guilty plea, and the promise of more. President Trump denies any involvement with Russia during his campaign.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:All I can tell you is this, there was no collusion.

CHUCK TODD:And lashes out at his own Justice Department.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:I'm really not involved with the Justice Department. I'd like to let it run itself, but honestly, they should be looking at the Democrats.

CHUCK TODD:My guests this morning, two members of the Senate Intelligence Committee investigating Russian involvement. The chief Democrat on the panel, Mark Warner, and Republican James Lankford. Plus, Democrats in disarray. The former head of the D.N.C. says the Clinton campaign was so dysfunctional, she wanted to replace the Clinton/Kaine ticket with Joe Biden and Corey Booker. I'll talk to D.N.C. Chairman Tom Perez about that, and about the Democrats' must-win governor's race in Virginia on Tuesday.

NED BROOKS:This is Ned Brooks, inviting you to Meet the Press.

CHUCK TODD:And celebrating the 70 years of Meet the Press.

PRESIDENT KENNEDY:I have no doubt that I can beat Mr. Nixon.

PRESIDENT NIXON:The Watergate matter should've been handled properly.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:Elections matter, I think votes matter.

CHUCK TODD:The presidents, the candidates, and the newsmakers who have made history right here on Meet the Press. Joining me for insight and analysis are NBC News special correspondent, Tom Brokaw, Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan, Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson, and NBC News Capitol Hill correspondent, Kasie Hunt. Welcome to Sunday, for 70 years and counting, it's Meet the Press.

ANNOUNCER:From NBC News in Washington, the longest-running show in television history, celebrating its 70th year, this is a special edition of Meet the Press with Chuck Todd.

CHUCK TODD:Good Sunday morning. And welcome to our anniversary broadcast. It was 70 years ago tomorrow, on November 6th, 1947, 8 p.m. That's right, 8 p.m., that the first moderator of Meet the Press, Martha Rountree, brought viewers what we called "America's press conference of the air." It was brought to you by Maxwell House coffee, "Good to the last drop."Rountree's very first guest was James Farley. Of course, the long-time political aide to F.D.R. and of course, a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee. We have the current D.N.C. chair on today's broadcast, by the way. Throughout the morning, we'll bring you some of the familiar faces of presidents, candidates, and civil rights leaders who have appeared on this, the longest-running broadcast in television history.But we have a job to do and we begin with the Russia investigation and the walls closing in on people close to the Trump campaign and the White House. The more we've learned about the Trump team's ties to Russia, the more people in the president's circle have changed their stories.Attorney General Jeff Sessions, former national security advisor Mike Flynn, Mr. Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, his older son, Donald Trump Junior, and foreign policy advisors Carter Page, J.D. Gordon, and George Papadopoulos, who's pled guilty to lying to the F.B.I.In fact, it was Papadopoulos's guilty plea in particular, along with two other indictments this week by special counsel Robert Mueller that seemed to unnerve the White House and to prompt President Trump to lash out at his own Justice Department.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:I'm really not involved with the Justice Department. I'd like to let it run itself but honestly, they should be looking at the Democrats.

CHUCK TODD:As the special counsel's Russia probe begins to put pressure on Mr. Trump's inner circle, the president is stepping up his attacks on law enforcement.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:The saddest thing is that because of the president I’m the United States I am not supposed to be involved with the Justice Department. I'm not supposed to be involved with-- the F.B.I. I'm not supposed to be doing the kind of things that I would love to be doing. And I'm very frustrated by it.

CHUCK TODD:After Robert Mueller unveiled his first criminal charges this week against Mr. Trump's former campaign chairman and two other former aides, Mr. Trump lashed out in a fury of tweets. Everybody is asking why the Justice Department and F.B.I. isn't looking into all the dishonesty going on with crooked Hillary and the Dems.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:All I can tell you is this. There was no collusion, there was no nothing. It's a disgrace, frankly, that they continue.

CHUCK TODD:Meanwhile the number of contacts between the Trump campaign and the Russians continues to grow. And stories keep shifting. Trump campaign volunteer advisor George Papadopoulos pled guilty to lying to the F.B.I. by denying he was involved with the campaign in April, 2016, when he was offered, quote, "dirt" on Hillary Clinton. Including thousands of emails by Russian contacts. Mr. Trump once praised Papadopoulos.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:George Papadopoulos, he's an oil and energy consultant, excellent guy.

CHUCK TODD:But though the president frequently boasts about his memory, including last week.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:One of the great memories of all time.

CHUCK TODD:The president now says he has trouble remembering a March, 2016 meeting, at which Papadopoulos floated the idea of a campaign sit-down with Vladimir Putin, which never occurred.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:I don't remember much about that meeting. It was a very unimportant meeting. It took place a long time.

CHUCK TODD:Another campaign advisor J.D. Gordon who was also in the room, tells NBC that Mr. Trump listened with interest, but that then Senator Jeff Sessions, who is now attorney general, opposed the idea. This new information contradicts statements by the president.

REPORTER:Can you say whether you are aware that anyone who advised your campaign had contacts with Russia during the course of the election?

PRESIDENT TRUMP:No. Nobody that I know of.

CHUCK TODD:

And, it contradicts what Sessions has told Congress under oath.

SEN. AL FRANKEN:

You don’t believe that surrogates from the Trump campaign had communications with the Russians? Is that what you’re saying?

JEFF SESSIONS:

I did not and I’m not aware of anyone else that did.

CHUCK TODD:

Joining me now is the Democratic senator from Virginia, Mark Warner. He’s vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Senator Warner, welcome back to Meet the Press.

SEN. MARK WARNER:

Thank you, Chuck. First of all, congratulations to you, you and your team for 70 great years of journalism.

CHUCK TODD:

That I appreciate. Hopefully, we’ll be here for another 70. Let me start with what we learned this week or what you learned this week from the special counsel’s indictments. Do you believe that the fact we’ve already seen some stories change this week or additional information about either contacts with Russians or ideas of meeting with Russians -- do you feel like that’s all coming from the indictments, that this is the impact of those first indictments from the special counsel?

SEN. MARK WARNER:

Well, the committee itself has been aware of some of this information. We’ve been continuing to work. I know you’re going to have my friend James Lankford on later. I’m very proud our committee is the only bi-partisan group still looking at this. What we did see this week, though, was one more example of at least where the Russians had what appeared to be a fairly organized effort in terms of trying to reach out to folks affiliated with the Trump campaign to share “dirt” or emails about Hillary Clinton. We’ve seen it with the case of Mr. Papadopoulos. We saw it in the case of the so-called June 9th meeting with Donald Trump Jr. We’ve got a lot more questions to get answered. We’ve got a number of other individuals that we’re going to want to interview. Our effort is separate obviously --

CHUCK TODD:

Right

SEN. MARK WARNER:

--from the special prosecutors. But I think we’re both proceeding ahead.

CHUCK TODD:

But I’m curious. Does the threat of more indictments to come, which I’m sure many folks believe is happening, inside the Mueller probe, probably you expect them as well. Is that going to make folks more cooperative with your investigation. Or do you fear now that because the Mueller probe is intensifying that the fear of legal jeopardy will actually make them clam up with you?

SEN. MARK WARNER:

Well, we’ve actually interviewed literally a couple hundred individuals -- many times without actually even the knowledge of the press -- we’ve worked with a lot of these individuals cooperatively. We’ve got more to do. Obviously Mueller’s got a different lane and his people fall into the realm of legal jeopardy. They may be less willing to talk to us. But I’ve been very pleased so far in terms of the level of cooperation we’ve had from virtually everyone.

CHUCK TODD:

Is there a point, though, where you’re going to run into each other?

SEN. MARK WARNER:

Listen -- just as we -- if you look back in the days of the Watergate, there was a special congressional committee. There was also a special prosecutor. We’ve got different lanes. You know, they’re looking for criminal indictment. We’re trying to make sure that we find out what happened in 2016, was there collusion? We’ve got a different factual basis that we’re trying to hit at. And I think, you know, we’re going to have to find ways to de-conflict, and I think we will continue to do that.

CHUCK TODD:

Have you interviewed George Papadopoulos?

SEN. MARK WARNER:

Listen, I’m not going to talk about which witnesses that we’ve seen or not seen. But the chairman and I did indicate that Mr. Papadopoulos had been on our screen for a long time.

CHUCK TODD:

Okay. So you’re not confirming or denying whether you’ve interviewed him?

SEN. MARK WARNER:

I, again, what the chairman and I have said is we don’t comment on specific witnesses, but we put out a joint statement that Mr. Papadopoulos had been on our screen for a long time.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me ask you about former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and his son, Michael G. Flynn, I know there were reports that your committee was meeting resistance from them when it comes to cooperating with your investigation. Are you still meeting that same resistance with the two of them?

SEN. MARK WARNER:

Chuck, again, the way we get the kind of cooperation with the witnesses is, frankly, to not share the kind of weekly box score of who we’ve seen and who we’ve not seen. We’ve got a lot of folks that we have seen. We’ve more folks that we need to. And, end of the day, what we owe the American people is the truth and, most importantly, how we make sure that we don’t have a foreign power and a foreign power like Russia intervene again in our elections. That’s really important, whether it’s the potential issues around collusion or the kind of questions we’ve seen in terms of interference with 21 states’ electoral systems or the stuff that we dealt with this week in terms of some of the social media interactions.

CHUCK TODD:

Right. Let me quickly ask you about the Steele dossier. You’re the chair. Your partner there, Republican Senator Richard Burr said you’ve hit a brick wall on the Steele dossier. You had confirmed or had been able to rebuild it, I think is what he said, going back to June sort of uh, but you’d hit a brick wall in part because you hadn’t been able to speak to Mr. Steele. Have you still hit that brick wall or have you broken through it?

SEN. MARK WARNER:

Listen, I think the Steele dossier, there’s been lots of press interest in who paid for it. Obviously, we’ve got evidence now that there were Republican payments, Democratic payments. At the end of the day, what I want to know is what’s true in the Steele dossier and what’s not true. This is a fairly damning indictment out there, what’s in that dossier, and I wish Mr. Steele would sit down and talk to our committee. We’ve reached out. He’s refused to do so, so far. We still hold out the option that the chairman and I have said we’ll meet him anyplace, anywhere.

CHUCK TODD:

I want to ask you about something that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said about social media companies. I know you want to try to come up with some legislation that makes advertising more transparent. But listen to an idea he brought up with Hugh Hewitt on Saturday.

(BEGIN TAPE)

SEN. MITCH McCONNELL:

What we ought to do we regard to the Russians is retaliate, seriously retaliate against the Russians. And the, these tech firms could be helpful in having us, giving us a way to do that.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

What do you think of that idea, getting the tech companies to cooperate in a retaliatory strike of some sort against the Russians?

SEN. MARK WARNER:

Well, Chuck, I actually agree with the majority leader that we need a cyber doctrine. For a long time, I think we have had an incoming -- whether it was Russians, Chinese, others -- where we’ve had cyber attacks, misinformation, disinformation attacks. We need to have both defense and offensive capabilities. But I also believe we need to make sure that we apply at least the lightest touch possible. I was in the tech business for 20 years -- I’m pro-tech, I’m pro-innovation -- but I think at the basics, we ought to make sure that when we’re receiving political advertising, these companies would work with us to make sure that we identify if a foreign power is behind that advertising. I think Americans have a right to know.

CHUCK TODD:

Alright, Senator Warner, I have to leave it there for time. Senator, thanks for coming on and sharing your views. I appreciate it.

SEN. MARK WARNER:

Thank you, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

And joining me now as Senator Warner just previewed is Republican Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma. He too is also a member of the intelligence committee. Senator Lankford, welcome to Meet The Press, sir.

SEN. JAMES LANKFORD:

Good morning, you don’t look a day over 60, honestly I’m surprised you’re there for 70 years.

CHUCK TODD:

Well we’re Benjamin Button here, we’re growing older as we get younger. Let me ask you this, it’s a similar question to what I asked Senator Warner. At what point are you concerned that the special counsel’s investigation gets in the way of your investigation?

SEN. JAMES LANKFORD:

I’m actually not concerned about that at all, we have individual lanes, we have deconfliction that happens regularly, so they're focused on criminal investigations, we’re focused on armchair quarterbacking, making sure every witness has been seen, every fact has been checked and we’re going through the policy aspects, because long-term we have policy issues we have to discuss on how we handle elections, how we handle social media, how we’re handling classified information, how that’s getting out into the public sphere. Those are uniquely things that we will work on. The special counsel has things he will uniquely work on as well.

CHUCK TODD:

About a month ago on MTPDaily I asked you to define collusion. And you said it’s an issue of did any American work with a foreign power to be able to influence our election. That’s the key question that still has to be resolved. The George Papadopoulos news and guilty plea on lying to the FBI and at least making contact with a Russian. At that point, do you look at that as attempted collusion?

SEN. JAMES LANKFORD:

What I look at that is now surprise in this. The Russians were reaching out trying to find some way to be able to influence. The big challenge even as I mentioned at that time was was an American reaching back and trying to be able to engage with that. That’s something that George Papadopoulos told the FBI that he had not participated in. That obviously the Russians reached out to him, he seemed to reach back out to them and say, ‘sure, I’d be very interested in that.’ Now the next challenge is, did anyone else from the campaign do that? He was a volunteer, he was someone that seemed to advertise himself around the world as being more influential in the campaign than he actually was, and it looks like the Russians took the bait on that.

CHUCK TODD:

I gotta ask you, I know you’ve been trying to get information out of both the National Security Adviser Mike Flynn and his son Mike Flynn, Jr. What role do you believe Mike Flynn, Jr. may play in this investigation?

SEN. JAMES LANKFORD:

That’s actually what we’re going to try to ask and find out. We want to be engaged in all areas in that and ask them both of them every question we can possibly get out. At the end of this, as you and I have talked about before, a lot of Americans are going to say, ‘did you ask this person this question?’ We’re going to make sure all of that gets out.

CHUCK TODD:

Are they being cooperative? The Flynns?

SEN. JAMES LANKFORD:

I’m going to leave that up to the chairman and vice chairman to be able to determine how cooperative they’ve been in coming in and out. But I would say there’s a lot as you know with any investigation, where we build a lot of information before you actually meet with the final principals so you have the right questions to ask at the right time.

CHUCK TODD:

I want to ask you about a group of House Republicans that’s pushing for Bob Mueller’s resignation. It’s only three strong today, but given the narrative that’s being pushed more aggressively than ever about Democrats needing to be investigated here, how concerned are you that Mueller’s will be ousted before the work is done? Maybe the president’s upset, maybe it becomes some congressional resolution. Is that something that should be discussed?

SEN. JAMES LANKFORD:

That’s not a threat at this point. Bob Mueller needs to be able to finish his investigation. The challenge with any investigation like this is how long it can go on and how broad it could be. Again, you go back to the Reagan Administration, that special counsel was in place six years. They extend past even the Reagan administration being in office. We don’t want to see that, but I do think Bob Mueller needs to be able to do his investigation, do it independently, stay in place, use the resources he has and get finished as quickly as he can get finished as he gets to all the facts.

CHUCK TODD:

Do you think Congress needs to sort of codify his role to protect him?

SEN. JAMES LANKFORD:

No, I don’t. And there’s been a lot of back and forth to say, at some point the president said he doesn’t need to be there. I don’t think that’s the White House position. The White House has said over and over again they have no desire to be able to push him out. That shouldn’t be an action of Congress as well. Let’s let him finish his job as well.

CHUCK TODD:

I want to get your reaction to the president’s frustration I guess that he can’t order the Justice Department to do an investigation or he can’t order the FBI to do it. These attacks on the Justice Department. Are they proper and what is your reaction to it?

SEN. JAMES LANKFORD:

I think it’s a natural reaction of a president who doesn’t have a political background on it. I understand that full well. I don’t either on that. But he’s stepping in and saying, ‘hey, that’s not my role. They’ve got to do their job.’ We had similar conversations when President Obama dressed down the Supreme Court, when he made comments to the FCC and the FCC was an independent body. So I think it’s a natural reaction. President Trump says it a little more blunt. President Obama was a little more nuanced, but he also spoke about independent agencies or talked about the court, so we’ll allow the president to be the president.

CHUCK TODD:

I want to ask you about the attorney general though. At least one time he’s been caught misleading under oath. There’s some questions about whether he did it a second time. I think that would be an argument for some trial lawyers to have. But on its face it leads to be some misleading. How concerned are you about that?

SEN. JAMES LANKFORD:

I’m actually not concerned about it. Some of the statements about Jeff Sessions saying he didn’t know of anyone on the campaign. For George Papadopoulos to pop out during one of the foreign affairs committees that they had that was this advisory group and to say, ‘hey, we should get access to the Russians, I have access to someone in March,’ I just don’t think is that big of an issue. Again, it was a volunteer group, it was something the campaign turned down. It was an individual that was a volunteer that made that comment. What we’re looking for is internal, within the machine, within the paid staff as a strategic thing. Not did Russia reach out to some volunteer on the campaign and that volunteer tried to oversell their position. That is an issue the FBI needs to address, but we’re looking for systemic issues.

CHUCK TODD:

Quickly, just one question on the big tax bill because you yourself have said you know there’s going to be a lot more iterations of this that come out. Obviously the Senate has to put out. But I’m curious, do you have a red line? You’ve been a big deficit hawk in the past. If this increases the debt, is that something you’re comfortable with supporting even if the debt is increased given that you’ve been a pretty tough critic of increasing the debt in the past?

SEN. JAMES LANKFORD:

I’m actually not comfortable with increasing the debt. This is something that’s been a behind-the-scenes conversation for a long time. It’s one thing to be able to cut taxes, it’s another thing to be able to say, ‘how are going to deal with our debt and deficit?’ So my main focus has been whatever economic growth model we put in place has to be reasonable to be able to do it. So if we cut taxes right now, we’re expecting a .4 percent growth in the economy to be able to offset that. That’s a pretty conservative estimate of economic growth. Our economy for the past ten years has not grown above two percent, or about three percent a single year. We are stuck in a rutt. We’re going to have to bump the record player to get something going on the economy again and that we want to be reasonable on our assumptions to do it.

CHUCK TODD:

So if this tax bill increases the debt too much, you’re a no?

SEN. JAMES LANKFORD:

I am a no. I want to make sure we have reasonable assumptions in the process for growth estimates.

CHUCK TODD:

Alright, Senator James Lankford, Republican from Oklahoma, the state that hosted one of the craziest football games of the day yesterday. Thanks for coming on. Appreciate you sharing your views.

SEN. JAMES LANKFORD:

It was a pretty amazing day.

CHUCK TODD:That's for sure. When we come back, President Trump keeps saying he's not under investigation. Is that still true? And throughout this anniversary broadcast, we're going to show you some of the great moments and familiar faces that have appeared on Meet the Press over the years. So we're going to start with some of the men who have taken up residence just a few miles from our studios at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

(BEGIN TAPE)

NED BROOKS:Our guest today is Senator John Kennedy. Lyndon B. Johnson.

LAWRENCE SPIVAK:Gerald R. Ford.

BILL MONROE:Jimmy Carter.

LAWRENCE SPIVAK:Ronald Reagan.

MARTIN KALB:George Bush.

TIM RUSSERT:Barack Obama.

CHUCK TODD:Mr. Trump, welcome back to Meet the Press.

PRESIDENT KENNEDY:The Supreme Court has interpreted the constitution, so as to hold with segregation, it's unconstitutional.

PRESIDENT NIXON:The Watergate matter should've been handled properly.

PRESIDENT NIXON:Apart from the fact that it was wrong, it was stupid.

PRESIDENT REAGAN:Some people, when you say the word "conservative" automatically think you're talking about a monster who eats his young.

PRESIDENT CLINTON:I don't think that the president gets anywhere by making any comments on the press.

PRESIDENT BUSH:First of all, I expected to find the weapons.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:When I take executive action, I want to make sure that it's sustainable.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:It'll work out so well, you will be so happy. In four years, you're going to be interviewing me and you're going to say, "What a great job you've done, President Trump."

(END TAPE)

***COMMERCIAL NOT TRANSCRIBED.***

CHUCK TODD:Welcome back. Panel is here. A man who has sat in this moderator's chair, Tom Brokaw ... Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan, Kasie Hunt, of course, NBC News's Capitol Hill correspondent and host of MSNBC's “Kasie DC,” come on here, Let's Hear the Money Talk. Every time I'm going to try to come up with an AC/DC song for you. And Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson. Welcome all to the anniversary show. I promise we'll talk a little anniversary at the end of the show. So let's get to work here. I want the put up a graph that I'm curious if you all see this the way Garrett Graph in Wired sees it about Bob Mueller. “The approach then and now has almost always been similar, work on peripheral figures first, encourage them to cooperate with the government against their bosses, in exchange for a lighter sentence, and then repeat the process until the circle has closed tightly around the godfather or criminal mastermind.” Tom Brokaw, is that the Mueller strategy?

TOM BROKAW:Well, I've been talking to what are called members of the white-collar-crime bar here in Washington D.C. And that's pretty much how they see it. But what we don't know is what the endgame is going to be. So I think we always have to be very careful during these kinds of situations not to speculate about what is going to happen. We can deal with a process, but we don't know what the endgame is likely to be at this point. But everybody in Washington I've been talking to thinks that there's no way that Papadopoulos is not singing his heart out at this point. And that Manafort and Gates will have something to say as well that will help them in some fashion. Because prima facie, they're in a lot of trouble based on what we know right now.

CHUCK TODD:You know, Peggy, just after the indictments, it suddenly sounded like people's memories got better. You know, we started to hear about more Russia meetings.

PEGGY NOONAN:That'll happen. Look, I think the real headline here is that it is becoming clear that with a great deal of seriousness, Mueller and his special prosecutor office is going forward kind of thoughtfully, which is a very good thing. I think it's clear that this whole Russian question is a real cloud on the horizon of the Trump administration. Every day, they're getting up looking at the horizon, and the cloud is there. What one would hope for as things progress, and I sense also they may be speeding up, is that Mueller's office will go forward understanding that about half the country or more thinks that he's doing a necessary investigation, a good one, it'll be helpful. And maybe less than half, but still a number of Americans will think this is just the swamp hitting back.

CHUCK TODD:You know, Kasie, I asked James Lankford about that House Republican effort. It's only three strong now. James Lankford wanted to almost be very dismissive of it. What is the mood on Capitol Hill on Mueller?

KASIE HUNT:I think that there is a sense that they do really want the White House to stay out of the way. I do think if the president tried to interfere, he would face … he may be surprised by how much pushback he would face. Partly because I do think that they, just like the rest of the country, want to know where Mueller is going here. I mean, both investigations on Capitol Hill, to a certain extent, I think have started to fade into the background as much as Mark Warner obviously wouldn't want to say that.

CHUCK TODD:You don't want to say that.

KASIE HUNT:They have learned, I think, more than you might expect from the press. And that has helped drive some of the questions that they are asking. But I think the seriousness and speed with which Mueller moved, I mean, a lot of them I think were surprised by the news of last week about Papadopoulos. So it tells you a little bit I think about where things are going.

CHUCK TODD:Yeah, Gene?

EUGENE ROBINSON:Yeah, I mean, I'd say that's exactly right. A lot of people on the Hill, a lot of people in the country were surprised by Papadopoulos. We didn't know anything about that. So the big question is what else don't we know about. What else is Mueller working on that we don't know about? And I'm convinced there's something, but we obviously don't know. He's very good at keeping secrets. There's a name that wasn't mentioned last week, Michael Flynn. The Flynns are in some peril. And are they cooperating, is he talking to them? One assumes he's talking to them, he wants to, who knows?

CHUCK TODD:This president doesn't compartmentalize anything, Tom. So the minute there's something, he speaks. And it did seem as if he just lashed out, "I can't believe I can't order the F.B.I. to investigate the Democrats. I can't do these things." See, obviously that makes Republicans on the Hill a bit nervous that he keeps doing that.

TOM BROKAW:Well, it's always someone else's fault. This president, more than anyone that I can remember in my lifetime, is pointing fingers at everybody else, except himself. The president has elected not to be just the king. The president has elected to be our principal political leader in this country and to work with the other branches of government to get something done on behalf of the American people. But his whole modus operandi is to get up in the morning and say, "I'm great, it's all their problem." And even members of his loyal circle, and it's a very much smaller circle these days say, "Stop tweeting. We don't need to hear from you anymore." I was out in Wyoming, where people are still for him, but they're saying, "Just shut up for a while." The biggest single issue, in my judgment of this country, in a macro sense, is how do we bring the country back together again. And what he's doing is constantly trying to divide the country.

CHUCK TODD:Do you think we can bring the country back together before the Mueller probe ends? I mean, I don't, Peggy. I feel like that sits out there almost as a wet blanket on that issue.

PEGGY NOONAN:I think if at the end of the Mueller probe, people understand it was done not in a show-biz way, in a dramatic way, in a get-Trump way, in a the-swamp-hits-back way, but it was done soberly, patriotically, in a kind of moderate way, where you're not looking to do dumb stuff. You're doing really serious stuff. And they come up with serious conclusions and a serious report. It'll come to be respected and that'll bring things together on this issue.

EUGENE ROBINSON:Uh-huh (AFFIRM). Right.

PEGGY NOONAN:On this issue alone.

CHUCK TODD:Okay. On this issue alone.

EUGENE ROBINSON:There are other issues.

CHUCK TODD:Well, those other issues, we're going to get to in a bit. When we come back, actually ... word that the former head of the Democrat party wanted to dump the Clinton/Kaine ticket as late as last September. I'm going to talk to the current chairman of the D.N.C., Tom Perez, about that and more. But as we go to break, on this 70th anniversary, a look back at the moderators of Meet the Press over the years.

(BEGIN TAPE)

ANNOUNCER:And now, Miss Martha Rountree, producer of Meet the Press.

MARTHA ROUNTREE: And now who has the first question?

NED BROOKS:This is Ned Brooks.

LAWRENCE SPIVAK:This is Lawrence Spivak.

BILL MONROE:This is Bill Monroe.

MARVIN KALB:I am Marvin Kalb.

ROGER MUDD:I'm Roger Mudd.

CHRIS WALLACE:What is George Bush? Is he some kind of alien creature?

GARRICK UTLEY:Hello again, on Meet the Press today, the Middle East.

TIM RUSSERT:You are seriously thinking about running for president of the reform party.

DONALD TRUMP:Well, it may very well be.

TIM RUSSERT:If it's Sunday.

TOM BROKAW:If it is Sunday.

DAVID GREGORY:If it's Sunday.

CHUCK TODD:It's Meet the Press.

(END TAPE)

***COMMERCIALS NOT TRANSCRIBED***

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. Just days before Democrats face what many consider a must-win race for governor of Virginia, the former chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee has thrown a stink bomb at her party. Two, actually. Donna Brazile claims in her new book that before she took over the D.N.C., the process was essentially rigged in favor of Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders. And perhaps morealarming, Brazil writes that after Clinton's September 11th fainting spell, she considered trying to replace the struggling Clinton/Tim Kaine ticket with vice president Joe Biden and New Jersey Senator Corey Booker. And the Clinton campaign team responded last night in an open letter signed by a number ofstaffers, quote, "It is particularly troubling and puzzling that Brazile would seemingly buy into false Russian-fueled propaganda spread by both the Russians and her opponent about our candidate's health." Tom Perez is the current D.N.C. chair and he joins me now. Mr. Chairman.

TOM PEREZ:

Good morning.

CHUCK TODD:

Good morning.

TOM PEREZ:

Happy anniversary.

CHUCK TODD:

Thank you, sir. You and James Farley, from first guest to last this year here with 70 years in between, let me ask you this though. On that account of flipping the ticket, Donna Brazile on another show says that he was under enormous pressure to have a backup plan to do this. Is that a fair -- is that a fair response to all this criticism that she's been getting?

TOM PEREZ:

Well, you know, Chuck, first of all, I will answer that question very directly. But everywhere I go right now, we're focused on elections on Tuesday in Virginia and New Jersey. And what the people are telling me is they want to know how they're going to get their good jobs back, how are they going to get healthcare, how are they going to make sure they feed their family. And that's the focus of Democrats across this country. Now let me get back to a very important question. I have great respect for Donna. I consider her a friend. She's done a lot for the Democratic party. The charge that Hillary Clinton was somewhere incapacitated is quite frankly ludicrous. Hillary Clinton was a tireless senator, a tireless Secretary of State, and a tireless candidate.

CHUCK TODD:

So you agree with the Clinton campaign that Donna Brazile fell for Russian propaganda?

TOM PEREZ:

I don't know what Donna Brazile fell for. But all I know is under the rules and bylaws of the Democratic National Committee, she couldn't have done this. Hillary Clinton was anything but incapacitated. She was tireless. She was a work horse. And frankly, what, what saddens me about this as much as anything is I think people who read that charge, which is just without merit, are going to perhaps start wondering about other claims in the book.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. Let me ask you about other claims in the book, including this idea that essentially the D.N.C. was playing favorites. That the process, and I think she even says, "It wasn't a criminal act," but she thought it compromised the party's integrity. There's been some stiff reaction from progressives, Nina Turner, "The president primary – the presidential primary was rigged," Jeff Weaver, the former Bernie Sanders campaign manager called it a "laundering operation." Senator Elizabeth Warren told me that you're being tested and your vice chair said this, "Donna Brazile's account cannot simply be dismissed." Okay, Elizabeth Warren says you're being tested. How are you going to restore trust with Sanders supporters that the D.N.C. is, is going to be a fair place to— is gonna be a fair arbiter here for the party.

TOM PEREZ:

Hey, I accept every test because I ran for this office because I believe in this party and I knew we needed to up our game, Tim. I'm thinking of Tim Russert, because I'm a Buffalo guy, you've got to understand that Chuck. But here's, here’s my view on this. When I hear the word "rigged," let's be very clear. Hillary Clinton won the Democratic primary by four million votes. The Democrat National Committee does not run elections for primaries. The Republican National Committee does not run elections. States run elections. And those elections were run by the states. We run caucuses and Bernie Sanders did very well in the caucuses. Where I think both Senators Warren and Keith Ellison and myself, where we agree, is we have to earn the trust of the voters. And during the process of the Democratic primary, we fell short in that, undeniably. And I accepted that responsibility. And here's what we're doing about it. Number one, in the future, moving forward to 2020, we're going to be announcing our Democratic debate schedule before we know who the candidates are. Because the number-one goal has to be, to be fair and transparent. All of our fundraising agreements, our partnerships will be available to everyone, as they were actually in 2016. And then what we have to do is make sure we're also working with voters up and down America, rural America, urban America, everywhere in between to earn their trust.

CHUCK TODD:

But don't you owe the Sanders campaign an investigation? I mean, Donna Brazile put that charge out. Don't you and Keith Ellison, shouldn't you guys look back and see if her charges are true?

TOM PEREZ:

Well, again, I totally agree, Chuck, with the notion that the D.N.C. fell short during critical moments of the primary.

CHUCK TODD:

So they did play favorites? So she's right?

TOM PEREZ:

I think we have to, we have to do better is what we have to do, Chuck. And that's why I was very clear during our primary campaign, during the campaign for D.N.C. chair that we have to make sure that everybody feels at the end of the process that everyone got a fair shake. That's what we're about, Chuck, and that's what we have to do. That's how we earn people's trust.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. I've got to ask you about Tuesday's elections here. And there's been a lot of charges of who's running a hateful or angry campaign. Terry McAuliffe called Ed Gillespie's campaign "racist." But I've got to play for you this, this ad that a Latino group ran and then you're going to see a Virginia Republican ad response to it. Take a look.

[TAPE]

“RUN! RUN! RUN!" // "DRIVE A PICK UP TRUCK? DEMOCRATS THINK YOU'RE A RACIST. SUPPORT THE PRESIDENT? DEMOCRATS THINK YOU'RE A RACIST. IT'S DESPIACABLE AND IT'S WRONG."

[END TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

I'm sure you've been familiar with the ad itself and the controversy around the ad. And the Republican party's response, that it was basically, Democrats don't like it when, you know, when Republicans stereotype. Aren't you stereotyping? Are all pickup trucks--I drive a pickup truck. I mean, are all pickup truck drivers racist? That’s what the ad--do you understand why some people think the ad implies that?

TOM PEREZ:

Well, Chuck, let's be clear about what's happening in the race in Virginia and in all too many races, dog-whistle politics. Steve Bannon just endorsed Ed Gillespie in Virginia this morning. And throughout this campaign, Ed Gillespie has been fear mongering. He's been doing the same thing Donald Trump did. That's not fair. That's not right. Virginia, under Ralph Northam's leadership, under Justin Fairfax leadership, they're looking for a way to unite people. And Ed Gillespie, throughout the campaign, has been dividing people. And when you, when you hit the bully back, and the bully starts crying, those are crocodile tears to me.

CHUCK TODD:

The party have to do some soul searching if you don't win Virginia governor?

TOM PEREZ:

Oh, we're going to win Virginia governor. And I've been out there. And here's the thing, Chuck, I was out there literally yesterday, campaigning with Justin Fairfax, campaigning in a House of Delegates race. We had people from Our Revolution there, we had people from Swing Left there, we had people from the D.N.C. there. The people across America that I see every day in Virginia, New Jersey, and Washington State and district 45, they're moving forward. They want us to focus on the future. We're building that infrastructure of success. We've knocked on twice as many doors as we did four years ago when Terry McAuliffe won, and I'm confident we're going to win again this Tuesday both in New Jersey, Virginia, and many other key races across the country.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, we'll be watching. It's certainly going to be close and interesting. Tom Perez, chair of the D.N.C., thanks for coming on and sharing your views.

TOM PEREZ:

Always a pleasure.

CHUCK TODD:

You got it. Quick programming note. My colleague NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt is going to be reporting from South Korea tomorrow and Tuesday. Okay, President Trump is in the region as well. Coming up, why Democrats so desperately want to move away from fights of 2016 and figure out a strategy for 2020. Of course, maybe they need to figure out one for 2017. But first, the presidential candidates whom we've seen right here on Meet the Press.

TIM RUSSERTThis is it, the final 48 hours.

RICHARD NIXON:In the next administration, if I should be elected president.

JOHN F. KENNEDY:I have no doubt that I can beat Mr. Nixon.

LYNDON B. JOHNSON:And most vice presidents don't do very much, even of that.

JIMMY CARTER:There's no way that my campaign would end, short of death or inability to function.

TIM RUSSERT:So you want to be president?

BILL CLINTON:I do.

TIM RUSSERT:Will you serve your full six-year term as U.S. senator from Illinois?

BARACK OBAMA:Absolutely. Some of the types have been a little overblown.

JOHN MCCAIN:Do Sarah Palin and I disagree on a specific issue? Yeah, because we're both mavericks.

DAVID GREGORY:Where do you think things are?

MITT ROMNEY:I think we're making real progress.

HILLARY CLINTON:I'm going to keep focused on Donald Trump because I will be the nominee.

CHUCK TODD:You replied, "The show is Trump. And it is sold-our performance everywhere."

PRESIDENT TRUMP:And it has been for a long time.

***COMMERCIALS NOT TRANSCRIBED.***

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. We have a very special data download today. Seventy years of Meet the Press by the numbers. We've had five sitting presidents appear on this broadcast, Ford, Carter, Clinton, Bush 43, and Obama. But throw in those who appeared both before and after sitting in the Oval Office, and we've seen 12 presidents Meet the Press, Herbert Hoover in the '50s, plus each and every one of the last 11 presidents.

But U.S. presidents aren't the only world leaders who have faced moderators and panelists alike. Eight-two heads of state from 37 different countries have appeared on Meet the Press in the last 70 years, from Fidel Castro to Yitzhak Rabin, to Vladimir Putin, to Indira Gandhi, who appeared on the program seven times. John F. Kennedy once famously called Meet the Press the 51st state, emphasizing the show's importance to political leaders across the country and right here in Washington.

So it should come as no surprise then that our interviewed guests with the most appearances are all elected congressional leaders. Senator John McCain tops the list with 73 appearances on the show. He's followed by Bob Dole, Newt Gingrich, Joe Biden, and Chuck Schumer. And of course, there would be no Meet the Press without the journalists who have helped make this show over the years.

In the show's older format where a panel of reporters asked a guest questions, these were our top panelists, May Craig and David Broder leading the way with over 200 appearances each. The format you know today, with our regular political roundtable was introduced when the show permanently expanded to one hour in 1992.

Our most frequent roundtable guest since that time, David Broder, again, William Sapphire, David Brooks, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Gwen Ifill, and Robert Novak. And of course, we can't forget our own team here at NBC. Andrea Mitchell has appeared on the broadcast 207 times with Tom Brokaw and Lisa Myers rounding out the top three.

Look, there was a time when Meet the Press was the only place you could watch reporters ask leaders tough questions. That's no that case anymore. We have four competitors now, all anchored by serious journalists. NBC News started something here, and that's the legacy we're most proud of. We'll be back with endgame in just a moment. And as we go to break, a little more Meet the Press history with our coverage of civil rights and social change throughout the years.

(BEGIN TAPE)

EDWIN NEWMAN:

Meet the Press focuses on the country's number-one domestic problem, civil rights.

MARTIN LUTHER KING:

We have waited for well now 345 years for our basic constitutional and god-given rights.

REP. JOHN LEWIS:

We've been kneeling, we've been knocked down.

JANE FONDA:

Everything that I did during the war was to try to bring it to a close.

SHIRLEY CHISHOLM:

Never before in this country, ever since the inception of the republic, have you had a woman seriously running for the president.

GLORIA STEINEM:

What kind of choice is it after all to be able to go out and earn half as much as a man for doing the very same work?

VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN:

Men marrying men, women marrying women, and heterosexual men marrying women are entitled the same, exact rights.

(END TAPE)

***COMMERCIALS NOT TRANSCRIBED***

CHUCK TODD:

Back now with endgame. Gene, Donna Brazile--

EUGENE ROBINSON: Yeah

CHUCK TODD:

What did she, what did the Clintons do to her?

EUGENE ROBINSON:

That's a good question I'd like to know. Maybe I'll give her a call.

CHUCK TODD:

I don't know what other way to ask this question.

EUGENE ROBINSON:

\No, it's a good question. She just said this morning on another network, you know anybody who doesn't like her telling her story can go to hell. So um so she's um determined to tell her story. And I too think there must have been some interaction between her and the Clinton campaign, between her and Clinton, some interaction that um left a very sour taste in her mouth.

TOM BROKAW:

Well, I think this is a manifestation of all that's wrong with the Democratic party, frankly.

CHUCK TODD:

Yes

TOM BROKAW:

I mean, this is a time where they ought to be talking about the future and they ought to be organizing themselves about what they want to do for the country. Except we go back and we've got this inter-nesting fight going on about something that happened some time ago. Donna is well known, as you all know, for ready, fire, aim on a lot of the stuff that she does. But to go back over this now, when they're trying to win congressional races and trying to get ready for '18 seems to me to be beyond counterproductive.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, and if Virginia goes south on Tuesday.

PEGGY NOONAN:

And it could. Absolutely could.

CHUCK TODD:

100 percent. Let me read you Andrew Sullivan, by the way, in Virginia, Kasie and Peggy. Here's what he writes. "Northam seems to me almost a classic Democratic politician of our time. I have no idea what his core message is, and neither it seems does he. On paper, he's close to perfect. His personality is anodyne. His skills as a campaigner are risible. And he has negative charisma. More to the point, he is running against an amphibian swamp creature, Ed Gillespie, and yet the Washington lobbyist is outflanking him on populism." Peggy?

PEGGY NOONAN:

Yeah, yeah.

CHUCK TODD:

I don't know if you could've written that any differently.

PEGGY NOONAN:

That's-that’s uh amazing. That's wonderful. I think it's all true. I think one of the interesting things about Virginia is that it went by six points for Mrs. Clinton in the last cycle. Now we have a Republican and a Democrat neck and neck. If Trump were the issue, or part of the issue as many Democrats in Virginia have suggested, it wouldn't be a neck-and-neck race, do you know what I mean?

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

PEGGY NOONAN:

You would see the Democrat--

CHUCK TODD:

He's got a 37 percent job approval in Virginia.

PEGGY NOONAN:

Yeah, doing better. I think the Democratic nominee has simply made some mistakes. Those commercials you showed parts of very much one of it. The statues controversy, very much bringing that up. When people--Assuming people were going to agree with him. And people sort of went, "Oh, dear, do we have to do this?

CHUCK TODD:

Right

PEGGY NOONAN:

How can we do economy, can we do other things?" So I don't think he had a great campaign.

KASIE HUNT:

Yeah, if Northam loses, I think they're going to look back and they're going to realize, "We made the exact same mistakes in Virginia as we made in the presidential race in 2016." We chose the candidate we thought we’re gonna run--we thought was going to win at the expense of the progressive that actually got people excited. And look, this thins D.N.C. controversy, I'm sitting there watching it. Every Democrat I ask about it tries to ignore questions about it.

CHUCK TODD:

Right

KASIE HUNT:

They pretend they're not even seeing it. They have their heads in the sand about the state of their own liberal base. And they watch the Republicans self-immolate and so they're ignoring their own problems. It's going to come back to bite them.

EUGENE ROBINSON:

Yeah, so that's exactly it. So I can make this counterargument about the Brazile book and and the allegation. Which is that this was going on beneath the surface--

CHUCK TODD:

Yup

EUGENE ROBINSON:

--whether or not, and it wasn't clearly visible. But it it perhaps it was a boil that had to be lanced at some point. And a fight that Democrats have to have.

CHUCK TODD:

That said, look, Ed Gillespie has run away from Donald Trump the individual, Tom, but he has run on Trumpism a little bit. You know he's going hard on immigration and going hard on this monuments thing. If he wins, emulated around the country for Republicans?

TOM BROKAW:

Well, the Republican party there is still the core Trump believers that are out there. If you look at his latest poll, where his numbers are historically low, except in his base, where they're very high at this point. I said earlier that I was in Powell, Wyoming. They voted 70 percent for Trump. And I went back about a month ago, they now vote 69.8 perhaps for Trump. They're still with him. They want him to stop tweeting. But they-th-they believe the country is broken. And they think that things that are not getting done. And despite what may be said on this side of the Hudson River, a lot of people out there, and especially in a state like Virginia, which is still having the North/South battle going on in the southern part of the state versus the northern part of the state.

KASIE HUNT:

Ed Gillespie is--the man is one of the Republicans who is least like President Trump. I mean, Chuck, you and I have been working with him

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah in his capacity for years as somebody who is a part of the system here.

CHUCK TODD:

Yes.

KASIE HUNT:

But if you watch his ads on television, he is running as Donald Trump.

CHUCK TODD:

Absolutely. All right, guys. Let's have a little anniversary fun. All of your first appearances on this show, Tom Brokaw, it was--

PEGGY NOONAN:

Oh my gosh.

CHUCK TODD:

--October 21st, 1973, the morning after the Saturday night massacre, 116 total appearances, 24 times as moderator. How about that?

PEGGY NOONAN:

Wow.

CHUCK TODD:

Pretty good there. Peggy Noonan, yours was June 6th, 2004. Let's see if we have a little sound here.

PEGGY NOONAN:

The Challenger had blown up. One of the first things he said was Christa McAuliffe among them--

CHUCK TODD:

Twenty-six times. Very nice. Eugene Robinson, it was just about a year later, April 10th, 2005, 48 times for you sir.

EUGENE ROBINSON:

And American Catholics, it's going to be very interesting.

CHUCK TODD:

He's showing the style, different glasses, little goatee. Let's see, Kasie Hunt, you've changed so much since January, 2014.

KASIE HUNT:

Trying to figure out, okay, would I be okay with Donald Trump?

CHUCK TODD:

You've been on this show three times. Tom, you're wearing a very special tie this morning. Tell me-- tell the story.

TOM BROKAW:

I actually selected this, knowing that we'd be coming here. This is a tie that was designed by Vineyard Vines after we lost Tim Russert. They were true, really founders of Meet the Press. The earlier version was Lawrence Spivak, obviously, and then Tim reinvited--reinvented Meet the Press and made it really must-see television. Ran away with the ratings. He brought you to us, which I thought was very important as well. And you're continuing in that tradition. So this tie has got the Capitol, it's got the Buffalo Bills,

CHUCK TODD:

Of course,

TOM BROKAW:

and he fished up in Nantucket. The most unlikely fisherman I knew was Tim Russert, but.

CHUCK TODD:

Fair enough. Well, what a great way to end. That's it for our 70th anniversary broadcast. Since our panelists shouldn't be the only ones embarrassed, we're going to leave you with a moment from my first appearance on Meet the Press. And of course, we'll be back next Sunday, because as always, for the last 70 years, if it's Sunday, it's Meet the Press.

(BEGIN TAPE)

TIM RUSSERT:

And here to help us is Chuck Todd of National Journalist Hotline. What is a blog?

CHUCK TODD:

Well, a blog, so the actual term itself by the way is short for web log. And you drop the w, and you get the blog.

(END TAPE)

* * *END OF TRANSCRIPT* * *