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Meet the Press - September 25, 2022

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.), Sara Fagen, Mike Memoli, Amna Nawaz and Jen Psaki

CHUCK TODD:

Our issues this Sunday: confronting Putin.

PRES. JOE BIDEN:

You cannot seize a nation's territory by force.

CHUCK TODD:

Russian President Vladimir Putin threatens a nuclear confrontation and mobilizes hundreds of thousands of new troops.

PRES. VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY:

For us, this is a war for life.

CHUCK TODD:

But global pressure is mounting to end the war in Ukraine. Is a diplomatic solution really possible? National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan is with us. And more from my exclusive interviews with Ukraine's Prime Minister.

CHUCK TODD:

What do you want the allies to do?

CHUCK TODD:

And the German Chancellor.

CHANCELLOR OLAF SCHOLZ:

He will not win the war.

CHUCK TODD:

Plus: testing democracy.

REP. LIZ CHENEY:

What happened on January 6th was not the normal functioning of our democracy.

CHUCK TODD:

A deep partisan divide revealed as Congress works to make sure the results of a presidential election can't be overturned. And the former president who still refuses to accept the 2020 election results speaks out about the classified documents seized from his Florida home.

FMR. PRES. DONALD TRUMP:

If you're the president of the United States, you can declassify just by saying it’s declassified -- even by thinking about it.

CHUCK TODD:

I'll speak with Democratic Congressman Jamie Raskin of Maryland, part of the January 6th committee, and Republican Congresswoman Nancy Mace of South Carolina. Finally: midterm messaging.

REP. KEVIN McCARTHY:

We believe in a future that's built on freedom.

CHUCK TODD:

With seven weeks until election day, the two parties make their pitch to voters.

PRES. JOE BIDEN:

Don’t tell me you support law enforcement if you can’t condemn what happened on January the sixth.

CHUCK TODD:

Joining me for insight and analysis are NBC News White House Correspondent Mike Memoli, PBS Newshour Chief Correspondent Amna Nawaz, former White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki and Republican strategist Sara Fagen. Welcome to Sunday, it's Meet the Press.

ANNOUNCER:

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

CHUCK TODD:

And a good Sunday morning. No two men have challenged democracy and global stability more than Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, and that was on full display again this week. Here at home, Republicans in the House made it clear that their answer to the violent coup attempt at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th, and the former president's months-long campaign to overturn the election results, is to do nothing. Just nine Republicans voted for a bill to prevent future presidents from trying to overturn election results through Congress. None of those nine House Republicans that voted for this bill are returning to Congress next year, either because they lost primaries or they chose to retire. Two hundred and three House Republicans voted against this bill. There’s a Senate bill that’s very similar that has more bipartisan support -- 11 Republican co-sponsors -- than actual votes in the House. But now, that bill may not get a vote until after the midterm elections. And election denialism is no longer an anomaly. According to one analysis this week, 201 of the 552 Republican nominees running for House, Senate, governor, secretary of state and attorney general -- 36% of those nominees fully deny the legitimacy of the 2020 election. This doesn’t count people that say, “Joe Biden is the president” and won’t talk about it. This is just those that fully deny. That’s a big number. Globally, the existential threat to democracy is Vladimir Putin, whose decision to invade Ukraine has produced the biggest conflict in Europe since the Second World War. Putin is now threatening to use Russia's nuclear weapons, saying in a televised address, "This is not a bluff." President Biden responded at the United Nations.

[BEGIN TAPE]

PRES. JOE BIDEN:

This war is about extinguishing Ukraine's right to exist as a state, plain and simple, and Ukraine's right to exist as a people. Wherever you are, wherever you live, whatever you believe, that should not -- that should make your blood run cold.

[END TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

We're going to hear from the German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Ukraine's Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, but I'm going to start with the president’s National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. Mr. Sullivan, welcome back to Meet the Press.

JAKE SULLIVAN:

Thanks for having me, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. Let me start with this. We have Russia doing these sham referendums trying to annex territory from Ukraine. We've got the civilian draft that Putin instituted to mobilize an additional 300,000 troops. So based on those two developments, what is the U.S. assessment right now of why Putin is making these moves, and is it a sign that he's losing this war?

JAKE SULLIVAN:

Well, Chuck, throwing together sham referenda on three-days' notice and scrambling to call up hundreds of thousands of people who are going to need to get trained and organized is not a sign of strength. It's not a sign of confidence. Quite the opposite, it's a sign that he is struggling very badly in Ukraine, that the Russian army is struggling badly and that he doesn't have a lot of options left because he really did not want to have to move to mobilization. He knew that as soon as he ordered mobilization, there would be some upheaval in the country, and we're seeing the images and scenes of that right now. So the Russian army is in trouble, and the Ukrainian army is making gains on the battlefield and stopping the Russians from making progress in areas where they continue to try to advance. But that doesn't mean that the danger is over. It is very much real and still with us because Vladimir Putin remains intent, as you just heard from President Biden, on wiping out the Ukrainian people, that he does not believe that Ukraine should have a right to exist. So he's going to keep coming, and we have to keep coming with weapons, ammunition, intelligence and all the support we can provide to the Ukrainians as they defend their land, their freedom, and their democracy.

CHUCK TODD:

The German chancellor, Olaf Sholz, told me earlier this week that there would be severe consequences for the sham referendum. And he said that obviously nobody would recognize their hold over these territories, et cetera. But what are the consequences that he's referring to? What – is there something he didn't say that's going to come to Russia for doing these sham referendums?

JAKE SULLIVAN:

Well, the leaders of the Group of Seven Nations – the group of the world's advanced democracies, that includes both the United States and Germany – actually put out a statement on Friday after the beginning of the voting, the so-called voting, in these fake elections that are taking place. In that document, they reiterated that there would be consequences and specified that that would include additional enhanced sanctions, including sanctions on entities and companies outside of Russia that are supporting the Russian war machine or supporting these fake referenda or Russia's effort to annex them. So you will see that in the days ahead. The United States will have further announcements in coming days if Russia follows through on this. And of course it will only redouble our efforts to provide Ukraine the equipment and weapons that it needs to prevail in this conflict.

CHUCK TODD:

While you were talking, we were able to show some footage of people voting with – under the supervision of armed Russian guards, so just to give folks a taste of what kind of referendum this is. I want to talk about the nuclear threats from Vladimir Putin.There was a report this week that folks in the Biden administration have made it clear, privately, of the severe consequences. Does this mean the red phone is working again? Because at the beginning of this conflict there was a lot of concern that some of the basic communications that we had from military to military, intel to intel, you had a hard time getting your counterparts to return calls. Does this mean the red phone is working again?

JAKE SULLIVAN:

Well, Chuck, we've been careful to protect the timing and the content of the conversations we have with the Russian government, with the Kremlin. But the answer to your question is yes. We do have the capacity to speak directly at senior levels and to be clear about our messages to them and to receive their messages. That has happened frequently over the course of the past few months. It has happened even in just the last few days. But we have not wanted to indicate exactly what those channels look like because we want to be able to protect them so that we have the continuing ability to reach Russia and tell them in no uncertain terms, for example, what the consequences would be, and they would be catastrophic if Russia went down the dark road of nuclear weapons use.

CHUCK TODD:

I guess the question is, why this, why the strategic ambiguity here? Why not draw a public line? If he's publicly threatening nuclear weapons, why not send a public message, which I'm sure the people in Europe and Ukraine would like to hear, that says, "You cross this line, Katy bar the door, Mr. Putin?"

JAKE SULLIVAN:

Well, let me say it plainly. If Russia crosses this line there will be catastrophic consequences for Russia. The United States will respond decisively. Now, in private channels we have spelled out in greater detail exactly what that would mean, but we want to be able to have the credibility of speaking directly to senior leadership in Russia and laying out for them what the consequences would be without getting into a rhetorical tit for tat publicly. But we will not hesitate in saying publicly that there will be catastrophic consequences for Russia --

CHUCK TODD:

You've used that --

JAKE SULLIVAN:

– if they --

CHUCK TODD:

– word twice --

JAKE SULLIVAN:

– choose to proceed. And the United States and our allies will respond decisively.

CHUCK TODD:

You've used that word “catastrophic” just now twice. I assume you will not give more definition to that, but should Putin use the definition of his imagination there? “Catastrophic” is just that, as bad as he could imagine?

JAKE SULLIVAN:

Well, Russia understands very well what the United States would do in response to the use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine because we have spelled it out for them, and I will leave it at that today. But as far as the question of deterrence is concerned, you know, Russia will make its decisions, but it will do so fully understanding that the United States will respond decisively. And from our perspective, we will continue to be sharp and clear with them so that there is no mistake about where things stand from our perspective.

CHUCK TODD:

Earlier this week I asked the Ukrainian prime minister what Ukraine needs to win this war. Take a listen to his answer.

[BEGIN TAPE]

PRIME MINISTER DENYS SHMYHAL:

I always say to win this war we need three main things: weaponry, finances and sanctions. Weaponry let us protect ourselves and to go into [UNINTEL] to make this counteroffensive, very successful counteroffensives with support of our partners. But we also need sanctions because Russia now earn enough money on the gas and oil prices. So we need more effective sanctions to stop fulfill Russian terrorist country budget. We also ask our partners to recognize Russia as a terrorist country because all what they are doing in Ukraine, so it's just genocide. This is, like, terrorist act.

[END TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

So right now, we have five countries that are state sponsors of terror, Jake. You know this, Cuba, North Korea, Iran, and Syria. The Ukrainians want Russia to become the sixth country we put on that list. Why haven't we done that yet?

JAKE SULLIVAN:

Well, President Biden has indicated that he is not certain that the state sponsor of terror designation specifically is the right fit for what's going on with Russia. But he's gone way beyond what we've done with some of the countries that you've listed in terms of the sheer comprehensiveness of the sanctions that we're applying. So as a practical matter, whether we're talking about denying Russia access to the technologies it needs to power its economy and its defense industrial base, cutting off its banks from the international financial system, imposing personal sanctions on key oligarchs, the president has not pulled his punches at all. So this is just a matter of a particular tool and the degree to which the upside of it outweighs the downside, which is that it does tie the United States' hands and reduce our flexibility without adding a whole lot of economic pressure to Russia. So we'll continue to talk to the Ukrainians on this particular item, but we fully agree with the Ukrainian prime minister, who I've met with personally, that we need to continue to amp the pressure on Russia economically, and we will do so.

CHUCK TODD:

I also want to play a clip from my interview with the German Chancellor, who believes that Putin needs to be held accountable for the atrocities taking place in Ukraine, but he's not ready to say he's lost legitimacy. Take a listen.

[BEGIN TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

Vladimir Putin, we're now finding mass graves in Ukraine. Has he lost – has he already lost legitimacy on the world stage to the point that he really isn't ever going to be let back in, essentially, to the global order?

CHANCELLOR OLAF SCHOLZ:

We are very clear on the question of justice, and we are preparing to go after all the crimes that happened in Ukraine --

CHUCK TODD:

He'll be held accountable, personally?

CHANCELLOR OLAF SCHOLZ:

We are doing the job, supporting the courts. They are looking at the concrete massacres and all the very, very bad things we saw on TV and we heard of. I saw them myself when I was in Kyiv. And so it is necessary that we support justice and the legal system to do their job.

CHUCK TODD:

But you're not prepared to say he's already lost his legitimacy?

CHANCELLOR OLAF SCHOLZ:

I think we are now working to make Russia understanding that they will not win this war and that they should accept the independence and sovereignty of Ukraine. And this is what we are doing today.

[END TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

Look, all wars have to end diplomatically at some point. At the same time, he's clearly being seen by many as a war criminal. How do you end a war diplomatically with somebody who is a war criminal and I guess who many people believe has lost his legitimacy, though can you not say that until this war ends?

JAKE SULLIVAN:

Look, President Biden has not minced his words, as you've seen, about Vladimir Putin and his complicity in the war crimes that have been committed in Ukraine, the atrocities that have been committed in Ukraine. One man chose this war. One man is directing this war. One man is responsible for this war. That man is Vladimir Putin. Now, at the same time, it's not just the German chancellor who has indicated that diplomacy has got to remain on the table. President Zelenskyy of Ukraine has said before that ultimately at the end of the day this war has to end diplomatically. But we have been equally clear, and you heard this from the German chancellor, there's got to be justice. There has to be accountability. And we need to work with the Ukrainians and the international community to bring accountability for the war crimes and atrocities that have taken place. We will not rest until we have done that. That is not an easy feat with a country like Russia, but it is not something we will shy away from.

CHUCK TODD:

I want to ask you a question about the protests in Iran. You were in the Obama administration during the Green Revolution in 2009. You're well aware there were many folks who thought that the Obama administration then was a little slow to respond to those protests. Is the Biden administration's response a response to that criticism way back when? Is there going to be an attempt to be much more forward-leaning on these protests going forward?

JAKE SULLIVAN:

Well, Chuck, part of the reason that there was a different kind of approach in 2009 was the belief that somehow if America spoke out it would undermine the protesters, not aid them. I think what we learned in the aftermath of that is that you can overthink these things, that the most important thing for the United States to do is to be firm and clear and principled in response to citizens of any country demanding their rights and dignity. And so right after these protests broke out our administration began speaking out, and the president in fact went to the well of the United Nations and said that the United States stands with the citizens of Iran, the women of Iran, as they demand their rights and their dignity and a better future in Iran. We have taken tangible steps to sanction the morality police who caused this young woman's death, and we've taken steps to make it easier for the Iranian people to get access to the internet and to communicate with one another and with the world. And we will keep speaking out day in and day out because this is a matter of fundamental justice, dignity, and rights, and the United States knows which side we are on.

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah, the world needs to continue to see these protests and see what they're doing to these women. Jake Sullivan, the national security advisor for President Biden, thank you for coming on and sharing your views with us. When we come back, trying to prevent another January 6th. I'm going to talk to Democratic congressman Jamie Raskin, a member of the January 6th Select Committee, and Republican congresswoman Nancy Mace.

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. Former President Trump is now facing more than a half a dozen criminal and civil proceedings. Intelligence officials have resumed their national security risk assessment of the classified documents that the FBI seized from Mar-a-Lago.Trump's attorneys have until Friday to back up these claims that he's been making that the FBI, quote, "Planted evidence during a search of his Florida home." Mr. Trump has so far offered no proof of that. The New York Attorney General, Letitia James, filed a civil lawsuit this week, accusing Trump and his family of financial fraud through the Trump Organization. She also made a criminal referral to the Southern District of New York and the Internal Revenue Service. In Georgia, Trump's demand to, quote, "Find 11,780 votes," that's being investigated by the Fulton County district attorney. And of course Attorney General Merrick Garland's Justice Department probe is investigating the events leading up to the January 6th insurrection. And the January 6th committee will meet on Wednesday for what may be its final public hearing. Those are just some of the legal challenges facing the former president. I couldn't make this introduction comprehensive or we'd run out of time. So joining me now is a member of the January 6th committee. It's Democratic congressman Jamie Raskin of Maryland. Congressman Raskin, nice to see you on Meet the Press.

REP. JAMIE RASKIN:

Thank you for having me.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me start with something that's getting a lot of buzz on social media. It's going to be on tonight's episode of 60 Minutes. Former member of Congress, Denver Riggleman, who is an investigator, has made the following charge. Take a listen.

[START TAPE]

DENVER RIGGLEMAN

:

When you see that the White House switchboard had connected to a rioter's phone while it's happening, that's a pretty big a-ha moment. You get an a-ha--

BILL WHITAKER:

Wait a minute. Someone in the White House was calling one of the rioters while the riot was going on?

DENVER RIGGLEMAN:

On January 6th. Absolutely.

BILL WHITAKER:

And you know both ends of that call?

DENVER RIGGLEMAN:

I only know one end of that call. I don't know the White House end.

[END TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

That's an alarming finding. What can you confirm? What can you talk about?

REP. JAMIE RASKIN:

Well, that's one of thousands of details that obviously the committee is aware of. And our job is to put everything into a comprehensive portrait and narrative timeline of what took place. And so, you know, to me, it's interesting, but much less interesting than the fact that Donald Trump told the crowd in public, "You've got to fight like hell. And if you don't, you're not going to have a country anymore."

So look, we're interested in telling the big story, which was this was an organized, pre-meditated, deliberate hit against the Vice President and the Congress to overthrow the 2020 presidential election. And I think the public understands the basic elements of this story. What we're going to do in Wednesday is fill in those details that have come to the attention of the committee over the last five or six weeks.

CHUCK TODD:

Apparently, it says the call came from inside the White House. I mean, how hard have you guys tried to track down who that person was? Do you have an idea of who it was?

REP. JAMIE RASKIN:

You know, I can't say anything specific about that particular call, but we are aware of it. And we are aware of lots of contacts between the people in the White House and different people that were involved obviously in the coup attempt and the insurrection. And that's really what all of our hearings have been about. You know, we've had more than 20 hours, explaining that this was an organized, coordinated attempt to subvert the electoral process and to substitute the will of a minority for the will of the majority that was expressed, where Joe Biden beat Donald Trump by more than seven million votes and 306-232 in the Electoral College.

CHUCK TODD:

Is this the last public hearing?

REP. JAMIE RASKIN:

It may be the last investigative public hearing where we're going to try to round out the factual narrative. I'm hopeful, speaking just as one member, that we will have a hearing that lays out all of our legislative recommendations about how to prevent coups, insurrections, political violence, and electoral sabotage in the future, because this is a clear and present danger that's continuing up right to this day. Remember, January 6th was the culmination of a long process to interfere with people's right to register to vote, to vote, to get the votes counted properly, and so on. So we need to deal with every aspect of the attack on our electoral process.

CHUCK TODD:

You say you're going to fill in some blanks. I assume Secret Service communication is one of those blanks from January 6th. How confident do you have— how full is your picture now of January 6th?

REP. JAMIE RASKIN:

Well, it's not complete because there have been efforts to undermine the investigation, obviously. But I think that on the Secret Service record side, we've gotten some teams communication, some other electronic communications that help us to complete our understanding of what was taking place on January the 6th. I mean, there was clearly an effort to get Vice President Pence to step outside of his constitutional role, to vaporize electoral college votes from Arizona, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and then eventually just to drive him out of the building to make something else happen so that Trump could be continued— against the constitutional will of the people— for another four years.

CHUCK TODD:

Will you have the interviews of Ginni Thomas and Newt Gingrich in hand before this hearing on Wednesday?

REP. JAMIE RASKIN:

I doubt that, but I think that there's an agreement in place with Ginni Thomas to come and talk. And so the committee is very interested.

CHUCK TODD:

So what happens to the information you find out from her? There's no hearing. If it was necessary to tell the story, when would we find out about it?

REP. JAMIE RASKIN:

Well, in this investigation, I've learned to say, "Never say never." I wouldn't say definitively there's not going to be another hearing. My expectation is this will be the last investigative hearing. But our report is all about giving the information to Congress and the American people about what needs to be done. And if relevant information surfaces in that interview or any others, we will include it.

CHUCK TODD:

I want to play something the former president said at his rally this weekend. Take a listen to what he said.

[START TAPE]

DONALD TRUMP:

And I thought, actually, because Liz Cheney was so badly defeated, I thought that January 6th would go away. And I think it is going away, actually.

[END TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

And I want to ask you about that. If Republicans take control of Congress, this probe goes away. Are you going to have a report out before election day for the voters to decide whether they should factor that into their decision about who controls Congress?

REP. JAMIE RASKIN:

Our plan is to complete our report before the end of this Congress--

CHUCK TODD:

But not before the election?

REP. JAMIE RASKIN:

I don't know whether it will be done then, but our commitment is to get it done by the end of this Congress. You know, the House of Representatives, unlike the Senate, ends every two years, and a completely new Congress comes in. So that's the end of our lease on life. And so we need to get it to people. When he says that Liz's loss in the primary means the end of the January 6th, you know, wouldn't it be nice, from his perspective? But he's absolutely wrong about that. He has clamped down on people's ability to talk about what happened within the Republican Party, but America is very focused on what happens.

CHUCK TODD:

So if the Democrats hold the Senate though, you'll know this in December? If Democrats hold the Senate or if Democrats lose the House, do you send your investigative materials over to the Judiciary Committee and Dick Durbin?

REP. JAMIE RASKIN:

Well, we're going to make sure that our investigative materials are made public and are available for the future. And we're going to preserve them. We're not going to allow them to be destroyed.

CHUCK TODD:

But it’s my understanding, the investigation, I'm told you've got so much evidence that you can't finish this up by the end of the calendar year. You do need more time. The president could create a committee by executive order to finish this job. And Liz Cheney's not going to be in Congress, maybe she's one of the co-chairs. Do you do that to preserve this investigation?

REP. JAMIE RASKIN:

Look. It would have been a lot better, had Donald Trump essentially not gotten the Republicans in the House to veto the creation of an independent, 9/11-style commission. But we're going to make sure that all of the evidence is preserved. But the main thing is this coming Wednesday at 1:00 p.m. And in our report, we want America to understand there was a premeditated and deliberate hit on American democracy in attempt to override the will of the people. And the forces that supported that are still out there and would gladly do it again. And a lot of them are running for high offices, like Mastriano in Pennsylvania. These are people who are election-deniers who are committed basically to their party winning, regardless of who actually won the election.

CHUCK TODD:

Are you more confident today than you were three months ago that the Justice Department is pretty focused on this January 6th investigation?

REP. JAMIE RASKIN:

Well, absolutely. It's become clear that the Department of Justice is going to be following all of these crimes and that nobody gets a special exception because they're a former president of the United States. You know, there are constitutions around the world, which say that a former president can't be subject to the rule of law. Ours is not one of them. A former president in America is just a citizen.

CHUCK TODD:

Jamie Raskin, Democrat from Maryland, a part of the January 6th committee. Thanks for coming on and sharing your views with us, sir.

REP. JAMIE RASKIN:

Thanks for having me.

CHUCK TODD:

We'll see you Wednesday. And joining me now is Republican Congresswoman Nancy Mace of South Carolina. Congresswoman, welcome back to Meet the Press.

REP. NANCY MACE:

Good morning.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me start with the Electoral Count Act. Just nine House Republicans voted for it. You're somebody who is very concerned about what happened on January 6th. I'll be honest with you, I'm surprised you didn't vote for it. Why?

REP. NANCY MACE:

Well, as you know, Chuck, I was very outspoken about January 6th and the days and weeks leading up to it and thereafter for months on end. But when you look at what actually happened, the Constitution worked on January 6th. The vice president was not able to, was not allowed constitutionally to overturn the results of the Electoral College. And so for that reason, I voted against the bill. But there is a Senate bill that's similar but not identical, but in the House version, there were some other issues I think Republicans had heartburn over. One being extending voting days by five days in the case of an emergency. I think there's some question about whether the federal government can come in and tell states how to operate when, generally speaking, the Constitution provides for states dictating how their election laws are carried out. And so making sure that we protect the rights of states to make those decisions, constitutionally or via state statute, is also an important protection to make. But the Senate version does not have that in there.

CHUCK TODD:

It is about the only distinction between the two. You know, you just didn't want to be on the record voting for that now? You'll be on the record voting for if it's the Senate bill that ends up in the House?

REP. NANCY MACE:

Well, I've done some comparisons. And I want to make sure that, I mean, constitutionally, I've had many tough votes. And I don't care if it's an election year or not. That's not generally the way that I operate. I want to make sure that what we're voting on is constitutional, it can stand up. And when you look at January 6th, the Constitution won out. The Constitution was written for that day, for the vice president, knowing that this is a ceremonial vote. It's in the U.S. Code of Law, Section 3. It's in Article 2, Section 1, Clause 2 of the Constitution. It's very, very clear what the role of that vote is on that day when we are doing the Electoral College --

CHUCK TODD:

But you are supportive --

REP. NANCY MACE:

– and the role of the vice president.

CHUCK TODD:

– of increasing, increasing the number of people you need to object to a state's electoral votes.

REP. NANCY MACE:

Well, I wouldn't, I wouldn’t say that, necessarily. I mean, I look again at what we were able to do on January 6th with everyone and the vast majority of people certifying the Electoral College. What should've happened, happened constitutionally. What the Senate version looks like, I will make that determination if that bill makes it over to the House. But looking at the House version, I did have questions about the federal government encroaching on this rights of states. But again, the Electoral College vote, no matter what happened, the violence that happened that day, it worked and it worked in the chamber of Congress, just like it was supposed to.

CHUCK TODD:

So Republicans pitched, Kevin McCarthy put out his pitch for – he called it a "commitment to America" on this. And part of it in there was accountability, and it's kind of vague. But you've heard some of the details. And I know you've talked about the idea that there may be a special select committee. Do you expect an impeachment vote against President Biden if Republicans take over the House?

REP. NANCY MACE:

I believe there's a lot of pressure on Republicans to have that vote, to put that legislation forward, and to have that vote. I think that is something that some folks are considering.

CHUCK TODD:

Wow.

REP. NANCY MACE:

Again, I'm someone who wants to – yeah, I want to follow the Constitution. It's really important. Oversight's important. But when I think of oversight of the federal government, I'm thinking about the waste, the fraud, and abuse for the Covid-19 funding. You saw this administration just charge 44 people with a crime of stealing from the federal government $250 million. Those are the kinds of things that we need to make sure we have oversight on. Getting to the origins of Covid-19, better understanding how it happened, regardless of what side of the aisle you're on. We want to make sure that it doesn't happen again, at least in our lifetime, and we're keeping everyone safe in our country and around the world, too.

CHUCK TODD:

But if these impeach Biden votes come up, how are you going to vote?

REP. NANCY MACE:

Again, I'm going to read how that bill is filed, what's in it, what evidence there was. I didn't vote to impeach the former president of the United States because I felt like due process was stripped away. I will not vote for impeachment of any president if I feel that due process has been stripped away for anyone. And I voted – I typically vote constitutionally regardless of who's in power. I want to do the right thing for the long term because this isn't just about today, tomorrow, this year's election. This is about the future of democracy. This is about protecting our Constitution. This about protecting our freedoms and making sure my children and your children and everyone, their grandchildren too, grow up in the best country that it can be. And we have to work together and figure out the path forward. Because the far fringes – the far right, far left – isn't going to cut it for the vast majority of Americans today.

CHUCK TODD:

So I can't get over the first thing you said, which you said it's very likely that we're going to see impeachment votes. I mean, is this good for the Republican Party that the first – you know, basically they take over the House, and then hold impeachment votes on Biden? Does that not just continue everything that they claim that the party had been claiming they were pushing back against?

REP. NANCY MACE:

If that happens, I do believe it's divisive, which is why I push back on it personally when I hear folks saying they're going to file articles of impeachment in the House. I push back against those comments because we need to be working together. And I have been very open, I am a conservative who works with Democrats. Maybe I'm a unicorn here, but it's really important to me and the future of our country that we're listening to our constituents, that we tackle, for example, jobs and the economy. Small businesses and large businesses are really having trouble with hiring. Inflation is still an issue. Going back to overturning of Roe v. Wade, that is an issue for the vast majority of Americans. So how are we going to build consensus on these issues that matter to voters and all of our constituents? And that's where our focus really should be at this juncture, as opposed to following a shiny object or chasing that rabbit down a hole when we need to be working together.

CHUCK TODD:

Have you eliminated the prospect of ever supporting Donald Trump for president again?

REP. NANCY MACE:

I am, I'm very much hopeful, and I think you'll see this on both sides of the aisle, see a deep bench of Republicans and Democrats who will be running for president in '24. I hope that's what happens. As you know, I got through a very difficult primary, one of the only Republican House members to do that this election cycle. And I think the issues that I've been focused on – the State of South Carolina, inflation, the economy – we have to stick to those issues. We have to come over with solutions from Dobbs and Roe v. Wade. And in fact, I had a conversation with Senator Graham on Friday, and he's very open to making that particular bill better. And I've expressed some of my concerns and my heartburn over certain provisions and details of that legislation. But we have to be substantive. We have to be solution-driven, regardless of who the nominee is for '24 for Republicans. I hope that it's a wide field. I hope that we see a woman on the ticket. I'm very excited about the prospect of folks --

CHUCK TODD:

It sounds like you're not a never --

REP. NANCY MACE:

– that are coming out of the woodworks.

CHUCK TODD:

At the end of the day, it sounds like you're not a, you’re not a never-Trumper, that if he's the nominee, you're going to support him?

REP. NANCY MACE:

I'm going to support whomever Republicans nominate in '24.

CHUCK TODD:

Ok. All right, Nancy Mace, Republican Congresswoman from South Carolina, always appreciate you being willing to come on and share your perspective with us. Nice to see you.

REP. NANCY MACE:

Thank you.

CHUCK TODD:

Up next, midterm voting is already underway in a handful of states. So which party has the winning message right now? Panel is next.

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back, the panel is here. Amna Nawaz, chief correspondent for PBS NewsHour; NBC News White House correspondent Mike Memoli; Republican strategist and a veteran of the Bush White House years, Sara Fagen; and former White House press secretary Jen Psaki, who is one of our newest NBC News contributors. Welcome.

JEN PSAKI

Thank you.

CHUCK TODD:

Nice to see you, welcome all. Look, we're seven weeks out. Four states are already voting in person. Early, in-person voting begins this week in two more states, Illinois and Michigan. So, hey, it's happening.

MIKE MEMOLI:

Voters are voting.

CHUCK TODD:

Voters are voting, that's the important part. And Kevin McCarthy and Joe Biden both sort of made some campaign pitches this week. Here's a summary.

[BEGIN TAPE]

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY:

They control the House, the Senate, the White House. They control the committees. They control the agencies. It's their plan. But they have no plan to fix all the problems they created. So you know what? We've created a commitment to America.

PRES. JOE BIDEN:

With a straight face, Kevin McCarthy says the MAGA Republicans are going to restore faith in our elections. As we say in my faith, "Bless me, Father, for I have sinned."

[END TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

Amna, what really struck me about Kevin McCarthy's pitch is actually how small it was. It actually reminded me of Clinton '96, and the only thing missing was Midnight Basketball in here. I mean, even, he had – I think Clinton '96 was 100,000 cops on the streets. This is 200,000. But it seemed to be very micro, very small and very hopeful that this is kitchen-table, as defined by crime, education and finances.

AMNA NAWAZ:

Yes. I mean, look, this is a statement of where the common core values are between warring factions of the party, right? This is McCarthy being able to come out and say, "These are the shared values. This is where we can have our priority agenda” in a party that's very much divided on that, right? You saw who's sitting over his left shoulder there.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, let's put that screenshot back up. I mean, it's sort of striking. Kevin McCarthy worked really hard two years ago to keep this woman from ever serving in Congress.

AMNA NAWAZ:

Correct.

CHUCK TODD:

And here she is, right over his shoulder.

AMNA NAWAZ:

I mean, we cannot stress this enough. This party now houses far-right members who house some extremist views, continue to say the 2020 election was stolen, are adjacent to dangerous conspiracy theories, and moderate members who really want to be focusing on the economy and inflation and don't want to be talking about the 2020 election anymore or any of that stuff.

So this is both a compromise, a statement of values, that "This is what we stand for as Republicans." It's also saying, "I can lead you. I can do this by focusing on this." Because remember, the past is littered with the cautionary tales of Republican leaders and speakers who could not hold together those warring factions.

CHUCK TODD:

Mike, there's a reason McCarthy listed those issues, though. They poll really well right now for Republicans.

MIKE MEMOLI:

That's right.

CHUCK TODD:

And there's a reason that Joe Biden's talking about democracy and abortion rights, because that polls well for Democrats.

MIKE MEMOLI:

Well, that's right. But this was a speech that the White House welcomed. I'd been in touch with the White House leading up to McCarthy's plans to do this speech. And they ended up putting out their biggest gun, the president of the United States. It's not often that we see a president responding to the leader of the other party in Congress, and that's because they welcome this as a choice election on several levels, right? This is not a referendum on the Biden presidency. That's what they're hoping, at least, it will be. And you saw the president. He may not be welcome in every congressional district around the country, in every Senate race around the country, but he was saying to Democrats, "This is how you talk about these issues," especially when he talked about crime. He says, "We are not the party of ‘defund the police.’ And you can't be pro-law enforcement and pro-insurrection at the same time."

CHUCK TODD:

I'm glad you brought up crime. Sara, I want to, before you – I know you want to jump in. I want to play – this is a compendium. Republicans are – you're seeing the crime issue start to top a lot of TV ads. Here's a sampling.

[BEGIN TAPE]

NARRATOR:

What kind of Democrat is Mandela Barnes? He's a defund-the-police Democrat.

REP. CORI BUSH:

Defunding the police has to happen.

GOV. KIM REYNOLDS:

Watching the news, you wonder: Has the rest of the country lost its mind?

NARRATOR:

John Fetterman's trying to get as many criminals out of prison as he can. Far-left John Fetterman: dangerously liberal on crime.

[END TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

Is crime trumping the economy now?

SARA FAGEN:

I don't think it's trumping the economy because of what's happening. And I think Democrats had a very terrible week last week, when you think about the inflation numbers in the previous week, and now the stock market being at the low point of 2022. So I think this is an economic election. But crime as an issue has risen, and it's risen for very legitimate reasons, which is that crime is up in a lot of cities and people are concerned about it. So it is popular for Republicans to talk about because people are looking for solutions. And that's why the ads reflect it.

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah. Jen, I want to play you, though, an interesting ad that ties abortion rights and crime. It's in Arizona. Take a watch.

[BEGIN TAPE]

NARRATOR:

She enforced pregnancy on victims of rape and incest. Enforcing that law now makes cops responsible for going after doctors and nurses, medical teams, who can be arrested and charged criminally. It's a waste of resources, precious resources that we need every day to keep our communities safe.

[END TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

I'm not sure how this is either really effective, or you're trying to get the voter to take two issues and tie them together, you're trying too hard. I don't know. But an interesting response.

JEN PSAKI:

Yeah, look, I think that Democrats, if the election is about who is the most extreme, as we saw Kevin McCarthy touch on there with Marjorie Taylor Greene — I'll say her name, sitting over his left side — then they're going to win. If it is a referendum on the president, they will lose. And they know that. They also know that crime is a huge vulnerability for Democrats, I would say one of the biggest vulnerabilities. And if you look at Pennsylvania, for example, what's been interesting to me is it’s always you follow the money, and where are people spending money. And in Pennsylvania, the Republicans have been spending millions of dollars on the air on crime ads against Fetterman because that's where they see his vulnerability. So yes, the economy is hanging over everything. But you do have to look at state-by-state factors, and crime is a huge issue in the Pennsylvania race.

CHUCK TODD:

By the way, are you concerned about Democratic big money? We did an analysis that showed basically, because Mike Bloomberg and Tom Steyer don't want to be president, you're missing about $50 million in big super PAC money. That's a big gap.

JEN PSAKI:

It's true. What I will say that's the good news for the long term is that where they're spending money is on state and local races, something that Democrats and big-money Democrats have not done for a long time. The disadvantage, though, on super PACs Republicans have — even though they throw a lot more money there — is that the ad costs are higher and there's only limited ad space available. And by law, campaigns get preference over super PACs for ad time.

CHUCK TODD:

You want to retort real quick?

SARA FAGEN:

Look, I think with respect to money, Democrats have the advantage, not Republicans. And it's because of the small-dollar donors, and it's for the reasons that Jen just outlined. And so this kind of hysteria that we've seen in the press the last couple weeks is really a Democratic cry for these big donors to step up. But they're not at a disadvantage.

CHUCK TODD:

Interesting. Fair.

JEN PSAKI:

I agree.

CHUCK TODD:

How about that? All right, we will – that's a great way to end this panel segment. When we come back, I'm going to show you a new way to look at the immigration debate, why immigrants crossing the border could actually be the solution to our inflation problem.

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. Data Download time. Over the last few weeks, Republican governors have been shipping asylum seekers to more liberal-leaning Democratic enclaves, trying to send the message that they think migrants are a political problem for Democrats. But in fact, some data shows us that more migrants could actually help solve one of the country's most pressing problems. Let me show you the issue we've been dealing with. Even before the pandemic, migration in the United States had been slowing. We started the last decade at almost 700,000 migrants coming into this country in 2010. We hit a peak of just over a million in 2016, when Donald Trump got elected. And it dropped all the way down to 247,000 thanks to the pandemic. And you can see this labor force participation rate, it's been dropping. Pre-pandemic, we were at 63.4%. We're still sitting at 62.4%. One percentage point, by the way, represents 2.6 million people missing from this workforce. And guess where these workers are missing from. They're short 45,000 workers in Boston. They're short under 400,000 in New York. They're short 170,000 in Washington, D.C. Even Miami – where – is short some 20,000 there. So the point is: these migrants could actually be helping our labor force problem, which would help our supply chain, which could help inflation. When we come back, the Trump factor. What the former president's growing list of legal woes means for his political strength.

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. So I'm going to bring up the topic and it seems like everybody in Republican circles talks about all the time, which is Donald Trump. You heard Nancy Mace sort of basically say, "Well, I'll support whoever the nominee is," indicating that it could be Trump. Here is Glenn Youngkin and Dan Crenshaw earlier this week talking about the Trump factor or, shall we say, not talking about it. Take a listen.

[START TAPE]

GOV. GLENN YOUNGKIN:

President Trump is going to do what President Trump wants to do. And it's not my job to decide who should run and who shouldn't run.

REP. DAN CRENSHAW:

I'm not going to tell President Trump not to run or say that it's even not in the best interests of our party. Everybody who wants to run should. He should give the people that choice.

[END TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

Sara, I know the politics of it. But even in a general election, why have been so many Republicans so afraid of basically cutting off the Trump issue?

SARA FAGEN:

Well, he could be the nominee. And so do you want to spend the rest of the 2024 cycle if you're on the ballot talking about that one interview you gave where you said you wouldn't support him and now the pressure in your primary, in your general election is all about him? Is that what you want your race to be? That's why they're not answering it, and it's prudent politics. But, look, I think, you know, for the – there is an argument to say the best scenario for Republicans is for Donald Trump to run and to be defeated in a primary. And it looks like that's possible. I mean, recent polling has showed as much as 50% of the base would like someone else to be on the top of the ticket in 2024.

CHUCK TODD:

Jen, what is your– in, you know, in the White House there, you were there when you didn't say his name.

JEN PSAKI:

Yeah.

CHUCK TODD:

Right? Like, "Don't say his name --"

JEN PSAKI:

Or Marjorie Taylor Greene's name. Said none of their names.

CHUCK TODD:

Right. You don't say their name. It's like Beetlejuice: somehow it won't show up if you don't say their name. Now, he leans into it more. Why?

JEN PSAKI:

Well, look. If you go back to 2020—and I didn't work on the Biden campaign—he ran very aggressively about how – on the message that Donald Trump wasn't fit for office, right? There was a strategic decision made when he came into office that that's not what the public wanted. The public wanted a president who was going to try—and every president tries to do this, maybe save Donald Trump—is to kind of expand the base of people –

CHUCK TODD:

Sure.

JEN PSAKI:

– who is interested in them. But now, it's election season again. He did a lot of what he wanted to do, much of it in a bipartisan way, getting legislation done. And now, the gloves are off. He's got to maintain control of at least one house of Congress.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, Amna, I watch him at these rallies. And, I’m thinking does – I know Ted Budd has to be there. I can't think this is good politics in North Carolina or in any swing state right now. I know it's good primary politics.

AMNA NAWAZ:

It's good primary politics. I think you are seeing a shift, right? You saw how many of the candidates that he backed up and down the ballot made it through the primaries, repeating some of the election lies, aligning themselves close to Mr. Trump. And some of them have started to distance themselves now and kind of corrected some of the language they were using, pulling back on some of the more extremist abortion views and some of the election 2020 language as well. And we may see some of that, but I think we have to remember, look, his base isn't going anywhere. They have been with him. The numbers have been absolutely locked in after he lost the election, after a violent insurrection on the Capitol. That's there. But that's a third of the electorate. You can't launch a reelection campaign with a third of the electorate. It's the independents that they're watching really carefully. And you are seeing ticking down in support among independents.

CHUCK TODD:

Every time though we're at this point, there's always some moment where he seems to get it back. At some point, the dip will remain, but we just never know when.

MIKE MEMOLI:

Well, there's this question about whether these investigations actually help Donald Trump. And I think the real question is: Which investigations? Because Trump world was rather quiet—not silent, but quiet—during the January 6th investigation. I don't know that we would know about the Justice Department's investigation if not for Donald Trump. He let the world know that they were searching Mar-a-Lago. And it's been interesting to watch something of a divide between elected Republicans who have felt the need to rally around him in that moment versus sort of the rank-and-file Republicans. And you are seeing it in our own poll, right, that there – his hold on the party is not what it used to be.

CHUCK TODD:

It is, until it changes. That's something we've come to learn. All right. That's all we have for today. Thanks for watching. Hope you have a sweet new year if you're celebrating it, so happy Rosh Hashanah. We'll be back next week because if it's Sunday, it's Meet the Press.