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Meet the Press Transcript - March 22, 2015

CHUCK TODD:

This Sunday, a one time Middle East success story turns disastrous. U.S. troops withdraw from Yemen as the country descends into all-out civil war. And state of distrust.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:

We’ve gotta evaluate what other options are available.

CHUCK TODD:

Benjamin Netanyahu pulls to the right to win the Israeli election. But as he left the peace process in tatters and altered his country's relationship with the U.S. permanently. Plus, climate catastrophe. Jerry Brown, the governor of drought-stricken California, and why there should no longer be a debate about climate.

GOV. JERRY BROWN:

This has to be almost at the level of the Crusades.

CHUCK TODD:

Plus, find out which 2016 contender he thinks is unfit for office.

GOV. JERRY BROWN:

That man has chosen such a level of ignorance.

CHUCK TODD:

And an endgame. Is Illinois the most corrupt state in the country? As Aaron Schock faces a federal investigation. Why have so many politicians from that state ended up in jail? I'm Chuck Todd, and joining me to provide insight and analysis this morning are John Stanton of Buzz Feed News, Helene Cooper of The New York Times, former Democratic Congresswoman and head of the Wilson Center, Jane Harman, and National Review's Rick Lowry. Welcome to Sunday, it's Meet the Press.

(INTRODUCTION OMITTED)

CHUCK TODD:

And good morning. And we start with Yemen, a country that's touted as a success in America's counter-terror strategy by President Obama is now spinning out of control. Yesterday, U.S. Special Forces were withdrawn as Iranian-backed Shia rebels pushed south today, seen in the country's third biggest city, Taiz. Yemen's president, who has already been kicked out of the capital, holed up in the south after Shia Houthis seized the capital of Sanaa in January is now appealing for intervention from the United Nations. And an emergency meeting of the Security Council will be held this afternoon. Our chief foreign affairs correspondent, Andrea Mitchell's, been tracking all of this. Andrea, Yemen in chaos. Is this now a failed state?

ANDREA MITCHELL:

It's not only a failed state, this is now a proxy war, it's civil war, as a proxy war between Iran-backed Shiite rebels and the Saudis. The Saudis on their border, worried about their oil fields. They had no rebel insurgencies for years and years there. But this is a serious threat to Saudi Arabia. So we've got a Shiite-Sunni civil war going on with big players behind them.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, look, Yemen has been a hotbed. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, shorthand AQAP, this is essentially the failed state that we've seen. The underwear bomber launched from a lot of terrorism preeminence trying to, you know, fight with ISIS over here. Without a U.S. presence there, AQAP can only grow.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Indeed. And in fact, we had the bombings in Sanaa, which were at least claimed by ISIS as their bombings against the-- the horrific bombings, 130 or more dead in these mosques. We can't-- the White House is not saying whether or not it is ISIS. If that's the case, then this is the first time we've seen ISIS there, it is a spreading of ISIS. But also, with the Special Forces withdrawn, there's no way that we can continue to fight against AQAP al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, because they are calling in the air strikes.

CHUCK TODD:

And very quickly, the Arab Spring, we had a terrible terrorist attack in Tunisia earlier this week. Have what's going on in Yemen, that was the only two semi-success stories of the Arab Spring with Tunisia and Yemen. Arab Spring, no longer a success anywhere?

ANDREA MITCHELL:

No. And in fact, these forces were trained, we believe, in Libya, which is the other failed state. So you see the spread of failure. And Islamic extremism beyond, if you can say, beyond al-Qaeda, in the Arabian Peninsula. And this is an even worse development.

CHUCK TODD:

Libya, Syria, Yemen, three failed states. Hopefully there are not more to come. Andrea Mitchell, thanks for reporting on this. And now to the U.S.-Israeli relationship. We all know that, in a tough election, things get said in the heat of the moment. And Benjamin Netanyahu's warning, high turnout from Arab voters would benefit the left. And his ruling out a Palestinian state probably helped him win another term in office. But he may have incurred a heavy cost, provoking outrage from the Obama administration. And though Prime Minister Netanyahu has attempted to walk back his comments, it seems the damage, at least with President Obama, has already been done.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU:

I don't want a one state solution. I want a sustainable, peaceful, two-state solution. But for that, circumstances have to change.

CHUCK TODD:

That was Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to NBC's Andrea Mitchell, trying to temper an election, he promised that there would be no Palestinian state while he was prime minister.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU:

I haven’t changed my policy. What has changed is the reality.

CHUCK TODD:

The U.S. is not buying the walk back.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:

We can't just, in perpetuity, maintain the status quo, expand settlements. That's not a recipe for stability in the region.

SAM STEIN:

Is there any reason at this point to believe that he's serious about a Palestinian state?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:

We take him at his word when he said that it wouldn't happen during his prime ministership. And so that's why we'd better evaluate what other options are available.

CHUCK TODD:

The White House has hinted that the U.S. could stop protecting Israel at the United Nations, perhaps even drafting a new security council resolution outlining the framework for a Palestinian state. The two-state solution has been the framework for U.S. policy for the last two decades, and even accepted five years ago by Netanyahu himself in a speech at Bar-Ilan University.

TRANSLATOR FOR BENJAMIN NETANYAHU:

My vision of peace in this small land of ours, two free peoples live side by side in amity and mutual respect. Each will have its own flag, its own national anthem, and its own government.

CHUCK TODD:

Now the White House warns that Netanyahu's right turn, including his election day message to supporters that Israeli Arabs were coming out in droves, means that everything except U.S. security assistance to Israel is on the table. An effort to apply leverage to a new Israeli government and a warning that the U.S. may no longer stand between Israel and the rest of the world at the United Nations.

CHUCK TODD:

I'm joined now exclusively by Israel's ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer. Welcome back to Meet the Press, Mr. Ambassador.

AMB. RON DERMER:

Good to be with you.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me start with asking a simple question. What is the position in the Netanyahu government on the peace process and the two-state solution?

AMB. RON DERMER:

The same as it was when Prime Minister Netanyahu gave his speech at Bar-Ilan University. He is committed to a vision of peace of two states for two peoples, a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state of Israel. What has changed is the circumstances over the last few years.

You just talked about, with Andrea, what is happening in the region, and the collapse of all these states in the Middle East, in Libya, in Yemen, in Syria. We have a collapse of a 100 year order in the Middle East. And militant Islam is charging into the void. That's the first thing that changed.

The second thing that changed, which very few people have talked about over the last couple days, is that, a year ago, ten months ago, the leader of the Palestinian Authority reached out to a terror organization and forced and alliance with Hamas. Hamas is committed to Israel's destruction. Their charter calls for the murders of Jews worldwide. They fire thousands of rockets at Israel. And what Israel believes has to happen now is that President Abbas has to break his alliance with Hamas and return to peace negotiations with Israel. If that happens and we can solve the problems of Israel's legitimate security needs, then we can get back to the peace state.

CHUCK TODD:

So you’ll deal with Abbas, the Netanyahu government will deal with Abbas, even if he's not speaking for the entire Palestinian people. Because that had been one of the critiques before that, while he only really runs the West Bank, Hamas runs Gaza, you can't negotiate this just with one--

AMB. RON DERMER:

That is not the prime minister's critique. The prime minister has been negotiating with President Abbas. He was willing to do it until a year ago, when Abbas made this deal. Why did the peace process collapse? Because President Abbas joined up with Hamas. You can't join up with a terror organization.

Our concern, Chuck, is that a Palestinian state today would be a Palestinian terror state. So the prime minister is not against a demilitarized Palestinian state. He's not against, and he hasn't retracted it any way, his vision that he laid out at Bar-Ilan University six years ago in 2009. What he's against is establishing a terror state on the West Bank, which would create not another Gaza, but 20 Gazas.

CHUCK TODD:

So the president is wrong that he takes the prime minister at his word at what he said before the election?

AMB. RON DERMER:

He didn't say what the president and others seem to suggest that he's saying. And he was very clear about it in his interview with Andrea Mitchell. He didn't change his position. He didn't run around giving interviews saying he's now against the Palestinian state.

He said, "I'm the prime minister of Israel. I'm responsible for the security of the country. Right now, if we establish a Palestinian state on the West Bank on Judea-Samaria, we are going to see another armed terror base used to launch attacks against Israel." Remember, Israel left Lebanon in 2000. We didn't get peace, we got an Iranian terror base out on the northern border. Israel left Gaza in 2005, we uprooted all the settlements there. We didn't get peace, we got an Iranian terror base on our southern base.

Now Iran's leaders are saying in the last few weeks that they are going to arm Palestinians in the West Bank to launch their attacks against Israel. That the prime minister is not willing to agree to.

CHUCK TODD:

If the United States doesn't stand in the way of the United Nations imposing a framework of what a two-state solution would look like, what does that do to the relationship between United States and Israel?

AMB. RON DERMER:

Well, we hope that won't happen. We know that the United States has stood for decades against all these anti-Israel resolutions at The United Nations. And we hope that policy continues. And--

CHUCK TODD:

Do you believe an imposed framework of a two-state solution is an anti-Israel resolution?

AMB. RON DERMER:

Well, obviously it depends what the resolution is. But we're against imposing any resolution through The United Nations. Because the policy of the United States has been, for a very long time, that you need a negotiated settlement for this conflict. The only way we're going to reach peace, Chuck, is if we have the parties at the negotiating table.

A United Nations resolution will do the exact opposite. It will harden Palestinian positions. And it will prevent us not only from having peace today, it could prevent peace for decades to come. Because no Palestinian leader will move from those positions that are going to be put forward at the United Nations.

And here's the problem. A major problem. What the Palestinians want is they want a state, but they don't want to give Israel peace in return. Israel is in favor of a Palestinian state that would end the conflict of Israel. We are not in favor of a Palestinian state that will continue to wage war against Israel.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me ask you something about settlements. During the campaign, and I'm going to put up this from The Washington Post. Reports where Netanyahu said, "Settlement construction at Har Homa was not only to provide housing for residents, but also to deny Palestinians territorya nd contiguity. It's a neighborhood that I initiated in 1997 in my first stint as prime minister," Netanyahu said.

He said, "Its value was that it stops to continued advancement of the Palestinians." This goes to the critique of the settlement construction. That settlement construction is all about preventing the Palestinian state, what do you say to that critique?

AMB. RON DERMER:

No, that's not true. Look, first of all, the Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem are going to be part of any future peace deal. The major settlement blocks are going to be part of any peace deal. And the settlement construction that goes on, about 90% of it is in those areas. And it's within the consensus, not only inside of Israel, but--

CHUCK TODD:

You deny that settlement construction is about a strategic--

AMB. RON DERMER:

That's not the obstacles of peace, Chuck. This conflict has been going on for 50 years. 50 years before there was a single settlement on the West Bank. The reason why we have not resolved our conflict with the Palestinians is they refuse to recognize the right of a Jewish state to exist, period. And they don't take Israel's security concerns seriously. And in a region where states are collapsing, where you have ISIS and Iran-backed militant Islamists all over the region, ISIS is not thousands of miles away from Israeli.

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

AMB. RON DERMER:

It's 18 miles away from Israel's northern border. Israel's security concerns have to be addressed seriously. And the only place that that's going the be addressed is not in The United Nations, it's in negotiations with Israel.

CHUCK TODD:

Two final questions. One, what is a bad deal with Iran? I mean we know you're not going to get what you truly want, zero centrifuges, what is a bad deal?

AMB. RON DERMER:

A bad deal has a short breakout time. Right now they're talking about a year breakout time. That leaves Iran with a vast nuclear infrastructure in place. That breakout time has to be much longer.

And a very bad deal is a deal that would automatically remove restrictions on Iran's nuclear program after only about a decade. That would be a terrible deal, because it would create a situation where you'd have a deal that wouldn't block Iran's path to the bomb, it would pave it. They won't have to sneak into the nuclear club. They wouldn't need to break into nuclear club. They could just walk into the nuclear club, become a nuclear weapons state. It would lead to mass nuclear proliferation in the region and would be very dangerous for the Middle East and the world.

CHUCK TODD:

How do you restore trust as an ambassador here in United States? Some in the Obama administration quietly seem to hint that relations could improve with the prime minister if you weren't in your position.

CHUCK TODD:

What do you say to that criticism?

AMB. RON DERMER:

I serve at the pleasure of the Israeli government and the Israeli prime minister. And as long as they have confidence in me, I will continue to do everything I can to not only advance my country's interests, but to work to strengthen the relationship between the United States and Israel.

We have no better friend and ally than America. All the people of Israel know that. And we hope that the American people know, as well, that they have no better friend and ally in the Middle East, the one solid, reliable, democratic ally, than the state of Israel. And we think--

CHUCK TODD:

Do you believe the Obama administration can trust you?

AMB. RON DERMER:

Yes.

CHUCK TODD:

Ambassador Dermer, thanks for coming on Meet the Press.

AMB. RON DERMER:

Thank you.

CHUCK TODD:

I'm joined now by the permanent observer of Palestinian to The United Nations, Riyad Mansour. Welcome back to Meet the Press. And Mr. Mansour, let me ask something just right off the bat about recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. Will the Palestinian-- will you be able to say that the Palestinian people, and can you say this on your behalf, that you recognize Israel as a Jewish state?

RIYAD MANSOUR:

Well, we were asked to recognize the state of Israel, and we have done that.

CHUCK TODD:

Not as a Jewish state.

RIYAD MANSOUR:

Well, this is a new condition that Israel added. Israel can characterize itself as they wish. But they cannot demand from us things and impose conditions on us. We belong to this land. We have a long history in that land. But yet, in the same time, we accepted to have two states on that land. One exists, the other one is struggling for its independence so that we can actualize the objectives of a two-state solution.

Now the Israeli election and the statements of Prime Minister Netanyahu are putting obstacles in the process of doing so. And if we do not move seriously in the direction of a two-state solution now, and as he suggests, to wait, then there will never be a two-state solution, there will be a one-state solution.

And if we have a one-state solution, the majority will be Palestinian Arabs, the minority will be Jewish. And it will not be democratic if they want to impose on us an apartheid system. It did not work in South Africa. I don't think it will be working in our region.

CHUCK TODD:

Do you really--

RIYAD MANSOUR:

Therefore, I think that we have a collective responsibility. All of us in the international community, including The United States of America, is to legislate in the Security Council the parameters on the two-state solution, to defend that plan. And if Prime Minister Netanyahu is genuinely committed and reversed his position again, to a two-state solution, then he should be in favor of this resolution adopted by the Security Council.

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah.

RIYAD MANSOUR:

And not only that it will set the basis for the two-state solution--

CHUCK TODD:

Okay.

RIYAD MANSOUR:

--but also, it would say that it should happen in a short period of time.

CHUCK TODD:

All right.

RIYAD MANSOUR:

And we should have a mechanism, collective mechanism, to accomplish that objective.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, as a show of good faith, would you back off on your insistence of becoming a member of the International Criminal Court and trying to use that as a way to go after Israel?

RIYAD MANSOUR:

Why should we back? What we are doing is legal, is peaceful. Seeking, you know, accountable through--

CHUCK TODD:

But you don't-- the Israelis are investigating some of the bombings that took place in Gaza themselves. Do you not trust the Israelis to do that investigation?

RIYAD MANSOUR:

Well, this is a judgment for the International Criminal Court to decide upon. But the settlement, for example, is a continuing war crime. And, you know, they are continuing with the settlements. They are continuing with an illegal policy. We are seeking a peaceful legal option.

So we are doing something that legitimate, they are doing something that is illegal. And by the way, with regards to the Security Council, the first step should be to adopt a resolution on the parameter that would defend the two-state solution, and then after that, we should have another resolution demanding from Israel to stop this illegal activity of settlement activities, because we cannot have two-state solution when we have now 600,000 settlers not only in the blocs, but also in other parts of the occupied territory. And there is global consensus on characterizing the settlement as an illegal thing. So if they want to have serious negotiation with us to have two-state solution, they have to negotiate with us the end of occupation.

CHUCK TODD:

Alright, so let me--

RIYAD MANSOUR:

But we cannot meet-- go ahead.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. But I want to go back to the International Criminal Court. Because if you go ahead with this on April 1, you already have Israel withholding tax revenue to the Palestinian Authority.

RIYAD MANSOUR:

And that is also an illegal thing to do.

CHUCK TODD:

But the United States, it is the United States, law, it was passed in a congressional resolution, that if you do this, the U.S. with withhold its funds. Are you willing to risk the financial stability of the Palestinian Authority by going this route? Which, by the way, the International Criminal Court has been unsuccessful at going after people who have truly committed horrid crimes. This is not a reliable place to go.

RIYAD MANSOUR:

Listen, you know, what people should appreciate what we were doing, we are refusing to seek violent ways to try to resolve this conflict. We are seeking peaceful ways, whether through the security council, which we have been blocked often, or through a legitimate international criminal court or the International Court of Justice.

We are seeking peaceful, legal methods to seek accountability, to address these issues, and to fight for the rights for the causes of the Palestinian people. So those who are punishing us for doing so, what message are they giving us?

CHUCK TODD:

Okay.

RIYAD MANSOUR:

Their message that they're giving us, "Go and fight," and we don't want to fight.

CHUCK TODD:

Well--

RIYAD MANSOUR:

We don't want to be like other states--

CHUCK TODD:

--don't want to do that, then are you going to renounce your partnership with Hamas?

RIYAD MANSOUR:

Well, this is another issue. And I am glad that you posed the question. When we were divided, it was not true that it was not the policy of the Prime Minister Netanyahu. I heard with my own ears the ambassador of Israel in the United Nations, who was speaking on behalf of Prime Minister Netanyahu, saying in the Security Council--

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

RIYAD MANSOUR:

--debates, "How can we negotiate with Mahmoud Abbas when he doesn't represent all the Palestinians?"

CHUCK TODD:

But will you renounce--

RIYAD MANSOUR:

So when we were divided, they did not want to negotiate with us. When we are united, they don't want to negotiate with us. And by the way, it was Prime Minister Netanyahu who negotiated with Hamas a ceasefire during the second war with Gaza. And it was him who negotiated--

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

RIYAD MANSOUR:

--with Hamas the release of prisoners.

CHUCK TODD:

So that--

RIYAD MANSOUR:

Why is it legitimate for him to negotiate with Hamas and it is not legitimate for us to put our house in order?

CHUCK TODD:

All right. I will leave it there. You have answered my question then on Hamas. Riyad Mansour, I appreciate you coming on Meet the Press.

RIYAD MANSOUR:

Thank you.

CHUCK TODD:

Let's bring in the panel, John Stanton, Helene Cooper, Jane Harman, Rich Lowry. Helene, where do things stand right now? I mean it is shockingly intractable. Okay, we know that. But what does it mean for U.S. and Israel?

HELENE COOPER:

I think, at the end of the day, look, at the end of the day, the underlying relationship is always going to be there. And this is, you know, the United States is Israel's biggest and most important ally. And, you know, Israel is a big and important ally for the United States.

So all of the security guarantees that the United States has given Israel for years, all of the military aid, all the protection, that's going to-- the security protection, that's untouchable. And it's there to stay. What's different now, and this has been-- I've covered this issue for years.

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

HELENE COOPER:

And as a reporter, you call the White House, you call the State Department, you're like, "Oh, I bet you guys are really pissed off about Bibi, about this and that." And for years, I would hear, "Oh, you reporters, you're just--

CHUCK TODD:

Over-reading.

HELENE COOPER:

--you're over-reading, there you go again, making mischief." Gone.

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah.

HELENE COOPER:

This time, this week, and I started making calls, and I was shocked at the level of anger. And they were proposing-- they were bringing, they're the ones who brought up the U.N., the idea that they may not protect Israel in the U.N. Security Council, that it's--

CHUCK TODD:

I wanted to jump off there on the U.N. thing. Jane Harman, I heard almost a resignation in the ambassador's voice, Ambassador Dermer's voice, that this U.N. resolution's coming. It's almost as if they're more concerned about how it's going to be worded. He started talking about-- and so it's a fait accompli. Do you buy that?

JANE HARMAN:

Not yet. But certainly the momentum has shifted. Helene is right. And by the way, she was an exceptional scholar at The Wilson Center. And kudos to you and to Andrea Mitchell for the superb first interview with Bibi. Got to get out my--

CHUCK TODD:

There you go.

JANE HARMAN:

--shout outs.

JANE HARMAN:

You'll get your turn Rich. I think that there's a lot that has to happen before the U.N. vote. And that includes some moves by Congress.

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

JANE HARMAN:

I heard Lindsey Graham’s threat yesterday that he wants Congress to withhold U.S. funding to the U.N.. So I think there are a lot of moving parts. But I'm from California. This is an earthquake.

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

JANE HARMAN:

And the perceptions have shifted. Regardless of what Bibi said before--

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

JANE HARMAN:

--or said during the campaign. And Helene is right, that at least in the U.S., and I would guess, in many parts of the world, people are viewing this differently. And it matters what Bibi's next moves are.

CHUCK TODD:

And that's the problem for Netanyahu, isn't it, Rich, is that if U.S. has been sort of standing in the way of even Western Europe from doing boycotts and all of these things. How does he get out of--

RICH LOWRY:

Well, let's be honest about what's going on here. Bibi won an election when everyone on the left and the White House, around the world, thought he was going to lose, and was ready to dance a happy jig on his political grave. And it didn't happen. And we've had this temper tantrum ever since. On top of this, President Obama hates him with a burning passion. It's as if Ted Cruz was the leader of a major ally--

RICH LOWRY:

Think about this, Chuck. We're on the verge of a major diplomatic revolution, where we're going to forge an opening with Iran, and relieve Iran of its U.N. obligations to end its nuclear program. At the same time, we're going to start isolating Israel at the U.N.. This is completely perverse and makes no strategic sense.

CHUCK TODD:

And John Stanton, the last person that needs this is Hillary Clinton.

CHUCK TODD:

She does not want a rift with Israel by Obama, does she?

JOHN STANTON:

No, she doesn't. But I think also, in a sense, it could help her, in a way. Because it could provide her the opportunity to make a very stark statement of, "I would not do this." It helps separate her from Obama, which is something that she's going to need a little bit in the election.

CHUCK TODD:

Because I'll be curious if the left wants to hear that. So I don't know. But we're going to talk a lot more about 2016. So let me pause it there. Coming up, California's Jerry Brown on fighting climate change. And wait until you hear how he says he may have considered a 2016 presidential run. You're not going to want to miss what he has to say.

***Commercial Break***

CHUCK TODD:

Well, if you're only tuning in on Sundays, you may already be behind on the conversation. From analysis of the Israeli elections results, to how 2016 and the candidates are already past their honeymoon phase, despite the fact that almost no one has actually declared. Our NBC Politics team has been delivering this and more to your inbox every morning. Those are just the headlines last week.

So go to FirstRead.NBCNews.com to sign up for our daily political newsletter First Read so you can get that wisdom before it becomes conventional. When we come back, the California governor sounds off about climate change, Ted Cruz, and his own 2016 plans.

***Commercial Break***

CHUCK TODD:

And welcome back. This week, there was more evidence that climate change is indeed having a big impact with the news that the level of sea ice in the Arctic has now fallen to a record low. And while the issue is still polarizing there in Washington, President Obama has tried to make fighting climate change a priority in his second term. On Thursday, he signed an executive order that directs the federal government to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40% from 2008 levels and to make that cut over the next decade.

And California's Governor, Jerry Brown is now proposing $1.1 billion emergency funding package to deal with that state's severe drought. And it has blighted that state for four years. On Friday, I was joined by Governor Brown. And I started by asking him if drought conditions in California are now the new normal.

GOV. JERRY BROWN:

It's turning out that way. What we're really doing here is accelerating funding that I asked for in January. We're moving it faster, adding some new programs, trying to push the envelope, as it were, because any kind of building or technology, whether it be for efficiency or storage, it does take time. And we are running out of time because it is not raining.

California has to take decisive action, and it has. We have the first water action plan in the state's history, we have a $7 billion water bond that we're drawing funds from, and very importantly, for the first time, the state of California has the authority to start regulating the water that's under the ground, on private property. Very far-reaching and the implementation of that will go a long way to helping us.

CHUCK TODD:

Do you think that before you leave as governor, you're going to end up having to ration water?

GOV. JERRY BROWN:

I don't want to speculate on that, because first of all, mandatory rationing is a word that you have to apply to 14 million homes and hundreds of water districts. This thing has to be developed very carefully. We're watching it on a weekly, even a daily basis. There are many parts of California, many people, many businesses, many farmers, many homes.

And some people are already in rationing in the town of St. Helena. Others think they have a lot of water. Well, we're a big state, very diverse, and we're managing it, I think, in an intelligent way. And increasingly, we're taking more mandatory measures.

CHUCK TODD:

Is there any particular industry, part of the state, that isn't taking this as seriously as you'd like them to take it?

GOV. JERRY BROWN:

Well, I think those that have good water storage and have been more prudent, are not as anxious as they should. I think the whole spectre of some of these golf courses where the temperatures are 85° out, they're going to have to find a way to absolutely recycle 100% and introduce these restrictions.

But we'll know more, the rainy season is over in three weeks. So we'll know even more then. But have no doubt, our best water experts and scientists, regulators, are looking at this as we speak. And we're getting ready to respond as mother nature tells us what's up ahead.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, speaking of mother nature, this drought issue, directly attributable to climate change in your opinion?

GOV. JERRY BROWN:

Look, they say the scientists know more about it. I will tell you this, our research results that now say there's a connection to the current drought and extreme weather in the East, other parts of the world, the UN has already said there's going to be 40% of the world will suffer from water shortage.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, I want to go back there. Are your scientists not yet saying this drought is connected to climate change? Is that why you were hesitant?

GOV. JERRY BROWN:

No, what I meant is to particularize a particular storm or absence of rain and a given week, you can't tie that into the build up, unprecedented of carbon dioxide and methane and other greenhouse gasses. We know there is some connection and we know that this drought is just the kind of things that are absolutely inevitable in the coming years and decades.

And it builds up slowly. That's the challenge. And it becomes irreversible. So you can't just sit around and engage in rhetoric because some of your donors and your constituents say, "Well, we want to make profit." The coal companies are not as important as the people of America and the people of the world. And I think this has to be almost at the level of a crusade to wake people up and take the steps intelligently, carefully, but nevertheless, forcefully, from this point going forward.

CHUCK TODD:

As you know, the issue of climate change is polarizing. I'm going to play for you a clip this week from one of the Republican presidential candidates on the issue of climate change. Here it is.

SETH MEYERS (ON TAPE):

Because I think the world's on fire, literally. Hottest year on record — but you're not there, right?

SEN. TED CRUZ (ON TAPE):

I just came back from New Hampshire where there's snow and ice everywhere. And my view actually is simple. Debates on this should follow science and should follow data. And many of the alarmists on global warming, they've got a problem because the science doesn't back them up.

CHUCK TODD:

That was Republican Senator Ted Cruz, a likely presidential candidate saying what he said on climate change. What do you say, because you've dealt with some Republican skeptics in California on this.

GOV. JERRY BROWN:

I say what he said is absolutely false. Over 90% of the scientists who deal with climate are absolutely convinced that the human activity, the industrial activity, the generation of CO2, methane, oxides and nitrogen and all the rest of those greenhouse gasses are building up in the atmosphere, they're heat-trapping, and they're causing not just warm drought in California, but severe storms and cold in the East Coast.

So it's climate disruption of many different kinds. And that man betokens such a level of ignorance and a direct falsification of the existing scientific data. It's shocking and I think that man has rendered himself absolutely unfit to be running for office.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, speaking climate change, some environmentalists are not happy with you because of fracking, that you've allowed fracking to go on in California. I know you have a study coming out later in the summer where you may make a final decision on that. But considering how much water, by the way, is used for fracking, isn't that alone, your water crisis in California, isn't that alone enough reason to prohibit fracking or temporarily stop it?

GOV. JERRY BROWN:

No, not at all. First of all, fracking in California has been going on for more than 50 years. It uses a fraction of the water of fracking on the East Coast for gas, particularly. This is vertical fracking for the most part. It is different. California imports 70% of our petroleum products.

Our cars drive over 330 billion miles, mostly on petroleum. If we reduce our oil drilling in California by a few percent, which a ban on fracking would do, and we import more oil by train or by boat, that doesn't make a lot of sense. What we need to do is to move to electric cars, more efficient buildings, and more renewable energy. And in that respect, California is leading the country and some would say even the world, and we're going to continue moving down that path.

CHUCK TODD:

I know what you've said about a presidential race for yourself. But let me ask the 2016 question this way. What are the three issues these presidential candidates should be talking about and probably will be dealing with in their first year in office in 2017?

GOV. JERRY BROWN:

Well, I think you've got to get a budget that lives within its means. And you can't spend 21% or 22% of the gross domestic product and only collect 18%. So you have to find some ways of getting some revenue, particularly on our roads and highways and transportation and trains and bridges.

Pretty fundamental. Secondly, I think climate change is very important. And thirdly, we have to invest in science, in technology, in our universities, and that's building for the future and not stealing from it. So I'd like to see a positive agenda and not the mythology that somehow the government can retract to what it was in 1929 under Calvin Coolidge, carried forth under Hoover.

CHUCK TODD:

If you were ten years younger, would you be running this year?

GOV. JERRY BROWN:

Yes, I would.

CHUCK TODD:

You would be running for president?

GOV. JERRY BROWN:

Well, I can't say, I've ran three times, so if I could go back in a time machine and be 66, I might jump in. But that's a counterfactual, so we don't need to speculate on that.

CHUCK TODD:

Governor Jerry Brown, the both oldest and youngest governors of California. Thanks for coming on Meet the Press, sir.

GOV. JERRY BROWN:

Thank you.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

All right, let's get some quick reaction from the panel. Jane Harman, he's your governor. You're in California.

JANE HARMAN:

Oh, is he ever.

CHUCK TODD:

How 'bout the odyssey?

JANE HARMAN:

Go Jerry.

CHUCK TODD:

Absolutely, yes.

JANE HARMAN:

I loved it. And--

CHUCK TODD:

Should he run anyway?

JANE HARMAN:

That's his call. (CHUCKLE) You know, hey, what's old isn't old to me anymore. (LAUGHTER) But I don't remember him as a young governor, too. He's better now. This is Jerry Brown reaching the gold standard.

CHUCK TODD:

Look, speaking of democrats and presidential politics, John Stanton, today's Boston Globe, let me put it up. They basically have an entire special section devoted to trying to convince Elizabeth Warren to run for president. I know The Boston Globe is used to somebody from Massachusetts always running for president. So maybe they realize their expense accounts are going to get smaller if they don't have a presidential candidate at The Globe. But it is the editorial calls on her to run. Three supporting articles from op-ed writers saying why she should do this. Do you think these draft things can work?

JOHN STANTON:

With Warren, no. I don't. I think she's not going to run. I think she probably really enjoys this. And I think that, for her, and for people that are smart about what they're doing with these drafted movements, they're going to try to bring her big issues to the table. And they're going to try to make her a very loud voice in the Democrat Party during the election to try to keep her really to the left as far as they can.

CHUCK TODD:

I think the day she got in is the day she loses that influence of pulling Hillary to the left. Rich Lowry, tomorrow NBC News can confirm the first official candidate for president, a major candidate for president, Ted Cruz, freshman Senator from Texas, still technically a freshman Senator. What's interesting, he's doing it at Liberty University, founded, a university founded by the Reverend Jerry Falwell, the late Reverend Jerry Falwell. What does that tell you? This is not about Virginia and a swing state.

RICH LOWRY:

Yeah.

CHUCK TODD:

What does that tell you?

RICH LOWRY:

Well first of all, I think it's shrewd for him to go first. Because in a month, we're going to be so sick of these presidential announcements. They're going to be so--

(OVERTALK)

CHUCK TODD:

--unique one to be first.

RICH LOWRY:

Yeah. The location goes to the fact that his path to nomination requires united the populist right. And it means the likes of Ben Carson and Mike Huckabee have to fizzle on the launching pad. It means Scott Walker needs to lose some altitude. And all that's possible. But this is an inherently crowded running lane that he's in

CHUCK TODD:

Right. Well, especially social conservatives. And you look at it and you see, Helene, Mike Huckabee, you know, does he not be able to raise the money? Scott Walker wants a piece of this. I think Cruz thinks he could win Iowa. Huckabee's proven it. If he's the candidate of evangelicals, he can win Iowa.

HELENE COOPER:

I think absolutely. It feels right now like we're in a Game of Thrones sort of-- l (LAUGHTER)

(OVERTALK)

HELENE COOPER:

It really does, though.

(OVERTALK)

HELENE COOPER:

But this-- I know this feels very shrewd on the part of Cruz. I think-- I think Rich is right. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I actually think Rich is right.

(OVERTALK)

HELENE COOPER:

I'm not going to say it again.

(OVERTALK)

CHUCK TODD:

This candidate-- Jerry Brown just handed him his first fundraising material, right to the right, anyway.

RICH LOWRY:

The email's already in our inbox.

CHUCK TODD:

I've got a little more presidential politics coming up. In fact, it will be Nerd Screen time next. I'm going to take a look at just how different the primary electorates are between the Republicans and the Democrats and who shows up to these primaries for 2016. We'll be right back.

***Commercial Break***

CHUCK TODD:

Nerd Screen time. While we wait to see which candidates decide to run, might have one tomorrow, this Sunday we wanted to take a look at the Democratic and Republican presidential primary electorates, the voters who will decide who gets their party's nomination in 2016. We wanted to show you just how different these two groups of voters are.

We got all of this from our most recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, asking people which primary do they plan on voting in. So here's what we found out. Let's start with the Republicans. Over half of the Republican primary electorate is over the age of 50, male, and almost completely white. 95% of the Republican primary electorate is white.

Now take a look at the Democrats. More than half of their electorate is under the age of 50, female, and less than two thirds are white. So just look at the white vote percentages among primary voters. Here's what could spell trouble for the Republicans in the general election. And here's why.

Over the last six presidential elections, as the country's become more racially diverse, the percentage of white voters in the general election has been steadily dropping. In 1992, look at that, it was 87%. In 2012, it's gone all the way down to 72%. Democratic primary electorate is 62% white, more closely reflecting this overall trend than the Republican primary electorate, sitting at 95% white. And in 2016, the expectation is it's probably going to be just 70% white, 30% non-white.

So Democrats have an inherent advantage here. Demographics are a problem for Republicans, because older, white, Republican voters tend to be more conservative. The candidates will have to go farther to the right to win the nomination. And remember, they make up 95% of the primary electorate. And then they have to swing back to the center in the general election to appeal to a more diverse group of voters. They’re not appealing to a diverse group of voters in their primary. Romney failed to do that in 2012. For more on this and the ideological split between the two primary voters, head to our website. We've got a lot more on that.

***Commercial Break***

CHUCK TODD:

And we are back. Before we end the show, with the panel in our endgame segment, this week marks the 70th anniversary of the culmination of one of the bloodiest and most iconic episodes of the Second World War, the Battle for Iwo Jima off the coast of Japan. This weekend, some of the few surviving Japanese and American veterans have gathered on the island. And one veteran has been reflecting on all of this with our own Harry Smith.

(BEGIN TAPE)

HARRY SMITH:

Lawrence Snowden was a 22-year-old rifle company commander when he first laid eyes on Iwo Jima. Seven years later, the memories are not so far away.

LAWRENCE SNOWDEN:

I've carried 231 Marines to shore. 36 days later, we walked off, only 99 of us.

HARRY SMITH:

Iwo Jima, where more than 20,000 U.S. Marines were either killed or wounded. The sands are sacred, consecrated by sacrifice.

LAWRENCE SNOWDEN:

When we first landed, and within the first hour, it wasn't too bad. And then the bottom fell out, and it got worse. Then, you know, we lost 2,000 men the first day.

HARRY SMITH:

Those who survived saw their comrades fall in a rain of enemy fire. The man who would become Lieutenant General Snowden held a Marine he knew was dying.

LAWRENCE SNOWDEN:

I got kind of emotional about that as I held this young man. And my prayer then was to God and says, "Take this man home. Stop all the suffering. Take him away now."

HARRY SMITH:

After five days of fighting, Joe Rosenthal took The Picture, Marines planting the American flag on Japanese soil atop Mount Suribachi. Victory here, though, would not be achieved for more than a month. This tiny spit of sulfurous rock hid 11 miles of tunnels. The Japanese were dug in and vowed to fight until their death.

LAWRENCE SNOWDEN:

There was no battle in which the Marine rush didn’t bear the brunt of the battle. And no other battle that I know of was the individual performance of the Marines were swapping for victory.

CHUCK TODD:

A 70th anniversary reunion of honor was held Saturday on Iwo Jima. Once-bitter enemies gathered in peace to recall the sacrifices made here. And the old general has but one wish.

LAWRENCE SNOWDEN:

That's my hope, that eventually the young people get the message that somebody has to pay for freedom. And while their forebears did it, now it may turn out to be your turn.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

That, of course, was my colleague, Harry Smith, with retired Lieutenant General Lawrence Snowden, on the 70th anniversary of Iwo Jima, a battle whose monument strikes a chord with almost every American. So we thought we should tell you the story behind the picture. Don't go anywhere. The panel will be back for our endgame in less than a minute.

***Commercial Break***

CHUCK TODD:

Back now with the panel, End Game time. Loretta Lynch, she's still not confirmed. She was nominated before Ash Carter was nominated to be Defense Secretary. Ash Carter's been confirmed, she has not. Listen to what President Obama had to say to Huffington Post on Friday about Loretta Lynch.

PRESIDENT OBAMA (ON TAPE):

The irony is, of course, that the Republicans would dislike Mr. Holder. If they really want to get rid of him, the best way to do it is to go ahead and get Loretta Lynch confirmed.

CHUCK TODD:

Rich Lowry, you wrote this week that she should not be confirmed. And here's what you wrote, "Whether she thinks the executive branch can, in effect, write laws on its own is a threshold question." You're referring to the immigration-- executive order of the president. "Her answer in the affirmative should be disqualifying, no matter how impressive her career has otherwise been, or how historic her confirmation would be." This is the stance John McCain is using ,the same reasoning on this. Don't you expect President Obama, if she goes down, to either keep Eric Holder, who also agrees?

(OVERTALK)

CHUCK TODD:

What's the end game here? To borrow a phrase

(OVERTALK)

RICH LOWRY:

The Holder thing is unavoidable. The endgame is to maintain the principle that I think is in accord with the Senate's institutional self respect and constitutional faithfulness that the Senate will not put its imprimatur on an attorney general that has the view the president can write the laws on its own. It just won't. And if that means no one else is confirmed and Eric Holder's there another two years, so be it. It's nothing against her personally. I don't care if she's Elliot Ness. The Senate can't do this.

CHUCK TODD:

And so your advice to Mitch McConnell is don't-- he wants to use it as a bargaining chip. You think it should be a personal decision?

RICH LOWRY:

I don't think she should--

(OVERTALK)

RICH LOWRY:

I don't think she should come up for a vote. Look, I think when you have--

CHUCK TODD:

You wouldn’t even bring her up for a vote? Why?

RICH LOWRY:

Because of this principle. I think it's that important.

(OVERTALK)

RICH LOWRY:

Don't even bring her up for a vote. Say, "Look, as a matter of faithfulness to the constitution, no attorney general nominee who has the view that Congress can be cut out of the law writing process should even be considered."

CHUCK TODD:

Jane Harman, you're a former member of Congress. What do you say to this?

JANE HARMAN:

I'm bursting out of my seat. I remember Bush 41, term one, when the Commander-in-Chief authorities were used to do everything. And I was in Congress as the senior Democrat on the Intelligence Committee. And we were cut out of a lot of the backup for these new rules and laws.

And I just want to say one thing about her. She's superbly qualified. She will render impartial judgment. And then the point here is the President's using his authority to issue executive orders, not to write laws.

RICH LOWRY:

No, no, no, no. I mean look, they say it's prosecutorial discretion, what they're doing. But that has to do with individual immigration officers making case by case decisions. The President's saying this can apply to five million people. It's a whole new category of law--

(OVERTALK)

CHUCK TODD:

By the way, the courts are going to decide.

(OVERTALK)

RICH LOWRY:

Congress can have its own view of what is constitutional or not.

CHUCK TODD:

Right. John Stanton, obviously there's some Republicans who sit here and say quietly wondering, "Does this make the party look bad? They're standing in the way of an historic nomination, African-American woman." Nobody, even the president himself, not suggesting race is playing a role here. But some African-Americans see it as race.

JOHN STANTON:

Some do, and Dick Durbin sort of explicitly said it on the Senate floor the other day. I don't think it has anything to do with race.

(OVERTALK)

CHUCK TODD:

This is all about immigration.

JOHN STANTON:

All about immigration, and it's not about McConnell finding himself in a bit of a box. I mean this is what he wanted to avoid. He did want to get her done early.

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah.

JOHN STANTON:

And I mean these people would say to you the explicitly what the president said. "We don't want Holder around anymore. We want to get rid of him." And I think he's now this could in the end help them in a sense, because it could hurt her politically enough that they may be able to tamp her down a bit when she's finally--

(OVERTALK)

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah.

JOHN STANTON:

--confirmed. But it's going to be tough.

CHUCK TODD:

Helene Cooper, let me quote Rudy Giuliani. Rich, have you seen this?

(OVERTALK)

CHUCK TODD:

"I find Loretta Lynch not only to be an acceptable appointment, but I find her to be an extraordinary appointment." I'm going to be shocked if the White House is sending Rudy Giuliani, given--

(OVERTALK)

HELENE COOPER:

You never know. They might at some point. But she's hard to--

CHUCK TODD:

She may not get confirmed. I'm no longer assuming she does.

HELENE COOPER:

I'm not assuming it, either. But it's very hard to imagine, with the sort of atmosphere that we now have, and the deep divisions between President Obama and the Republican Congress, who we can come up with who would be both palatable to President Obama and this Republican Congress--

(OVERTALK)

CHUCK TODD:

Chuck Schumer came up with Mike Mukasey, for everybody-- thought that-- with a Democratic Senate, and he came up with that, right, Rich? And he came up, and Schumer. So I guess maybe Cornyn has to come up with something. That would be the next-- all right. Finally, I want to go to Illinois Congressman Aaron Schock. He was on this week, and then a Congressional probe and illegal use of taxpayer money. Federal investigators open a preliminary inquiry into Schock, which could lead to charges.

Schock is hardly, though, the first politician from the land of Lincoln to be under federal investigation. In fact, his allegations may not even crack the top five of corruption in Illinois. Quick snapshot of Illinois politicians who ended up behind bars. Look at this: four governors, one currently serving time, Rod Blagojevich, back to back governors, John Stanton. We got Jesse Jackson, Jr. He replaced somebody who also was behind bars. I mean Aaron Schock here, if he doesn't end up in prison, he's not even in the Sweet 16 of corruption in Illinois.

JOHN STANTON:

Illinois sort of become the new Louisiana for your stereotypical, you know, like, oh my gosh, you obviously are going to be some kind of corruption going on in your background, I guess with these politicians.

(OVERTALK)

RICH LOWRY:

--very tough bracket when it came to corruption.

(OVERTALK)

CHUCK TODD:

It really is. But this scamming of mileage stuff. I mean what are they thinking? This seems petty, no?

JANE HARMAN:

Hubris is a sad thing. And it erupts all over the place, including in business, even in politics. Oops. But it seems to me in this case that its a sad story.

CHUCK TODD:

It is.

(OVERTALK)

JANE HARMAN:

Yeah. Rather than mock him, feel very sad that Congress, once again, has been stained by the behavior of a member.

CHUCK TODD:

It has sullied itself. All right. Thank you all. Congratulations, Illinois. That's all for today. We'll be back next week, because if it's Sunday, it's Meet the Press.