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tv   Meet the Press  MSNBC  March 16, 2015 1:00am-2:01am PDT

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gets caught on tape. this sunday, letter to the ayatollah. why did 47 republicans write to iran's supreme leader? and why some of them now regret it. >> i'm embarrassed for them. plus is hillary clinton too big to fail? >> i opted for convenience to use my personal e-mail account. >> what the roefrscontroversy over her e-mails could mean for the presidential bid and why there is no plan b. and the class divide. we asked americans where they think they belong. are you really middle class? and in the endgame, lindsey graham started it here on "meet the press." >> i don't e-mail -- no you can have every e-mail i've ever sent. i've never sent one. >> now the other washington politicians who admit never
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taking that bridge to the 21st century. i'm chuck todd. joining me to provide insight and analysis this morning are matt bai of yahoo! news, former hillary clinton press secretary karen finney, my colleague andrea mitchell here at nbc and former senior adviser to mitt romney, kevin madden. welcome to sunday. it's "meet the press." >> from nbc news in washington, this is "meet the press." with chuck todd. >> good morning. the white house is hitting back hard on the issue of iran. late last night they sent their own letter to senate republicans. the message, don't meddle and blow our chances of getting any deal. this, of course, comes after 47 republican senators warned iran's supreme leader or was it president obama they were warning, that congress could undo any deal the president makes? the gop presidential contenders were quick to endorse the letter's message. but democrats and some prorepublican newspapers blasted the move. by week's end, some signers of tom cotton's letter were
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expressing regret. keep this in mind. it is not just the united states negotiating with iran. five other countries are also involved and they too denounce the tactic. a not so subtle reminder if there is no deal, the only country left sanctioning iran will be the united states. in the end, this letter controversy may be nothing more than a side show to the main event. will any deal actually curb iran's growing influence in both iraq and the wider middle east? nbc's chief global correspondent bill neely joins me from northern iraq where iranian militias have joined the fight against isis and, bill that very point, iraq is making some real progress against isis over the last couple of weeks. but could they have been doing it without the help of these iranian militias? >> reporter: i think the answer is no, chuck. iran's role in iraq has never been so visible, though. iranian backed militias are everywhere. their colors are everywhere. 20,000 men and suleman, who is head of iran's most elite forces in tikrit he's directing dozens
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of iranian officers operating drones artillery and rocket systems. now saudi arabia's foreign minister says all of that shows iran is taking over iraq and it is true that iran's militias are answerable not to baghdad, but to tehran. it is ironic in the 1980s, iran and iraq saw a terrible war with a stalemate with a million dead. you could argue iran is now winning the fight if you like, winning the war for a broken iraq. >> the old war 30 years ago. you brought up saudi arabia and their concerns about iran. i think the reason they're concerned it seems to be this widening sphere of influence that iran has not just on iraq, but in a lot of countries that touched saudi arabia. >> reporter: yeah, there is a bigger battle here, a battle for regional dominance, a battle really with the sunni kingdom of saudi arabia and that goes back thousands of years. persians against arabs. iran is consolidating an ark of
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influence from lebanon where its i'll allies have dominated, to iraq and it is a shiite-dominated government to yemen where a shiite hussey has dominated. you could say that this -- the worry is this ark of influence will deepen and that is the worry about the nuclear negotiations. sunnis fear iran's influence will simply consolidate. now, if iran helps defeat isis in iraq, what kind of a victory really in the end is that for the united states? >> well, the complexities of this iranian relationship bill neely thanks for setting that up well for us. i'm joined now by retired admiral mike mullen, the former chairman of the joint chiefs. admiral mullen welcome back to "meet the press." >> good morning, chuck. >> let me start with this basic question here, is it a good thing or a bad thing that iran is such an important ally of
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iraq right now in defeating isis? >> well, i think it is -- it is a part of what is going on in iraq, that we have to accept. the number one priority there, i think, is to defeat isis. but i don't think we should ever lose sight of the fact that this iranian regime as well as the irgc and specifically the leadership of the iccg has committed a lot of terrorist activities in the region that actually led against us in the iraq war and killed many americans. and so the -- the working together right now in a constructive way to eliminate the number one threat in iraq, i don't think that opens the door for accepting who they are, and what they have done in the past. and once we're beyond isis, i think that certainly the
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relationship that we have with iran from the standpoint of what they have done for so long will be based on the elimination of those kinds of terrorist activities that are evident throughout the region. >> did the united states make a strategic mistake when on one hand we were rhetorically saying we were going to get rid of isis, do everything it takes but not follow that up with forces on the ground so instead iraq and frankly some in syria have had to turn to iran? >> i think that the question of boots on the ground is one that is obviously widely debated. i'm hard pressed to believe that iran wouldn't be in doing what they're doing no matter -- no matter what forces we may or may not have on the ground. and quite frankly as someone who is not in the know on a regular basis, i would be hard pressed to give you a recommendation one way or another. suffice it to say, isis is the one we need to eliminate there
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and then actually figure out how we're going to progress against them in syria as well. >> i want to play you something that senator graham said to me last week and get your opinion on what he said. here it is. >> there is a root cause of this problem in the middle east as much as isil. i fear them more than i fear isil. >> you fear iran more than isis? >> absolutely. not any close. >> admiral mullen do you fear iran long-term more than isis? >> i do actually. i think iran is a much more difficult challenge, incredibly complex country that we don't understand very well. we have had had no relations with them for 35 years. there is a complexity inside that country that is represented by enormous tension on the part of president rouhani who is considered to be a reformer, was somewhat of a surprise selectee as president. and the ideological faction led
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by the supreme leader and it is the supreme leader and his ideological group, if you will, that lead in the judiciary, and lead with respect to the military. and this whole focus on the nuclear deal is part of where i think president rouhani wants to get so that possibly he's got a chance with elections next year, in -- with respect to those who will select the next supreme leader, with parliamentary elections in the spring to possibly turn it in a more constructive, reformed direction for the country of iran, and a future that is much more integral to the international community. >> all right, very quickly last question. you were one of the co-chairs of the investigation into the state department and their workings on the benghazi attack and what happened and what went wrong.
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seeing all this controversy about hillary clinton's e-mails do you believe you had all the information at the time to make the assessment that you made at that time with that arb report? >> i'm very comfortable, chuck. i stated this several times with the arb and what we reviewed and the conclusions that we reached in that regard. and i'll certainly let those who are continuing to investigate get to the details of what has recently occurred, but again i'm comfortable with time pickering and myself and other members of the arb and what we did and what we recommended to the secretary of state. >> admiral mullen, thank you for your time and thank you for your service over the years. >> thank you, chuck. >> well, an interview with vice news that runs tomorrow, president obama couldn't contain his anger at the 47 republican senators who wrote the letter to the ayatollah. take a listen. >> i'm embarrassed for them. for them to address a letter to
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the ayatollah, who they claim is our mortal enemy, and their basic argument to them is don't deal with our president, because you can't trust him to follow through on agreement. that's close to unprecedented. >> by the way, that distracting background noise is courtesy of vice. that's how they decided to release the clip. we tried our best to tone it down. wasn't much we could do. for more on iran, i'm joined by senator roger wicker of mississippi, chair of the republican national senatorial committee member of the leadership. he signed that leader. and democrat tim kaine of virginia, who actually has been critical of the letter signers, but skeptical of any deal that could get cut with iran on the nuclear front. senators kaine and wicker, welcome back to "meet the press" for both of you. senator wicker, let me start with you. this morning i know some senators regretted some parts of the letter. do you have any regrets on signing the letter, on who it was addressed to, on how this controversy bubbled up this
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week? >> no, i don't have any regrets at all. i stand by the letter. and i think it is interesting that we have had so much talk about process, just like we had talked about process with prime minister netanyahu's speech rather than dealing with the substance. and, you know, i was struck by what i think i heard admiral mullen say. he said he fears iran more than he fears the islamic state. and he has reason to say that. i mean, this is the country that we're negotiating with on this agreement. they are the chief exporter of terrorism around in that region. the president's own northern command admiral just last week said they are not abiding by the international inspection regime. and they're developing new intercontinental ballistic missiles. i think the substance should be that this is a country that we're negotiating with, that frankly our president and our
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secretary of state feel pretty comfortable with and i don't have much confidence that any agreement that they make they will abide by. >> let me ask you this if there is no agreement, the sanctions are going to go away from all the other countries except the united states. britain, france, germany, russia, china, it is likely they all walk away from these sanctions, so it seems as if this is a box. >> well, i don't know that they have said that. if that's their announced position, then indeed they are negotiating with one hand tied behind their back. to me everything should be on the table that's always been our position as a united states when dealing with an adversary. if, in fact, our negotiating partners and members of the other negotiating team, some of whom are closer to us than others, if they're in fact saying, rarldegard lts howless how
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this comes out we're out of the sanction regime that's not the way to get a strong deal for the west. >> senator kaine, to you here. there is a letter this morning from the white house chief of staff on behalf of the white house, addressed to senator corker. it has to do with potential legislation that you are also a co-sponsor to that has to do with congress' role in approving a nuclear deal. here is what denis mcdonough writes. we believe the legislation would likely have a profoundly negative impact on the ongoing negotiations, emboldening iranian hard-liners. moreover, if congressional action is perceived as prevent us from reaching a deal electronic will create disks within divisions within the international community, putting at risk the very intentions of iran what do you say to the president? >> i'm a proud co-sponsor of the legislation and, look, the white house is frustrated with congress because congress is taking action in the last few weeks showing an unacceptable
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level of contempt for the office of the president. however, let's be realistic here. the deal that is being negotiated with iran is about what will iran do in order to get out from under congressional sanctions? and so it is unrealistic to think that congress is not going to be involved in looking at a final deal. i am a pro diplomacy senator and i've supported the negotiations to this point. but any deal that touches upon the congressional statutory sanctions is going to get a review of congress. and the only question is are you going to have a constructive deliberate, bipartisan process or are you going to be rushed and partisan? we have seen the wrong way to go about it last week. i hope we will approach it in the careful and deliberate and bipartisan way. >> it is clear the white house is afraid you guys may start voting on this legislation as early as march 24th, later this month, before the end of the month. sounds like the white house is hoping you wait until the -- if there is a framework announced in the next ten days, then the final deal that you guys don't
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touch start talking about this until june. are you willing to wait that long before you and senator corker decide to enact this bill? >> you know, chuck, there is no reason to wait until june on our bill. all our bill does is sets up the process underwhich congress reviews a deal. here is what it does. if the white house gives sanctions relief under executive sanctions, they have complete authority to do that without congress. if they want to give international sanctions relief and can convince partners to do that they can do that without congress. only when they touch the congressional sanctions must congress get involved and we have a 60-day period either to approve the congressional sanctions, disapprove it or take no action and no action is defined as approval. this is a very bipartisan and deliberative approach to looking at something that is fundamentally about our nation's security interests and if they're going to unwind congressional sanctions congress is going to be involved. >> very quickly, will you have a problem if they go to the u.n. first, senator kaine, and get the deal ratified there before
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coming to congress? >> chuck, if they go to the u.n. about international sanctions, they have the complete ability to do that. sanctions that the white house has entered into without congress, they have the ability to take action without congress. when they touch upon congressional sanctions, congress will be involved and what is the process that is bipartisan and deliberative and constructive? >> senator wicker, if they go to the u.n. first, is that a mistake? >> well they do have the right to deal -- the u.n. has the right to deal with u.n. sanctions, but here is the thing to understand about this letter. i would think tim would be frustrated by that letter. what they said this morning, in the new letter, is not only do we get a preliminary deal must congress not pass legislation but they're telling tim kaine and bob corker, people who negotiated with six republicans and six democrats, you can't pass legislation until i, the president get a final deal and negotiate it in june and only
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then will a co-equal branch of the united states government be allowed to weigh in. i would think senator kaine would be frustrated by that. >> i'll leave it there. senator kaine, senator wicker, thank you for coming on this morning. important topic. i bring in my panel now, matt bai, karen finney, kevin madden, andrea mitchell. the white house was tolerating this idea of congress ghoeting involve not getting involved until march. now they look at the calendar it is march. can we wait until june? senator kaine, that's an important moment. he said, no we're going to go in march. >> that's an important moment. and, you know, the problem that the white house has, their caught between the 47 republican senators who many believe went too far in trying to interfere with the negotiating process, and this bipartisan group including corker and kaine, they're big supporters on the foreign relations committee, who want in. they want in on the unilateral sanctions. no reason they can't go to the u.n. and talk about the international sanctions, but the ones that they can deal with and the congress has the right to deal with is immediate.
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look, it is still not clear they're going to get the deal. i say it is now more than 50/50 but there is some really tough negotiating issues still in play including not only when the sanctions will be lifted and how but the inspections process. that's how iran cheated before. and what no one is talking about is that they have not even begun to get clear answers from iran about their missile technology. their warhead technology the delivery systems. you can have a bomb and if you can't deliver it it is not as threatening. that hasn't been clearly on the table. >> kevin, to the politics of this with republicans. michael gerson this is former president bush's speechwriter, wrote this about the letter, the 47 republicans. thises with was a foreign policy maneuver in the middle of the high stakes negotiation with all the gravity and deliberation of a blog posting. it raises questions about the republican majority's capacity to govern. again, michael gerson writing this. that wasn't some liberal columnist writing this. >> if you look at the substance of the letter it was civics
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101 congress and 47 senators stating what they believe was their proper role in this process. i think if you -- if there is a legitimate criticism or concerns about the diplomatic wisdom of it that's fine. but if you listen to senator kaine, and you listen to senator wicker today, they're actually in unison on their criticism of the president and the white house's not bringing them into this process more. and not including them more. the white house should be building support with this congress. >> it does seem like despite what the 47 republican senators did, it didn't chase away tim kaine yet. >> it didn't. but, you know, think about what admiral mullen just said in terms of you have a president of iran who is trying to -- looking towards elections trying to get in nuclear deal to try to move in a more moderate direction. those 47 senators essentially bolstered the extremists, bolstered the military position, right. that actually undermines the person in iran who may be trying to move in a more moderate direction. that doesn't help us either in
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our concerns about what is going on in iraq and the region nor does it help us with our negotiating position. >> i have to say, it doesn't seem like there is a good political outcome here for either party if we look at that and frankly, doesn't look like there is a good strategic outcome no matter what happens with iran. >> well, no because you know, nonproliferation is something -- we have been fortunate remarkably successful over the last 30 years or so with nonproliferation. it is not, you know long-term this continues to be a more and more pressing -- >> are we negotiation nonproliferation or negotiating slowing -- henry kissinger put it are we managing proliferation? >> a great quote and somewhere along the line some president has to turn that corner. never in history have we put the technological genie back in the bottle. >> north korea and saudi arabia and all that, very fast. >> the real problem is not the letter. it is whom it was addressed to. you don't send a letter to the ayatollah. >> i'll hit the pause button there. after the break, it is the
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and welcome back. republicans have made it clear, they're not going to let up on hillary clinton and the furor over her use of a private e-mail server while she was secretary of state. they used this weekend's gop radio address, believe it or not, to say they will try to
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gain access to her e-mails to answer key questions that they still have over benghazi. a controversy many people thought had gone away. so, if clinton hoped her first public comments on the controversy this week would quell the feeding frenzy, she had to be disappointed with the reaction that followed. >> her answer as you might imagine satisfied some, not others. >> hardly anyone is satisfied. >> the story is not going away. >> hillary clinton was supposed to spend the month of march gearing up for an april presidential announcement, which features to friendly audiences and staying above the fray. >> do you have hillary clinton's new e-mail address? >> i can't share it with you. >> instead, she is yet again in the middle of a political and media circus. >> hillary clinton. >> hillary clinton. >> hillary clinton. >> leading some of her democratic supporters to worry her new campaign, like the handling over the controversy of her private e-mail system, will be slow to respond and quick to go off message. >> i believe i have met all of my responsibilities, and the
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server will remain private. >> some democrats are publicly and privately wringing their hands about the familiar drama. an often contentious relationship with the press, forged in the 1992 campaign. >> this will test the character of the press, not only my character that has been tested. >> a familiar cast of characters. >> it is ludicrous and a silly story, a story driven by tabloid journalism. >> a lot of cookie stuff. >> the bare minimum, even to defenders and a penchant for secrecy. >> you just told us you didn't follow the rules because having two separate e-mail addresses would be way too big of a pain. you know what is a far bigger pain? trying to delete 30,000 e-mails. >> clinton remains the democrat with the most fund-raising potential, the best chance of holding obama's coalition together, and of being a barrier breaking candidate. and her allies argue the drama will sub side once shes had a full fledged political operation.
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>> there is not a presidential campaign with 20 people in the office who can return all the calls and xerox all the statements. that's bumpy. >> some democrats are openly wondering if a contested primary is actually a good thing for her. but not all agree with that including 92 clinton rival governor jerry brown. >> certainly not. i can't think of anything i would rather have less where i would be rooting for president than to have a competitor in the primary. >> i'm joined now by republican congressman trey gowdy of south carolina, chairing the special house committee that is investigating the benghazi attack. congressman gowdy joins me from south carolina. welcome back to "meet the press." >> yes sir. thank you. >> let me start with a basic question on the e-mails from hillary clinton. she says she turned over all relevant e-mails from her server. you don't necessarily -- it sounds like you have a trust but verify issue with her. but do you think she's lying? do you think she's not turned over certain documents? do you have reason to believe she's not turned over certain documents?
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>> no sir. i would never accuse anyone of lying unless i had overwhelming proof to that effect. i just know this, we don't get to grade our own papers in life and she had a very unique arrangement with herself as it relates to public records. and it is not just my interest in them. i have a very small subset of her documents, which would be libya. it is the public record in general that i think she bears the burden of proving that all public records are in the public domain, and that any discrepancies between personal and public that she reconciled or resolved those discrepancies in a fair way. >> when it comes to -- you said you want to have her testify twice now. once off camera not in a public way to try to discuss exactly her electronic communications and things like that, and then a second time in a very public way when it comes to all things having to do benghazi and libya itself. is she the main focus of your investigation here? is that why you want her twice?
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>> oh heavens no. i think it was a wall street journal reporter that went and looked at our three previous hearings and i mentioned her name a whopping zero times. so she is a very important part of understanding what happened in libya and benghazi, but, chuck, we're scheduled to interview 50 witnesses between now and the conclusion. so she would be 1/50 of that. her documents at 45,000 that we're reviewing would be a small subset. she's very important. but she is by no means -- she is not even a -- she's not even a central focus. she is certainly not the central focus. >> i would assume that means you're also the cia director at the time david petraeus a big role in that and everything going on in libya and benghazi at the time too, i assume you're in the middle of negotiating with him as well trying to get documents and e-mails from him and schedule his testimony? >> well, we would very much like to talk to general petraeus, as you know. he has been otherwise engaged for the past several months.
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and i'll be curious to see the details of the agreement that he reached with the government, if it includes a cooperation paragraph then certainly we would consider our committee to be worthy of that cooperation, but we have not scheduled his appearance yet. but clearly he's someone else we need to talk to if we want to understand fully what happened before, during and after benghazi. >> let me ask you to respond to something, the national review wrote this week, just as mrs. clinton did not turn over any of her private e-mails until the state department finally asked for them, gowdy by his own account did not issue a subpoena to address a scandal he's long known about until the scandal became public. that in itself is a scandal. essentially the question is, if you knew about this private e-mail issue back in august, of last year, why did you take so long to subpoena and get more information now? >> well, chuck, the power of subpoena is only as good as the power to compel compliance.
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and in my previous job as a prosecutor and i think the author of that article is a former prosecutor also, you had great tools to compel compliance. in the legislative branch, you do not. so we had been working since august to secure access to all of her relevant documents and e-mails, subpoena is kind of the final thing that you do when all else fails. the state department told us they wanted a different kind of relationship with us. and we took them at their word. what we later found is it was kind of a one-sided relationship. the state department is not very cooperative and when we realized that, and i give credit to the reporter, it wasn't our committee that uncovered that, it was a reporter, then we issued a subpoena. >> larger question here, what are you hoping to find that five other investigations haven't found? house intelligence committee investigated benghazi and seemed to clear any of the conspiracy theories away from it. senate intelligence committee issued a report, similar findings. house armed services senate
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homeland security and the original state department accountability review board. what has been missed in these investigations that you're now trying to find? >> well, i can't tell you what has been missed. i can just tell you this, we interviewed nine witnesses so far this year that no other committee of jurisdiction has interviewed. we're looking at documents that no other committee of jurisdiction reviewed. no other committee interviewed susan rice. no other committee interviewed secretary clinton. no other committee interviewed all of the witnesses that were on the ground in benghazi. so we have been asked to write the final definitive accounting. it may or may not corroborate what other committees have done, but frankly corroborating other people's work is not too much to ask when you have four murdered americans. so i'm not on a hunt to necessarily debunk or correct what other people have done. even if you corroborated it it is worth your time. >> are you going to be done with this by the end of this calendar
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year rather than get into '16 and become a player in the presidential race? >> lord i hope so. i would like to be through as quickly as possible. but keep in mind, when you are never told that the secretary of state kept her records, when you're never told that she didn't have a state.gov e-mail account, it does tend to draw things out. so as soon as the witnesses are available to us and the documents, we're going to go ahead and conclude our report. i have no interest zero interest in you and i having this conversation in 2016. but i don't get to fully decide how quickly it is done. i need cooperation from the people who have access to the witnesses and the information. >> trey gowdy, who is heading up this investigation. i appreciate your time this morning. we'll be checking back in. >> yes, sir. >> thank you. all right, let's bring in the panel. matt bai, i'll start with you. you wrote something interesting this week. >> for once. >> for once. the only reason why i brought
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you on. i'll set you up a little bit, you wrote, it wasn't that she couldn't answer the questions coming at her it was that she didn't think she should have to. if i'm a clinton adviser, that's a problem for me. transparency and authenticity is paramount in the social media culture and the lack of it ask mitt romney. >> i don't know, you know, i don't know why edward snowden can't give us all her e-mails and get this over with. why are we still talking about this. >> let's go to somebody else. they must have them. >> they have all of our e-mails. look, there are great advantages to being in the public arena as long as the clintons have been. organization, allies, experience, all of it. the disadvantage, i think is that when you're there that long, you can miss changes in the political culture. you can fight the same battle you fought 20 or 30 years ago. this happens to reporters too. we are not immune to -- >> been there done that disease. >> you don't see what is in front of your face, someone
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younger comes along and gets it. i think she needs to change as a candidate and change her perspective to be successful, especially if you're running against a jeb bush, who makes openness such a theme rand paul, who talks about civil liberties and seekcrecy in government. >> you're a big defender of secretary clinton. you may end up working for her campaign, full disclosure, we don't know. a lot of democrats may work for her campaign. >> trying to get me in trouble here. >> to matt's point a little bit, did secretary clinton have been there, done that disease, where she assumed it was the '90s all over again and maybe was overly defensive? >> i don't think so. i thought she was trying to be sarcastic with her first answer. i think the fact she went out there and did it and said, look, in hindsight, i would have done it differently. for all those who criticize how slow she was, i think she deserves credit that she went out there and did it. that's the other criticism, you wanted to see her come out, i don't think she in any way, shape or form thought -- i think given your interview with trey gowdy, it is obvious this is not
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going away, this was not intended to end the conversation. but i also thought you know, matt made an interesting point in his piece, also more broadly, about hillary and the thematic about hillary in terms of the time that when she became first lady and when that narrative about her and the clintons were set, the country was not ready for someone like her. and so i think she's being held to a different standard, i would argue, jeb bush has a lot of problems with his e-mails. it is transparency is paramount to becoming commander in chief let's have the same standard for everybody and she's already turned over 55,000 pages. >> the problem is, jeb got ahead of it. she had an opportunity to get more ahead of it. >> but hasn't released. >> do two wrongs make a right? >> no but that's not the point. the point is everybody should be playing by the same rules. same standard. >> let me throw something up here. there is no woman politician in america that we polled on more in our 25 years than hillary clinton. and check out this chart. it looks like an ekg. we have four points in time that
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we have here that show you the highs and the lows. her lows have been when she is the central focus. whitewater investigation, presidential campaign. her highs are when she gets to be above politics either secretary of state or during the monica case she was a victim, a bystander here. the question is how does she -- she could be victimized by the way house republicans aggressively go after her, but at the same time look like the hillary clinton of the whitewater days. >> in fact one of the big high points was beijing when she went up against everybody and gave the big women's speech 20 years ago and she was trying to reframe her approach to the campaign on that level. and it got interrupted by this. i think one of the arguments against what she said, she said that everything that she sent to someone at the state department was captured because the state department system. and one day later, it turns out according to inspector general's report and i dug deeply into this because you're pushing back on me nothing was captured, nothing was automatically captured. >> it is not the only system.
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>> i'm well aware of that but they cannot guarantee what was captured and what was not. >> larger picture here you're the congressional republicans, jason jason jason jason chavitz, do you fear that congressional republicans could get in the way? and make her look -- >> yeah, there is always the risk of overreach. so far i think that hasn't happened. i think one thing i was struck by trey gowdy's interview is how measured and focused he was. he was focused on doing what he thinks is his role as a constitutional oversight. as long as that focus remains there, i think the congressional folks will be all right. i think in the 2016 context the big problem for hillary clinton here is that this becomes a character crisis. at a time when trust is so low, the american people have such a low opinion of people in washington the fact that hillary clinton looks like she's hiding something and that she can't be trusted that's a huge problem. but the last thing i say too it was so apparent how much
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political rust hillary clinton has during that press conference. reading half answers that were scripted right in front of her, when she's exposed to the elements in politics now, she really hasn't risen to the occasion. a lot of folks looking at 2016 see that as an opportunity. >> yet she's the only former secretary of state who turned over 55,000 pages. colin powell hasn't turned over anything. madeleine albright hasn't turned over anything. >> i will pause. i will pause. >> the assumption that you use e-mail for classified information. that is not the only form of communication in the state department. you know that andrea. there is two very different systems. >> totally separate. we'll pause it there. you'll get another bite at the 2016 apple. i promise. the class divide what economic
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coming up, what class do you think you belong to? here in america? where do you fit in?
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nerd screen time. today, it is all about class identity in america. every potential candidate for president right now is talking about how they're the one who plans to represent america's middle class. but what is the middle class these days? although there is no clear definition and there's a lot of opinions, here is what we found out. 41% of americans describe themselves as being in the middle class according to our new poll. and here is what else they tell us, most say middle income household makes between $40,000 and $75,000 a year. so, who are these folks? three-quarters of themselves are white. roughly half live in the suburbs. and are college graduates. by the way, follow along on this issue of education. it is very important as we look at all of these income groups. those who describe themselves as poor or working class, they make up 38% of americans in our new poll. they're more likely to be people of color, they tend to be young and three-quarters of them never graduated college. again, that education point. and then there is the 3% who call themselves well to do.
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by the way, a few years ago it was 1% that called themselves that. then there is another 17% who call themselves upper middle class. together, that's 20% of america. 80% of these folks are white. and they're most likely to have a postgraduate degree. 37% of them. far more than any of the other income groups. again, education, education, education. so, when politicians talk about the middle class, and think about this, they all do, they need to be careful not to fall into the trap of talking about keeping people in the middle class and instead talk about getting people out of the middle class. we're interesting folks here. we all believe we came from or are in the middle class but none of us want to be stuck in it. so, what class do you think you're in? part of our reporting project "in plain sight" all week long, nbcnews.com will be reporting on income in america. so go to our website and take our quiz. tell us how you would rank your social class.
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okay. [ male announcer ] introducing xfinity my account. available on any device. former democratic congressman barney frank retired from the house of representatives two years ago. but his shrewd argument and brash style haven't been forgotten. in his new autobiography, "frank: a life in politics from the great society to same-sex marriage," he chronicles his life, service in congress, the passage of his dodd frank legislation and defends the role of government in people's lives.
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he also writes about the growing lack of trust in government, something that was on display in our new nbc news/"wall street journal" poll that showed one unifying number, 89% of the country believe the president and congress want to stick to their partisan positions instead of working together. barney frank joins me now. congressman, congratulations on the book. >> thank you. >> there is a simple statement on the book that a few reviewers have made. and noted that you're chronicling and trying to answer this conundrum. gay rights were once viled publicly ly publicly. attitudes have flipped. how did that happen? >> interesting, our reality as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, we stopped hiding and it turned out, we weren't what the stereotype was. there was a point when the notion i couldn't get married while i was still in congress would have been the most bizarre possibility. and by the time i got married, they said was it controversial that you got married while still
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in congress? yes, it was. a lot of my colleagues were mad they didn't get invited. on the other side, i think the fundamental issue, it goes back to clinton campaign statement, it is the economy, stupid. i think what happened is, if you look at the world, in the post world war ii era, if you were working class guy, and you were willing to work, if you were white and male, you made a good living in steel and coal and then what happened was the world economic situation shifted to the disadvantage of white americans, well, working americans without a lot of skill. paradoxically, i think some of the worst anti-government feeling comes from people who deeply believe in government theoretically and they are angry that this government that they believe could help them, if they wanted to, is doing nothing and therefore stands by what their economic position is. >> it is interesting, you go through this and in your book, sort of goes after both parties, but in different ways. you feel like the republicans, you go after their ideology. but with your fellow democrats, you go after tactics.
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you believe particularly, for instance, the environmental movement, they made a lot of mistakes tactically. what is your advice to democrats going forward? >> take the national rifle association as your model on the practical level. i was struck with senator wicker, my former colleague, friend, denigrated this concern about process. in a democracy, process is in -- not as important as substance but it's very important. if you get the process wrong, your substance will suffer. we have on some parts of the left a preference for expressive, emotive activity. let's get this demonstration, everybody who agrees with us and will feel good. but it won't accomplish anything. i think we ought to accept the fact that the american political system can work very well if people will take advantage of it. financial reform, ordinarily, you don't do well against the big financial institutions. but because of the collapse, we had public support on our side.
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i guess just quickly, to quote elizabeth warren, who i work with so closely, when we passed the bill in committee to establish an independent consumer bureau, elizabeth said, they told me not even to try this because the banks always win. but they didn't win today. and that's because we got public mobilization. >> we're going to do a lot more on your book in a few minutes and take more of this. very quickly, hillary clinton, are you comfortable that she -- you argued before she should have a primary challenger. >> no. >> no, no. >> you don't. where do you stand on this? >> i ask them do they think that mitt romney would help by what happened? do they want to replicate on our side? no. by the way, i was on the banking committee and the judiciary committee. i was through all of the clinton investigations. and the fact is there was nothing there except president clinton and the oral sex. >> should they handle it better? should they handle it better? >> yes, people can. but i think this is the key politically, this is all inside about regulation or this. when she has divulged, if something really bad comes out, which i have no expectation will happen, there will be a problem.
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but once it is out there and there is nothing bad there, it will go away. >> we'll do more. a lot of people can find more of this on the web. congressman frank, a fun book to read. thank you, sir. in a moment, our "meet the press" endgame. and the cardinal rule one presidential candidate just broke.
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time now nor "meet the press" endgame brought to you by boeing, with a drive to build something better inspires us every day. >> well, that's right. it is endgame time. the panel is here. kevin madden, scott walker declared himself the front-runner this week. an interview with breitbart, president obama put out a statement about his passage of right to work legislation in wisconsin. he was asked for his reaction. he goes, i guess that means we're the front-runner. campaign hasn't even started yet and he declared himself -- that's a pretty gutsy thing to do, oddly. >> i don't know if it is gutsy.
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i think it is irrational exuberance, to borrow a phrase. this is the time to be managing those expectations. i think one thing he's already lost is the element of surprise. i think he needs to get that back a little bit. so i don't -- i think he does owe a debt of gratitude to the president, forcing him out, because right now, nothing helps in a republican primary like seeing -- being seen as enemy number one for the white house. >> you know, karen finney, there has been this debate, i think, among some democrats. who is the tougher republican to face, a new face, you look at our poll and it says change, change, change. nearly 60%. people want more change than they did eight years ago. at the same time, jeb bush, electorally, could carry florida, could do well with hispanics, but he's not the face of change. if you're hillary clinton, who do you want to run against? >> i would remind you there was a cnn poll that people say they see hillary clinton as change. i think for the republican party, walker probably represents more of change because he is more like the base of the party.
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but i took his comment to be an effort to get himself out there in front of the donors that jeb is busy locking up actually. >> well, matt, i mean, to be -- to declare yourself a front-runner when you don't have 75% name i.d. -- >> i think walker should become acquainted w >> at one point in that campaign. we don't have a campaign or announced candidates. madden could be the announced candidate. >> you heard it. before we go senator lindsey gravm graham was trending for something he admitted in our show last weekend. >> you could have every e-mail i've ever sent. i've never sent one. >> it may seem odd to you in 2015 for someone who have never sent an e-mail. but he's not alone. not by a long shot. >> i'm afraid that if i was
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e-mailing given my solid always calm temperament that i might e-mail something they might be regret. >> he wasn't alone. a bunch of senators looked up from their typewriters to say they don't use e-mails either. look at this list. chuck schumer said if he started he'd never stop. the former president has only sent two e-mails in his life and we wonder why people think washington is out of touch with the rest of america but here's this. the best comes from maryland democrat who tells the new york types yes, of course i e-mail. i'm modern and hip. everybody here are you guys all e-mailers? >> oh yeah. >> it's so 2000. >> it is.
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>> all right. that's all for today was if we're out of time we'll be back next week because if it's sunday, it's meet the press. good morning. right now an "first look" a block buster revealed. new details on the arrest made in the ferguson police shooting. nuclear talks between the u.s. and iran enter a critical phase plus a way to cut the risk of heart attacks in half. a wild chase through a shopping mall and we've just entered the greatest time of year for basketball fans. an hbo documentary ended with a real life arrest. last night the cable network aired the final episode of the six part series the jinx the lives own deaths of durst. it follo

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