tv MSNBC Live MSNBC December 13, 2016 3:00pm-4:01pm PST
subpoenas and an 11-hour grilling on capitol hill, interim reports and final reports, and an addendum in an issue that had already been investigated by seven other committees. that's all for tonight. ari melber picks up our coverage in three seconds. hello. i'm ari melber. 6:00 p.m. on the east coast. you're watching msnbc live. and it's a crude awakening. donald trump's oil man for secretary of state, already getting a chilly reception from even republicans. also, the fight for the future of the democratic party, a new candidate could turn the dnc into a battle between allies of president obama and bernie sanders. also, trump's bait and switch with the media, from late-night tweets to many shiny distractions, what should reporters do when a fact check fails to shame this particular politician? all of that this hour. donald trump, though, we begin with the story that donald trump isn't known for diplomacy and neither is his new pick for top
diplomat. rex tillerson spent his career at exxonmobil. he's never conducted foreign affairs, but he's now trump's pick to be secretary of state, and it's tillerson's perhaps most notorious foreign relationship, a long-standing business set of dealings with vladimir putin that has many lawmakers throwing cold water today. republican senator marco rubio says he has, quote, serious concerns here. senator john mccain also saying he's concerned. and nancy pelosi going further, casting tillerson's attitude towards the kremlin as downright warm and cozy. >> coziness with vladimir putin is very alarming and should have been eliminated him, frankly. >> now, like any top federal official, tillerson has to sell his reported $218 million stake in exxon if he is confirmed. but many are asking if he can cut all the other ties to insure that he minds only u.s. interests, not those of his former employer. and this is no theoretical issue, considering that trump has already discussed backing
warmer relations with putin and exxon could reap billions if those anti-putin sanctions are lifted. it is the senate that will ultimately decide tillerson's fate, but some other endorsements we want to tell you are pouring in. none other than dick cheney, a former defense industry executive, says tillerson would do, a quote, superb job. joining me now on set is nbc's katy tur. that was her cough you could hear just in the background. that's how hard she works. >> i can't get rid of it! >> steve clemmons, as well as robert wiseman, he was giving his expertise in "the new york times" reporting about exxon, saying, i'm going to read what you say, the chances that tillerson will view russia with exxonmobil dna are close to 100%. i'll tell you, anything close to 100% sounds to me like an exaggeration or an overstatement. you don't know. i don't think you could prove what he would do in the future as secretary of state. but why don't you explain to us the evidence you have about why
you're so concerned. >> well, it's not about him personally, or even whether he's going to act in good faith. this is a guy who spent his entire career with exxon. he's the ceo of exxon. he's made his reputation on the deal in russia, and it's unreasonable to expect that he can suddenly discard that, forget the whole history, forget all the arguments he's made, not be influenced by his old relationships, and his new job as secretary of state. >> steve, what do you think? >> i think steve call said it best. and i think some people have been getting rex tillerson wrong. but rex tillerson can preside over a kind of neo imperialist new infrastructure in the world that is designed to exappropriate resources from the rest of the world. and to me that sounds very akin to what donald trump has been saying. a kind of mercantilist strategy economically, and when it comes to national security, making others pay up, and essentially pay tribute to the united states. so -- >> we may not like that, but rex tillerson is -- >> yeah, what is
neoimperialist -- what does that mean in the context of being a diplomat? ultimately, whether he has a conflict with exxon or knows how to do his job, which are open questions, he will be handling negotiations of a peaceful nature with other countries, no? >> well, he will be. but i mean, he's -- i mean, i think we've been getting it wrong. rex tillerson has been handling negotiations with other countries all over the world to exxon's benefit. now, the question is, whether or not he'll do that for the united states. i think one of the pieces here is that for hard-core nixonian realist, the oil and energy world is as fundamental to america's core interests and thus the line between exxon and america's interests is one that's very, very thin. to neo conservativists, who worry about climate change and human rights, exxon is an anathema. and i think that is the divide we're see. we haven't called it that, but there is a brewing battle in trump land between, you know, what we've seen in earlier
administrations. neoconservatives are people who worry about the inside dna of other countries and realist who is look at oil and gas as a perfect excuse for american foreign policy activity, even wars in the world. so that's the battle that's raging and john mccain and lindsey graham are not realists. they are someone on the other side of it. i am very uncomfortable with rex tillerson, and i am a realist. the kind of acquiescence to russia and its behavior that this implies. i think we need to frame it in the right way. >> and whether the resources to your point are being used as part of some larger grand scheme. you mentioned mccain. katy tur, take a listen to john mccain recently on the criticism from a different perspective here. this nominee's catching it from all sides. here's mccain. >> i also, as a hundred of us, have to exercise our best judgment. but when he gets the friendship award from a butcher, frankly,
it's an issue that i think needs to be examined. and again, that does not mean we should prejudge mr. tillerson. >> the concern there being the coziness. >> let's take what he said. he was very harsh in his criticism of a relationship with russia, a friendly one. but he said, let's be kaufcaref not to pre-judge tillerson. these are concerns being raised right now among john mccain, marco rubio, lindsey graham, potentially someone that could be very concerned about that given his stance towards russia, susan collins as well in the senate. it could shape up to a more difficult confirmation process for tillerson, certainly more so than some of donald trump's other picks. remember, republicans control the senate, but three votes would mean that tillerson would not get confirmed. if the democrats all stay in line. and given that, there is, you know, marco rubio, john mccain
could certainly sway to the other side. but we've got quite a bit of time to go until these confirmation hearings happen. mitch mcconnell has come out in support of this nomination. there is a chance and a like y likeliho likelihood, perhaps, that he would try to get his troops in line, to donald trump wasn't facing a confirmation fight on his secretary of state, which is the most important position, arguably, in the cabinet. and then again, there is concern about who would he potentially replace tillerson with? what oerpgss are out there that donald trump would find to be more palatable. or others would find to be more palatable. is this in some cases, maybe the lesser of two evils down the line. or the devil you know is better than the devil you don't know. not to say that rex tillerson is a devil -- >> i didn't think you were saying that. >> that's not at all what i'm implying. but there's going to be a lot of talk coming out of this. they're going to push him very hard on his relationship with russia, on his dealings with putin. they're going to try to figure
out if they can remain autonomous towards putin. if he is going to uphold american values and american interests, over exxonmobil's. certainly, but i am not so sure at the moment that there's going to be as big of a fight as maybe expected today on, what is it, december 13th. 12th. >> is it december 13th? i don't know. robert, let me ask you this, on the way that trump makes these decisions, katy just outlined many of the different disparate concerns. and maybe the russia thing wouldn't be as big a deal if you didn't have an administration that already seemed to have a questionable outreach there and russia interceding in the u.s. election and all of these other controversies. donald trump's response to that seems to be, i don't care at all. i'm going full steam ahead. take a listen to him discussing what he likes about tillerson, basically, a kind of a more mood that the guy's a big deal and a player. >> he's much more than a
business executive. he's a world-class player. and to me, a great advantage is, he knows many of the players. and he knows them well. he does massive deals in russia. he does massive deals for the company. not for himself, for the company. >> you look at that, robert, and part of the point is, yeah, he does know people in parts of the world where he's done business, but certainly that's not the prerequisi prerequisite. there's a lot more people with diplomatic and government experience who would know even more people, right? >> yeah, the number of frequent flyer miles you've accumulated probably isn't the main qualification to be secretary of state. i mean, i think that we see with trump, he's impressed with shiny medals and impressed with the people with titles and so on. but the bigger point is, you're right, both that this overlaps with concerns about russia. and i think it's completely fair game to have a debate about what u.s. policy to russia should be. but it shouldn't be influenced by what's in exxon's interest. and there's another issue of the revolving door. he's pulling out all these people from business or from
contributors or from the investment world. and you just have seen the government being thrown over to corporate interests. and people are saying, you know, what's going on. >> steve, on that point, when you look at this combined with the number of folks coming from goldman sachs, if trump campaigned on the idea that the quote, system was rigged, then when it comes to banking and finance and perhaps foreign policy, it would seem that he's going to the people who are at the top of the system he called rigged. he's not going to reformers or outsiders in that respect. >> i think it's a remarkable set of contradictions. if you're a voter for donald trump and you're in salina, kansas, or oklahoma or dubuque, iowa, and look at the goldman sachs choices, but the kind of broader billionaires, generals, kind of the superpower crowd that clearly have benefited from their dance with washington over the years, and certainly don't represent those folks that are
trying sort of rewire the social contract for working americans, it's very bizarre. but his popularity with these folks remains strong. i think it's part of this, you know, pugnacious performance that he gives. but when it gets down to the substance of what we're going to expect from these nominees, that go into positions and have stewardship responsibilities for, you know, american diplomat in the world, trying to keep us safe, trying to move our, you know, broad agenda for citizens forward, it doesn't make sense with his rhetoric. and i would encourage people to the off their orwell and go back and refresh themselves, because we may be seeing, you know, the big lie in place in some of these cases. >> steve clemens, robert wiseman, and katy tur, thank you all for joinings. coming up, trump's media tactics. we'll shine a spotlight on how he manages to grab the spotlight with some critics of the u.s. press. also, democrats plan the way forward after hillary clinton's
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donald trump's not the only the one catching heat for canceling his news conference on conflict of interests this week. some are criticizing the press for again falling into the same trump trap over and over, covering his promises of future explanations and then getting distracted by the latest shiny object. and this is, of course, not the first time trump is manipulating the a promised press event. he hyped a major announcement on president obama and the birther movement in september, a misleading pitch, as it turned out to be a promotional event for his d.c. hotel. team trump then said melania was going to address questions about her immigration status with a news conference and documents back in august. that never happened. trump has figured out that the media is often hungrier for headlines than evidence and used a similar ploy in pledging to
sue his accusers of sexual misconduct after the election. do you remember that? that also has not happened. he also pledged to release his tax returns in the future based on goalposts that he kept moving, from the conclusion of that multi-year audit, to the release of hillary clinton's e-mails. analysts argue these ploys do not nap a vacuum. they happen in a media environment that rewards them. and more broadly, nonpartisan fact checkers says trump poses a unique challenge to the press. the university of pennsylvania fact checking program found that trump was unlike any candidate in their 12 years of existence, saying he stands out, not only for the sheer number of his factually false claims, but also for his brazen refusals to admit error when proven wrong. nyu professor jay rosen argues that trump has already undercut the relevance of fact checking by creating his own alternate misinformation universe, noting that in the trump era, quote, fact checking may still be worthwhile, but not because it has any shaming effect on the
candidate. joining me now is jay rosen from the nyu department of journalism and npr tv critic, eric theegens. thank you both for being here. expound on your theory, because you're arguing that donald trump in his compulsive and aggressive use of lies poses a different challenge. >> yeah, it's not only that he blitzes the press with lies, it's that he has a movement behind them which is trying to discredit journalists at every turn. it's that he dominates the news agenda with his outrageous statements and misstatements in his twitter feed. and beyond that, there's almost an organized attack on the whole idea that there are common facts that we can settle on, as a political community and debate, and those kinds of conditions make even the hardest hitting journalism almost irrelevant, in that many people, especially trump supporters, dismiss it out
of hand. so those are extremely difficult conditions for journalists to grapple. >> and journalists do all of that within the environment that has long had criticisms of the press. and that's a healthy thing in a democracy. >> sure. but they are now operating, the press is operating in an environment where there is a real level of aggression, not only towards. the work that the press does, but the press's existence, its very role in the democracy. >> yeah, we've always had criticism of the press. we've had culture war attacks on the press since spiro agnew in 1970. what's different now, they're coming consistently with the fr from the top of the political system with the president-elect and people have various ways of opting out of journalism in a way that wasn't true in 1970. and they have a constant stream of attacks and insults on journalists coming from their
social feeds. so there's so many different ways to discredit the press now from the top to the bottom, so the question isn't just how do journalists find the story and distribute it, it's, how do they get a hearing? >> right. and eric, you're a tv critic. a lot of folks look back at this election and we've heard people say that the tv press got it wrong by giving donald trump so much unfiltered early attention. and then we've heard a lot of trump supporters say the tv press got it wrong because they're overly critical of him and they don't get what he and his followers are really all about. >> well, there's some truth to both of those statements. i think one thing that the press has to learn in this moment is that there's a difference between -- they have to learn what it means when donald trump actually says something. is he saying something that has weight behind it, something that will lead to action, or is he saying something that's more bluster, something that will
eventually change, something that may not turn out to be the way that he's described it. i think the political press has gotten used to taking politician -- taking politicians at their word in a certain sense. when they say they're going to do something, they count that those politicians are actually going to take action to try to make something happen, that they've said they're going to do. but we've seen with trump that he can promise to stage news conferences and then change his mind. that he can make statements about facts that will turn out to not be true. i think we have to be much more careful about simply parroting what he tells us or what his surrogates tell us as journalists. >> yeah, i'm asking you, why do you -- >> we have to take some time to learn the difference between what he says and what he's actually going to do. >> as an analyst, why do you think that is? even the news we're covering today, and we'll have ethics experts on later this hour to probe the conflict story, so we're not giving up on it. but much of the original coverage was, oh, he's going to
hold this announcement, two weeks hencefort, he's canceled it. and some of the coverage says he's postponed. i spoke to jason miller and said, is there a date for this? no, there's no date. he seems to be completely ducking it. and is this working, do you worry or wonder from a journalistic perspective, does it reward this behavior? >> well, you know, a lot of the reporting i saw on the decision to not hold a press conference said that he canceled it and said that he had -- that his people had vaguely promised to reschedule it. i think we have to be careful about how we report on what he's doing. one of the things that jack schaffer suggested in a column in politico they thought was interesting was that you pair what he says with the actual truth of the foment. so if he's -- if donald trump says, you know, millions of people voted illegally, you, of course, note that he said that. but in the very next breath, you note the reality of the situation, which is that that
has not been shown to be true. and there's been no evidence presented to indicate that it's true. and we also have to be aware that donald trump seems to have a habit of making outrageous statements or doing things that garner headlines at a time when there's other bad press that's surfacing, that's related to him or related to his administration. there's been some tough reporting in "newsweek" today. about his business conflicts, and there's been some suggestion that one reason why he's meeting with kanye west now is that it's something worth talking about, that may distract people from this "newsweek" story. so, we also, as the press, have to be careful about chasing the shiny object that you referred to earlier. >> right. >> and not get distracted by a twitter mention, that may be outrageous, or a meeting with a celebrity, when there's a more substantiative policy story at hand that we really should be focusing on. >> right. jay, eric's talking about the distraction issue, which i've mentioned, but that seems to be
a subset of the larger issue of whether the efforts that he makes are working. and you say, as a political matter, really, where the press and the politics meet you were tweeting about this. from trump, a steady flow of easy-to-check lies are both a shower of power and they cast the press in the role of petty, but hateful antagonists. what do you mean? >> i mean that by saying things that are easily checkable and falsifiable and getting the press to fact check them, he puts the press in the role that his supporters expect it to be, which is sort of carping on trump's flaws and trying to inject themselves into the political dialogue. i think the press has to uncouple its news agenda from trump's twitter feed, without ignoring it, but sort of putting it to the side. i think another thing they have to do is forget about access,
because access to misleading information is not really worth much. and start developing a outside-in reporting strategy, as opposed to an inside-out one. and the other thing they could do that would be really valuable would be is track all of trump's campaign promises against the reality of what he has done. and constantly remind people about the difference between those two things. finally, i think they have to reestablish their own connection to the public and to the electorate by listening better to the troubles of things that are bothering people than trump and politicians are themselves. if the press can somehow develop a better grasp of what's really ailing the country, and then compare what trump is doing against that, it may be able to recover some of its authority. >> professor jay rosen -- >> if i could interject? >> real briefly, because we're out of time. >> i was just going to say that i think reality ultimately
intrudes. and i think we saw this with the bush administration, as well. there was an total to say that there was a sort of alternate reality that they could live in. and eventually, i think reality intrudes. so as long as we focus on the reality of the situation, i think journalists will be held in good instead. and reality will intrude, and impose itself on the trump administration and they'll have to deal with it. >> eric deegens and joe rosen, thank you both. i learned something tonight. appreciate your time. later in the show, we will dive into donald trump's potential conflicts of interest, explore his choice to cancel that presser we were just talking about. we have norm eisen, ethics professor here. stay tuned. ♪ ♪ i want a hippopotamus for christmas ♪ ♪ only a hippopotamus will do at the united states postal service, we deliver more online purchases to homes than
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and a top obama democrat throwing his name into the ring. this is new. labor secretary tom perez is planning to announce a run. this is the closest thing to a white house pick. "the new york times" reporting that while obama may not offer a full endorsement, perez will have the impromptu of the president. congressman keith ellison and state party chairs jamie harrison and ray buckley. you know they're not big insiders, because you may not have heard of all of them. the candidates are reflecting all kinds of different visions for the decisions that face the party. from geography, to ideology, to asserting the relevance of political parties at all. when you think about it, we just had a campaign where two of the leading candidates, sanders and trump, proudly ran against all party politics, as usual. joining me now, two politicos who know a thing or two about this. liz smith, democratic strategist, who worked on martin o'mall o'malley's campaign last year, and donny fowler who's worked on
several presidential campaigns. and we should note he ran for that top dnc job back in 2005. so starting on that point, donny, this is something that people don't think about much until you get a chair, and then that becomes a somewhat famous person. the primary was full of discussions of debbie wasserman schultz. walk us through how this works and does it matter who wins this intramural battle? >> there are 440 members, about 440 members of the democratic national committee. so this actually ends up being a lot like running for student body president as opposed to some bigger national office. it does have national implications, though, especially when the democrats don't are the white house. when the democrats have the white house, like the past eight years with president obama, they choose the chair and the chair really answers to the white house at the end of the day. without a white house, the democratic national chair becomes very, very central. they are responsible for message and for infrastructure.
that means things like the voter file, the database of all voters, for communications in press, for working with and building state parties, all 50 state parties, hopefully. so, it becomes very, very important who the dnc chair is. even though, only about 444 people will elect him or maybe her, in a couple of months. >> liz, you're noting your head. >> yeah, it is very important. and to donny's point, in 2000, after the 2000 loss, after the 2004 loss, we saw terry mcauliffe and howard dean take on very outsized roles, both in building up the party's database and in being outspoken, you know, advocates against the bush agenda. and we have a lot of lessons to learn from 2016, as you know. i have very strong opinions on it. because i think that debbie wasserman schultz committed political malpractice and she did things that were very harmful to the party. and we can learn from what went wrong going forward. one, we need a full-time chair.
you know, a lot of her time was spent, i think, focusing on what was best for her and her district. you know, she did this hem-haw on the iran vote, which was not particularly helpful to the president. she was not independent. >> to use the term of art these days, you might say she had a conflict of interest. >> yes, she did. and we know that she let the clinton campaign dictate to her what the debate schedule was going to be. and it ended up being an unmitigated disaster, because she allowed republicans to have months and months of these widely televised events, while democratic debates were hidden on christmas eve, and you know, in the dark of night. so, look, we need to do exactly the opposite of that. find someone who's independent, find someone who will be a full-time chair, and find someone who has some experience in party building, which she didn't have going into this. >> and donny, when you look at what some of the elected and elites in the party are saying, there isn't a real reckoning, and maybe they don't want to have that reckoning in public,
but listen to nancy pelosi, when asked about our own andrea mitchell about this, she goes back into euphemisms. take a listen. >> i think the democrats have always been there for america's working families, that that was not communicated as clearly as it should have been in the election. >> that was not communicated as clearly as it should have been. are you going to be a bernie sanders party or hillary clinton's policies with a better figurehead? what's the plan? >> that's not the challenge for the democratic party and for the progressive movement in the u.s. the challenge is, are we going to have a chair, as lis said correctly, who is full-time and who understands that the democratic national party has almost no power, has no money, and has effectively, with the exception of a few state parties, no infrastructure. now, here's what the democratic party does have. they won the popular vote by 2
percentage points, almost 3 million. the democratic party has a coalition in this country. we have the voters. let's give them the vehicle, which is the national democratic party, and a lot of very strong progressive allies who can move us forward. not only to -- >> you're making sense -- let me jump in. you're making sense, donny, but there's the math and then there's the mood. and lis, the math is true. donald trump got a lower vote share than mitt romney, right? this was not a campaign nationally that didn't excite a lot of democrats to actually vote. but did it excite them long-term? look at this one poll i want to show you guys, dems and leading deps, enthusiasm about this party right now. 13%, lis. >> right, but it's not just about looking backward. a lot of things went wrong in 2016, but you know what the most important election we faced coming up, it's the governor's elections in 2018. because those governors will draw the congressional lines in 2021. the democratic governor's association put out a very
important memo today, saying that the next dnc chair needs to focus on state elections. needs to work with state parties. and in the last few years, we saw a democratic national committee that was entirely focused on the presidential race, neglected all of this, and thus allowed the, you know, helped allow the rise of the tea party. >> i know donny knows this, it's an old saying in south carolina, donny, the party's not over, but the segment is. we are out of time. donny fowler, lis smith, thank you both. >> thank you. >> i really appreciate it. still to come, donald trump canceling that news conference about potential conflicts of interest, but we are not canceling our plans to report on them. we have some heavy hitters, stay tuned. straight ahead.
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business to his adult children, don jr. and eric, but he's not providing any details. the announcement shows trump is focused on who runs the company, and not the more important question for con flisflicconflis always ownership. or who benefits. our next guest, who served as chief white house ethics counsel says the conflicts are all about how trump will still benefit under this arrangement. welcome to norm eisen from the brookings institute, as well as david cay johnston, an investigative reporter, author of "the making of donald trump," who's been writing a lot about this as well. i want to start with you, norm, because you write in "the washington post," in your legal view, that given the trump empire's road that it's currently on, if the businesses continue to get foreign payment, quote, trump will be in violation of the emoluments claus of the u.s. constitution from his first day as president. that is a strong charge. how do you back it up?
>> thanks for having me, ari. and the fact is, he's headed for that constitutional collision, not just the first day, but the first hour and the first minute. and mystery why. the emoluments clause of the constitution, emoluments is just a fancy 18th century word for "benefits." and the emoluments clause of the constitution provides the president of the united states is not allowed to get anything of value from foreign governments. why? because it might influence his judgment. the founders were very worried about that. donald trump in his vast international and domestic business empire is getting cash, permits, trademarks, other things of value, a steady stream of them, every day. last night, he canceled his press conference. it seems like he's headed right down that collision course for hanging on to his business interests. and if he does that, he's going
to be getting those foreign payments on day one, in contravention of the constitution. we're headed the for a constitutional crisis, before he's finished the inaugural parade. >> david? >> well, as a matter of law, i think norm is exactly correct. this is a political decision, however. and that means as long as the republicans who control congress don't care, nothing will happen. on the other hand, if you're donald trump, you handed a cudgel if the republicans ever turn on you to go after you. and it's the emoluments clause. and there's a reason for that clause. the founders, the framers of the constitution knew that we had had leaders in europe, kicngs ad queens who were on the payrolls of other governments. and that's what they're worried about. and this is a system that will allow people to curry favor with the family and it's also a system the family might use to extract money from people who are seeking favors from the u.s. government. >> and david, you've written a lot about donald trump.
you wrote long ago about one of the only times his past tax returns were available. you have documented someone who takes a different approach than many people in business and cuts more corners according to your reporting. is it proper to look at this, is it accurate to look at it as a conflict of interest, or is that not even relevant because trump might be planning to profit, legally, he says, on the office? >> well, donald is about money. donald is about the glorification of donald and about money. and every case i know of where he's given a choice between paying workers properly, paying vendors properly, following a legal requirement, donald chooses money. he's filed two sets of papers for the same deal with different government agencies in an effort to shortchange the government. there's no reason we should trust him. one other thing, donald said he would hold a press conference about this where questions could be asked. remember, he also said in august he was going to hold a press conference and show us that melania, his wife's, workers papers were all in order. didn't do that either.
>> we cited that this hour. he also said he have going to sue all the accuser of sexual harassment of him -- >> and me! >> and you and others. and that was designed to convey a type of strength of his posture and position, that we've checked, the facts don't support and he hasn't done it. norm, i want to put something up on the screen for those who are interested in the substance of this, which is what ethics standards there are for the business situation? number one, benefits, we've been talking about that. number two, independent management. independence as a trustee who would actually manage this, and would be not the kids. and bribery prevention and transparency. if donald trump says he's doing all of this, but we don't have the tax returns or the written documents of the business, how would the public verify it? >> ari, the five criteria you just put on the careen, it's like a kid who brings home the report card and good nigt an "f
every class. donald trump is openly contem contemptuous of the standards that apply to other presidents. in some cases, they're legally mandated, like the constitution. in other cases, it's good practice. every president for the past four decades has used a blind trust or the equivalent in order to meet the criteria that you just shared with your viewers. so you have the independents. that means an independent trustee or another professional who manages these assets, by definition, your kids cannot be independent. or take another one. transparency. you can't even judge this situation unless we get the tax returns. >> right. >> and i'm old enough to remember when donald trump said if president obama presents his birth certificate, i was working in the white house at the time, i'll show my tax returns. well, he didn't do it then. he didn't do it when he promised to in the campaign. we can't judge now without those tax returns. so from my perspective, he's
getting a failing grade across the board. zp >> david? >> i would add one point. bribery and extortion are the same crime from different points of view. let's not exclude the points of view that the trump sons could extort people for money, as well. that in many ways would be a far worse offense to worry about. but the only solution to this national security nightmare, especially given trump's involvement with the russian oligarchs goung back decades is a blind trust, with an independent broker, the sale of all of these assets and the disclosure of what happened. that would also cut off donald trump's cash cloe. >> right, which is the other looming question of how liquid and how real -- >> and how dependent and vulnerable is he? >> and who's financing him, given that we know for a fact that many u.s.-based banks are not. so the money that is coming into many of these entities is from elsewhere, according to some of donald trump's officials, some russian funding in the last
several years. a lot of open questions. i'll close with this point, gentleman. donald trump cancelled the press conference because he didn't want to talk about this. we are not going to stop reporting on it, because it's news. him canceling this makes it if anything in our judgment, more newsworthy. norm eisen and david cay johnston, thank you for your expertise. up next, just another day in the news. wake up, mr. west. why kanye west went to trump tower, why you should care, even if you don't like either of the people on your screen. we'll be right back. o cover almt anything. even a rodent ride-along. [dad] alright, buddy, don't forget anything! [kid] i won't, dad... [captain rod] happy tuesday morning! captain rod here. it's pretty hairy out on the interstate.traffic is literally crawling, but there is some movement on the eastside overpass. getting word of another collision. [burke] it happened. december 14th, 2015. and we covered it. talk to farmers. we know a thing or two because we've seen a thing or two. ♪ we are farmers. bum-pa-dum, bum-bum-bum-bum ♪
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in our show tonight, we've reported on donald trump's conflicts, questions surrounding his secretary of state pick, democrats' search for a new leader, and the media's dilemma in covering trump's many lies. but we saved the weirdest for last. why trump who says east too busy for daily intel briefings made time for kanye. any student of kanye west know he's been tussling with presidents for a long time. >> i hate the way they portray us in the media. we see a black family, it says they're looting. we see a white family, it says they'relooking for food. >> george bush doesn't care about black people. >> why would he do that? >> he's a jackass. >> just friends, just friends. he's a good man. doing well. >> do you want to marginalize me until i'm out of my moment. >> why don't you empower yourself and do it yourself! >> take a few steps back, to
go -- >> you ain't got the answers, man! you ain't got the answers! >> we may not have the answers, either, tonight, but the big question for politics is which kanye did show up for the meeting today? the rapper who challenges urban violence and materialism, the self-pitying celebrity, or the self-promoting mogul. i'm joined by denzel smith, author of "invisible man" got the whole world watching. what did you make of kanye west and who he is and what it means for him to be there today. >> i'm still worried about kanye. he's still fresh out of being involuntarily committed to a mental institution for paranoia and sleep deprivation and depression. so i'm worried about him on a number of levels. but also, this isn't surprising, given that kanye west has an obsession with celebrity. he likes fame, he likes famous people. he also finds validation through
a lens of whiteness in a lot of ways. and donald trump is the ultimate white man. >> what do you mean by -- you said a lens of whiteness. what do you mean by that? >> i think that kanye wants to be accepted into the most successful spaces, which are white spaces. he wants for like the big fashion houses that have excluded black people to accept him because he's kanye west. he wants to transcend race in so many different ways and have his art valued in certain spaces that aren't his millions of fans that may happen to be young black people. he's not too concerned about that. what he is concerned about is the validation of, you know, white institutions and white people. and donald trump right now is poised to be the most powerful person on the planet. and also, is a huge slsht. has been for quite some tomb. and he has chased fame. so they're a match made in heaven in a lot of ways. they're a pair that really gets one another. in that they are a dogged pursuit of their own
self-interest and that interest is for their own celebration and to have other people then celebrate them. >> you talk about that in the celebration, and as you know, there have been many writers and other cultural commentators who previously compared trump's style to that of gangster rap, because it is so celebratory, because it is both superlative, but also at times irreverent. one of the cliches that's emerged from this campaign is that trump supporters know not to take him literally and rest of us didn't. listen to comedian hamilton burris talking about this. >> donald trump is like dj callan, loud, arrogant, kind of corny. they both have catchphrases. dj, you're fired! self-promotional. dj callen has a music video. it's mostly a commercial for his new restaurant. >> so if kanye and trump are speaking the same language, should that scare us all, because one of them's in charge? >> yeah. kanye's a performer, right? we pay him to do that job. like, donald trump, thus far,
was a performer, but now he's in the halls of power. like, he's been handed -- he's going to be handed the nuclear codes. that should worry us. especially if he's an actual gangster rapper who is so consumed with a posture of hypermasculinity that has to do with a lot of violence and proving one's manhood, you -- i mean, you see that on twitter, wherever someone challenges him, like, the idea that he just like goes full force in pursuit of defending his own manhood. he's named person of the year and wonders whether or not he should be named man of the year. >> one more thing. kanye tweets, the issues they discussed include bullying, teachers, curriculum, chicago violence. >> yeah, trump knows about all of those issues. he's a perpetrator of many of them. >> and we're going to leave it there. you get the last word, michael denzel smith of "the nation." thank you for watching. i'm ari melber. you can find me on facebook at
facebook.com/arimelber. and you can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. i'll be guest cohosting again tomorrow at 6:00 p.m. eastern. see you then if you tune in. "hardball" starts right now. >> i'm an oil man! let's play "hardball"! good morning. i'm chris matthews in washington. start with the appointment of ceo rex tillerson to the position of secretary of state. how much trouble will this cause? will republican senators agree to having as our country tease top foreign policy officer a man so cozy with vladimir putin, will they? speaking of cozy, "the new york times" reporting tonight that a moscow hacker calling itself cozy bear, you know, the russian bear, has been hacking io