tv Meet the Press MSNBC April 2, 2017 11:00am-12:01pm PDT
even when we're not there to keep them safe, our subaru outback will be. (vo) love. it's what makes a subaru, a subaru. this sunday, a presidency in crisis. new urgency in the russia investigation as president trump's former national security adviser mike flynn asked for immunity from prosecution to tell his story. >> flynn said himself if you want immunity you must be guilty. >> the president called it a witch-hunt. a top republican disagrees. >> no, i don't think it's a witch hunt. it's very mysterious to me, though, why all of a sudden general flynn is out there saying he wants immunity. plus, supreme court battle. will senate republicans finish what democrats started? and end the filibuster to confirm neil gorsuch.
russia, the supreme court and a struggling presidency. this morning i'll be joined by the senate's top two leaders, republican mitch mcconnell and democrat chuck schumer. also the fake news cycle. a former fbi agent says russia speaks and the president tweets. >> the reason that active measures have worked in this u.s. election is because the commander in chief has used russian active measures at times against his opponents. >> clint watts says the russians are still at it and he's live here this morning. joining me are eugene robinson, columnist for "the washington post." msnbc's greta van susteren, robert draper of "the new york times" magazine and amy walter, national editor of the cook political report. welcome to sunday. it's "meet the press." >> from nbc news in washington, the longest running show in television history celebrating its 70th year. this is "meet the press" with chuck todd. >> good sunday morning. the drip drip drip of crises in the trump presidency has quickly
developed into the steady rainstorm. president trump smarting from his health care defeat took on both the republican freedom caucus in the house and the democrats who put together, actually comprised a majority of the house. on friday the president referred to the escalating russia crisis as a witch hunt. his former national security adviser mike flynn asked for immunity from prosecution to tell what he knows about the trump campaign ties to russia. and the senate intelligence committee has rejected that request so far. then there's the house intelligence committee chairman, devin nunes, who softened his denials about the white house's involvement in the discredited wiretapping claims. if there was one moment that best characterizes the week, it came when white house press secretary sean spicer gave this answer to cbs' major garrett who asked how the information about alleged surveillance was handled. >> you told us that you're willing to look in to and ask -- and provide us answers -- >> no no no.
don't dais please don't put words in my mouth. i never said i'd provide answers but i'd look into it. >> however you look into it, donald trump's presidency is on an unsustainable trajectory. >> nobody ever told me that politics was going to be so much fun. >> donald trump is a president in crisis. his governing agenda is going nowhere, his credibility shattered with many. his public approval is mired in the 30s and low 40s, and an escalating russia crisis is threatening to undermine the president's ability to persuade even republicans that he can bounce back. >> any comment on michael flynn, mr. president? >> on friday morning, the president intervened into ties between his campaign and russia. tweeting of his former national security adviser, mike flynn should ask for immunity in that this is a witch hunt. a top republican was quick to contradict the president.
>> no, i don't think it's a witch hunt. it's very mysterious to me, however, why general flynn is saying he wants immunity. >> both flynn and mr. trump said that immunity from prosecution indicates guilt. >> when you are given immunity that means you probably committed a crime. >> if you're not guilty of a crime, what do you need immunity for? >> flynn said himself if you want immunity you must be guilty. >> and by friday afternoon the white house was frying to soften mr. trump's statement. >> he believes that mike flynn should go testify. >> without immunity? >> that's up to him and his lawyer to decide. >> also changing, the story on whether the white house was involved in helping republican house intelligence chair devin nunes view classified documents to attend to prove trump aides were incidentally swept up in surveillance. on monday -- >> did you meet with the about the or any of his aides while you were there that night? >> no. no, in fact, i'm quite sure that i think people in the west wing
had no idea i was there. >> but by friday -- >> there are people that probably knew about this, knew about me being there, but the fact of the matter is that doesn't make them the source of my information. >> "the new york times" and "washington post" have named three white house officials who may have been involved. >> nunes, the house, they're off in a ditch. i don't know where -- who invited him to look at the evidence in the white house. all i can say is why do you show it to the chairman of the intel committee if you've got it yourself? >> then there's the president and his fight with house conservatives. on thursday, he lashed out at members of his own party tweeting, the freedom caucus will hurt the entire republican agenda if they don't get on the team and fast. we must fight them. those conservatives are hitting back. >> i mean, it's constructive in fifth grade. >> a guy who said he was going to d.c. to drain the swamp now we have the creature
from the black lagoon in the white house. >> joining me right now is
senate majority leader, republican mitch mcconnell of kentucky. we have a lot to get to. supreme court and health care. i want to start with russia. welcome back to "meet the press." >> good morning, chuck. >> the president has used the following phrases to describe the russia investigation. fake news. nonsense. phony. total scam. do you believe any of those phrases apply to the russia investigation? >> yeah, let me just say in the midst of all of this and listening to your introductory piece this morning two things you can depend on. the senate intelligence committee under chairman burr and ranking member mark warner are going to have an investigation. they're in the middle of it. they'll handle it on a bipartisan basis. they'll go wherever the facts lead us. and i hope at the end we'll have a bipartisan report. the other thing we know is happening is the fbi's looking into these allegations in a rather unusual announcement they have indicated that they are.
so in the middle of the other things that are swirling around, there are two things you can depend on, the senate intelligence committee's bipartisan investigation and, of course, the fbi conducting a criminal investigation. >> are you concerned, speaking of the house, and you saw senator lindsey graham or herd him say, they're off in a ditch somewhere. senator feinstein is concerned what's happening over in the house, that she expressed in the same way the same support for this house -- for the senate intelligence investigation you're doing, but she's worried that the house mess is going to put a stain on the senate investigation. how concerned are you about that? >> i think the opposite. it's pretty clear the contrast -- it's pretty clear the contrast here. the senate committee, burr and warner, had a joint press conference last week. they basically locked arms and said we're going to go wherever the facts take us. i think the american people can depend on the senate intelligence committee investigation to be done on a bipartisan basis and to go wherever the facts lead us.
>> so basically, what you're saying is that the president's description of this investigation is fake news, nonsense, phony, total scam. those are phrases he's used since he became president on this. they don't apply as far as you're concerned? >> i'm not characterizing what the president is saying. what i'm telling the american people is they can depend on the senate intelligence committee to do a credible bipartisan investigation and tell us where the facts led them. >> have you seen any evidence -- you're part of this -- there's a lot of gangs when it comes to describing members of the u.s. senate. there is a gang of eight and you're a member of one of these gangs that gets high-level classified intelligence briefings. the same ones that the intelligence committee chairs get, you're one of those folks that get it. have you gotten any intelligence information that indicates the obama administration somehow applied -- asked for surveillance of the trump transition, the trump team, any trump associates? >> no.
>> under nothing -- not even a hint of this, not anything? >> well, not yet. >> do you believe that these allegations are worthy of investigation that the president has made or that they're -- they're a sidetrack? >> i don't know how many times i have to say it, the committee is going to conduct this investigation. you asked me if i knew anything about alleged wiretapping by the previous president and the answer is no. >> have you ever received intelligence briefings that are classified like that on the grounds of the white house? >> have i? >> yes. >> no. >> is that -- so that's not a common practice that any of the gang of eight be brought to the white house -- >> i really didn't -- i don't know what a common practice is. you asked if i had and the answer is no. >> are you concerned that the president himself is too consumed with the russia story? >> i think we ought to be talking about what the president's doing. which is really the right thing to do.
we're in the middle of a deregulatory effort to try to get the economy going again. we're going to confirm an incredible supreme court nominee later this week and do comprehensive tax reform. we are doing a lot of things that the country needs and the republicans felt the election was about. i think we'd all be better off, including the president, talking about what we're trying to accomplish for the american people. >> i want to ask you something that peggy noonan wrote, conservative columnist for the washington journal. maybe the mad boy king of north korea will decide if it's a day to see if his missiles can hit los angeles. maybe a sleeper cell of terrorists will decide it's a good day to show it's woke. crisis reveals the character, the essential nature of a white
house. it's a column that she's concerned that this white house is not prepared to handle a major crisis. are you concerned? >> no, i'm not. i think general mattis and mike pompeo, the whole national security team, the secretary of state, are well qualified to handle this and give the president the best possible advice. this is a tough problem. i read that president obama said to incoming president trump this will be the biggest international problem you'll have. we all recognize that. >> let's move to the supreme court. there is clearly a debate and a fight about how supreme court justices are confirmed or handled. do you have any regrets on how you treated merrick garland last year? >> no. the tradition had been not to confirm vacancies created in the middle of a presidential year. you'd have go back to 80 years to find the last time that happened, go back to the 1880s to find the last time it happened before that. everyone knew including president obama's former white house council thatthe shoe had been on the other foot, they wouldn't have filled a republican president's vacancy in the middle of a supreme court -- in the middle of a presidential election. so that clearly wasn't going to happen. even if the roles were reversed. >> i understand that. but if that was the rationale
that was a rationale to vote against his confirmation. why not put him up for a vote? >> really? >> that is -- look, any senator can have a rationale not to vote for a confirmation. why not put merrick garland on the floor and if the rationale is you know what, too close to an election vote no. >> look, we litigated that last year. the american people decided they wanted donald trump to make the nomination, not hillary clinton. what's before us now, chuck, is not what happened last year but the qualifications of neil gorsuch. unanimously well qualified by the american bar association. 99% of the time in the majority, 97% of his opinions were unanimous. only one time reversed by the supreme court. there's no rational basis, no principled reason for voting against neil gorsuch. that's what's before the senate this week. >> you say it's been litigated last year, the merrick garland situation. for a lot of senate democrats they're not done litigating this
including someone like tom carper, a democratic senator who is not comfortable with the idea of filibustering, but believes that garland was mistreated. again, what was wrong with allowing merrick garland to have an up or down vote? >> i already told you you don't fill the supreme court vacancies in the middle of the presidential election. that's what joe biden said back in 1992 and he was chairman of the judicial committee. >> should that be the policy going forward? are you prepared to pass a resolution that says in an election year, any supreme court vacancy and have it to be the sense of a senate resolution that say no supreme court nominations will be considered in any even numbered year? is that where we're headed? >> chuck, with all due respect, that's an absurd question. we were right in the middle of the presidential election year. everybody knew that neither side had the -- had the shoe been on the foot would have filled it, but that has nothing to do with what we're voting on this year. why don't we talk about what what we're voting on this week,
and that's this extraordinarily well qualified nominee for the u.s. supreme court. >> i understand that. but i go back to we're about to go in the situation where there's going to be this extra level of filibuster. let me ask you about that. do you have the votes to change the rules among republicans? do you have all 52 republicans ready to stand behind you if the democrats filibuster gorsuch, you have the votes to change the rules? >> what i can tell you is that neil gorsuch will be confirmed this week. how that happens really depends on our democratic friends. how many of them are willing to oppose cloture on a partisan basis to kill a supreme court nominee. never happened before in history, in the whole history of the country. in fact, filibustering judges at all was a rather recent f phenomenon started by your next guest, snar schumer, after george bush 43 got elected
president. we didn't used to do this. clarence thomas was confirmed 52-48 the most controversial supreme court nominee in history. and not a single senator said he has to get 60 votes. >> you're somebody, though, that was very concerned when this rule was changed by harry reid for judges below supreme court. if you regret what harry reid did, why continue down this slippery slope? >> well, i think breaking the rules of the senate, to change the rules of the senate which is what was done in 2013 was terrible for the senate. but when we came to the majority a year and a half later we discussed this. about whether or not to restore the old -- the old system. and we decided not to do it because the custom, even though it was always possible to filibuster judges, the custom down to 2000 was not to do it. the senate restrained itself and and gave the supreme court nominee an up or down vote, down to 2000.
so this recent invention of this level of controversy we decided was best left alone by just leaving us where we were -- >> so you now believe harry reid make the right decision? >> no, i don't think he should have broken the rules. but that's the precedent on what we call the executive calendar. and the supreme court is part of the executive calendar. >> are you comfortable in ten years we might not have a filibuster anymore, because someone else may replace you and continue down the slippery slope? >> i don't think the legislative filibuster is in danger. it's a longstanding tradition of the senate and filibustering judges is quite new, all begun by the current democratic leader and you should ask him about that when
he's on your show. >> well, that is my plan right now. senator mitch mcconnell, republican from kentucky, thank you for coming on, sir. sharing your views. i appreciate it. well, as introduced by senator mcconnell his democratic colleague across the aisle, the minority leader, chuck snumer of new york. senator schumer, welcome back to "meet the press."
>> good morning. hi, mitch. >> let me say this. let me start this way. you expressed regret earlier this year for the rule changes made on judges in 2013. why did you go along with it if you regret doing it? >> well, let's look at the history. our republican colleagues had been holding back on just about all of so many lower court judges including very important d.c. circuit. i went to lamar alexander, one of my dear friends in senate, and i said, if you keep holding back on scores and scores of judges, my side will want to change the rules. go to mitch and tell us to have votes on a few of those, many of whom had gotten bipartisan support. the answer was no and we changed the rules. but the one thing that stands out here, we did not change it for supreme court for one very important reason. and that is on the most important of decisions, 60 votes is called for. that's why you get a mainstream, that's how you get a mainstream justice. just about every -- mitch calls
it a filibuster. we call it the 60 votes standard. most americans believe in the 60 vote standard. >> but senator -- that's fine, but there is no rule that says that it has to be 60 votes. there's no part of advice and consent that says it has to be 60 votes and in fact, there are currently two members was -- of the supreme court right now that did not get 60 votes. sam alito and clarence thomas. >> actually, thomas is the only one because when the filibuster came up with alito, there was 72 votes to go forward. so there's just one, just about every nominee gets 60 votes. because in the past, presidents have actually consulted the other side before picking someone. in this case, donald trump consulted the heritage foundation. the federalist society, hard right groups with extreme special interests oriented views and it didn't leave much chance for compromise. >> heidi hidecamp, one of the
democrats, came out in favor of gorsuch and in favor of cloture. she didn't like the way that garland was treated but she ended her statement by saying two wrongs don't make a right. why not give neil gorsuch an up or down vote? >> let me make a proposal to maybe break this problem that we have, okay? it looks like gorsuch will not reach the 60 vote margin. so instead of changing the rules, which is up to mitch mcconnell in the republican majority, why doesn't president trump, democrats and republicans in the senate sit down and try to come up with a mainstream nominee? look, when a nominee doesn't get 60 votes, you shouldn't change the rules, you should change the nominee. give me one minute here, because this is important. let's just look at the history, okay? our nominee was merrick garland. mitch mcconnell broke 230 years of precedent and didn't call him up for a vote.
it wasn't in the middle of an election campaign, it was march. second, then, now we -- looks like we have the 60 -- the votes to prevent gorsuch from getting on. now, that doesn't mean you have to change the rules. each side didn't get their nominee. let's sit down and come together. our republican frids are acting like you know they're a cat on the top of a tree. and they have to jump off with all of the damage that entails. come back off the tree, sit down and work with us and we'll produce a mainstream nominee. it will be -- one more point. >> hang on here. >> it will be a republican nominee, but remember, democrats voted for roberts and alito and he got both of them -- both got to 60 votes. >> but there are two democrats for neil gorsuch so there already is a bipartisan na jort that support him. two is two. it's more than zero.
for what it's worth. >> yes. >> but why should senator mcconnell work with you guys on this when you changed the rules first? when you decided to do this? and again, a change that you yourself said this week and two months ago that you regret it and it was a mistake. >> we never -- but i don't regret not changing it for the supreme court. let me read you a quote of mr. mcconnell. you like to put up quotes. he said, i think we can stipulate and my good friends on the other side of the aisle stipulated from time to time over the years when they were in the minority that in the senate it takes 60 votes on controversial matters. that has been the tradition of the senate for a long time. this is nothing new. >> then why did you change the rules in the first place? i go back to this because now we're going down the slippery slope and everybody has hypocrisy on their side to point the finger. but you guys are hand in hand sliding down this slope. tell me this, in ten years do you think the filibuster will still be alive -- >> yes. that's one of the few things that my dear friend mitch said
on the show that i agree with. i don't think there's any thirst to change the legislative rules, 60 votes for that. republicans have served in both the minority and majority and know what it means. but why not -- you know, you can do a lot of finger pointing. each side has some right here. let's stop this now. and the way to stop it is the way i mentioned. you know, other presidents have consulted the other side. president clinton wanted bruce babbitt. he called orrin hatch and he said no, why don't you pick breyer or ginsburg and he did. president obama called people about merrick garland. all trump consulted was the hard right special interest group, the federal ils society, and the "new york times" and the "washington post," when they looked at gorsuch's record, one said he would be the second most conservative justice on the court, only short of thomas, and the other, the post, said he's be the most conservative. this is not a mainstream choice. he's way far over.
>> senator, what makes you think that president trump -- let's say you get your wish and he says, okay, merrick garland for neil gorsuch is fine. everybody got to kill a supreme court nominee, we move on. you get your wish. do you think he'll nominate someone more moderate than gorsuch that he doesn't nominate another conservative and says, look, we gave you one shot at this. you've got your shot. now he's another perhaps even more conservative potential justice? >> as you have noted and i have noted, most of the nominees get 60 votes. the last four nominees, two by president bush, alito and roberts, two by president obama. each got votes from the other side. that's the norm. but when you have the federalist society and the heritage foundation have a veto power over who you choose, you won't get bipartisanship. >> everybody has interest groups on their side. >> no. >> that does these things. >> no no no. >> final question. do you have the votes -- do you have the votes to filibuster
neil gorsuch? do you have it? >> look, what happened was that when gorsuch refused to answer the most rudimentary questions in the hearings after there were many doubts about him to begin with, he wouldn't even answer whether he supported brown v. ward, there was a seismic change in my caucus, and it's highly, highly
unlikely he'll get 60, that's right. >> senator schumer, i leave it there. it will be a lively week and we'll be watching. thank you for coming on and sharing your views. when we come back, fake news and trump tweets. the cyber expert who says candidate trump often unwittingly repeated fake news put up by the russians, and that the russians are still targeting president trump.
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i'm ricardo, a sales and service consultant here at the xfinity store in bellevue, washington. here at the store, we offer internet, tv, phone, customer service, home security. every situation is a little different. it could be about billing, simple questions like changing the phone number. sometimes, they want to upgrade, downgrade, but at the end of the day, you want to take care of the customer. one of the great things about comcast, there's always room to move up. of course, it depends on you, how hard you work. ♪ welcome back. panelists here, robert draper, writer at large for "the new york times" magazine where he has the cover story, trump versus congress, now what? amy walter, my newest colleague, greta van susteren, not so new anymore. and good to see you.
eugene robinson, columnist for the "washington post". let's start with the trump presidency. where are we in this? and at 70 days in it may seem extreme to be passing judgment about how concern folks are, but where are we? >> if i were a house republican, i'd be really nervous right now. i wouldn't be looking at what does it look like for donald trump in 2020, i would look at what does it look like in the midterm election. chuck, and i have covered a lot of midterm elections and they all start the same way. or they all end the same way which is a president who has a decent approval rating among his party but not energized. in this case we have a party that's fighting amongst itself. that depresses enthusiasm from the party. independents abandoned the president and his party. the president right now has a 33% approval rating with independents. that's the same place where bush, clinton and obama were when they lost the house. and the other side is fired up. when you look at the strong
disapproval versus the strong approval rating it's a two to one advantage for strong disapproval. democrats are fired up. republicans are sort of, oh, they still like him, but not as energized. independents are abandoning him. there are only 24 seats that democrats need to take over the house. if -- really, if i were a house republican i would be very, very nervous about where this goes. >> 70 days in, robert. >> yeah, i would not yet call it a presidency in crisis. we should not at war, the economy is still recovering. there's one person in charge of the executive branch and everyone around the world knows who that one person is. it's an anxious presidency and a struggling presidency, and to me, the question has always been, can this man who succeeded so well in new york as his own boss bring those rules to the washington ecosystem? and the telling moment for me was a week ago last thursday when trump dispatched his director of office of management
and budget mick mulvaney to say to the house republicans, we are done negotiating. we are leaving the table, in essence. what they failed to recognize was that the house freedom caucus had already left the table. so it is a different series at play here for the term presidency. >> you know what, i agree with the things you're saying, but i still think it's early. i think it's still early. it sounds horrible and terrible and if the gdp is up around 4% by the time of all midterms, all bets are off because now we have money to fund things. it sounds horrible if the election were today, but a lot can happen. >> you're right, it is early. there are other things going on as well. we are drifting toward greater involvement in the war in yemen, in the war in syria. you know, so events can play on both sides of that scale. and meanwhile, inside the white house you have this sort of court of the bourgas situation, where bannon and priebus and
kushner, and the democrats, gary cohen in quote, which is not con do you say sieve to governance, obviously, because look what's happened. >> bill clinton compartmentalized his scandals. he did that. probably seethed as much as donald trump seethes. granted, there was no twitter then. but when -- it seems like president trump can't compartmentalize russia. >> it's like he's taken everything and shaken us and put us in a cage and rattled us whether it's health care, russia, flynn and we're trying to sort it out. he's shaking us. >> he has a bona fide legislative agenda he's trying to promulgate, the problem is he dwerts us from all of that by talking about the fake news, by talking about, you know, how people are conducting a witch hunt. we'll get later to the merits of whether or not this is a witch hunt. but the point is that when even people on the hill are trying to focus on his legislative agenda
he undercuts that. >> can you imagine if he says, i'll let the process play out, i don't think this is right or fair, but the bottom line is i'm going to lelt the process pl-- s play out. here's what i'm going to focus on, the economy and what i ran on. pushing a legislative agenda. that would be amazing. >> what you said is fake news. it's not going to happen. you're right, it's not going to happen. that's not who he is. >> another problem, this showed up in your piece. he does not instill fear in this town. and he did instill fear in this town before he took the office. it's eroding away. by the way, a president needs a little bit of that if you want to get something done. >> there's the president and then there's the media. he's totally alienated the media. that's why there's no fear because everybody knows that the next news organization is going to support when he goes after you and insults you. >> amy wrote about this, the house freedom caucus, conservative republicans know their district better than president trump does. steve bannon and president trump
were of the belief that they understand what the voters are after more, but in fact, many of the people carried their districts by wider margins than the president himself did. >> that's one of the fundamental problems. the democrats are excited and because their base is so enth e enthus enthused. president trump has been great for enthusiasm on the democratic side and a lot of the republicans do not fear him because, again, as robert said, they know their districts better. >> but if he gets the economy going, all bets are off. >> there you go. we'll pause the conversation here. on the other side of the hour, we'll talk about the supreme court back and forth that we heard between schumaner and mcconnell. when we come back, cyber expert clint watts. not only did the russians create fake news that president trump unwittingly repeated he said they're still at it, all in an effort to win a second cold war.
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welcome back. if you're a fan of homeland, last sunday you saw this. it was a fake news operation being run by the cia heavy in the program, played by the great f. murray abraham. it's fiction, right? well, this week in a life imitating art imitating life moment, a former fbi agent told the senate intelligence committee how the russians did exactly that during the campaign putting out fake news that was eagerly if unwittingly repeated by trump. clint watts says the russians are still at it. >> i can tell you right now today, gray outlets that are soviet pushing accounts tweet at president trump during high volumes when they know he's on line and they push conspiracy theories. >> well, clint watts is currently the robert a. fox fellow at the foreign policy research institute. >> thanks for having me. >> for folks that didn't see the hearing, briefly if you could, explain the active measures that the russians are using. >> what they want to do is use
information as a weapon of warfare to undermine u.s. democracy such that when we crumble from the inside-out, we can't take aggressive foreign policy or stop their foreign policy around the world. so the way they do that is by using what's called a state to people and a people to people strategy. they're going to bypass the u.s. government. go straight to our democratic electorate and try to foe mate chaos. >> you said it was the same way in a way that the campaign might microtarget to talk to a specific voting group. you seemed to indicate that the russians were so sophisticated that they went state-by-state. they made sure that people in michigan or wisconsin or pennsylvania were seeing certain things. how did they get that sophisticated? >> the new social media that's out there, twitter, facebook, and the way advertisements are done, the way you can demographically target people. the same way with the political campaigns in the united states.
you can use that as an adversary as well so they created automated technology. called bots, and they can reprogram those. they can make your biography look like you're a supporter of glen campbea campaign runner or another. you can say i'm talking to someone who supports my candidate and i'm more believable and amenable to the news. >> part of the investigation is -- was there aresolution, any essentially american support to this operation? what can you tell about that? >> i note in my testimony the two times where there was obvious use of russian propaganda. one was paul manafort cited it on 14th august. the fake ancillary campaign and then president trump mistakenly cited what everyone thinks is the sputnik news story. but beyond that, the synchronization at times, how many times the campaign picked
up on lines that were promoted by the kremlin or created lines that were then the kremlin promoted back into the u.s. base was ironic. it was hard to see that with any other campaign. >> so was donald trump specifically targeted by this russian operation as a person to help spread this news? >> i don't think they saw him as a person to spread the news. they just knew that he was opportunistic during his campaign. if you put stuff that helps his campaign he will likely use it. they really turned towards him in august of '15. that's when the stories popped up, but they also pushed for bernie sanders at times. they would go on the left and the right. it was bipartisan. >> it was interesting to hear that. then we did you find out and if -- and whenever you did, did you start alerting the campaigns this was happening? >> no, i had no contact with the campaigns but we started to watch it three years ago. january of '14 was the first time i had seen it. april of '14 is when we saw the alaska back to russia fake story. through the syrian fight we study islamic state.
andrew weisberg and i, we noticed that russia was developing the capability. it wasn't until '15 that they went to the u.s. election. >> it seems like this should have been something -- maybe this is hindsight, easy to say in hindsight, that all of the active campaigns should have been warned, hey, there's an active operation here by the russians. in hindsight, should this have been done? >> yes. we obsess about the tech part of hacks, what are they trying to do, tech tech tech tech. but that was to take information to create information nuclear weapons essentially that you put into the social media landscape. that powers fake news. true news and manipulated truths. that connection wasn't made i don't think until after the election was over. >> the hardest part of this has been how do you respond as a nation state? how do you respond to a cyber attack? dick cheney and john mccain have gone so far as to say you could call what the russians did an act of war. where are you on that?
>> there's two things we have to do above everything else. we can do the whole government approach, but we have to, one, get a baseline for fact and fiction. right now we have arguments over that amongst our executive branch. the other thing is we cannot counteract the measures. if we're anti-nato and anti-eu that's russia's propaganda as well. that's what it seems like our administration is pushing right now. >> if you have a distrust, if the majority of the country distrusts what they see in the media, is this nearly impossible to stop in this political climate? >> it's exactly what the russians want. they're still winning today and they were winning before the election. just us talking about it here today is a victory for them. people are going to argue when i leave this table and you leave today what's fake news and what's true and false. until we can put that debate aside and come together as americans, we're going to continue to lose to other adversaries. >> good word to end on. thank you. thanks for sharing your views. when we come back, the
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wishing you love, sleep and play. pampers welcome back. data download time, as we have seen, president trump and the republican party are finding it's a lot harder to govern than they thought it would be. why? the party is deeply divided and at times it looks rudderless. let's look at the president's poll numbers. the gallup daily tracking poll shows it sitting at 40%, robbing him of leverage you would want to have by popularity. the coalition in congress is incredibly practicing meanted with not -- incredibly fragmented wnt a whole lwith no lot holding it together. look at the house.
the republicans won 241 districts in november. that's a huge number. their largest majority in over 100 years. on one extreme 29 of the 32 free document caucus members outperformed president trump in the districts back in november but they're not feeling the political pressure back home to get in line behind the white house. now you understand. on the other extreme, 23 districts that elected republicans to the house but also voted for hillary clinton for president. so these divisions aren't just abstract. they represent real differences in what those constituents want and need from government. take medicaid. 24 house republicans come from districts that are likely to support medicaid. these are districts with a medicaid population as roughly the national average -- 20% or more. 27 house republicans on the other hand are from districts where very few use medicaid, 10% or fewer. it's not hard to see why some of those republicans are against it and why you can't bridge the divide between the two groups. look, it is extraordinarily hard to bridge this divide when you have 20% of the party that fundamentally disagrees on the role of government itself. and government assistance in the case of medicaid is just that. the debate about the role of government. it used to be an argument that separated democrats from republicans.
but now it's a disagreement in the republican party. there's no such thing as the muddle ground for republicans anymore when it comes to that philosophy on the role of government, and that's your problem. when we come back, the supreme court fight over neil gorsuch. will the senate finally decide to break itself permanently? that's why you drink ensure. with 9 grams of protein and 26 vitamins and minerals. for the strength and energy to get back to doing... ...what you love. ensure. always be you. before fibromyalgia, i was a doer. i was active. then the chronic, widespread pain drained my energy. my doctor said moving more helps ease fibromyalgia pain. she also prescribed lyrica. fibromyalgia is thought to be the result of overactive nerves. lyrica is believed to calm these nerves. woman: for some, lyrica can significantly relieve fibromyalgia pain and improve function, so i feel better. lyrica may cause serious allergic reactions
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we had it this week. a majority say allow a vote, 54%. but guess what? among democrats, 64% say prevent a vote. therein lies the box. >> yeah, that's the box. i just -- just anecdotally and from the poll, there is no appetite in the democratic base for being nicy nicy to neil gorsuch. there's a lot of appetite for filibuster and fight. go down in flames i think for a lot of senate democrats better than sort of backing off. >> how disgraceful though. you know, i like a lot -- obviously a lot of the members of the senate, but i think both republicans and democrats have been so disgraceful, both to judge garland and to judge gorsuch. these are two men who have devoted their lives to the court. and all -- they're being soiled and dirtied by really by the poor behavior in the senate. >> by deploying the nuclear option as it appears that senator mcconnell will do, he's
in essence bringing in a coroner to tell us what we already know about the condition of the body. i mean, senator schumer did mention that a poll -- i hadn't heard of. americans believe in the 60 vote standard. i'm not so sure they care about the mechanics of that filibuster. >> is that fake news? >> i think that goes to your point that you asked both of them about whether the filibuster is going to be around. i think for a lot of voters this is not something that they think of as particularly productive. why do we have a 60 vote threshold? isn't this what's preventing stuff from getting done? i think it will be very easy quite frankly. >> you look back 30 or 40 years in the senate, you had liberal republicans and conservative democrats, lots of both of those. so you had the actual -- >> you had gangs. >> as opposed to the bipartisan -- what you have now. it's a smaller and less efficient house. >> look what you asked about why
didn't you give merrick garland a hearing and vote no. of course that would have been the right thing to do and you have gorsuch -- i realize this is the supreme court and not the court of appeals. many of the democrats who now say they won't vote for him thought that he was really qualified for the u.s. court of appeals. the american people i don't think are that dumb. they see that both sides are being dirty and need a time-out. >> oddly, i don't think there's any penalty to anybody for any rules changes this week. >> no. this isn't going to serve much of a useful purpose for the democrats other than to make him feel good. it shows how hemmed in president trump has. he has a slender majority, in the senate with which to work. essentially he needs three votes. or he has a three vote majority. and on a host of issues, military and domestic policy he'll find it difficult getting a majority. he's going to need some of the democrats. >> in fact, if you -- if they can't find seven or eight -- if they can't find eight democrats to work with them on this, how will they find any democrats on anything? >> this is a grudge match.
this is definitely a grudge match. that's what makes it so dirty. this is totally a grudge match. >> i think you're right. >> yeah. >> and that the republicans were bad about that. >> look they're not getting claire mccaskill on this, for example. >> she's up for re-election. >> up for re-election. >> but she's -- >> she's going with her base. >> not the red state missouri feel. >> right, there are some issues on which -- >> that's money. you have to be able to raise money. >> exactly what this is. this is donor driven on both sides. only the donors that like get amped up on this, right? >> this is exactly what's going on. this is about focusing on that. let's be clear. this didn't start with harry reid or mitch mcconnell or now chuck schumer. this has been going on for the last 20 or 30 years as gene pointed out. >> actually, the impeach earl warren billboard started in the '50s but okay. >> but we're more and more polarized.
the other point is that the president was elected exactly for a lot of people to break this up. he was uniquely situated to pull coalitions together or people who wouldn't normally get together. and yet, he was going to be able to fix this and instead he's come in and been just as polarizing. and just as -- you know -- >> just wait until the replacement is when president trump is replacing a liberal member of the supreme court which is likely next. you think it's bloody now. >> okay. we use that -- now. bloody now it's only going to get worse. when we come back, it's only going to get a little bit better. i promise. we'll be back in are 45 seconds. end game segment. we'll talk about the infighting in the republican party. be right back. coming up -- "meet the press" end game and postgame. brought to you by boeing. always working to build something better. to do the best for your pet, you should know more about the food you choose. with beyond, you have a natural pet food that goes beyond telling ingredients to showing where they come from. beyond assuming the source is safe...
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require hospitalization; skin problems; and severe bone, joint or muscle pain. only prolia helps strengthen and protect bones with 2 shots a year. i have proof prolia® works for me. can it work for you? ask your doctor about prolia® today. "meet the press" end game is brought to you by boeing. always working to build something better. >> back now with end game. this war with the freedom caucus, robert draper you wrote about a lot of this in your cover story. and it just kept continuing. yesterday the president's director of social media dan scavino went after an outspoken member of the freedom caucus and a michigan republican and essentially threatened a primary. >> look, justin amash is going to beat anybody that trump puts up there and this is a war that the president cannot afford to have. i mean he's going to have --
the notion that he said in the tweet will be fighting the free dam caucus and democrats then says who will he not be fighting, the moderate republicans? oh, wait, he went after charlie den of the tuesday group. at a certain point he has to build coalitions and underpinning that is the base of the republican party and the house freedom caucus is very much connected in. i know he feels betrayed by them. but as raul labrador tweeted, he said we are your friends. it's the other people who are leading you astray. with bad legislation. >> doesn't labrador have a point? >> he does. but who would have guessed that the republican party would be the big tent. look at the democratic party they're much more cohesive and the republicans are the big tent. >> is that minority versus majority? >> boehner once said that getting the republicans is like trying to get a wheelbarrow across the floor and not letting a frog jump out of it and now trump has the wheelbarrow. >> if you talk to nancy pelosi about how she ran the democratic majority when it was a much
bigger tent than now, she spent endless, endless time with the various caucuses and parts of the party -- >> and she raised money for for all of them. she had the money for them. >> she built consensus, and she got favors owed to her. >> raised money. let me go back to the money. >> you know, somebody has to try to do something like that on the republican side. this party is going to be governing for the next few years. right? in the next couple of years and they can't govern. >> this had been happening long before trump came in. obviously this is a party -- the only thing that's kept them together, the dislike of president obama. and now they have to try to figure out how to emotionally and intellectually come together and again, the president was the person who was supposed to be the cohesive part of that. he's been completely unable to do that. >> right. >> it wasn't just pelosi was so good because of the money, but the party itself is much more united on a lot of these hot button issues. immigration, and gay marriage.
>> wait until president trump starts to back off of the nafta statements in the campaign. he's already doing that. that's not going to make things better within -- >> within his caucus. >> that's somebody realizing he has to build a different type of coalition. all right. we have to stop unfortunately. quick programming note, "nbc nightly news's" lester holt will be live from south korea tomorrow and on tuesday to give us a deep dive on the threat from north korea. he'll give us unprecedented access on the u.s. capabilities at a time of the increasing tensions in the region. that's all for today. enjoy the ncaa finals and opening day, let's go nats and dodgers. that's it. we'll be back next week. because if it's sunday it's "meet the press." >> you can see more "end game" and "postgame" sponsored by boeing on the "meet the press" facebook page.
♪ hey, good sunday to you. i'm richard lui in new york city. welcome to "the pulse of america" where your voice can be heard. here are the stories we want your posts on today. our first pulse question g, is time to write off the house intelligence investigation of russia and the attempts to influence the election? a committee chairman is under fire and while the senate investigation chugs on on monday. then general flynn by donald trump's side in the campaign and the white house and then