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tv   Deadline White House  MSNBC  August 30, 2017 1:00pm-2:00pm PDT

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they are reloaded on the side. military members who have been coming in. >> got it. >> coast guard members here. you see them bringing a motor out for a raft. this is the equipment they need. >> miguel, stand by. miguel is in orange, texas. next to beaumont. you can see the heavy gear that the army is bringing in now on those military chinook helicopters that can carry a lot of troops. you will see a lot more of miguel's reporting tonight on "nbc nightly news" with lester holt. this hour has come to a close for me. thank you for watching. i'll be back at 11:00 p.m. eastern on the 1 1th hour. "deadline: white house" starts right now. good afternoon. it's 4:00 and i'm kasie hunt filling in for nicolle wallace. we'll keep an eye on all the dramatic rescues down in texas, but we want to back to
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washington and out into to the country where president trump headed to missouri today and unlike yesterday he made sure to mention those people fighting for their lives in texas. before moving on to make a pitch for tax reform. >> as we all know, our gulf coast was hit over the weekend with the devastating hurricane of historic people to the people of houston and across texas and louisiana we are here with you today. we are with you tomorrow. and we will be with you every single day after to restore, recover and rebuild. >> texans after all are still battling biblical flooding as tropical storm harvey slowly moves east. and it's made landfall now in louisiana. but we'll towns outside of houston have seen as much as 50 inches of rain thousands still in need of evacuation, shelter, rescue. the president tweeted about the storm and his trip to texas.
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quote, after witnessing firsthand the horror and devastation caused by hurricane harvey my heart goes out more so to the great people of texas. but of course the president's trip yesterday did not include meeting with any of the victims or even mentioning them during his two stops in corpus christi and austin. but back home at the white house, the president's twitter immediate made reference foreissues on his -- to other issues like north korea. the u.s. has been paying them extortion money for 25 years and talking is not the issue. and he was complaining about magazine articles. after reading the false reporting and ferocious anger in some dying magazines, it makes me wonder why? all i want to do is #maga. then he was promoting today's rally in missouri which was as we have come to expect light on specifics. but filled with digs at some familiar targets. >> our self-destructive tax code
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cost americans millions and millions of jobs, trillions of dollars, and billions of hours spent on compliance and paperwork. so this is our once in a generation opportunity to deliver real tax reform for everyday hard working americans and i am fully committed to working with congress to get this job done and i don't want to be disappointed by congress. you understand me? [ applause ] you understand. understand. congress. i think congress is going to make a comeback. i hope so. >> here with me is peter alexander, ashley parker, also an msnbc political analyst. nprs jeff bennett is here with
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me in the studio. but peter, i want to start with you over at the white house, since we listened to what the president said about tax reform. he's not pleased currently with the congress. what's the expectation of how quickly they want them to get tax reform through? >> well, the bottom line you can hear a shift in strategy, not just in his words but in his very appearance compared to the way they handled health care. that was a dramatic failure. here the president making a stop going on the road to a state where there is a senator that is a democrat. a red state with a democratic senator, claire mccaskill there as well. the president is making similar stops and similar speeches in the weeks and months ahead. remember, he didn't make any such stop or a single speech on health care behind this. his singular focus was on the why they needed this. the sales pitch for tax reform. not so much on the how they were going to go about doing it which is some of the criticism you're already hearing the president insisting it should be fairer
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and more competitive. the tax code in this country. chuck schumer the top democrat in the senate already pushing back on this. sort of prebutting what we heard from the president today saying none of these can be for the wealthy, it has to be democrats and republicans doing this together. mitch mcconnell already indicating as he's prepared to meet with the president on this topic multiple times early next week he's going to try to go at this the same way as health care with exclusively a republican effort. >> peter, thank you so much. ashley parker, i want to ask you, because the focus is going to shift pretty quickly. we know that the president is planning to go back to texas on saturday. and your colleague jenna johnson wrote in "the post" in the last 24 hours that trump is keeping the focus on himself here, he's making this hurricane all about him. she writes, as rescuers continue their exhausting and heart breaking work in southeastern texas on tuesday, the rain
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continued to fall, a reservoir near houston spilled over. but yet again, trump managed to turn the focus to himself. his responses to the devastation have been more focused on the power of the storm and his response than on the millions of texans who have been affected. what's your sense of what makes how this president has responded to the disaster different from president's past? >> well, jenna captured it right in that piece she wrote. he went down to texas but at least on that first trip he didn't meet with any of the victims of the hurricane and he at times almost seemed to forget that he was there on a relief effort and almost held a brief, but an impromptu political rally where he kind of turned to the people assembled and said, you know, what a crowd, look at this crowd. i mean, that's not typical heading to the hurricane zone behavior. i will say i think we saw a bit of a course correction. you mentioned his tweet this morning where he expressed some empathy and then at the beginning of that news
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conference today missouri tax reform, he reading off the teleprompter made sure to explain that the nation's heart -- his heart was with the victims of texas. but his instinct again is to put himself at the center of everything. i do think that's what you saw yesterday. it might be different when he goes back saturday. coming under criticism and his aides are sensitive to that and want to make sure he strikes the right tone. >> jeff, you cover the white house every day. do you think that this approach was about the president's personality or is it bad staff work this initial kind of a approach to this? what do you chalk it up to? >> just showing early was enough, i think what they were trying to get at was fairly transparent. they were trying to project a sense of competence, a sense of engagement around the federal government response here. they tried intentionally to avoid any comparisons between
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former president george w. bush's handling -- >> they tried to stay out of the first responders. >> despite the optics i think what matters really is the federal government response. while there are agencies and departments within the trump administration that aren't fully staffed or led by appointees who don't direct relevant experience when its comes to dealing with this storm response the folks at fema do have vast experience. brock long has experience back in alabama. he was the former fema hurricane manager so the people in charge of handling the response, some are obama holdovers from the civilian ranks -- >> and they have the money to get this off the ground. i'm told you have new administration -- new information about what the vice president is going to do? >> we expect to learn more about the president's plans for saturday as soon as he goes down to the region. we do know a little bit more about the vice president's plans. he's traveling with his wife down to the hurricane zone.
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i'm told by a white house official that this will be as it's described to me more of a compassionate listening tour which may in some ways sort of respond to that criticism that the white house had been hearing about the fact he was focused more on the power of the storm and the response than on the individuals. today as noted he did course correct and focus on the individuals and the first responders who are being affected by this awful disaster that's taking place right now. so again the vice president expected to head that direction and we expect to learn more details on the specifics of where he will be going very soon. chris christie of course an ally of this president who's been leading up the opioid efforts for the white house commenting on this specific topic obviously he's familiar given his relationship responsibilities during hurricane sandy saying to push back on the criticism that yesterday in effect was a competence day. to demonstrate competence as geoff indicated by simply being there.
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>> sure. ashley, you mentioned that there was a bit of a course correction with the tweets. he put something out this morning about the hurricane and of course tweeting about north korea the other -- you know, dramatically serious issue that we're facing. make sense. the one thing that stood out to me a little bit was this focus on a dying magazine piece. can you explain a little bit about what he was referring to there? >> i have to be perfectly honest that we had a debate here at "the post" and we weren't sure exactly what magazine it was. his ire and frustration at the media is nothing new. our best guess -- >> you're right there with me, ash. >> there was a piece in "vanity fair" that was very critical of his son-in-law, jared kushner and daughter ivanka. i mean, that seemed to be the most snarky dying magazine piece that's come out about the trump administration. but i can't pinpoint it other than to say that the president is raging against the fake media
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and this tweet was not that dissimilar. >> i guess that shows you the wide range the focus that the president has as hurricane harvey unfolds. thank you both so much. joining geoff at the table with me here today, former spokesman to john boehner, michael steele. and donna edwards from the brennan center for justice. and jeremy peters, "new york times" reporter and the msnbc contributor. so jeremy, i saw you reacting to what ashley was talking about just then so please share your thoughts. >> yeah, it's kind of hard not to. i'm just glad the camera didn't catch it, but i do think -- its must be "vanity fair," right? because the editor of "vanity fair" and president trump have a long standing fight and there was the fight about how jared kushner and ivanka trump have very little clout within the
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administration right now. and the piece basically said, why don't you leave washington, you're not doing anybody any good. >> what does his tweeting say about the context of harvey? >> he has no attention span. i think it shows -- in a moment when the nation needs a unifying figure, a leader who is capable of showing empathy, donald trump has shown himself to be anything but that person. >> your colleague at "the new york times" glenn thrush wrote about kind of a different take on what we talked about with jenna johnson in "the post" saying this gave the president a chance to unify and michael steele, i'm curious. they write here this time around is different. people around mr. trump insist the president who prefers to skim rather than delve has seldom been more engaged in any issue than with harvey. is that your read on this?
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>> i certainly hope so. you're seeing a much more constructive and engaged president than we have seen certainly on a number of issues. they seemed to have learned some of the lessons of health care. i don't know how much is due to new chief of staff. i don't know how much is due to the president knowing that his voters demand a win. they want something tangible for his presidency. >> and you obviously worked for house speaker john boehner. you have been through some of the instances where, you know, suddenly congress has to move quickly. i frankly, you know, i have been covering it for years. they're moving more slowly than when we were both working up on capitol hill. what is -- what kind of pressure is house speaker paul ryan under right now with this? >> it's going to be a complicated fall. we have to deal with the hurricane effort, as well as keeping the government open and dealing with the tax limit and other issues, like faa and the tax health insurance and in the immediate future of getting through september, having
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hurricane relief money added to the funding bill and a debt limit increase might make it easier to get it through the house and senate. >> that was my initial read on it too. one of the last most recent times we had a huge fight about this was hurricane sandy. that became a long, protracted political fight with especially republicans falling all over themselves, i'm so conservative i voted against this, including ted cruz of texas who is in a bit of a spat with new jersey governor chris christie take a look. >> it's a word association game. ted cruz. >> crap. by the way that was -- he talked about playing politics. that's what he did with people's lives in 2012 and 2013. he was playing politics to make himself look like the most conservative guy. >> but ted cruz told us that two-thirds of all the spending had nothing to do with sandy. >> dead wrong. he knows it. see, the worst thing about it, this is why politics has become so cynical in washington.
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is statements like that. he should just stand up now and say i was wrong. >> should he stand -- he was wrong. you have been part of these types of fights as a democrat on capitol hill. what can democrats do now to try to avoid that -- what we just saw there? >> well, i think what happened in the end on sandy is that in order to get the votes to pass the large relief package, not the first one, democrats and republicans had to come together because i think 179 republicans bolted on that large sandy package. and i think that's a problem. i last read something like 20 or almost all of the texan republicans in the house voted against the large sandy package. now look i don't think anyone is going to punish victims of hurricane harvey. but it is something to -- you know, to push a little jab at. i think that's what chris christie was doing. >> well, i mean, look, part of what the calculus was at the
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time that cruz and christie were going back and forth about this initially was, president obama was in the white house and democrats now are under an incredible amount of pressure to show that they are not going along with anything president trump does. >> yeah. and what's funny to me for chris christie to sort of call ted cruz out for being a hypocrite. hypocrisy is the lifeblood of politics in many ways and it's why members of congress have tried not to make the issues partisan. because they never know when they'll find themselves on the recipient end of the disaster aid. >> and a christie said something to that effect. hey, it could be texas next time. unfortunately that's where we are today. geoff bennett, thank you. still ahead this hour the multiple russia investigations are picking up steam. including new subpoenas from special counsel robert mueller. the latest on where things stand. plus, is the bottom falling
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out? voters who helped put trump in the white house are sounding off on his first eight months and the reviews aren't good. >> we were told that it was going to be a cadillac escalade, but in reality it's a pickup truck with a gun rack in the back and it's falling apart going down the road. jett & the blackhearts] ♪ who can turn the world on with her smile? ♪ ♪ who can take a nothing day, ♪ ♪ and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile? ♪ ♪ well it's you girl, and you should know it. ♪ ♪ with each glance and every little movement you show it. ♪ ♪ you're gonna make it after all. ♪ it takes a long time to get to the top... ♪ you're gonna make it after all. ♪ but with america's best ♪ you're gonna make it after all. ♪ bumper-to-bumper limited ♪ you're gonna make it after all. ♪ warranty, the all-new volkswagen tiguan will be there every step ♪ ow!♪ of the way.
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abject disappointment. extremely disappointed. >> you voted for him? >> yes, sir. >> okay.
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and why abject disappointment? >> because regardless of what he truly wants to get done, whatever that may be, he has got to be his own worst enemy. he -- he couldn't be any worse at achieving goals in politics. >> his own worst enemy it reminds me of driving my car around in the '90s when lit was actually cool. that was the analysis at a focus group in pittsburgh and our friend peter hart was involved in that. a majority of the group expressing deep concerns with the track that trump's presidency has taken so far. another trump voter said if there's one word he could use to sum up the trump presidency so far it would be outrageous. >> everything he does is outrageous. outrageously good, outrageously bad. there's no in between in, you
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know, the 100 days of his presidency. that's a lot of things that he's accomplished but he just doesn't have that soft touch. to sell you on what he wants to accomplish. >> i'm not sure soft touch is necessarily what we would hear. joining our discussion is jake sherman from politico. someone who i have covered congress with for a long time. i was fascinated by the focus groups. i don't get too much of a chance to see this kind of thing and these are voter froms pittsburgh, pennsylvania. president trump has said these are the voters i'm talking to not others around the world. do you think he could be losing that base that he has focused so much of his attention on? >> so i mean, here's the premise of his candidacy was he can get deals done. he was the deal maker. this isn't a partisan statement.
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he has not made a deal yet and we are eight months into his administration. >> i don't think the democrats will let him make a deal. >> no, especially if it's a bad deal for working people. >> he needs to make a deal with the republicans. he needs to get republicans on board. >> can i play devil's advocate for a second. >> please. >> i think that yes all of those things are true. donald trump is reckless. he's his own worst enemy. he shoots his mouth off when he shouldn't. those things have been true as long as he's been in public life. including when he was running for office. these people have known his flaws, they have accepted his flaws. so i think it's possible to be disappointed in him while still supporting the idea of him. and of course then there's the question of, okay, who does he run against? these people need something to run toward, not just someone to run away -- >> but that idea you brought up. let's explore that. this idea that he's outrageous,
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maybe they voted for him because he's outrageous. maybe they expected something different from the president than the candidate. >> that's possible. people thought that obama didn't bring the change he campaigned on and they voted on him that he might bring it in 2015, '16. but republicans had taken the house in 2010. and president trump is not getting anything done with the control of the entire government. i think it's very difficult to make the argument that a lot of the people bought into and some bought into different elements of his candidacy. he was a nonpolitician, who can get deals done. >> i think most voters don't want to have to pay attention to what their president is saying every single day and then in the case of this president, it is literally every moment. i think many voters have found that to be exhausting in addition to being distracting. and add to that the fact that nothing has been done. and so i can understand their
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frustration. >> congressman, to that point, we have more of the focus group. these voters -- trump supporters were asked do they still have confidence in donald trump or have they lost it? one explains why they have lost confidence. take a look. >> i look at a president to be presidential. someone who is calm, focused. i mean, i'm sure people said -- i mean, i was young, but you know ronald reagan came as an actor. but he goes down as one of our better presidents. i thought okay, this guy he's not a politician. but in some aspects he's turning into a politician. >> is he turning into a politician? >> yeah, right. they thought they'd get abraham lincoln and they end up with don rickles. this should not be a surprise. i think that -- you know, like i was trying to explain earlier, i think there's -- the polling
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shows that there's no doubt a bleeding in his support among conservatives and republicans. i think it's a question of how much he can recover that. how much he's able to as michael said get a deal done on tax reform. that's going to be huge. i think that buys him a lot of goodwill. we'll see. >> i think this comes down to results. i think that the speech today in missouri a focused, disciplined case for tax reform, was a really good sign for republicans and people across the country. >> so there's a pew poll out that shows to jeremy's point about republicans kind of drifting a little bit away, 58% according to this pew poll of republicans say that trump should listen more to republicans with government experience. jake, do you think that the tax reform speech is a sign he's doing that? to michael point? >> no i don't think. i think republicans across the board have been worried and they have told the white house in various ways on television, principally, but other ways too that the president should not go out across the country if he's
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just going to rail on john mccain and jeff flake. that's not a helpful thing in getting tax reform. now on that specific point, the president has hired a lot of really good people around him. but i wouldn't hire my really good dentist to fix my car. so you hire really good people to do what they're really good at and he hasn't hired a lot of really good people who know how to navigate capitol hill. >> i thought the great exception he didn't go after jeff flake or john mccain he went after a democrat. he finally went after a red state democrat in a state he won who can be a vote with republicans for tax reform. >> look at today, because we had another great speech in front of a teleprompter and it was good and then we have -- add to today a couple of tweets that make no sense whatsoever. and then who knows what we'll
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get tomorrow. i mean, the president hasn't demonstrated any consistency of his speech making in front of the crowd and his law making and i don't see that changing. >> who knows what we'll see tomorrow. thank you so much for taking some time with us today. up next, while congress is still on break, president trump hits the road to push tax reform. we were talking about that. but with the party determined not to repeat its past mistakes will he be able to sell the nation on this plan without giving any specifics? just like the people who own them, every business is different. but every one of those businesses will need legal help as they age and grow. whether it be with customer contracts, agreements to lease a space or protecting your work. legalzoom's network of attorneys can help you, every step of the way. so you can focus on what you do and we'll handle the legal stuff that comes up along the way. legalzoom. legal help is here.
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i'm especially pleased to be here in springfield. the birth place of a great american icon -- the legendary route 66. who would have known that? this is the place where the main street of america got its start.
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and this is where america's main street will begin its big, beautiful comeback. i am fully committed to working with congress to get this job done and i don't want to be disappointed by congress. do you understand me? do you understand? >> that was president trump last hour making his sales pitch on the need for tax reform. and putting its success squarely on the shoulders of congress. with health care under the bus, tax reform is now at the top of the president's agenda list but it's one he still couldn't offer any details about today. joining the table now, axios national political reporter jonathan swan and my panel still with me. but jonathan,let's start for a second on the details of this. i mean, the president's not going to be writing this bill at the end of the day. >> no, they have been having the discussions, but it's pretty
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clear to anyone who's done the most nominal reporting on this that there are issues unresolved and when he talks to the people in the white house -- like full expensing. it's a really sticky issue and hotly contested they're kicking it through to congress. the way that the white house sees its they're spending capital trying to kill paul ryan's border adjustment tax. >> so just for one second, i want to talk about the big fix. you're referencing the to be leaders in congress plus the two cabinet officials or presidential advisers mostly closely involved in this. steve mnuchin got a shout-out at the top of this event with the president. gary cohn however i want to show you a picture of him standing backstage. he went completely unacknowledged today. you read anything into that? >> well, two parts on that. on this speech i give the white house as someone who i was talking to in the white house said that actually because he was reading off the prompter they don't usually mention staff
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in the speech and i do believe this person on this. but bigger picture, trump is livid with gary cohn because gary cohn criticized him over charlottesville. we have reported that, others have reported that. trump can't stand him and i would be stand -- he doesn't have 1% chance of being a fed chair. no chance. forget it. no chance. no chance. >> does he survive? >> he can survive. i don't think trump is going to fire him. there is a so much turmoil. >> there's a question of whether he'll stick around. whether or not he'll get fired. >> yeah. >> so michael steel, talk to me about this -- this is a huge, huge undertaking with congress and the president essentially said, look, this is totally up to you. do you think he has his head around what it will take? i mean, you have watched them try to rewrite the tax code before. >> yeah. this is the speech that the congressional republicans wanted to see, they wanted cheerleading. talking about the middle class and talking about rising wages and making the case to the core voters, those who stay with him, why this is good for them.
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and i think that's exactly what they wanted. they don't need president trump dickering over whether the top corporate rate is 16.9%. the congressional committee can do that. the house ways and means can do that. they need him on the road making the case particularly in cases that have red state democrats who could potentially support this package exactly the way he did today. >> yeah. on that point, congresswoman, do you think there's any circumstances under which democrats could support this kind of a package? i mean the president is selling it as hey, this is a populist reform package. sounds like reducing the top rate off the table, they'll probably keep it where it is or at least there's talk about that. and now we have the president saying hey vote for tax reform. can democrats be seen as helping the president on this? is schumer going to let them? >> it seems like the democrats are not in the room so i think that's hard to forecast but what i see coming down the line is
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that the president and the white house are fairly disengaged from the process and something comes up like with health care. the president doesn't like it and he deep sixes the congressional republicans and so they need to be really careful about whether they want to go down a line of producing a package -- a tax package that the president at the end of the day figures out that he doesn't like. >> right. so you mentioned claire mccaskill. the president attacked a red state democrat instead of a member of his own party. let's take a look at that. >> we must lower our taxes. and your senator, claire mccaskill, she must do this for you and if she doesn't do it for you, you have to vote her out of office. >> jake, do you think there's a chance that mccaskill votes for tax reform? >> not the way it looks right now, it doesn't seem like it. they're not in the room, they
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have no buy-in. senate democrats are telling me yesterday, republicans control all of government. let's see what they come up with. if they want to include us that's fine. i want to make one point on the white house's posture on tax reform when it comes to the hill. the white house has been saying for weeks this isn't that hard. we'll get the this done by august, done by october, done by december. i don't think gary cohn -- it's understandable he's confused, because he never served in government and he worked in a bank and the president is confused because he doesn't understand this either. once the lobbyist efforts get engaged on the mortgage deduction and charitable deductions this is a totally different ball game. every single member has some of the provisions that could be taken away. people are interested in this. >> and mitch mcconnell refused to set a time line. >> but i think the drama is obscuring a massive rifts in the
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democratic party. they're talking about being able to support in concept what republicans are talking about. >> if claire mccaskill wants to save her seat, does she take the risk that the base won't eat her up for it? >> if he talks about rising wages, bringing jobs back to the u.s., it's going to be very hard for democrats particularly in heartland states like claire mccaskill to say no. >> states that the president really wants to keep in his column. when we come back, special counsel robert mueller reportedly serving more subpoenas as the team zeros in on the trump family business. those details up next. (vo) dogs have evolved,
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i have no dealings with russia. i have no deals in russia. i have no deals that could happen in russia because we have stayed away.
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and i have no loans with russia. >> donald trump time after time during the 2016 campaign denying any ongoing business relations with russia. but now with 2015 and 2016 e-mails from trump associate felix sater coming to light this week, there are new questions about how accurate those statements were. trump himself tweeted back in 2013 that he'd be planning a tower in moscow. when did that planning ever stop? and also in the russia investigation could robert mueller be putting the squeeze on paul manafort? "the wall street journal" reporting that manafort's former lawyer and former spokesperson have been subpoenaed by mueller and his team. nbc news still working to confirm that report. and here to guide us through all of this is is our russia sherpa, nbc's ken dilanian. thank you for taking the time to kind of explain this. i mean, look, we have been focused very understandably on hurricane harvey. there are a lot of reports, new details from "the washington
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post," "new york times," from nbc news and you and your team. can you walk us through what you think the top line frame on this, what do we know now about the investigations that we don't know at the beginning of the week? >> absolutely, kasie. a number of things. the thing you just mentioned about this potential trump tower moscow deal that was going on right up until january 2016 while donald trump was running for president. that to me is extraordinary. leaving aside the whole question of collusion, it is amazing that a major party presidential candidate was trying to do business in vladimir putin's russia, number one. number two, it's amazing that he was doing it with a guy named felix sater who's a convicted criminal who has a long history of ties to the trump organization. but this is man who donald trump said i wouldn't know if he walked into the room. so now we have the e-mails between sater and trump's attorney michael cohen showing they were trying to get this tower built in moscow, that sater was touting his connections to the kremlin and
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that cohen sent an e-mail to a close associate of vladimir putin asking for putin's help with this tower. now, the tower didn't happen. and we don't know to what extent donald trump was involved xoept we do know from -- except we do know that cohen talked to trump three times about it and signed a letter of intent. the other revolutionary, mueller is focusing on donald trump's crafting of a statement on his son's behalf about that infamous trump tower meeting in june of 2016 where donald trump jr., paul manafort and jared kushner met with a russian lawyer and a russian lobbyist after a promise of help from the russian government. the focus is on why did trump craft a misleading statement saying that it was about russian adoption when in fact it wasn't. not that that was necessarily a crime but he was trying to cover up something that happened at that meeting. >> ken, i'll get you to talk
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about the new subpoenas that we're hearing about from robert mueller. what does that say to you about how he's conducting the investigation, where it'll going in the long run? >> that he's playing hardball. according to the reports he's subpoenaing manafort's spokesperson and his former lawyer. manafort's conversations with his attorney will be covered under attorney/client privilege unless it covered up criminal intent and the fbi doesn't believe that manafort has been telling the truth. and he knows what manafort has been telling reporter, he knows how he's prepared testimony to congress. and so to the extent that the fbi and mueller is interested in that it raises questions obviously about whether they think manafort has been completely truthful and clearly the legal noose around paul manafort who is chairman of donald trump's campaign is tightening. >> and yet, he says he haven't on the campaign for all that long.
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jonathan swan, i want to ask you ken underscored the significance of a presidential candidate, having conversations indirectly but through senior associates with the kremlin. what does say that to you? that trump thought he wouldn't win the election? why do that? >> i think that anyone who was -- covering that campaign knows that trump didn't think he was going to win the election. he didn't. but michael cohen there was a line in "the washington post" piece that says it's unclear if donald trump knew about this. well, news flash. anything that cohen's involved in especially at that level trump would have been all over that. and people in trump's orbit are concerned now that mueller has all of the excuse he needs to go really deep on michael cohen. cohen has been a key figure in the trump organization for a long time. his desks are a few steps away from trump's and his financial dealings are inextrickily tied up with donald trump so this is the most exposed that the athas been so far. >> michael steel, there's some reporting that nbc's not
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completely confirmed but that there were reports that the president is very angry with mitch mcconnell for not doing enough to get in the way of these investigations. >> right. i mean, every time there's a good day for trump's relationship with congressional republicans the russia investigation remains the monster in the closet that could up end everything. at the same time, congressional republicans, one, they're making sure that responsible, bipartisan investigations go on. >> how many are hoping they find something at this point? >> i think these are people for the past two years more than two years have had to deal in a dual universe where you have to ignore the tweets and the taunts and the trump drama while trying to get things done for the american people. i think that's what they're going to have to continue to do. >> ken dilanian, thank you so much for taking the time to explain that to us. i appreciate it. >> thanks. up next, defense secretary james mattis and president trump
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once again on different pages. this time it's about north korea. is general mattis the voice of reason needed in the white house? so that's the idea. what do you think? hate to play devil's advocate but... i kind of feel like it's a game changer. i wouldn't go that far. are you there? he's probably on mute. yeah... gary won't like it. why? because he's gary. (phone ringing) what? keep going! yeah... (laughs) (voice on phone) it's not millennial enough. there are a lot of ways to say no. thank you so much. thank you! so we're doing it. yes! start saying yes to your company's best ideas.
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are we out of diplomatic solutions for north korea? >> no. we're never out of diplomatic solutions. we continue to work together and look for all the areas we can
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collaborate. we have already very strong clab ragsz. we always look for more. we're never kplas ant. >> defense secretary mattis there keeping diplomatic solutions on the table. but mattis' comments broke notably with what his boss, president trump, with tweeted earlier this morning. quote, the u.s. has been talking to north korea and paying them extortion money for 25 years. talking is not the answer. my panel is back here with me. so this seems like a rift to me between, congresswoman, between the president and his own defense secretary. >> a rift. i think what it is, it's another example of the president of the united states kind of going off without really any consultation, makes a statement, and then the adults in his administration, secretary mattis, has to come in and make sure that it's really cleaned up. otherwise, you know, the north koreans get a different vantage point. >> so essentially the generals are going to be the ones that
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take the temperature down? >> i guess. i mean, listen, he's not used to -- he's used to being able to solve problems by just kind of sheer force of personality, right. this is a guy who ran a company that he ran and he owned and he could solve things pretty easily and get himself out of situations. this is a situation that the bush administration, the clinton bgs were not able to solve because it's really complicated. the chinese are not on board with what the u.s. wants to do. north korea has no incentive to really come to the table. and that's frustrating for a guy like trump. >> there's another snanls too where jim mattis seems to be breaking with the president. that's on this transgender service ban. the president, of course, announced this, sent to the pentagon the directive and initially said transgender service members can't stay. mattis krigting that saying, no, actually they can. we're going to study it. january anthony swan, is there a point at which mattis risks getting on the wrong side of the president here? president trump is known for not exactly liking disloyalty in the
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ranks. >> mattis has towed this really -- it's quite skifl skillfully, actually -- when you get readouts from people who are in the room both mattis and mcmaster push back on the president where mattis does it in a way to not offend his ego. he's doing a study. he allows trump an exit ramp. oh, i asked for a study or whatever it was. the reality is when trump tweeted that, we tried to do a particular to come of how it happened and it was very hard to do because no one knew about it from the top level of the white house. it was mark mode owes make ago a phone call. it was literally the loosest thing you can possibly imagine. it was amazing. >> it's troubling because on the policy the secretary is right. the president, on the other hand, was elected to be commander in chief, and on this issue the secretary is right, but it sets a dangerous precedent of military leaders
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ignoring the commander in chief and that's a really troubling slippery slope. >> and in some ways they seem to be going around and to congress. john kelly are talking almost daily sometimes with the speaker and others on the hill. >> yeah. i mean, because congress has a role in this no matter how much the president does not want to believe that congress has a role in this. i think what you're going to see in the coming weeks is mattis is going to go to capitol hill and he's going to say -- he's going to be asked about the troop surge in afghanistan. and mattis is going to say i can't tell you how many troops we're putting in afghanistan because the president doesn't want to talk about strategy and senators are going to go well, that's interesting. that doesn't fly because i cut the checks and you don't so you're going to tell me how many troops you're committing from our army, our kids, you're going to tell me because that's how this country work. so that's going to been ainteresting clash we can look forward to the next couple of weeks. >> one of many. we're going to keep our eye on
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the rescue and recovery down in texas from harvey. the number of people killed as a result of the storm has gone up to 21. right now it's areas east of houston bearing the brunt of the rain, including port arthur and beaumont, which has already seen over two feet of rain in just 24 hours. teams are working around the clock to rescue trapped residence. and while the rain has moved on, rising flood waters are still a concern in many houston neighborhoods. for more information on how you can help the victims of harvey, visit nbc news.com slash harvey. crohn's disease. you're more than just a bathroom disease. you're a life of unpredictable symptoms. crohn's, you've tried to own us. but now it's our turn to take control with stelara® stelara® works differently for adults with moderately to severely active crohn's disease. studies showed relief and remission, with dosing every 8 weeks. stelara® may lower the ability of your immune system to fight infections and may increase your risk of infections and cancer.
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michael steel, jonathan swan for taking the time to be here with us today. that does it for this hour. "meet the press" daily starts now. hi, chuck. >> hey, casey. nice work, hon. good stuff. >> appreciate it. >> all right. good. well, anyway, if it's wednesday, the president tries to split screen the news. tonight, the president in focus. >> if we care for and support each other and love each other, then we will truly make america great again. >> how do trump voters judge the president after all the item ultimate of this half year. >> he is exactly what this specific time in history in this country you would expect from a president. >> he's not even professional let alone presidential. >> plus, tracking harvey.

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