tv Meet the Press MSNBC January 7, 2018 3:00pm-4:00pm PST
this sunday, "fire and fury," a new book portrays the trump white house as dysfunctional, with a president described by his own staff as an idiot surrounded by clowns. a [ bleep ] fool with a staff that questioned his fitness for office and his mental stability. president trump reacts. >> i consider it a work of fiction. >> calling himself a very stable genius. >> i went to the best colleges, or college. >> and the white house pushes back hard.
>> complete fantasy, disgraceful and laughable. mistake after mistake after mistake. book full of lies. that's one of the most ridiculous things. >> author michael wolff defends his reporting. >> the one description that everyone gave, everyone has in common, they all say he is like a child. plus, the break with bannon. in the book president trump's former chief political advisor, steve bannon, lashes out at the president, his staff and his family. the president's response, when he was fired he not only lost his job, he lost his mind. this morning my exclusive interview with the controversial author of "fire and fury," michael wolff. also, the russia investigation. two republican senators take aim not at russia, but at the former british spy who tried to expose russian election meddling. i'll talk to one of those senators, lindsey graham of south carolina. joining me for insight and analysis are david brooks, columnist for "the new york times."
joy reid, mark leibovich, "new york times" magazine and danielle pletka, of the american enterprise institute. welcome to sunday, it's "meet the press." from nbc news in washington, the longest running show in television history, this is "meet the press" with chuck todd. good sunday morning on our first broadcast of the new year. the winter bomb cyclone that hit washington this week had nothing to do with the frigid weather and everything to do with the book "fire and fury" by journalist michael wolff. it portrays a dysfunctional white house led by a president of declining intellectual capacity and a staff that didn't believe mr. trump would win the election or necessarily should have. in addition to the president, the other protagonist in the book is his former chief strategist, steve bannon, who has now been excommunicated by mr. trump for his disloyalty, for now. here's how the always colorful "new york post" played the break between bannon and the
president. one takeaway is that the president's allies are engaged in a policy of appeasement and containment. appeasement by his republican supporters in congress who want mr. trump to sign their bills. containment by a staff eager to protect the president from himself and their own reputations from him. but mr. trump is leaving no doubt that he sees michael wolff's instant best-seller as a problem for his presidency. >> i consider it a work of fiction. and i think it's a disgrace. >> a white house torn apart by infighting and a president isolated, losing allies, with staffers desperately trying to contain what he might do or say. so far 2018 looks a lot like 2017. >> collusion now is dead. there's been no collusion between us and the russians. >> on the president's first full day back in washington, he attacked his own justice department as the deep state, one of 17 tweets on tuesday alone. >> encouraging the justice department to go after political
opponents. that's very concerning. >> the president also threatened a war with nuclear north korea tweeting i too have a nuclear button, but it is a much bigger and more powerful one than his. and my button works. by day two, michael wolff's bombshell book had mr. trump lashing out again. steve bannon has nothing to do with me or my presidency. when he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind. >> furious, disgusted would probably certainly fit when you make such outrageous claims and completely false claims against the president. >> by day three, the president's legal team was threatening to sue bannon, wolff and the publisher. in "fire and fury" bannon describes the june 2016 meeting with the russians hosted by the president's son, don junior, as unpatriotic and treasonous. predicting special counsel robert mueller's investigators will crack don junior like an egg on national tv and speculating that the president's
son-in-law, jared kushner, in a long-running feud with bannon, is involved in financial crimes. trump allies attacked the insider account. >> this is obviously a hit job on the president. >> it's outrageous. >> he's a sleaze bag. >> absurd allegation by someone who's talked to a lot of disgruntled people at the white house. >> complete fantasy and just full of tabloid gossip. >> but by day five, the president clearly not satisfied with defending his own fitness for office, calling himself a genius and a very stable genius at that. >> why did you feel the need to tweet about that this morning? >> well, only because i went to the best colleges, or college. >> while bannon attempted to play down the split. >> nothing will ever come between us and president trump and his agenda. >> now mr. trump is calling his former ally sloppy steve, blaming him for the book. >> that's why sloppy steve is now looking for a job. >> an abrupt divorce for now. >> i like mr. bannon. he's a friend of mine. steve has been a friend of mine for a long time. >> the author of that bombshell
book joins me now, welcome to "meet the press." >> glad to be here. >> you talk about fly on the wall access. explain to me what that was like. walk me through how you were a fly on the wall in the west wing. >> you know, i literally kind of knocked on the door and said can i come in? and they said, okay. and i came in, i sat on the couch, and that's the point of view that i've written this book from. i mean the real intention of this book is to have readers sit with me on the couch and watch what's going on in the west wing. i went into this with absolutely no agenda whatsoever. i have no particular politics when it comes to donald trump. this is really all about human nature. >> did you feel as if you were a blessed guest? meaning that the assumption was, yeah, you can -- you can talk to
michael wolff. we've, meaning the president, was that the assumption was you were blessed, it was okay to talk to you? >> i think it was. there was no official -- i was certainly not brought in to be the -- >> you weren't invited to write this book. >> the court chronicler. i was sort of invited. i mean donald trump is sort of, oh, yeah, yeah. i said to him, i said, listen, i'd like to do a book. and i remember because i remember he seemed deflated, a book. who cares about a book. and i said, no, no, i'd really like to do this. then he named a couple of other authors who he knew who he said, oh, yeah, they'd like to do this too. and i said, but, you know, is it okay? yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. so i went around -- it was basically me saying the president says this is -- this is -- he likes this idea. and then everyone would say, oh, okay, great, sit down. talk. >> you said something to
savannah guthrie on the "today" show. you said whatever it took to get this story. would people feel as if you misled them about your intentions with this book? >> let me put it in a different way. i tried to be inobtrusive. so i tried not to have anyone quite notice me or not notice me prove the level that they noticed the furniture. my goal was to keep going until somebody said go away. >> right. but in the initial premise of the book were you overly flattering or were you promising that this book would be more flattering than it turned out to be? >> i certainly was not more flattering than donald trump. have you ever seen donald trump's flattery? it's unbelievable. the first time that i came in, it was -- it was like, oh, my god, michael wolff, unbelievable. do you know this guy? he's the best. so i'm sure i returned a tip of the hat to donald trump.
but, you know, yeah, yes, i was -- i said -- i didn't say anything to get me thrown out. >> okay, fair enough. you were pretty tough on the coverage of donald trump early in 2017. here's something you wrote in 2017 in january. to the media it is a given that trump is largely out of control and that the people around him are struggling at all times to save him from himself and largely failing. this view persists, despite trump's victory flattening almost every media assumption about his supposed haplessness and lack of strategy. you were just -- you thought that the media was too one-sided or that was the impression you were giving. when you read this book, you seem to reinforce the entire media narrative you were criticizing. >> i think that in the beginning the media took this point of view without having had this experience. you know, i went into this and a decent part of the country went into this, his entire staff went
into this thinking maybe this can work. it's different, even peculiar, but who knows what can happen here. and that was exactly my -- my frame of reference. i would have been delighted to have written a contrarian account here. donald trump, this unexpected president, is actually going to succeed. okay, that's not the story. he is not going to succeed. this is worse than everybody thought. >> did you -- i'm just curious because it's a very tough book. you basically -- you're sending a message here to anybody reading this book. did you leave out good stuff because it got in the way of the narrative? like if people said positive things about him, not saying that you left it out because you thought it took away from the thesis of the book that you wanted to get out there? >> if i left out anything, it's probably stuff that was even more damning. it's that bad. i mean it's an extraordinary
moment in time. and the last -- the last several days focused on my book i think are proof of this. this is what happened here, what's going on here. this is, you know, i think not an exaggeration and not unreasonable -- it's not unreasonable to say this is 25th amendment kind of stuff. this is -- >> did anybody say that in the west wing to you? >> all the time. >> 25th amendment? they would bring up the 25th amendment? >> yes. actually they would say -- sort of in the mid-period, we're not at a 25th amendment level yet. or they would -- >> that's alarming. >> this is alarming in every way. and then this -- this went on. okay, this is a little 25th amendment. so 25th amendment is a concept that is alive every day in the white house. there was an interesting thing that in all of this weird stuff
that has gone on for the last number of days. an interesting thing that i especially noticed was yesterday -- yesterday or this morning, everything -- >> i understand it's a whirlwind. >> john kelly said -- was questioned about these whack-a-do tweets and he said, oh, i didn't see them. i'm going to just say like hell he didn't see them. and that's what goes on in the white house all the time. it's how to look away, it's how not to confront. >> they're putting their head in the sand purposely? >> yes, absolutely. it's how to rationalize this, and you can't confront it. you can't say, you know, this is -- this is a moment in time. this is a breakdown. >> you imply that even his children sort of treat -- treat him like a child at times.
donald trump jr. last night on twitter totally disputed that account, said he would never speak about his father that way nor does he even think of his father that way, that he only has admiration. what do you say to that? >> somebody said to me about the children, somebody who knows them well, and the phrase was they are tolerant but they have no illusions. and i think that that's -- that's probably how it goes. he is their father, of course. not only is he their father, he's their boss. i mean their whole lives are attached to him. but these are the people who have to deal with him every day, and these are the people who on top of everything else, he was not a very good father. he was -- he was absent, remote, having god knows who he was involved with at any particular moment in time. so these -- this does not come as a shock to them.
>> you've had -- they have come at you hard, pushing back against your book and your credibility. this is what the rnc put out. they even use your book jacket sort of and calling you a liar and a phony. here is sarah sanders from the podium on thursday. i want to get you to react after. >> the fact that there was a claim that the president didn't know who john boehner was is pretty ridiculous. ages of employees, which would be super easy to fact check are wrong. again, it is absolutely laughable to think that somebody like this president would run for office with the purpose of losing. >> there are a lot of little errors. there's a lot of them. one page had three in one. some of them may be copy edits, small factual errors, but it adds up. why shouldn't a reader be concerned about some of these mistakes? >> i think a reader should read the book. the book speaks for itself. >> do you regret some of the errors in there? do you wish a second -- it feels as if you didn't get a copy edit.
>> i think i mixed up a mike berman and mark berman. for that i apologize. but the book speaks for itself. read the book. see if you don't feel like you are with me on that couch in the white house. and see if you don't feel alarmed, as you say. >> i want to ask you about your access to the president. how many times did you interview the president for this book, and when was the last time you talked to the president for this book? >> you know, i spoke -- i have spoken to the president, as i've said, i have spoken to the president for about three hours through the length of the campaign up until i finished the book. and that's what i'm going to say. i think the president has said, no, you didn't do this, that's wrong. and i don't want to go -- i truly do not want to say -- a liar. >> let me ask, the white
house -- the white house says the last time that they have a record of you speaking to him was in february of 2017, which is not even through the first 100 days. >> there were -- there was that moment, there were several other moments after that. >> did he not know that they were interviews? >> he probably -- yes, he probably did not think of them as interviews. >> were they face to face? >> yes. >> times you saw him in the hallway? >> yes, absolutely. the point that they have made, which the literal point that i didn't speak to him in the oval office, and that is true. and one of the issues here was that they kept saying -- i kept setting up this thing and they kept saying can we have the questions. and i thought let's avoid that. the other point, and it's an elemental one, this book is not about my view of donald trump.
it is about the view of all of the people closest to him. >> do you from a journalist standpoint, did you violate off-the-record agreements? >> i did not. >> you don't believe you did? >> i absolutely did not. >> let me ask you a final question about steve bannon. why do you think he's disloyal to trump? why do you think he was so willing to dish the way he dished? >> i think he was -- i think he was deeply concerned. i think he is deeply concerned. i think that he found himself in this -- in this white house with this opportunity, and i think steve is a man of very clear beliefs and principles. and he looks -- i think this was his -- he looked at this as his moment. he made donald trump president, and -- >> he believes this. >> not only does he believe this, it's absolutely true. steve went into this campaign in the middle of august. it had fallen -- it had
imploded. it was over. steve was the guy who said, you know, there is a case here, it's the economy, stupid. if we go through florida, ohio, michigan, pennsylvania, we can pull this off. >> did you at all think he was using you to settle scores with the kids? >> i think -- i'm sure he probably was. i think that he saw this white house as dysfunctional in part, in large part because it was being run by the president's family, people who had, a, no experience but on any organizational level, that meant that they were the family, they could overrule everything. i mean calamity. >> one final question. you said something in a bbc interview that you thought this presidency was going to hit a wall. what did that mean? hit a wall by 2020 or before then? >> i think -- i don't know when the train is going to finally hit the wall.
i think -- i think the entire narrative of this presidency and this candidacy and then presidency has been it's going to hit a wall. and the thing that keeps everybody's attention absolutely riveted, global attention, is that the train keeps going but the wall is still there. i mean one of the things i think about this book and why it's hit such a chord and become this cultural moment is it's given everybody this focused opportunity to say holy crap. >> michael wolff, i will leave it there. i imagine now you've got every author in america hoping they too will have a president threaten a lawsuit for them in order to help with book sales. thanks for coming on. before we take a break, a programming note. michael wolff will be back tomorrow for his first cable interview on "morning joe" and then he'll join lawrence
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back now with the panel. david brooks, columnist for "the new york times." danielle pletka of the american enterprise institute, joy reid and mark leibovich, national correspondent for the "new york times" magazine. all right, i want to start with this. president trump is threatening lawsuits. that's something that the this president is familiar with. we did some research. we found that throughout his career donald trump has threatened 30 media-related lawsuits but has only actually filed suit four times. of those four cases, three were dismissed and one was settled. you can see those there. david brooks, reaction to mr. wolff and the book? >> "a," he's got a lot of
information that we didn't know, a lot of quotes from steve bannon that i think are totally credible. "b," he doesn't normally meet the standards that most of us meet. there are just too many errors so i think it's a valuable book but one to be read with skepticism. i'm as anti-trump as is possible to be. i think there are a lot of people i've spoken to who know trump and work with trump who do exactly -- who think exactly the way he says everybody thinks, but not everybody in this white house thinks that way. some think he's deranged and a child. some like him. some think he's a problem they can work around. some think he's strange but in sort of a good way. so there's a lot more nuance here in the way the white house thinks about him than i think is reflected in this book. >> let me put up what jonah goldberg said, danielle. he writes the truth may not be as horrifying as wolff and others described nor as terrifying as the resistance fears. the president is a man out of his depth propped up by his staff and a party that needs to believe more than what the facts will support. >> jonah, as always, my colleague at aei, is always on point. i think that the truth about
this book is that it is the realization of this town's gossip, and that's one of the reasons why it's been welcomed so warmly, notwithstanding the errors. >> you think it fits a narrative? >> it fits a narrative. >> he's an outsider. >> really? >> of this town he is. >> maybe he's an outsider of this town. first of all, the stories about the white house are not terribly credible. nobody sits on a couch at the white house for hours on end listening for hours on end because nobody is talking around the couches. the reporters will say the same thing. that doesn't happen. so the narrative of the book itself isn't that credible. the stories in it, yes, of course, they fit a narrative that i think we all know and understand. but does this tell us anything new about donald trump? no, it tells us a lot about steve bannon, though. >> well, you know, i think except that in a normal white house there's a process, there's a chief of staff that is credible and that knows what they're doing and you couldn't just walk in and be a fly on the wall. this is a white house that from everything that i understand about it is completely disorganized and especially in the period when michael wolff
says that he was there. there was nobody obviously to filter information to donald trump or to filter who could hang around and talk to his staff. i mean steve bannon, and i was told by sam nunberg who's known donald trump a long time, part of the reason they didn't mind michael wolff being there is he seemed to be in the axis of bannon and roger ailes so they trusted he was going to do something positive about them so they were happy to have that narrative written about them. what's written in this book comports with every single thing that i've heard from every biographer of donald trump, from people who have been acquaintances of his, who do don't go on the record to talk about him. the idea that the president of the united states is seen as a child who can either by used or manipulated by those who have agendas or who is completely incompetent or incapable of doing his job is frightening. it's exactly what we heard during the campaign. if this book is to be believed, and i think it is credible, then it is quite frightening for the american people. >> where are you on this?
>> first of all, is it possible to go any higher than number one on amazon if you're going to write a book? it's incredible. i do think both of these things can be true. i think there are very significant journalistic critiques that you can throw at this book, but i also think it rings true truth about this is absolutely valid. and part of it is what michael wolff has said and will say again i'm sure is this is exactly how people around him or many people around him at the white house, certainly republicans on the hill, speak privately. now, if you were to ask probably i would say 80% of elected republicans on the hill, what do you think about the president's fitness for office, the first thing you will hear, i guarantee, is can we go off the record. i mean, that's the truth step we're dealing with here. i think this in a way gives truth to the other part of the two-step. >> it's, though, the president's reaction to the book is reinforcing some of these narratives. steve hayes wrote this in "the weekly standard." so the president wants a book
banned, he wants a political opponent in jail and for good measure maybe the former fbi director too. he thinks his former top advisor is insane. this isn't normal, and it's not just trump being trump. the preferred dodge of elected republicans. it's a reflection of the president's troubled mind and his erratic irrational judgment. is this a fair critique? his reaction to this book only reinforces the point that michael wolff is making? >> that part is absolutely true. he is like a child. the weird thing, there's the child insane level, but then this same week they did an offshore drilling policy change, they did a pakistan policy change, they're doing marijuana, they're doing daca, they're doing iran. there's like a policy level going on which trump must have some involvement in. so the insanity is there, but we shouldn't reduce it to a fairy tale, the man is a king george because there is a policy process going on in this white house. >> must he have some involvement? if donald trump is also impaired, because i think some of the moat frightening revelations were about the potential that donald trump is not in full possession of his cognitive faculties. if there's a policy agenda going
on, it's not clear that it's donald trump's. it's very clear mitch mcconnell saying he'll sign anything we put in front of him. people who have agendas, they just saw trump as a pure vehicle. don't care what donald trump does, they can do whatever they want and that means that agendas that were not voted for by the majority of the american people, these are not people who are accountable to the american people. they can literally do what they want. >> two things. the first is that, of course, policy does actually require the president. i don't think we should be unfair and say everything normal that happens has nothing to do with him. so there has to be that element of admission. that, you know, we see all the problems but in fact they are getting things done. there was a period where they weren't getting things done so something's changed. maybe that's john kelly. maybe it isn't. but it's happening. but the president's reaction to the book is what's elevated it from being basically tabloid fodder, something we would read in "the daily mail" or
elsewhere, not that i read "the daily mail" she said, innocently. >> that's a british paper. >> i know, i know, but it is fun. but that has elevated it to be something real because his reaction to it has been absolutely staggering. >> also what's elevated it is steve bannon's on the record stuff. he has much patron saint currency in that world as anyone except donald trump himself. the break between the two of them is very, very significant, from a pure political perspective. it's base splitting potentially. maybe not splitting down the middle. >> and then of course in six months we'll talk about how steve bannon is back in the fold. >> absolutely. >> with a new book. all right. we'll pause it here. up next, senator lindsey graham wants the former british spy who came up with the infamous dossier to be investigated. why investigate christopher steele? i'll ask him that. that comes up next with senator graham when we come back.
welcome back. even before president trump was inaugurated, republicans promised to get to the bottom of russian interference with the 2016 presidential election. on friday senators chuck grassley of iowa and lindsey graham of south carolina issued what's called a criminal referral of christopher steele to the justice department. steele, as some of you know, is
the former british spy who produced the infamous dossier on candidate donald trump. in other words, the two republican senators are asking for an investigation of a man who many believe was simply trying to expose russian meddling. so joining me now to discuss this and some other issues is senator lindsey graham. senator graham, welcome back. >> thank you. >> i want to play something you said to me one year ago tomorrow. here it is. >> if after having been briefed by our intelligence leaders, donald trump is still unsure as to what the russians did, that would be incredibly unnerving to me because the evidence is overwhelming. if after the briefing he is still unsure, that will shake me to my core about his judgment. >> senator graham, just yesterday the president again referred to the russia investigation as a hoax. >> right. >> i take it you must still be unnerved? >> well, the president does now finally believe that the russians stole the e-mails from
the dnc and hacked -- and clinton. >> he does? >> and the russians -- yeah, yeah. but he believes that collusion is a hoax. all i can say is it is not a hoax the russians stole the e-mails. they did interfere in our elections. we now know that trump junior met with the russians in trump tower and that bob mueller is doing a great job. he's the right guy at the right time. he needs to be allowed to do his job. and whether or not there's collusion, bob mueller will tell us. i've seen no evidence of collusion, but the idea of jeff sessions being able to investigate the campaign he was on is unacceptable. jeff sessions did the right thing. it would be impossible for him to look into the trump campaign activities with the russians. mr. mueller had to be appointed as special counsel. but we need a second special counsel to look at the way the department of justice conducted themselves. >> all right. before i get to that i want to ask you, does the president's behavior towards russia and vladimir putin throughout his
first year in office at all raise any suspicions with you? >> i've always -- i've always said he had a blind spot to russia but things are changing for the better. he finally allowed the ukraine to be given defensive weapons. but when it comes to russia, i've said on your show a million times he has an attitude toward putin that i think is counterproductive. the president does believe his intel agencies. he is firmly telling the world he didn't collude with the russians, and we're not going to let him be the final authority on that. we're going to let mr. mueller tell us whether or not this campaign colluded with the russians. i will do everything i can to make sure that mr. mueller does his job. but there's other things about the department of justice and this investigation that bother me greatly, and i think we need a special counsel to look at those things. >> how does a second special counsel right now somehow not become disruptive to mr. mueller's ability to do his job? >> i don't think mr. mueller can
look at mr. strzok, i can't remember the gentleman's name, but the guy that was in charge of the clinton e-mail investigation was fired by mr. mueller because we discovered e-mails between mr. strzok and miss -- >> doesn't that make you feel better about mr. mueller, that he fired before anybody brought it up and it became a right-wing conspiracy? >> absolutely it makes me feel good about mr. mueller but it doesn't make me feel good about mr. strzok. here's what one of the e-mails said. to ms. lace as he was writing. i want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in andy's office that there's no way that he gets elected, but i'm afraid we can't take that risk. it's like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you're 40. this is the guy in charge of investigating clinton who called trump an idiot. when you look at those e-mails, he had a political bias against trump, but i want to know who was in andy's office and i want to know did this fbi agent feel like he had to take the law in
his own hands and create an insurance policy against an outcome of an election he may not have liked. >> do you think it was a political bias? how do you know it wasn't something that he had found in his investigation? >> i want to know what the insurance policy was. he was fired by mr. mueller correctly, but i don't think the department of justice can investigate themselves. mr. orr, the number four guy at the department of justice, wife worked for fusion gps, the group that produced the dossier. did mr. orr interact with mr. steele? if he did, that's a conflict of interest. during the time that mr. steele was being an informant for the fbi, we now know he was shopping the dossier to journalist outlets all over the world, which is inconsistent in my view with being a reliable informant. there's a bunch of stuff about the department of justice, how they conducted themselves that need to be looked at just as much as trump needs to be looked at. i'm going to insist a special counsel look at these things.
>> let me ask you, though, to tie mr. steele with the word "criminal" unnerved folks that are friends and allies of yours. here's mark salter, long-time aide to senator mccain. he writes to you on twitter. he writes this. from all credible accounts, steele is a solid guy who was so worried that america's enemy, putin, had compromising info on trump that he exposed himself to risk to bring it to the attention of u.s. law enforcement. that's the act of an ally, not a criminal. and then he directs that comment to you. what would you say to mr. salter about mr. steele's integrity? >> i don't know mr. steele. all i can tell you is what i've seen in the classified file. mr. steele was on the payroll of fusion gps who was being paid by the democratic party to do opposition research on donald trump. while he was working with the fbi, he was shopping this dossier all over the world. that's not what an informant should do. i don't want lindsey graham to make these decisions, i want a
special counsel to look at not only how mr. steele conducted himself, what the fbi did with the dossier, whether mr. orr whose wife worked for fusion gps alongside mr. steele, what involvement did he have in the dossier, and i want to find out if the lead investigator of the clinton e-mail investigation had a political bias against trump for clinton to the point that it was a sham investigation. i don't know all these things, but i can tell you somebody needs to look. if you believe robert mueller should be looking at the trump campaign, count me in. but if you ignore all this stuff, you're blind. >> mr. steele is not an american citizen. >> right. >> do you want him extradited? >> he was asked to appear before our committee. come in and tell us what you did. in a public filing in england he was sued for libel based on the dossier. he said in response to the lawsuit that he didn't give the document to buzzfeed, but he did give it to journalists throughout the world, talked about the contents of the dossier. mr. comey told president trump
here's this dossier, it's unverified. i don't think an informant for the fbi should be taking the product and shopping it around to journalists throughout the world. the system doesn't work that way. let somebody other than senator graham look at this. i think mr. orr had a conflict of interest if he worked with mr. steele because his wife worked with mr. steele. and this fbi agent that mr. mueller fired, the way he conducted the clinton e-mail investigation should scare us all. it could be trump today, you tomorrow. so the fbi needs to play by the rules too. i support mr. mueller, but somebody needs to look at the department of justice. >> senator, you are painting a picture of a lawless department of justice and a lawless fbi, totally filled with political partisanship. do you really believe this? >> i believe that mr. strzok was a political hack. i believe that mr. orr had a conflict of interest. his wife worked for the organization that produced the dossier. if he interacted with mr. steele, that is wrong. i believe mr. mueller fired mr.
strzok for a reason but that's not the end of the inquiry. i believe there's plenty of evidence that the russians interacted with the trump campaign and mr. mueller will get to the bottom of it. the fbi is a great organization, but no organization is subject -- can't be looked at. if you're not worried about mr. strzok being in charge of the clinton e-mail investigation given his attitude towards the clintons and trump and what he said, then i think you're blind to the fact that this whole investigation needs to be looked at independently. >> i've got to ask you something. the president sort of joked with you the other day and he said, boy, lindsey used to be a great enemy of mine and now he's a great friend of mine. what's changed? a lot of your friends have been asking me that. hey, ask the senator why he's suddenly cozying up to president trump. what would you say to them? >> because he's president of the united states. he's going to make a decision about immigration i've been working on for a decade. he's president of the united states and going to make a decision about north korea,
which is one of the biggest threats to the world at large. he's going to decide whether or not to stay in the iranian agreement. i've enjoyed his company. he beat me like a dog. i said everything i know to say about him. i used every adjective on the planet. i lost, he won. i feel an obligation to help him where i can. i've enjoyed working with him. i don't think he's crazy, i think he's had a very successful 2017. and i want to help him where i can and we should all want him to be successful. he's got a lot on his plate. >> if he asks you to serve in his cabinet, would you say yes? >> no. >> okay. that's definitive. no ifs, ands or buts. we will not be hearing the name secretary graham on any cabinet agency? >> you got it. >> okay. senator graham -- that got a laugh from the in-studio audience from here. >> that's a hard crowd too. >> thank you for coming on and sharing your views, as always, sir. happy new year. >> thank you. when we come back, the economy is strong and president trump often brags about job growth under his leadership. but how's he really doing on bringing jobs back?
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welcome back. it's data download time. after a rocky first year in office, president trump consistently points to one highlight, a strong economy. that includes a booming stock market with the dow climbing 25% and the unemployment rate sitting at a paltry 4.1%. but what about when it comes to jobs? well, it was a good year, but maybe not as good as president
trump wants you to think. there were actually more jobs created in 2016. president obama's last year in office. over 2.2 million, than in 2017, president trump's first year, about 2 million. 2017 was actually the weakest year for job growth since 2010. maybe a sign that a relatively good economy doesn't have much more room for growth. but what about the jobs president trump promised voters he'd bring back during his campaign, specifically manufacturing and coal mining? well, both industries have seen slight upticks of 1.6% each but they have a long way to go. but that's not nothing. but even with all of this good news, there are still some economic challenges, including labor force participation and wages. in 2017, the percentage of the population that was actively seeking a job was actually down marginally and that was even with all of the good news about the economy, which should have lured more of these workers back. so while wages were marginally up, about 60 cents an hour, there was not really a marked improvement there.
the numbers from 2017 while good they're not yet great. they were better than some years, worse than others. president trump will take credit for some of the good job numbers as all presidents do, but in truth the jobs numbers from 2017 looked more like a continuation of the recovery trend set in recent years than a new or better direction. when we come back, end game. and why is it that attorney general jeff sessions suddenly is so interested in threatening the legal marijuana business? coming up, end game and postgame. brought to you by boeing. continuing our mission to connect, protect, explore and inspire.
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end game, brought to you by boeing. continuing our mission to connect, protect, explore and inspire. back now with end game. we're wondering this morning whatever happened to the don't tread on me republican party. this week attorney general jeff sessions did away with the hands-off approach in enforcing federal marijuana laws in states where it's been legalized. federal prosecutors now can use their own discretion in deciding whether and how to enforce anti-pot laws in states where it's legal to grow, buy and sell. now, in addition to the move on the marijuana industry, the trump administration also opened up offshore drilling, including in states that don't want it, even like florida, where his buddy, rick scott, pushed back. and it has threatened to punish states with so-called sanctuary cities. it's a far cry from don't tread on me. but democrats are always for states' rights when the republicans run the federal government and the republicans are for states' rights when the
democrats run the federal government. joy reid, i thought the most fascinating thing about the pot decision with jeff sessions, i have yet to see a single elected republican official praise the decision. >> right. it doesn't go with their states rights mantra. but i think what you're seeing out of the justice department is the answer to the question of why jeff sessions puts up with the ritual humiliation of himself by donald trump. having this job is allowing him to pursue some of his long-time obsessions. and i think besides stopping non-european immigration, his other big obsession has been marijuana. and he has this personal belief that it is the worst drug in the world and that he personally is on a mission to stop its legalization. and because you have a white house that is what it is, with a president that is who michael wolff has described him to be, it frees this attorney general to pursue those obsessions to whatever degree he wants. republicans don't care as long as they're getting what they want, they're allowing him to do it.
>> to defend the attorney general here, as the spokesperson said, they don't make law. they enforce law. if congress wants to change the law, they should do it. congress, they beat their chests, some of them, but i don't see anybody offering up a bill here yet. >> offering up a bill would require a fight. it would require going on the record about this. as far as what jeff sessions is doing, this is all going to be executed by prosecutors. what will be interesting is to watch the prosecutors who want to sort of selectively find the marijuana user in denver -- >> see, i don't buy that they will if they ever want to run for office in colorado. >> what if they don't. what if they decide they have the same pet issue jeff sessions does and all of a sudden you have these cause celebs popping up all over the place who are in great criminal jeopardy. >> i'll put up a quick poll here. it is the least polarizing issue in america right now. literally over 50% support among democrats, independents and republicans. it's the only social issue where the lines actually move together. >> the argument against it is that for upper middle class kids, the weed is fine, but there are 9 million people outside the labor force and they
can't pass a drug test and can't get a job. for those guys, the prevalence of weed is a problem. so i can see there is an argument for it. the sessions thing is interesting to me because you have all these people in trump world, like sessions, like lindsey graham, who are trying to do something good for the country -- or what they think is good for the country and they're stuck working with this guy trump and stuck in an administration which is a snake pit with no sense of camaraderie and no sense of teamwork. they're in this miserable position trying to do something good for the country whether you see it or not and they're stuck dealing with this madhouse. i sort of have some respect for the way they're trying to struggle through this problem. >> can i just say that this is -- the war on drugs, particularly the war on weed has disproportionately destroyed the lives of particularly african-americans and latinos in this country who ironically are going to be doubly pursued now thanks to jeff sessions, who isn't exactly a friend to these communities. those same people are locked out of the industry as it's being legalized for affluent mainly white americans who can go in cash rich from california into
places where i grew up, denver, start businesses with the cash that they have gotten from silicon valley, et cetera, and the very black and brown people who have been thrown into prison for selling the exact same drug come out and can't even get a license to sell it legally. so jeff sessions is destroying lives. he seems to be in the business of destroying lives. i don't see it as doing a thing that's good for the country. >> i don't think that's exactly fair. there's a lot of ambivalence among conservatives about pot and about legalization. i think what we see is the reflection of that. there is the don't tread on me libertarian strain that thinks that people should be allowed to do what they want to do. there's the other strain that thinks are drugs are a corrosive influence and they are harming the very communities that you talk about. i don't think there is much argument that it is very harmful to certain people that can sit around, not work and have access to drugs legally that perhaps are going to make their fate even worse. but there's another question here which is very interesting, a subtext. we're all talking about jeff sessions as if he's kind of a pretty good, pretty serious guy in this administration. may not like these decisions,
but no one is saying he's the worst man in this administration. that's a big -- >> but wait a minute, here's what's amazing. >> i am. >> except mark meadows and jim jordan, who want him to resign, two key members of the freedom act and i know it's russia related. he doesn't have a friend in -- if anybody needs a dog in this town, i think it's jeff sessions. >> does he have a dog? >> he better get one if he wants a friend. the president wants him out. freedom caucus members want him out. now you have angry governors of washington, california -- >> i think that's success in this town. a year ago we would have said that he was possibly the worst appointee in this administration. we're not talking like that anymore. >> can we remember that donald trump said where's my roy cohn and you have jeff sessions who's now willing to be his roy cohn pursuing investigations of his former political opponent, willing to turn the justice department into a wholly politicized outfit who is there to mollify the ego and needs of donald trump. i'm sorry, but the only reason anyone wants him to hang around is so that bob mueller won't be fired in his absence.
>> i think that the argument that he is roy cohn is just as good for eric holder. >> unfortunately, i am past time but they'll continue this debate. that's all we have for today. thanks for watching. great to be back in 2018. we'll be back next week, because if it's sunday, it's "meet the press." >> you can see more end game in postgame sponsored by boeing on the "meet the press" facebook page. you owned your car for four years. you named it brad. you loved brad. and then you totaled him. you two had been through everything together. two boyfriends, three jobs... you're like nothing can replace brad. then liberty mutual calls... and you break into your happy dance.
to precisely move your teeth to your best smile. see how invisalign® treatment can shape your smile up to 50% faster today at invisalign.com tonight, meet the new boss, same as the old boss. welcome to 2018. this is "kasie dc." ♪ welcome to "kasie dc." we are live every sunday night, 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. eastern from washington. 2018 is shaping up to be a sequel to 2017. or is it another chapter or is it just groundhog day? tonight, inside the biggest book to hit washington since this town and the news worm hole that followed. plus, i talked to senator cory gardner. he's threatening to block justice department nominees and is an open f