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tv   The 11th Hour With Brian Williams  MSNBC  December 26, 2019 8:00pm-9:00pm PST

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a rules change that would be impactful to the process. >> ken greenfield, we can only hope that mitch mcconnell has read your op-ed over the holiday break. thank you for joining us. that's tonight's last word. i'm ayman mohyeldin. "the 11th hour" starts now. tonight impeachment tensions increase. the president keeps up his attacks on the house speaker, nancy pelosi, as critics hang in the balance. >> plus, a rebuke of senate leader mitch mcconnell and a republican who refused to back the president in 2016. could the president pardon roger stone and michael flynn in an election year? all of that as "the 11th hour" gets under way on this thursday night. good evening once again from our nbc news quarters in new york.
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i'm steve kornacki in for brian williams. as the president spends the holiday week at his mar-a-lago resort in palm beach, the vote making him the third u.s. president to be impeached. he continues to act as his own defense on twitter. this morning, he called democrats liars for the delay, sending articles of impeachment to the senate. he retweeted a post from last night that read, quote, why should crazy nancy pelosi, just because she has a slight majority in the house, be allowed to impeach the president of the united states? got zero republican votes. there was no crime. the call with ukraine was perfect, with no pressure. she said it must be bipartisan. congress won't be back in session for another ten days, set to reconvene january 6th. the actual start date for
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impeachment date in the senate remains unclear. this week, trump has sent mixed signals when asked if he is worried that pelosi might hold up the articles of impeachment indefinitely. >> all i know is my poll numbers are the highest they've ever been. our fund-raising of the republican party is the highest it's ever been. she hates the republican party. she hates all of the people that vote voted for me and the republican party. so now they get to the senate. and now we have the majority. and it's up to mitch mcconnell. now they want mcconnell to do wonderful things for them. he's going to do what he wants to do. >> but the senate majority leader, mitch mcconnell, may be facing some potential dissen dissension. senator lisa murkowski publicly expressed her concerns about mcconnell, saying he is work in, quote, in total coordination with the white house.
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>> in fairness, when i heard that, i was disturbed. if we are tasked as the full senate to do impartial justice under the constitution and the law, to me it means that we have to take that step back from being hand in glove with the defense. and so i -- i heard what leader mcconnell had said. i happen to think that that has further confused the process. if it means that i am viewed as one who looks openly and critically at every issue in front of me rather than acting as a rubber stamp for my party or my president, i'm totally good with that. >> today, one of murkowski's republican senate colleagues was asked about her concerns.
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>> the senator is entitled to her opinion and senator mcconnell is entitled to his. >> do you have any uneasiness when it comes to leader mcconnell coordinating with the white house? >> so far as best i can tell from the rules of impeachment, there are very few rules and i dare say just about every senator will approach this differently. >> murkowski is one of several republican senators who will be closely watched during any senate impeachment trial. the others include maine's susan collins and utah's mitt romney, who both criticized the president in the past. collins faces a tough re-election next year as does colorado's cory gardner. each has to contend with the threat of a potential primary challenge before they even make it to the general election. trump made a point of publicly supporting collins this week, a tweet from lindsey graham that collins showed unbelievable courage during justice kavanaugh's confirmation.
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the president added to that, i agree 100%. another republican senator, mike lee of utah, is said to be working behind the scenes to coordinate with the white house ahead of the impeachment trial. lee has emerged as one of the defacto leaders of the case to acquit trump and says the senator's task is to, quote, track the wide-ranging viewpoints within the senate republican majority, including his utah colleague and impeachment wild card mitt romney. he is perhaps one of the few in the gop conference that can win praise from critics like mitt romney and those in the white house. he claim this is is all impacting his ability to carry out u.s. foreign policy. writing, quote, it makes it much more difficult to deal with foreign leaders and others when, quote, i have to defend myself against the do-nothing democrats
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and their bogus impeachment. bad for usa. the fallout of the impeachment battle extends far beyond trump's political survival in a senate trial. feeding trump's belief that he is surrounded by disloyal subordinates and have fueled the idea of a deep state. today the idea that a bedrock principle of the country's approach to foreign policy since world war ii is under attack. that level of mistrust seems to have been key to trump's dealings with ukraine and the charges at the heart of his impeachment. "the washington post" also said russian interference in the 2016 election was rooted in his belief in the debunked theory that ukraine was behind the 2016 hack of the dnc. one senior official told "the post," quote, trump even stated
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so explicitly at one point, saying he knew ukraine was the real culprit because, quote, putin told me. the president was pressed on that issue a few days ago. his response had the hallmarks of a who's on first routine. >> what did president putin say to you that convinced you that ukraine interfered in the 2016 election? >> yeah. >> what did he say to me? >> yeah. >> about what? >> about the 2016 election. >> you're putting words in people's mouth. me? i never said a word about it. >> the political reporter for "the washington post," michael crowley, white house correspondent for ""the new york times" and lonnie chen, former campaign adviser to both marco rubio and mitt romney. welcome to all of you. thank you for joining us. jackie, let me start with you. we've talked about the strategy behind house democrats and their decision, at least for now, to withhold transmitting these
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articles of impeachment to the senate and the standoff that has ensued there. one of the reasons we've been told behind that is the idea essentially that donald trump will be driven crazy by that and that that would give democrats some leverage in dictating terms or negotiating terms of a senate trial. looking at donald trump's reaction on twitter in the last 24 hours to these developments, to where things stand, do democrats feel they're getting what they wanted at all or is this par for the course as presidential tweets go? >> well with, i think that what nancy pelosi is doing is giving the democrats some extra time to establish some favorable parameters to a senate trial. senate majority leader mcconnell has dug in and has said no witnesses and no documents. and with public opinion being at a complete standstill, democrats realize they're going to need something in order to push the needle here. so, this -- by withholding
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transmitting the articles, it gives chuck schumer some extra time to apply that public leverage on to mitch mcconnell and to drive a wedge potentially between mcconnell, trump and some vulnerable senate republicans. that's why we saw someone like lisa murkowski come out and say she's uncomfortable with that. as we know, while republican voters are overwhelmingly against impeaching the president, they're not as comfortable with, you know, a senate impeachment trial that maybe doesn't appear to be fair and impartial. two or three republicans believe the president should allow witnesses he has previously blocked from testifying in a senate impeachment trial and i think that's the political calculation democrats have made here. if they apply as much public pressure on mcconnell as possible and really highlight the fact that they are withholding information from coming forward that it's going to hurt him and some of his more vulnerable senators. >> let's look a little more
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closely then specifically at lisa murkowski, at the distance that she staked out publicly between herself and mitch mcconnell and what he has outlined in terms of his thinking on an impeachment trial. michael crowley, she certainly made headlines with her comments, expressed specific displeasure, disapproval of mcconnell's statements that he was working closely with the white house on this. that is still a long way from endorsing a democratic witness list. how exactly do you view what murkowski is doing here? >> well, i think you're right. she hasn't gone as far as, you know, some people may assume -- she hasn't gone as far in the direction some people may assume she is headed. there's a long way to go from what she said to actually rebelling against mcconnell, casting a vote. and we also don't know, you know, is she actually a canary in a coal mine here, a harbinger
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among senate republicans or is it possible that she's uncomfortable with what mcconnell said, the democratic pressure is having an affect and she is, you know, as senate moderates are notorious for doing through the years, kind of, you know, doing some performative politics here to demonstrate independent thinking, i'm not just a party line voter. i'm assessing this for myself. i'm fair minded. at the end of the day, does that turn her into a rebel and does that really mean that any other republicans are going to bolt? you know, if this is the beginning of a trend like that and we do see defections, even if it's not enough for mcconnell to change positions, it's going to drive the president crazy. it's something that trump was really proud about after that house impeachment vote. i was at the rally in battle
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creek, michigan. i guess it was last week. where he interrupted his republican remarks to announce republicans held strong and there was a unanimous vote against at least the one article that was announced in the middle of his remarks and he was very pleased with that. if he starts seeing senate defections, he will be upset. we can't assume that's what murkowski is doing. >> if we look at this in terms of what democrats are trying to achieve here, they're trying to set a of rule. for democrats to get their way, they would need -- assuming all democrats sort of stay together on this, they would need four republicans to break with mcconnell if it came to a floor vote, four republicans to vote with them. obviously, i think they would look at murkowski today and say hey, potentially maybe that could be one of the four.
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you know the republican party well. the other republican senators there, whether it's romney, collins, gardner, tillis, could you see a scenario where four republican votes emerge on the rules of a trial? >> i suppose you could see that. i think the big challenge is what intervening factors between now and when a vote on the rules of the trial happen that would impact the thinking of the four members of the senate. you mentioned potentially others like rob portman, who might be in that next traunch of republican senators who would want to have a fair trial. what's going to change their minds between now and the actual vote? it's not clear to me that either nancy pelosi or chuck schumer has something up their sleeves that's going to change anyone's minds. you have the reality that pelosi is holding the articles of impeachment from the senate with no real sort of end game in terms of what may happen because mcconnell has been very clear.
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obviously, we can all talk about what murkowski's statement means to the rest of the republican conference. the reality is that murkowski speaks for murkowski. if you start to hear other senators begin to say they're uncomfortable -- electorally, for example, you can understand why cory gardner in a tough re-election race may want to see something similar. what lisa murk outsideky doowske gardner a lifeline to not be the first one out making a comment going forward. >> initially when nancy pelosi made that decision to hold back these articles of impeachment from the senate, trump was saying hey, i want my trial. bring those articles over right away. now in that clip we just played, being differential to mitch mcconnell who is saying i would be thrilled if the democrats didn't transmit these articles to me. it seems at the moment the president is placing his
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strategic trust in mitch mcconnell. is there a scenario there where mcconnell -- we're talking about scenarios for votes here. forget a vote. is there a scenario where mcconnell feels he has to negotiate a different set of rules with democrats? could that plausibly happen here? >> it remains to be seen how far senate majority leader can push the envelope on this. trump has shifted. there was this tension before. trump was really eager to have his name be cleared and be fully exonerated and wanted pelosi to transmit the articles and wanted the senate to be eager to take up a trial and call witnesses and tell his side of the story as the white house put it. but again, i think michael is completely right. it's a cut pa & paste scenario we've seen time and time again.
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democrats try to then you see moderate republicans come out, try to make dramatic statements and gestures and ultimately create some distance from the rest of, you know, the senate majority but ultimately the president gets his way and the majority of republican senators sort of coalesce to what trump wants. >> lonnie, as this impeachment drama was coming to a head in the house, there was a development, a significant one potentially, on another front, a familiar topic, health care, a court ruling delaying a final decision on obamacare until after the 2020 election. we're having all these conversations about how impeachment plays into political strategy for both parties in 2020. the specter of health care potentially being an issue in 2020 as well. i think back to the 2018 midterms and many democrats were saying this was a strong political weapon for them to wield against republicans in
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2018. is this something republicans should be mindful about now heading into this 2020 campaign? >> yeah, absolutely. look, much more than impeachment. i think by the time we get into the fall campaign, september, october, november, health care is going to be a much more critical issue and is going to present a serious conflict between the republican nominee, donald trump, and whoever the democratic nominee is. so, i think this is going to be a significant issue. what the court decision basically allows for is for obamacare and health care to continue to be a live issue. the court decision that was issued by the fifth circuit court of appeals last week didn't actually resolve anything. obamacare remains, quote, under threat. to the extent it is under threat, it becomes a campaign issue that democrats will want to seize on. they'll look back to 2018 and say we were successful on that campaign, running in health care issues. i would fully expect health care politics to play a huge role in this general election campaign. >> lonnie chen, jackie, michael
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crowley, thanks for being with us. >> what the former governor of kentucky did during his final few weeks in office and later what the president will do next week to keep an essential part of his 2016 coalition from walking away. "the 11th hour" just getting started on a thursday night. jusg started on a thursday night. i visualize travel rewards. i receive travel rewards. going new places! going out for a bite! going anytime. rewarded! learn more at the explorer card dot com. you get more than yourfree shipping.ir, you get everything you need for your home at a great price, the way it works best for you, i'll take that. wait honey, no. when you want it. you get a delivery experience you can always count on. you get your perfect find at a price to match,
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plus, unwrap $250 off a new samsung phone. click, call or visit a store today. after weeks of outrage, there is a report the fbi is now looking into controversial pardons issued by kentucky's now
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former republican governor matt bevin. just before leaving office on december 10th, bevin handed out more than 600 pardons and sentence reductions. those included pardons of men convicted of child rape and murder, whose families had supported bevin's campaign. the kentucky legislature called for a special prosecutor to look into the pardons. one of those democrats, kentucky state representative chris harris, told the louisville courier journal he has since heard from a criminal investigator, asking what harris knew about bevin's last-minute pardons. two sources with knowledge of the inquiry told the courier journal it was an fbi agent who spoke with harris. nbc news has reached out to bevin. he has not responded and the fbi is not commenting. in a statement to nbc news, harris said, quote, i'm happy to confirm that i was contacted by a person in the law enforcement community. during the call the investigator asked questions about the
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pardons and it was my clear impression that an investigation was ramping up. chuck rosenberg, former u.s. attorney and former senior fbi official. chuck, thanks for joining us. let me start. it does seem -- the particulars here are new, but the idea of a controversy over a last-minute pardon by a governor or, for that matter, a u.s. president not new. where these things usually seem to land, in my experience, is the politician who is leaving office does something that's considered extremely distasteful with a pardon, and there's a frenzy to find out, is there anything the public can do about this? and the answer usually seems to come back no because the pardon power is very broad and very clear. is that likely to be the case here, or could this be different? >> the pardon power is very broad and very clear. you're right, steve, under article ii of the u.s. constitution for the president and by the way under section 77 of the kentucky state constitution for the governor of kentucky. and so the thing we look for is
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not whether somebody acted, you know, rashly or recklessly or foolishly or prudently but whether they acted corruptly. if the pardon was corrupt, the pardon still stands but there could be repercussions for the governor. >> how is something like that proven, again, given how broad and clear this power is. how would corrupt intent be provable from a criminal standpoint? >> sure. intent is always the hardest thing to prove. you have to get into someone's brain to figure out what it was they were planning to do or intending to do, trying to do. but investigators do this all the time. i mean, the fbi is very, very good at public corruption cases. and they built it through documents and through cooperating witnesses and circumstances. and so if there is an investigation, i can assure you that investigators are looking at the records of the people who were pardoned and whether they or their families have any
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financial connections to the governor, whether money was raised by these families in order to try to buy a pardon. if they turn up evidence of that, steve, it could be a problem for the governor. >> i mean, does that -- the kind of evidence you're talking about, does it have to end up being almost -- the term smoking gun, somebody saying i've got the money. now i'm going to give the pardon? that sort of thing. my mind goes back to bill clinton with mark rich, the final days of bill clinton's presidency, international fugitive whose ex-wife he was very close to, had given a ton of money to the clinton library, hillary clinton's senate campaign, and the fbi said you can't prove anything here. >> smoking guns are few and far between in real life. we talk about it a lot. you occasionally see it in the movies but in real life you prove cases through primarily circumstantial evidence. in other words, we infer things from circumstances. the law is very clear,
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circumstantial evidence is every bit as compelling, every bit as lawful and every bit as missable as direct evidence. that's how you have to prove these cases and that's hard. >> the question of hovering over roger stone, going through the criminal justice system. obviously somebody with a long and close relationship with the president. the president was asked the other day about the prospect of a pardon for stone. >> roger stone, are you going to pardon him, sir? he has been convicted of felonies. >> i haven't thought about it. roger stone was not involved in my campaign in any way other than the very beginning, long before i announced a little bit. i've known roger over the years. he is a nice guy. a lot of people like him. he got very -- he got hit very hard, as did general flynn and as did a lot of other people. they got hit very, very hard. and now they're finding out it was all a big hoax. >> you hear the president also mention the name michael flynn
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there. michael flynn, roger stone. the possibility there of an election year, unless it came in the next two days or so, it would be an election year pardon if trump were to do that in the immediate future. what do you think of the prospects of that? >> i hope that i'm right in saying that the prospects are slim. i fear that i'm wrong. there's no hoax. michael flynn under oath pled guilty in a federal court and roger stone was convicted unanimously by a jury of his peers. that's not a hoax. that's justice. the president, however, has an unbridled authority to pardon whoever he wants for federal crimes pursuant to article ii of the u.s. constitution. again, it can't be for a corrupt purpose. if it turns out that he's doing it for something in return, the pardon would probably still stand. i hope he doesn't grant it to either of these two gentlemen. but if it's for a corrupt purpose, it could lead to trouble for the president down the road.
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just as if the former kentucky governor was granting pardons in return for something of value, he could be prosecuted for that. >> we've had speculation about trump and pardons with others as well. paul manafort, lots of speculation. hasn't happened yet. does that tell us anything about the president being maybe a little more reluctant with these, at least before an election, than we thought, than some thought? >> to your point earlier, steven, it's an important one. presidents do this late in their tenure, after they've either lost an election or on their way out after their second term. because pardoning somebody when you have another election to go can be quite controversial. so if the president wins in november or loses in november, it would give him more of a clear path to a pardon. you know, at least historically -- and i think this is an important point -- pardons
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are sort of governed by a very careful process through the department of justice. we want presidents to act in good faith and on good information. so there's a really exacting process in the department of justice to recommend to a president who ought to be pardoned and why. of course, the president is free to ignore that. i would make a strong argument that neither general flynn nor mr. stone, nor mr. manafort have earned anything approaching a pardon and are entitled to one. >> chuck rosenberg, thank you, as always, for the time. >> yes, sir, thank you. >> coming up, while one senate republican says the majority leader's impeachment trial maneuvering has her disturbed it will, as we said, take four republican defections to change the scope of the trial. an in-depth look at who could cross party lines when "the 11th hour" continues. e 11th hour" continues. robinhood believes now is the time to do money.
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we're talking about the u.s. senate, how and whether, frankly, there will be a senate trial. the basic divide in the u.s. senate right now, 53 republicans, 47 democrats right now. if democrats want to get their way on the rules, what do they need? they need four defections from republicans. they need every democrat to stay in line with with them and then they need four republicans to cross over. 50/50, mike pence, the vp, he
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breaks the tie. we've been talking about this. lisa murkowski is the name everybody is talking about right now. she is sending some signals of clear discomfort with what mcconnell is saying right now. would that lead to her breaking completely with mcconnell and her party and the white house on rules? that's a question. there's also mitt romney. mitt romney, of course, just elected from the state of utah. has a different sort of stature than many of his republican colleagues in the senate. a lot of people think romney has more latitude in terms of breaking with trump on something this momentous. murkowski, romney. you look at that, that's two potential votes right there. who else is being talked about? these four names. you see these four names a lot when it comes to conviction or a question of the rules. collins from maine, gardner from colorado, mcsally from arizona, till tillis. all four have to face the voters, collins in a state
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clinton won, gardner in a state clinton one, mcsally in a state that trump won but barely and tillis in a state that trump won but only by 3 1/2 points. all of them have to think long and hard about how this vote will resonate with general election voters. that's the leverage democrats think they have. when you see these four names mentioned and you see the general election mentioned with them, remember, there is something else that's on their minds as well. it is this. republican primaries. susan collins isn't getting to the general election unless she gets through the republican primary. same for cory gardner, same for martha mcsally, same for thom tillis. they have challengers who will be on the ballot, who haven't gotten much traction. if they cast a major vote against donald trump that gets trump made, that gets trump in the mood to get revenge, those
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challengers could get a lot of attention, a lot of money fast and these rks could get into trouble in those primaries really fast. competing incentives for them. there are democratic wild cards, most notably joe manchin, doug jones running for re-election in alabama, trump state there and even kirsten sinema. these names come into play potentially from the republican standpoint in terms of getting party flips. anyway, coming up, the president is counting on mitch mcconnell doing whatever happens next on the impeachment front. two journalists are keeping a close watch on capitol hill when "the 11th hour" continues. "the 11th hour" continues. to eliminate those odors for up to 30 days. stuffy, stale car odors occur because of everyday smells that are absorbed and released from soft surfaces. then they're circulated by the ac system.
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president trump may be brushing off impeachment in public. as one of our if next guests reports he is feeling the gravity of it all privately.
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quote president trump is blasting back at impeachment, but he will feel its scars deeply, according to people who know him. he has sought validation and respect for much of his adult life and has often been frustrated when it has not been forthcoming. that was true when he was a young real estate developer from queens, who felt he was looked down upon by old money rivals in manhattan and it's true now as he confronts the reality of impeachment, which will put a taint forever by his name in the history books. with us tonight, niall stanage from "the hill" and a.b. stoddard. thank you both for being with us. niall, we've been talking about what mitch mcconnell is trying to hold the ground on here, what democr democrats are trying to make him budge on. in terms of the president, you write about how is he looking at this privately.
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how much latitude is he willing to give mitch mcconnell here? >> i don't think he's willing to give hmm a lot of latitude, but i don't necessarily think mitch mcconnell wants a lot of latitude. mitch mcconnell has hitched his wagon to donald trump's fortunes for good or for ill. and we see in senator mcconnell's comments that there's really not even the pretense of approaching this impeachment trial with any kind of high-mindedness or any attempt to even portray himself in a neutral way. he is saying that he will work hand in glove with the white house. so, in that sense, the issue of latitude, frankly, doesn't really arise. >> it's interesting, a.b. we're taking a look here at all these potential republicans who might break with mcconnell on the rules in the senate. i'm having some flashbacks to the house side of things. there were no republicans who ended up breaking in the vote to open the impeachment inquiry and no republicans ended up breaking
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with their party when it came to the actual impeachment vote. that included three of them, i believe, at the end. three republicans who represented districts that didn't go for trump. they also voted against impeachment and the inquiry. is that potentially a preview of what's going to happen on the senate side? or do you think dynamics are different there with some of the names we're talking about? >> right. i think if republican senators act like house republicans, we'll look back and say to niall's point, we weren't surprised, right? of course they were going to do this. they were going to march in lockstep and there can be no dissent. the same time, i think we don't yet know how challenged senate majority leader mitch mcconnell will be to keep -- to protect his members and sort of keep them from trump's ire and give them some kind of path to express any criticism or discomfort short of, you know, obviously voting to remove the
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president, which we don't expect them to do. so, it's going to be on those process votes or those process decisions where i think you will see some disagreement. we just have no sense from, you know, how many senators we're going to see disagreement i would not be surprised, actually, if senator mcconnell was quite pleased or involved in senator murkowski's decision to provide cover for people who are going to have to have some room to wiggle, who are facing tough re-election next year. >> in terms of other republicans to watch, we went through the four who are up for re-election next year, mitt romney, lisa murkowski, that group of six right there. a.b., are there other names you think we ought to look at? >> i think joni arts in iowa, it's not looking sunny in her re-election fight at all. iowa will be a battleground and she is not really excited about her money and approval numbers at this point in the campaign. so mcconnell is worried about
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more than just those four. and i do think that you have to look at the retiring senators who are going to be quiet now. they're not going to say anything in december when the trial hasn't even started and we don't have a date for it. i don't think they'll necessarily vote to remove but lamar alexander, mike enzi and pat roberts are marching into the pages of history. they don't have to deal with the world of donald trump any more after next november and i think they'll be taking a longer, more institutional view about this process. >> we'll squeeze a quick break in here. our two guests are staying with us. coming up, the president's campaign is stepping up efforts to hold on to the support of evangelical voters. does he have something to worry about there? we'll talk about that. out there? we'll talk about that. is about to become your problem. ahh no, come on. i saw you eating poop earlier. hey! my focus is on the road, and that's saving me cash with drivewise.
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nobody has done more for christians or eveangelicals or, frankly, religion than i have. our evangelicals are here
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tonight and they're all over the place. what we've done for them and for religion is so important. jewish population and evangelicals happier than ever. i hear we're more popular than evangelicals. >> president trump is banking on the evangelical support he had in 2016. to keep it, he may be trying to do some damage control. in chris crayonity today, called for trump's removal from office. on christmas eve the president and first lady ditched services at the liberal church in palm beach where they were married and headed to a baptist conservative church in west palm beach. rally with evangelicals next week. n niall and a.b. are back with with us. the reasons that trump was
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expected to struggle with evangelicals, and definitely after the release of the "access hollywood" tape, the fact that all played out in 2016 and trump received the support from evangelical voters, with that as context, do you think this editorial in "christianity today" or anything else on the horizon could plausibly dent that support? >> not really is the short answer. you've quite rightly laid out all the drama in 2016, all the things that one would have thought would have almost prohibited evangelicals for voting for donald trump in the numbers that they did. but, look, i think that there is an argument to be made that eveangelical support, white ev g evangelical support is about a brand of politics, a label that wrongly tends to be used with nonwhite voters. there's a white christian identity politics that portrays america as a christian nation
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under attack from liberals and from people who are not christian and all of that. and it seems to be that that glue of what i consider a rathe glue keeps evangelical voters loyal to donald trump. about 80% of vite evangelicals voted for trump in the 2016 election despite the numerous controversies you alluded to in your question. >> at the democratic presidential race, actually we are inside of 40 days now until the iowa caucuses. this point was made today. i'll put it up for viewers to see where the race stood, the democratic race at this point last year versus where it stands now. this is real clear politics average. a year ago at this time joe biden 27.3%. today joe biden 27.9%. bernie sanders a year ago, 18%. bernie sanders today, 19%.
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there have been many debates this year, there have been ads up on the air, all sorts of media coverage. and yet at top two identical one year ago and today. >> right, but for instance biden's durable lead in national polls that has kept him the front-runner is not going to help him if he's weak in the early states, and that's what -- we continue to see that bear out in polls. yes a lot can change in the last towards early votes. i think the bernie sanders coalition is real wild card and an ominous one for establishment. he doesn't lose that support ever, where is he going to take it? i think the fact it's a four-person race, maybe five in iowa just makes it incredibly volatile and fluid. >> i think there's two points here. folks look at iowa and this very fluid race there and there's one theory, hey, joe biden's in real
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trouble out there and someone else could very well emerge, win that and roll that into new hampshire and be off and running leaving biden and others in the dust. there's the other theory, hey, joe biden has built-up a really deep and durable support particularly with african-american voters and he could lose iowa, lose new hampshire, maybe even lose nevada and he could still be the nominee. how do you look at it? >> i'm skeptical of the second argument, steve, for this reason. joe biden's central argument is electability. to lose three contests and go into south carolina claiming electability doesn't seem like it would work to me. now, a lot of things depends on what happens in iowa. as you and i both know that can kra transform the whole race as it has done before. coming up with 2019 rapidly coming to a close an update on the status of the president's long promised border wall when "the 11th hour" continues. promn
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>> last thing before we go tonight is about campaign promises. that one from george h.w. bush in 1998 ended up having a long tale. four years later the broken promise, by then a broken promise and facing re-election bush was taking fire from inside his own party. pat buchanan challenged bush telling bush and his vice president quote, george and danny boy read our lips, no second term. bucanon's campaign made sure no republican voter ever forgot that broken promise. >> now i don't believe a word the president says. i think it's all double-talk and i suspect every he says. i don't trust him. >> read my lips. >> send a message. vote pat buchanan for president. >> he didn't win the nomination that year, but he did fare far better than expected in the new
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hampshire primary, and that inflicted a major wound on bush's re-election effort. and of course bush did go onto lose in the general election against bill clinton. fast forward to now and we have president entering an election year seeking a second term who also ran on a big promise to his supporters. >> i will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and i will have mexico pay for that wall. mark my words. we're going to build a wall. an impenetrable, physical, tall, powerful, beautiful southern border wall. who's going to pay for the wall? >> mexico. >> not even a doubt, okay? so the wall is a thousand miles, right, believe me, so easy. you build buildings this is like easy. the wall just got 10 feet taller. 10 feet taller. it's going to be built. it's not even believe it or not
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it's not even a difficult thing to do. that wall will go up so fast your head will spin and you'll say, you know, he meant it. >> yet where does that promise stand near the 1,100 days in the trump administration? today "the new york times" explained along with the scale of the project, its cost and the actual topography along the border one of the biggest obstacles are the people who own the land. "the times" points out the president promised 450 miles of new border wall by 2021. but the head of trump's u.s. customs and border patrol and said last week 93 miles have been built during the trump administration. at least 90 of that replaced existing structures according to cbp figures. that means only 3 miles of the new border wall exists where there wasn't one before. the border wall nearly 2,000 miles, so the promise isn't even close to being fulfilled. what's interesting, though, is
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politically what's happening in trump's party. within trump's party this is not playing out like read my lips did for george h.w. bush. bush's approval rating with republicans was dropping fast and fell to the 50s around the primaries. but trump promised a wall would be built and sitting at nearly 90% of his own party. that is our broadcast for tonight and good night from nbc headquarters in new york. ters ik hope you're having a good holiday week. it's a weird week, isn't it? having a big holiday right smack in the middle of the week? if you are someone who has to work through the holidays or maybe you worked a day or two and had a day off and you're back and your office is weirdly empty, it's odd. take a look at this. this was the united states senate today. a handful of staffers and one single solitary senator right there. right in the middle. there to do the senate's

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