tv Meet the Press NBC June 23, 2019 8:00am-9:00am PDT
. this sunday my sitdown with president donald trump. a blunt, frank and far-reaching interview. >> let me start right in. what happened last night? >> on why he stopped the planned military strike with iran. >> here we are sitting with 150 dead people that would have taken place probably within a half an hour after i said go ahead. and i didn't like it. i didn't think it was -- i didn't think it was proporti proportionate. >> on u.s./iranian relations. >> i didn't want war. if there is, but you can't have a nuclear weapon. >> on children in migrant camps. >> they're in terrible shape
down there, mr. president. in homestead, florida, where i grew up, the conditions are horrible. >> they are. >> on jining a lautd that would kill coverage for pre-existing conditions. >> i am in favor of pre-existing conditions. >> so drop the lawsuit. >> so, we will -- >> drop your aspect of the lawsuit. >> and his biggest regret as president. >> if you could have one do-over as president, what would it be? >> and how mr. trump thinks impeachment could impact his re-election opportunities. if he'll keep mike pence on the ticket and whether he's prepared to lose the election. this morning one-on-one with president trump. plus, the democrats as we head into the first debates, joe biden and pete buttigieg confront difficult questions on race. joining me are nbc news white house correspondent kristen welker. william baker, chief correspondent for "the new york times." "wall street journal"ist peggy noonan and lanhee chen of
stanford university. welcome to sunday and a special edition of "meet the press." >> announcer: from nbc news, the longest running show in television history, this is a special edition of "meet the press" with chuck todd. >> good sunday morning. it's safe to say we're at one of the prift points of the 2020 election cycle. at the same time, democrats will unofficially hear the starting gun for their nomination fight when 20 candidates face off for two nights of debates this coming week in miami. even though he won't be there, president trump will be a dominant presence at those debates. one way or the other, the 2020 election will be a referendum on donald trump. the president will argue he's a successful businessman turned president who's created a strong economy, appointed conservative judges, ended unnecessary regulations and established a sense of strong and, yes, feared america around the world.
in short, he'll argue he's made america great again. democrats will say he's a bigot who's praised neo-nazis, caged children, lied shamelessly and embarrassed america before the
world. in short, they'll argue he's unfit for the office. i sat down with president trump friday morning phofor an interv that touched on, well, everything. we started with his decision just hours earlier to call off a retaliatory strike after iran shot down an unmanned american drone. >> mr. president, welcome back to "meet the press." >> thank you. >> let me start right in. what happened last night? >> well, you had a situation that was very bad because the night before they shot down an unmanned drone. and the unmanned is a very big factor. the fact there was not a person on it, a u.s. person on it or anybody. and that had an impact on me. i said, well, you know, we got a little problem. and i think they did it on
purpose because they understand that they will be hit very hard if that were a plane with a person in it. and i think they knew that there was nobody there. so, we had a very modest but pretty heavy attack scheduled. >> and this was a preplan you had. something that if you did something -- they were sort of ready-made plans. >> we had many of them. i have so many targets, you wouldn't believe. we have targets all over. >> did you green light something or had you said, if we do it, i'll do this? what was the order? >> nothing is green lighted until the very end because things change. >> so you never gave a final order? >> no, no. we had something ready to go, subject to my approval. they came in, they came this about a half hour before and said, we're about ready to go. i said, i want a better definition -- >> were planes in the air? >> no, no. they were about ready to go. no, but they would have been pretty soon. things would have happened to a point where you wouldn't turn
back or couldn't turn back. so, they came and they said, sir, we're ready to go. we'd like a decision. i said, i want to know something before you go. how many people will be killed? in this case iranians. i said, how many people are going to be killed? sir, i'd like to get back to you on that. great people, these generals. they said -- came back, said, sir, approximately 150. and i thought about it for a second. i said, you know what, they shot down an unmanned drone, plane, whatever you want to call it, and here we are sitting with 150 dead people that would have taken place probably within a half an hour after i said go ahead. and i didn't like it. i didn't think it was -- i didn't think it was proportionate. >> do you think they were trying to provoke you? >> no, i don't think so. and it was very important to them -- don't forget -- >> you don't think they intended to get you to respond militarily? >> their economy is shattered. shattered.
>> what's the -- >> their inflation is through the roof. worse than anyplace -- they're living not well. >> do you want to do a separate deal with iran or get everybody involved in the same deal, get the russians, chinese. >> i don't care what kind of a deal. it can be separate or total. >> it's one-on-one talks you and the ayatollah or -- >> it doesn't matter to me. anything to get you to the result, they cannot have a nuclear weapon. it's not about the straits. a lot of people cover it incorrectly. they never mention -- they cannot have a nuclear weapon. they'd use it. and they're not going to have a nuclear weapon. >> did you send a message last night? reuters is reporting you sent a message to the iranians saying, i don't want a war. i want to talk. >> i did not send that message. >> send a message right now to the ayatollah. >> it's fake news. >> send a message right now to the ayatollah. >> it wouldn't be much different from that message. >> which is? >> i'm not looking for war. if there is, it will be object
lit rags like you've never seen before. but you can't have a nuclear weapon. you want to talk good otherwise you'll have a bad economy for three years. >> no preconditions? >> not as far as i'm concerned. no preconditions. >> and you'll talk anyway? >> here it is. you cannot have nuclear weapons. if you do, you can live in a shattered economy for a long time to come. >> do you feel like you were being pushed into military action by any of your advisers? >> i have two groups of people. i have doves and some hawks. >> you have some serious hawks. >> john bolton is an absolute hawk. if it was up to him, he would take on the world at one time. i was against going into iraq. for years and years. before it ever happened, i was against going into iraqi. i was a private citizen. i was against going into the middle east. chuck, we spent $7 trillion in the middle east right now. >> what would candidate trump have said about a president who on his watch had iran shooting
down a drone, a venezuela dictator thumbing his nose at you, no results on the border. >> let me -- >> what would candidate trump say. >> the border is doing great. mexico has been fantastic. they've been trying to get a deal with mexico for 45 years. for 45 years they couldn't get a deal. i got one in one day. we agreed in one day. mexico just moved 6,000 people to their southern border. 6,000 troops to their southern border. the border is working out well and the wall is being built. people don't like to talk about it. we'll have 400 miles of wall built by the end of next year. that's hard because the democrats don't want to approve it. we just beat them in a big lawsuit, as you know, in washington and d.c. we just beat them in a big lawsuit -- >> doesn't it worry you your border numbers are worse than obama's? >> no, people are coming up because the economy is good. obama had a lousy economy.
it was a dead economy. >> let me show you this chart. you see that chart? >> yeah. >> it's the unemployment rate from the peak of the recession. your economy is great. i'm not saying it's not great. but this recovery started and in the 28 months you've been president and the last 28 months of obama's presidency, he averaged more new jobs than your first 28. >> that's because he started off with such a bad base. >> okay. >> i mean, he hits -- >> but is it not -- >> chuck, you have to understand, nobody was working. the whole place was a disaster. and i don't -- i've never take that away but it's very easy because when that turned around, they pumped a tremendous amount of money into the economy. he also had a federal reserve person who kept the interest rates low. i do not. >> sounds like you do now. >> no, no. >> he raised them far too fast. >> your threat to demote him. do you think that's had an impact? >> i never threatened to demote him. >> there was talk you threatened to demote him to the number two spot. >> i can do that. >> that's not a threat? >> i have the right to do that
but i haven't said that. what he's done is $50 billion a month in quantitative tightening? that's ridiculous. he raised interest rates too fast. >> do you think it's going to hurt your re-election? >> i think the economy is so strong, we'll bowl through it but i'm not happy with his actions. no, i don't think he's done a good job. if he didn't raise rates -- obama had very low rates. obama was playing with funny money. i wasn't. i'm playing with the real stuff. >> let me ask you this. >> wait, wait. obama had somebody that kept the rates very low. i have someone that raised the rates very rapidly, too much. he made a mistake. that's been proven. and yet my economy is phenomenal. we have now the best economy maybe in the history of our country. just to finish off. when i took over this country, the economy was ready to collapse. you take a look at the numbers. it was ready to collapse. and if i didn't win -- >> i just showed you the numbers. it wasn't ready to collapse.
>> you showed me the unemployment rate. take a look at your gdp, optimism, all of the charts when i took over, from election day on, you show me one chart -- i did well in that too, but i'm not talking about that. take a look at the optimism charts, it went from 57 to 92. >> you're right. you're right. optimism, you're right. >> optimism is a big part of success in business. >> you were always hard on obama. you didn't think he was enough of a cheerleader. >> he was not a cheerleader. >> if you could have one do-over as president, what would it be? >> it would be personnel. if it would be one do-over, i would not have appointed jeff sessions as attorney general. >> that in your mind -- >> yes. >> is bill barr your -- >> i think he's a very talented -- >> you always said, where's my -- >> i had many, many lawyers. roy was one of them. he was a tough guy.
>> cut from the same cloth, do you think? >> bill barr is equally as tough. he's a fine man. he's a fine man. the job he's done is incredible. he's brought sanity back. i think he's real. i don't think, i know. he's respected. he loves the department of justice. he saw what was happening. he has done a spectacular job. now he's in the process of doing something and i stay away from it. i really -- i
stay away from it. but i think he feels that what's happened in this country was a very bad thing and very bad for our country. >> that's part one of my interview with president trump. since there's a lot to unpack, we'll unpack it in bite-sized chunks. let me bring in my panel, peggy noonan, kristen welker, peter baker, chief white house correspondent for "the new york times." first takeaway, peter. >> you're jousting him in an interesting way. it's interesting he's letting you do this.
most presidents won't allow you to push him that way but that's the only way you get him to talk. >> i think he likes that. >> i think he does. and i think he's enjoying giving you his case for re-election, as you already outlined, basically. he's running the economy, despite all the things obama had done wrong. he's the one who will be tough on iran when obama just gave away the store. the question is whether the results are going to end up being there november 2020. as you said, wall is not built. border crossings are up. can he make enough of a case on obamacare. >> he already made foils. his fed chair can slow down the economy. democrats hurt him at the border. jeff sessions, worse mistake he made. those are people to blame if things aren't going right. >> let me start there, chuck. he mentioned jeff sessions, but he first said personnel. i thought that was notable. look at how this week evolved. he's grappling with iran but doesn't have a defense secretary in place.
hasn't had a permanent defense secretary for six months. he's dealing with what's happening at the border, this decision to pull back on his threat of i. krmplgc.e. deportad taking aim at jerome powell and dangling the possibility of demoting him to the second spot. you're starting to see him line up the excuses, but it continues to plague him as he makes these critical choices. >> what did you see there, peggy? >> all correct. i agree with everything you said but mostly what i saw was he loves this. he loves talks. he loves interviewing. he's loaded for bear. he's thought out the forrays he's going to take in the future. i thought the most interesting thing he said was, i have doves and i have hawks. explaining his iran decision this week. i think the american people will be sympathetic to that decision, sympathetic to the declared
reasons for it. and sympathetic or supportive of the idea he's thinking about this and he's got a lot of different people and he listens to them and then he makes a decision. >> i'll tell you, i don't believe he ever would have ordered the strike. the person i've interviewed and known for a long time and his position on this, but he -- he was reveling in the fact he had everybody confused. >> this was the classic articulation of trumpian democracy at work. trumpian diplomacy at work, i mean. you think about it this way. there's a piece of leverage, that maybe he's created and he doesn't allow people to really know what he's thinkings. and so he may or may not exercise or use that leverage. he uses that to bring his adversary to the table. you've seen it with north korea. you've seen it with china. you've seen it with mexico. now you're seeing it with iran. and it is -- in many ways it's become entirely predictable.
the unpredictable has become predictable. i think you're right. i think if you look at trump from the campaign, you look at the donald trump we know about not wanting to get entangled in the middle east, it was very unlikely he was going to launch that. >> was that a confident president or is he trying to show too -- so much confidence because he's nervous about the economy. he is nervous about iran. he is nervous about the border. he's nervous about jeff sessions, which is code for investigations and mueller. >> look, as you said, he just announced his re-election. he's eager to get out in the fight. but there's this insecurity that fuels this cocky kind of persona he likes to project to the public. there's always been this idea that he hasn't done enough to impress the elites, even at the same time he likes to bash the elites. i think this is part and parcel of his appeal, peggy has written about this, to a lot of americans who out there feel the same way. you guys are looking down on me, but i'm doing okay here. why do you treat me this way?
>> chuck, i wrote this phrase down when you asked him about the economy. he said, we're going to bowl through it. i thought that was striking. ist not sort of the word or the term that you would use if you're feeling really confident about the future prospects of the economy. >> that's a grinder comment. i'm going to grind my re-election. >> exactly. i saw a president at the white house this week and in your interview, internally conflic d conflicted. how to seem tough and not get mired in the middle east. >> coming up, more of my president trump interview. the battle over pre-existing conditions and all of those children in migrant camps. >> they're in terrible shape down there, mr. president. down there in homestead, florida, that's where i grew up, the coitions are terribnd (alarm beeping) welcome to our busy world. where we all want more energy. but with less carbon footprint. that's why, at bp, we're working to make energy that's cleaner and better.
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with president trump. as
you'll see, we hit a lot of topics in this part of our sitdown, starting with the crisis on the border. >> i want to ask what's going down with these children in the migrant camps. the stories are horrible, mr. president. you have children without their parents. you have kids taking care of kids. >> yeah. >> you've read these reports. i know people are coming to you. i know you think this is the democrats' problem. >> well -- >> forget it. why aren't you doing something about it. >> are you ready? >> they're in terrible shape down there, mr. president. down in homestead, florida, where i grew up, the conditions are terrible. >> i agree. >> do something. >> and it's about enthat huawei for a long time. >> do something. >> and president obama built the cages. they said i built them. >> do two wrongs make a right. >> chuck, listen for one second. spras for president obama, i took over separation. i'm the one that put it together. what's happening are the cartels and all these bad people are using the kids. they're -- it's almost like
>> they are getting paid. money is being made using them because our laws are so bad. if you have a child, you have an advantage. you know that better than anybody. >> why let the political debate hurt these children? they could be impacted for years. >> if the democrats would change the asylum laws and the loopholes, which they refuse to do because they think it's good politics, everything would be solved immediately. but they refuse to do it. they refuse to do it. do you know what, if they change -- i used to say 45 minutes. it's 15 minutes. if they changed asylum and if they change loopholes, everything on the border would be perfect. >> let me ask you this. why do you think nancy pelosi has held off her impeachment caucus? >> because i think she feels i'll win much easier. i've been told -- >> do you think impeachment is good politics for you? >> i think i win the election easier. but i don't like -- look, i did nothing wrong. i was spid on. what they did to me was illegal. it was illegal on the other side. i did nothing wrong.
impeachment is a very unfair thing because nothing i did was wrong. if you look at the mueller report, there was no collusion. this was all about collusion. >> there is not a single -- i've read this mueller report both -- >> did he use the word collusion? >> there's not one place he says nothing happened. >> i'll be honest with you, nobody mentions russia anymore since the mueller report. nobody mentions russia anymore. and it was about russia. it was a hoax. >> let me ask you this -- >> wait, wait. while he we'll give you the time you need. >> what hoax? >> a russian hoax with me. >> you don't believe the russians interfered -- >> what they did with respect to our election is different. we're not talking about that we're talking about my campaign -- >> you were conspireing -- >> -- was a hoax. good. >> going back on wikileaks, knowing now that was stolen foreign material, do you regret using it? >> i wouldn't have but this was well known. it was in papers.
i'm going back a long ways -- >> it was rumored to be russian stolen property, how why would you use it? >> how would i know that. i made a speech. >> knowing they're a russian intelligence asset, do you regret it? >> wikileaks, that's not my deal in life. i don't know about wikileaks. it was a strange name. there was something about wikileaks, they had information. i say it in a joking manner at a speech. joking. everybody laughing and -- they made it like it was serious. no. i don't want anything bad to happen to our country. anything bad happens to this country, i will end it and i'll end it fast. i don't want any of that to happen. >> you're going to see vladimir putin in a week. >> yes. >> are you going to address to him directly about interference in the 2020 election? >> i may. if you would like me to do that derek. >> your answer last week invited him to do it again. >> oh, that's not true. that's not true. >> are you going to tell him not
to and the consequence -- >> i said i'd do both except they didn't put it on. when they put it on, people understood. they didn't put it on because they put a different segment on. they asked me a question, yeah, i do both. people saw that in the last version of that because the thing played all weekend and on friday. so, it's just more fake news. chuck, there's so much fake news. >> the republican party has changed in your image. do you think you caused that change or do you think the party was changing and you were the leader they selected? >> i think common sense changed it. i'm common sense. people say, are you conservative -- i guess i'm conservative. i'm about common sense. we need borders. by the way, mexico has done a great job. it's slowed down so much. but we have an amazing economy and people want to come up. i'm about borders. i'm about great health care. bomg obamacare is a disaster. i got rid of the individual mandate.
>> why is the economy doing so well -- >> you said obamacare is going to destroy the economy. >> we managed it great. i had a choice. i could have let it implode and killed it or i could have -- >> you're still trying to kill it. why are you trying -- if you -- this lawsuit that the department of justice joined, it could get rid of pre-existing conditions. >> i am in favor of pre-existing conditions. >> drop the lawsuit. drop your aspect of the lawsuit. >> it has nothing to do with it. the lawsuit is one thing. we're going to put in a bill. total pre-existing conditions. and the republicans are in favor of pre-existing conditions. >> you have full republican control and they couldn't pass anything. >> chuck, are you ready? >> do you think -- >> we had a negative vote from john mccain. but i got rid of the worst part of obamacare which was the individual mandate. we will always protect pre-existing conditions. . the reason obamacare will continue is -- wait. we have a man named azar, our secretary, a fantastic man, alex. a total pro. i could have managed obamacare
so it would have failed or i could have managed it the way we did so it's as good as it can be. not great but it's as -- it's too expensive. the premiums are too high. i had a decision to make. i could have politically killed obamacare. i decided not to do it. but still, it's not good. we're going to coming up with great health care if we win the house, the senate and the presidency. >> are you prepared to lose? >> no, probably not. >> fair enough. >> probably not. >> you choke -- >> it would be much better if i said, yeah. it will be much easier for me to say, well,y he. no, i'm probably not too prepared to lose. i haven't lost that much. >> you didn't like the fact you lost the popular vote. that bothered you, didn't you? >> i'll say something that, again, is controversial. there were a lot of votes cast that i don't believe. i loo, at california -- >> mr. president -- >> excuse me. take a look at judicial watch. take a look at their settlement. california admitted to a million
votes. >> million votes of what? >> take a look at -- >> what are you talking about? >> judicial watch made a settlement. >> by what? >> there was much illegal voting. let me talk to you about popular vote. do you have a second? >> yes. >> you like popular vote. i think i do better with the popular vote. but i didn't campaign for the popular vote. you didn't see me campaigning in california and new york. if it was up to the popular vote, i would have done, i think, even better. i won 306 to 223, which was a lot, in the electoral college. but it's like you're training for the 100-yard-dash versus the mile. >> you're totally right. i don't disagree. >> i went to michigan, she didn't go to michigan enough. i won michigan, wisconsin, pennsylvania. i won places that she didn't do a good job. what can i tell you? no, maybe i did a great job. i never git credit for that. they always say she was a lousy candidate. i actually think hillary clinton was a great candidate.
she was very smart. she was very tough. she was ruthless and vicious. >> you'd rather run against her, wouldn't you? you only talked about her in your announcement speech. you spent a lot of time talking about her. >> no, no. i'd actually rather run against biden. that would be my preference. >> why? >> sleepy joe. she was not sleepy. the electoral college is tougher for a republican to win the popular vote -- at least me. i feel that i go to three places. i went to 19 or 21 states. i went to maine four times because i wanted to get one. and i did get it. that's the beauty of the electoral college. i've been a proponent of the other sometimes and i change. i will tell you, the electoral college brings you to many of the states in this country. >> you have joked about a third term. you've joked about -- >> i only joke. i joke and i say, watch, i will drive chuck todd crazy. >> okay. you will -- >> yes -- >> you will accept the result, you will accept whatever happens in 2020?
>> sure. >> you're going to be, you may not like it and walk out. >> i said at a speech recently, watch, we'll drive the media crazy. let's go for a third term and then a fourth. some of the media said, he is going to do . >> speaking of driving people crazy, when you were asked about mike pence in 2024 and you paused about endorsing him as your successor, that got a lot of people going, if mike pence 100%on your ticket in 2020? >> well, 100%,y he. >> 100%? >> yes. >> he's been a terrific vice president, a friend, a lot of things. >> why did you hesitate in endorsing him? >> it was a surprise question. i wasn't even thinking about it. it's so far out. i mean, it's so far out. that would be the only reason. now, what happens in 2024? i don't know mike is going to run. >> yes, there's much more to my interview. you can see it all unedited, soup to nuts on our website,
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back now with the panel. peggy. >> yes. >> there's a lot to digest in that one because we went at of places. i first want to start with the child migration issue because he just -- there is -- he's not personalizing that one. he personalizes almost everything in our interview. he wants -- he sounds a bit almost too dispassionate. >> that's interesting you found him to be a little distanced on the subject. i know he thinks it is a big issue for him still. in the coming election. i know also there is probably a sense within him that he is perceived by others to be failing there at the border. not only for the issues you mentioned, which are very serious, but because it's been three years now and nothing is under control down there.
so, maybe that has something to do with his thinking. but i'll tell you, i was listening to your audience here as we were watching this interview. and, man, i thought of the old -- look, this president, we shouldn't lose sight of it because we see him every day. this is a compelling character who people are watching closely. in is a character. he reminded me -- he's got a line on every subject and he reminded me of the old real estate salesman saying, always be closing. >> yes. >> i sense he is always closing. but i heard a lot of laughter from your audience. i'm not sure i can interpret the kind of laughter, but, man, it was total engagement. >> you know, i think the frustrating thing about immigration, i would imagine, probably to a lot of people is this president is in a position to do the deal on immigration. >> boy, he has been. >> he is in the position, and
everyone knows the terms of the deal. everyone understands what the democrats want out of it. everyone understands what the republicans would like to see in terms of border security and a merit-based system. he's the one that can get this done. i imagine it's frustrating. it's politics involved. i get that. it's an election year. it's especially difficult to do immigration in an election year but i still inc. this the president is the one to have the opportunity and get out there and get that deal done. >> did he bluff -- it's interesting peggy said always closing, but is he going to get a reputation that he bluffs too much? >> yeah, that's a great question. the last two weeks basically he's done this three times. mexico and the tariffs. he says, i'm going to impose these crippling tariffs unless you give me what i want. pulled off and got a deal. he did the same thing with iran. not that he got a deal but pulled back on the strike. and the i.c.e. deportation, nancy pelosi called me so i
decided to hold off for two weeks. >> he gives democrats credit. i'm not sure if that's smart with swing voters. >> he's being accommodating. even though it's the crisis he set up. this weekend is going to be mass deportations. well, maybe not. he likes to create crisis and be the solver of the crisis. he's a showman. it's a way of getting where he wants to go. you put out a maximalist, almost extreme version of what you want to get in order to push your other side to get 70%, 80% of what you want. that works sometimes but a lot of times he's coming up with a deal that's not much of a deal. >> chuck, watching your exchange with him about kids at the border, it reminds me of the phrase he uttered over and over, i alone can fix it. i think he's deeply frustrated that he can't fix it. he did walk up to the line of the deportations that were supposed to start today and say, look, now i'm calling on
democrats and republicans to get something done on asylum. that's not going to happen. what could happen, they are considering these bills that would add more funding to dhs, to hhs at the border. and he'll claim credit and say, look, we got this done ultimately. >> i want to talk about what he said about hillary clinton and joe biden. one of your neighbors on "the wall street journal" editorial page, daniel henniger, had an interesting observation about joe biden and sleepy joe. mr. biden may be doing so well in the head-to-heads against mr. trump because many voters simply want respite from the nonstop trumpian atmosphere of disruption and volatility. for them, sleepy joe biden may not be an insult. i thought that was -- in some ways, that interview and this column, you see how that could go together. >> oh, sure. do you remember on the ed sullivan show when we were little children, there was a guy
who came and balanced plates. there would be a stick, put a plate up, get it going, get another and run back and forth just trying to keep them all up. balancing plates is part of the tone of this administration. and of this president. look, it's nonstop harem scare 'em. even something in the past that might have been as cleanly, logically handled as the iran thing became harem, scare 'em. i did it for this reason. he's exhausting. i think a threat for the president is that he tends to exhaust not into submission but into ultimate aversion. many people in the middle who would like to be sympathetic towards him thinks, oh, my goodness, this is too much. >> stop tweeting, stop taunting. >> it's too much. >> that's how the president gets things done. this is his style. it's this notion that you're
going to change who he is, i think we should give up on that. all the criticism about there being no process in this white house. do you really expect there won't be a process in this white house? and the president arrives at decisions the way he's going to arrive at decisions. i don't understand. all these democratic candidates criticizing on process. i get it, i love good process more than anything else. why do it? it's not a compelling argument. he's going to do what he wants to do. >> it can exhaust people. >> i think he's struggling on how to take on biden. you saw that when he was in florida launching his campaign. he went back to his talking points bs on hillary clinton because in some ways he's more comfortable there. >> he decided she was a great candidate now. >> exactly. >> that's interesting. >> yeah, because she's a great candidate because it would make his victory -- >> seem that much more impressive. >> yes, yes. >> we're going to pause it here. there is another big event in a couple of days. coming up, the democrats battle for the nomination as we head
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welcome back. before we get to the democrats, we wanted to show you one more moment from my sitdown with president trump. u.s. administrations have long allied themselves with saudi arabia and the trump administration is no exception. but in view of continued human rights abuses by the saudis, including the murder and dismemberment of the journalist jamal khashoggi, i asked the president why he overruled congress to allow more arm sales to saudi arabia. his answer boiled down in a word, money. >> they buy massive amounts -- $150 billion worth of military equipment that, by the way, we use. we use their military equipment. and unlike other countries that don't have money and we have to
s s subsidize. it's a big producer of jobs. >> it makes you overlook some of their bad behavior? >> no, i don't like anybody's bad behavior. >> the united nations said they'd like the united states to order the fbi to investigate jamal khashoggi's death and possibly nbs's involvement in it. will you allow the fbi to do that? >> i think it's been heavily investigated. >> by who? >> by everybody. >> by the fbi? >> here's where i am. are you ready? iran has killed people every day. this is a vicious, hostile place. if you're going to look at saudi arabia, look at iran. look at other countries, i won't mention names, and take a look at what's happening. then you go outside of the middle east and you take a look at what's happening with countries, okay? and i only say, they spend $400 to $450 billion over a period of time, all money, all jobs, buying equipment -- >> that's the price. as long as though keep buying, you'll overlook this behavior? >> no, but i'm not a fool that
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back now with end game. i think we have an idea, peter baker, of what the first big challenge is for not just joe biden but for a lot of the democratic candidates that are in the top tier. that is, confronting the issue of race, appealing to african-american voters and answering for past discretions. joe biden and this working with segregationist. here's how a bunch of his democratic rivals ripped into him on that. >> what he's speaking on with such adoration are individuals who made their reputation on session gags. >> that civility gave us today's status quo that is not working for millions of people. >> as a black man in america, i know the legacy of this kind of language. i know how it still hurts and still harms. >> joe biden went on al sharpton's show on msnbc yesterday to try to re-explain what he meant. take a listen.
>> it hurts when you talk about boy. it means something different to us. >> it does. >> it hurts when you call a racist like you normalize. that's not the biden i got to know. don't you understand it? >> i fully understand. that's not what i said, though. do you know what i mean? the context was totally different. by the way, the fact of the matter is i ran against all those folks. >> peter baker, what did we learn from this incident? >> look, what we learned, joe biden is not pro-segregationist, he's not flirting with segregationist ideas. what he's talking about is this idea we're supposed to work across the aisle and the energy of neither party is there. i think it's a generational thing. he's talking about the 1970s when people want to talk about the 2020s. he's talking about jim eastland. who's going to remember jim e t
eastland? that's not a good representation. when you're the option party candidate, you need to be freshness and change. he's not where the party energy is right now. may be enough to get him the nomination, maybe not but that's not where the activism is. >> i think peter is right. the way that struck me is biden handled it in a very trumpian way. whoever wins this nomination will go up against a president who does not apologize, typically. every once in a while. if the democrats -- of course, they're sort of tearing each other apart, but if at the end of the day they apologized for various different things, does that leave the eventual nominee? >> i'm starting to buy into the comparison, is joe biden the mitt romney of 2012? meaning where you have a base of the party, a base of the party that wanted something else, but he was considered, well, that's your best shot at getting obama. the base of the democratic party
wants something else, but then there's this idea, joe biden is your best shot at getting donald trump. >> i think arguably mitt romney was closer in terms of having been -- having governed and having had a record a little closer to when he ran for president. the problem with biden is the separation between so much of his political record because, yes, he was vice president but people don't really account for that if they're thinking about joe biden's political identity. they think about it from the 1970s. that separation is huge. if you think the democratic candidates are attacking biden now, just wait. in a political primary where they agree on 90% of policy, it's going to be about drawing distinctions. you'll see it in the debates this week. >> well done. >> thank you. the way they go after him. if you think this is bad now, just wait. >> he is the person in the way of the ambitions of a whole bunch of the other candidates who will be on the stage on
wednesday and thursday i think biden probably has to get used to the idea that maybe starting out in subtle ways and then tougher ways, a lot of people are going to try to make hm a pinata, you know. and he's got to be able to handle that. and you don't handle it by bringing up 50-year-old references to senators who made your party look very bad and whose name reminds you of their bad history in that area. >> the question, though, is who had the worst week in the democratic primary? is it joe biden or is it pete buttigieg who's getting tested with a crisis in south bend. a white police officer kills a black citizen of south bend. he's been there most of the weekend dealing with protesters and really being read the riot act. here's a quick excerpt. >> did you just ask me if black lives matter? >> yes. >> we want to hear you say it. >> of course, black lives matter. >> then fire your cops!
>> welcome to the nfl. this is a big test. pete buttigieg, is he ready for the national stage in his own city? this to me is a big test for him. >> it's a big test. unlike former vice president biden, he doesn't have a long-established relationship with the african-american community. he didn't work on civil rights. and he's really just starting to introduce himself to american voters. right now that was taking place in south bepnd. to what extent will it resonate? clearly a topic of the debates. what he did was he was smart, he went off the campaign trail, he went back home and dealt with people in his own community face-to-face. the question is, did he do a good enough job? >> we're getting skrut fli here. politico said the police department hasn't gotten more diverse, it's gotten more white. when you look at miami, new york, l.a., all of them realize
the one big thing they had to change was diversifying their police force. you're sitting there going, 2012 and this hasn't happened in south bend? >> pete buttigieg has done very well up until now off a really good presentation on television. he presents himself really well. we'll start looking at his actual record. he's running a city of before 100,000 people. it's not been scrutinized up until now. this is going to bring that home. you're right, he goes there, he confronts the issue head-on. i think that obviously helps him in a sense. you're right. the record is going to come back and haunt him a little bit. >> bad week to have a bad week. >> beyond the record, there's also a thin skinness about his response that will not wear well on the campaign trail. >> he had never shown that before. >> right, right. >> there's this one moment when you read it, it looks terrible. he didn't mean it the way it came across. i don't want your vote. i am not playing politics. it came across. a horrible exchange for him. >> i was in south bend recently. i got the impression talking to a lot of people that they
approved of him as mayor, but they thought he had some problems. one thing is, this is the sort of cool and technocratic fellow. >> interesting. >> yeah, doesn't always translate higher. >> fabulous way to describe him. not always a compliment. i want to show you one final moment with my interview with president trump. it happened in the oval office. where we also got a surprise visit from mike pence. when i asked the president something about his legacy. >> have you thought about a presidential library? >> i am so busy, i know a lot of people mentioned it to me, the presidential library. >> yeah. >> i'm so busy -- >> do you know where yet you'd want it? >> i have a lot of locations, actually. >> i know you do. >> the best part, i don't have to worry about buying a location. >> would you want it at one of your properties? >> i've been treated so great in florida. you know, i've been treated great in so many states -- >> i take it you'd want your library where your people would go. so florida --
>> my people are going to a lot of different places. people are great. i read this morning, i had the greatest base ever in politics and i really believe that. >> i have to see i didn't see the idea of his library coming on one of his properties. the debates are on nbc, telemundo wednesday night includes booker, klobuchar. thursday we'll hear from buttigieg, harris, among others. i'll be privileged to be moderating alongside my colleagues. i hope you'll join us. we'll have coverage all week long. naets all we have for today. thank you for watching. we'll be back next week with all of the debate analysis that's fit to put on the show. because if it's sunday, it's "meet the press." the nature of a virus is to change. move. mutate.