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tv   MSNBC Live With Hallie Jackson  MSNBC  February 14, 2018 7:00am-8:00am PST

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true. more news with my friend and colleague, ms. halle jackson. you already had a valentine dream come true. your eagles one. >> you're the brains behind your own operation, stephanie ruhle. we are here in washington where it is all happening. the oversight committee is investigating fallout from the white house over how it handled the domestic abuse allegations involving former staff secretary. he is now gone. porter is out. but there is a white hot spotlight on three people still inside the west wing. the chief of staff, deputy and white house counsel with serious questions about clear uns, credibility and confusion. and as if that wasn't enough, there is also the president, the porn star and a payment. donald trump's long time lawyer confirming to nbc he personally paid $130,000 to a former adult film star not too long before election day. that has a government watch dog group making accusations this was an illegal campaign expense. so we will bring in a legal
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expert to work through all of that and all of it as we watch not one but two live events happening right now. on the left side of your screen. that is speaker paul ryan's weekly briefing. we will dip into that when he takes questions. on the right of your screen, mick mulvaney, budget director, testifying before house committee on the president's new $4 trillion budget plan. they will give questions. both of them. but we start this morning with congress asking questions of its own about what happened with rob porter. former staff secretary with tray gowdy making this news not long ago. watch this. >> real questions about how someone like this could be considered for employment whether there's a security clearance or not. so yeah, i'm troubled, almost every aspect of this. >> just so that i'm clear, will the oversight committee launch an investigation into this? >> we did last night. >> okay, that's news. that is new. we are learning that today. i want to bring you the two people on your screen.
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start with my colleague jeff bennett. nbc justice reporter jeff ansly will be with us. jeff, at we talked about at the top of the show, three people -- by the way, the white house faces another congressional investigation. this invest focus on john kelly, on don mcgann and joe hagan, deputy chief of staff. what more do we know about the blame game that's happening inside the west wing? >> you make a great point. here is the problem. the more frantically the white house tries to dig itself out of the rob porter scandal, the deeper it digs itself into a political hole. you ask about john kelly. sources we talk to say donald trump hasn't yet decided to replace kelly but conversations about who could succeed him have heated up. i'm sure you're hearing the same thing. the fallout from the porter scandal is in its second week. which frankly is a long time for the trump white house.
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no new outrage stepped in to take over the news cycle. so there is a sense that something has to give. in many ways, porter scandal is emblem attic after story of a white house that often blames others for messes and remains internally divided and can't get its story straight. scrutiny increased after yesterday's testimony by fbi director chris wray in which as you know wray contradicted white house version of events regardingity handling of rob porter's security clearance. so to the point, kelly tells us he is staying put but sources say he would step aside if the president made it clear he wanted to make a change in staffing. and as for replacements, sources say the conversations center on chief economic adviser gary cohen, kevin mccarthy, mulvaney. but to be clear, it is too early to say john kelly is a goner. but it is notable he is the
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center of heightened scrutiny. >> so jeff bennett at the white house. thank you, jeff. so you've got john kelly here. but julia ansly, we have reporting you've been doing on what would be a typical traditional process for security clearances. we don't know still what happened inside that west wing when it came to security clearance of rob porter but we do know what may traditionally and typically happen. and typically and traditionally the white house counsel would have heard about something like these allegations, right? >> that's right. we've been looking that for a while. this is not the first time the questions about the way security clearances have been processed in this white house have come up. of course we have the same questions around jared kushner. the way it is typically supposed to go for someone working in the white house as a white house official is the fbi would review the information. pass that on to this white house security office. these are people who are not political appointees. they look at what the fbi found.
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if there is a problem they immediately tell the white house legal office. chief counsel. so at that point, the chief counsel would decide to take that to the chief of staff. in that case, don mcgann. going to john kelly. but really it breaks up this idea that sarah sanders is trying to give from the white house that the people inside the security office would have sat on this for months. people i spoke to. people who are lawyers who defended people who had problematic findings. people who worked in previous administrations say immediately if there is a red flag that security office takes it to the legal office. >> and again, this is based on the reporting you've been doing over the last 24 to 48 hours or so. from lawyers. people outside who know the process is and people who used to work at white houses. who know again how this process would work. >> that's right. it could be a break from the norm. we're not ruling that out. but this is the typical process, because it is design sewed that if there is a red flag it is immediately brought up to the
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attention of the people who are making this hiring decision. >> julia ainsley joining us. thank you very much. i want to bring in now former white house chief of staff for president clinton and chairman of associates. joining us onset for the next 54 minutes or so, molly hooper. and josh lederman. josh, i mispronounce your name every time you're on. but thank you for being here. we talk about people most critical to this process. you hear the chief of staff's role, which you know well as former chief of staff. have you julia laying out don mcgann's role, white house counsel. but there is someone else involved. fran thompson talked about this this morning. watch. >> does it pass the smell test that either a deputy chief of staff or chief of staff wouldn't know about these problems? >> it is not possible to me.
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in this case, that office is overseen by deputy chief of staff, joe hagan, who sits next to john kelly. and they would have alerted joe that the deputy chief of staff that there were problems in this investigation. >> matt, you know the white house well. you know where the deputy chief of staff sits in relation to the chief of staff. would deputy chief of staff have known about this in your experience and your view? >> yes. deputy chief of staff as well as general counsel should have immediately been raised to chief of staff. any time have you a security clearance that's lingered this long, particularly on a position as critical as staff secretary who controls all of the paperwork, organized it for the president and spends time there, clearly this should have been raised, should have been looked into immediately. >> so matt, can you explain to people, because this is a process story. this was a -- >> it is, it is. >> why do people need to care about a process story right now? >> it is also human tragedy
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story. but it is a process story, you're right. in this case, it's clear that this position has a major responsibility in the white house and it goes directly toward national security issues because the most sensitive information goes through passes through the staff secretary's office. staff secretary reports to chief of staff. joe hagan who has a good fine reputation served in the push white house. he knows how white houses are supposed to work. so that's why this is critical. this is a major critical fundamental position in any white house. >> you look at this white house too, mac. i want to bring in molly and josh on this as well. this white house is based on all of my reporting i've been doing since the beginning of the administration struggled at times to recruit and retain people who are wanting to be the administration who believe this is the right role for them. by many accounts rob porter was a competent and able staff
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secretary. in your view, mac, these allegations against him, this physical verbal abuse of his ex-wives, allegations that have come up, would that have been disqualifying on day one in any other administration? >> it certainly would have immediately raised red flags serious issues. when you get into spousal abuse, any inappropriate behavior with children, sexual harassment, these are just red lines. you do give someone the benefit of the doubt to look into it, discuss it with them. but we today make tough decisions, very capable people early on. and it was difficult to do. but i think we made the right decisions not going forward. even though it was near term setback. so i think you have to just immediately get into the circumstances. and you've got competent experienced people to help you do that. including white house counsel's office. >> actually last week, representatives shawn maloney
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who was a staff secretary in 1999, he sent a letter to trey gowdy and said you need to open an investigation to this. and he has. >> as of last night. that's big deal. we don't want to miss why that's important. >> in addition to which shawn maloney happens to be a democrat and a lot of times it takes a while for republicans to take up investigations asked for by democrats but one of the things that maloney sitcites is that te is a restraining order out. one of the ex-wives took a restraining out on rob porter. he said it doesn't make any sense why you would allow this guy who has a restraining order out to handle classified information for an entire year. we want it look into the situation behind this. who knew what when and why did they allow it to happen. >> what we have learned in the pass is that inquiries that they don't like so much. there are questions of people leading these investigations. trey gowdy, everyone knows him.
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he established some credibility and some instances with numbers of the conservative communities that are always on board with what hups a republicans or doin. what do we expect to see from it and just, speak about that. >> just learning about the existence of this investigation. but you're right, gowdy is not an easy person for the white house to ma line, underline legitimacy the way they have done with special counsel mueller for example. this is someone broadly taken se seriously by a lot of colleagues. someone getting to the bottom of the truth. but what it seems to illustrate is this weird sense of deja vu for us in washington. about the first weeks and months of the administration last year when everything seemed like a mess and dysfunction playing out. stories evolving. you couldn't seem to get straight fact out of the white house. and it seemed like they had made a lot of progress over the year. now we seem to be back at day
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one. >> you have texts going on over 24 hours and people asking, did you hear about the rumors through the staff. that's like january 2017. but one final point, this is a human story. this is a human story. senator earns et talking about the president's response to the human aspect, allegations of domestic violence. here is what they had to say. >> abuse is never okay. we need to send a very clear signal that it won't be tolerated. >> is the president sending that signal? >> i think he needs to send a stronger message, a stronger message. >> when do you think mac we will see a stronger message from president trump? >> that's a hard prediction to make. i think that as your story suggested, a moral issue, red line as i noted earlier. it goes also, you just have to have basic ethical behavior in a white house. and finally, i would say, and
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you really suggest the point in your question, all of this is distracting from the president's agenda and the p people business. that's the real cost here from a political standpoint. but the human standpoint cannot be ignored. it is serious. >> you're right. always a pleasure to have you on the show. thank you. i will ask molly and josh to stick around. we will talk more about this because what started in the last couple of minutes is that house leadership conference. we expect paul ryan will be take something questions. we will come back to that live the second it happens. and we're also going to talk about the white house and the claims of a payoff from the president's long time lawyer just a few weeks before the 2016 election. what michael cohen is now telling nbc. you don't want to miss that, after the break.
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if you're heard about this, president trump's long time lawyer admitting he paid big money to a porn star who reportedly said she add sexual encounter with the president when he was married years ago. michael cohen first said to "the new york times" that $130,000 came out of his own pocket. so he never denied the payment. but this is the first time cohen says it was his own money he gave to stormy daniels. whose real name by the way, is stephanie clifford. here is what cohen says. neither the trump organization or trump campaign was party to the transaction with ms. clifford and neither reimbursed me for the payment. either directly or indirectly.
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it was lawful and not a campaign contribution or expenditure by anyone. but the nonpartisan government watch dog common cause is filing a complaint with the federal election commission claiming this violated campaign finance laws. in statement the common cause lawyer said there should be a full fec and department of justice investigation saying quote the timing and circumstances of the $130,000 payment to daniels make it appear that hush money was paid to her in an effort to inflew enthe election. so as for this payment, cohen went on to say that just because something isn't true doesn't mean it cannot cause you harm or damage. i will always protect mr. trump. president trump, white house campaign, always denied these allegations about the president. when asked about it, stormy daniels would not confirm or affirm the encounter. let's get into the legal back and forth. i want to bring in tom dupre. friend of the show. hills molly hooper. ap's josh lederman back with me
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as well. they say it doesn't matter where the payment came from, michael cohen's pocket, whatever, if the intent was to influence the election and then never report it. are they right? >> well i think the real question here is whether there was coordination with a campaign or whether cohen was somehow directed by the campaign to make the payment. i think that's what the fec will be focused on p. and certainly you can see from common causes perspective they think it was clearly intended to cause the outcome of the election given timing and circumstances. on the other hand we know how the president wants to be a fixer and wants it make things go away. whether it is with the agreement to reimburse or whether or not cohen was directed to do so. >> and there has to be proof. michael cohen seems to be saying here, i did that out of the goodness of my own heart. >> that's right. that's not unusual. i never paid for it out of my own wallet. but in this world with the trump and his lawyers and unusual
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circumstances of all this, i rule out anything out at this point. >> and timing. this happened just weeks before the election. months before or weeks after. >> absolutely. if you are common cause you would make a circumstantial case. look at timing of the payment. how can you draw any conclusion other than it was intended to further there pl trump's ambitions. >> what does the full investigation entail? what would that involve? >> it would involve certainly talking to mr. cohen. involve dock men takumentation records. talk to those on the campaign. >> does that happen? >> the fec is not known for being super aggressive in these types of situations. they've got procedural issues in terms of staffing. so bottom line here is i wouldn't hold my breath on their being a full ro bost fec investigation. they might open something.
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but as to whether or not they will pursue it is anyone's guess. >> what about the legal team? cohen coming out to say more. can we pull up the end of the statement? we had it in the end of the graphic. just because something isn't true, doesn't mean you can't -- whatever the language is -- confirm the payment. there are still a lot of questions left open in the statement here as you see it on the screen. >> right. it begs the question. so if it wasn't an attempt to try to protect the president from something that would negatively affect his presidential campaign then what's the purpose of it? like there is some alternative reason in the middle of the campaign. >> it could just be coincidence would be the argument. >> face it. the president has bigger fish to fry than an fec investigation. i don't think that's at the top of his list of investigations he is worried about. but this porn star allegedly paid off for allegedly having an affair with the president. not the headline he would want.
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>> and he does have an expert on staff on fec matters, don mcgann, who used to be on ec board. he knows what is going on. i have a question for you though, sir, in terms of retainers. say i was president trump's attorney and i add retainer and i add chunk of money and i could spend it then candidate trump doesn't know how i'm using that money. could i be, you know, could i get away with saying i'm fixing things and that be legal? >> very good argument that that would be. the way i would try to argue this and certainly if the evidence bears it out is to say, look, president trump hires me in his personal capacity. he has a lot going on importantly. and people like donald trump have person lawyers who take care of things and just because he is performing legal services for donald trump in his personal capacity doesn't make everything he does a campaign contribution. so i think that's exactly the line i would try to draw and try to defend if i were defending that. >> there is also this other wrinkle in all of this. cohen is now telling abc news he
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received a significant offer to write a book about his life and relationship with donald trump. now he says, he tells us he hasn't decided whether or not he will write it, but he says it is not a tell-all. and that stormy daniels would not be in the book. would you read it? >> i would read it. i would be very interested in what he has to say. but as a general matter, as a lawyer, you wouldn't want to write anything that approaches a tell-all book about your client. i imagine the bulk of conversations with trump are privileged. >> i want the goods. i want to know what is going on behind closed doors. not what we see in front of the cameras. >> josh makes a point. this is a remarkable point in time if this is what the conversation is. michael cohen now coming out and saying this, this has been in the headlines since the campaign. it came up again whab, a month and half ago in wall street journal first reported some of this. and you know that at the press briefing, white house, at 1:00 eastern this afternoon, sarah
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will probably again get asked about this. >> everyday we get closer to the elections in november the more republicans will be nervous about the fact we are talking about scandals surrounding the republican president. >> is that true? i get push back on that from republicans. who say, that's not true. voters don't care about this stuff. >> i guess we will see. we were wrong about a lot of predictions made about the last prediction but if there isn't a compelling argument to be made and while you focus on scandals, i get xy and x from american people, i don't know how they make that argument. >> you know who is talking x, y and z is paul ryan. he is taking questions. let's listen for a moment, i think. >> -- anything about ex wives that say that rob porter abused thm. do you think the white house should condemn domestic violence? >> absolutely. i couldn't speak to that because i don't know the answer to what he did. clearly we should -- come on.
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clearly we should all be condemning domestic violence. if a person who commits domestic violence gets into government then there is break down in the system, a break down in the vetting system and that break down needs to be addressed. >> sorry, someone spoke out? >> i understand you had conversationes with the president recently and i'm wondering if you could confirm if you talked to him about the opportunity, chief of staff, are you interested in that position at all? >> sorry i called on you. >> called on just because of the -- >> the jacket, man. >> first of all, i have not spoken to the president about anything about a job. and i never have. and there is no job opening. and i congratulate you on your jacket. >>. [ inaudible ] will you still bring up immigration -- >> we aren't doing if, ands or
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buts. i didn't mean to cut you off. we have to solve this problem. we have a problem that needs involving. we want to solve daca but also in a comprehensive way. such that we don't have a daca problem in five years. what is the point of fixing part of it and having the same problem five, ten years down the road? that's why we are talking about interior enforcement and border security. we think the president did a very good job of putting a very sincere offer on the table. and that sincere offer that he put on the table should be the framework through which we come together to find a solution. we want to find a solution. our hope that our democratic colleagues are more interested in finding a solution than preserving an ush u for campaigns. we are there for solution. not trying to preserve an issue. what we want to do in the house is have a house republican position so which we can start from for negotiations. at the end of the day we want a solution. we will see what the senate does this week. frankly, no idea what the senate will produce and we also will
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have the president engaged it make sure we have something that if it lands on his desk, he he will sign it and that's very important to us. >> will the house vote on the immigration before the marked deadline? >> we think this deadline is an important deadline. obviously with the deadline it is not as important as before. but i think that this place works better with deadlines and we want to operate on deadlines. we clearly need to address this issue in march. i will just leave it at that. >> you have been watching house speaker paul ryan as expected getting questions about the continued fallout on the other side of pennsylvania avenue at white house. about the departure of rob porter amid accusations of domestic violence. you heard paul ryan say that of course those kinds of things abuse should be condemned. i want to bring back in now tom and molly and josh here. because it does raise the question out of what we have and more importantly perhaps have not heard from donald trump. which is that full-throated condemnation that paul ryan is
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talking about. >> one thung i wing i was heari senators yesterday talking about the rob porter situation -- >> because you were up on the hill. >> up on the hill, in the scrums. one thung i heard is that it it would be a mistake for john kelly to resign. followed by, however, we should condemn sexual assault, domestic violence, anything like that in full condemnation terms. paul ryan says, period, there should be no question. it is wrong. it is wrong. >> sarah sanders coming out and speaking for the president said that. at what question does the president need to say that himself and be more full-throated about the condemnation. >> she went back and forth as saying i speak for the president. >> it doesn't like the president doesn't have platform of 47 million followers. >> there is this debate about how do we treat each other and what is acceptable and
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unacceptable behavior and this president is ill equipped to help us navigate through that discussion. >> molly, you brought up the john kelly conversations you've had with people on the hill. i will tell you that our reporter, and i'm not joking about the phone blowing up with text messages about what have you heard. about kelly's role and his continued future inside the administration. now a name that has come up in the past, back when out for stories all over the place, and so interesting because you heard paul ryan audibly grown when the question started to be ask. and kevin mccarthy said there is no job opening. he could not have been quicker to dismiss that outright. casey, you were in the room. clearly paul ryan exasperated. kevin mccarthy seeming exasperated that question too. but his name is out there as a potential person entering the west ring. >> that's right. i think the critical part here is that mccarthy said look,
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there is no job opening at the white house. >> he is right. there is not right now. >> they don't want to get out in front of it in any kind of way. although it was noteworthy that he stepped to the microphones and shot this down essentially. keep in mind that the other option that they have in this kind of an instance, even though it is public press conference, is to say i have no comment. that's not what happened here. i do think that's note worthy as well. i want to go back to something the speaker is saying which is this investigation that gowdy launched in oversight committee into security clearance. gowdy said, how the hell is he still employed. and the speaker said he had an early heads-up from gowdy on this. you should look at something that the speaker is supportive of. trey gowdy is a close ally of speakers and this is not something that -- that trey gowdy would do on his own. keep that in mind. and the speaker was also very definitive in saying we should all be out there condemning
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domestic violence. as we know this is not something the president himself has done. he set sarah huckabee sanders do this for him. the last thing we heard about the rob porter situation from him is expressing sadness no are what happened and he wishes rob porter well. if you know the speaker of the house, this is the type of issue that typically has very little tolerance for. we have seen it expressed in sexual harassment allegations and things that rocked capitol hill as well. i think you can put this domestic violence issue in that category as well. i would consider this investigation to be a significant step from him. and also i would point out to viewers, if you take that press conference live and forgive me if you weren't, but you heard kevin mccarthy say at end, congratulate you on your jacket. talking to an abc producer wearing quite a fashion statement of a red velvet jacket which is why he was called on in the first place. little bit of a valentine's day
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joke up here from capitol hill. >> all right. we all have different ways of celebrating, i suppose. thank you very much. tom, thank you for being here onset. i'm going to ask molly and josh to stick around. something else that came up is the debate over immigration which we will be talking about. we will also talk about this guy. budget director mick mulvaney. this guy's name has come up too. more importantly he talks about this big budget proposal that the white house is rolling out. live on the hill right now. a live report back on the hill after the break. >> tech: at safelite autoglass we know that when you're spending time with the grandkids... ♪ music >> tech: ...every minute counts. and you don't have time for a cracked windshield. that's why at safelite, we'll show you exactly when we'll be there. with a replacement you can trust. all done sir. >> grandpa: looks great! >> tech: thanks for choosing safelite. >> grandpa: thank you! >> child: bye! >> tech: bye! saving you time... so you can keep saving the world.
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right now, mick mulvaney, see him there, testifying live on capitol hill right now in front of the house budget committee. he is talking about the white house budget proposal put out this week and just in the last couple of minutes you heard director mulvaney walk back the comments yesterday that he would vote against the budget if he were still in congress. little bit after clean-up job, listen. >> we are not condemned. we are not condemned to year after year after year of trillion dollar deficits. there is a way to get off of
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that ride. and that is the larger overarching message of this budget. >> we are very proud of the budget administration and i wholeheartedly endorse it and would vote for it it it would ever come to the floor if it was there. >> director on ash wednesday. not just the budget we are talking about today. immigration and congress the senate sort of officially now under way on the immigration debate. you've been talking with folks in the hallway, right? >> let me dispense with the budget first. this is tradition in which someone from the administration comes to the hill. it is usually very political back and forth about a document that is essentially a value statement by the administration. these typically don't become law. you saw the new version of the washington tradition in which there is clean-up on the second day of this with the budget director in this case, cleaning up his comments on the house side from what he had made on the senate side yesterday,
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trying to do the work that his spokes people were trying to do overnight. >> that's it, that's the last question i will ask you about donald trump's budget. >> maybe the last question ever if i keep screwing this up. >> on immigration, right? >> so finally starting -- that's right. finally starting the debate on the senate floor that's been advertised ever since the government shut down was ended a few weeks ago. i'm outside susan collins' office where this group of senators has been meeting everyday for weeks. everyday coming out and saying the same thing which is that they've gotten to progress. what progress means is an open question. i've been talking to republican senators as they've been leaving here who say progress right now needs to be a vote on the president's framework. we heard today that president supports this chuck grassley bill and these republican senators who don't necessarily support everything in that per se are saying the way we get started on this in earnest is have this vote. if it fails, it fails. if it succeeds, problem solved.
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but if it fails it allows people to get focus owned moving forward. other open question is the timing and time line of how quickly this can get done. i asked marco rubio about that earlier. i think we have that sound to play. >> it will take a while. it is complicated. isn't this what people want? have a senate that works and comes up with ideas and has debate to where the system was designed. >> do have you a while? the jury leader says it has to be done this week. >> well, i don't think it'll be done this week. >> of course the majority leader said this debate needs to wrap up by the end of the week. right now they are just -- that seems optimistic, if something will get passed. the bills just don't exist as we stand here today, wednesday morning, relatively close to that deadline. >> relatively close indeed. garrett make, thank you. sick around for the conversation, garrett. chuck schumer, on the other side of your screen, he is speaking live on the senate floor as this immigration debate is officially
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happening. polly hooper, josh lederman know a lot about this. molly, because you cover capitol hill. you've been talking to people about this. garrett talked about this time line. >> yes. >> optimistic is like a nice way of putting it. this is coming up really quick. >> it is coming up really quick. and again figuring out what baseline bill will be is key. if they start off with the bill that president trump wants, mcconnell says okay from there we can offer amendments to that. ostensibly there can be an offer to take out the family migration piece or x, y, z piece. but it depends on what the underlying bill is. given that senate is so apt to go for closure votes that means have you 40 hours of debate. >> put that in english. >> that means it takes a really long time to get to a vote, essentially. when you have senators that want to run out the clock, the timing -- to do it by saturday, there is only so many hours in the day. >> can we talk about the other legal threat to this, josh?
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now a second federal judge who says donald trump cannot end the daca program on march 5. that's the deadline you heard paul ryan mention live on the show. you heard garrett talk about it. how does the legal battle play into, if at all, what is happening on the hill? >> this is the irony of the situation is for those immigrants who are here that is good news that they are not going to see the protections evaporate on specific deadline. but as paul ryan was saying and i think he said we work better -- >> congress works better under deadline. >> that might be congress only functions with a hard and fast deadline and absent that is hard it see what forcing mechanism you have to get this done in any kind of expeditious way. >> i think garrett haake, i don't know if he is on the hill -- no, we said good-bye to garrett. we will say hello the two of you. we will also say hello to someone else. steve kornacki. because we want to talk about d democrats making a pick-up in florida. there he is. steve kornacki. i want to show this headline in the sarasota herald tribune.
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another upset victory. democrat peeling off the seat. you see more liberal. when it comes to state house and senate seats, how much are these actually bell weathers? how much should democrats be looking to some of the smaller races to see if they are canaries in the coal mine? >> we are talking about here our state legislative special elections. there have been dozens of them over past year, year and a half. >> we very rarely get into those. >> right. these are little slifevers of individual states. but when you add them up, every special election since 2016 presidential election again talking about state legislative special elections, you do start to see a broad pattern that's
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taken shape and what you see is basically this. two things. number one, in the vast majority like at least two thirds of the state legislative special elections, there is movement toward the democrats and away from the republicans when you compare to the 2016 result movement and how much you are looking at 10 plus points on average. so trump versus clinton in these districts in 2016. then compare them to what is happening in these special elections. movement generally is about double dij ids digits to democr. when you talk about enthusiasm, that shows democrats have energy, enthusiasm. these electiones have very low turnout. die-hards are the ones who show up. the question is how significant? you have but you've got to balance it again a couple of other things here. number one, this is the biggy, this is the congressional generic ballot. this is what everyone's building towards this year.
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this is what's going to happen. the democrats can point to these special elections, republicans right now are starting to point to this. and if you see the trend line here, at the end of the year, we were talking about democrats leading this generic ballot by double digits, by 13 points. asking people, which party you think you're going to vote for in the race for congress. look where that is right now. just about six weeks later, that's been cut basically in half. and in fact, there is a poll out this morning, first time i can remember seeing this in a long time, that gives the republicans a lead of one point on the generic ballot. this is probably an outlier. the thing to do is put them all together and go with the average. but the trend on this is clear. what's driving that trend, it looks like, at least, is public's assessment of the state of the economy and who gets the credit for that. and republicans, it looks like, are getting a lot more credit on the issue of which party do you want, you know, sort of handling the economy. so there's a lot of different factors at play here. look, the democrats will look to those special elections and they'll say, this is what you start to see when there's going
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to be a wave. but republicans will say, hey, look, if this keeps up, you can forget about these special elections, because that low turnout that favors the energized democrats, the republicans say, hey, you get to the midterm elections, our people will show up then. they might not be showing up here, but they will show up here. so those are the two arguments you'll basically here. >> steve crakornacki, you're th best. i want to bring in molly and josh to sift this out a little bit. there is the question. when you look at the florida race, the one that we just talked about, one republican strategist was actually quoted in politico as saying, hey, this was less of a blue wave than a red revolt. in this specific instance, in this specific case. so saying, don't read too much the into this. >> first of all, i believe that the republican is actually the son of a current member, verne buchanan, who represents that district. so there's that aspect. number two, when you're looking at these state elections, keep in mind why the statehouses are so important. a majority of them are the ones that set the congressional
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boundaries ty ies -- >> that's right. >> -- for the districts. and what the american people are so upset right now when you look at polls are the gridlock in congress. and a lot of people point to the fact that these districts have been drawn in such a way that republicans have to be super conservative in order to win those seats. >> and democrats have to be liberal to win their seats. >> so that's why you might see more people voting for democrats, you know, just to shake up what's happening at the statehouses in terms of those, you know, congressional -- >> so you talk dems and enthusiasm. you also talk republicans. and steve noted that poll that came out this morning again, and he's sort of walking through what each party, each side is saying. but there's been an interesting, it seems to be, shift, or change in d.c. republicans over the last few days. you've got senator bob corker, r who had said he was going to retire. now, reportedly, maybe not going to do that? you have congressman kevin cramer of north dakota who said he was not going to challenge heidi heitkamp. now it looks like he may actually do that. do you think this is a sign that republicans are getting more optimistic about their chances come november? >> either that or that they are
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more pessimistic about the possibilities of some of the other -- >> of those specific candidates. >> that's certainly what senator corker has alluded to in terms of why he's reconsidering. these statehouse races are always imperfect special election harbingers for what's going to happen in the future that contend to be somewhat parochial and deal with issues that are really specific to one state. but the aggregate, certainly, does seem like it's moving in that direction. >> can you go back to what we talk about when he talk about corker and cramer maybe not considering runs. the corker one is interesting. marshal blackburn is a candidate who is potentially running for that seat. she's not a nobody, right? she's not somebody who is a nobody in the house right now. she's obviously been a voice inside the republican party. a very strong donald trump supporter and surrogate at times. and here is the statement that her spokesperson put out when these rumors of this corker thing first came up over the last 18 hours. anyone who thinks marsha blackburn cannot win a general election is just a plain sexist pig. goes on to say, we aren't worried about these ego-driven
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tired old men. marsha has spent her whole life fighting people who have told her she's not good enough and she'll do it again. >> that's right. >> part of the reason that bob corker has thought about getting into the race, it chose if marsha blackburn did win this primary, she would have a very difficult head-to-head fight against democrat dresden. that's why bob corker would want to step in, because bob corker could win this race, apparently. but bob corker has something against him. he's not -- president trump is not a huge fan of bob corker. >> no, not so much. >> not so much. >> so bob corker might have a little -- resistance from 1,600 pennsylvania. >> maybe some apologizing to do. >> molly and josh, thank you very much for being with us for this last hour. i appreciate you joining us. coming up after the break, we are going to talk about the stunning, stunning final run leading to an another gold medal for champion snowboarder shaun white. we'll talk about how he made winter games history with his two halfpipe runs. we've got a live report from south korea on this show, coming up. woman: i'm a fighter.
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you've seen this, shaun white, with that unbelievable halfpipe run, cementing his place as one of our greatest olympians ever. gold medal, two practically perfect runs. he's now the first snowboarder to win three gold medals at the winter games. somebody who's had a front row seat to all of it is chris jansing in south korea. i am beyond jealous. i wish we could trade places. >> wish you were here. >> thank you. i hear it's really cold, though. white's dad, this was an amazing moment. he said he's never seen his kid cry like he did last night. >> reporter: yeah. i mean, look, shaun white came here with something to prove after finishing off the medal stand four years ago. but boy, did he do it in spectacular fashion. the greatest run, hands-down, of his life. he did it when he was in second place, so he had really to pull off something incredible. as you've said, now, the most awarded snowboarder of all time. the only one with three gold medals, in addition to that, that was gold medal number 100 for team usa across all winter
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olympics. and he did it against the hot younger kids. he's 31. the average age of his competitors is 21. so at the end of the race, he was crying, his family was crying. against the backdrop, frankly, of what happened, then, overnight. look at this again. this is unbelievable stuff. but overnight, some old allegations of sexual harassment surfaced. this is going back to 2016, allegations made by a drummer in his rock band. something that was settled out of court, but he was asked about it this morning on the "today" show and this is what shaun white said. >> it's amazing how life works and twists and turns and lessons learned. so, um, you know, every experience in my life, i feel like it's taught me a lesson and i definitely feel like i'm a much more changed person than i was when i was younger. and yeah, i'm just -- i'm proud of who i am today. >> and he also apologized for calling all of this gossip at a news conference yesterday.
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by the way, hallie, he's not done. he's talking about being part of the first-ever skateboarding olympics. that will be in 2020. and then maybe coming back in snowboarding in 2022. >> so this may not be the last time we see shaun white. >> no. >> competing in the olympics. >> yeah. >> msnbc's senior national correspondent, chris jansing, probably having the time of her life out there in pyeongchang. >> reporter: not bad. >> chris, see you tomorrow, i hope. we'll be right back with today's big picture. so he got home safe. yeah, my dad says our insurance doesn't have that. what?! you can leave worry behind when liberty stands with you™. liberty mutual insurance. your body was made for better things than rheumatiod arthritis. before you and your rheumatologist move to another treatment, ask if xeljanz xr is right for you. xeljanz xr is a once-daily pill for adults with moderate to severe ra for whom methotrexate did not work well. it can reduce pain, swelling and further joint damage, even without methotrexate.
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today's big picture comes to
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us from down in florida, actually. and we're talking about the impact of what's happening in puerto rico. this is desiree torres, living with her three kids. she's been in a super 8 motel, a super 8 motel, for more than two months. torres and her family came to florida from puerto rico after hurricane maria destroyed her home on the island. she's been getting transitional housing assistance from fema. but for 200 families like the torreses, fema will stop paying for those hotel rooms today. a lot of questions now about what their future holds. photographer here karla martinez for el nueva dia. i would love to hear your thoughts on facebook, twitter, with instagram, and twitter. good to be back with you here with all of you. and with my friends stephanie ruhle and ali velshi out in new york, lots to cover. >> have a great day. good morning, everyone. i'm ali velshi. >> and i'm stephanie ruhle. it's february 14th. >> happy valentine's valvalenti.
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>> do you believe rob porter's ex-wife? >> fbi director christopher wray stunned washington, contradicting the white house's timeline of events. >> we did the follow up and provided that information in november. and then we administrative closed the file in january. >> aides on tuesday offering another new explanation, insisting the white house personnel security office hasn't completed its review. >> so who's telling the truth here? >> both. as i said, the fbi portion was closed, the white house personnel security office, who is the one that makes a recommendation for adjudication, had not finished their -- were not made a recommendation to the white house. >> bottom line, my sources say, john kelly lied and turned his team into liars without them knowing. >> will the oversight committee be launching an investigation into this? >> we did last night. >> russia is expected t

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