tv Morning Joe MSNBC April 25, 2018 3:00am-6:00am PDT
>> well then -- gee, something there. i don't know if that's the right song to have played. maybe we should have played journey's "lovin', touchin', squeezin'." >> they're a long way from where they were the first time. the death grip and they shook hands for about 45 minutes while the rest of the world uncomfortably looked on and now we look on while they uncomfortably kiss each other. >> it's a great way to start the morning. with us, joe, we've got associate editor for the "washington post," david ignatius, politics editor for the "daily beast," sam stein.
nbc news capitol hill correspondent and host of "kasie d.c." kasie hunt. and republican commentator, susan del purse yoe. and the author of the newly released novel "big guns." mika a little under the weather this morning, but man it was an incredible day, not just because of what we saw right there but because of a series of other events, and comments that the president made in washington yesterday. >> david ignatius, this is obviously a critical alliance for the united states. macron actually won france at a time when we wrent so sure that liberal democracy wasn't in fast retreat everywhere. talk about the arc the last six or seven months or so between donald trump and macron and what's at stake? >> macron is very much a man of
the center, a business person in a country that mistrusts them and he really has been a change agent in a different way from donald trump. but he has taken on the unions in france, said we've got to get the country moving in terms of economic growth. he's got more and more confident in himself and his policies. his start-off with trump was pretty bad, but fairly quickly he managed to ingratiate himself to the president. he invited trump and the first lady to a wonderful dinner in the eiffel tower. that's pretty cool. who wouldn't enjoy that? so a real friendship began it seems. watching that touchy-feely video, these guys really do like each other. trump says i like him a lot. and the amazing thing is that french president macron has managed to package, it seems, the iran nuclear deal, the worst deal in history, a deal that trump was ready to walk away from and macron said it's a
terrible deal, but let's take that deal and put it into a much better, bigger deal. and let's include in that bigger deal, issues like ballistic missiles in iran and iran's behavior in syria and yemen. then we'll have a big deal, and we'll kind of bypass the jctoa and it sounds very tough to decode yesterday's press conference, but it sounds to me as if he's succeeded. so that puts france in the center of diplomacy. in a way it hasn't been for decades. it was kind of a deft sleight of hand. he was very deferential, letting trump pick the lint off his suit. but maybe at the same time he was picking trump's pocket. >> we shall see. willie, while the president was being touchy-feely with the president of france, his pick for va secretary was getting assaulted on the hill. a lot of problems for dr.
jackson. >> and the president defending him, but saying i would understand if he didn't want to go through this process. let's set this up. there's new fallout over frump's nominee for secretary of veterans affairs, dr. ronny jackson, a navy admiral and white house physician is facing allegations of over-prescribing medication, drinking on the job and creating an unprofessional work environment. democratic senator, john tester, the ranking member on the veterans affairs committee spoke to those allegations in interviews yesterday. >> he is a physician for, for the president. and the previous administration. we were told stories where he was repeatedly drunk while on duty. where his main job was to take care of the most powerful man in the world. that's not acceptable. >> the word is is that on overseas trips in particular that admiral would go down the aisleway of the airplane and say already who wants to go to sleep? and hand out prescriptions. >> like an ambien type of thing?
>> that's exactly right. put them to sleep and give them drugs to wake up again. >> he would go down the aisle and say who wants to go to sleep, who wants to wake up? >> that's what we go from the reports of 20 or so people. who said this doctor has a problem, he hands out prescriptions like candy. in the white house they call him the candyman. >> according to a 2012 assessment. jackson, before he was made chief white house physician, clashed with a rival doctor and exhibited unprofessional behavior as the two engaged in a power struggle. the report said the white house should replace jackson and his colleague. the report did place most of the blame on the rival physician and jackson was later given the job of president obama's personal physician the following year. republican senator, jerry moran, a member of the veterans affairs committee said jackson has denied allegations of a hostile workplace while working as the white house physician and told moran he had quote never had a
drink while on duty. here's what jackson had to say about the allegations when questioned yesterday by reporters. >> we've seen the allegations of hostile work environment, allegations about drinking on the job, overprescribing medications, are you saying those are categorically untrue? >> i'm saying i'm looking forward to the hearings so i can sit down and explain to everyone and answer all the senators' questions. >> wasn't there an ig report about the allegations? >> in no, there was not. >> tharngnks, guys, i appreciat it. >> the white house and president trump are standing by dr. ronny jackson. but during a news conference yesterday, president trump also said if he were in jackson's positions he would step aside. >> i said to dr. jackson, what do you need it for? so we'll see what happens. i don't want to put a man through who is not a political person. i don't want to put a man through a process like this. it's too ugly and too
disgusting. so we'll see what happens. he'll make a decision. i wouldn't do it. i wouldn't do it. what does he need it for? to be abused by a bunch of politicians? that aren't thinking nicely about our country? i really don't think personally he should do it. but it's totally his, i would stand behind him, totally his decision. >> a white house official tells nbc news dr. jackson met with president trump in the oval office late yesterday afternoon and described it as a positive meeting. and a senior white house official has described dr. jackson's record as a white house physician as impeccable. one administration source tells nbc news jackson feels the allegations against him are false. another administration source emphasizes this truly is jackson's decision. and that the president means it when he said he would stand by his pick. both of those sources indicate the allegations against jackson include the overprescription of medication, as well as workplace environment issues and both say prior internal white house reviews found nothing out of the
ordinary. joe, it's worth pointing out when he was president obama's physician, he got glowing reviews for four consecutive years, including from president obama himself. >> yeah. i was going to say the same thing. listen, i think we were all. most of us were embarrassed by his performance after he examined president trump. he was a sycophant, said he could live to be 200 years old if he ate a little bit better and went on and on about what an extraordinary specimen president trump was. most of us, kasie hunt, are sure, led to this job. there's quite a contrast. when we were all rightly critical of dr. jackson for saying what he said, after that examination, you actually had a lot of members of barack obama's staff and team that stepped forward, saying he was a man of highest integrity. so a lot of these claims come as
a surprise to certainly people inside the obama administration. who have been defending him even through some pretty rough waters over the last six months. >> a complete surprise, joe. you're absolutely right about that. and there are some suggestions behind the scenes that there may be people with axes to grind. but on the other hand the sheer number of allegations has really taken senators in both parties, by surprise. including john tester, who you saw there, the democrat, top democrat on this committee. who characterized this as 20-plus people on active duty in the military. so not political people who are making these allegations against dr. jackson. and i think it's important, we're waiting to see what dr. jackson wants to do the president seems to say to him, it's up to you, it's your choice. there has never been a single vote, ever, in history, against
a veterans affairs secretary nominee in the congress. and so the confirmation process that he is now facing is daunting to say the least. and i would say those of us who have spent a lot of time observing these processes play out, would say that it's, it's likely that he has no path forward to confirmation at this point. considering there is republican cooperationing in delaying this hearing. we talked to mitch mcconnell. i asked him about this yesterday. take
a look. >> it's up to the administration to do the vetting. and i think those are the kind of questions you ought to direct to them. and i'm assuming at some point here it will be cleared up as to the way forward with regard to the new va secretary. >> president said today that this process, that the va secretary might deal with here in the senate might not be worth it. he seemed to be suggesting that perhaps he would withdraw. have you gotten that signal yet from the white house? >> i haven't gotten a signal
waiting for a signal. >> still waiting for a signal. >> still waiting for a signal. and sam stein, there's another problem, that goes along with what kasie is reporting right now. that is, that the man just doesn't seem qualified by at least his previous job experience, to running one of the most difficult, sprawling ineffectual important agencies in all of washington, d.c. i mean you add all of this up, if just running the white house medical staff was this difficult for dr. jackson, imagine how difficult managing the va would be? >> yeah, i mean these are -- you hit the nail on the head. these are also interconnected, right? part of the reason his nomination was already in trouble was because he had no actual tangible experience with managing a bureaucracy more than
a couple of dozen people. what is what the white house medical unit is. to put him in charge of the second largest bureaucracy in united states government is a daunting task. a lot of republican senators were not entirely sure he was capable of this. this gets back to the inherent problems of choosing cabinet nominees based on your gut feeling about how they perform on television. it's not the way it's usually done. had ronny jackson actually risen through the ranks, maybe perhaps taken on a task a little more challenging than the white house medical unit. had he taken on a task that was a bit more complex and challenging before being nominated to head the va, perhaps a proper vetting would have happened at that stage in his career and he would have been spared this national humiliation that he's been put through. instead -- >> but sam, i mean again, this isn't -- right. if he had had a bigger challenge. but even in this challenge, again it may be people with axes to grind. but you had an ig report that
there was open warfare inside the white house between he and another doctor. that he may have had a drinking problem, senator tester said. he did have a drinking problem while he was in that position. and that he was handing out prescription drugs without a prescription up and down the plane, like candy. so he should have had a more difficult time before jumping up to the va. but he wasn't even effective in the one he had. >> what i'm trying to say is theoretical he had been nominated for a deputy position and it required some sort of congressional oversight. perhaps in that lower-profile process, this stuff would have been flagged. it would have been clear that ronny jackson wasn't appropriate for a high-level position. and he wouldn't have gone through a national humiliation. instead, what happened was donald trump saw him on tv, got really giddy about how great he was talking about donald trump's
health and decided you know what, that's my guy. i want that guy to run the va. and he put him through this grind. with very little vetting and then now ronny jackson's career, basically, this is, isn't his fault, obviously, but his career has been reduced to this and he very likely won't end up as va secretary. this is a problem in part for ronny jackson and it's a real problem of white house vetting. >> this white house has an impulsive presidency. he saw dr. jackson give that very flattering medical report. he stood in the white house briefing room for an hour and he praised on the president's physical condition and thought, hey, i like that guy, let's have him run the second biggest bureaucracy in the united states government. there's been no process here. you know if they've done an interview, if they've done vetting they would have found the ig report. they would have found owl these things that are problems now? you were in congress for quite some time. is this anything like you've
seen. >> we do have a cabinet of shiny objects. the president sees something and appoints that shiny object to the administration of the united states. in washington, particularly with cabinet nominations, show me a nominee and i will show you an axe to grind somewhere. this is different, because as we've heard you have over 20 military personnel who have made these complaints in an ig report. it's also different from another reason. the one presidential nomination that has always been bipartisan is this one. is the secretary of veterans affairs. i do not believe there's ever been a senator who has voted against a president's nomination. there's consultation with both sides of the aisle. the president decides this is my guy, no consultation new york city vetting, and nobody should be surprised at the condition we're in right now. >> senator tester who we heard from before, he said i think i think i've had a dozen nominees
before me. but he said this time it's different. >> it goes to a pattern of donald trump and how ill-equipped his campaign was and now his white house team is. paul manafort had to resign because a story was coming out on him and russia involvement. he had to leave the campaign. whether it's rob porter because there was domestic abuse in his background. pruitt, we found out epa administrator pruitt, that he had a past of having fancy homes and taking advantage of things. this is a big problem. >> we vet contributions for city council races. how you cannot vet properly someone for va or any cabinet position? >> joe, that's part of the concern here. there was nobody between the president and these decisions. that he turns to somebody and says, i like that guy, i saw on tv. make him the head. va. there's nobody in there saying we ought to take a look at him.
it goes from the president's gut to a nomination. >> from the president eyes when he's watching cable news and seeing that ronny jackson saying that he'll live to be 200 years old and he did this dementia test and he identified a giraffe. he may have been the most intuitive person, wisest person i've ever seen. giraffe. donkey, pig. i mean, then he just went on and on. and talking about how remarkable the president's dna was. david ignatius, we talk about the va and the va takes on much more critical role, because of all the wars we've been fighting over the past 15, 20 years. but going back to france, over the past 15, 20 years, the french have not always been our closest partners, obviously
chirac in 2002-2003. you can go back to de galle, in '68, '69, deciding he wanted to be neutral in nato. militarily. the french have been a problem. but it's hard not to look at this, this new leader in france, and not say what you've suggested -- that france may be moving towards a position at the center of europe. and may be one of our most critical allies. >> i think that macron and his success in washington this week is a little sign of the realignment of europe. we may see a little bit more of that. when chancellor merkel, german leader, comes at the end of the week. france traditionally over the last 20 years, more has had this kind of distance towards the united states. we're your friends, but we're going to insist on our culture,
our primacy. it's been a very prickly relationship. the french famously disagreed with george w. bush about weapons of mass destruction in iraq. opposed the u.s. invasion of iraq. that criticism from france looks better, i must say, with the passage of time. but at the time it led to a real crisis, and you remember people were boycotting french restaurants and calling french fries freedom fries to show how angry they were at the french. it was all kind of crazy. misfiring of a traditional relationship. macron has very cleverly brought that back to the center. i think part of it is a traditional key ally in europe, is not as reliable as it was. i don't know where britain is heading in the post brexit world. britain doesn't know. they won't be quite the same and macron sees an opening for france. france is ready to use military power. ready to work with us on syria. ready to take the lead on iran. >> and we'll talk more on iran
in just a moment. the president signaling that he's open to a new iran deal. the kind that president macron is trying to convince president trump to get behind. we'll talk about that in a moment. still ahead on "morning joe," michael cohen is used to quote fixing things for donald trump. will the president return the favor with a pardon? trump calls that a stupid question. law professor jonathan turley weigh is in straight ahead. plus a republican in arizona squeaks by in what was a republican stronghold. and mick mulvaney tells top bankers as a congressman he would meet only with lobbyistes if they contributed to his campaign. we'll tell you what a spokesperson is saying about that comment. it took guts to start my business. but as it grew bigger and bigger, it took a whole lot more. that's why i switched to the spark cash card from capital one. with it, i earn unlimited 2% cash back on everything i buy.
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♪ ♪ >> ominous, ominous there, huh? >> kind of scary. >> joe, the bad headlines for members of president trump's cabinet continue to mount with interim director of the consumer financial protection bureau, mick mulvaney, now in the spotlight. did you hear this? according to "the new york times" -- >> do you believe this quote. >> he says it out loud. mulvaney who also runs the white house budget office told banking industry executives at a conference yesterday that they should press lawmakers hard to pursue their agenda. the "times" says he also revealed that as a congressman, he would meet only with lobbyists if they had contributed to his campaign. telling the crowd, quote, this is a quote, if you're a lobbyist who never gave us money, i didn't talk to you. if you're a lobbyist who gave us
money, i might talk to you. in response, mulvaney's spokesman told "the new york times'" glen thrush that remarks to bankers were a general call to citizens to advocate in whatever way they choose, and that mulvaney's top priorities as a congressman was listening to constituents, for free, and that the part on lobbyists was meant to underscore that point. joe, sometimes these things are implied, they're done behind close the doors. but let me read the quote again from mick mulvaney, if you're a lobbyist who never gave us money, i never talked to you. if you're a lobbyist who gave us money, i might talk to you. >> it's unbelievable. and it's unbelievable not only that he said that out loud. but actually that that was his standard operating procedure. i can tell you if a lobbyist gave me money, i usually thought less of them because it showed such poor judgment.
b but, as a joke. but so many times a lobbyist gave me money, then they would come into my office, i would, i actually would say hey, why don't you go talk to bart or talk to david or talk to rachel. i didn't talk to my staff members because i trusted my staff members. they would sort through what the lobbyists were saying. then they would come in and talk to me and i would say okay, what do they want? does it make sense for constituents? does it make sense for us? is it -- you know, i know it sounds stupid, but this is the right thing to do. i'm not going, you know, i'm not sticking my neck out on the line because somebody gave me a check. but it's, it is unfortunate. really unfortunate. that he would say something like that. also say, steve israel, that sometimes if somebody was a big contributor, you always had to actually bend over, speaking
again for myself. i'm sure you're the same way. >> speak for yourself, joe. >> you would have to bend over backwards the other way, to make sure that what you were doing really was in the public's interest. i know you, like me, i mean just, i just didn't need money from these people. in a way that was badly enough to have it change anything on how i voted or what i did. and this comment from mulvaney is pretty shocking and i will say, i didn't know a whole lot of people that i served with. over four terms, that had that policy approach or that attitude. >> i totally agree with you, joe. look, this may have been the one true statement that a trump appointee has ever made. on this i think there's no fake news. he made the statement. i'll say one other thing. what we just saw, that footage, you will see that as you know,
joe scarbrough. in a lot of competitive ads, mr. mulvaney just loaded republicans up with more political baggage as they creep up a steep hill to maintain their majority. >> willy, you start looking at these cabinet members, willie. the 30-second commercial, they're going to have to be 60-second commercials or maybe 30-minute infomercials, if you combine what mulvaney said with what's happening at the epa, with what's happening across the entire administration, this is a corrupt administration that talked about the president, talked about draining the swamp. this administration is the swamp. you can't find in recent american political history, another administration that has been as ethically challenged as this one. >> the ads will be, if you put pruitt in there with all the stories we've had over the last couple of weeks, if you
zincy raising the flag, it starts to sound very swampy. susan, is there a world where what mick mulvaney said does not constitute a bribe, he's just putting it out there and saying it out loud. >> it was unreal to read that story. how he could put that statement out there, even if there was some context to it, it doesn't work. it doesn't work that way. we are now seeing like a poster of swamp creatures. i mean that's what i think it is, it's donald trump and the swamp creatures. and that, i think jerry is right, those ads are going to be really harmful to this administration and 2018 and going forward. but what's also interesting about what mulvaney said was, it's basically the way president trump admitted he operated. before he was a candidate. he said i gave money out because i wanted things done for me and i could only get things done if i gave money to elected officials. so it's the same transactional politics that he sees from the
boss. coming up, president trump under pressure amid the criminal investigation involving his personal lawyer. he's having a hard time hiding his frustration. we'll play that awkward moment inside the oval office yesterday. and as we go to break, here's one republican lawmaker's advice for epa administrator scott pruitt, over his wave of scandals. >> some of his behavior has hurt the president of the united states. he's hurt the president's credibility. he's hurt the credibility of all of us. and it's, it would be way cooler if he would behave. hi.
they were unnerving results for republicans in what once were party strongholds yesterday as republican debby lessco won a vacant arizona congressional seat, with a margin whats that republicans anxious about the fall. nbc news has declared lesko the winner over the democratic challenger. in a five-point margin in a district that voted for president trump by 21 points in 2016. and mitt romney by 25 points in
20 2012. president trump tweeted a get out the vote message for republican while speaker ryan and majority leader kevin mccarthy raised money for lesko in the hoech stretch. the republican national committee backing lesko spent more than $1 million as national democrats largely stayed out of the race. the democratic swing toward the democrats is just the latest in a trend that spans the country and was not the only loss for republicans last night. as the democratic on long island picked up a seat in the new york state legislature. republicans had held the seat since 1978, joe. so again we're seeing this double-digit swings from president trump, about 18 months ago, where he won by 21 points, shaved down in that district to five points last night in arizona. >> well and these all taken together, these all are leading indicators, let's bring in jim van de hye. it doesn't start in 2006, the night that nancy pelosi is
elected speaker of the house it carries through the entire year. we see it in presidential campaigns, voter registration, intensity for barack obama in 2008. across key swing states. and here, i think the most telling thing is now of course i would say, a win is a win is a win. republicans won last night. so put that in the win column. that said, i'm looking at all the money they spent to win a race, closely. where democrats don't usually get out of the 30s. what does that mean? >> you nailed it on why republicans are in a panic about that result. this is a 20-point trump district there are 150 districts out there that are even better for democrats than this one and when you have to spend $1 million, to win a race like this, on top of all the special elections that you just looked at. people say it's a special election, they don't matter. when you've had a series of special elections where
democrats are way outperforming what heave they've done in the past and doing way better than what people expect them to do, it's a sign of what you said, momentum. republicans are now not just worried about the house, they're worried about the senate. they're worried they could lose the whole darn thing. and the senate should be untouchable for democrats, given the seats that are in play. there's ten democrats that are up for re-election in seats that trump won, five of those he won by double digits. and so republicans are now looking at states like texas, where ted cruz suddenly finds himself with a better funded challenger, missouri, where their candidates are not doing as well as they had hoped and near saying we could lose the senate, the senate and the house, it would be such a massive repudiation of donald trump. and it would give all the spooel subpoena power, all the committee power, to a group of people who are dying to go after these nominees. dieing to go after donald trump. so this stuff matters. >> yeah, it does.
and kasie, after the election, after donald trump's election, there was one statistic we kept repeating so much i think it drove a lot of democrats crazy. and that was, that the thousand state legislative seats that democrats lost during the time barack obama was president of the united states. it was devastating, but it showed a much bigger and deeper problem than just hillary clinton losing. that's completely reversed since donald trump has become president of the united states. we could look at the race in arizona. but when you start having republicans losing state senate seats in new york that they've held on to since 1978, before ronald reagan was even elected president of the united states, that really does have to spook republicans on the hill, doesn't it? >> i think that's a very important point, joe. and it's even lower down than state senate seats. the members of congress i talked to who are paying the closest attention to what's going on, who are oftentimes in swing
seats they're looking at county treasurer races and school board races and a lot of those are flipping for the first time in many decades. and a couple of things about this arizona race. first of all the democrat in this race was no conor lamb. she was too liberal for the district. that's why you saw the number on spending. the democrats didn't want to make a big bit on someone they weren't sure could win. and she came much closer than many democrats thought she would. and that tells you, jim mentioned there are 150 seats that are more democratic than this one. there are a lot of potentially complacent republicans who are setting themselves up to be surprised. and that i think is the main concern. now of course the question for democrats and steve israel, i'm curious what your view is on this, is that they do need to make sure that they're putting up candidates who fit these
districts and can take full advantage. it's not clear to me yet that those recruits are there. what's your view? >> i would share the democratic congressional campaign committee. we didn't even recruit in a district like this. we called this a don't-bother district. so republican, so overwhelmingly republican, so out of the realm of possibly winning, that we didn't bother. not a dollar, and there were years where we didn't have a candidate to run. this is also a district by the way, if you look at the data if the democrat had gotten about 43%, that would have translated into the democrats taking the majority in the house of representatives. 47% spells a wave. and there is some debate among democrats as to whether you have a recruit that fits some kind of national message or recruit that fits the district. you know what my view is and was as the chairman of the dccc, kasie? just win. just find a candidate and win. >> if the district lines up with the winning. >> well, look, the fact of the matter is that you have a battlefield in the house right
now. 62 competitive districts all in. 62 competitive districts, the democrats need 23 technically to take the majority. of those 62, there are six that are being defended by democrats, and 56 that are being defended by republicans. this is a wide-open battlefield for democrats. >> congressman, can you also explain how it benefits the democrats that we've had so many republicans not seeking re-election? so now you're fighting in those open seats and that probably is also a big part of why we think not only is there a wave, but republicans are kind of running for the hills at this point? >> well you know, good portion of those 62 competitive districts or the 56 republican districts are retirements, members of congress, they can sniff a wave when they see one and there are a lot of canaries in this coal moomine who have decided i'm not going to put myself through this. the party that has energy usually wins. all the energy is on the side of
the democrats. more and more republicans, including the chairman of the house appropriations committee, senior republicans, are looking at this environment saying -- we have no energy. we're going to lose the majority, i'm not going to bother. and that's one reason why the battlefield is so large. second reason is, that the democrats as a result of trump's election, people woke up the next morning and they were charged up. they couldn't believe that donald trump won this election. and you're seeing record-breaking numbers of candidates who appeared out of nowhere and decided they're going to run for congress to impose checks and balances on this president. >> sam stein, we heard paul ryan raise some late money for candidate lesko. when you look at the race, yes, he wants to be with his family more. we respect that decision. but this probably makes his decision a lot easier when he sees what's coming. >> i mean for all of the reasons that the congressman said, you can make the argument that this result, even though it was a win for republicans, was probably the most ominous of all the special election results that
we've seen so far. the margin was particularly close. republican groups spent about $1 million plus and democratic groups did really little and on top of that as kasie said a conor lamb-like candidate for the district and here we are with a six-point margin or so. even more ominous for republicans is if you, while they say we have a lot of committee money, rnc more than dnc, we have the superpacs come in. but when you look at the individual candidates and how much they're raising, by and large, democrats on a candidate-to-candidate level, are raising significantly more than republicans are. that money, the candidate money, goes a lot further than a committee money. it can buy you more air time when it comes to political advertising. so that's another sign, another data point that suggests that republicans are in for a world of hurt unless something dramatic happens and i don't see
anything between now and november that could change that dynamic. >> sam stein thanks very much. jim vandehei, thanks very much. steve israel, great to have you with us this morning. coming up, a judge rules against the trump administration on daca. the supreme court prepares to hear arguments on the president's travel ban. and then the president's personal legal issues, a lot to talk about with law professor jonathan turley who joins us next on "morning joe."
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mr. president, what about michael cohen? are you considering -- >> thank you very much. >> stupid question. >> president trump yesterday not hiding his frustration with the legal probes surrounding his personal attorney. this follows recent reports raising the possibility of michael cohen flipping on the president, includen one from the
new york times that claimed trump had treated his loyal fixer cohen poorly. joining us now law professor at george washington university. he has a column laying out the implications of a presidential pardon. it's great to see you this morning. it's fair to say anything is possible with this president, why not a presidential pardon of michael cohen? >> the problem is it won't get him where he needs to go if he's considering a pardon. you know, the pardon power of the president is unlimited in the sense that the text does not limit the president's choices. but it's not limited in its impact. for example, the president cannot give someone immunity for life. you know, you can't give a pardon for future crimes. so, you can give a pardon for crimes that have not been charged yet, but still crimes that you have already committed. now, that means that if michael cohen was to get a pardon and
then be called to testify and testified falsely or engaged in some form of obstruction, he would need a sort of daisy chain of pardons for each crime that he commits. it also doesn't cover state offenses. so, the president can't protect cohen from charges that might come in new york. and we know that the state is moving towards a change in the law to allow the charging of someone who has received a pardon. in cohen's case, the things that he's being charged -- he's being investigated for appear both in federal and state criminal codes. things like bank fraud, the allegations with regard to taxi medallions. so at the end of the day, pardoning cohen is not going to achieve everything that cohen needs. he'll remain sort of a fix it guy in a fix. >> well, and you look at the other main characters in this
investigation, whether you're talking about jared kushner, whether you're talking about paul manafort, whether you're talking about general flynn. you know, general flynn could be re arrested in the state of pennsylvania for attempted kidnapping. if there's any problem with jared kushner's business dealings, that could be in the state of new york. couldn't you what you just said about michael cohen, continue you say that about most of the other members of the donald trump's inner circle that are being investigated by robert mueller that could face criminal on the state level where donald trump's pardon couldn't reach. >> it can. with cohen it's more of a profound problem like tax medallions which are traditionally more of a state issue. yes, there are many crimes that are dual crimes state and federal. and so a pardon strategy is not going to get the white house out of this myrrh ras and it would work towards fulfilling a
narrative of those people who want to pursue an impeachment process after the midterm elections. >> let me ask you about another issue and that has to do with obviously the supreme court looking at the president's so-called travel ban. if you look at that decision, also couple it with the dc circuit's ruling on daca, aren't those both cases where federal courts have to give a substantial amount of deference to the white house? isn't it likely in the end donald trump will prevail -- the white house will prevail, the executive branch will prevail on both of these cases? >> well, as you know, joe, i always thought that the president had the advantage if this issue was to go to the supreme court, the threshold issues haven't changed. i think that he is likely to win before the supreme court. it doesn't mean it won't be a
close question. but he has the inherent authority, more importantly the existing precedent to support his position. what's interesting about the decision on daca is that this was a republican appointee who simply sort of threw up his hands. and it's a familiar refrain where he said, look, you're not giving me what you need to give me to uphold this action. and that's really a damning statement because, as you know, joe, the administration has a great deal of deference in cases like chevron. you don't have to do much. but they're not doing it. it's sort of like the first travel ban order which was appalling. it was badly drafted, badly executed, badly defended. well this judge in daca said, look, it's not that hard to come up with a rational, but you need to give me one. >> jonathan turley kofing a lot of ground for us this morning. thanks so much as always, professor. >> thank you. >> drinking on the job, verbally
abusing staff, the president's doctor for v.a. secretary reacts to new allegations against him. the president cabinet insists the president is not naive when it comes to north korea. we'll talk with david ignatius about that and what look like a new iran deal. "morning joe" is coming right back. people said it just made a mess until exxonmobil scientists put it to the test. they thought someday it could become fuel and power our cars wouldn't that be cool? and that's why exxonmobil scientists think it's not small at all. energy lives here. but prevagen helps your brain with an ingredient originally discovered... in jellyfish. in clinical trials, prevagen has been shown
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whole together and seemed like they had a little trouble shaking hands. watch this. [ speaking in foreign language ] >> well, they had a chance to try again a little later. let's see how they did. take a look at that. >> if we get a better deal with the european union, he will exempt. [ laughter ]. >> wait. hang on. i'm hearing that trump and macron just shook hands again. surely by now they figured it out. let's take a look. >> for europe and important for all peoples. thank you. >> thank you. thank you. how do you say please stop in french? >> wow. welcome back to "morning joe." it is wednesday, april 25th. with us this morning we have columnist and associate editor for the washington post, david ignatius. nbc news capitol hill correspondent and host of
kasie-dc kasie hunt and susan dell percent owe and joining the conversation, editor at large of the weekly standard bill crystal and also political reporter for the washington post and moderator of washington week on pbs robert costa. mika is under the weather a little bit this morning. she will be back tomorrow. david ignatius, i wanted to start with you. very interested things going on right now between the president of the united states and macron. let's start with the iran deal. talk of a possible new and improved iran deal. how do you have a new and improved iran deal if the iranians aren't going to want to be a part of it? >> well, the iranians have yet to show many of their cards, so we're really talking about the u.s./european side for the
moment. the europeans have badly wanted to keep this deal together and have argued that trump would make a terrible mistake if he walked away from it, tore it up, did the things that he's suggested. so the europeans have for months been trying to craft ways that the deal could be augmented and iran could be convinced to continue to abide by it that would keep this structure in tact. and macron seems to have come up with a way and sold it to trump. as trump put it, we'll have not this terrible deal that i hate it. no, we'll have a very big deal and enclose the terrible deal in and the very big deal will cover ballistic missiles and extend the life of the jcpoa, the original deal and address regional issues in particular syria. what the french i think are doing shaping a diplomatic dialogue involve russia, turkey, iran, the u.s., saudi arabia,
putting their weight behind that as a way of addressing the iran issue. iran probably would like to get us stable syria with bashar al assad still as president, their friend and would see that as a win. it's an interesting piece of diplomacy. it seems to moved the trump administration never sure of what their syria diplomacy is. i was cautioned by the white house, what i just said are simply using the words came out in the press conference, from president macron, this white house official said be careful until this president finally signs off on the last version in the last meeting in the situation room you can't be sure he'll actually do it. >> well, we've seen it time and time again the president says things in press conferences that end up going nowhere. one of the things he said yesterday that caused much concern had to do with north korea. david, let me play you a clip from the president talking about
kim jong-un. >> we're having very good discussions. kim jong-un was -- he really has been very open, and i think very honorable from everything we're seeing. now, a lot of promises have been made by north korea over the years, but they've never been in this position. >> i hope that we will be able to deal in a very open and honorable fashion with north korea. i started a process, and when i did, everybody thought i was doing it absolutely wrong but in the meantime for 25 years people have been dealing and nothing happened. and a lost happening right now. i can tell you that. >> on north korea, you said you believe in complete denuclearization. what does that mean exactly? >> it means they get rid of their nuclears. very simple. they get rid of their nuks and nobody else would say that. i don't want to claim victory over a simple deal. i want them to get rid of their
nuks. >> david, for the past 25 years or so, that's exactly what presidents have been saying. and we've had one failed attempt after another. nobel peace prizes have been handed out for gains won at negotiating tables with the north koreans and the north koreans end up lying and continue building their weapon systems. and i do wonder when the president says that kim jong-un is very honorable and being very open, i wonder what the parents of o otto warmbier are thinking about that and all the other people who have been killed by this tyrannical leader. >> joe, there's every reason to be skeptical about the period of negotiation that's ahead. it begins this week when the south korean and north korean leaders meet and then moves into the summit between trump and kim jong-un. the north koreans have a history
of lying, of misleading, of behaving brutally, but it's extraordinary that we are about to have the first summit between the north korean leader and the u.s. president and that the table for that meeting has been set by kim jong-un in which he's made a series of concessions to u.s. positions. you can go ahead and keep your military exercise with south korea. we are freezing our nuclear program and dismantling certain or altering certain bases we used for testing. a series of seeming concessions on the way to this meeting. and i think trump did say he's an honorable man, said all these night things, but was also quite firm in saying i'm not going to accept partial denuclearization. when i say denuclearization, i mean get rid of the nuks. that's a very direct forthright
statement that north koreans would love to string this along. have a phased gradual process. kim jong-un said precisely those words when he visited china. i want a gradual, measurable set of moves. trump is saying no we need something much, much clearer and more direct. i have trouble criticizing this particular phase of the korea process because i think the trump administration starting with poor old secretary of state rex tillerson who did all the leg work has gotten us to a pretty interesting and potentially positive point. >> well, let us hope and willie geist, a lot of news to cover other than north korea, other than france including an election out in arizona that was a lot closer than both sides thought. >> deep red district in arizona has some republicans scrambling this morning. debby lesko kept the seat in republican hands, but her five-point margin of victory pails in comparison to president
trump's 21 point district in the 2016 and mitt romney's 25-point win in 2012. this despite a surge of outside republican money to save that seat. joining us from glendale, arizona, msnbc correspondent vaughn hilliard. good to see you this morning. so this was expected to be a relatively close race, relative because the district has been so deep red for so long, but perhaps even closer than many republicans thought it would be. >> reporter: yeah. willie, i spent more than a month there in alabama, following doug jones democrat his ultimate victory there. this i got to tell you i grew up down the district lines here and somebody told me a mere three years ago i would cover a congressional race a close congressional race in trent frank's district, the congressman who resigned this winter, i would have to ask you what happened to this country,
what happened to the republican party. what we saw here over the last several days is a district that was really the backbone of sheriff joe arpaio's reign in the state for more than a quarter of a century. jan brewer's rise. this was an area that is about 80% of the voters over 55 plus. just like in p.a. 18 where you had conversations with people, coal miners, coal miner's pension benefits were the driving factor for them. you talk to independents and republicans, what did we hear over the last week? it was education. teachers will be walking out tomorrow from classrooms. when it comes down to it, the democrat talk about whether she fit the district or not, she spoke to the issue that was most prominent here in this district. lesko tried to run on the trump agenda. i want to play you sound with three republicans that we talked to here just before the polls closed. what party are you registered? how do you usually vote? >> i'm registered as a republican.
>> you usually vote republican? >> yes. >> this election you voted for. >> democrat. she is looking for change and we need it. we need to make a future for our children here in arizona. and have good schools for them and we won't have that if we keep up on the same road we're on now. >> that's the big reason you voted for the democrat today. >> why vote for tipirnini? >> i felt she was more forthright in the program she wanted to support in education. lesko seemed more of a trump supporter than one who wanted to go to congress to get things done. >> you're republican. you said education. >> yes. >> is an important issue. >> absolutely the most important. >> education. education is our future. and if we're not number one here in the state of arizona, there needs to be a change. >> as a republican you're concerned. >> absolutely. >> reporter: you guys, what i'll take away from the conversation here over the last week is much like conversation i had with two of the parkland students who said that it was time for them to be the ones negotiating on gun control reform.
you heard from those republicans, they're saying that we, teachers, educators, we need to now to begin negotiating these deals ourselves. well in 2016, the country elected the so-called populist candidate. what you're hearing are moderates, republicans, taking this situation into their own hands and as we saw last night saying that just because you're a republican isn't good enough to get our vote. willie? >> vaughn hilliard, all over that race and all the special elections this year. great coverage. thanks so much, vaughn. good to see you. bob costa, this might be the loudest canary. >> strong reporting there from vaughn. another point to add about this arizona district is that trent franks was dogged by a sexual harassment scandal that forced him from office. so just like in that alabama race, you have republican candidates dealing with personal controversy as well as this coming potential democratic blue wave. but you are seeing not just in the rust belt, in the midwest,
and in those areas that president trump did well in 2016, but it's also the sun belt and the southwest of the country where suburban voters because of issues like guns are starting to turn if you look at certain polls. >> you know, bill crystal, you also can look at -- i mean, this obviously as vaughn said just a rock ribbed conservative district, a total republican district. you can also look deep south, though, tennessee. democrats are ahead in quite a few polls in the tennessee senate race. mississippi much closer than anyone expected. alabama obviously elected a democrat. a lot of republican congressmen in south florida going to be facing some tough challenges. this potential blue wave it seems right now at least to be going deep into the heart of trump country. >> yeah, i think so. i think just analytically right now the chances of republicans
losing the senate are greater than the chances of democrats not taking the house. i think the chances of democrats winning both houses are pretty good now. the senate smuch complicated because there are all these pro trump states with democratic incumbents. there was no scandal in this race. they still underperformed by so many -- by such a margin if that were translated across the country, democrats would easily win the house. then i think senate seats as in arizona itself, that's a district that republicans need to win pretty big to hold arizona at the senate level. if this replicates itself, it's dangerous for them. it was kind of a generic race. there was no roy moore scandal, no particularly bad candidate one way or the other. both candidates had plenty of money. so i think it's very bad for republicans. it strengthens my view that this election day will be big in its own right. it's important if democrats win the house and/or the senate and
changes the dynamics for the next two years. the day after election day for republicans, something you and i have talked about a lot, joe, is very important. that's when republicans stop justifying the vote in donald trump in 2016. they stop justifying working with trump. and they have to confront the issue, do you want to renominate donald trump for four more years? are you confident enough that this is going well that you're going to sign on for another term. can't do anything about the fact that he's president. maybe you have to work with him, the general republican attitude. i think the day after election day things change more than people realize in terms of republican psychology and dynamics. >> you think really these republicans who have been so criticized on capitol hill for not crossing donald trump will wake up this november and all of a sudden turn on him? >> they'll need help from people like me. but i think it really changes partly because it becomes a prospect of choice. for now it's all been oh, bill, you're -- why you being -- he's president. what do you want to do? we have to work with him.
we have business to do with the administration. i understand that. the policy decisions are okay, et cetera, et cetera. he won. he's president. he has the magic sauce because he won where mccain and romney lost. you would agree with this, been such a big deal for republicans, right? he miraculously won the presidency. suddenly they lose one or both houses. what do you want? he's president for the next -- unless he's impeached for the next two years. are you comfortable with another four years of this level of craziness and chaos. you can say that it was reasonable to try to disrupt things, drain the swamp, bring change, much better than hillary would have been, but going forward, isn't there a better alternative? i think assuming republicans do poorly, which i think they will on november 6th, i think the current notion that trump's unchallengeable in the republican party, got an 83% approval all that, i think that could change pretty fast. >> we kept hoping that all along. this is a conversation we've
been having for almost three years now with trump. what i wonder is after the midterm elections with republicans is do they double down on trying to be -- having these conservative primaries, going forward trying to play to that base and probably potentially losing in going to the abyss for a while or do they come back and say we have to do what's right for our districts. we have to have -- moderates are needed. we put in moderates. we go against the president where necessary. it's going to be a very difficult choice for a lot of these republicans to make. and it will lead to a lot of infighting especially on the house side when we know speaker ryan is stepping down. being minority leader is no fun and being minority leader of this conference of the republican conference the way it's looking will just be a nightmare. >> trump at the top of the ticket in 2020, they are kidding themselves. they're smoking something if they think they can come -- they think they can distinguish themselves from trump at that point with him on the ballot, good luck. i think you're right, but i think as the logic of things
seeps in, it's not enough to say nice things about education or gun control. are they comfortable donald trump renominated by their party? >>. the president's latest problem is dr. ronny jackson, the navy admiral and white house physician is facing allegations over overprescribing medications, drinking on the job and creating an unprofessional work environment. democratic senator the ranking member on the veterans affairs committee spoke about those allegations yesterday. here is what he had to say along with comments from dr. jackson himself and president trump. >> he is physician for the president and in the previous administration we were told stories where he was repeatedly drunk while on duty where his main job was to take care of the most powerful man in the world. that's not acceptable. >> you've seen the allegations, hostile work environment,
allegations of potentially drinking on the job, overprescribing medication, are you saying those are categorically untrue? >> i'm looking forward to the hearing so i can answer all the senator's questions. >> ig report about the allegations? >> no, there was not. >> how much vetting did the white house before you were formally announced as the nominee? >> thanks, guys. i appreciate it. >> i said to dr. jackson what do you need it for? so, we'll see what happens. i don't want to put a man through -- who is not a political person -- i don't want to put a man through a process like this. it's too ugly and too disgusting. so, we'll see what happens. he'll make a decision. i wouldn't do it. i wouldn't do it. what does he need it for? to be abused by a bunch of politicians that aren't thinking nicely about your country? i really don't think personally he should do it. it's totally his. i would stand behind him. totally his decision. >> let's bring in tammy baldwin
of wisconsin. senator, good to have you with us this morning. >> good to be here. >> your allegations against ronny jackson, president obama himself heaping praise on ronny jackson. we've actually seen a lot of members of the obama administration even yesterday rushing out to defend dr. jackson's reputation and his professionalism. is it someone you would be comfortable voting for to become the next secretary of the v.a.? >> let me tell you first the allegations that we're hearing are very disturbing. and need to be investigated and i'm glad they've put a pause on his confirmation hearings so that they can look more deeply into those. but i want to tell you that i had concerns about dr. ronny jackson's nomination before these revelations because we know that the v.a. is entrusted with the care of 9 million veterans who have served our
country and deserve the very best. the v.a. health system has had problems in the past. they have problems that need to be overseen now and worked through. and i feared that dr. jackson didn't have the type of managerial experience needed to oversee such an important but also large entity. and so, you know, when i look at the problems we've seen with the waiting list scandal, with overprescription of narcotics, with variety of issues, we need somebody who is going to lean forward. i've passed bipartisan legislation to include great reforms across the v.a. system. we need to see those fully implemented. and so i had my doubts already and wanted a lot of questions answered before these latest revelations that are very disturbing. >> kasie?
>> senator, i just want to follow up on one thing you mentioned. so far to our knowledge ronny jackson has not been accused of overprescribing narcotics. it's been sleep aids, wakefulness medications. i want to make sure you don't have information we don't have. >> i do not. >> also to raise the broader question, it seems like the president is kicking the question of whether to continue this confirmation process to dr. jackson and right now there's no indication that he's planning to withdraw. do you think at this point there is a conceivable path forward for him to confirmation in the senate? >> i do think it's much more difficult with these revelations and also with the ig report that i have not yet had a chance to see, but he denied that there was any and apparently the white house released one. all of those sort of mount up to some pretty high hurdles for dr. jackson to continue with this
process. >> senator, it's bob costa here. where do you stand in your re-election race? wisconsin has turned more conservative than some people would have thought in the last few years and see a lot of conservative groups active in that state. you have governor walker running for re-election at the same time. >> well, first of all, we have seen more outside of state billionaires pouring money into wisconsin, being active on television and on radio with attack ads against me. i recognize that wisconsin is a battleground state. but i think there's something more. i think that i have always focussed on fighting for the people of wisconsin and i stand up to those outside special interests who have you know protecting wall street and drug corporations and they know i stand for the people of wisconsin and so i don't think it's a coincidence that we're seeing all of this outside spending. that said, in part -- in large
part because of the work i've done on behalf of the people of wisconsin, we are seeing engagement like i've never seen before in our state. we had a special election in a state senator seat in northwestern wisconsin, a district that trump won by 17 points in '16, this january a democratic candidate won that district with 11 points, a 28-point flip. and as you were reporting elsewhere in the country, we've seen that type of momentum. we had a great nonpartisan spring race on april 3rd in wisconsin where progressive-minded fair and impartial was elected that hasn't happened since 1995. so i see an incredible engagement because people do want the congress of the united states, the senate of the united
states focussed on people's needs. and focussed on wisconsin. right now washington is not working for wisconsin. >> all right. thank you so much, senator tammy baldwin, as always. we greatly appreciate you being on the show. kasie, i want to go back to you for a second. you asked the question about ronny jackson. i don't know if you're hearing what we keep hearing, especially from people that worked with him during the obama administration. but we keep being warned not to get over our skis on some of these allegations that came out yesterday. a lot of people in the last administration, people that have noun ronny jackson, i don't think is qualified for this position, but everybody else
did. i'm hearing over and over again that never -- he was never drunk on the job and reports of him being the candy man is a ridiculous allegation. it's very interesting. are you hearing push back from people that have worked with him in the past? >> joe, my sense is that he was -- you eluded to this earlier in the show, very popular with obama administration staff, clearly well liked by president trump. so, my question in all of this reporting, there is some insinuation that there may be people who believe that there's someone who has an ax to grind against this man and that certainly could be part of this unfolding story. but, there does seem to be some indication from tester's office that a lot of these complaints are coming from uniformed military personnel. so it's possible that there is a divide in social circle and therefore understanding of what's going on between people
who were civilians working on the political side and people working in the military. you also have to remember that often times in military culture there is a pretty intense incentive not to talk, not to tell a story. so, i do think that we're still a ways from understanding the full set of facts around this. clearly dr. jackson really wants the chance to take a stand for himself. he wants to be able to go to that open hearing. so, if that happens, i do think at some point the truth will come out one way or the other. >> bob costa, does it look like he's going to get his hearing? that he's going to get a vote? >> the president kicked open the exit door yesterday to show dr. jackson he could leave this process if he wants to. at the same time, colleagues of dr. jackson tell me that in the post that wants to still go through with this hearing. told that to the president yesterday. senator and other critics of the nominee came out with these allegations and dr. jackson is
telling his confidants he wants to see some of this aired out a little bit. and he moves forward, the white house knows it could be quite unruly in terms of what's brought up, allegations from the past. at this point they don't have a plan b. >> we will end this segment me asking for a response to donald trump, calling kim jong-un an honorable and open man. i lob that softball down the middle of the plate. swing away. >> you know, they warned me if i didn't vote for donald trump they would have a president who was coddling horrible dictators with an unbelievable amount of blood on their hands, here we are with donald trump. can you imagine if i was in such an obvious thing to say, can you imagine if barack obama said this what would be happening on fox news and in "the wall street journal" and among conservative commentators and republicans in congress today? but somehow trump says it and it's all part of a skillful diplomatic effort that he's engaged in. incidentally -- we'll see what happens with north korea. so far they have done nothing.
they have said a few things. we have zero verifiable evidence they have changed one aspect of one part of their nuclear program. >> bill crystal, bob costa, thank you both very much. we'll go back to the big developments surrounding iran. and president trump says that country will pay a price like few have ever paid before he says if it jump starts its nuclear program. and keeping a check is one of the reasons why the president says he is staying in syria despite his gut telling him to get out. dr. jeffrey sack says the president should trust his gut and pull american troops out of syria. he joins the conversation along with new york times columnist brett stevens next on "morning joe."
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>> they won't be restarting anything. they restart it, they'll have big problems. bigger than they've ever had before. you can mark it down. they restart their nuclear program, they will have bigger problems than they have ever had before. >> as far as syria's concerned, i would love to get out. i would love to bring our incredible warriors back home. they've done a great job. we've essentially absolutely obliterated isis. with that being said, emmanuel and myself have discussed the fact that we don't want to give iran open season to the mediterranean. i do want to come home, but i want to come home also with having accomplished what we have to accomplish. so we are discussing syria as part of an overall deal. when they made the iran deal, what they should have done is included syria. so we want to come home. we'll be coming home, but we
want to have a very, very strong -- we want to leave a strong and lasting footprint. and that was a very big part of our discussion. >> that's the president speaking yesterday at the white house. joining us now professor and director of the center for sustainable development at colombia university, economist dr. jeffrey sacks and columnist for the new york times and msnbc contributor brett stephens. brett, let me begin with you. macron comes to america trying to convince president trump to stay in the iran deal, some version or another. the president sits at a press availability in the oval office and rips the iran deal with macron sitting next to him but later in the day gets to the point where the president of the united states says he would entertain the idea of a new modified iran deal. where is all this going? >> well, that's a great question. you know, listening to the president reminded me of some of his remarks, the fire and fury remarks that he directed toward kim jong-un just a few months ago and now of course he's
entertaining negotiation with the north koreans. so with this president you never know. i mean, i argued strenuously against the iran deal back in 2015. i think it has critical, critical flaws, including allowing iran to continue to field and test ballistic missiles. the real question is whether he can renegotiate the agreement. the iranians say they are flatly against it, but my colleague tom freedman pointed out, the iranian economy is in free fall and we learned with the obama administration that there are, in fact, ways of imposing punitive sanctions that really hurt -- that really hit the iranians where it hurts. my question really about this administration is whether it has the intellectual capacity and seriousness to see through a renegotiation of a very flawed deal under a different republican administration i would feel a little more confident about the idea of withdrawing from it completely.
>> jeffrey sacks, you want the president to follow his instinct, to go with his gut and to leave syria. you've been very critical of american foreign policy towards syria for some time, including the encouragement of many of the forces that were rebelling against assad that have launched the civil war. talk about that. talk about how this began and where we are now. >> well, we actually launched the war in effect in 2011 because america's regional allies all wanted assad overthrown. and so, back in 2011 turkey, where erdogan said let's put in muslim brotherhood regime actually at the time, saudi arabia which wanted to push iran out of syria, israel which
wanted to push iran out of syria and u.s. wanted to put russia out of syria all decided that they would overthrow assad. i was -- we were together discussing this already seven years ago. i said it wasn't going to happen. it was very naive. it was very naive. what was supposed to be a two-month episode turned into a seven-year full-blown proxy war, which has been a disaster for hundreds of thousands dead, millions displaced. the u.s. effort where president obama signed a secret presidential finding for the cia to partner with saudi arabia failed. and it failed badly. russia and iran came to assad's defense. and we've had a blood bath since then. president trump is right. we should get out.
and it's interesting, the arguments for staying in, today you have dennis ross in "the wall street journal" saying in conclusion mr. trump clearly sees no interest in syria, but he also has no interest in a wider regional war that could suck america in. and what he's talking about is if we get out, well then israel will launch a war against iran. this is just not credible. basically everyone is trying to pull the u.s. in for their own narrow interests not america's interests. and president trump happens to be right on this one. he's also -- there's a lot of ambiguity obviously about yesterday. that's his style. or his way of thinking. but the idea that if iran were to restart its nuclear program, it would be a disaster. it would be a disaster for them. that's saying nothing different from what the current agreement says. so, in a way trump was just
reiterating what the current agreement says. >> yeah. david ignatius, though you did hear yesterday in the remarks by the president actually an understanding between the united states and france now the need for united states to maintain some sort of presence there. jeffrey said, that would certainly be seen as good news for our regional allies but also good news for lot of people in the pentagon who believe we need to keep a small force there to be a counterbalance against not only the resurgence of isis but also iran, russia, et cetera. does that -- we're trying to figure out exactly what happened yesterday other than hand holding. it does seem like some significant progress was made in that area for certainly those in the government that want the united states to stay longer. >> joe, i think yesterday was a
day in which the president decided that he wants to take more time and be more careful in how he gets out of syria. in which the u.s. tries to avoid creating another vacuum that's filled by very dangerous people there. and rather than talking about leaving very soon, he now says, well, we want to leave relatively soon and want to leave a solid footprint. that has encouraged people in the pentagon who worked very hard on this campaign. i note in the next few weeks the kurdish allies, syrian democratic forces are going to go back in the battlefield with u.s. special forces in eastern syria. i want to just ask brett a question about the situation with iran. president macron talked about this idea of having a very big deal to replace the terrible
deal that you were just criticizing. do you think that there's any -- what's the chance that israel is going to endorse that idea and say, okay, this new approach of adding ballistic missiles, longer term for the deal, dealing with regional issues, yeah, okay. what's the chance of that, brett? >> i think the chances of the israelis endorsing it -- if you have a new deal, david, where they're much more stringent limitations on the use of ballistic missiles in which the time horizon of the deal goes from 5, 10, 15 years to the indefinite horizon, i can see the israelis being relatively satisfied with it. they have large problems on their hands, particularly now on their northern border as bashar assad consolidates or reconsolidates his control on the border with gaza. there's a lot of talk in israel. i was just there a couple weeks ago of a potential looming war
that would involve israel not just against hezbollah but its syrian and iranian allies. so my guess is that they would be happy to see a renegotiated deal. the flaws that we saw back through years ago remain there. and the sad fact is that since the deal was signed, iran's regional ambitions have only grown bolder. they're stronger in iran. they continue to meddle in yemen. they are potentially responsible or mind the ballistic missile attack a few months ago. iran feels like it's playing a strong hand. i think the israelis would love to see further economic pressure on the iranians in a renegotiation. >> look, iran has lived up to this deal. the united states has not because in effect sanctions remain on the iranian economy as was pointed out. and all we're doing is continuing to get sucked in by
local fights that are not our fight. and it's no good news that the pentagon prevailed. the pentagon never wants to leave a base behind, but this is not a reason for this disastrous seven-year war started by cia and regional allies to continue. and, yes, iran is going to have influence in the region and it's fine to negotiate over other issues, but to subborn an agreement that has been reached by the entire u.n. security council and that is operational and in effect would be a huge, huge mistake. >> dr. sachs, i want to give you a quick update on how the draining of the swamp is going. mick mull vainny is in the spotlight. mulvaney runs the white house budget office told banking executives at a conference in washington yesterday they should press lawmakers hard to pursue
their agenda. the times says mulvaney revealed as a congressman he would meet only with lobbyists if they contributed to his campaign. he told the crowd, quote, if you're a lobbyist who never gave us money, i didn't talk to you. if you're a lobbyist who gave us money, i might talk to you. in response to the controversy afterwards, mulvaney spokesman said the remarks to the bankers were a general call for citizens to advocate in whatever way they choose, not prin pally. and that the part on lobbyists was meant to underscore that point. dr. sachs, it's rare we hear articulated and spoken out loud something that amounts to, well, bribery, in effect in washington. >> the american system is genius. it's one of the most corrupt politics in the whole world, but we legalized it. the supreme court in its wisdom said go for it. corporations can give anything.
they can give it secretly. they can give it anonymously. we have legalized the complete rule of the lobbyists. it's unbelievable. so i thank mulvaney. that was very clear. we'll have it in all the textbooks so we can explain how american politics works. >> bret, what's your reaction of that being said outloud? >> he is once again saying an incredibly stupid and revealing thing, but why is that surprising? >> bret stephens, dr. jeffrey sachs, thank you both. we appreciate it. coming up, with elearn more about robert mueller's interest in paul manafort. there's lingering what the trump campaign knew about his past before he was hired. we'll talk about that next on "morning joe."
jumping for joy. 100 days in, is he still jumping. look at those moves. the democratic governor of new jersey phil murphy having on th same sneakers as that night. >> willie, i have the same kicks on. >> so, you're 100 days in. i was thinking about -- we played a clip from president trump where he said 100 days in. he said the job would be much easier than it's been. a lot of challenges in your state. what's the job been like for 100 days? >> it's not easy. we've made a lot of progress. 100 days is one of these artificial moments in time. so, this is a work in progress. but we've moved the needle. this is a state where we're digging out of the mess and we're having to deal with the washington reality every day. sort of our frame is if we don't make economic progress, we can't
make social progress. and if we don't social progress, we can't make economic progress. yesterday, i signed the largest equal pay law in the united states. which i'm proud of. we've got automatic voting rights. we've banned offshore drilling, oil and gas. so, we're putting some runs up on the board. so far, so good. but a lot of ways to go. >> a lot of people i know and corporations in the state talk about the tax burden in the state of new jersey as a gorilla on their backs that they can't get off. >> yep. >> what are you doing to alleviate some of that problem? >> so, this is a state of best days were a good value for the state. new jersey, you never went to new jersey because it was a low-cost place. you went there because you had a risk basket. the problem is the basket has shrunk. growing the premium, growing the economy and then investing in
the middle class in that basket of stuff. in public education. higher ed. pre-k. mass transit. and we think we can get that equation back in the balance. and that will work for families. it will work for businesses. >> taxes will come down? >> i think they can come down. we have to grow the economy, though. i'm optimistic we can. we're a state that used to rely on the innovation economy. we were silicon valley in many effects before there was a silicon valley. infrastructure, and i think if we can reclaim the economies we're going to get this thing rocking again. >> your neighboring state new york there's an issue of legalizing recreational marijuana. >> yeah. >> is that something you'd do to consider helping offset property targets as a revenue stream? >> it is something that we would consider frankly although there's revenue associated with it, for us it's much more a social issue. as a price to many, we have the
largest white-nonwhite gap in america. we want to legalize at use marijuana. and it will get the business out of the bad guy's hands and into the right hands. it will protect our kids, we can tax it, and at the end of the day, it will generate revenue. governor, kasie hunt has a question for you in washington. >> governor, it's nice to see you this morning. you had said you want to get involved in your state's congressional races. there are two retirement seats. how many republicans do you think there will be in the new jersey congressional delegation at the conclusion of this election cycle? >> that's a good question. so, we have 12 house seats at the moment. seven are democrat, five are republican. two of the republican seats are being vacated. i'm not sure i'll get a precise answer for you. but my gut tells me given the low popularity of the president,
if you see a wave election, i could see democrats getting three or four of those five seats. four on a really good day. i'm not sure we can get to five. we're going to jump in in a big way after the primaries in june. we've also got a u.s. senator at the top of the ballot, bob then dez who i'm strongly supporting, so, this could be a big year for us in those house races. >> so, governor abbott of texas came at you a little bit. >> yeah. >> talking about the taxes in the state of new jersey we mentioned your new budget has $1.6 million in new taxes. and saying hey, new jersey corporations come to texas. what's your response to that? >> listen, i got nothing against texas. i've got a lot of friends in texas. but i do have something against the leadership there. listen, new jersey is a state where you get what you pay for. i'm not suggesting it's the lost-cost place to be. but you get top three education
in the country. top three health care among the infrastructure that works. with all due respect to governor abbott you've got a low middling health care system and you get what you pay for. >> you also have a great beach house available to you? >> yes, only to be used when the state government is open. >> be careful when you use that beach house. new jersey governor phil murphy, thanks so much. >> great to be here. still ahead, the future of the president's pick for va secretary in question amid troubling allegations. the president said he would not want to go through that confirmation process but what will ronny jackson do. plus, president trump says he likes the president of france a lot. and we've got the video to prove it as "morning joe" will be back. wait, is mom here yet? where's mom? she's in this car. what the heck? whoa. yo, whose car is this?
we see two travelers so at a comfort innal with a glow around them, so people watching will be like, "wow, maybe i'll glow too if i book direct at choicehotels.com". who glows? just say, badda book. badda boom. book now at choicehotels.com we do have a very special relationship. in fact, i'll get that little piece of dandruff. we have to make him perfect. he is perfect. ♪ >> he is perfect. perfect. ♪ ♪
>> i like him a lot. ♪ ♪ that's something there. i don't know if that's the right song to have played. maybe we should have played journey's "lovin' touchin' and squeezin'." these guys are a lot closer than they would have been. and now we uncomfortable look on as they kiss each other quite a bit. >> yeah, and the hand-holds was phenomenal. he'd stop for a photograph and trump would grab his hand and say, come on you, we've got other places to go.
it's a great way to start the morning. >> yes. >> with us, joe, we've got david ignatius, politics editor samstein, capitol hill correspondent and host host casey hunt and susan del percio. and steve israel, the author of the newly released novel "big guns." we'll talk about that. congressman, mika a little under the weather today. but it was an incredible day. a series of other events and comments the president made in washington yesterday. >> yeah, no doubt about it. david ignatius, this is obviously critical alliance for the united states. macron actually one in france at the time when we weren't so sure that liberal democracy wasn't in fast retreat everywhere.
talking about the arc of the last six or nine months or so between donald trump and macron and what's at stake? >> first, macron is a new kind of politician for france. he's very much a man at the center. he's a business person in a country that mistrusts them. and he really has been a change-agent a different way from donald trump. but he's taken on the unions in france, saying he's got to get the country moving in terms of economic growth. he's gotten more confident in himself and policies. starting off with trump, pretty bad but fairly quickly he managed to ingratiate himself with the president. he invited trump and the first lady to a wonderful dinner in the eiffel tower. that's pretty cool. who wouldn't enjoy that. so a real friendship began it seems watching that touchy-feely video. these two guys really do like each other. trump says, i like him a lot. and the amazing thing is french
president macron has managed to package it seems the iran nuclear deal, the worst deal in history, a deal that trump was ready to walk away from. and macron said, that's a terrible deal. but let's take that deal and put it into a much better bigger deal. let's include in that bigger deal like ballistic missiles in iran and we'll have a really big deal and bypass the jcpoa, and it sounds, it was tough to decode yesterday's press conference but it seems like he succeeded. so that puts france in the center of diplomacy in a way it has a different outcome. and very differential letting trump pick the lint off his suit. but meanwhile, maybe he was picking trump's pocket, we'll see. >> maybe so, we will see. hey, willie, while the president
was being touchy-feely with the president of france, his pick for va secretary was getting assaulted on the hill. a lot of problems for dr. jackson. >> yeah. and the president defending him but saying i would understand if he didn't want to go through this process. let's set this up. there's new fallout over president trump's nominee for secretary of veterans affairs dr. ronnie jackson. facing allegations of overprescribing medication, drinking on the job and creating an unprofessional work environment. democratic senator jon tester the ranking member on the veterans affairs committee spoke those allegations in the interviews yesterday. >> he is the physician for the president and in the previous administration we were told the stories he was repeatedly drunk while on duty where his main job was to take care of the most powerful man it's in world. that's not acceptable. >> the word is that on overseas
trips in particular admiral would go down the aisle of the airplane and say who wants to go to sleep and hand out the prescriptions. >> like an ambien-type drug? >> that's right. and put them to sleep and give them the drugs to wake them back up again. >> so he would actually go down the aisle and say who wants to go to sleep and who wants to wake up? >> yeah, that's from the report that got ahold of us and said this doctor has a problem. in fact, in the white house, they call him the candy man. >> according to a 2012 assessment by the inspector navy jackson before clashed with a rival doctor as the two engaged in a power struggle. the report suggests that the white house thought about replacing jackson and his rival. however, jackson was later given the job of president obama's first physician the following year.
republican senator jerry moran a member of the veterans affairs committee said jackson has denied allegations. and told moran he had, quote, never had a drink while on duty. here's what jackson had to say about the allegations when questioned yesterday by reporters. >> you've seen the allegations of hostile work environment. allegations of essentially drinking on it's job, overprescribing medications, are you saying those are categorically untrue? >> i'm saying i'm looking forward to the hearings so i can sit down and answer all of the senators' questions. >> was there a report about the allegations? >> no, there was not. thanks, guys, appreciate it. >> the white house and president trump are standing by dr. ronny jackson in the midst of these allegations. but during a news conference yesterday president trump also said if he were in jackson's position he would step aside. >> i said to dr. jackson, what do you need it for?
so, we'll see what happens. i don't want to put a man through who is not a political person -- i don't want to put a man through a process like this. it's too ugly and too disgusting. so, we'll see what happens. he'll make a decision. because i wouldn't do it. i wouldn't do it. what does he need it for? to be abused by a bunch of politicians that aren't thinking nicely about our country? i really don't think, personally, he should do it. but it's totally his. i would stand behind him, totally his decision. >> a white house official sells nbc news dr. jackson met with president trump in the oval office late yesterday afternoon and described it as a positive meeting. and a senior white house official has described dr. jackson's record as a white house physician as impeccable. one administration source tells nbc news jackson feels the allegations against him are false. another administration source emphasizes this truly is jackson's decision and the president means it when he said he'd stand by his pick.
both of those sources indicate that the allegations of jackson including the overprescription of medication, and both say prior internal white house reviews found nothing out of the ordinary. joe, it's worth pointing out when he was president obama's physician he got glowing reviews for four consecutive years including from president obama himself. >> yeah, i was just going to say the same thing. listen, i think we were all, most of us were embarrassed by his performance after he examined president trump. he was a sycophant said he could live to 200 years old if he ate a little better. went on and on about what an extraordinary specimen president trump was. i think, of course, most of us, kasie hunt, led to this job. but there is quite a contrast, though, when we're all rightly critical of dr. jackson for saying what he said after that examination.
you actually had a lot of members of barack obama's staff and team that stepped forward saying that he was a man of highest integrity. so, a lot of these claims come as a surprise to, certainly, people inside the obama administration who have been defending him even through some pretty rough waters over the last six months. >> a complete surprise, joe. you're absolutely right about that. and there are some suggestions behind the scenes that there may be people with axes to grind. but on the other hand, the sheer number of allegations has really taken senators in both parties by surprise, including jon tester who you saw there, the top democrat on this committees, who characterized this as 20-plus people on active duty in the military, so not political people, who are making these allegations against dr. jackson. and i think it's important, you know, we're waiting to see what dr. jackson wants to do.
the president seems to say to him, it's up to you. it's your choice. there has never been a single vote ever in history against a veterans affairs secretary nominee in the congress. and so, the confirmation process that he is now facing is daunting to say the least. and i would say that those of hughes have spent a lot of time observing these processes play out would say that it's -- it's likely that he has no path forward to confirmation at this point, considering that there is republican cooperation in delaying this hearing. >> still ahead on "morning joe," mick mulvaney holds not one but two important jobs in the trump administration but it's what he said about his time in congress that is raising eyebrows this morning. we'll show you his quote about meeting only with lobbyists who open their checkbooks. that's next on "morning joe." jimmy's gotten used to his whole room smelling like sweaty odors.
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♪ >> joe, the bad headlines for members of president trump's cabinet continue to mount with interim director of the consumer financial protection bureau mick mulvaney now in the spotlight. did you hear this? >> do you believe this quote? >> mulvaney who also runs for the white house budget office told banking in a conference yesterday that they should press lawmakers hard to pursue their agenda. the "times" says he also revealed as a congressman he would meet only with lobbyists if they contribute to his campaign telling the crowd, this is a quote, if you're a lobbyist who never gave us money, i didn't talk to you. if you're a lobbyist who gave us money, i might talk to you. in response, mulvaney's spokesman told "the new york times" remarks to the bankers were general calls for citizens advocating whatever way they
choose, not principally through donations and mulvaney's top priority was listening to constituents for free. sometimes, these things are implied but done behind closed doors. let me read the quote again, if you're a lobbyist who never gave us money, i didn't talk to you. if you're a lobbyist who gave us money, i might talk to you. >> it's just unbelievable. it's unbelievable not only that he said that out loud but that that was his standard operating procedure. i can till, if a lobbyist gave me money, i usually thought less of them because it showed they had such poor judgment. that's a joke. but i didn't -- so many times, a lobbyist --ful fuif a lobbyist me money, they would come into my office, i actually would say why don't you talk to bart, or
talk to david or rachel. i didn't talk to my staff members because i trusted my staff members. they would sort through what the lobbyists were saying and then they would come and talk to me. i'd say, okay, what do they want? does it make sense for the constituents? does it make sense for us? i know it sounds stupid, but this is the right thing to do. you know, i'm not sticking my neck on the line because somebody gave me a check, but it is unfortunate, really unfortunate, that he would say something like that. i also say, steve israel, that sometimes if somebody was a big contributor, you always had to actually bend over, and speaking again for myself, i'm sure the same way -- >> speak for yourself, joe. >> -- you'd have to bend over backwards the other way to make sure what you were doing really was in the public's interest. >> yeah, yeah. >> i know you, like me, i mean,
i just didn't need money from these people in a way that it was badly enough to have to change anything on how i voted or what i did. and this comment from mulvaney is pretty shocking. and i will say, i didn't know a whole lot of people that i served with, over four terms that had that policy approach. or that attitude. >> no, i totally agree with you, joe. look, this may have been the one true statement that a trump appointee has ever made. on this, i think, there's no fake news. he made the statement. i'll say one other thing, what we just saw of that footage, you will see that as eye know, joe scarborough, in a lot of 30-second ads. in a lot of competitive districts in this midterm election. mr. mulvaney just loaded republicans up with more political baggage as they creep up a steep hill to maintain their majority. >> yeah. and willie, you start looking at
these cabinet members, willie. the 30-second commercial, they're going to have to be 60-second commercials or 30-minute infomercials. if you combine what mulvaney said and what's happening at the epa, this is a corrupt administration that talked about the president, talked about draining the swamp, this administration is the swamp. you can't find in recent american political history another administration that has been as as advocately challenged. >> yeah, had ryan zinke raising the flag while he's in residence like he's the queen of england. all of these things add up. susan, is there a world that mick mulvaney said that doesn't constitute a prescribe?
>> it was unreally the story last night. how he could possibly put that statement out there, even if there was some context to it, it just doesn't work. it doesn't work that way. we're seeing a poster of swamp creatures. that's what i think it is, donald trump and the swamp creatures. and that's right, those ads are going to be really harmful to this administration and 2018 and going forward. coming up on "morning joe," former senate majority leader harry reid is speaking out since the first tv interview since leaving office. he weighs in on president trump and his favorites for the 2020 election. next on "morning joe."
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you know what's not awesome? gig-speed internet. when only certain people can get it. let's fix that. let's give this guy gig- really? and these kids, and these guys, him, ah. oh hello. that lady, these houses! yes, yes and yes. and don't forget about them. uh huh, sure. still yes! xfinity delivers gig speed to more homes than anyone. now you can get it, too. welcome to the party. we don't know if the president will survive this. maybe he will. maybe he won't. but some democrats are already talking about impeachment. assuming the house flips, is there a danger in that because that isn't so well for republicans? >> i don't know. i've been through engagement. i was a brand-new whip at the time. i never sat down in the front row. i mean, the supreme court was
right ahead of me, lundquist was right up there. everything going on was right in front of me. so, i've been through an impeachment. and they're not pleasant. and i think the less we talk about impeachment the better off we are as a country. >> that was former democratic senator of nevada hardy reid in his first network interview since leaving office in 2016. joining us now from las vegas to discuss her conversation with the former senate majority leader is nbc news national political reporter heidi przybyla joining us here on the set. contributing editor of the magazine john pedora. heidi, let me start with you, why was he anxious to talk? >> he has been quiet. and i know a number of people have tried to get him to talk on
this issue of russia. that is part of the headline here he's breaking his silence on russia. he shared some of the backdrop with his efforts to try and get republicans to come forward and warn the public ahead of the elections. that was notable. he shared an anecdote really that i thought was really vivid about post-efforts to try and get republicans to come forward. he approached some of his colleagues and said why didn't you help me. and harry reid said that the republican colleague told him i was a afraid that the koch brothers would come after me. and the impeachment bite that you played, he called out tom steyer, running ads calling for trump's impeachment. he said, please, i ask all ever you to just stop it. and that really is in spite of the fact he spent a lot of the interview talking at length
about what damage he thought president trump has done to our institutions including the judiciary, the legislative branch. he talked about his concerns about the senate and the loss of decorum in the senate. and that the senate may eventually wind up being like the house which is sles bipartisan. and really just broke his silence here a year and a half almost occupant of office. >> and i want to play the bite, heidi, that referenced the comey letter in the investigation what harry reid had to say about that, let's listen. >> you've been very quiet since you sent that letter to fbi director comey revealing that he was sitting on quote/unquote explosive information about trump's ties to russia. how do you feel about all of that now? >> well, i'm right. people talk about how right i was. i was right. and i'm glad he has his day in the sun, but that doesn't
take-away from what i thought happened in the election. with the russia investigation, i wish the federal government of the united states had done more. but the good work has been done by the press, not 9 federal government. >> can you confirm that we, the president, and the public now knows everything that you knew at the time? because i read back through your letter to comey and at the time you said you as had concerns about, quote, intent to falsify official election results. >> well, the president most everything that i knew. and i'm confident that the information i had, which came from an extremely inside source of our intelligence community, and you guys have proven that to be the case. >> so, heidi, a little sense of i told you so from the former majority leader talking about president trump and his ties with russia? >> right.
he said, i didn't want to seem like sour grapes. that's why i held my tongue. and i know, willie, that i and other reporter has tried after all of the information came out on russia to get harry reid to say those words, i was right. and he really in this interview, even though he said that i was right, and he talked about republicans, i couldn't get him to specifically call out any republicans. like i pushed him on mcconnell, for instance. and he said, look, mitch mcconnell is a friend of mine, i'm not going to say anything specifically, but someone else will write the book on mcconnell. he circled back and talked about mcconnell and ryan and said he was basically disappointed. that was the word. he said i'm not mad, but disappointed. >> heidi, he may not have called out any republicans, but it seems like he was willing to call out a few democrats as far as if they should stay or pass the torch on to the next
generation. where was he falling on that? >> that was interesting, the way i teed that up, i said, you've done something that many democrats in washington are refusing to do which is to step aside. you have an ageing leadership and to hand the torch. he did say, yes, this is true. it's -- it's empirically true that we have an ageing generation in washington. but that's trues where. and there's folks like joe biden, age is not prohibitive, but whether you like it or not, this is going to happen, there is a new generation coming up, and that will be coming to washington. look at all of the women who are running. he would not pick a favorite in terms of 2020. but he said that a number already coming to nevada, he's talking to potential 2020 candidates. but said that had it wouldn't be right of him to put out specific names. >> you know, john, there is many
criticisms of mitch mcconnell. and talked what about he did or did not do during the russia investigation. i'm disappointed by that, i'm disappoint head won't let legislation go to the floor to protect robert mueller. disappointed in how he handled the merrick garland nomination fight. but somehow, harry reid does not seem to be the best mean, the best vessel to talk about the breakdown in washington, d.c. when you look at slander and lies that he posted in 2012 against mitt romney. just the numerous things that he did over his career. >> i note that heidi said he's worried about decorum in the senate. this is the guy who blew up, who pushed the first button on the nuclear option by lowering the judicial nominee standard from
60 votes to 51 votes. which we can discuss as a matter of governance, but that was very much a part of the classic senate tradition that created the atmosphere of decorum that is now, you know, breaking down. and he was the person who did that. republicans had a chance to do that when he held the majority in 2005, 2006, and they pulled back from it. and here we are now, harry reid having retired suddenly discovering the virtues of the very things that he destroyed. >> no i actually asked him about that, guys. i asked him specifically about that and blowing up the filibuster and he became very animated. and he said, i want you to tell everyone this. that at the time i did that, we, quote/unquote had no choice. that there was an unprecedented blockade of obama nominees. over 100 lower court nominees
being blockaded. there was a threat to basically cancel out the department of labor. he said this was a risk to the presidency and that i, quote/unquote, had no choice. >> yeah, that's nonsense. >> i mean, that's total nonsense. >> i understand that. every presidency faces a moment in its time in which election is coming up. and all of the judicial nominees are held up. that is a thing that happens. that, you know, it happened in 1991 to george h.w. bush. it happened -- this is what happens. and so the notion there was something unprecedent said just astonishingly false. >> well, again, i'm glad, heidi -- and i knew she did, i knew she pressed harry reid on this, john podhoretz, i wanted to go to you, but you talked about other people in the bush administration, a guy like
miguel estrada, other african-american candidates, hispanic candidates. chuck schumer and the democratic senate blocked those nominations simply because they were hispanic and conservative or black and conservative. and didn't even try to hide it. george bush -- you know, america -- >> i mean, it's a terrible thing. >> well, it's a horrific thing. >> it's a terrible thing. >> for miguel estrada's nomination to be killed simply because he's a conservative who happens to be hispanic is disgusting that is what happened to miguel estrada. that is something if you're going to blow things up and go to 51 votes. start looking for excuses that would be a pretty damn good excuse, wouldn't it? >> i agree. but the fact is as i say, the republicans went up to the brink of killing the filibuster on judicial nominations and
respected senate tradition. again, you can discuss whether or not that's a good thing or bad thing. but for harry reid to talk about by claiming falsely that there was an unprecedented situation that another presidency had faced, i mean, it's of a piece of how he tries to sound like a principal leader, but was actually a gutter fighter. like a boxer and he conducted his senate majority leadership as though he were a boxer, and not a visionary leader. >> heidi przybylaprzybyla. the timing of that. >> yes, we would react the same way if they were bemoaning the bipartisan of what he did to merrick garland. >> heidi, we'll hear much more
of your interview and watch it on nbcbcnews.com. and now to a new filing shows interest in the president's campaign. the filing said when fbi agent it's raided paul manafort's home they were seeking documents and other filings regarding any attendees of june 9th, 2016 meeting at trump tower. and "the new york times" has reported that mueller was interested in the cover story around the trump tower meeting after reporters learned about it in july 2017. as can david ignatius writes in "the washington post," what's astonishing in hindsight that nobody from the trump campaign attempted any serious vetting of manafo manafort's background. one speaking on the condition of anonymity told me he does not recall any serious questions
being asked about manafort's activity in ukraine, or past links with pro-russia figures. meanwhile, donald trump is weighing in, sort of, into the criminal investigation into list personal attorney michael cohen. >> mr. president, what about michael cohen, are you considering -- >> thank you very much. stupid question. >> this follows recent reports raising the possibility of cohen flipping on the president including one from the "the new york times" that claimed that trump had treated his loyal fixer poorly. according to "vanity fair" cohen is, quote, beaten down by the speculation that he might flip on trump and bring down the presidency. but the report is the president's tweets over the weekend which expressed doubt that cohen would flip offered encouragement. and after the tweets tells "vanity fair" cohen knows the president is in his corner. even though they're not speaking right now, messages were spent.
i don't want to use the p word. quote, i think the president is making it very clear that he is not abandoning michael. cohen denies any wrongdoing. joining us now investigative reporter from "the new york times." and megan, welcome to the family. you've had a week. pulitzer prize, "time" 100 list, matrix award. did i miss any? >> yeah, no, it's been a remarkable week. for somebody who helped break the harvey weinstein story, we're just thrilled with these institutions from the pulitzer committee and "time" and matrix award are honoring this of the women sharing their stories. >> i want to ask you about michael cohen here. we've long said when push comes to shove, taking a bullet to use
his term for president trump, he would probably choose his family. where do you think we are? >> i think the president's response to that question yesterday and certainly his tweets over the weekend illustrate how rattled he is by the possibility of cohen flipping. and i think my colleagues at the "the new york times," maggie haberman specifically who came under attack in trump's tweets really pulled the curtain back from this relationship. cohen has been, you know, trump's biggest support, his biggest fan, his self-proclaimed pit bull. i think what we realized in recent days is that this relationship is much more duplicated and that trump has, according to my colleague's reporting has belittled him and threatened to fire him. and now that cohen really is in the hot seat there really is this question of whether or not he'll stay by trump's side as he promised he would. >> cohen, john, didn't get the job in the administration. he didn't get the position.
the list goes on and on, and yet, he's still stood by the president's side. i wonder however that loyalty extends? >> apparently, the bottom of the e-mail this is michael cohen personal attorney for donald j. trump. socie so the relationship is important for him. if you want to play these games that trump is an alpha, if he's an alpha, doan is a beta. so the fact that he could flip or might not flip, the question is how does trump, being in his head, as the person that he has served and worked for, for so long, how does that play when he is in a position possibly to save himself because, you know, in that kind of reckoning, he may feel that loyalty to the president will trump any other thing that he might need to do to save himself? because what else is he, aside from the personal attorney to president trump?
>> well, he's father for one thing. he's got kids. he doesn't want to sit in jail for 20 years. >> and he may not get away from the presidential pardon. and whereas the president can offer him a pardon on federal charges, the federal government and fbi can offer him immunity against state charges. see that's wh so, that's what he's going to be facing. >> megan, yes, donald trump may be an alpha male, but there's another guy named robert mueller who some people suggest is an al fall ma alpha male. and isn't it true that southern district of new york has michael cohen's e-mails, texts, et cetera, et cetera and while moving forward on the payoff part of this equation, mueller, any information they dredge up, mueller will get his hands on it if he needs it, right?
>> yeah. i think that's absolutely right. i think trump realizes this investigation into the southern district into cohen and all of the records they've gone and seized is potentially much more dangerous to him legally than the separate mueller probe right now that has really circled all of these associates around trump. and here it is, the southern district going straight into the heart of, you know, one of trump's closest relationships with regards to communications and other things that could be really potentially damaging to him. >> john, i want to go to another topic -- >> hey, willie? >> yes, yes. >> could i ask you a quick question? >> sure. >> did you check with megan when he was part of the team that won the pulitzer prize like jon meacham? >> like jon meacham won his,
there were photographs immediately getting the call? >> oh, yes. "the new york times," it was a big celebration at the "the new york times" not just for our coverage of sexual harassment but our colleagues' coverage of the trump russia investigation. >> we love you jonmeachem, we're glad you're watching. and watching jackson on tv defend his physical health making him the all in nation for the held of the va. he said that vetting exists in part to save the president from embarrassment. trump is immune. >> right, trump says i want ronny jackson. in an ordinary white house there would be two reasons to vet. one to make sure that there's nothing that would suggest that somebody should not morally or legally serve on the job. and then there is the political protection of the president from embarrassment, if somebody's nomination were to go down in flames. so, as we saw trump do yesterday, that's not a calculus
that this white house has to worry about. he says he wants jackson, jackson is the nominee. and then they'll deal with the mess later. but if a guy is not worried about being embarrassed, then you can't really use the potential of embarrassment to help contain his bad impulses. >> he just liked the guy and he's going to nominate him, period. megan, john, thank you. coming up next, boeing is trying to help the dow climb out of the red. "morning joe" is back in a moment. it took guts to start my business.
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time now for business before the bell with cnbc brian sullivan. sully, good to see you this morning, how the markets looking? >> they're not looking so hot, willie, we're looking to fly it open for the futures which doesn't sound too bad since we had a 550-point drop yesterday. and the think tank shows that consumers stocks will be down for the first time in years. there's been a c change in the last couple of days that's taken place. so much out there about corporate earnings, the economy, this and that. yesterday, we started to get this fear that maybe things are as good as they're going to be. caterpill caterpillar, their first quarter might be the high water mark for the year now there's a sudden fear that maybe things will be as good as they've already
gotten. of course, we've seen problems with the dow jones industrials over the day, concern about pre-tech and interest rates, i know that interest rates don't sound that interesting but when you've got to re-fi a house. 3% rates. earnings spooking people a little bit has the dow on earn, fair to say. >> might be another rough day. brian sullivan, thanks. coming up next on "morning joe." it will soon be up to the supreme court for the president's revised travel ban. one of the countries on that list is war-torn yemen. it's the background and the author joins us next on "morning joe." and a little nervous. but not so much about what market volatility may do to their retirement savings. that's because they have a shield annuity from brighthouse financial, which allows them to take advantage of growth opportunities in up markets,
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and power our cars wouldn't that be cool? and that's why exxonmobil scientists think it's not small at all. energy lives here. the supreme court will hear arguments today on president's trump ban on travelers from several mostly muslim countries. the court will consider whether the president can indefinitely keep people out of the country based on nationality, as well as whether trump's anti-muslim tweets and statements before and after entering office were so steeped in bigotry that they tainted the ban. president trump's lawyers insist that the law which currently is in effect after three revisions to survive court challenges has nothing to do with religion. several countries are impacted by the administration's travel ban including yemen. one referee from that country
muhammad al samali reveals the escape from yemen. he discusses all of this in a new book called "foxhunt. "the book was profiled in new yorker magazine. >> who are the people you met along the way? >> these people i met in inter faith conferences when i met them, i met for just a few minutes like, we don't even like speak a lot. and we became friends on facebook. when i arrived -- back in my bathroom, i was hiding and i was trying to survive. i thought i just needed to send a request to four people i know. these four people said yes. >> what was the request?
>> i want out. i want to hide. i want a real life. >> what did yes mean? how did they respond, what did they do? >> you can imagine i was hiding in a small bathroom and i was thinking to kill myself. and they just sent me out a quote, they said we want to help you out. that gave me that i need to still be alive. i should have help inside of me and faith inside of me. >> how did you get out? >> how did i get out? it take for them 15 days to tell me how to use google maps, for example, in yemen, we don't use google maps. they helped me use google maps. how to download google maps and how to use it. when you play like a game, they were doing the same thing on me. they were telling me go right, go left, that's how you can escape. >> so, your book focuses a good bit on interfaith dialogue.
you talked about being raised in a culture that taught you from the beginning to hate jews and hate christians. you say, you say -- your book talks about you getting a copy of the bible and that changing everything? >> yeah, you can't imagine that a book has actually change might life. that's why i have to write a book. because i want my book also to let people think what's happening now, for example in yemen and now interfaith is important in our life. and it's not a shame that you're different. that you should know that, you know, you have a purpose in life. >> and how did the bible change your life? did it undermine so much of the propaganda that you'd been taught growing up about jews and christians? >> it told me how we are similar to each other. it told me how the koran and bible and tora are at all together in the same book. >> so, your story is a couple of
things. one, it's about your physical escape from yemen. but from just hearing you speak right now, it's also about your intellectual escape from how you were raised. the four people who helped you, were they of your faith? were they muslims? >> no, actually three of them were jews and one of them is christian. but when they were also trying to help me out, they contacted muslims also. so, you can say from different cultures and different villages were able to help me out. >> muhammad, you're safe right now and i'm very grateful for that. do you have family still in yemen? the condition seems to be jut getting worse in the country, than the three years you've left? >> you can imagine if you have one day without electricity how you can charge your phone, that's what's happening in yemen for three years now. there's no way to people to escape. no police, no army. and the situation is getting worse and worse.
i lost two of my friends because of this war. when you wake up, you wake up with your phone alarm. in yemen, they wake up with air strike. >> and your family is there? >> my family is still there. i hope to see them again. but it's closing in. >> any contact with them? >> well, it's hard to use internet right now in yemen. so if i'm trying to use facebook or whatsapp, it's very slow. the only way i can make it with them is decoding messages on the la laptop. >> what do you think the international community should know about yemen? >> the war in yemen has nothing to do with people in yemen. people are suffering because they didn't do anything with. they're doing the war in yemen. people in yemen are suffering because of this war. >> none of us here on this panel this morning can imagine what it's like to come to america. because we've lived here all of
our lives. but america to many people has always been more of an idea, than it has been just a physical reality. so, if your mind, tell us what you imagined america what and what you know it to be now? >> to be honest with you, when i came to america, people was asking me what do you like about america? is it the buildings, is it the cars or the streets? i would say the freedom that you have here in the united states, that you can be different. you that can be who you are. and nobody will come to kill you. that's an amazing thing that we miss in our country unfortunately, and safety. >> the book is "the foxhunt" that does it for us this morning. stephanie ruhle picks up the coverage. >> thanks, willie. hi, everyone, i'm stephanie ruhle. starting with the waiting room.
hands out prescription like candy. in fact in the white house they call him the candy man. >> the latest speed bump, part of a growing trend among trump nominees with critics pointing to an absence of vetting from the white house. >> but fact is, i wouldn't do it, i wouldn't do it. what does he need it for. >> pay up, the man charged with protecting consumers from banks is influencing lawmakers. and dreams, rapper meek mill a free man this morning after the pennsylvania supreme court orders him released on bail. and his stiff sentence drawing outrage from advocates and the like. >> this is literally, literally the craziest thing i've ever seen. he's innocent and he's serving time. >> we begin with the mess