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tv   MSNBC Live With Katy Tur  MSNBC  June 4, 2018 11:00am-12:00pm PDT

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where a confidential memo to robert mueller has pulled back the curtain on how the president's team attorneys is trying to protect him. rudy giuliani made the sunday show rounds parroting some of the memo's most explosive claims. among them, that the president cannot obstruct justice, cannot be subpoenaed, cannot be indicted, even if he shoots someone. but can pardon himself. except giuliani claimed the president would never do that. >> the president of the united states pardoning himself would just be unthinkable. and it would lead to probably an immediate impeachment. >> but this morning the president couched that in a tweet. i have the absolute right to pardon myself but why would i do that when i have done nothing wrong. here's the thing. every tweet, every giuliani interview, every leaked memo, every lie looks like whatld be called a four-point strategy
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and his legal team with one goal in mind -- to convince the public, or at least enough voters out there, not to trust anyone but team trump. point one, lie. or at least recollect differently. for example, trump's attorneys have denied for months that the prest had anything whatsoever to do with the misleading statement drafted aboard air force one. statement claimed don jr. only let a kremlin linked lawyer to talk about adoptions. now trump's legal team admits the president was not just involved he actually dictated the statement. >> first it was all denied. now you are saying he dictated it. >> i don't know -- jay would have to answer that. i've talked to him about it. i thought jay was wrong. this is the reason you don't let the president testify. all recollection keeps changing. >> point two, discredit the investigation. trump has tweeted about the investigation and that it is a
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witch hunt specifically 52 times. this morning he tried to again claim the investigators are bias biased. quote, the never ending witch hunt led by 13 very angry and conflicted democrats and others continues in to the mid-terms." point three. muddy the waters t confuse public. like this. paul manafort came in to the campaign very late, trump says, and was with us for a short period of time. again, not true! >> when the president says that paul manafort only played a small role in the campaign for a short time, or only says -- >> it's wrong. >> it's a lie. >> you say it is a lie. i say it is inaccurate. >> finally, point four, paint donald trump the victim. trump blamed the fbi for not warning him about his campaign chairman. quote, we should have been told that comey and the boys were doing a number on him and he wouldn't have been hired."
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huh. so our big question today -- if donald trump is innocent, why is he doing everything he can to take down the investigation? in just moments we'll hear directly from the white house on this and much more at the daily briefing. but we're going to start with our team of reporters. first we'll go to sarah huckabee sanders when she starts taking questions. betsy woodruff, politics reporter for the daily beast and msnbc contributor. eli stokols, an nbc news political analyst. i know we only used a couple of examples in that introduction. there are many examples that bolster each one of those points. those are just the most recent amples. betsy, i want to start with you. everyone is talking about this pardon tweet but you wrote about what that letter by the lawyers to the mueller team reveals. and that is a big lie that they have been telling that the president had nothino do with
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drafting that initial trump tower statement about don jr. that said he was only talking about adoptions. the lawyers reveal that is true at all. the president was very involved. >> that's right. and what we know now is that the president's lawyers and sarah huckabee sanders emphatically from positions of authority to multiple news outlets across multiple platforms said something that we now know absohoutoubt wasn't true. there's two explanations for this that are possible. one is the possibility that they knew what they were saying was false, deliberately lying, and they put it out there anyway. the second possibility is the president gave that information, perhaps even lied to his own lawyer, jay sekulow. we don't know which one of these it is but either way, it is deeply concerning because it raises serious questions about the credibility of the president's legal team and the credibility of the white house podium. the president communicates to the american people through his lawyers. if he's not cmunicating honestly with his lawyers then we don't know the truth about what's going on behind the scenes. these are really important
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matters that affect the way we understand the presidency. >> there was a lot from that memo over "the new york times" for the weekend. they also claim that the president cannot be indicted. they claim that the president be subp, ie can't sit down for questions with robert mueller. he cannot -- or he can pardon himself and he can pardon others. rudy giuliani over the weekend was talking to the sunday shows. he went further. he said donald trump could shoot someone and not be indicted. he also said, yes, he could pardon, but giuliani claimed, eli, that the president would never do that because ultimately he would be impeached. so is this entire strategy more directed at congress with be more directed at the voters, than it is about defending the president from robert mueller? >> yes, to both of those. congress and the public. maybe the public first and foremost. robert mueller and his team are not watching the tv.
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they're not doing their investigation that way. they're following the facts and they'll see where it leads and they don't really worry too much about bogus interpretations of the law. the problem here is that not ons and trum himself,ou can go back six months. john dowd, one of the attorneys, no longer representing the president, but one of the attorneys who wrote this memo that was ined by the "times." six months earlier he was saying the same thing publicly, expressing -- arguing for a really broad interpretation of the president's authority here that a lot of constitutional experts think is just not true. the thing here that they are doing is obviously they are talking to people in the country, they are trying to get people used to the idea of a president with vast powers. the president himself is doing it with the pardons making people get a little used to the idea of seeing pardons in the news every day, even though they seemingly don't have much to do with the special counsel's investigation. he is also testing the waters
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with rcongress seeing what kind of reaction he provokes when he tweets these gross abuses of power. if you don't get reaction back from congress, maybe the president continues to go further. i think ultimately this is a legal question that whatever scholars say about it hasn't really been dealt with yet. and the president's lawyers may be fairly shrewd in pushing this out there. because there is no precedent for any of this. and we don't know exactly what would happen. >> we're going to get the legal side of this in a moment. betsy, first, what is with all the victimization? phil rucker wrote about this in the "washington post" today talking about how donald trump has used this, used victimization to his advantage throughout his career, always painting himself as somebody that the elites don't like, somebody who had it tough, even though he was born with a golden spoon in his mouth, if you will. using this victimization in terms of the mueller probe, how
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does that -- or does it resonate with those trump voters? if it does, how? >> the president himself has been pushing from day one the narrative that the mueller investigation is part of a democratic sinister, nefarious democratic operation to try to take him down and undermine his presidency. that has been his core message. his aides and allies have been putting out there for the last year and change that mueller has been operating. it's something that, based on focus groups and polling, seems tocatching up and catching with his -- with his base. his base seems to basically buy in to this notion that the mueller probe is3 angry democrats even though it is just not an accurate way of characterizing te who are working on the investigation. >> eli, do you think the president's kind of losing touch with what his voters really want? when we were on the campaign trail with him, he was out and talking to people almost every day. he's very sporadically out in
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the country now. very sporadically hearing those roars from the crowds. do you think that potentially he's looking back at his playbook from the campaign and saying, hey, this victimization worked. i got big roars for it at the time. but maybe -- maybe it's not working the same way that it used to? >> i don't. i got no indication of that when spent som with th president last week on air force one. there is a believe that when he -- he is doing a lot of things he a he not getting credit for. he talks a lot about the job numbers. trumpism is about trump. one of the things that binds his most ardent supporters to him is this shared sense of grievance. so we may site and say, how does donald trump say and convince people that he is a victim? right? he is a millionaire. he is the president. how is he always such a vict? but other people who are upset about various things in their own lives who want to scapegoat people in otherie s, who want an answer as to why they're
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not in the better economic circumstances, they identify with trump and his own outside sense of grievance because they have problems and things tha they wan explanations an answers to themselves. i think that continues to be the glue that keeps the trump base bound to trump. stokols,you. guys, come back soon. ben wittis, senior fellow for governance studies at brookings institution. rebecca royfee, former assistan and a professor at new york law school. rebecca,dy get the name right? >> yes, you did. >> nice. what's the point of a memo like this from donald trump's lawyers when they are sending this to the special counsel saying he can't be cted. he can't be subpoenaed. he can pardon at will. he's also accusing the fbi and the dodge of corruption saying
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this investigation -- they are saying the investigation is ith. if they believe all those things to be true why would they not just let him sit down with robert mueller? >> two ings. first of all, this is an effort to push forward a theory that they've been pushi for a really long time. donald trump said it in his interview with the "new york times" a while back, that this is his department of justice and he has full control over his department of justice. i think that premise is absolutely 100% wrong. but it's shared by a number of legal scholars who he does have a leg to stand on. >> but if they think that's true, why not let him sit down and talk about it so they can, at the very least, give the appearance that they are getting to the bottom of this russian interference if that's what they want to show. then if harm comes to the president, no big deal. >> i think they are trying to have it both ways. in other words, put forth this theory that it is the president's fbi, it is the president's department of justice and i gets to do
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anything he wants with them. at the same time they don't actually want him to sit down with mueller and his team because obstruction of justice has to do with sta mind. the key word in that statute is "corruptly." so mueller wants to get at whether these decisions were made corruptly and they don't want to have to -- think he's too much of a loose cannon. they want to get him up there and potentially contradict himself and potentially lie and potentially say something hugely damaging. >> giuliani was asked over the weekend why he doesn't let the president sit down with him. giuliani pointed to what we learned in this letter is that the president dictated that statement as evidence of why he wouldn't let him sit down. because, he says, people remember things differently and recollections change. how does the recollections change defense work when you're sitting down and talking to a >> yeah.ator? well, so, some people remember
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things being accurate accurately, and some people choose to recollect things inaccurately. if you're donald trump's lawyer, you have to be a little bit concerned both about the propensity to just say whatever comes to mind, but also the pro pencety willfully to tell untruths, which are slightly different things. look. i think the president's lawyers have every reason to be concerned with a presidential interview with robert mueller. the reason is that either the president will tell the truth, and the truthful answers to some of the questions that mueller wants to ask are presumably quite damaging. or the president will lie in which case he will every time he does that be committing a felony. and so i think it is a genuinely hard situation. the normal way to resolve it for a defense lawyer is to have your client refuse to give
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information and cite are the fifth amendment right not to do so. that is a very awkward thing for the president of the united states to do. >> is it a big deal that the president drafted or dictated that don jr. statement, that initial misleading statement about the trump meeting? >> i think it is a very big deal. i think that when we're talking about intent, that actually is the thing that looks closest like obstruction of justice to me. again, we still have to deal with that word "corruptly," but he's actually dictating a statement that is false for somebody who is a witness. he was a witness at the time before congress. so it seems really problematic. >> that's true. but it was just a statement to the press. ben, does thatake it less consequential? >> so, look. the president's lawyers -- and this letter is a good reflection of that -- want to defend this in terms of every specific incident. right? here's why it was okay to fire jim comey.
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here's why it was okay to have that conversation about ending the flynn investigation. they want to treat each of these as separate incidents. so if you think about this as a separate incident, then it is, you know, just a lie to the "new york times" and to the american people, and that's not an obstruction of justice. but i agree with the professor who -- by the way -- article about the justice department independent is a great read. i agree with her that the significance of this event is that it sheds broader light on intent, and the special counsel is almost certainly not thinking about these as discrete, independent incidents but a larger pattern of activity. and in the context of looking at this larger pattern of activity, an incident where the president personally intervenes to dictate lie is a highly probative
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example and illustration of his intent and thinking. >> ben wittes, thank you very much. i want to leave our viewers with thing. my colleague chuck todd tweeted this today. i think it is a good thing to chew over. this was in response to the president saying that he can pardon himself at any time. does anyone think for one second that the founders ever thought the head of the executive was or should be above the law? to think we may actually have to pass a constitutional amendment to declare that a potus can't pardon themselves. #sad. think about it. a reminder again that we are waiting on the white house briefing. we'll go there live when sarah huckabee sanders starts taking questions. but first, the supreme court ruled in favor of a colorado baker who refused service to a gay couple. their attorney joins me next. (birds tweeting) this is not a cloud. this is a car protected from storms by an insurance company
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today the supreme court sided with a colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. the case pitted lgbt rights against claims of religious freedom, but ultimately the court's ruling does not address whether businesses can refuse gay and lesbian customers. nbc's pete williams is outside the supreme court. pete, explain the decision for us. >> right. well, what the supreme court said is on the way here, this case had a serious flaw and
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that's why the supreme court ended up ruling for this colorado baker. what happened is a same-sex couple went into his bakery near denver, said we want a cake to celebrate our which hadding. ep sa -- wedding. he said sorr guys, i have some religious principles. i can't bake that cake for you because it violated my preexpression. th free expression. the supreme court sd today the baker wins. the vote was 7-2. what they said is that inases like this, courts have to give serious consideration to the religious concerns of businesses and also to the equal rights and dignity of same-sex couples. and they say that has to be a careful balance and the lower court in colorado failed, they say, because it didn't give serious enough consideration to the baker's views. jack phillips is his name. it said they were dismissive of
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them. for that reason they say he should prevail. but there is nothing in this decision that guides courts on the larger issue of how to resolve splar cases that are already w their way through the lower courts. justice anthony kennedy who wrote the decision said lower courts have to balance the legitimate and respectful views of business owners against the dignity of same-sex couples. so it basically kicks the can down the road to the larger question here of what happens if a couple walks into another baker in some other state that has one of these human rights ordinances and asks for a cake and the baker says no. the decision today doesn't answer that question of what would happen. >> nbc's pete williams, thank you very much. let's bring in the attorney representing the same-sex couple at the center of this particular case. senior staff attorney at the aclu. so pete i think explained it really well. this is not a ruling on the substance really of this case. so is there another case out
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there that you guys are looking at that you'll potentially bring that will force a new ruling on whether somebody can refuse somebody a service based on their feelings towards their sexuality? >> pete is exactly right here that the court today did not answer the ultimate question. it is deeply disappointed for our clients. the discrimination they experienced went unchecked. it is important to realize that while the bakery may have won the battle here, they lost the war. justice kennedy should know states need to act to prevent discrimination in the marketplace and that includes e lgbt people. >> how is it the man's religious views were not adequately taken into account in the last rulings? >> one of the civil rights commissioners madeomments in a public hearing. when you consider the years of work the civil rights commission put into investigating and deciding the case to be sure
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that everyone received full and equal treatment. whatever you think about the commissioner's comments that may have been made at one hearing, the fact of the matter is that the court recognized that what the civil rights commission can and should do is to investigate these cases and continue to enforce the principle that no one should be turned away simply because of who they are. >> we had charlie craig and dave mullens on. we had them booked for an interview. apparently you told us that they're not in a place to discuss this yet. how are they -- what does that mean and how are they taking the ruling? >> well, it's deeply disappointing to know that the cake shop received what appears to be a victory today for both our clients and for charlie's mom, debbie, who was with them there that day who had been in town and was there to help them celebrity their cake. that's understandably heartbreaking. it is devastating to know that the court has allowed this bakery to continue to press its anti-plth vie anti-lgbt views. but at the same time there is a
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lot to really celebrate in today's opinion. the court has repeatedly recognized over the years discrimination can and should be discussed when it comes to race and gender, and justice kennedy said it is the same thing it comes to the lgbt community. >> you don't see this as a broader wbroad -- you see this as a broader win for the lgbtq community than a loss. >> we do. >> thank you very much. rhea tobacco of the aclu.thank . next up, will california -- yes -- blue, california -- spoil democrats' chances to retake the house this fall? it is a real concern out there for some democrats. we're live in the golden state right after the break.
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and i believe medicare must be empowered to negotiate the price of drugs. california values senator dianne feinstein we are fighting against the sarah huckabee sanders clock here so i'm going to try to be quick. tomorrow voters in california head to the polls and democrats are facing their biggest 201 primary test yet. how things go in the golden state will say a lot about
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democrats' hopes of retaking the house. but there are signs that some of the districts that the party is trying to flip could be slipping away. msnbc's jacob soboroff is in california's 48th district with the latest a esst in his "up fo" series. cool graphics, jacob. >> thank you, katy. this is dana rohrabacher's district. democrats were targeting to flip this november. turns out two republicans may make it into the general election and that is because not just at the state's top two primary law here, this is an office where they are making furious calls before tomorrow's primary election. because of the progressive sanctuary state law signed by jerry brown it might backfire. here's why. >> those must be your tenants. >> those are the inmates within the orange county jail. >> reporter: some of those inmates could be critical to who
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wins the primary on tuesday in california's 48th congressional district. >> so before the sanctuary state law was passed you had eight deputies here that were asking every single person who came in, are a u.s. citizen. >> there are deputies that would do that job on behalf of i.c.e. >> not anymore. after california's sanctuary state law went into effect in january, cops here can no longer community kate with federal immigration agents. his department fought back by publishing the release information of all inmates online so that anybody, including i.c.e., could see them. >> so you basically without talking to i.c.e. gave i.c.e. the option to still find these folks. >> i never talked to i.c.e. about what we did. if they want to take advantage of that provision in the law that we posted online, they can do that. >> so i didn't want to see someone pick someone up outside the jail. this guy's getting out june 13, 2018, one minute after midnight. at that time they go pick him up as they walk out those gates right there.
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first time doing an interview as a congressional candidate outside the jail. >> yeah. exactly. >> reporter: scott is challenging his fellow republican, dana rohrabacher, in the 48th and he thinks they could both end up winning the non-partisan primary and advance to the general election. >> how big of a campaign issue is what's going on here? is immigration? >> for the majority of voters, it is a determinative issue on the sanctuary city and lot of democrats are nervous about it and avoiding the topic. >> before you got into the race folks nationally talked about this is one of the most flipable districts in the country. but it doesn't seem like it is anymore when you look at numbers. >> numbers are changing a lot and it makes the democrats' job a lot more difficult with be if not impossible. >> reporter: since its creation in 1993, the 48th district has always been represented by a republican. but hillary clinton beat donald trump here in 2016, which is partially why it is considered flipable. turns out that might have been overly optimistic. >> you're bail bond guy? come on here here, man.
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this is scott. he's running for congress. robert, where do you live? costa mesa. >> constituent! >> tell this guy why he should vote for you. >> you should vote for me because i am going to protect the people of costa mes from the sanctuary city laws. they want to release undocumented immigrants who have committed crimes back into the community. that's a creative solution that the sheriff has brought to orange county and it is working. >> you've seen i.c.e. do it. right? >> right. >> right here on the >> right here on the sidewalk. >> if you are an undocumented immigrant in this country and committed a crime? you should get deported. >> you think that would let him elected to congress, as a resident of costa mesa? >> yeah. >> all right. things you don't expect to see outside a county jail.
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i'm here with 1 of the 3 candidates vying for the second slot behind dana rohrabacher. scott ball was saying that sanctuary state law is going to be determinative here and what's going to drive republicans out. >> sanctuary cities and states were designed to protect lawful, law abiding citizens and keep families together. saying that they're here to protect criminals is political speak. we're talking about something that's protectingfamilies, not a bill to keep criminals on the streets. everyone, republican, democrats, alike, want them in jail. >> the s backi your democratic opponent, harley ruda. how do youl about that? >> they're not exactly known for making great choices. i'm really proud to have the endorsement of the california democratic party and we are coalescing. every single poll has us winning this race. a republican nipping atmy heels. b but we'll prevail. >> katy tur, heard you're coming
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out to california. >> i'm going, going, back, back, to cali, cali. anyone out there in california, come join us in huntington beach. the show's going to be live tuesday and wednesday. democrats have nohorte of candidates to choose from as jacob was just talking about in torr's califnia primary. but that's the problem. unlike the other seven states voting on june 5th, in california the top two finishers in the primary advance to the general regardless of party. you could have a democrat versus a democrat and a republican versus a republican. if the democrats split the vote among too many different candidates, that is exactly what democrats are worried about, that they won't have any candidates on the ballot. only republicans. let's bring in former rnc chairman michael steele. an msnbc political analyst. cornell belcher is brilliant corners research and also an msnbc analyst.
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cornell, how word are democrats worried about there are too many candidates in california? >> there is some worry there. i think democrats have been working to narrow the field. full disclosure, i actually had a candidate in california 48. once you do the polling and look at the math, it gets kind of tough and we have to make some tough choices. the math is the problem. it is not about sanctuary cities but it is the math. if you have eight democratic candidates there and they ea get 3% or 4%, you are talking about a quarter of the democratic vote aling siphoned away so that makes it really tough. you've seen the dccc and other democratic organizations get more involved i think in california than certainly we have a history of doing it in the past to try to sort of narrow this down. but california 48 is a district with a vulnerable uncommon 38% approval there. but the question is do we dilute our vote so much that both two
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republicans get in. that's a real danger. >> let me talk about that real fast. candidate that jacob was just talking to said the dccc doesn't have a history of always picking the right candidates. he doesn't have -- he does have something of a point. arizona, the democratic party backed a governor candidate in georgia and that's not the candidate that won. does that guy have -- does that candidate have a point that the d krch dccc might not be the one to trust on this? >> i won't narrow it to the dccc. >> laughing. >> i will say this. being anti-establishment, whether it is republican or democrat, is not a bad place to be these days. >> yeah. michael, why are you laughing? >> because. i think you hit it right on the head. i think that candidate hit it right on the head, that the establishment types putting
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their fingerprint on these types of races, particularly in a state like california where you've got a crowded field, a crazy primary law that makes the top two -- i remember when a couple of democrats put in this place, a couple democrats said in california this is not going to work. i youthing that after this november election, particularly after what you see happens in california tomorrow, the democrats are going to change that law. because it does not do what they wanted it to could, ado, and th excite their base and sort of put their fingerprint on the outcome. republicans in certain parts of california, as you know, takaty are competitive. they are in the backyard of dana rohrabacher. they thought they would take hip out on th him out on this cycle. that's largely not the case. largely like the candidate we just heard in your piece there, scott, sounding very different from how that different feels about sanctuary cities.
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>> that's the thing about california people don't really know. it is a very blue state but orange county is a place that is pretty republican and if you go inland into california at all, you're going to get some pretty red places. >> but here's the problem with that. that candidate and why this is actually a toss-up now. that skaent talki icandidate is similar to donald trump. that's a district donald trump loss and it shouldn't be a district that mitt romney -- >> it's not totally the donald trump playbook. i don't think his positions are donald trump positions. >> when you are putting anti-immigration and locking people up and scaring people about sanctuary cities -- >> i thought you met the last guy jacob was talking to. >> not talking about a democrat. talking about a republican on that side. >> sorry. you confused me. >> no, no. i'm saying the republican we are talking about there putting sanctuary cities saying that's a defining issue.
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that's a really important issue for republicans but for independents and democrats there, the health care issue and the issue of taxes where californians are zbog see their taxes go up because of the republican tax bill, that's front and center for them. >> no doubt about that majority of the voters in california are democratic which is why that state always goes blue. i think the issue everyone is looking at, if you have 27 democrats candidates for a single rate like for the governor's race, you are going to siphon off a lot of that support and allow a republican or two republicans to take the majority of the support because 27 different democrats are getting a piece of the pie. >> we're not running state wide. it doesn't matter that california is a blue state. we're looking at congressional district. this is a race by race congressional district -- >> from's also the governor's office. >> -- and the fact of the matter is, those candidates running in those congress at districts have arned a lot from the 2016 cycle. i would say the democrat candidates have as well. you do have to pay closer attention to the makeup of that
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district people say. yeah, hillary clinton won ro rohrabach rohrabacher's district but by a very, very small number. it doesn't mean that district is now suddenly a flipable district for democrats. think that's what they're beginning to realize. >> we will see. it is fascinating. that's why i will be out there in california tomorrow to watch it all unfolds. thank you both very much. next, scott pruitt's courtside view. grab a pen! pen. unbelievable is next. oh, you brought butch. yeah! (butch growls at man) he's looking at me right now, isn't he? yup. (butch barks at man) tch is like an old soul that just hates my guts. (laughs) (vo) you can never have too many faithful companions. that's why i got a subaru crosstrek. love is out there. find it in a subaru crosstrek.
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as promised, sarah huckabee sanders is taking questions. >> -- would be unthinkable and would lead to immediate impeachment. >> thankfully, the president hasn't done anything wrong and wouldn't have any need f a pardon. >> but does he absolutely rule out doing that? does he rule out ever issuing a pardon for himself? >> once again, thankfully the president hasn't done anything wrong and therefore wouldn't need one. steve. >> how does the president respond to this criticism from republicans about his tariffs against the eu, canada and mexico? how do you re-assure these senators, various people who are complaining about this? >> imposing the 232 tariffs protect the steel and aluminum industries because they are very
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critical to our national security. for months the united states has had discussions with canada, mexico and the eu to find an alternative without an alternative solution, tariffs are the only measures appropriate to safeguard the country. we have strong relations with mexico, canada and the eu and will continue and -- and those will continue even though the tariffs are there. >> sarah, what was the contents of kim jong-un's letter to the president that he received last week, and what did the president take away from that? is he more encouraged based on receiving that let sfer. >> i'm not going to get into the specs of the letter. as the president said they were interesting and we feel like things are continuing to move forward and good progress has been made and we're continuing to prepare for the president's summit. i can tell you the president has been receiving daily briefings on north korea from his national security team and i can also tell you the schedule for -- tentatively for that first meeting will be on june 12th at
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9:00 a.m. singapore time and take place june 11th, 9:00 p.m. east coast time. >> -- vladimir putin has reached out to kim jong-un and wants to meet with him. is that a meeting the president thinks would be constructive to this process? does the president support vladimir putin meeting with kim jong-un, as well? >> our focus isn the president's meeting with kim jong-un and the president will make his views known directly to him when we're in singapore and our focus will continue to be on denuclearization. >> sarah, the president tweeted that the special counsel law is truly unconstitutional. if that's the case, why is he allowing his own justice department to abide by it? >> look, scholars have raised a number of questions about the legality of the special counsel process. the president's made his views about the special counsel very clear and the president knows that the special counsel isn't needed because, once again, he hasn't done anything wrong. there was no obstruction, no
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collusion, and no wrongdoing. however, we continue to cooperate. >> he never said the law itself w was unconstitutional. how can he allow his own justice department to participate in something that's unconstitutional. >> again, the president's made his views clear. >> sarah, i want to follow up on that and try and figure out what exactly the basis was for the president's claim that it is unconstitutional. i wanted to ask you about something else, as well. the epa administrator, scott pruitt, has been accused of enlisting taxpayer funded staffer to not only shop for apartments around washington, d.c. but to also shop for a used mattress from the president's hotel just around the corner. i wanted to know if any of that gives the president pause at oint or causes his confidence in scott pruitt to waiver? >> certainly looking into the matter, i couldn't comment on the specifics of the furniture used in his apartment. and certainly would not attempt
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to. >> i can dwell on that for a second? >> i prefer not to, but go ahead. >> you said that significant progress is being made in the diplomatic talks and betweusa . the big question here is, denuclearization. the president would like it to happen all at once. he said that before. but that it could also be a phased-in process. i know that the meeting has yet to take place but certainly trying to iron out some details here. does it look like it will be an all-at-once or is the phase-in more likely? >> i'm not going to predict a meeting that hasn't even taking place yet. i can't get into the ongoing diplomatic talks. but i can tell you that they've been tosstive and we're looking forward to the meeting in singapore. >> sarah, no matter what you call it, is maximum pressure still the policy of the united states toward north korea? >> our policy hasn't changes. as the president stated, we have sanctioned on. er in's very powerful and we would not take those sanctions
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off unless north korea denuclearized. >> does the president believe is he above the law? is. >> certainly not. the president hasn't done anything wrong. >> that's not the question. i guess the question is does the president believe the framers envisioned a system where the president could be above the law? >> certainly the constitution very clearly lays out the law. once again the president hasn't done anything wrong and we feel very comfortable in that front. >> you just a moment ago said it is not that clear. i guess simply put, does the president believ above the law? >> certainly no one is above the law. >> let me ask a different one. >> sorry, i'm -- >> i just want to ask you an important one. if i can. >> you can't actually. >> i'd like to, sarah. i think this is important. >> i'm going to continue to move on. >> sarah, thanks. what's the status of the tariffs on china? does the administration still plan to move ahead with the june 2 deadline as they stated?
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>> president trump is taking steps to continue to reform the dysfunctional trade system that currently harms american workers and businesses and the president's taking steps to protect u.s. technology and chi discriminatory and burdense trade pra. we are going to continue in those negotiations as you know i put out a statement earlier this morning that those conversations continue. ryan. >> sarah. >> we are going to keep moving. go ahead brian. >> two quick cess, one, i asked this before, is the president ever going to come out and take questions from us in the briefing room? secondly, has anyone in the administration ever asked the president -- last week we had on the agenda where you had more jobs debate lower unemployment coming out and second chance coming out. instead of those we had to respond to presidential tweets. has anyone in this administration asked him to back away from twitter just for a day? >> on the first question, certainly you guys would be the
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first to know if the president comes out here, thankfully he does address the press in a number of ways and in a number of venues. we'll see if it happens here. we'll certainly let you know. in terms of twitter, the president uses twitter to communicate directly to the american people. frankly you have the ability to choose what you want to write about and you choose to write about things that the american people don't care about day this and day out. that's the decision you make and frankly i think it's the wrong one. >> opportunity to ask him a question about that. can we get an opportunity to ask him a question about his tweets. >> joe. >> i want to ask you about the lawyer's letter to the special counsel. you said last august trump did not dictate that statement, what's the reason for the discrepancy. >> this is from a letter from the outside counsel, i would direct you to them to answer that question. once again, you are referencing
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a letter that came directly from outside counsel, and i would refer you to them to answer that question. debra? >> after kardashian's visit, is president trump considering a come mutation for alice johnson who already 21 years of a life without parole sentence? >> the president is considering a number of different pardons and comutations. when we have an announcement on that we will certainly let you know. >> since robert mueller was named as special counsel over a year ago, the president's team, his legal team, the justice department, has never challenged the constitutionality of the special counsel. yet the president today is doing just that. why hasn't either the justice department or the president's legal team challengesed the constitutionality, they have the right to do so in federal court yet they haven't done so? >> again, scholars raised a num legality. >> specific chi those two entities have not deny it. the president's own lawyers have
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not done it, sarah and they can do so. >> you would have to ask them, i'm not here to speak on behalf of the outside counsel. >> what about thece department, can you speak on their behalf? >> i will refer you to the justice department. they have a large comsteen, they would be happy to answer those questions. >> comments made by the u.s. ambassador to germany, who said that he was backing anti-establishment conservatives to take power in europe. seams like a very unusual thing for a u.s. diplomat to say towards friendly countries. >> i don't have any updates on that front at this point. blake. >> let me ask you to turn your attention back the trade for the farmers out there who could care less about the politics who have to run a business every day, there was a farmer in iowa who told one of our crews out there this morning. he said it's hard to know which way to jump right now. as in they don't know what decisions they should make for their businesses because of what is playing out here in washington, here in china, nafta negotiations as well.
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what would you tell those folks out there who are trying to run these business who is are trying to make a decision on which to jump right now? >> certainly, the president is trying to do everything he cant american businesses, and he is negotiating with a number of countries. but also the president wants to make sure that we are ending unfair trade practices. the president has said that he wants to help protect farmers and we are looking at a number of different ways to do that. and we are going to continue that throughout this process. peter. >> on the political front -- >> sorry blake i'm going the keep going. peter. >> in august you said he certainly didn't dictate the statt. i'm wondering if you can tell us the basis of your comment when you made that in august. do you think that still stands? is that still an operative statement or do you retract it. >> this is a reference back to the letter from the outside >> it's from your statement in august. >> i understand, and it's also pertaining to the president's outside counsel. >> what was your basis for
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saying it in august? >> i won't get into a back and forth and i would encourage you to the outside counsel. >> rudy giuliani the president's outside lawyer said to the handcuffington post no in no case be he be subpoenaed or indicted. impeach him and then you can do whatever you wanted to him. that appropriate language coming from the president's outside lawyer in talking about the president shooting jim comey in that fashion? >> you would have to ask rudy giuliani about his specific comments. thankfully, the president hasn't done anything wrong so we feel very comfort number that. go ahead josh. sorry i'm going. >> if i could ask a follow-up question. >> not today. >> others have had follow-up questions. >> they haven't, go ahead josh. >> they have had follow-up questions. >> i'm going to direct the question to josh. >> how are we supposed to know
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what to believe? how can you believe what you are saying from the podium if his lawyers are saying it is inaccu? >> i can't comment on a letter from the president's outside and uld direct you to ask them about it. john. >> you said he did not dictate. the lawyers said he did. what is it? >> i'm not going to respond to a letter from the president's outside counsel. we purposefully walled off. and i would reef you to them. john. >> thank you sarah. a question about pardons. 11 days ago he issued a post humous pardon for jackson. king in the house and mccain in the senate are both big boxing fans. senator mccain tweet his support for the pardon. will the president use this opportunity to call senator mccain and try and patch thing up with him at this moment in his life. >> i'm not aware of a scheduled
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call. i wouldn't want to get ahead of that. >> i just wanted to check something with you. what in the tasks that were imposed against canada reinforced the u.s. national security? >> w last part of the question. >> you know the taxes that were d against canada, lum new mexico and steel. what in that reinforced the u.s. national security. in what form the u.s. f more secure now that canada has been targeted by tariffs tchttle president feels strongly that the feel and aluminum industries are critical the our national security and our ability to protect ourselves. and that would be that reference point in the 232. halle. >> sarah, thanks. the special counsel didn't seem so unconstitutional when the president was c on one to investigate his political opponent during the campaign. is it only unconstitutional if the president doesn't like it? >> once again the president made his views on this point clear. i don't have anything else to
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add. >> the president on friday said he is open to bilateral deals with mexico and canada. is he still leaning towards bilateral deals as he heads up to canada at the end of this week or is he thinking that he would like to save nafta and renegotiate? >> as the president said he is open to it but we are in ongoing negotiations. right here. >> thanks sarah. last week missouri governor graden stepped down. did president trump or anyone at the white house ever reach out to encourage him to step down? >> i am not aware of any conversations directly with the president or with anyone here at the white house. >> why not, considering he's the leader of the party? >> certainly, we were aware of the issue, and felt that this was a decision to be made by the people of missouri and a local issue. april. >> you said the president hasn't done anything wrong and wouldn't need a pardon. but he is saying in his tweet that he has the absolute right to pardon himself. does he assume that the special counsel will find him guilty of
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something? >> no, because he hasn't done anything wrong. >> you about he said in his tweet that he could pardon him. so there seems to be an assumption that mueller will find him wrong for something. if so, what would it be? >> seems like it would be a completely wrong assumption. the president hasn't done anything wrong. i'm not sure how else i can answer that question. >> back to the justice department and pardons. the oppose legal counsel said the presidentctually can't pardon him. did you give you informing on who informed his tweet today. is the president still fielding the pardon recommendations from the justice department. some people are concerned he is relying on rich and famous people to recommend pardons instead of the justice department. >> the president looks at each case individually to see if some wrong has been done or where mercy should be given. that's what he has done and will continue to do in the future. he has the authority to make that decision and.
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>> has he asked for a new olc opinion on the pardon power? >> i am not aware of an ask or a recommendation but certainly would reiterate the fact that the president hasn't done anything wrong. >> what did the president think of his top foreign policy achievement in the first 500 days? >> i think there have been a number of major foreign policy achievements. certainly i think the strengthening of relationships with a number of foreign leaders. i think that the conversation that we are looking forward to having here in the next couple of weeks is certainly a step in the right direction. moving the imbaes in isr would certainly be on that list, being tough on russia, being tough on trade and making sure at countries that have engaged in unfair trade practices are held accountable. those are just a few. but certainly i think the list is lengthy and we would be happy to provide for details. >> sarah, can you give us more background on the pashdon process?


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