tv MSNBC Live With Alex Witt MSNBC August 26, 2018 9:00am-10:00am PDT
that is our show for today. thank you so much for watching. "a.m. joy" will be back next saturday. up next, alex witt has the latest. >> go ahead. >> i was told he is a glass half full guy, and he said he is hopeful. losing john mccain has shaken a lot of people, but that is a nice note. >> i thought so too, and i was going to ask if you could help hook me up with a barbecue invitati invitation. >> you always get one. >> that looks like fun. >> alex, let me tell you. you get a full plate with potato salad, ribs, everything. you get the whole plate every time. >> i'll bring drinks, how's that? i'm alex witt here in new york at msnbc world headquarters. it's past high noon and here's what's happening. this nation mourns the loss of john mccain. of course, the iconic republican senator from arizona. >> his legacy is really one of civility and dignity and honor
and integrity, and something that we really need very much in politics. >> and to see the good in his opponents, that is something that particularly these days we could use a lot more of. that's a lesson that he taught everyone. >> he did believe in the institution, and he knows -- he knew that the senate couldn't work if we didn't work together. >> new reaction and reflection on mccain's sweeping life of consequence. that is straight ahead. plus, they aren't buying it. what most voters don't believe the president is being, which is honest. we're going to have some new poll numbers on that. but of course, new this hour, funeral plans under way now to honor the life and legacy of john mccain, including a public farewell, fitting a statesman of his nature. we are hearing from his family, to which we send our profound support and condolences. his wife, cindy, tweeted last night, my heart is broken. i'm so lucky to have lived the
adventure of loving this incredible man for 38 years. and one of his daughters, meghan, with an equally emotional tweet. i love you forever, my beloved father. also new reaction from one of his friends, senator jeff flake with whom he represented arizona in the u.s. senate. >> it was tough. i'm going to miss him. >> yeah. i have admired him, like i said, my entire life, and it's tough to imagine a senate without him. it's tough to imagine politics without john mccain, but we need to go on. >> let's go now to nbc's gotti schwartz near the late senator's beautiful ranch there. so we listened to tjeff flake, and i would imagine there are a lot of folks feeling the same
way today. >> reporter: yeah. it's been really wonderful to hear all the different stories congress in from distinguished friends and guests all around the world, but it was something really special last night when we stopped by an american legion post just down the road from john mccain's ranch, many veter for the first time of his passing at that post, and it was an almost emptiness when they heard the news and many of them went outside and lowered the flag, and started to reflect on his life. john mccain's story has been cherished and honored, his sacrifice. they have got inside that post where it's a p.o.w. display, and his story is pictured prominently told over and over last night, and it was that
fateful decision in hanoi where he decided to not be released early, and instead he would be released in the order that he was captured and that really resonated with so many of the veterans there. they talked about how he did that in politics. he made them feel that way, that no man or woman was better than the other, that everyone was created equal and he gave people that sense when he was talking to them. they also talked about his legacy here in arizona and told me what they think defined john mccain. take a listen. >> he was a great guy. he was individual, he was independent and a good republican. he was an honest man. money didn't mean anything to him. his own hauthoughts meant a lot him, and he proved it. i thought he was a hero. i know that some people don't think that way, but i do. he suffered a lot and he did it
for -- for a reason. >> reporter: and one thing that brought a smile to a lot of people's faces is talking about his politics. you had democrats in that room and republicans in that room, and, you know, they -- they talked about how at some point or another, everybody agreed. he was a big unifier and at some point, democrats would either agree with him or disagree with him. republicans would either agree with him or disagree with him, but he was a man who spoke his own mind with his own principles and many people in that room, described first hearing about john mccain decades ago, whetn e was taken prisoner and worrying about his case and what was going to happen to him when he came home. it was a hero's welcome, and they were overjoyed and then so many years later, he became their senator and it was a real sense of pride. one veteran in that room describing him as the greatest of that generation. alex? >> absolutely. gadi. you have been talking to people, and the most important thing to come out of this is the profound
respect that everybody seemed to have. agree with him or not, people respected him, and i know you join with me in offering your respect and condolences to the family. thank you for that. joining me j. newton small and john nichols. with a welcome to both of you, i'll reach to you first, jay, and you have known him for a decade and a half. what are your most distinct memories of that? >> i remember meeting him in 2003 in the capitol and i was a young reporter starting to cover politics, and all the other reporters would say if you want an anti-bush quote, go to john mccain because at that point, he was still hurting from his 2000 loss, and he had this temper and he could, you know, he would get mad and mad at losing that election and the way that bush won that election, and for a long time was very much, you know, sort of very critical of bush for the first few years after that election.
but then he forgives you and he forgave bush clearly by the 2004 election and he was out campaigning for george w. bush and i experienced that myself. there were some stories i wrote about him over the years where i would write things he did not like and he would get really mad at me and we would be in scrums in the capitol where you have these reporters around and he would -- and i would try to ask him a question and he would be, like, no. everybody else gets a question, but not you, jay, and dit would go on for a month or two, and he would forgive me and be, like, i guess you can ask a question now. we always wanted to ask him questions because he was so smart and he always had, you know, such dynamic answers on things, and great lines. he knew the political soul of where we were going, and even when he got mad or even when he didn't appreciate things, he always respected me and he would always come back and say, okay. let's make our peace and he would still come back and give me interviews. he was -- yeah. i'll really miss him. >> i can tell that you agree
that straight talk express which was of course his campaign, and the slogan when he was running for president in 2000. it was appropriately titled. he would let you know how he felt. wouldn't mince words, right? >> absolutely. he was -- there were times where he for example, he felt that the "time" magazine cover on him early -- it would have been the end of 2006, calling him the front runner for the republican nomination in 2008, kind of cursed him in a way and he kind of blamed us for that, and so for awhile in the summer of 2007, he banned "time" magazine reporters from his bus because he was still mad at us. the thing we loved about him, and what we'll always love about him is he was unabashedly, and he would say his mind and what he thought was right and what he thought was the smart path and there were times where politics intervened in that and he would later regret it and he would come back for example, during the 2000 campaign when he didn't
come out against the confederate flag and he came out and corrected himself and said, i was wrong. >> he redwrgretted it. >> he has done that a few times and he said, i'll come back and correct it and say, i shouldn't have done it that way. he was very noble in that sense and you don't see a lot of politicians saying, hey, you know what? i was wrong and i did it for politics and i shouldn't have done it that way. >> especially today. john, your thoughts on all of this? >> sure. i had something of a unique perspective because i come from wisconsin and came up covering russ feingold, and he aligned with him very early in his senate career. it's a fascinating thing that mccain was a maverick, but he was a fascinating maverick. he would look around the senate for people he thought might be straight shooters like him. might be willing to work with him on issues. and it didn't matter if they were on the other side of the
partisan divide or the idealogical divide. they found feingold in the 1990s and they aligned on the finance reform. i covered the two of them throughout that process and covered both of mccain's presidential races. one of the interesting things about it is i would always ask him as he was running for presidential in 2000 and again in 2008, would he put feingold in his administration, and he would always tell me, don't ask that question. it will just hurt me with republicans, but he would never dismiss it, and it's a fascinating thing. i don't know that he would have put him in his administration. i'm not saying that, but what i am saying is if john mccain had ever become president of the united states, there is simply no question. he would have had a one-man administration, and it would have had some liberals in it despite his own deep, deep conservativism, and that made him almost unprecedented on the american political stage.
>> john, how did he carry himself? because, you know, listening to jay and the many people with whom i'm spoken over the last 24 hours, and they speak, there is an air of affection by some, respect, all of that. but he was really just sort of your normal guy coming down the hallway, right? he didn't walk as if he was 10 feet taller than everybody else. >> well, no, and he could have of course, because he had such incredible personal history and he is a multigenerational military leader and he could have had lots of errs if you will, but that's not who he was. he was very human and a humane character. remember he had many physical challenges as a result of his long military service and his imprisonment, and he couldn't move his arm in certain ways. there were all sorts of things, and he always built around it so that people who met him didn't feel uncomfortable.
he would move to the side that made it easiest for him to put his arm around somebody. he would bend down to a child if a kid wanted to talk to him. he was always there to sign an au autograph, but another thing that's fascinating about john mccain, and why journalists couldn't help but be fascinated and engage with him, he would always answer a question. there were times famously where he would be in a car with another senator, maybe going to some event and there would be a call for the other senator, and he would say, oh, give me the phone. he was always ready to talk about any issue. >> well, thank you very much, both of you, jay, and john for sharing your thoughts and recollections of john mccain. i know he will be very missed bby you both. let's go to politics. the president's job approval rating what many dubbed the worst week for mr. trump, this one. jeff bennett has more. let's talk about it.
what are the numbers that you are seeing in the interpretations of it all? >> reporter: the numbers look pretty good for the president, alex. after a week that saw president trump's former campaign chairman convicted on eight counts of fraud and his lawyer to a felony, you have the president's job approval rating remaining virtually unchanged. this from "the wall street journal." the day the news broke about mfrt and cohen, it stands at 46% approve, and 51% disapprove, but look. despite the durability of trump's approval, most voters are not convinced that the president himself is completely insulated from the legal problems of his associates. you have got fewer than 3 in 10 voters convinced that trump himself is not implicated, not involved in the wrongdoing of these six trump associates who have either been convicted of crimes or pleaded guilty, and on that point, you have the top democrat on the house intelligence committee, adam schiff. he was on the sunday shows today
da talking about the hush money payments that michael cohen says trump told him to make. schiff said that likely affected the outcome of the 2016 election. take a look. >> this was a planned out solicitation essentially of a corporate contribution or a payment well in excess, hundreds of thousands of dollars of the limits, and in an area that could very well have been decisive in the election. that is to keep from the public information that allegations that the president had an affair with a porn star for example to keep that from the public weeks before the election. that could have been determinati determinative. it was such a close race. >> reporter: he said it could have tipped the scales and the president's approval rating appears stable, and you have more than half of voters saying he has not been honest and truthful regarding the ongoing special counsel investigation by robert mueller. alex? >> i'm looking at that number right now from that poll.
56%, in fact, to your point. thank you so much, jeff bennett from the white house. >> reporter: sure. coming up, is this the beginning of the end? a congressman weighs in on if the president should consider resigning. the president should resigning. ugh we're gonna be late, we're gonna be late! hold on, don't worry, there's another way [siri: *beep beepá] directions to the greek theater. ♪ can i get a connection? can i get can i get a connection? ♪ ♪ i can see it in my, see it in my reflection. ♪ ♪ ohhh can i get a connection? ♪ tryna find the old me heartburn and gas? ♪ now fight both fast new tums chewy bites with gas relief all in one relief of heartburn and gas ♪ ♪ tum tum tum tums new tums chewy bites with gas relief here's a trip tip: when you search hotels on tripadvisor...
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morning. >> it's not just i think democrats don't want to talk about impeachment. i think as a matter of our responsibility, we have to look candidly at whats the evidence and what does that mean, and what does it say in whether we have reached the point of high crimes and misdemeanors? we shouldn't be embracing it before we see the full body of evidence. >> the committee has to defend if the mueller investigation and the republicans in congress attempts to sabotage it and discredit it. >> let's bring in lloyd doggitt of texas. before we get into the meat of our conversation, i'm sure you would like to offer some thoughts of the passing of senator john mccain. >> thank you. what an american patriot, a man of honor and integrity who was willing to admit some sho shortcomings like the rest of
us. he was willing to work with and respect people he disagreed with, and he gave the polluting effect of big money out of our election system. i think you can say, in short, that john mccain has been everything that donald trump is not, and his loss is felt now for many reasons. so much of the commentary is about his many past accomplishments and devotion to our country, but i think about it in terms of the future at this very perilous time for our democracy that republicans need someone to provide a moral compass, a person to speak the truth, who is not retiring, and john mccain was that kind of person, and i don't see many people in the republican party now, whatever the wrong donald trump commits or the insult that he engages in, their strategy is essentially duck and cover, and we need people to speak out trying to bring our country together and to constrain a
president who just keeps testing the water with one outrage after another to see how much this republican congress will let him get away with. >> and you know, congressman, you make the point that john mccain, he was able to admit his frailties, when he had made a mistake and apologize for doing so, something that we do not hear much from any member of congress really, but in your mind by doing that, look. this is a very forgiving republic. americans forgive people. do you think that it lowered his standing in respect in the eyes of the greater community by doing so, or maybe uplifted him into being someone to admire? >> you know, i think he stood a little taller because we could see in him, recognizing our own frailties and our mistakes, that it's okay that americans will accept people that are imperfect and as flawed as they are. and that's something that of course, president trump, he never has to say he is sorry.
he refuses to do that, and is always pointing more forcefully at his adversaries in such crude and inappropriate ways. >> you have responsponsored the legislation of the counsel, and i want to get to that. if the president is an undi unindicted coconspirator, doesn't that in itself reach a threshold for impeachment? if democrats won't talk about this until after the midterms, isn't this then a political strategy to not do so? >> well, it could well reach that when you have michael cohen say that the president directed him to violate federal laws for his own advancement on the eve of the election. i think that's very significant. you mention people talking about impeachment. the people i hear talking about impeachment are all republicans. they are all there realizing
that their anti-immigrant hysteria, their phony tax bill can only carry them so far. they don't think it will get them over the finish line on most of these campaigns that are about to lose, and so they keep trying to stir up their voters by using the term, impeachment. what we need to be focused on is accountability and some check on the unrestrained power that the republican congress has permitted donald trump to assume, and i believe that's where the focus should be. you know, if you were going back to senator mccain, if you were to compare him with some other figure, vietnam veteran, purple heart, proud conservative republican devoted to public service, probably the person who fits that best, even though their careers are very different, is bob mueller, and i want to see that his investigation is protected. i don't know where it will ultimately lead us, but that's where the focus should be, and the willingness of congress to
push back a little bit every time that donald trump attacks an american democratic institution, our free press, our legal system, or rule of law. that's where congress needs to be. i do think donald trump is the number one issue on the november ballot, but not about his impeachment, but about his refusal to defend and his willingness to defend democratic institutions and his willingness to move us to a more authoritarian place. >> sir, i want to play for you one offu colleagues, congressma heck, what he told me yesterday. here's that. >> the president's going to become increasingly isolated and as we know from history, this can be very, very traumatic psychologically for the occupant of the oval office, and we have precedent of that, and the prediction i would now make, alex, is if at some point, the president will consider
resigning his office for the good of the country. >> so if we're not at a level of impeachment, where would be that threshold for resignation? >> well, i wish it were this afternoon. i think mr. trump is unfit to be our president, that every day he is in office, he endangers in a greater way, the security of our families. i -- i would -- i generally agree with congressman heck. i would only disagree to date, we haven't seen that isolation. maybe from his lawyers, from his staff members who have an impossible job in the white house, but the republican base reflected in the members of congress with whom we serve, they are still hugging donald trump when they are not ducking and covering from him, and until we see them speak out, i think trump will feel he can still get away with things, and there is no reason to resign. he is still bragging about the
great job he is doing which is something that clearly most americans don't see. i believe -- my neighbor here in austin, admiral mcraven another great american patriot in the same form as john mccain, has spoken out so eloquently in his letter to the president about trump's embarrassment in front of our children, how he has caused problems for us in the world, but most importantly, how he has divided americans from one another. and that's donald trump -- that's donald trump all over again. >> democratic congressman lloyd doggett. thank you so much. >> appreciate it. i'm glad to have my friend and colleague on the phone with us. steve schmidt who served on the campaign in 2008. steve, welcome to you. i know this has been a pretty tough weekend for you with the indication on friday that john mccain was going to cease all
medical treatment and knowing what the inevitable would be, which was the passing of him last night. talk about your feelings when you heard the news. >> well, we all knew that this day was coming. it's a sad day for us, but i think that we need to celebrate a truly remarkable american life. that's the life of senator john mccain, one of the nation's greatest heroes. he was a great man, and he served every hour of his adult life. every hour of his adult life, spent serviced to the united states of america, and i think that he would be the first to tell you he was an imperfect man, but there is no reason for john mccain to be vilified in death more so than he was in life because what he was in life was enough.
he was a man who embodied sacrifice and valor and heroism and all of these essential virtues that are necessary in the life of any nation, that are virtues that build a nation, and john mccain exemplified them, and it was everywhere we looked. >> you know, steve, i have been struck by the reaction from so many. yes, you say he doesn't need to be deified, and that may be, but there is a profound sense of his passing since he was with him serving side by side, and he said, you know, it was very difficult for him to get out his words today in talking about john mccain. he got very emotional.
i had also someone who worked on the 2000 presidential campaign speaking with me earlier from london. she fought back tears. there was tremendous affection it seems for john mccain. john alter, our colleague here at msnbc, he said that even journalists that covered him had affection for him. yes, he could be tough. he could fight with the best of them, and free somebody up for a little bit, but what was it you think that had people -- develop a kind of a love for him. they really appreciated him. >> he was a very special guy. but he was funny, but profane. famously temper, and everything about john mccain was bigger than life. his capacity for forgiveness was bigger, and one of the things that a lot of people don't know about him, when he was a prisoner, he was a chaplain for the prisoners, and also the
essential role he played along with his colleague john kerry in bringing reconciliation between the united states and vietnam. think about the qualities of character of a man who was tortured by an enemy, and being able to forgive and be a political leader that brings about reconciliation so that the following generations could live in peace. if we all look at a person like john mccain, and i think every person that ever met him, wonders, what if it was me in that position? what if it was me who was tested like that? and in the hours of his testing, through an entire life, john mccain was never found wanting. when people look at john mccain in an era where we see acts of meanness and cruelty on an
hourly basis, emanating from the white house, flashing and we saw a man who loved his country perfectly. he fought his battles. he fought in his political lives. no one could ever amount like that. he never put his political part over his country. he put his country first. and i think there is this fact that we will never, ever see a john mccain, and we will not instill -- when it rose over the east coast of americans today, in 82 years without john mccain amongst us, we grieve for that because we lost somebody so profoundly special not just in this moment in time, but in the
story of america, the story that connects all of us through the generation, and in this moment, in this generation, he was as great a patriot as nathan hale or george washington or abraham lincoln. he had decency. he was a good man, a champion for freedom around the world, and so his loss is enormous because in political chasms where we don't see anyone with those qualities of character, and that's a tragedy in some way for the country. >> i'll tell you, steve. i think you have just very eloquently in your assessment of john mccain, made us all understand why it is such a
profound loss. with regard to 2008, stories abound about the presidential campaign. this man and his approach to the campaign that he could be out there 12 plus hours a day and then have meetings and the like. what was it like to work with him under those circumstances? >> it was -- it was an incredible experience, and one that i'm eternally grateful for. i look back on it with a lot of fondness, and on the last day, you know, to be along for the ride, you know, for that journey, it was just a privilege, but the happiest times were in the fall and in the winter with john mccain when he was rising from dead in the water from last place where everybody has quit. he was written off, and the national press waging against him, and he got off the
southwest airline plane and he kept moving forward. one foot in front of the other and he would never, ever quit, and noboeverybody who knew him, knows he never quit, and he came back, and knows the story with barack obama in 2008 and being the first african-american and the first woman vying for the democratic party, his comeback was one of the greatest in the history of american politics. he found a republican nominee, and he showed his confidence and his brilliance and his poise in being in the fight. he had the experience to travel around this country and to be the good man of the american people, to be able to force the woman. john mccain takes the microphone
and says, no. he is a good man. there was a campaign where they are on a big charter jet. i have nothing but gratitude being along for the ride. and i was thinking about that election last night in the context of our politics today, and though we were disappointed in the outcome and we tried to run a fierce campaign against barack obama, you know, i'm a little older and i hope a little wiser. if i look back now ten years later and i realize, that was an election really no matter the outcome, the american people couldn't lose. neither of those candidates were
a loss, and that was a time where we had an election, and we still won, and i don't think we're in that place anymore, and that's too bad. >> i recall so well, the grace the dignity, the way he conceded the election to barack obama, all in a way to unite the country around our president, and it was remarkable. to your point, you have to wonder the authentic nature of what that be done today going forward? but i have got to wonder what he felt like behind the scenes in private. how tough a loss was that for him? >> losing a presidential campaign is something that stays with you and it stings and it hurts. i'm sure it hurt john mccain. he was a competitive guy.
probably losing was as painful as it was for any of us. he moved forward. his service was not done. he had another ten years of great service in the united states and the united states senate. he took it like a man and he looked forward. by the next night, he was out at dinner in phoenix, arizona, with cindy and he got on with life. i think that he was grateful for the privilege. he understood how extraordinary it was, graduated fifth from the bottom of his class. to be the republican nominee for president, and it was an extraordinary life journey. when you sit down and look at who this man was, tried to explain to a teenager, you can talk about the virtue.
you can talk about the valor, but first amongst you is a man who had a big and interesting life. it was a passionate life. it was a life of service. it was fundamentally a life about other things than self. it was about his country. it was about his fellow prisoners. it was about the american people. he led that life because he stood for big things, and in the campaign, it's one faster, one jar had filled up, you know, with those -- with those potential characters, characteristics of john mccain. so when we looked at john mcc n mccain's life, it was not about defeat. it was filled with many victories. it had its ups and had its downs. he was not a perfect man, but he
was a big man, in an era of little men, and john mccain when you think about his life now on 20 different levels, there are lessons for all of us in that life. >> steve schmidt, i thank you so much for calling in, and sharing with us such beautiful words about john mccain in your recollections. you were the guy to do it. you knew him well, and we appreciate so much your sentiments. thank you, steve. >> thank you, alex. joining me now, presidential historian and msnbc political contributor, jon meacham. welcome to you, and i'm sure you will be equally as eloquent as we talk about john mccain and steve really got to me the way he put his assessment of john mccain and what he witnessed there on the campaign trail, and how the likes of john mccain, we may never see again. >> it's true, and, you know, steve is part of the band of
brothers who were so essential to that campaign, who does loom ever larger in the historical imagination when you think about the stakes in 2008. you think about the situation in iraq. you think about the financial meltdown, a very up ttumultuous time, and yet we had two nominees of what different visions of what they wanted to do with the country, but they essentially spoke in the same vernacular, and shared the same fundamental values. we miss that now, and i don't think we can say that now about 2016 for instance. when i think about senator mccain, there is the phrase from the greeks that character is destiny, and john mccain's character shaped his destiny. he was irascible and romantic and sometimes had a tragic sensibili sensibility, but he believed that life was forward motion.
i think about him and senator dole for instance, as two people. george h.w. bush is another one. they lost presidential elections, but they knew because of their life experience that losing a presidential election was not the worst thing that could happen to you. the worst thing that could happen to you is being taken captive in vietnam or losing the use of your right arm on a hill in italy or being shot down out of the sky in the pacific in september 1944 as president bush was. they had a acceptance of context and bigness in the possibilities and we are going to miss that, i think, very very much because that created a sense of perspective and a sense of proportion about what unfolds every day and every hour in our politics. >> though he never reached the heights of presidential politics in terms of a presidential win, you know, jon, i think for the most part he will be held up on a similar pedestal. not a presidential one, but just right next to it and maybe just
a skoch underneath what a president would offer. to what do you attribute that? is it this perspective you offer? was he able to reach more than just those in his party because of it? >> he was. i think the -- i think the -- what i mean when i say he learned perspective from his captivity and his combat service is he understood that reality's complicated. that fate and destiny are chancy things, and it enabled him to be unideological -- nonideological i guess is the better term. he was an umpire in american life when you think about the issues of the day. so you have this man who was the republican nominee who picked a woman to run with him who became a key figure in the tea party opposition to barack obama, but he was also the architect of campaign finance reform. he was an opponent of extreme
interrogation techniques in the war on terror, and he call them as he saw them. when we discuss our frustration with american politics now, what we're missing -- in a sense, what we're missing is dignity and grace absolutely, but we're also missing the capacity of the leaders at the very top of senators like mccain who were able to look at an issue and decide what they thought was right, and pursue that, and senator mccain -- whether it fit neatly into an ideological box or not, and in this tribalized time, we basically fear that we have lawmakers and a president who decides our priority if you will. before the facts are even in, they decide where they stand. mccain was the opposite of that. o'clock many ca mccain looked at the facts, looked at reality and then took a stand and articulated it and fought for it.
i think that having a political culture where reason has a chance against passion is something that senator mccain represented and here's hoping that his colleagues who are in the arena are perhaps learning a lesson from this. sometimes i think we have talked about this before, that if i had five minutes with the president, i would say, how do you want history to remember you? what do you want us to think when we look at your portrait? do you want to think that -- do you want us to think, here's a guy who just fought and fought and fought and attacked his enemies and stuck to his base? or do you want us to look at it and say, hey. this is a guy who reached beyond his base? who reached four people who might disagree with him, and the reason -- one of the reasons for this outpouring of affection and respect for john mccain comes from his ability to defy the
ideologues in his precinct, and that's one that history and common sense both reward. >> i'm very lucky to have spoken with another giant with words and context. my friend, thank you so much, jon meacham. good to see you. >> thank you. up next, voters are asked about the honesty of this president amid the latest round of scandals. atest round of scandals. you might take something for your heart... or joints.
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now to a new poll on voters' perceptions of the president's honesty about matters related to the special counsel's investigation. the washington poll finds that a majority of voters, 60% say trump has not been truthful and honest about the mueller probe. 46% of republicans say indeed he has been honest. let's go to dnc chairman and msnbc contributor, republican strategist and political analyst, and gabe sherman, special correspondent for vanity fair and an msnbc contributor. with a welcome to all three of you, susan, i'm going to start with you first here. interpret these numbers and how dangerous they are in terms of
being the perception on the president and how might this then reflect back on the republican party? >> actually, these numbers are pretty consistent with donald trump since election day. polling a week before election day showed that about 46% of the people out there thought donald trump was honest. hillary clinton's numbers were a little worse but we knew that donald trump was not trusted or not liked by the public on election day. not much has changed when you look at those numbers. what the dangerous part is, is that he's now the president of the united states, and that as citizens, we should be able to trust the president of the united states no matter who sits in that oval office. >> look, susan, it hasn't changed by much if you're citing 46%, but it has changed by ten points here, if you look at the level of honesty the people for the president seem to have. how does that reflect on the republican party overall? >> donald trump is his own center. now, it does hurt the republican
party going forward, but you have to remember a lot of donald trump's supporters dislike congress as a whole, dislike the whole -- dislike everything about d.c. they've supported donald trump because he was going to drain the swamp. now the question is, do they find that he has just become taken in by the swamp? and that is what's hurting republicans, and potentially for the midterm elections, hurting enthusiasm for republicans. >> how about democrats, howard? how will they interpret these poll results? >> i actually think they're significantly worse than they were. 46% of the electorate is not the same as 46% of the people who identify as republicans, which are under 30% of the country. that's a bad number for him. i think 56% of the public in general is actually also a bad number. it's high, but it's not outrageous. but the thing that's interesting is it's gotten a lot worse. with the convictions of manafort and the guilty plea of cohen,
that has really hurt trump in the eyes of the public. the majority now has no bones about calling him dishonest, and i think that number is going to go up. i think the fairly successful counterattack trump had against mueller is pretty much gone now. >> howard, hurting him in the eyes of his base as well when you said the eyes of the public, or do you think his base remains where it is solidly? >> his base is buried in the number of the republicans' poll, and it's only 46% think he's honest. that's not a good thing. i think his base is shrinking down to the really hardcore people who are the people he described as would follow him even if he shot somebody on fifth avenue. if that's less than half of the republican party, that is not sufficient to either reelect him or to elect a republican congress or even, perhaps, a republican senate. >> gabe, i want to get to a new article that appears in the "washington post." it is titled, he can't get rid
of any of this, trump's wall of secret roads amid growing legal challenges. it says the events of this past week have really sent the president fuming about disloyalty, that trump has complained to advisers about cohen saying he cannot trust anyone. he's been distracted in meetings, he's polling staff about all the legal developments in recent cases. they said, you've done a lot about the mood in the white house, so i want to get to you and what you're hearing on that front. >> about the same thing. i think the last week has been sort of a tectonic shift where both trump's legal problems have been going but also in his view of what position he's in. people who speak to the president tell me that he is lashing out, he's feeling boxed in and really betrayed by people he had entrusted with his secrets. and i just want to go back briefly to the polling question. i think what is so remarkable to me as a reporter covering this story is that donald trump has a
barrage of tweets every single day castigating his opponents and bob mueller, and no one has seen anything about indictments and guilty pleas. their silence is more powerful than all of donald trump's tweets combined. so i think that's reflective that trump is doing everything he can to change the narrative skpit n and it's not working. >> you wrote about all the legal developments in vanity fair and said, he's struggling to develop a strategy to push back on the damaging headlines. so are you seeing signs that any sort of strategy is on the horizon? >> really, i mean, i have not seen one. i think what's evident is that he's been trying to get jeff sessions to resign by publicly shaming him on twitter in hopes that then he could put in a new attorney general that would get some control over the mueller investigations. as we saw this past week, and
jeff sessions is releasing a rare public statement saying that the justice department will remain independent, it's very clear that jeff sessions, donald trump's earliest supporter in the 2016 campaign, isn't going anywhere. so that really limits donald trump's options to either firing jeff sessions and/or rod rosenstein, and a lot of people say that would be a trip wire that would even turn republicans who have really done nothing to rein in this president, against him. >> susan, to you as a republican strategist, there are those that suggest the president should come clean, admit he has not been completely truthful, explain the reasons for that, et cetera, et cetera. what do you think? would you advise him to do that? >> i don't think it matters because no one would believe him, anyway, alex. there is no coming clean. this president has lied consistently. let's put it this way, if his lips are moving, he's probably lying, so i don't even think if he did the coming clean thing, anyone would believe him.
>> i have to say, both the guys to your side, because you're in the center of the picture, are both laughing at that line. >> thank you very much. good to see all of you. a safe holding the president's secrets? i'm going to ask a high-ranking official, the man who posts to the national enquirer, next. en. if you're on park street in reno, nevada, the high winds of the washoe zephyr could damage your siding. and that's very different than living on park ave in sheboygan, wisconsin, where ice dams could cause water damage. but no matter what park you live on, one of 10,000 local allstate agents knows yours. now that you know the truth, are you in good hands? your hair is so soft! did you use head and shoulders two in one? i did mom. wanna try it? yes. it intensely moisturizes your hair and scalp and keeps you flake free. manolo? look at my soft hair. i should be in the shot now too.
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