tv MSNBC Live MSNBC September 3, 2018 11:00am-12:00pm PDT
i'll see you back here at 3:00 p.m. eastern. kasie hunt is back, as promised. she picks it up from washington right now. >> ali, from washington where it is not raining like it is in wisconsin. thanks to von hilliard. good afternoon and happy labor day. i'm kasie hunt live in washington. supreme battle. president trump's supreme court nominee brett kavanaugh will face grilling from democrats when his confirmation hearings begin tomorrow. why they are demanding the release of more than 100,000 pages of documents from his time under george w. bush. >> plus, trump's trade war. he is poised to make major changes to nafta. why that could have serious economic and political implications. >> and biden's message. the former vice president delivers a labor day message of civility and what he says is at stake for our country as the midterms loom. let's start with what a confirmation win may mean for republicans and democrats. day one of brett kavanaugh's
hearings for the supreme court begin tomorrow. republicans are confident in victory. president trump is ready for a win to taught on the campaign trail. three democrats on the judiciary committee are ready to signal to their base they have what it takes to be the party's standard bearer for 2020. white house correspondent jeff bennett and justice correspondent pete williams. pete, i want to start with you. as you look to this hearing, do you think there is any chance that a democrat lands a real blow in an opening statement? i mean, we have seen in the past ted kennedy, for example, with robert bork, simple statements that make an impact. >> yeah. i don't think that's going to happen this time. things have moved so beyond where that was during the bork confirmation hearing. everything seems to be so sort of predone and preset that i don't think you will see that. besides, brett kavanaugh's judicial record is well known. if there is one place where the democrats probably will focus their attention it's on his
previous work before he became a judge for ken starr, for george bush. that's what the fight about the documents is about. in terms of his judicial decisions, his time as a judge, i don't know whether you will see democrats land a really strong opening statement against them. he is certainly, he gives them reason to think that he may not be as supportive on abortion rights, certainly probably won't be as justice kennedy was, the justice he'll replace. i think a lot of the sharp focus will be on his time other than a judge. >> geoff bennett, this is one area where, for the white house, it's kind of an unambiguous win in terms of party unity. there aren't many issues. you could say that for right now. this is one of them? >> yeah. you have the republican national committee in concert with the white house, capitol hill, outside republican groups going all in on brett kavanaugh, both in terms of messaging and in terms of the money that they are
raising and spending on pro-kavanaugh ads. but what they are trying to do ahead of the midterms is activate the same block of voters that came out and voted for donald trump, even those folks who had misgivings about donald trump, the man. they wanted a republican in the white house who would have a role in shaping the future of the court. the hope is the same folks come out for the midterms. on the democratic side we have seen all manner of arguments, starting with the sort of most basic once, democrats making the point that donald trump isn't in a position to nominate any judge to any court considering it was 12 days ago michael cohen implicated him in that illegal hush money scheme. so at the moment you have the votes, you have the leverage, the momentum on the republican side, but just today elizabeth warren, senate democratic not on the senate judiciary committee, but is a prominent democrat, said she is not bothered by the fact that democrats are really, have the underhand here.
take a look. >> that is exactly why people said that about health care a year ago. the democrats didn't have the votes to stop health care. we needed help from the republicans. and so the big question is whether or not there will be just one or two republicans who will be willing to cross over. >> and when i heard her say that, i thought that's interesting because so far we have been focused on what democrats will break with other democrats to vote in support of kavanaugh. she is really flipping it, saying what, if any, republicans will break ranks with republicans and help us derail him. i am not a betting man, but at this point i wouldn't count on too many republicans doing that. >> i think i'm with you on that, geoff. pete, before we wrap up here, we do have several of these 2020 hopefuls who sit on the judiciary committee. if you are brett kavanaugh, how are you thinking about preparing to spar with those questioners?
it's got to be a little bit of a different thought process? >> yeah, you can be sure he has already done it. in modern times, these confirmation hearings are preceded by several dry runs, murder boards they sometimes call them where -- i'm trying to think of the other word. moot courts where they sit around with people who ask them every conceivable possible question. i think the real surprise will be whether brett kavanaugh hears any questions or gets a tone of question that he wasn't expecting and isn't prepared for. so i don't think, i mean, there may be some drama there. i think the questions for him that will be different than any other nominee are his views about whether a president can be indicted, can be subpoenaed, because his views on that have changed over the years. he had one view that presidents were open to that sort of process when he worked for ken starr during the clinton administration, but in 2009 he wrote a law review article
saying that experience changed his mind and presidents should be immunized from that if congress would give them the immunity. that's where his thinking is now, that a president shouldn't be bothered and bogged down by that sort of thing, and it's conceivable if he gets on the supreme court and bob mueller subpoenas the president, the president decides to fight it, that issue could go to the supreme court and brett kavanaugh may have to vote on it if he doesn't recuse. that's one area where this confirmation hearing will be different from those in the past several decades. >> interesting. pete williams, a long week ahead for you. thank you. and geoff bennett, thanks to you as well. former vice president biden was in pittsburgh today to march in the labor day parade. he spoke to nbc and had words of encouragement for democrats ahead of tomorrow's hearings. >> reporter: tomorrow is the beginning of the supreme court confirmation process. what is your advice to democrats about how to handle this going forward? >> stay in the room. demand answers.
keep pointing out that you have -- they have not given the material that was expected of the committee. >> let's nichols, ben wittes, e in chief of the legal blog "lawfare." thank you both for being here. and mr. whitis, i want to start with you. you have worked with mr. kavanaugh over the years in different ways. what is your take on -- and you heard pete talk about the prep that would have gone into this -- how he is going to handle this coming week? >> so i think he will be extraordinarily well prepared, and there is sometimes a temptation on the part of senators to think particularly senate staffers that you are going to write the perfect question that's going to be something that the nominee never saw coming and they are going to stammer and not have any answer, and that's not going to happen. this is a -- you know, even before he was a judge, he was an
accomplished oral advocate. he worked in the sg's office. he is going to be well prepared. he is also, you know, members of the judiciary committee often think they have thought through these sort of deep constitutional issues. judges generally actually have, and so there is a sort of information asymmetry. >> i can't imagine what you are insinuating. >> right. the first problem is that they are not going to get him to say anything he really doesn't want to say, and they are not going to trip him up in a deep seated way. so i think the challenge for the members of the committee is to engage him on the subjects that they really care about, which seems to me to be reproductive freedoms, general issues of jurisprudence, and executive power in a fashion that allows him to say exactly as much as he is willing to say and highlights
the things that he is not willing to talk about. that's the most you are going to get, and they are going to spend two days trying to do a lot more than that, but that's all they will get. >> yes. tom nichols, as a former republican aide, people may be surprised you are arguing that this confirmation hearing should wait? >> well, i say that in the same way that ben just said the staffers know there is in silver bullet they will write in there. there is no possibility that's going to happen. and again i don't respect the republicans or the government. >> of course. >> it struck me that the republicans have set up a new norm. if you are too close to an election, things are controversial, you have to wait unless the president is nominating somebody who could be sitting in judgment of him in pretty short time. and so to me -- you know, we are all, i suppose, in washington we are all grown-ups. we know this is how it happened. this is the untrampled exercise
of power. >> he has taken this process and really molded it and changed it? >> i think so. and i think -- i argued back at the end of president obama's term that even if you didn't want as a conservative, i didn't want another liberal justice on the bench. i thought merrick garland deserved a term. >> certainly there are a lot of democrats who agree with that. they are still very angry about that. as we wrap up here i want to play some sound that we have from brett kavanaugh talking about the independent counsel law. this could come up in the hearings. take a look. >> can you think of a case that deserves to be overturned? >> yes. morrison v. olson. >> that's the independent counsel statute case. >> it's been effectively overruled.
i would put the final nail in. >> here, here. >> questions along these lines are going to be front and center at the hearing, and kavanaugh's view on independent counsel, whether or not the president could be indicted while in office or subpoenaed even for his testimony, how do you think he will handle those questions? >> this is an area where i think he actually can't say nothing because he has academic work and public speeches like that one -- >> he has a track record? >> he has a record that is not a judicial record. he has actually written things in his own voice, and i think he is going to have to have spent some time thinking about how much he is and is not willing to elaborate on that. i thought the most interesting thing about that comment about morrison v. olson is not that he said that it should be overruled. it's that he said it de facto kind of already has been, which is actually a really interesting analytical point that actually
suggests what he, to some degree, thinks of the current state of the law rather than what the law should be. >> all right. ben wittes, tom nichols, thank you for your insights. >> coming up, trump's trade war. the president prepares to make potentially historic changes to nafta. he says american workers are doing great. but are they? we're live in wisconsin to hear from them. >> and back on the scene. former vice president joe biden on the importance of the midterm elections and will he or won't he in 2020? show of hands. who wants customizable options chains? ones that make it fast and easy to analyze and take action? how about some of the lowest options fees? are you raising your hand? good then it's time for power e*trade the platform, price and service that gives you the edge you need. alright one quick game of rock, paper, scissors. 1, 2, 3, go. e*trade. the original place to invest online.
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>> president trump is at the white house today dealing with his so-called trade war, according to the press office, but judging by his 2019 feed he is also bothered by this comment from a labor union leader. >> unfortunately, to date the things that he has done to hurt workers outpaced what he has done to help workers. wages have been down since the first of the year. gas price also been up since the first of the year. overall, workers aren't doing as well. he passed a tax bill that encourages companies to outsource. we can't agree to support something like that. >> the president blasted trumka on twitter a short time ago saying, the head of the afl-cio represented his union poorly on television this weekend. some of the things he said were so against the working men and women of our country. the president's trade war may get the backing of his
blue-collar voters, but it's having an impact on american companies like harley-davidson, which plans to move some of its manufacturing abroad to deal with blow back to the tariffs. vaughn hilliard is live in milwaukee, wisconsin, where the harleys are made. he is at labor fest. vaughn, it appears it's still raining. what are the people you're talking to telling you about the president's policies? do they think he has their back? >> reporter: i think that there is a distinction between individuals that are supporting the president of the united states, donald trump, and those that intend to back republicans or democrats this november in the midterms. there is a gentleman i talked to who is an innist says he believes the president is trying to help the likes of union members. these are the workers like him. machinists. he is hopeful that the eu
negotiations will go somewhere, that's the nafta renegotiations will go somewhere. when i asked him about governor scott walker, the republican who ended collective bargaining here for public workers here in the state, he said he will not vote for the republican for re-election this november. there is a distinction there. one gentleman who we talked to, randy bryce. he is a democratic congressional member. his nickname is iron 'stache. he is part of the local iron workers union. i said what do the democrats need to do in the house races, senate races, to convince voters that the democratic party is the pro-uni pro-union party here this november? this is part of what he told us. >> it's not the tariffs that's a problem. it's the leadership that's trying to use them. donald trump has all the tools and the fact that he is using us as a form of political gamesmanship, it's theater for him. he doesn't have any long-term intelligent plan to actually
help people here. if we can get, solve the problem, which is china dumping tons of steel on us, i'll call that a win. we are nowhere near there now. we are alienating allies. >> reporter: the other part about this is it's not just the likes of machinists and iron workers, there are teachers, nurses, boilermakers. it's across the board. there is a recognition when you talk to the union members, it's a matter they feel like they are a part of one effort here. they are all part of the union community, which you have thousands here. a lot of them are behind the camera taking cover from the rain right now. but essentially they are making the point that we have to look out after all union members. while perhaps trade of these deals may help the likes of dairy farmers in wisconsin, there are others here like those cranberry farmers or the likes of harley-davidson employees that could also be the ones that are suffering as a result of these tariffs that are going back and forth.
>> nbc's vaughn hilliard, thank you. stay dry, my friend. or at least try. joining me now, congresswoman debbie dingle congresswoman in michigan. >> good to see you. >> thanks for coming in. i want to start with how this tariff question is playing out in your home state of michigan, especially as we approach the midterm elections because this really is something where, i mean, frankly, the president lines up more with what have been traditionally democratic policies on some of these questions. is that generating support for him among your constituents? >> i have spent five weeks talking to working men and women across our district. today i marched with thousands from the uaw, the teamsters, the steel workers and many of the other unions. i have been to six picnics and given five speeches. i have been with a lot of union workers and trade is at the top of their mind.
the steel workers, i have closed and issuedershuttered factories throughout my district. we will never bring back some of those jobs we used to have. a lot of people are asking questions. i have said if the beginning that if he gets a trade deal that will help the working men and women of my district, i will support it. we haven't seen the details and they are scared and they are not sure what they are hearing is going to bring back jobs. my district happens to be one of the places where north of canada, we're totally integral to each other. it's mexiwhose behavior -- mexi the low labor standards have been far worse and a bigger issue. to just blow off canada bothers people here. so they're confused. they are waiting for the details. >> speaking of canada, what is your take on the president essentially attempting to leave canada out of it? i mean, clearly, there would be some reaction from the congress if he tried to do that. >> i think it's a negotiating
tactic. it's something that, obviously, worries me, but i do hear the grapevine says that, i mean, we have donald trump the twitterer and president trump who is trying to get a trade deal that's -- i mean, i want a trade deal that will help the working men and women of my district in this country. you can't -- we have to have some trade negotiations with canada. i am not sure where this is going. i am waiting to see the details. canada is too important a partner of ours. >> let's talk about midterm politics for a second. are there any surprises on your radar in michigan or races that you have noticed that you think we should be putting our focus on? >> well, i think we have a number of districts that are very competitive. two of the most likely pickups in the country are the 8th district, which has one of these veteran analysts, who is
incredible. the 11th district has former trump chair of the state against a young woman that worked on the auto bailout. both of those are close races. we are hearing polling numbers in some of the other districts that actually, quite frankly, are closer than i think many people think. but i think it's a long ways between now and november. i hear a lot of people disgusted. i have had in the last week, i'm very concerned about a trend of people threatening a boycott of not voting, and einstein's bagel says, i don't think he is a democrat, but i'm just not voting. and women are entergized. what's going to happen in november? we have a long time between now and then. >> fair enough. before i let you go, this is a longer time away, we heard from joe biden today not on the campaign trail really, i guess on the campaign trail with bob kasie, but back in the spotlight. do you think joe biden beat
donald trump in michigan if he were your nominee? >> i think the dynamics would be very different. i also think the president's election is two years away and none of us know what's going to happen between now and then. i hate discussion of the blue wave. it puts the cart before the horses. it jinxes it. and all of you two years ago were absolutely convinced we were going to have a different election outcome. so let's stick to this november and talk 2020 after that. >> all right. fair yuf. congresswoman debbie dingle of michigan, great to see you. coming up, biden's midterm message. what he says is at stake in the midterm elections and could he be headed back to the campaign trail in 2020? you're watching msnbc. i landed. i saw my leg did not look right.
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>> a sure sign that fall is on its way, politicians in labor day parades. former vice president joe biden was the star of the show in pittsburgh this morning. while he was there to support pennsylvania democrat bob casey, some in the crowd had their sights past this year's midterms and towards 2020. mike, you caught up with the former vice president. what did he have to say?
>> reporter: yeah, he had a lot to say, kasie. we moved today from the parade route to the local electrical workers union hall where the vice president came after the parade as well as conor lamb and senator casey. conor lamb won that special election here last year, is running for re-election now in a tough seat. i had a chance to ask what he thought about vice president biden potentially running in 2020. let's take a listen to what he told us a few minutes ago. >> he is someone who has fought for working people his whole career, over a long career, and people around here know that and don't forget it. >> reporter: would you encourage him not to give up politics, throw his hat in the ring for 2020? >> the people will decide that one. i'm sure he will. i'm just honored he is willing to get involved in an election in 2018 because he thinks it's the right thing to do. >> reporter: everybody is keeping their focus on the midterms, including vice president joe biden. i asked him earlier if this
parade trip today here in pittsburgh was an audition of sorts for 2020. here's what he said to us earlier today. talk about what this means in terms of your political future. is this an audition for 2020? >> my political future? i have been with these guys my whole life. my grandfather, too. >> reporter: so as you see, you know, joe biden, conor lamb has not campaigned with every democrat, but joe biden is one of those democrats where a democrat in a tough seat is happy to stand alongside. joe biden, of course, is focused on the midterms, as we said. he will make a decision, he and his close aides have said after the election, probably before the start of the new year. we will see. last time that dragged out a little bit in 2015. but they are pretty insistent he is going to come to a decision pretty early on. >> it's a great point that there aren't that many nationally
known democrats who could appear anywhere in the country and be welcome. he looked as though he was having the time of his life. mike, thanks very much. appreciate it. let's bring in michael steele, msnbc political analyst and basel schmikel, former executive director of the new york state democratic party. i want to put up a partial list of democratic 2020 candidates. joe biden, elizabeth warren, bernie sanders, kamala harris, krirsen jill land, corey booker. we could go on and on and on. basel, to what extent is this early chatter and the size of this field, it seems risky to me for democrats. >> it's risky if we start, going back to what congresswoman din gallon sa dingall, if we talk about blue wave. we have a strong branch of young and die veers candidates which
is mirroring what we are seeing in individual districts across the country and states like florida and georgia with african-americans at the top of the ticket there into these gubernatorial races. so it says we have a very good strong bench. but i think ultimately voters are going to decide whether or not they want someone who could match wits with donald trump and that may be someone in the form of joe biden or biden himself, or someone who is the complete anthesis of a donald trump. that remains to be seen. >> michael steele, elizabeth warren turned over a bunch of records. basel mentioned the fact this they are going to have to run against president trump. >> rate. >> specifically. and trump has labeled elizabeth warren pocahontas because of her heritage. the globe rights, the globe found clear evidence in documents and interviews that are her claim to ethnicity was
never considered by the harvard law faculty. i just thought it was fascinating that she is seeking to put this to rest. >> she is. she is trying to get out in front of it. she doesn't want to have happen to her which we have seen happen to eother candidates who have been labeled by donald trump. it debilitates their ability to move forward. i think one of the lowest points in the obama administration, quite honestly, was the day he presented his birth certificate. i found that to be the most offensive thing -- >> with donald trump, remember that? >> how dare you have to prove, right? a lot of folks don't want to be in that space as they saw obama fall prey to that and certainly in the republican primary, feel fall prey to that. so i think that by her doing what she is doing, she wants to get the evidence there, put this behind so she makes that leap. that's a footnote. it's not the first paragraph.
>> basel, andrew gillum down in florida surprised everybody by winning the nomination there. some of that is chalked up to his organization of minority communities. to y do you tli there are lessons the democrats should take away? >> yes, it's engaging the constituencies that perhaps other elected officials using an older political model might not have been done. there is this argument that people like crowley and others, john f. kennedy's old district in massachusetts, we shouldn't be challenging these incumbent members. when you see the diversity of these challengers and the fact that they are representing a different kind of constituency, then what you are doing is able to sort of dig down and expand the electorate. one thing incredible about the florida race is you had more
democrats vote in that election than you did in midterm elections going back to 2002. that shows we have the depth of the electorate. we have to have the candidates that can engage. going on to what you were saying a second ago go tabout the pocahontas comment, the monkeying around comment, that has the effect of saying, if it's not donald trump it will be anybody that seidels up to donald trump we are coming after. >> and the sheer obvious racism on display in the florida race already is just astonishing. >> not a good way to start. >> is the president essentially enabling or making -- i mean, that sort of thing would never have been okay five years ago. >> it would not have been okay and the president -- >> not that it's okay now, but the candidate is treating it in a way that is much different than i feel like candidates would be forced to treat it five years ago. >> most candidates in the past would have fallen on the sword, said that's not what i meant, i
apologize, yadi yadi yadda. here they created the space for that to happen where you could have him engage directly with the audience and say things that you could only take but one way, and so now you are in a space where the candidates themselves are out there going, okay, i have got some arm room here that i can maneuver, and you saw that. maybe it was stream of conscience. maybe he wasn't aware of it. the fact that subsequent to that he did not see the racial overtone and the impact tells you about how comfortable he is in the main saying what he said. >> and we would have to take him at face value he didn't understand. >> exactly. >> thank you both for a great conversation. >> coming up, a passionate plea. the father of mollie tibbetts, the iowa college student killed by an undocumented immigrant, puts out a powerful op-ed telling politicians not to use his daughter's death for political gain. it's time for the 'biggest sale of the year' on the new
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>> rob tibbetts is living every parent's worst nightmare. he has chosen to grieve his daughter's death until now. now the father of mollie tibbetts, an iowa college student killed last month by an undocumented farm worker is calling on pundits and politicians to stop using his daughter's death to further an anti-immigration agenda. quote, make no mistake, molly was my daughter and best friend.
at her eulogy i said mollie was nobody's victim nor is she is a pawn in other's debate. she may not be able to speak for herself, but i can and will. please leave us out of your diabetes debate. allow us to grieve in privacy and dignity. at long last, show some decency. on behalf of my family and mollie's memory, i'm imploring you to stop. jeff, the white house and those associated with the white house have not ceased to make this connection. there was a des moines register op-ed, donald trump jr. wrote. he says, ultimately, mollie was not the first casualty of open borders. the radical policies of the democrats have left a trail of human wreckage in pursuit of their open borders dream. now the family is saying, we don't want anymore of this? >> for sure. i think the op-ed was focused on
donald trump jr.'s comments. it must be difficult for a family that's grieving such a terrible loss to be thrust into the middle of this big political divide. he wrote very specifically in that piece as well that all of the things that some of these more conservative republicans are using to highlight with her death are things that she opposed. he called it racism. >> yeah. this, of course, comes as the other immigration stories still swirling. according to msnbc's count, 497 migrant children separated still, and many of them, their parents have already been deported, 322. there are 22 children under the age of 5 that are still separated. what is the administration doing to try to accelerate this? they have been ordered by a judge to do so. >> they have. they say they are on it. but that will continue to be a story as the midterms come up. there are two big angles to this immigration piece. there's that. certainly a lot of people very
upset, and rightly so, with the separation of children from their parents at the boreborder. people are concerned that the borders, that there needs to be more enforcement at the border an president trump has promised this wall. i can almost guarantee you that he'll continue to talk about that as he goes out on the campaign trail. >> what's the view inside the white house about how this migrant children crisis may affect things? one thing i have been hearing from congressional ours sources is the images really are haunting people and potentially affecting whether they are willing to vote for republicans. >> yeah. the fact that it ended up driving the president's own wife, first lady melania trump, to weigh in, as well as ivanka trump and others, suggests how much this had an impact on the white house and the broader debate. whether or not it effects how people vote is something we will see in the coming months, but i
don't think it's going away. >> as the president hits the campaign trail as well, one of the ways that ads have been rolling out and some of the strategy around the special elections we've seen, republicans running on the tax bill. they took those down and put up immigration ads instead. will that be part of the president's strategy? >> wouldn't surprise me. it's part of his greatest hits of issues he likes to discuss. i it w it was something that he highlighted in 2016. it is a question whether he highlights some of the things he feels his administration has done, including the tax bill, or highlights something where they have a lot more that they would like to do. >> finally, we also are hearing reports about a growing number of people whose official records show they were born in the united states but they are being denied passports because they are saying sequentially that these certificates are fraudulent. midwife births, they are calling it. is that something -- how has the
trump administration responded or tried to explain that? >> that's a good question. i don't know, other than to say it's one more things on the list of issues related to immigration. people will be watching it closely. >> how do you think this issue plays out for democrats in red states in the senate races? >> it puts them in a tricky position in red states because, particularly in states that went very truostrongly for donald tr in 2016 in the same way we are making decisions whether or not to support brett kavanaugh for the supreme court, they have to decide how strongly to go against some of his immigration policies because if they are popular with some of those constituents, it's hard to speak against them. that said, this election is very much about the values of the democratic party as it is about the republican party. and the derms somocrats as a gr have strongly come out on the other side of the immigration debate. not on president trump's side. >> jeff mason, thanks very much. >> coming up, slamming sessions.
president trump not taking the holiday off from twitter. what he is now saying about attorney general jeff sessions. hey dad. so he took aleve. if he'd taken tylenol, he'd be stopping for more pills right now. only aleve has the strength to stop tough pain for up to 12 hours with just one pill. aleve. all day strong.
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attorney general jeff sessions. in a
couple of tweets posted just moments ago, the president writes, quote, two long running obama era investigations of two very popular republican publici ahead of the midterms by the jeff sessions justice department. two easy wins now in doubt because there is not enough time. good job jeff. the democrats, none of whom voted for jeff sessions, must love him now. same thing with lyin james comey. the dems all hated him, wanted him out, thought he was disgusting until i fired him. immediately he became a wonderful man, st.-like figure in fact. really sick. joining me now is philip rucker, the perfect person to have with us to talk about this breaking news. i'm not even sure quite where to start here, but clearly there are a lot of layers to this idea that he was charging some close to the midterm elections that
obviously impacts the president himself. >> yeah, it's a big deal tweet because the justice department is supposed to operate independently political concerns, independently of any concern about which party does well in the midterm elections. what president trump seems to be suggesting in this tweet is that his attorney general should have politicized the justice department by timing these investigations so that they would not interfere with the midterm elections. that is a big no-no in washington and it's yet another indication of trump's view that the attorney general should work for him, should work for the republican party, should be a political actor instead of a more independent attorney general, which is the tradition in this country. >> the president has said that he's going to wait until after the midterms or i guess our sense is from reporting that the president would wait until after the midterms to fire jeff sessions. this seems like he's focused on what jeff sessions is doing. >> he continues to be brooding about jeff sessions to anyone who will talk to him. it's a huge focus of his. it's clearly a focus of his today on labor day.
he evidently did not go golfing today. he's given assurance to republicans on capitol hill that he'll wait until after the midterms to wait and make a change and fire jeff sessions, but that does not mean that jeff sessions is not in the cross hairs every day until then. but this tweet days really stunning because the president is saying out loud that the justice department should be politicized when that is not the justice department's role. >> right. it's very remarkable. that's a very good point. these two congressmen were trump's first allies in congress. >> congressman chris collins of new york, republican there, he was the first member to endorse president trump. the second congressman to endorse president trump, duncan hunter of california, is the second congressman referenced in the tweet. both of them were charged with federal crimes in recent weeks. >> what's your reporting around where things -- you had written that story on friday, winter is coming. >> yeah. >> potentially if the democrats do take back the house.
but clearly the president and his team are watching very, very carefully the mueller investigation. there has been this like artificial deadline set by rudy giuliani of september 1st what we've now blown through with no report to congress on the president's behavior. >> the idea that the investigation would be finished september 1st seemed a little preposterous to people watching it closely, but it was something that the president's legal team thought could happen. they were putting a lot of public pressure on the mueller team to get it done by september 1st. that's not going to happen, obviously. there's a question about whether mueller is going to completely go dark now until after the elections or whether there could be some sort of indictment or announcement in the next couple of weeks. i think we're going to have to just stay tuned to see if that happens. but there's growing anxiety in the white house and in the president's orbit that they're not fully prepared for everything that could come their way if the democrats win back the house of representatives in november, not only including the president's sort of personal legal jeopardy with impeachment proceedings potentially but with
the broader sort of series of investigations that democrats on capitol hill would launch, subpoenas, hearings, calls for testimony, documents requests. it would be a real onslaught and they don't necessarily have the legal team in place to handle it yet. >> do they have any lawyers left on the legal team? at all? >> they do. there's actually a really professional lawyer who's highly regarded, emmet flood, who's a little under the radar but he's working at the white house. he's been working alongside don mcgahn, the white house counsel, with the real focus specifically on the mueller investigation. he's expected to stay in the white house to come, even though don mcgahn is going to be leaving. it's unclear whether emmet flood would get the promotion to be white house counsel succeeding don mcgahn or continue in the special counsel role that focuses on the mueller probe. >> let's go back to our breaking news and that new tweet from the president. you mentioned the lobbying campaign that the president has mounted with republicans in the senate behind the scenes.
he's clearly gotten to at least lindsey graham, who has been out saying publicly that the president deserves an attorney general that he could support but graham has put a condition on that. he says that any new attorney general would have to promise to protect mueller. >> yeah, and i think a lot of the republicans in the senate are going to look for that in the confirmation hearings, look for the attorney general nominee to make pledges to back the mueller probe, to let robert mueller continue to do his work, to continue to fund and resource the mueller investigation. remember, the attorney general can not only intervene and fire mueller but could also strip the investigation of the budget, of the money that it needs to pay for all of these investigators and to keep that work continuing. there had been some speculation of course that trump could do a recess appointment while congress is away during this campaign season and it seems like that's not really an option. what we're seeing from lindsey graham and others is that they're expecting whoever is going to replace sessions to come to the senate and to have to answer these questions under
oath and make these pledges about backing mueller. >> if he were to fire jeff sessions and make a recess appointment, i believe like this town would absolutely lose its mind. >> it would be a big deal. >> it would be a huge deal. phil rucker, thanks for being here. we are back with more after this. you're watching msnbc. don't forget that the past can speak to the future. ♪ ♪ i'm going to be your substitute teacher. don't assume the substitute teacher has nothing to offer... same goes for a neighborhood. don't forget that friendships last longer than any broadway run.
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things up for him. >> when does this end? are you coming back again? >> no. i'm going to go enjoy the rest of my labor day. >> very good. you do that. good afternoon and happy labor day. we begin with all eyes on the supreme court as the senate gears up to face brett kavanaugh. he'll face a grilling in the upper chamber tomorrow but many democrats are claiming foul play because the trump administration has moved to block more than 100,000 pages of records from kavanaugh's time in the george w. bush white house. despite president bush himself telling the lawyer to err on the side of transparency. earlier today former vice president joe biden offered some advice for his fellow democrats. >> mr. vice president, tomorrow is the beginning of the supreme court confirmation process. you're the former chairman of the judiciary committee. what is your advice to democrats about how to handle this going forward? >> stay in the room, demand answers, and keep pointing