tv MSNBC Live MSNBC February 17, 2019 3:00am-4:00am PST
able to live there. i wouldn't have wanted her to miss that. >> that's all for this edition of "dateline." i'm natalie morales. thanks for watching. good morning. i'm phillip mena at msnbc world headquarters in new york. it is 6:00 in the east, 3:00 out west. here's what's happening -- follow the money. for the first time we're hearing from one of the key figures who holds the purse strings in paying for the president's border wall. withdrawn. heather nauert drops her bid to be u.s. amtd to the u.n. -- ambassador to the u.n. the controversy. making the rounds. the jam-packed field of candidates out in full force as another high-profile name reportedly gets ready to enter the race. new questions this morning about the alleged attack on "empire" actor jussie smollett. why police have been left wondering exactly what happened. new, for the first time
we're hearing from the acting defense secretary on whether he will approve a $3.6 billion for military construction projects to build the president's border wall. that includes figuring out which military projects to defund and whether a border wall is even needed. here's what patrick shanahan said late yesterday. >> you have not determined that a -- specifically a wall is required to meet that national emergency. >> there have been no determinations by me. we always anticipated that this will create a lot of attention. very deliberately we have not made any decisions. we've identified the steps we would take to make those decisions. this is the important part of that -- we laid that out so we could do it quickly. we don't want to fumble through the process. >> meanwhile, a house resolution condemns the national emergency
declaration. this as republican senators close to the president are defending him after he said this -- >> i could do the wall over a longer period of time. i didn't need to do this. but i'd rather do it much faster. >> senator lindsey graham had encouraged the president to declare the national emergency. >> hasn't he opened himself up to even more legal challenges? >> i really don't think so. i think the president's been making a persuasive case that the border's broken. i support his decision to get it done sooner rather than later. i'm disappointed that my democratic colleagues would wouldn't give him the money. >> a congresswoman whose district includes portions of the border wall is outlining what's really needed to improve security. >> there should be a mile-by-mile analysis of what the needs are. a large portion of the border that i represent is rural. it's remote. one of the large needs is personnel along the border.
we don't have the resources that we need in terms of sufficient internet to process claims, the transportation, and even health care. making sure that we have an agency that's able to adapt to changing circumstances, as we see different trends in -- in immigration and migration. >> joining me, julie grace brufky, capitol hill reporter with "the hill," and senior political reporter with the center for public integrity. thank you very much for joining us. >> good morning. >> mark meadows, close to the president, made this argument last night on "fox news." take a listen. >> the president did a shrewd thing before they signed the bill and sent it to him, before they voted, he said, i'm going to declare a national emergency. he put them on notice, and yet congress didn't act. i think the supreme court will look at that and say why did congress not act. >> what do you make of that? is congressman meadows trying to make a public case to the conservative supreme court justices? >> i've spoken to congressman
meadows and a number of members of the house freedom kocaucus w have been dissatisfied with the $1.375 billion spending bill passed. they were the catalyst for what led to the government shutdown for 35 days. now, i think he's making a case there. obviously there's going to be a ton of democratic pushback. i'm not sure that republicans could have gotten a much better deal for the border wall given the loss to the house. they lost a lot of their leverage. >> did you see this narrative being part of the administration's argument when it eventually goes to court? >> sure -- >> sorry -- >> sure. and go to court it will. of course, there's a cavalcade of lawsuits that are going to be facing the president from special interest groups, nonprofits, likely from different states around the country, led by california. at least at this point. one question, too, is whether there will be enough republicans to also give the president trouble here. of course, democrats are aghast at this and say they're going to fight it. there's already a resolution put forth to basically try to block
congressionally this marshal emergency declaration. it's something that the president would veto, and whether the house and senate could get together and get two-thirds of a majority to block this, a big question, probably not. but the same time, too, you have a lot of institutionalists in the senate who are republicans. and some members of the house who say this is setting a terrible precedent for republicans. just imagine if a democrat was president and trying to declare a national emergency for any of a number of things, that would be an awful situation. we don't want to be the ones who set that in motion. >> let's talk about those republican senators. they're going to be the ones who will soon have to decide whether they want to support their resolution condemning the president's declaration. let's listen to republican senator ron johnson from wisconsin talking with nbc's chuck todd about how he's going to vote. >> where would you vote that? >> i'm going to liook at the cae the president makes and look at how quickly this money is going to be spent versus what he's going to use. if he's not going to be spending it this fiscal year or early in the next fiscal year, i would
have my doubts. >> nothing too definitive there. what are the odds at that resolution will have enough republican votes in the senate? is this mainly a bicycle vote? >> i mean -- a symbolic vote? >> i mean, i don't see enough republicans going on board to have a veto-proof majority there. i mean, i don't see a lot of senators that are constitutionalists, somebody like rand paul getting on board with the national emergency. overall, i think most of them are going to stand with the president on this. >> dave, help us get a sense of the political equation here facing those republicans in congress on whether they're going to back the president's declaration, especially ahead of the 2020 election. >> yeah. you have a couple of republicans who are speaking out right now, tom tillits is an example. you can expect others who might be in tight races, who are going to be more critical of the president at this point, too. i agree with julie grace. the likelihood of this having some veto-proof supermajority in order to black the president highly -- to block the president highly unlikely. don't be surprised if you hear
more republican voices over the next coming days questioning whether this is exactly the right way for republicans to go. >> all right. dave and julie grace, please stay with me for a moment. i want to bring in nbc's mike viqueira at the white house with new developments surrounding the u.n. ambassador position. what can you tell us this morning? >> reporter: good morning to you. and this is a good old-fashioned nanny problem that heather nauert, the state department spokeswoman for the last couple of years for the trump administration, she was going to be nominated. she hadn't been formally nominated to be ambassador to the united states for the united nations. we learned yesterday a statement from the state department that she is now withdrawing her nomination and reporting from the "washington post" early this morning would indicate that it centers around the nanny that she employed to take care of her children. her family in new york. right now she had hoped to join them as u.n. ambassador. that's obviously not going to happen. but some disputes over whether
or not the nanny said to be a jamaican national was here legally or illegally. according to the "washington post," some say that she was here illegally. there was a vetting process going on. but people close heather nauert say she was here legally but hadn't been paying her taxes. whatever the case may be, we learned from a statement with laudatory praise from the secretary of state and others that accompanied it. neverthele nevertheless, heather nauert is going to be withdrawing her nomination. this question of whether household employees are here illegally or legally obviously has modern-day implications with the fight going on now around immigration. but it harkens back to way back in 1992 and 1993, the transition to the bill clinton presidency when this first became an issue when two, not one but two of his attorney general nominees had the same problem. it takes on special urgency now, notwithstanding the fact that the president, again, according to the "washington post," has been employing people who were
here in this country illegally at his golf club in bedminster, new jersey. phillip? >> we'll talk about that in depth in a moment. for now, mike, thank you very much for your contribution here. back with me, julie grace with "the hill" and dave leventhal with the center for public integrity. julie grace, given the administration's immigration policies, can you speak about the optics here of nauert withdrawing because her nanny reportedly not authorized to work legally in the country? >> well, i think right now the administration, the last thing they need is another scandal. and which i'm sure probably played a large factor in her decision to ultimately withdraw from the u.n. we saw senator menendez bring up -- there was a delay in receiving her paperwork. clearly there was something happening there. i haven't heard any updates on other potential names being floated as of yet. i'm guessing since it's a critical role to fill, that will be coming up soon. >> dave, how does this fit with our understanding of how the president, his family, and other administration officials think of immigrants given the recent
reports like mike mentioned that tru trump-owned golf clubs have higher undocumented workers? >> the president constantly talks about illegal immigration and, of course, the border wall in the south, but has been bes iset -- beset with things like his businesses and administrations. it speaks to the issue that there are immigrants everywhere, whether legal or illegal in this country. and it reaches a -- republicans and democrats. this is not exactly a one-party issue to say the least. but what the president does now is really a major question as to how he's going to deal with the u.n. he hasn't had a representative, a chief representative to the u.n., for many months now. and this is something that really kind of speaks to his priorities. the u.n. has never been at the top of his friends list. and it doesn't appear that that's changing any time soon either. >> julie grace, quickly here, do you hear about any other names who might be nominated next? >> i have not. i guess the news just broke yesterday. we will keep you posted.
>> all right. we'll give you time then to confer with your sources. julie grace and dave leventhal, thanks to both of you for joining us very early on this saturday. >> thanks for having me. >> thanks. now to the other top stories -- new details this morning about the alleged attack on "empire" actor jussie smollett. a police source says investigators are looking into whether smollett paid two men to stage the assault. police had been treating the attack as a possible hate crime after smollett filed a report last month in chicago saying two masked men poured bleach on him, put a noose around his neck, and shouted racist and homophobic slurs. officers had arrested two men in this case, but they were rele e released on friday night. here's how smollett explained the attack -- >> it felt like minutes, but it probably was 30 seconds. i can't tell you honestly. i noticed the rope around my no, sir, and i started screaming. and i said, there's a [ bleep ]
rope around my neck. i can only go off of their words. i mean, who says [ bleep ] "empire" beep, this is maga country [ bleep ]? ties a noose around your neck and pours bleach on you, this is a friendly fight? i will never be the man this did not happen to. i am federal reserve changed. >> smollett's attorneys denied any suggestion that the actor was involved in his own attack. they say he is the victim of a hate crime, and he's cooperated are police. neo-nazis legal msnbc reporter danny savalos joins us. what are the legal consequences smollett is facing if this is true? you can't file a false police report. >> reporter: you've honed in on what is the potential crime here. it's not so much paying folks to beat you up or stage a fight.
more concerning is the potential false police report. and in illinois, filing a false police report is contained under the statute for disorderly conduct. at the lowest level a relatively minor crime. however, a false police report in illinois bumps it up in the statute to a class-four felony which carries a penalty of up to three years in prison. this is a very serious potential crime. if it's true that a false police report was filed. this is something that's very concerning. of course, smollett, assuming he has no criminal history, would not likely serve three years if he was convicted and if this was actual crime. but it's a felony, and felony convictions carry drastic consequences in the united states. >> those are the potential consequences for smollett. what about his lawyer, he hired one. can he be prosecuted here? >> he potentially could. if smollett put in a false
police report, he can potentially be prosecuted. but it's always a good idea when you're prosecuted to get out in front of it and hire your attorney. it may have bad p.r. consequences, bad optics, but in terms of preserving your right, i sound like a commercial, but it is advisable if you're a high-profile client or defendant or potential defendant to get your criminal defense attorney on board early, long before the indictment or charges are actually filed. >> sounds like good advice to me. police in chicago now saying they have reached out to smollett to answer some of those new questions that they have. what do you think they'll ask to try to corroborate the stories here? >> reporter: the most obvious question would be did you make this up. but they need not necessarily ask that direct question. this is assuming that smollett would even sit down at this point. his attorneys may advise him that no longer should you be
sitting down with investigators if it exposes you to potential criminal liability, especially if you might give a false -- an additional false statement to those investigators. because as we've seen in the trump orbit, anyone who gives false statements to investigators exposes themselves to additional criminality even if the underlying act was not itself criminal. >> all right. just a bizarre story coming out of chicago here. danny savalos, thank you very much. what went on during the president's one-on-one meetings with vladimir putin? that's what house democrats want to find out. how they're trying to get ahold of the top-secret documents even as the president may have tried to conceal the details. aaaaaahhhhhhhh! ballooned your car. call meeeee! (burke) a fly-by ballooning. seen it, covered it. we know a thing or two because we've seen a thing or two. ♪ we are farmers. bum-pa-dum, bum-bum-bum-bum ♪
there are new efforts this morning by house democrats trying to obtain details about the president's one-on-one meetings with russian president vladimir putin. autho that's according to adam schiff who told "politico" alongside foreign affairs chairman elliott angle discussed with general counsel how to obtain documents from the administration. danny, we weren't quite done with you yet. the "washington post" last reported, reported last month that the president's attempts to conceal these details including confiscated his interpreter's notes what do you think the best legal option is now? >> we all want to know what happened in the meeting with
trump and putin. but the prospect of subpoenaing or getting at the interpreters or their notes raises very concerning legal issues. even though we may want to know what happened in that particular meeting, we want to be careful as a public policy issue that we don't make a practice of subpoenaing interpreters or their notes or else any criminal defendant who has an interp debt to speak to their -- interpreter to speak to their attorney or a situation with confidential or privileged communications can suddenly become exposed and something that investigators can get at. so this is a very thorny legal issue. the alternative to the interpreters is putin or trump. and those are not folks likely to go softly into that good night if faced with a subpoena. and of course, putin would never show up, and i don't know how you would serve him with process. so with that, with those three major issues, the congressional
-- congressional folks who want to subpoena this information are faced with some real challenges. i don't genesenvy the situation may have no legal or ethical way to properly get at these notes or what the interpreters interpreted. >> could the president be in any legal trouble if he, in fact, destroyed any of his notes from the meetings? >> that again is a very gray legal area, as are many things in this presidency. but it really comes down to if he even destroyed the notes in the first place. how do you find that out? well, you subpoena the president. if you subpoena the president, you set up a battle. an historic battle for the ages that we haven't seen since the days of nixon and bill clinton where we find out what exactly are the limits of executive privilege and whether or not the president truly has to respond to a subpoena to come in person and give testimony. it remains an open, unanswered
question, and there's no doubt that trump would force the issue all the way to the top which would be the supreme court. >> do you think he can, though? just your best guest. do you think he can claim executive privilege here. >> reporter: he can claim executive privilege and folks have claimed executive privilege on his behalf so far in the last couple of years. but all we know really from the supreme court today is that executive privilege exists, but we're not entirely sure what the contours of that privilege are. so again, because it's undefined, i can't necessarily answer that question. in fact, even the supreme court could not answer the question until they were faced with a case or controversy and the opportunity to rule on that specific issue. >> what do you think this push by the democrats here tells you about where they are in their investigation? what do you think that they think is in the documents? >> reporter: they may not know, but whatever it is is going to be fascinating.
this is a very rare moment where the president sent everybody away and went into a private meeting with the president of russia, a country which we now have substantial evidence showing that they may have meddled in our election in 2016. so whatever they talked about, whether it was about the election or whether it was just pleasantries, is of compelling interest to congress and the american public. the practical reality is we may never find out what was in that conversation. >> can you tell us about the process here if the democrats do, in fact, issue subpoenas? the administration will almost certainly challenge them. how is that going to all unfold? >> reporter: administration will challenge, they'll refuse to show up. the case will move very quickly up to the supreme court. and the supreme court will look back to the precedent of nixon, back to the precedent of clinton. and they will determine -- we already know that the president has to give up papers. that's the lesson of nixon.
the other cases since have somewhat defined the limits of executive privilege. but it remains an unanswered question for the supreme court whether or not the president served with a subpoena to appear in person and give testimony, whether or not he can be hailed into congress and forced against his will to give testimony about something that is so purely executive, so purely presidential, as meeting privately with president putin which, of course, itself is a highly unusual act, something that is really unprecedented itself. >> highly unusual, unprecedented. we keep using those phrases around this administration. thank you very much. coming up, we're on the ground at the u.s. border. what conditions are like for the thousands of migrants that have crossed over. and how two very different groups are taking matters into their own hands. eir own hands.
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three conservation groups argue the proclamation is unlawful. they say border barriers prevent the passage of wildlife and could lead to local extinction of jaguars and other endangered species. two groups filed lawsuits against the declaration on friday. meanwhile, more protesters are expected to hit the streets across the country tomorrow to speak out against the president's national emergency. several people were arrested in new york city friday night at a demonstration outside a trump-branded hotel. the reality on the border is a little different from president trump's view of a national emergency. nbc's team of reporters fanned out across border cities to see what's really happening. tremaine lee has spent the last few days in southern mexico to get a glimpse of life there. >> reporter: the southern border of new mexico is one of the most sparsely populated parts of the country. it stretches across roughly 200 miles of rugged terrain and barren desert making it hard to tell where the u.s. ends and
mexico begins. >> the park is at the point where the state of texas and new mexico meet but with the state of chihuahua in mexico. it's one region with a -- one culture here because, you know, i have families that live here in the city during the week and on the weekends they go thome to visit their mom, their parents, their aunts in mexico. >> reporter: 65 miles west in the village of columbus, people not only cross the border on the weekends but every weekday. some 800 children carrying their passports attend school here. they are u.s. citizens. many of their parents are not. >> close to 70% of our kids do cross every day. once they are here, we're -- level playing field as everyone else because we have the same expectations. >> it may seem complicated because there's an actual barrier. it's simple. you're here to educate kids. >> we want our children to go to college. we want our children to have those opportunities because we want them to not live off of government entities. we want them to be successful people who can contribute back
to the tax base and live in the country and be productive. >> for people who don't live anywhere near the border and are tuned in to the news, it feels like there's this big crisis or chaos. but what we find here is a community filled with love. >> you can let innegativity -- can you let negativity infect your school. we create our own culture. >> reporter: on hidalgo county the border drops to the south, a vast frontier. the migrants crossing land are said to be bad neighbors. >> we've had them bunking in our barns. you don't know if you're going to get hit in the head. >> reporter: how do you protect yourself? >> we have to carry -- we have to carry guns. i mean, that's just -- it's plain and simple. >> reporter: what does that feel like to have to think about it? >> it's uneasy. i don't want to shootin. i don't want to put anyone -- shootin. i don't want to put anyone in harm's way. if push comes to shove, my
family's first. we have six deputies and sheriff out here. they patrol 3,500 square miles. >> reporter: of the three points of entry in new mexico, the antelope wells station reports a large number of immigrants cr s crossing. the west is increasingly hard to monitorment we're in cloverdale, as far as you can go in new mexico. this is arizona, this is mexico. cloverdale is the last outpost in the state. so remote and isolated, there's just one building left standing. >> that was nbc's tremaine lee reporting. and he adds that some migrants head for more remote stretches of the border in hopes of improving their chances of receiving asylum. trying to cross the border leads to a lot of challenges for migrants desperate to get into the u.s. in some cases, the odds of surviving the journey are slim. nbc's morgan radford learned
that firsthand in a visit to nogales, arizona, the largest border town in the state that has a fence. >> reporter: the arizona-mexico border, 373 miles of treacherous terrain. one giant barrier. from the mountainous natural barriers in the east to man made razor wire in the center and barren desert out west. deadly mountainous terrain like this has already claimed nearly 3,000 lives in the last 20 years. every tuesday you do this? >> year round. even when the temperature's 110 degrees. >> reporter: for this man, his life's mission is to remember each and every migrant who died. why do you do it? >> because i'm tired of the -- tired of the migration -- >> reporter: the people, the race. this is your story, too? >> this is my story. every time i come here, i connect this loss to losses in my own life.
>> reporter: he's placed 900 crosses in five years. >> this administration is using the desert to kill people, and they die from lack of water. >> reporter: which is why he and his team of volunteers also leave behind a jug of water. they figure if someone died here, more are coming behind them. people have left messages? to you after leaving water bottles? >> to whoever finds them. >> reporter: wow. >> what kind of things do they say? >> gracias. >> reporter: even if the migrant were to try to avoid the desert by traveling to the center of the state, they'd run into this. a 2 2 fig-- a 22-foot-high wall covered in razor war. >> that is mexico. >> reporter: yvette moved to nogales to be closer to her husband who's waiting in mexico to reapply for citizenship to the u.s. >> people don't understand just how hard it is. >> reporter: sometimes his family comes here just to speak
to him through the fence. along this wall, there are more than 5,000 border patrol agents. but where there aren't, some have decided to take the law into their own hands. tim foley calls himself a certified tracker. he's the founder of the arizona border recon, a group of volunteers from all over the country. where are the cameras that you're using? >> they're hidden. >> reporter: dressed in camouflage and armed with his pistol, foley goes out to patrol this patch of the border, placing hidden cameras and looking for any signs of what he calls criminal activity. a lot of people might say you guys are a bunch of racists who just want to hunt down mexican people or people trying to cross the border. what do you say? >> well, that's because they have a preconceived notion of who we are, and of anybody who's trying to protect the border. they call them racists. you got the second-largest make-up of our group are
hispanic males. >> reporter: you have hispanic men helping secure the border? >> yes. >> reporter: that was morgan radford reporting from the u.s. side of the wall in arizona. the average tax refund compared to last year is declining. many americans may be wondering why and who's to blame. and ominous signs growing about the health of the economy with one measure reaching levels we haven't seen since just before the great depression. i'll talk about it with cnbc's ron insana. ron insana save up to 10% when you bundle with esurance. including me, esurance spokesperson dennis quaid. he's a pretty good spokesperson. ehhh. so when i say, "drivers who switched from geico to esurance saved an average of $412," you probably won't believe me. hey, actor lady whose scene was cut. hi. but you can believe this esurance employee, nancy abraham. seriously, send her an email and ask her yourself. no emails... no emails. when insurance is affordable, it's surprisingly painless.
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new reports including from social media this past week that tax returns appear to be smaller. it's just one of the headlines making business news. the others includes this surprising number here. more than seven million americans are behind on their car loan payments. inequality is reaching levels we haven't seen since just before the great depression. and fallout from amazon walking away from its deal with new york city. ron insana joining me. the average tax return is down about 8.7% this year compared to last year. what's going on? >> a couple of things. one, there may have been underwithholding by u.s. corporations that hadn't figured out the details of a complex change in the tax code. two, if you have a limited liability company, a so-called pass-through entity, you have fewer deductions, as does every other american who no longer can
deduct the full cost of state and local income taxes and property taxes on their homes. so that's resulted to a certain extent in the higher tax bill. you -- you either had less money withheld or owe money, more money than you did in prior years. that's accounting for what we're seeing in these tax refunds or in unexpected tax bills. >> a startling number. a new report shows that over seven million americans are behind on their car loan payments. while economic growth, that's strong. unemployment is low. so what does that say about our economy? >> a couple things have happened in auto finance. i mean, in addition to, you know, a lot more leases that are being used and people buying maybe more expensive cars than they could afford, there's been a lot of sub prime lending. we used to talk about that in the real estate business. during the last financial crisis. there's been a lot of sub prime loans written in the auto business which means that people with lower income and a lower ability to maintain their payments if they run into hard times has gone up by a large
amount in this latest auto selling cycle. you have people that may not be able to make the payments or were stretching to make them before. and if they should lose their jobs, whether one or two-income family, it gets harder and harder to make the payments. now we're seeing this 90-day late cycle kick in, which mean people have been predicting for quite a number of years now. >> while we're talking about who can and can't pay the bills, let's shift over to where the money is. a report says that wealth inequality has increased since the 1980s, and we're seeing a disparity we haven't seen since before the great depression. yikes. why is that? >> well, i mean, i think it's a multifold problem. it's quite complex, not just the fact that billionaires got richer. it's the fa account that over the last -- the fact that over the last several decades between automation, globalization, the lack of power among labor unions, you've seen the average worker not keep pace necessarily with the cost of living. and so more people have gone -- i wouldn't say moved down the income scale, but have not been
able to accumulate as much in needed income or wealth. and then we've seen these companies that have gone stratospheric enrich the founders in ways we've not seen since the gilded age where someone like jeff bezos -- and i'm not calling him out. he created jams, an enormous -- amazon, an enormous company, and because of the stock price he's worth $165 billion. we've seen more wealth concentrated in fewer hands. but at the bottom, we've seen not as many keep pace with the cost of living over time. >> speaking of bezos and amazon, they say they are, quote, pretty firm on their decision to pull out of their deal with new york city. why did amazon bail? are they losing anything by walking away? >> i don't know if amazon is. i think new york city is. the queens, long island city and queens would have benefited from the 25,000 jobs that would have been created over 15 years that would have averaged $150,000 in annual pay. i think the opposition from local politicians may have been
misguided insofar as what subsidies mean. they don't write a blank $3 million check to amazon to come. there are tax breaks, abatements, put in place for companies that move into cities. this has been going on for quite some time. i don't personally understand the opposition because you would have had new infrastructure, you would have had new incomes, higher incomes, based on the jobs that were being offered by amazon. i think it's largely a loss for new york city more so than amazon which is going to continue to grow at a breakneck pace going forward. >> yeah. and what's now virginia area is going to benefit from that. >> and some of the other sites around the country, as well. >> that's right. something that might make the average person's blood boil here. reports that amazon will not pay any federal income taxes despite $11 billion in profits. what does that say about our country's tax codes? >> well, i think, you know, part of it is that when you reinvest in your company as amazon has, those are costs that can be written off. having said that, in the broader
context of the recent tax cuts, u.s. corporations pay the lowest amount to the u.s. government than they have in history. the contribution of fennel revenues is at a multi-- federal revenues is at a multiyear low. the benefits that were acare ci to individuals, 23% on average, 13% points of that came from the tax cut. so in addition, there are other reasons why some companies don't pay taxes when they reinvest aggressively in their companies they have costs and deductions and write-offs that exist. it is not comprehensive tax reform we saw in the most recent change. that would have eliminated some of the deductions the corporations have. this was a pretty large giveaway to u.s. companies. helped their profitability but hasn't helped the average individual. >> again, has a lot of us banging our heads. >> mine included. yes. >> ron insan athank you very
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new this morning, bernie sanders set to join the 2020 race. he will announce an the next week. politico separately reported yesterday that sanders has recorded a campaign video announcing his presidential bid. joining me now is nationally syndicated columnist adreanna cohen, also a boston herald radio host, and democratic strategist kristen hahn, a former communications director for blue dog democrats. thank you both for joining us this morning. kristen, i want to start with you. the democratic field is already packed, and at least several more announcements are expected. is this a case of the more the merrier, or do too many candidates risk splintering the party to the benefit of president trump? >> i mean, i think that i'm all for robust, healthy primaries, so i say the more the merrier. we need to have a discussion about where we are with the party, but i would also caution a lot of these candidates who are taking a hard left turn that we don't want to alienate a lot of those voters in the middle.
what we learned from the midterms this year, one of the big takeaways was that the people, the candidates and the members that came through were actually the more pragmatic, centrist candidates, even though there are some on the far left that are very vocal. so, i would, you know, these candidates need to look at that, take a lesson and make sure they're not alienating the independent voters. >> and politico also has a report on the three democrats the trump campaign believes are the most viable, namely kamala harris, elizabeth warren, and cory booker, who they have begun compiling opposition research on them. do you agree with this or are these democrats the ones who pose the greatest threat to president trump? >> yeah, i think, you know, it depends what polling we're looking at, because others suggest that if vice president joe biden enters the race, he is the front-runner at 30%. he's got the name i.d. but that being said, it is a super crowded field, and i see this as, you know, a
disadvantage for democrats in one respect, and that is because all these candidates are going to have to fight for money, they're going to have to fight for name i.d. they're going to have to fight for delegates, whereas president trump has a huge fund-raising advantage. he's already raised $130 million in his first two years in office. he certainly, obviously, has name recognition. he has the infrastructure in place to run a successful re-election campaign. and i think that with bernie sanders entering the race, that's really going to hurt elizabeth warren, because those are the two leading progressives out there, and that's going to split the vote for both of them. >> kristen, this year the democratic party has changed the rules when it comes to superdelegates and what it takes to qualify for a debate. california isn't moving up on the primary calendar, so who do you think stands the most to gain from these changes we're seeing? >> you know, i think the party, these new rules are healthy for our party, you know. the days of having iowa and the midwestern, those types of
states be the indicators of who's going to win, those are gone. so i mean, i think, actually, you know, the candidates do. i think that, you know, the process will be better overall for the candidates as they make their way through it. >> the 2020 contenders, they've been making the rounds this weekend, including amy klobuchar with campaign stops in iowa and in wisconsin. listen to her talking about her approach to president trump. >> my view is that you just can't go down every rabbit hole with him, right? you just can't. you have to pick your battles. not follow him every place that he wants to go, because he just wants to change the topics, he wants to change the agenda, and we have to have our own optimistic economic agenda for america. >> kristen, how important will that decision about how to approach president trump, how important do you think that's going to be to voters? >> i think it's very important. i do agree with the senator, though, that if you follow him down every single rabbit hole, he controls the message.
our candidates, i think they're ultimately going to be successful, they need to rise above. and i'll just go back to the comment earlier about, you know, the president having obviously the incumbent has an advantage, a natural advantage going into a re-election, but i'm not sure that this president has a healthy, robust, competent campaign structure. so i don't think that we're at that much of a disadvantage. >> meanwhile, former massachusetts governor bill weld announced plans to challenge president trump for the republican nomination amid a strong critique of republicans in washington. take a listen. >> our president is simply too unstable to carry out the duties of the highest executive office in the land. they say the president has captured the republican party in washington. as he himself might tweet, "sad." it's even sadder that republicans in washington, many of them exhibit all the symptoms of stockholm syndrome,
identifying with their captor. >> adriana, how seriously should president trump take this? >> not at all. i mean, bill weld's potential candidacy for president is dead on arrival. first of all, 87% of republicans strongly support our president, and even if we look to polling after his state of the union address, which was very well received, you know, even 80% of independents supported, you know, gave him favorable remarks for his speech. the economy is strong. we have historically low unemployment thanks to this administration. there's a lot going right. so for bill weld to say that the president's unstable, really? well, how do you grow a successful economy, you know, well over 3% gdp and hit over 4% last year, and historically low unemployment and everything else he's achieved if you're unstable? i mean, it's just a laughable comment, and it's also insulting to the 63 million trump supporters who voted for him to say that, you know, we all
suffer from stockholm syndrome, you know. he's not going to go anywhere with those types of comments. i mean, look how much it hurt hillary clinton when she called half the country deplorable. that's what bill weld just did and that's not going to go well with voters. >> all right, adriana cohen and kristen hawn, thank you for joining us this morning. we appreciate your insights. coming up, attorneys for actor jussie smollett denying new reports suggesting that the attack on him was all a hoax. we'll have the latest reporting next. we'll have the latest reporting next 300 miles an hour,
and that wraps up this hour of "msnbc live." i'm phillip mena. now it is time for "weekends with alex witt." alex, good morning! >> thank you for starting us off. good morning to you, my friend. and good morning to all of you from msnbc world headquarters here in new york. it is 7:00 a.m. here in the east, 4:00 a.m. out west. welcome to "weekends with alex witt." was it all a hoax? a new twist in the alleged attack on "empire" actor jussie smollett. why police are now questioning his story. following the money with court battles ahead, the acting defense secretary now has to figure out how to pay for trump's wall. resounding silence. why vice president mike pence got such a cold reception and no standing ovation from world leaders in munich this weekend. and withdrawn. heather nauert backs out of the nomination to be u.s. ambassador to the u.n. the controversy that may have