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tv   MTP Daily  MSNBC  May 2, 2019 2:00pm-3:00pm PDT

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"saturday night politics." this saturday at 8:00 p.m. with donny deutsch. we've got mayor pete buttigieg on. a lot of strategy for what the dems need to do to beat trump. we're going to count it down to the election. a lot of interesting, fun guests. >> can i just say that everyone loves you? when you're on this show, everyone is like more donny. if everyone thinks i've gone to a commercial, i actually have to go now -- >> let's stay with it. >> why did you stop donny? >> everyone wants more of you. >> i'm so glad. >> more of you on saturday. congratulations, my friend. >> everyone wants more of you. >> 8:00 p.m. saturday. this saturday. >> we report. you decide. i stole that. my thanks to heilemann, the rev, emily and donny. that does it for our hour. thank you so much for watching. "mtp daily" starts right now. how, chuck. >> try going to the polo club with donny, you just can't. >> i know donny. >> it's the donny club now. that's for sure. congrats, donny. thank you, niccole.
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if it's thursday, house democrats are rsv peeved. good evening. i'm chuck todd here in washington. welcome to "meet the press daily." we begin tonight with the biggest question facing democrats right now, how do they channel their rage against the president's attorney general bill barr. ? after barr gave testimony backing up the president's talking points on the mueller report, he skipped today's hearing before the house judiciary committee. he's still refusing to comply with subpoenas seeking the full unredacted mueller report. this afternoon we learned the white house wrote him a letter basically laying out the ways president trump may want to fight democrats over their access to both the mueller report's underlying evidence and its star witnesses. if the trump administration laying the groundwork to fight democrats over the terms of mueller's testimony, well, democrats are going to go, in a
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word, berserk. but their fights with barr right now show you the limits of what they can do. speaker pelosi today said that barr purgered himself when he testified. house judiciary committee chairman jerry nadler says he'll hold barr in contempt. or even imprison administration officials like him who will not cooperate. perjury cases are handled by bill barr's justice department. impeachment proceeding would have to go through bill barr's allies in the united states senate. and good luck getting past barr's security detail if democrats decide to dust off those inherent contempt powers of congress by trying to unilaterally imprison bar in the capitol jail. so the question remains, what do democrats do? joining me now is someone very familiar with the justice department and the legal guidance surrounding a special counsel. he's also an nbc news and msnbc contributor. he's the former acting solicitor general, neal katyal. joining me on this panel this
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hour is nbc national news reporter carol lee, howard fineman and former rnc chairman and msnbc political analyst michael steele. neal, though, you are -- you are the expert here, so it does seem as if this fight over barr appears to be the first proxy war over mueller's testimony. is that a fair read? >> yeah, i think it is. i mean, i think what's happening yesterday and today is you're really seeing the collapse of really -- the chicken's coming home to roost and the collapse of any respect for law at the white house and at the justice department is becoming evident to everyone. and, yes, i think what we're seeing now is that first skirmish in will mueller come before the committee on may 15th or whenever it is? and there's really the letter today by the white house lays out a pretty clear attack on the special counsel, on mueller, and on an attempt to try and stop him, i think, if i'm reading the
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tea leaves correctly, from testifying. it will fail because when we wrote the special counsel regulations, we wrote them with this emergency in mind, that a white house that would squelch a special counsel from doing its job. >> neal, i'm going to interrupt you a second. we basically summarized the letter this way. the president is claiming he can still claim executive privilege. that he can still order advisers not to testify and that he can withhold the mueller report's underlying evidence. what is the provision, though, that basically stops them from stopping mueller from testifying? >> so, the special counsel regulations look to someone outside the department of sufficient stature precisely so they couldn't be muzzled. they can leave the department. mueller can leave the justice department tomorrow and not be bound by that. they can still try and assert executive privilege on various pieces of mueller's testimony, but that's going to be very hard because a lot of this information, and, you know, the president has made much of it.
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i voluntarily gave this information. >> right. >> and so on. so there is no such executive privilege like on monday you invoke executive privilege but on sunday you don't and you turn it over. this stuff is now out there, and, you know, i think probably the cardinal principle when you're dealing with executive privilege is, you know, is really the courts are asking what is the truth? there's a truth-seeking function at the end of this and it's going to be very, very hard for the white house to hide this stuff. >> well, they are making let's say extreme arguments, if you will, pushing boundaries here. carol, i'm going to read you this other excerpt from the letter. according to emmet flood. their interpretation of our constitution. under our system of government, unelected executive officers are supposed to answer to the person elected by the people, the president, and not the other way around. it's just an interesting way -- it's a pretty broad definition. while i understand that the
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executive branch employees are there at the will of the president, i don't think they work for him. i still think they work for the taxpayer. >> they -- exactly. yes, exactly. that's the way that typically you would think of that. i mean, look, what the white house is trying to do here is -- is just throw down in every way they possibly can. what i find so interesting about this moment is when democrats came in to take over the house, the question was, how do they handle investigations? do they, you know, go in and not do things that are going to be seen what the president sees as presidential harassment. are they very calculated about this? it seems like there wasn't a plan for this level of obstruction or pushback from the white house. >> right. >> and now they're getting into all these choices where do you push on barr at this, you know, at the expense of pushing harder on trump? how much -- and the white house's view is how much can they make democrats look like
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they're just all-in trying to do presidential harassment, essentially? that's what this letter is about and what their whole posture is about. >> michael steele, it seems as if it, you know, in the letter they're angry at mueller, presented evidence that they didn't use. so you think, oh, you would have preferred -- obviously if he attempted to charge him with obstruction, they would have said, hey, the olc memo says we can't do this. it's weird. they want impeachment. they seem to want this. why? i think this is -- >> oh, because -- >> be careful what you -- i know what they think. >> yeah. >> i think they think the democrats don't have the guts to do it. >> well, it doesn't matter whether or not they have the guts to do it. the backstop is the united states senate. you can impeach him all day long but you can't convict. and here's the thing. the drama is in the act. the drama is -- that's the thing where you're sitting in front of your television with the popcorn. that's what trump wants to play. reel the democrats into this space. i firmly believe the president is wholly comfortable with the idea of being impeached because
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it plays his ultimate card for the election. >> do you buy that, howard? >> no, i don't. on one level -- >> i believe that a week ago. i don't now. >> why? >> they seem to be petrified of this report and they're petrified of mueller. if impeachment happens, mueller shows up. it's a whole different ball game. that's why i don't -- i think they're petrified. >> first of all, they have a reason to be scared about bob mueller because bob mueller in a way did what james comey did to hillary clinton. remember that james comey came out and gave a press conference -- >> right. >> and said, well, we're not going to indict hillary clinton. >> that's what they're mad at. you're right. >> she did some bad stuff. >> he rhetorically indicted her. >> by some people's account, that cost hillary clinton the election. in this case, i think emmet flood, the white house counsel, has a point. technically if you're trying to put the genie back into the bottle, you wouldn't say we're
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not exonerating him. emmet flood has a point about what mueller did, which shows mueller wants to make his case even if he can't indict the president. neal, how did you interpret that? >> not at all. with all due respect. >> okay. >> what mueller says is i can't indict a sitting president. that's page one. and page two is, if -- even if i had all the goods on him, i can't indict him, and if i could clear him, i would. the reason the conclusion reads the way it does from mueller is because that's all he could do, is just lay out the evidence. he couldn't reach a conclusion. i mean, if you had to read between the lines, it sure seems like he's -- >> bill barr claimed he could have. did bill barr just mislead the united states senate? >> i do think so. >> republican senator after republican senator yesterday claiming, hey, his job was to indict or not indict. he didn't indict. >> that's ridiculous. i mean, barr's -- barr himself presides over the justice department, which has these two opinions which say a sitting president can't be indicted. and then barr goes before the senate yesterday and says, well,
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prosecutors always in ordinary cases issue binary choices. to indict or not indict. barr's whole argument is this isn't an ordinary case. you can't indict a sitting president. it makes no sense whatsoever. >> all right. i want to talk about the handcuffs on the house democrats here. here is speaker pelosi today saying, accusing bill barr of lying to congress. >> the attorney general of the united states of america was not telling the truth to the congress of the united states. that's a crime. he lied to congress. he lied to congress. if anybody else did that, it would be considered a crime. nobody is above the law. not the president of the united states and not the attorney general. >> should he go to jail for it? >> there's a process involved here, and as i said, i'll say it again, however many questions you have, the committee will act upon -- how we will proceed. >> neal, you and many of these
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democrats are operating under this idea that everybody will accept what the rules are. when you're dealing with an entity that does not accept the idea that a congressional subpoena means anything, that contempt of congress is meaningless in their mind, what do you do? >> yeah, so i take the point. i mean, this is an unprecedented attack on the rule of law and our institutions, unlike anything we've seen really in our lifetimes. but i think there are two different remedies. one, as you said at the introduction, you know, there are different court things you can do. you can go and get contempt. even if it's civil contempt because you may not be able to get criminal, because as you say, barr controls it. number two, i'm a lawyer, but a lot of this stuff is actually not resolved by law, it's resolved by other things. here because of the november election the house of representatives is now controlled by the democrats and the house of representatives is essential to, for example, fund the office of the attorney
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general, to fund the justice department more generally, and they can simply say if you don't play ball, attorney general, if you don't give us this, if you're going to stonewall us then, boy, we're going to stonewall you or selectively stonewall you. >> this goes back to carol. i feel like politically on this there is a checkmate aspect to what the administration has done. >> yes. >> and the democrats only hear check, and i understand why, but there is only one way out of this. if they formilize an impeachment inquiry, even though they don't get it, they at least get the evidence. they at least force mueller. they at least make this, you know, that's their win way of then going back. will they do it? >> and they have to balance that against will that essentially benefit the president in 2020? and does that feed into, as you were saying earlier, this whole character that he's put forward, that he's the victim and that this is all just another step in a long series of steps to try to have a coup. >> here's the dilemma if you're
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the democrats. you make the political argument and you say, look, we've got -- and you say, you know what, i'm going to make the political argument and we'll roll the dice in the ballot box, but then you don't have a chance to hold up walls of accountability. what happens when it's your turn again on the watch? >> well, my point about mueller is that donald trump is afraid of him. and mueller showed his attitude by the way he crafted the report that he made. and what the president is concerned about is bob mueller sitting before the cameras -- >> yeah. >> -- and adding to the narrative that already exists out there about a president who lies, who disregards the law -- >> right. >> -- and is incapable of telling the truth. and while that's not new information to most voters, the depth and kind of seal on the document that bob mueller can provide is something that donald trump desperately doesn't want
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to happen. >> michael steele, hillary clinton in the benghazi hearings, success or failure, right? >> yeah. >> on one hand she survived them. as far as mainstream media thrived. but did she? is she president of the united states? >> no. >> okay. >> but i would submit to you, chuck, that that had very little to do with why she's not president of the united states. >> okay. >> she walked into that hearing -- >> but it did damage. >> yeah, it did some damage. she had so much more baggage that she brought into that. attitudes and the feelings people had about her personally. when you asked voters at that time, you know, do you like hillary clinton, the answer was no. when you ask about donald trump, do you like donald trump, the answer was no, but -- so that was the difference in 2016. >> well, one way you can tell they're scared is that bill barr is going after mueller big time. >> can i just say one thing, though? here's where i'm really hesitant. i get everybody talking about bob mueller.
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i would be cautious about what you think mueller's going to do when he sits in front of that committee. >> neal -- >> careful what your thinking. >> neal, i know a lot of house democrats are probably asking -- looking for off the record advice and things like that. and i know you're not a political guy, you're a legal guy, but what advice are you giving the house democrats? i mean, this to me -- i understand the legal and historical argument is in one place. the political argument is in the other. but it does seem as if without starting a formalized impeachment inquiry, they're never going to get the documents they need. >> yeah, well, look, i think trump does want to be impeached because it's his least worst option. he doesn't have an agenda. he's got nothing. his agenda is literally like twitter and build the wall, so from his perspective i see why he wants to be impeached and i understand why the democrats accordingly are afraid of it. but at the end of the day you've got to do your job. if you're in congress and looking at all of this
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lawlessness by the president. i guess how do you not start the inquiry? i mean, what are they there for, if not for that? >> and what will this look like in 25 years? that's the part of this. what -- i'd say that to any -- what is this going to look like in 25 years? >> the short answer is we might not remember the hearings, but we'll remember the character of donald trump on display. >> they'll ask themselves why they didn't do it. neal katyal, thanks for coming on. much appreciated. you guys get to stick around. after being stood up by the attorney general bill barr, how far will house democrats go to get him to talk? i'll talk to california congresswoman karen bass next. plus, president trump has joe biden living in his head. against the advice of advisers, he's all about biden, but the president, is he playing right into the former vice president's hands? nds?
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the failure of attorney general barr to come to the hearing today is simply another step in the administration's growing attack on american democracy. >> the only way we can fully understand what the president did and to hold him accountable is to see the full mueller report and to have an independent attorney general, not one who is acting as the president's lawyer. >> the attorney general of the united states of america was not telling the truth to the congress of the united states. that's a crime. >> welcome back. if you haven't figured it out, democrats in the house are clearly not happy with the attorney general bill barr. the question now is what are they going to do about? joining me now is one of those democrats who will be deciding about what to do about the attorney general. california congresswoman and house judiciary committee member karen bass. congresswoman bass, good to see you. >> thank you. >> well, the speaker said he lied to congress. first of all, i'm curious if you believe bill barr has indeed lied to congress? and second, if this is worth a criminal or even civil referral.
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>> well, i do think we have a lot of steps before we get there, but from what i heard in his testimony in the senate, absolutely. i mean, he said that there had been no communication when it's clear that mueller had sent him the letter. they had talked by phone. he even talked about notes. he said he would refuse to give them to the senate. but, you know, he had said that there had been no communication, so he contradicted himself. so absolutely. but i do think that we have a long way to go before we get to that point. >> well, what is that long way to go? i tell you, there's certainly -- i heard from plenty of people that say why did the house judiciary democrats, you know, why didn't they call barr's bluff and just say, all right, fine, we won't let committee staff question, just members. let's see you up here? why not -- why not call that bluff? >> well, that wasn't the only issue, and so, you know, we've issued -- we've give him awhile.
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he has a couple of days. but it's really about the documents. it's about the complete unredacted report and all the underlying evidence. so him coming and testifying before our committee is something that we wanted him to do, but far more significant than that, especially given the way he appears before committees, far more significant than that is him giving the documents that he should give. and even mueller agreed that he should give the documents. we also want to have mueller come before the committee. we want to have mcgahn come before the committee. >> right. >> we don't want to be completely distracted by barr. >> well, let me -- look, the ranking republican on the judiciary committee has an idea of how to help you get more of these records. i want to play what -- >> okay. >> -- he said this morning at the hearing first and get you to react. >> all right. >> number six, guys. >> well, they want to to play out this way because they want it to look like an impeachment hearing but they don't have the fortitude to bring impeachment hearings. if they did an impeachment
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hearing, they'd have all kinds of documents, regardless of what the attorney general brought. >> congresswoman, he's got a point here. if you formalize the inquiry, you become like a grand jury, you get access to all of these. then basically that's -- that's your way of trumping trump in this case. >> yeah, exactly, but that's the bait that we're not going to take. and so to me it is very clear, there are many steps we need to go through in this process. now, i can't say that we won't do that for sure, but i am certainly hoping that at some point in time this administration decides to abide by the rule of law. and so if the court says you must give the documents over then i'm hoping that they would be willing to do that, but at this point in time, you know, we don't know. the verdict is out on that. >> why do you call it bait? why do you call it bait? how much more information do you need? you think this is politically a bad idea for the democrats then? >> oh, well, absolutely, especially right now. i mean, i think that the ranking member would love for us to jump into impeachment. and you know the chaos that
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would pursue from that. and so, you know, to me, the idea of us pursuing impeachment when we know it is a two-step process makes no sense at all. but what we need to do is take it a step at a time. we need to be disciplined in that process and that's the way we're going to proceed. >> so you're going to try the courts and see if they agree to what the courts say? how does this -- how does this work? where do you think this goes? if he refuses to turn over these underlying documents, where do you go next? >> right. so refusing to comply with the subpoena, then the next step would be, you know, we would definitely proceed with taking it through the courts. and seeing what happens, you know, whether we issue a citation of contempt. but we have several steps to take. if the court orders them to give us the documents, which we believe would happen, and then they still say no, you know, it's possible for us to hold them in contempt. we can do that in the house. we can do it on the floor of congress. but i am hoping that they don't
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force us to go along that way. but we do know that this is a president that has -- >> congresswoman? >> uh-huh? >> you keep saying i hope they'll go down a different road. what evidence makes you think they're going to suddenly choose compliance, voluntary compliance here? i don't mean to be that cynical, but i've become that cynical. >> well, you know, i mean, at a certain point in time i think when public opinion begins to be impacted that if his poll numbers -- and you know this. you know that as soon as the report was released, his poll numbers began to drop. i think he is all about his poll numbers and i think the senators are as well, and you and i know there's over 20 of them that will be up for re-election next year and at some point they're going to have to say that they did something other chan carried the president's water. and so if they feel that they're beginning to be compromised then maybe we could -- we could talk. if he was seriously threatened
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with impeachment, i think he'd love to see impeachment happen right now because he knows that we would not be able to carry it through all the way and he would simply begin to campaign on that. we don't want to see that happen. >> let me go back to the idea of mueller testifying. >> yes. >> do you think it's going to happen if it is up to the -- it sounds like the justice department gets to decide whether he comes or not. the senate republicans don't want to see him. >> yes. >> so it seems as if that you guys are going to be alone in asking and it sounds like justice is going to be comfortable denying it. what do you do? >> we'll see. barr said he was okay with him testifying, but there is also mcgahn. and you know what? at some point i am wondering will they step up and essential say, you know what, we're going to tell the truth to the american public. period. i was impressed to read mueller's letter to barr basically saying what are you doing, you're creating confusion, release the report.
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i would love to see if he was told that he couldn't testify that he would come and testify anyway. i'm also thinking that all of those people that put all of those hours and days and months, two years developing the mueller report that they might blareak rank and come forward as well. at some point in time this is about our democracy, this is about our country and i'm hoping that people's jobs are less important than fighting on behalf of our country and our democracy. >> congresswoman karen bass, congresswoman from california. very much appreciated. good to have you on to share your views. >> thank you. up ahead, the 2020 pool, guess what, it got a little more crowded. seems like that's a daily occurrence. another democrat has jumped in because apparently the water is great. plus, kamala harris' barr exam. get it? did wednesday's hearing give the congresswoman the moment she had been hoping for. >> perhaps they suggested? >> i wouldn't say suggest. >> hinted?
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in tonight's 2020 vision it's another bee bo joins the swarm of candidates. >> my plan is to run for president. >> and with that, colorado's michael bennet has become the 18th major democratic candidate to run for president.
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he's also the seventh sitting senator to be running, seventh. and joining former governor john hickenlooper. bennet made the announcement this morning less than a month after announcing his intention to run at the same time he announced he was battling prostate cancer. >> we caught it early. it's something that can be dealt with and i've got insurance, so -- >> so your -- if you get cancer-free, you're 100% in? >> yeah. >> after undergoing successful surgery, bennet is focused on his campaign cancer-free in which he's hoping to appeal to moderate voters. >> i'm not going to pretend free college is the answer. i'm not going to say there is a simple solution to a problem if i don't believe there is one. >> bennet sits down tonight with rachel maddow at 9:00 p.m. check that one out. bernie sanders joins chris hayes at 8:00. the democratic primary in a nutshell right there, issue? progressive and moderate. we'll be back with more "mtp daily" right after this. with fidelity wealth management you get straightforward advice,
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the firemen or the international comes out, and they always do. they have for many, many years, but they go with the democrat, withi with joe. and the firemen and the firewomen, they went crazy when they saw it. they went absolutely crazy. they're going to be voting for me. >> i understand the president's been tweeting a lot about me this morning and for awhile. i wonder why in the hell he's doing that. i imagine i'm going to be the object of his attention for awhile. >> welcome back. joe biden seems to be enjoining the attention he's getting from president trump. it's not hard to see why. just one glance at the president's twitter feed and it's not a stretch to suggest that biden may be getting under the president's skin, but could the president's attacks on trump backfire? trump's son-in-law reportedly thinks so. according to politico, jared kushner has reportedly warned campaign officials not to attack any of the democratic candidates this early. but not all have gotten the
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message, including the president's personal attorney. on trail with the vice president, he's obviously our man for all things biden these days. carol, howard and michael are back with me. so, mike, i guess if the biden campaign could have planned it, they would have planned for trump to do nothing but attack biden off and on for the first week of his candidacy. it seems to me this is the biden strategy, which is to make it all about trump. >> that's exactly right, chuck. on the road talking to advisers traveling with the former vice president. they think every trump tweet is worth maybe 1/4 of a percentage point in the fight here. the entire rationale or the way they're framing his candidacy in the early going is that trump's presidency is a national emergency and joe biden is the only one who can beat him. the more the president draws
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attention to biden and seems threatened by his candidacy or the more democrats feel threatened by the idea of another four years of president trump, the stronger he's going to do. especially concerned it seems about the firefighters' endorsement which is interesting. we saw them out at all the events the former vice president did this week. if you look at the makeup of the firefighters' union, they're probably more ideologically diverse of the unions we typically put in the democratic coalition. i think the president sees a lot of obama/trump voters that he needs to win in the rust belt. >> howard fineman, i know i'm going into your wheel house. i talked to the iron workers and the carpenters, unequivocally, biden is the one guy -- they all admit. all of the sort of bricks and mortar unions all admit that the non, you know, that the white membership males are, you know, there are some trump voters in there but that biden is the one guy who can pull them away. i think trump know it is.
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>> of course he knows it. i would say about the firefighters. first of all, they are a terrifically well-organized and potent force. >> they punch above their weight when you think of their membership versus money. >> they're everywhere. they're tied into the community. they also wear a uniform, which matters greatly to donald trump. they almost single handedly got john kerry the democratic nomination. >> one could argue the only union at the time. first union on board. i remember. >> carry kerry across the finish line. >> they might do it for him again if they have to. >> interestingly, the brick and mortar units aren't endorsing yet. they hung back a little bit in pittsburgh. there are a lot of individual members there. no endorsements yet from them, but the firefighters was very significant because of their clout at the grassroots and trump knows it. >> trump likes the labor unions. >> he loves the labor unions. he has relationship with these guys going back to all the work he's in done in new york.
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howard's put the finger on what is eating at the president. the fact that biden came out of the gate as strong as he did, got the kind of response that he did. i think there is this calculation that the democratic primary process is basically going to, you know, undo biden, but my bet is that biden is not running for the future of democratic party. he's not running to be the future of the democratic party. he's running the way trump ran, as a transitional figure. as trump was a transition from obama, biden plays that role of being a transition from trump. and that's where the future steps in. >> restoration versus revolution. biden's fine with restoration. >> one of the interesting things is that trump hasn't landed a punch on him yet. you know, he's really aggressively going after him. we've seen him tweeting and talking about him a lot, but he hasn't really -- it hasn't had an effect. in the sense that usually you'll see the president go in and he'll have a target and he hits the target pretty well and he
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mansion manages to label them. he's running against somebody who already has a brand, who is already well known and has inroads in all these places. >> but, but, but, i want to bring mike back in here a minute. the question is the next level of biden attacks that are coming from trump. rudy giuliani is testify graphi telegraphing it. in some ways they want to create a foreign interference. the ukraine and the russians. been to the ukraine. he's got ukrainian clients. how is biden. tell me how team biden is prepping for what is obviously coming from trump very soon, the hunter biden attacks. >> it's already under way, chuck. one of the last times you and i talked here this was one of the factors that we thought might keep the former vice president out of the race. this was something that close family members and close allies the of the former vice president worried about, how would he react on the campaign trail? for the trump campaign, this is
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a dually effective strategy on some level. one, to the extent that they can ever continue to muddy the waters. while you think that jared and don jr. have a problem, look at hunter, he also has his problems. that's one potential way of going this. they also know nothing is more abhorrent to the former vice president than attacks on his family. there is an element of getting in the vice president's head. >> that's what i'm wondering this. >> if he wants to stay focused. they've war gamed this. sat around and said, what if somebody asks you this on the rope line or what if there is a heckler talking about hunter. he performs well in that controlled environment. this is something you can't control out there in the early states and small venues, especially. >> carol, that's why i interrupted you on this. yes, he has his own brand. yes, he has all these things. how is he going to handle when the hunter stuff comes? we don't know. >> it's his biggest vulnerability. vulnerability in the sense that family to him, you know, when obama had picked him as his vice
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president. he said if you get me, you get all of us. there is a bunch of them. family is very emotional for him. they've had a rough time. there's a lot of reasons why he would feel very protective about his family. you can see him being drawn into some sort of reaction that casts him in a way that is not favorable. and that's where they're going to try to go. >> there's one more way that he and trump are alike, when you stop and think about it. the way trump, particularly around ivanka. >> attack on her -- yeah. >> so i think there is that vulnerability there. i would almost suspect on this point, to the point you made, chuck, that the biden team kind of have gamed through this. biden stepping into this ring knowing that that sort of sword is hanging over his potential campaign head, i think they'll be prepared for it. >> well, sometimes history is a bad guide. i've been around a long time, so i've covered joe biden's two previous campaigns. >> right. >> and they were terrible.
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but people do -- >> because they were run by family. it was almost too insular. that's what i remember. >> people do learn. politics is about timing and context. you mentioned the machinist and so forth. joe biden is like the tool in the toolbox. >> yeah. >> that perfectly fits the job of getting rid of donald trump. to democrats. the question isn't whether he's the right instrument for doing it, it's whether he can hold up -- >> yeah. >> -- and stay focused between now and next year. and i think the trump people are going to try to go after him right away for that specific reason. >> mike, how good do the biden people feel as if -- who do they think is their biggest threat in the primary? >> it's not an answer i've gotten from his campaign just yet. i mean, they are more worried i think about the general leftward drift of the party. they see him as planting a flag for it. they're more worried, in fact, i think about progressive twitter and the left echo chamber than
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they are of any specific candidate. >> that's interesting. >> they don't want to be drawn into it, you know, as him having to fight that group writ large. >> he must be happy with moderates like bullock and bennet getting in. there's progressives, there's moderates, all sorts of flavors. mike memoli, a rare day in washington. good to see you, sir. thank you. carol, howard and michael, stick with us. up ahead, my latest obsession and why i'm putting it in the form of a question. you should be mad at tech that's unnecessarily complicated. make ice.
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welcome back. tonight i'm obsessed with the big questions. the ones we simply cannot answer. who are we and why are we here? why is the universe something instead of nothing? also, who is ben sasse? wait, what, that's not one of your unanswerable questions. well, then you have not been watching "jeopardy." >> he's a senator from nebraska and the author of "them: why we hate each other and how to heal." that senator ben sasse. >> who is ben sasse? come on, man. who is ben sasse? [ crickets chirping ] >> bueller? bueller? >> well, we're waiting.
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>> nada, nothing, nobody knew. not even this guy, the winningest "jeopardy" contestant in years. the guy who knows everything. he's missed like three questions in a month but he didn't know sasse. now, kudos to ben sasse for reacting to this indignity with his trademark, well, sass. i'll take uncomfortable awkward silences for 1,000, alex. nice work, senator. i think this actually goes to prove a larger point, when it comes to washington, america has checked out, even the smartest guy in the world. it doesn't take a brain yack to see that the body public is -- we are exhausted by the partisanship and the infighting and the do nothingness. so they're flipping around to see what else is on. in a hat tip to our friends at "jeopardy," i'll respond in the form of a question. can you blame them? for 2,000, alex. for 2,000, alex.
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so why should russia have all the fun? and since russia is clearly backing republicans, why don't we ask china to back us. >> i hereby tonight ask china -- >> not only that, china, if you're listening, why don't you get trump's tax returns? i'm sure our media would richly reward you. so hey. let's have a great power contest and let's get chinese in to side of somebody else. just saying that shows how absurd the situation we find ourselves in. >> welcome back. time for "the lid." hillary clinton and her modest proposal. part of me thinks she's watching too much. a lot of this going on in "veep," spoiler alert. this is frankly why i'm a bit frustrated that there is not more concern about punishing the
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russians collectively in our democracy. republicans now, at least trump and now republicans are agreeing with this mindset of, it stopped hillary so it was okay. like they rationalize the russian help because it was to stop hillary. >> this is insanity. >> it is insanity. there is no energy. no motivation coming from the grassroots of manager, from kitchen counters and coffee clatches to do anything about this. there is a collective so what out there in the country. and that is largely been put in place by the president's attitude about all this. we are still a nation that believes we take our leave from where the president leads us. if he looks at this and goes, no collusion, no corruption, no big deal, then the american people over time buy it. >> it's more than. that he has set the narrative that everybody is corrupt. i'm the only one that admits it. they're all corrupt. i'm the only one who is honest about it.
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>> this is real politics gone mad. this is how erdogan happen, by the way. >> it is a leveling of all institutions, all standards, all ideas of character in politics. one of the things the founders, i think, were relying on, even though they did put impeachment processes in there in the constitution, the idea that people of good character would be leading us. and trump is saying there is nobody of good character. no good characters anywhere. >> the founders did have an idea of how to dealing with it'll it is called the electoral college and we don't use it. >> and in all seriousness, the chinese are showing interest in doing what the russians were doing. because the russians were so successful and the russians are looking at doing things we haven't even conceived of yet. video and all sorts of things that are going to mess with the
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2020 election. and no one is talking about it. and yet, it is largely because there is no ground swell of support for doing anything about it. >> by the way, you talked about china. of all days for hillary clinton to play jonathan swift about china. take listen to joe biden yesterday in iowa. >> china is going to eat our lunch? come on, man. they can't even figure out how to deal with the fact that they have this great division between the china sea and the mountains in the east, i mean, in the west. they cannot figure out how they're going to deal with the corruption that exists within the system. they're not bad folks, folks, but guess what? they're not competition for us. >> american exceptionalism, he's making that case. but mitt romney tweeted at him last night and put up there,
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this will not age well. there's bipartisan skepticism about china. >> and widespread skepticism. it is not in every industry, in the education, in corporations. this is a fine line between doing the rally cry that america is the best and acknowledging that china is a threat and it is a threat. it has eaten our lunch for a long time in many different ways. and their espionage operations are aggressive. on every front. they have become more aggressive. >> i was going to say, is that a gaffe? i think biden will -- >> i have to admit, i hadn't seen. that i'm thinking of the steel workers in western p.a. >> they won't like that. >> and they have a guy who would like to go in biden's direction, probably. >> but that's not going to help with the same people joe biden is appealing to culturally to tell all the workers in the
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midwest that china is not a big deal. >> the only thing that's right in this china is fear of china. >> and for good reason. we have to be smart about how technologically advanced they are. >> you've done this before. >> thank you. >> thank you
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it's thursday. i hope you downloaded the chuck todd cast. we'll be pack with more "meet
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the press daily" tomorrow. "the beat" is next. >> good evening. i'm in for ari. we begin with he is the congratulating fight between the trump administration and congress. the attorney general bill barr, a no show today at a house judiciary hearing with democrats considering holding him in contempt and speaker pelosi accusing him of a crime. >> deadly serious about it, the attorney general of the united states of america is not telling the truth to the congress of the united states. that's a crime. he hide to congress. if anybody else did that, it would be considered a crime. nobody is above the law. not the president of the united states and not the attorney general. >> that is huge. the speaker of the house accusing the attorney general for lying to congress. today an empty chair where barr was supposed to sit, refusing to

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