tv Deadline White House MSNBC May 3, 2019 1:00pm-2:00pm PDT
you speak to the russian president tru president, right? not if you're donald trump. donald trump and vladimir putin spoke on the phone today. a spokeswoman saying the two leaders talked about collusion, which notably isn't a thing anywhere but on fox news. mueller actually investigated but when pressed by reporters about whether he mentioned russia's attack on our country, our democracy, here was trump. >> did you address the election meddling issues with president putin today? >> sort of smiled when he said something to the effect that it started off as a mountain but it ended up as a mouse. but he knew that because he knew there was no collusion whatsoever. so pretty much that's what it was. >> mr. president, did you tell him not to meddle in the next election? >> excuse me.
i'm talking. i'm answering this question. you are very rude. so we had a good conversation about many different things. okay? >> did you tell him not to meddle in the next election? >> we didn't discuss that. >> we didn't discuss that. and he smiled. were you face timing? another more alarming finding that trump apparently didn't get a chance to bring up that trump and russia spent the 2016 election working toward a common goal or as the report put it, quote, the investigation established that the russian government perceived it would benefit from a trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome. putin, he made it clear who he wanted to win. >> president putin did you want president trump to win the election? did you direct any of your officials to help him do that? >> translator: yes, i did. yes, i did.
because he talked about bringing the u.s./russia relationship back to normal. >> but as we find the president once again in sync with putin he's also decidedly out of sync with congress. telling a reporter last night that he will block the testimony of former white house counsel don mcghan. and in "the washington post" we're learning more about what don mcghan learned, who took simultaneous notes. the notes scribbled on a legal pad captured the fear inside the white house when president trump raged over the russia investigation and decreed he was firing the fbi director who led it. is this the beginning of the end she wrote? that's where we start with some of our favorite reporters and friends, peter baker, carol
lennog, frank figliuzzi, with us at the table, former assistant u.s. attorney, mimi rocah and executive editor for bloomberg opinion, tim o'brien. i have to start with you frank figliuzzi because you and i have had so many conversations about this dynamic. it is personal. i haven't heard donald trump describe a foreign leader smiling since he was president. that was read out as a call. if he heard him smile he must have seen him. talk about this description from the white house about this conversation today with vladimir putin. what jumps out at you? >> it's troubling to think the president is finding comfort in our adversary. and our nation's adversary is actually now his buddy. he's finding self-affirmation in someone who gets up every morning trying to hurt our country. and he simply doesn't get it. here's how that exchange should
have gone, especially if it was that lengthy a phone call. vladimir, the report has troubling information about the degree to which you and your government tried to mess with our democracy and our elections, and if it happens again the wrath of the u.s. government is going to come down on your head in the form of sanctions like you've never before seen. that's how it should have gone. so when we hear putin say at the helsinki summit i supported the president's campaign because he's talking about bringing relations back to normal. this is anything but normal what we're hearing today and seeing. normal would be acknowledging russia as an adversary and doing something about it, and it's not happening. >> what does it say to you, frank figliuzzi, that the conduct vis-a-vis putin, in his mind -- i mean, he and mueller talked -- or he and putin talked about mueller's conclusion that
there was no collusion, not something mueller examined as collusion as a crime. but what do you make of the fact that an american president is talking to a u.s. adversary who attacked our democracy and sharing some sort of commonality about its result? >> well, first, we've got to keep doing what you just did, nicole. you just called out, and we got to keep doing it, that once again they've mixed up collusion with criminal conspiracy. right. and as you said, let's keep telling the american public, mueller looked only at criminality, not at collusion. so we still have what by many experts see in the report, a form of collusion occurring and that hasn't even been touched on or acknowledged. with regard to continued relations and cozying up to putin. putin has the green light now. he simply has -- like michael cohen described and others, the
mob boss, nodding the head, looking you in the eye. you know what you need to do. and the lack of pushing back by this government and by the president has got to be giving putin the green light to do it again. do it again. help us out. what i'm becoming equally if not more concerned about is the other nations in the world going, hey, this worked for russia, let's see if we can leverage some assistance to the reelection campaign. >> peter baker, frank figliuzzi describing the comments today as a green light. he joins jared kushner and rudy giuliani who alarmed investigators, saying i didn't commit any crimes but i'm going to join christopher wray and others protecting the democracd. here are the comments that raised eyebrows. >> nothing wrong with taking information from russias.
it depends on where it came from. >> quite frankly the whole thing is a big distraction for the country. look at what russia did, buying some facebook ads to sow dissent, it's a terrible thing but the speculation and things that have happened the last two years have had a much harsher impact on our democracy. >> that's the administration's position. the president doesn't raise the attack. jar ed says a couple facebook ads and rudy says there's nothing wrong with taking information from russians. >> a surprise to politicians in previous eras. i can't think of a time when they would have taken information from russians. not just russians but those advertised from the russian government. remember the trump tower meeting that was so famous was specifically stated in the email setting it up as providing incriminating information about their opponent on behalf of the
russian government, which was supporting donald trump. that's not just, you know, an average russian they didn't happen to know had some sort of intelligence background or what have you. that was very explicit. and they never expressed much concern about that. it's always been a brushoff and what's the big deal here. and that's part of the issue. it may not be a criminal conspiracy. what robert mueller is saying basically is he didn't find a very narrowly defined explanation of, you know, agreement between the two that didn't mean that the trump campaign didn't benefit from russia's help. in fact, implicitly welcomed it. it was donald trump who said out loud, please russia go look for hillary clinton's emails and five hours later they did that. >> he's also rowing in the opposite direction of his law enforcement officials. i can't imagine what it's like to be christopher wray, who on the law enforcement side is the tip of the spear in trying to protect this country. here he is talking about the
threat russia poses. >> foreign influence, we usually use to describe the fairly aggressive campaign we saw in 2016 and it's described in the special counsel's report and that has continued pretty much unabated is the use of social media, fake news, propaganda, false personas, et cetera, to spin us up, pit us against each other, sow divisiveness and discord, undermine americans' faith in democracy. that's pretty much a 365 days a year threat. and that has absolutely continued. >> it's like the fireman is the dad and the arsonist is the son and they live in the same studio apartment. how is chris wray talking about the russian effort going unabated. 72 hours ago rudy giuliani and jared kushner said it was no big deal and donald trump just talked to putin and didn't say
anything about staying out of our democracy. >> one of the things that director wray's comments point out which is there's a talking head quality to the white house. the president, rudy, saying what they want to say to voters who support the president into the television cameras. and then there's the work of the governing public servants. and wray is doing that by focussing closely on exactly the threat. which is putin was definitely trying to help donald trump. wanted to hurt hillary clinton. but his bigger goal, which continues to be a goal, is how can i hurt america and diminish america? and today the -- you know, the chief talking head of the presidency, the president, basically said i like this guy. i enjoy talking to him. he's like me. but this is a person who's
trying to diminish america and make us less because he -- putin ultimately is -- got a weak hand, a weak country and a weak government and diminishing us helps him. >> frank figliuzzi i want to get you on the record on a story in the "new york times" yesterday. the headline, the fbi sent an investigator posing as an assistant to meet with trump aide george papadopoulos in 2016. from that piece the fbi sent an investigator posing as a research assistant to meet with george papadopoulos in 2016. the decision to use ms. turk in the operation aimed at a presidential campaign official shows the level of alarm inside the fbi during a period when the bureau was trying to determine the scope of russia's attempts to disrupt the 2016 election but could also give ammunition to mr. trump and their allies for their spying claims. it seems the president, rudy giuliani, jared kushner continue
to give law enforcement reasons to be suspicious about how strongly they feel about protecting from russian attacks. >> the president seemed to love this report because he's tweeted about it and suggested they should get a pulitzer prize for it. but what's described in this report is simply solid investigative work designed to further predicate and corroborate the intelligence you have. it happens in almost every counterintelligence investigation of any significance. you can do it by rules very early in a counterintelligence investigation, because it's not invasive. in the sense of think about some of the other options. we had an australian diplomat sitting down with george papadopoulos reporting back george papadopoulos is reporting russia is offering dirt on hillary clinton. what are you going to do?
go to congress and risk that being leaked? no. they took the quiet way to prove it. carving out the australian, getting rid of their long-time informant, you don't want him seeing the light of day in court. you insert a counterintelligence investigator who can go under cover, lay eyes on george papadopoulos and ask him point blank. that's how you do it. that's not spying. it's solid investigative work. >> it's all under investigation again. as you said, it's a heavily regulated, if you will, part of law enforcement, but it's also under scrutiny in an ongoing ig report, so if anything is there to be corrected or revealed we'll find out about it in a short order, right? >> bring it on. let's get the guidelines and the rule book. see what the bureau did and let's see if they violated any rules. >> let me ask you, tim o'brien, you've covered trump the longest
out of all of us assembled. what does his full picture of russia look like? they want us to believe too badly that no collusion is the end of the story. and the fact that trump talked to putin about it today makes it more suspicious. why the explanation from the press secretary, they both knew all along they hadn't included. they weren't investigated for collusion. >> he tried to do business in russia. he tried actively before the campaign, during the campaign and if we believe rudy giuliani up until election day to get a project built in moscow. in years prior to that trump had money coming in and out of his business from eastern europe. a lot of this is business. i think donald trump would have trouble locating most countries on a map but he does have a reptilian interest in money. and he's had that since he was a
teenager. i think the thing that's motivating in most of these relationships are business opportunities. when it came out he'd been lying during the campaign about the trump tower project and then michael cohen finally came clean about it. there was that moment i think in december when he was on the white house lawn and reporters said why didn't you tell the truth about this? and how do you feel about having pursued the project? he said i was campaigning, i didn't think i was going to win, why should i deny myself business opportunities? i think he feels the cloak has been lifted from him and he can pursue deals or pursue these other relationships that have been toxic -- >> as president? >> -- for a little while. i don't think he clears about that. he doesn't because he hasn't acknowledged formally or insulated himself from conflict of interests financially. >> do you get the sense that anyone at the white house wanted him to say something to putin about the mueller report?
to say something that lined up at all with what christopher way say? efforts continuing unabated? accepting any of that mueller report, which a few weeks ago he thought fully and completely exonerated him? did anyone try to get him to say anything to vladimir putin about not meddling in our elections? >> there are many times where people try to get him to say something to vladimir putin, only to be ignored. it was a few days ago the president's own reelection campaign put out a video criticizing president obama for not doing enough to call out the russians on election interference. fair point, i'm sure a lot of them would agree. but there's a lot of second guessing going on there. >> he's been gone for a few years. >> a few days later to have the president on the phone with president putin and with what
christopher wray is saying about the upcoming election, suggests where the priorities are. the president looked at this investigation as getting in the way of his foreign policy, getting in the way of his efforts to have a relationship with russia, despite they're at odds over so many issues. >> i understood that argument as a talking point two years ago or even early 2017. they've been in charge now for two years and the intelligence community, hand picked leaders running those agencies by donald trump, has been screaming at the top of their lungs what christopher wray said on tape. and i remember admiral rogers, under questioning by elizabeth warren, said we're not doing enough. official after official on capitol hill has bemoaned the fact there's no top down order to tell russia to stay out of our democracy.
>> there's no order. no telling him. he's doing the opposite. as frank said earlier, he's giving the green light. this phone call between trump and putin today reminded me when we were on wires of criminals and listening to their conversations and didn't know it, the get your story straight call. they would do something, they didn't know we were listening to them after whatever crime they just committed, robbed a bank or whatever, then they're on the phone, sort of talking, kind of sort of in code. but it's a yeah, when we went to the store earlier and i bought the milk. you know, they're making their cover story, congratulating each other, patting each other on the back, saying it's all good, we made it, we didn't get caught. that's what this reminded me of. because donald trump does it constantly, he does it in broad daylight. he learned nothing from the mueller report in terms of mueller clearly feels, and as we've said many times here and
on other shows, just because you do something in broad daylight doesn't mean it's not criminal. i'm not saying the phone call was a crime. it's part of the same effort, it seems. if you look at the obstruction that trump, i think, clearly committed. it was obstruction into not just trump but russia's actions. and that's what this phone call was about. >> carol, let me give you the last word on this, you're cited in the mueller report, and one of your colleagues had a story about missing notes of meetings and calls. i guess it's progress we found out about today's calls. but just your thoughts on how opaque this issue is kept seemingly by design. >> i feel there are a lot of people that tried to communicate to us at "the washington post" what's going on behind the scenes.
helsinki was in front of us when the president said without any quibble about it, although he denied it later, that he believed putin there had not been any interference. why would there be? why would it be them? we learned because of people who felt it was important for the public to know it that the president had completely ignored his national security adviser h.r. mcmaster's recommendations about important things that are the duty of a president when speaking to a foreign adversary. he ignored what he was supposed to do. he didn't bring up our british ally who had a poisoning on british soil. he didn't bring up any of the other concerns about the election then. that was march 2018. deja vu all over again. he did exactly the opposite of what h.r. mcmaster recommended, which was he congratulated putin on an election that appeared to have been forced down the russian people's throats. so we've gotten a good eye into
this relationship. and it's two guys who want to get along. one of them is manipulating and working the other. >> and it's not clear which is which. scary stuff in 2020. thanks to frank figliuzzi and peter baker. peter's new book "obama" is out next week. i read his book about presidents, they're incredible. the chairman of the judiciary committee gives the attorney general one more chance at transparency before he holds him in contempt. also ahead in a head-to-head matchup between donald trump and just about every democrat, just about every democrat wins. we'll show you the polls donald trump woke up to today. and mayor pete and his husband grace time magazine this week under the headline, first family. we'll bring you all those stories coming up. g you all tho stories coming up.
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that handles anything. that protects what's important. and reaches everywhere. this is beyond wifi. this is xfi. simple, easy, awesome. i've had him testifying already for 30 hours. >> so is the answer no? >> i don't think i can let him and tell everybody else you can't, especially him because he was a counsel. so they testified for many hours all of them. >> so as far as you're concerned it's done? >> i can't say one can, the others can't. >> so is it done? >> i would say it's done. >> so that was donald trump talking about his former white house counsel don mcghan. notice he said i had him testify for 30 hours. all the reporting we read suggests that he had no idea he testified for 30 hours. carol, you have a fantastic piece of reporter, and eli from
the l.a. times has table as well. watergate had the nixon tapes, mueller had annie donaldson's note. who is annie donaldson. >> probably a name most people in america have never heard of. but she's mentioned 68, 67 times in the mueller report, especially in volume two, which has to do with obstruction. she's a loyal, die-hard republican, a lawyer, harvard grad, harvard law grad. she's devoted to don mcghan, the white house counsel. she followed him into the white house as his chief of staff. helping manage a large group of lawyers. and basically she was the scribe for what i would describe as the most tempestuos, chaotic and angst filled moments in the oval office. she was writing down in real time what don mcghan was hearing the president say about how he wanted to stop the russia
investigation. >> i read all the footnotes and all of her notes. if you think of don mcghan as the narrator of donald trump's efforts to obstruct justice and the flash points that mueller investigated are all things that mcgahn witnessed. annie donaldson is the screen writer if you're trying to understand the story. but what she adds is obviously some analysis took place once the fireworks between mcgahn and trump stopped. they would write obstruction question mark, the end is near, question mark. what did you learn about their state of mind about the likelihood that donald trump was obstructing justice? they seemed to think it was happening or what he was trying to do. >> that's a good question. and the note that stopped me cold of annie's when she wrote down don comes to her cubicle
office, and he comes to her after an oval office meeting and she begins scribbling on a legal pad and writes the phrases president's biggest legal exposure, essentially, and writes dot dot dot, ask, re flynn. meaning comey and letting go of the flynn investigation. while the words are not dramatic, basically they're d n outlining the fear that if the president is not engaged in criminal conduct, could appear to be engaged in criminal conduct and don mcghan is trying to prevent him from doing something else impulsive that will build the building blocks of obstruction. >> we've had conversations over the last two years that we can chalk up to a pattern.
people around the president know he's bad. really bad. as the years have gone on, as bob woodward said the truth emerges. whether it's on security clearances where john kelly and don mcghan wrote letters to files about jared kushner's security clearance. but what's more interesting at this point is what trump did, he attacked lawyers who take notes. >> this is also a white house, i'm thinking about the story of the shredded documents and the people in the eisenhower building taping them together. this is a president that has never wanted there to be a record of what he does. there's no record of who's visiting the white house. he wants to operate only in the minute to minute context of whatever i say is true, what happened before, don't worry about that. you saw the same reaction from james comey after the meeting in the oval office when he went and wrote down everything.
when people are witness to activity they understand they may be asked about later by investigators this is what they do. i don't know if every white house staffer has notes like mcgahn's assistant has that mueller looked at. i can think back a year ago when the mueller investigation began and you talk to staffers, you can sense a growing concern from individuals low down about possible exposure. do i need to get out? are we going to be in trouble? even though they were working for the president, there was an understanding that something nefarious may have already happened or taking place at that time, and a lot of people were worried about exposure. >> i think of the scene in "the firm" tom cruise walks in and there's all the shredding. good guys don't shred stuff. >> it goes to their state of mind, the lawyers, why are they writing it down?
they're concerned partly for their own possible exposure and liability. that's how -- >> conspireing to obstruct justice? >> yeah, that's how close to the line his behavior was, if not over it. and remember, this is all about criminal law as we've talked about many times. this is the president of the united states. we shouldn't even be in this realm, but here we are. and this idea, though, that trump is just going to say, nope. i'm not going to let mcgahn testify. i don't think that's right. >> is that his call? >> no. it's not, one. mcgahn is a private citizen. two this whole executive privilege idea here is completely overblown. first of all, it would cover maybe some small fraction of the actual substance that we're talking about. i'm saying if there was no waiver. if you dig down in the substance, executive privilege is not that broad, it doesn't apply to every communication between the president, you know.
they're very specific. you don't just say executive privilege and wave your magic wand. >> and the documents are public. >> there's also the waiver issue. but i think it's important to emphasize both. people say poor donald trump didn't know it was being waived and he should get a second chance. no. that's not how it works. once waived it's waived. that's true with all privileges, not just executive privilege. but it would not apply to i'd say 90% of the communications we're talking about. >> you know, people joke about trump's lack of various abilities or skill sets. one of the things he's skilled at is survival. he's a street survivor, he understands when things get dangerous around him. he doesn't use email. he generally has subordinates communicate for him. that's how he did it in the trump organization. the only avenue he routinely
uses is his cell phone. another thing that's a flip comparison, is donald trump the mob boss. however someone who runs an organization and focuses on not keeping records or destroying records and not leaving their own paper trail isn't someone who's running an operation that i have faith in as being clean and straight forward. and he's been this way for a very long time. this is his comfort zone. i think you're seeing in this in all this. the other thing that's dangerous is donald trump saying i govern don mcghan's behavior. this is why the white house did not want to put this guy in a deposition with bob mueller's prosecutors. because he would have claimed autonomy and authority over a range of actions that he doesn't have the authority over and he would have incriminated himself. >> carol thank you for spending time with us. i love the piece today, thank you for writing it. after the break, the democrats' new impeachment
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after this week's fireworks on capitol hill between attorney general william barr and the democrats on the house judiciary committee. democrats are using the "i" word from him. here's your reporting from "the washington post." is nancy pelosi greasing the skids for impeachment of barr by accusing him of a crime and threatening to hold him in contempt of congress. pelosi is signaling a willingness to do something close to trump and he's a signal of trump's intrance gregs for working with congress on anything. and he appears to have lied to congress, which is one of the things michael cohen is going to jail for, right? >> there's disagreement on whether or not it's ironclad he lied. you have to parse the
statements -- >> he sure parsed them. >> democrats may say forget barr and go for trump. this is taking the lower hanging fruit politically. and that's true. it may be easier to say we want to impeach william barr. but this isn't just signaling from the democrats here. we're talking about the balance of power here, the checks and balances of government, and the congressional oversight role. if they hold him in contempt, hold barr in contempt, do they tell the justice department to prosecute him? this is a slow rolling constitutional crisis we're in here. and if the president and attorney general want to barrel over congress and say you have no authority to investigate the administration and the president, even though the constitution says that it does, that's a problem. and so i think that's part of what they're considering here, they're thinking about the short-term political calculations but they're also
thinking about the long-term and the precedence set. >> now it seems they're making a good faith effort to get some version of the more complete mueller report. not the full unredacted version but some of the underlying evidence, some of the redacted material. is that because he thinks he has a negotiating partner in barr or because he sees this going to court? both of you. >> i think partly because he sees it going to court. and nadler is acting like he's still negotiating with people for that negotiating with him in good faith. and part of me respects him for doing that, he's an institutionalist, nadler, and i think if he goes to the court and says we tried this, this, and this, he'll have a better chance. but i hope monday is the last chance. barr, he lied in the sense that
people generally understand the term lie. he didn't reveal something relevant to what he was being asked, answered a questionnai narrowly. did he commit perjury? because of the way the questions were asked, there's a way for him to wiggle out of it. but barr is doing -- barr is, at this point, i think obstructing. i don't mean that in the legal sense. he is trying to slow the investigation down, he is trying to make it stop in its tracks. he is doing everything he can. and again, let's remember, bill barr is the attorney general of the united states. he is not trump's lawyer. that's something that trump's lawyer should, could and would do, i suppose, but not the attorney general. but they have to pursue barr because we cannot, as you say, let the attorney general get away with this. but we have to bring the focus back to trump. >> someone who wasn't in front of the television when he was
testifying, said how is it going? i said barr is a less charming rudy. after the break, new polling that might make trump queasy. in the head-to-heads he gets beat every time. but there is one democrat that is in the lead that might surprise you. that story next. t surprise you that story next. this is the durabed of the all-new chevy silverado. the bed is huge. it offers a built-in 120 volt outlet. man: wow. plug that in for me. various: whoa! holy smokes! and the all-new silverado has more trim levels than any other pickup. whoa! (laughter) oh wow! woman : there's something for all of us.
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on my car insurance with geico. yea. [quartet singing] shoot the j! shoot, shoot, shoot the jaaaaaay... believe it! geico could save you fifteen percent or more on car insurance. nine months from today the first votes in the democratic primary will be cast. while they compete amongst themselves a good news for a few of the front runners. survey suggests beto o'rourke would beat trump by 10 points. joe biden by six and same for bernie sanders. kamala harris beats trump too by four points and pete buttigieg by two. and elizabeth warren just one. joining us now karine jean-pierre. basically they all beat trump.
>> that's good. i'm with you, i'll vote for the bus. democratic emerges from milwaukee as our nominee, i will support. >> this is as useless as the generic ballots but for a flash poll or an online poll it's a sense it's a real fight again. >> yes the one thing that worries me is trump's approvability rating in 2016 was 38% and he won with that. now he has a rating of 44%. the way he won last time, he beat up on the democratic nominee, you know, with some help, and she became unfavorable enough she was able to win with a small -- with just his base. you can see that's what he's trying to do with biden now. you can see he's trying to
soften him up and go attack him and make him less appealing. and -- you know, but he's -- if i were at the white house i'd think we're starting at a higher base of a favorability rating. it's great to see the numbers of people beating him, but i'm worried about that dynamic. >> jen is making a smart, technical point, a candidate has to worry about keeping his or her approvals up while also taking on an opponent has a harder job than someone everyone thinks is, you know, not a nice person, i don't know how to say it in a familiy-friendly way. >> i have to say, i think donald trump is going after joe biden because he's scared. he doesn't have a poker face. and we hear his folks saying biden is the person they're concerned about because of the blue wall, pennsylvania, wisconsin, and michigan that trump was able to win. so i think there's a little bit more to that for biden. he actually does not for --
>> i agree with that. but that's why he's doing it. >> i was adding a little more context to that. >> yeah. >> i think with the polls we have to be careful because the numbers are closer. it's a 5.7 plus and minus margin of error, which is high. it's usually 3 to 4 percent tag. it's great we can take away the electability in the democratic primary. democrats can go out there it's not just bernie or joe that can beat him. but it's so early. >> it is. we try to put it in the right frame saying it's nine months. i think looking at the democrats against each other is not interesting to me. but looking that the whole field beats trump is fascinating. >> you have to understand the numbers in the context of a president who's presiding over a strong economy yet is under water.
so he's under water because people have an issue with his personal conduct and behavior in office, not necessarily job performance as the country moving along -- you know, everybody has their own reasons. that's what he has to worry about here. he's great at taking the bark off whoever he's going to run against -- >> takes the bark off half his cabinet. >> the reason why perhaps you see biden and beto at the top there is because they're kind of generalist candidates. they may have a broader appeal than someone who's a bernie or warren, who's more exciting to the progressive base. >> interesting. >> i think that tells you that trump is vulnerable with some of the swing voters who may have voted for him last night. they're not going to vote for any democrat. that's the electability argument. i know it's just a hypothesis. but somebody who can be unifying. trump, no matter if he puts the words in the teleprompter or not, people do not believe deep