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tv   MTP Daily  MSNBC  May 6, 2019 2:00pm-3:00pm PDT

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constitution. why wouldn't he take this one? >> yes or no, will he, if he loses, will he leave peacefully or not? >> absolutely not. >> absolutely not. >> holy smokes. you have a darker view of the situation than it came to be. i have a very dark view of things. my thanks to john lameer. johnny deutsche, you are amazing, donny, your show is incredible. it's incredible! changing the very nature of television. >> it's all friends. >> that does it for this hour. mtb daily starts with the amazing steve kornacki. >> thank you for that. it is monday. white house and democrats are both feeling contempt. ♪ good evening, i'm steve kornacki in new york in for chuck todd, welcome to "meet the
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press gather daily, hundreds have put out a statement today saying in their view donald trump would have been charged with multiple felonies for obstruction of justice if not for guidelines that prohibit indicting a sitting president. the statement from more than 370 former doj prosecutors breaks with attorney general william barr, who said the everyday laid out in the mueller report was not sufficient to establish that the president committed a crime. that was view also backed by the deputy attorney general and other legal experts. this comes as president trump is now objecting to having bob mueller testify before congress just days after the white house said it sent attorney general barr, a letter criticizing mueller's probe and painting his report as illegitimate. and everything i mentioned puts the spotlight back on democrats. and the question of what they do next. democrats on the house judiciary committee announced today they will be voting on wednesday on a resolution to hold barr in contempt, unless he starts
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giving them the mueller report's underlying evidence. the justice department responded with an invitation for democrats to meet on wednesday about the matter. in a 27-page resolution, laying out their case against barr, democrats made a significant admission, that they are trying to determine whether or not they are going to impeach the president. still the biggest question facing democrats remains how hard they are willing to fight on the legal and investigative fronts, considering the mounting evidence that whether they like it or not, the russia story is not breaking through in any additional way with the public. according to our new nbc news/"wall street journal" poll, the country does not think the president has been honest about the russia investigation. the americans don't think the mueller report clears him, but trump's approval rating remains stable. the public is deeply divided on the issue of impeachment. we have got a great group of experts joining us tonight. barbara mcquaid, an msnbc
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contributor and former attorney and one of the 370 formal federal prosecutors who signed that statement we just mentioned about the president and obstruction. philip bump is a reporter with the washington post and selena is a campaign adviser and susan del percio msnbc political analyst and republican strategist. thank you all for being with us. barbara, let me start with you. look, we gave the headline, just give us the synopsis here, the argument you and your fellow former doj, former u.s. attorneys, federal prosecutors are making here is that it's that olc guideline that says don't indict a sitting president. you are saying, that itself the only reason trump is not facing charges here? >> yeah. the reason i signed the letter is i wanted to make it clear to the public what robert mueller was saying i believe through the nuance. his document is essentially a prosecution memo. i've written hundreds of them. if you look at his analysis of obstruction of justice for four
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or five of the episodes he describes, he talks about substantial evidence to support each and every element of the offense. things like trying to fire robert mueller, trying to curtail the investigation. trying to influence witnesses like paul manafort and michael cohen. all of the elements of obstruction of justice are met there. i think most prosecutors would take that and find a crime was committed. >> he did not make a recommendation, mueller, in this report on that front. there was this, attorney general barr in his statement the day he released the report publicly, he said specifically that he had conversations with muller about this question of the olc guidelines and that mueller had told him that the olc guidelines were not the reason he didn't make a recommendation. let's listen to what the attorney general said. >> on march 5th, we specifically asked him about the olc opinion and whether or not he was taking the position that he would have
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found a crime, but for the existence of the olc opinion. and he made it very clear several times that that was not his position. he was not saying but for the olc opinion, he would have found a crime. he made it clear that he had not made the determination that there was a crime. >> and barbara, just given what is in your letter and the tomorrow said, obviously, the question is what does mueller, himself, say to make him appear? we can get to that. what do you think of the attorney general saying there? >> i think i want to hear from robert mueller. william barr is very careful with his words. it may be robert mueller agrees with the olc decision. even if that didn't exist, he would reach the same conclusion himself, that does not preclude as a matter of fact, we know he mischaracterized the nature, substance and context of his opinion. so i would like to hear from
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robert mueller, himself, to ask that question and not have it spun by william barr. >> we mentioned the politics of this, the congress ultimately, it is guided by politics in a lot of ways. some of the new numbers in our poll we can show you here on this question of trump's approval rating. this is our brand-new msnbc/wall street poll. the last measurement of that had been 43%. here it is, 43% before that, 46% right now. attitude towards that subject of impeachment. should there be hearings now? or impeachment hearings or should the investigation -- -- be done, congress should move on to other things, no hear, no impeachment. what do you make of what we are hearing from barbara? this debate raging out there and
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where the public is now. >> i think the public is an interesting factor. there hasn't been a lot of suggestion that mueller is moved by the report. i think part of that is everything the public assumes, assuming they haven't read the report, themselves, has come through the lens of what the attorney general says what the administration says and media coverage of that, right? i think one of the interesting things here is whether or not we hear from robert mueller directly because it will be the first time there is a voice within the government talking about this thing that isn't coming through the lens of the attorney general or the president's tweets, right? i think that's really the question. could robert mueller sitting down saying, hey, here's what i actually found. here's what i actually think. could that move the public? if people saw him with his own mouth saying, actually, here is my more nuanced obstruction and what we found with coordination. could that be the thing which actually changes people's minds? if not, then, you know, we're sort of at the same stalemate we have been sitting at.
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>> so that becomes the question if you do hear from mueller, what he would say, zell na, what do you make of the numbers you are seeing, the approval rating 46% for trump. >> i think people haven't read the report yet. i think because of its length and they have so many other responsibilities. in addition, anything written by a lawyer is going to be pretty dense and while the mueller report is written in a very i think easy to read narrative forum, it's a little intimidating for the average person. i think they haven't fully internalized yet some of the damage portions of the mueller report. i don't think that the obstruction section of the mueller report, volume 2, is the only problem for the president. i think once the congress has an opportunity to unpack volume 1 and the betrayial of the trump campaign in working with but not criminal collusion, not criminal conspiracy. but working with. >> you say they did not establish evidence of a conspiracy. >> it's saying something different as somebody who has
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studied law, that is saying something very different. lawyers will be very specific in their language when saying that versus nothing here happened that was a problem in anyway. so what the report actually does say is if they did work with them and they show all the different ways in which they did that, now, if the american standard people understood that report, would they have a different view in i think that is an open question. i think the role of congress right now is to actually lay this out line-by-line, page-by-page. i think that's what these hearings are for. i do think those numbers should shift once the public is made more aware of the specific details. >> what do you make of the decision? >> to zerlina's point, i agree if they were more aware their opinions would shift. they're not financial to read the report. here's what we know. the report has been out six weeks ago, which meant barr and team trump have been able to put their own spin on it for the last six weeks. it's been publicly with the redactions put out there for
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two-and-a-half weeks and to the public, nothing has happened. and that's where the big concern is, how much longer will this drip out when people see action. if you don't see action and you have the poll numbers and the speaker say, we'll see, there is an investigation. it's clear to zerlina's point, there is reason to hold impeachment hearings based on volume 2 tant of that report full stop. and they should have done it a week ago. they can bring mueller in. they better now how he's going to answer that. i think it broke both ways for republicans and democrats. but as a republican who said that the senate republicans should vote on against the use of emergency funds for the border, and for merritt garland getting a hearing, because of constitutional responsibilities, it was the congress' responsibility as member of congress to have those hearings and they should do it immediately. the longer this goes out and the more you explain, the more you
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lose. >> barbara, from the legal standpoint on this, again, it seems like sometimes we're talking about two different things here. because there is the question of should a president be charged in some kind of criminal proceeding, should that be delayed until the president leaves office, you could have that debate and the debate of how congress should react to this and step in and say this amounts to a high crime. >> that teams e seems to be a different interpretation out there. on the legal front here. the sort of counter argument to what you are putting out there may be was expressed by jonathan turley from gorge washington who basically is ed the president's conduct when it comes to obstruction. he said it's ugly, it's not obstruction. the greatest damage was done in full view. once his rhetoric was stripped away, it was at some point contemptible. it seemed he wanted it to end and fire key players in the investigation. he did not fire anyone involved. he did not destroy any evidence. he did not end the investigation
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prematurely. he took no actual obstructive acts. to charge him would have amounted to a virtual thought crime. he's basically saying the guts in terms of what trump is saying behind the scenes are ugly, but in the end, the investigation finished up. what does that account for? >> no, i disagree with him. attempting to obstruct justice is as much as a crime as obstructing justice. it's in the statute. i think the point that those 370 prosecutors and i were trying to make is if we received a prosecution memo like this one, we would have expected the concluding paragraph to say, wherefore, we expect prosecution of this case because these elements are satisfied, asking someone to fire, asking don mcgahn to fire robert mueller and asking him to lie about it and create a false document. all of those things are on attempt to obstruct justice that are chargeable. i agree the olc opinion is a sticking point and can't result in those charges. i think we want to let the
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american people know robert mueller didn't clear president trump. he has documented crimes that otherwise would have been charged. what do you do with it? i think that is now for congress to consider, whether that amounts to a high crime or misdemeanor, which is a very different standard from proving that the elements of a federal statute have been violated beyond a reasonable doubt. >> to turn to the question of hearing from mueller. last week, barr said, no problem with me, go ahead and do it. the president saying on twitter, no, i don't want him to do it. who will win out there? >> the question is whether or not president trump has leverage over robert mueller. mueller is at this point an employee of the department of justice. gives him some leverage. if he leaves the department of justice, his leverage dissipates. it comes down with don mcgahn, can he throw out the executive privilege, tie this up in the courts and pass the 2020 election? it is so obvious why he doesn't
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want him to testify. he doesn't want someone to talk about the report under the guise of the official voice of the united states government who is going to say things that contradict his no collusion, no obstruction mantra. that's why he doesn't want mueller to testify. it is not a complicated issue. i think it is almost imperative then for robert mueller to testify so we get to hear his take on the answers to these questions that i think are the ones sort of plagueing the american conversation right now. >> barbara, i want to ask you the bottom line question here, in your view in putting this report together, should mueller have taken a definitive stand on this question of obstruction? even if you cite olc and say i can't recommend charges in this case, but if not for that i would have? >> robert mueller bent over backwards to be fair to president trump. and i think he thought it would be inappropriate to allege a crime if he couldn't charge it. but i think his efforts to be nunsd has resulted in confusion in the american public. so in retrospect, i think he did make a mistake and should have
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said what he found. >> thanks for taking a few minutes. coming up, democrats in congress are vowing not to take attorney general barr's defiance lightly. but is their plan just a dead end? as we head to a break, a mile marker, how far we have come from 2016. the president's personal attorney now, a federal inmate. here's what michael cohen said as he made his way to prison this morning. >> i hope that when i rejoin my family and friends that the country will be in a place without xenophobia, injustice and lies at the helm of our country. there still remains much to be told. and i look forward to the day that i can share the truth. to atth i can share the truth (music throughout)
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all right. welcome back. let's drill down the question facing democrats. what do they do now? as we mentioned the house
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judiciary committee is slated to hold attorney general william barr in contempt. what happens next, though, is unclear. >> that fight comes amid another brewing battle to have robert mueller testify before the committee. a date has not yet been confirmed, now the president is saying a hearing with mueller should not proceed. joining me now is a member of the house judiciary committee that will have a say over those next steps, madeleine dean joins us. thank you for taking a few minutes. let's start on the subject of barr in contempt. have you jerry nadler, chairman of the committee, saying on wednesday he is prepared to move forward with contempt proceedings against the attorney general. my question to you is, if that happens, if your committee does vote to hold the tomorrow in contempt, do you believe the speaker of the house nancy pelosi is ready to move that to the floor of the house, do you believe that would have the votes of the house to pass if it does? >> what i do believe is i really
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appreciate jerry nadler's very strong moving forward with the contempt process and recognize this is after three failures of attorney general barr to fail requests by our committee. so i know our committee, the democratic side is eager to meet on wednesday and to file this report with the speaker identifying that the tomorrow has acted in contempt of congress. it's a very serious thing. i do know the chairman is speaking with the speaker, the results of that we are not totally sure yet. but i know that we all take it very, very seriously. you heard the words of nancy pelosi over the course of the weekend. it's not lightly she identifies that the attorney general, the sitting attorney general lie to congress and now is defying us in contempt. >> i ask because the last time you had an attorney general who was held in contempt by congress, of course, it was seven years ago, eric holder by
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the republican congress back then when that was playing out, republicans were pushing forward on that, nancy pelosi said this as the democratic leader. we can play that. >> what the republicans are doing with this motion open the floor today is contemptible. even for them it's contemptible. you may recall that four-and-a-half years ago we had a motion of contempt for two employees at the white house. for over 200 years, 200 days, we tried to get information from the white house. i and our leadership said keep trying, keep trying so we don't have to bring the contempt to the floor. because we want to exhaust every remedy. but that's not what is being done here. >> so she was making the case back then of give it before you take a step like contempt. she was citing an example of over six months, democrats from the bush white house. does that argument apply here at
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all? it's only been a few weeks. do you give this more time based on that model? >> i think we are in such a grave situation that that example does not apply. take a look at what we're talking about. we're talking about an investigation of russia sweeping interference with our elections and then obstruction of justice by the president with the investigation of him. this is such a grave time that i don't believe that is applicable here. also notice what mrs. pelosi asked for in that circumstance was give him time, make a reasonable accommodation. that's exactly what our chairman has done over and over again only to have mr. barr proceed through three time lines, three deadlines. and what's at stake? robert mueller tells us what's at stake. the attorney general has mischaracterized and misled the american people as to the findings of his 22-month report.
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it's a grave time and this is, unfortunately, needed that we find attorney general barr in contempt. >> well, if you do find him in contempt and the house were then to pass that and formally hold him in contempt. i guess the question we're asking here, though, is what then? because when eric holder was held in contempt by congress seven years ago, there was no what then. when these issues have been sorted out through the courts, they've taken years, two years for congress to get ahold of documents after being stonewalled by the white house. so what then? >> what then is what we have been asking for all along. what congress is entitled to. full reveal of the mueller report and the underlying documents. imagine that this attorney general summarized very loosely and very inaccurately the report in 48 hours. then for 27 days, allowed the american public to think that the president was fully exonerated. allowed the president to say, no
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collusion, full exoneration. it's over. >> that is a miscarriage of justice and the duties of the office of the attorney general that must not be allowed to stand. so what do we want? we want the entire report. what do we want? we want to talk to mueller. mueller will be the honest broker of information. obviously, mr. barr has given away his credibility to instead serve the president. in some sort of a loyalty oath or in these troubled waters tried to steer the president out of troubled waters and legal jeopardy instead of trying to steer the american people to a clarity and to justice. our constitution is at stake here and fortunately, what i think is the good news, is that we do have an investigation. we do have a system of laws, including the special counsel regulations that allow us to know exactly what happens here. as mump as this administration is trying to stonewall. as much as this administration and the president, himself, saying don't come before congress. ignore your appearance before congress. we have regulations that allow
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us to get at that information that is crucial to our democracy and our constitution of government. i'm optimistic. it's not going to be easy, it's not going to be pretty. we have a job to do and the american people devnothing less. >> a quick question given how important you are saying mueller is to all of this, the president is saying he does not want mueller to testify, does not want him to appear before your committee. how confident are you that robert mueller will appear before your committee and when do you think, roughly, you would then hear from him by if you do believe he will show up? >> i'm optimistic he will come to us. we have talked about a date of may 15th. but i just talked with the committee today and they do not have a state set. but i do know that they're in direct conversations with mueller's team. there are two ways that mueller could come to us, by way of his boss, the attorney general. under the special counsel regulations, he can also come directly to congress. i hope he all right. i guess i want to connect him. maybe you have been reporting on
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it. i wasn't able listen in. you saw today a letter by more than 370 former federal prosecutors, democrats and republicans, serving in republican and democratic administrations, signed a letter saying but for the attorney general's policy that you cannot indict a sitting president, the obstruction of justice is there. they cite three counts and more with a felony charges of obstruction of justice would have applied to any other person. that's an extraordinary letter with an extraordinary set of bipartisan signators who hold their country higher than the reputation of this president or the actions of an attorney general irresponsibly protecting him. >> we discussed this last segment in that letter from the former prosecutors, contrasts with a statement from the attorney general, he said he was told by mueller that it was not just that ols guideline that led
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him not to take that position on the question of obstruction of justice, which obviously i think would heighten the stakes for any public statement that mueller makes, any testimony he does end up giving before your committee if he, indeed, does. you say you are confident of that, we'll see how that plays out. congresswoman madeleine dean of pennsylvania. thank you. up next, we know it was a big mid-term for last november, is that energy that powered them last fall, is it carrying over or was it a mid-term mirage? brand-new numbers shedding light on that. i'll have them for you at the big board right after this.
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. all right. welcome back to mtp daily, enthusiasm. we are always talking about when it comes to elections, democrats, republicans, which side is more energetic to get out there and vote? of course, democrats you saw how excited they were last november, how much they turned out, the overall astonishing turnout for that mid-term. the result winning back the house for the first time in eight years. so one of the questions that that raised the 2018 mid-term, that a harbinger of democrats of what's to come in 2020? can they roll a good mid-term into winning a general election, there are brand-new numbers, the question right now in our new nbc news "wall street journal" poll is we asked democrats and republicans how interested are you? you enthusiastic are you in the
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2020 presidential election right now in the spring of 2019? look at these, these are astronomical numbers. democrats 73%. interestingly, republicans, a couple points higher 75%, three-quarters. you are seeing two extremely motivated party bases right there. how does that compare to what we saw on the eve of the mid-term election last year. >> we can put this up. this was our final poll. you saw democrats actually enjoyed a slight edge, 85% for democrats before the mid-term, 82% for republicans. it's changed a little bit in terms of republicans having a very, very slight edge. let's extend out this historical view a bit. let's go back to 2016. the presidential election. on the eve that donald trump won, very narrowly as you recall, our poll picked up 82% of republicans being extremely enthusiastic. 77% of democrats. remember, donald trump lost the
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popular vote. won those pennsylvania, michigan, wisconsin. that's what the enthusiasm looked like then at the start of that campaign in the spring of 2015. we can show you how things look. look at this, the republicans had a nine-point advantage at the start of the 2016 campaign, came down to five. in fact, the context of that was the 2014 mid-term. remember obama's second mid-term. the 2014 mid-term. this was obama's second term. look at how low those overall numbers are, republicans had a great mid-term that year. they had an enormous enthusiasm edge. it dissipated by the spring of 2018, came down to 'five points in 2016. when you look at this number, the first thing you say, wow, that is just huge. everybody is following politics right now. democrat and republican. if you thought the republican base was going to be deflated by that mid-term setback. it wasn't. if you thought democrats were going to go back to sleep after winning in the mid-terms, they haven't. you have the stage scene set for the highest presidential
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election we've seen in our lifetimes. i think that is what this is looking like. a safe bet there. up next, fresh off the barr hearings, kamela harris is revving up voters in the mid-west. >> this president isn't trying to make america great. he's trying to make america hate. but you're not mad, because you have e*trade which isn't complicated. their tools make trading quicker and simpler. so you can take on the markets with confidence. don't get mad. get e*trade and start trading today. don't get mad. >> tech: you think this chip is well sooner or later... every chip will crack. >> mom: hi. >> tech: so bring it to safelite. we can repair it the same day... guaranteed.
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welcome back. the democratic candidates disagree on issues like healthcare and free college and how to take on president trump most effectively. but many of the candidates seem to agree on at least one strategy, trying to rebuild that old blue wall, if it ever really existed in the first place. we used to talk about that a lot. the 2020 candidates are spending time in the mid-west hoping to win back support in three key states. they went for donald trump in 2016. they are michigan, pennsylvania and wisconsin.
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the focus on the mid-west has gotten sharper since joe biden likes to remind crowd he is from scranton, pennsylvania as he got in the race. as biden pushes the message he can talk to mid-westerners and win back the states from donald trump. he is the most electable candidate. kamela harris is pushing back. >> there have been a lot of conversation by pundits about pundits about the electability and who can speak to the mid-west. but when they say that, they usually put the mid-west in a simplistic box and a narrow narrative. and too often their definition of the mid-west leaves people out. it leaves out people in this room who helped build cities like detroit. >> joining many enow is nbc news political reporter vaughan
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hilliard who has been on the road with kamela harris and joe donelly who knows about running in the mid-west. vaughan. let me start with you with what kamela harris is saying there. take us through the context of that moment. it sound to me, too many folks say win back the mid-west means win working class white guys. >> reporter: exactly. we're in wayne county, michigan. this is detroit. if you look back to 2016, the turnout increase, here in wayne county, though, they saw a drop in voter turnout by about 7%. if you look at the numbers here in wayne county, hillary clinton won this county by about a 2:1 margin. it was 11,000 vote difference between donald trump and hillary clinton, it's hard not to look at a county like this, that's to hear the pitch you hear kamela harris make in terms of viability for the mid-west.
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perhaps she is that candidate. a woman of color to drive that turnout in a county like here in wayne county. if you look over in milwaukee, for instance, you saw the same thing over in wisconsin, where again there is a donald trump and mitt romney in 2012 and 2016 essentially accrued the same number of votes in the presidential election. when you look at the democratic between barack obama and hillary clinton. hillary clinton secured about 240,000 less votes and again that's a part of kamela harris' pitch here in the mid-west. sure she may not be a white male and maybe perhaps agricultural in parts of the countryside, aren't going to go in her favor. but ultimately it is the communities of color that could help drive and put the white house back in the democratic stand. steve. >> thank you for taking a few minutes. senator donelly, if you stand by, we have breaking news we need to get to. secretary treasury steve mnuchin
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announced he will not release president trump's tax returns. how democrats requested six years of the president's returns last month. this could set the stage for the house issueing a subpoena demanding those returns. hans nichols is standing by. what is mnuchin saying, what's the rationale, the explanation for not complying with this demand from the house? >> reporter: well, they're relying on a legal rationale, the secretary treasury to the chairman of the house ways and means "denying his request. they're basically saying a section of the law richard neil initially requested to get the tax returns under 6103, that doesn't serve a legitimate legislative purpose. >> that is the brunt. >> that he doesn't think this is in the purview of the united states congress to demand the president's tax returns. because he is arguing, again, on the advice of attorneys from the department of justice, the treasury secretary mr. mnuchin
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is arguing what congress is trying to do isn't legitimate legislativeio ever sight. he can't possibly see how they would legislate based on the president's tax returns. this is a firm no make no mistake about that. to the treasury department, not complying with the request from congress to turn over the president's tax returns. from here, steve, i suspect you will see other avenues as richard neil and other committees on capitol hill try to get at the president's tax returns. remember they have the deutsche bank group, they can maybe go after deutsche bank which could have potentially seen the president's tax returns. they could potentially go to the accounting firms. you seen the white house and the president's private counsel trying to elect legal barriers to prevent outside groups, the accounting firm or deutsche bank from handing over those tax returns. we now have the answer from the treasury department, they're not going to be complying. steve. >> i know this is breaking news,
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just in, in the last couple minutes. has there been any reaction from richard neil from the house ways an means committee, are they going to court over this? >> reporter: not in the 30 seconds it took me to run out here and read you the letter. we'll get back to you. >> i'm sure there is a lot breaking around you. lets us know. let me bring the panel in on this. susan, just listening to hans there, much breaking news. so we will learn more. it sounded to me listening to hans the white house is making, the administration is making a constitutional argument here. it sound like they're not saying, oh, this is the section of the law that says we don't have to comply. they're basically saying the law says this, but congress shouldn't having a says to this, so, therefore, they won't. >> they're doing -- the president is saying like a 5-year-old, i want you to do this. so his staff is doing that. coming up with any argument. they do not want to give these tax returns over. they will delay it for as long
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as possible. my guess is that they go into the courts. this is donald trump's game. delay and use the courts to his advantage. and that's what he will do here. we are seeing the beginnings between that and not handing over the unredacted report. this white house is going to stonewall congress until congress pushes back and they're going to have to push back hard. >> so what do you expect now from democrats on the ways and means committee? a lawsuit? >> yeah, i think they will go through the legal mechanisms they can to wield the power that they have. here's where the american people need to may close attention. going back to our previous conversation about the contents of the mueller report and people not fully having a full grasp of the details. i think this is a moment we should pay attention. why doesn't the president want us to see what's in his tax returns? this goes back to the campaign. it's not where democrats are requesting the tax returns. it's relevant to not just the russia investigation but potentially financial crimes that may be under investigation
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currently in new york and we don't yet know all of that. congress only few members of congress have seen even a more unredacted version of the report with some of that information. so i think transparency, when the administration is saying with we are the most transparent. this is annual example they are lying about that i think the american people need to come to the fact the administration is trying to hide information that potentially may be damaging to the president. we need to understand why that is. what is he trying to hide and why? >> he's trance will you -- translucent. you can see right there. >> this is a 1924 law that says if they don't get made public directly, certain members of congress would get a chance to review the tax returns. the law says the ways and means committee can take any american can get the tax returns, a select group of congress can look at it. it is presumed it would leak out as these things seem to happen in washington.
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the response of the administration in washington here, according to hans, if i'm hearing it right is to not take issue with the law itself but to say we shouldn't have to. >> this has been a point of contention, as this has been bandied about. the mechanism by which this is proposed to have happened has been a subject of legal debate. i won't say, not being someone who is a lawyer. i will say susan is right, fundamentally about the trump administration, not throwing up road blocks, throwing them up with a specific purpose. any contempt citations, they all expire at the end of congress, they're trying to kick this stuff out past the election. they retake the house, all this stuff goes away forever. if not, they have to renew the subpoenas and come back for the fight. congress has very limited power in this situation. yes, they can take them to court. it gets tied up in court there. the most someone comes down, you get a contempt citation, they have to pay a fine.
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there is very limited power congress has in all of these various subpoena fights. his team is very well aware of that they know what's on their side. so this is not a hard choice for them to throw up these ob trackles. >> i think the conversation around this needs to be stream lined a bit. it's why do you need his taxes? i think the public needs to know is the president has not given up the right to be involved in his business. it is not in a blind trust. so he could be making money directly off of his time in office. just stop it right there. i think everyone could get around that message and it would change the whole conversation. if it was more direct. >> i nihols is standing by there. >> i think in the early months in the house of representatives is they're not challenging the president outside the actual legal lanes. they do have options to make it much more dpiflt for the
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treasury department. there are things they can do. up to this point, you seen nancy pelosi in particular trying to segregate her investigation into the president and working with the president. the question that should be on people's minds is whether or not that will meld in the coming weeks. you saw that a few weeks ago, a few days ago, you saw pelosi and schumer come to the white house talking about the importance of an infrastructure bill, work, toke, funding the government, making sure you are spending up to $2 trillion on roads. up to this point there has been reluctance on pelosi's side to go ahead and prevent and punish the president for some of his entrancients in the white house for not dealing with these subpoenas. we will see if that quasi-truce actually holds. >> that's a question for democrats, going forward, should they start conditioning, cooperation, work with white house or republicans on other matters that are ostensibly
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unrelated? do they prioritize these investigations, these subpoenassh issues like the taxes to compliance with their demand and say we're not going to do something on infrastructure, whatever it is, unless you first do this. >> i think it's a case by case, obviously, there are issues that are more important than others that you couldn't put on the back burner, for example. i do think the democrats should use the power they have. the american people elect them so they can wield this power and stick it to the trump administration in some ways, in terms of the corruption. that's the reason we need the tax returns. the tax returns are going to i think illuminate some of the questions about his foreign entanglements in business dealings with other governments. is he making foreign policy judgments based on those entanglements. >> that would be relevant to a national citizen relevant with national security. i think what they need to do a better job is explain why you need this information. there are actually simple
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explanations and not words like emoll youuents. he is getting rich of the pregnancy or have business dealings with russia, who all t interactions the whole time. for what reason? all of those questions still need to be answered, and the mueller report was only a piece of that. >> i imagine, philip, from the trump side, from his defender side, they would say there is no law. there is this 1924 law that covers very specific set of conditions here. but there is no law a candidate for president needs to release their taxes. this is voluntary. this has become a watergate tradition. this was in the public square litigated in 2016. certainly there was a lot of attention that trump was the first modern candidate not to release his taxes, and trump is the president. so therefore at a certain level, if he doesn't want to, he shouldn't have to. >> you're right. we've heard these arguments for three or four years. now one of the most compelling counterarguments i heard to that over the time period is donald
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trump also came into the office as the first person without political experience. his resume then was his business background. that is what he ran on, and we really don't know much about what he tells us, which is somewhat prone to inaccuracies. the point of using the levers of power within the house to actually try and influence trump, it would require a boldness we haven't yet seen from the democrats. >> okay. we will see how the response takes shape on this. that's the news, the treasury department, steve mnuchin saying the treasury department will not comply with the demand from the house ways and means committee to turn over six years of the president's tax returns. phillip, zerlina and susan, thanks. we started to talk about this a minute ago. buzz the road to the white house go through the white house? indiana senator joe donnelly joins me next.
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a get your questions answered by awesome experts store. it's a now there's one store that connects your life like never before store. the xfinity store is here. and it's simple, easy, awesome. and time now for the lid. i want to pivot back to our conversation on the 2020 democratic candidates vying for the midwest. joining me now former senator joe donnelly, democrat from indiana. senator, thank you for taking a few minutes. we started this conversation with vaughn hilliard, our reporter following kamala harris. kamala harris was basically making the point last night that, hey, when democrats talk and when pundits talk about winning back the midwest, she said that generally, there is this assumption -- i'm paraphrasing here -- generally there is an assumption built
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into that you're talking about working class white folks. she said the midwest is a lot bigger than that. do you think democrats, do you think strategists are guilty of the making that assumption when they talk about winning back the midwest? >> well, i think senator harris is right in that you have to put the whole coalition or team together, that you talk to folks in flint about how you can have decent infrastructure and quality water so that their children are safe, that they don't have to worry about lead poisoning. and at the same time, we also want to make sure that the children in other parts of the state in traverse city, and in areas like benton harbor can get a good education, can be able to make sure that skills are there so that they can get good jobs in the future. we want to also talk to the farmers of michigan and ohio and pennsylvania and throughout our country to let them know we're on their side. just today soy bean prices went to a seven-month low.
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so prices are dramatically under the cost of planting at the same time that our farmers are in the field, are waiting to get in the field because they've been rained out. it's a time of dire fear for our farmers, and also in our inner cities trying to make sure that we have decent infrastructure. and so if i could put it in like one phrase, when franklin roosevelt passed away, there was a person in georgia i think it was who said they asked him did they know him, because he was crying. he said i didn't know him, but president roosevelt knew me. we have to make sure that the folks in the midwest know us, that we care about their families, that we care about their jobs, that we're the folks who fought for health care to make sure that their child with muscular dystrophy could still get coverage. so it's pretty all encompassing. but if we don't bring all of our communities together, it's a tough go. >> well, the story, the anecdote you're telling me sort of relies
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on the part the power of a singular personality, somebody who could connect with different types of people across different sort of regional cultural demographic lines. for democrats to achieve that, to appeal to the white working class rural voter who voted for obama in 2008, but voted for trump in 2016, to appeal to that voter, but also to get back the levels of turnout democrats had among, say, black voters in detroit or black voters in milwaukee, the kind of candidate who can bridge that cultural distance, do you see that candidate in the democratic race right now? >> well, i'm not going to name one person or the other, but i tell you, kit be done. that's what this is about is going to these places, going to these towns, going to altuna and also going to milwaukee. we tear about your family. we care about you. that's the message that president trump went across the midwest with in 2016.
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but that's our message, that in places like lordstown, where my colleague tim ryan said that what we have a to do is not just say how bad we feel about this, but provide an alternative, making it the electric car center of the nation. and if gm doesn't want to do it, then ford, then chrysler or honda or subaru or whoever can come in behind them, that we have answers and that we're everywhere. this is going to be nonstop work in the places where it's going to be razor close. but the message of we care about your family. we're on your side to our farmers that we stand with you at planting, during the season and at harvest. to our families in the inner city, that we'll be there to make sure you not only have clean water but decent schools. that's what we have to be about. >> it is, as we say, donald trump is president for many reasons, but bottom line is it was a difference of a combined 77,000 votes in pennsylvania, michigan, wisconsin, three states that had not gone republican in three decades that
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is ultimately the closest thing there was to a key on election night. but what it was in those states, that's an interesting question to get into as well. former senator joe donnelly, i wish we had more time to dive into it. i appreciate you making a few minutes for us today that is it today. we'll be back tomorrow with more "meet the press daily. "the beat with ari melber" starts right now. good evening. >> good evening and thank you so much. good evening to you at home. it's good to be back with you on "the beat." i tell you, i think with is requite a show tonight. former trump lawyer michael cohen reporting to prison to begin his sentence today. cohen's lawyer joins us exclusively tonight on that significant story. also new pressure on attorney general bill barr. former insider neal katyal is here to explain some of what he views as unprecedented in that story that is obviously hitting a fever pitch. and later, a republican challenging donald trump for the republican nomination for president is here live for the first time. so a lot to get to. but we begin with the


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