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tv   MTP Daily  MSNBC  May 14, 2019 2:00pm-3:00pm PDT

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my thanks to you all. we'll keep it going. thank you for watching. i am nicole wallace. "mtp daily" starts now. hi, chuck. >> don't kibitz too loudly. >> i am loud. i apologize in advance. >> i'm pretty loud myself, as you know. >> thanks, chuck. if it is tuesday, where is the democratic party strategery? good evening, i am chuck todd in new york city. welcome to "mtp daily." we have a lot of news to get to. let's dive in. sta starting with this.
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just in the last 90 minutes, "new york times" broke this story which nbc news has confirmed that there's another investigation launched by house democrats, the house intelligence committee examining whether lawyers tied to president trump and his family helped obstruct the panel's inquiry into russian election interference. so democrats want documents from mr. trump's attorney. big surprise here, those lawyers have so far balked at the committee's questions. we know what the president's strategy is, on the latest investigation and all of the other democratic led inquiries, it is simply stonewall them at every turn. today, the president cheered his justice department move to review aspects of the russian investigation that came as the president called for an actual investigation or as he calls it a coup attempt to be investigated. at the same time, the administration is reportedly rebuffed 79 requests from democrats for documents and
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other information. there are subpoenas for tax reports, documents following don mcgahn, you name it, the administration hasn't complied. republicans in congress are supporting the stonewall. democrats scheduled a hearing for mcgahn, it is unclear if he will show up. threats of contempt, censure, fines don't seem to be moving the probe. in the last few hours, rank and file democrats in the house are urging a second look at impeachment. and the bigger question is this. at some point as leader of the congressional democrats, speaker of the house nancy pelosi going to set some parameters as to when are they going to draw the line and where do lines get drawn. let's dive in with reporters and experts. kasie hunt, nbc's capitol hill correspondent, senior politics
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editor, john podwerts, and strategist and former executive director of new york state democratic party. tell me, it seems as if the democrats are -- how many different requests, subpoenas, investigations they want to open. there is a single lar decision by the white house not to cooperate with any of them. at what point is speaker of the house being the most likely person going to basically say white house, 60 days or we do this. 60 days, we do that. at some point, are democrats going to try to take control of the situation? >> chuck, you can be forgiven for not being able to keep track. there are potentially dozens of them. we keep worrying that we missed one. >> you probably have. >> trying to complete the list.
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exactly. the central challenge for the democrats has always been this, they know that ultimately if the white house stonewalls them, they have to go to the courts. as you know, if you do that the wrong way or with the wrong strategy or by relying on the wrong statutes, you can shoot yourself in the foot and get a ruling that goes against your way that could potentially set a precedent that could last for years that would potentially curtail the power of the legislative branch, so the tension has always been between trying to demonstrate and actually do oversight with whistleblowers and demands for documents while also trying to make sure they're building a good court strategy. you're going to start to see the initial -- we saw some of that today, there was a court hearing about the oversight committee and some of their requests, the judge in that case seems inclined to rule in favor of the
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congress, but that's part of why you're seeing such debate about impeachment. why does it matter. we know what it means politically, but has special resonance legally because it is the only judicial proceeding congress can open and it comes with special privileges and special rights to see things like grand jury testimony, like what they want to see out of the mueller report. it gives them more tools. so i think that's the box that they're stuck in right now. they're trying to move forward with this, but the white house is saying no way. >> nancy pelosi at the start of the speakership took control of the shutdown, not one dollar. drew some lines. you knew, the white house knew you cross that and you get x.
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that's essentially what they did. she seems to be caught between she knows on one hand the committee chairmen are being disrespected by the process, but on the other hand, they won congress. she has lost control of the narrative here a little bit. >> i don't know, i think she's maintained the narrative pretty well thus far and i'll tell you why. there are a couple of tracks here. number one, if you go back to the nixon impeachment, article three, one of the stipulations and points was that the white house was not responding to subpoenas, so there's this underlying theme here that if the white house continues to do that, it also feeds the argument for the -- >> why not draw lines. look, you have 60 days to start complying or we're done with this, we're going down this road. >> parkitly because the america people aren't sold on impeachment and this is actually important. we took over the house in 2018,
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we did so because they weren't liberal districts, those were purple districts, and we did very well in 2018 making an argument that we were about governance. if we go down this path and don't sell the american people on why this is important, not only do we probably lose what we gained in the house but i don't think we regain the presidency. >> i think nancy pelosi is in a serious box as you describe for a couple reasons. one, she's such an institutionalist. reminds us over and over again to anybody that asks, congress is a co-equal form of government and she wants to reinforce that rule repeatedly. she makes that point all the time. on the other hand, she has also repeatedly said she doesn't want impeachment, it is poison for the democrats, it will kill democrats in purple districts that won in 2018, loud cries from rashida tlaibs of the world and aoc those folks will be in their districts and in those
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seats as long as they want. it is purple districts that spell the difference between successful speakership and unsuccessful. i don't see how she does both, one to say no impeachment, one to say uphold the institution which the president is clearly disrespecting. >> i feel like you have to go back to 2011, 2012 and what happened with attorney general eric holder getting held in contempt of congress for failing to provide testimony and documentation on a scandal involving gun buy backs, right? and the white house attitude of the obama white house was the hell with this, this is just a republican partisan thing. what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. obama did it once, it was like oh, this is a new thing to act like it is meaningless that the attorney general is held in contempt of congress, and now,
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you know, four or five cabinet members in the trump white house are theoretically could now be head in contempt for the same thing. it took eight months for holder to be held in contempt of congress. it could take five weeks for bill barr to be held in contempt of congress. we have an institutional breakdown of the relationship between the executive and legislative branch, neither of which respects the other. >> kasie, seems like congressional democrats didn't -- i think speaker pelosi and frankly chairman cummings and chairman schiff and nadler all thought they'll eventually cooperate, they're not going to do this. oh, yes, they are. >> chuck, i'm not sure if they ever really thought that. what i do think is nancy pelosi believes it is absolutely politically necessary, in addition to being institutionally necessary as beth was talking about to go through the process in a methodical way, to try to
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demonstrate to voters who want democrats to go after the trump administration that they were doing that, also to show moderates that they were doing everything the right way, they were not giving into the base or calls in the party, they were not repeating mistakes of the republican congress that they made in the benghazi investigation, for example. she felt it was very important to demonstrate day-in and day-out this was above board by the process. she's very differential to the committee chairmen, but i think the way she's now talking about it and the way people are talking about it behind the scenes indicates the frustration is mounting in a way that is a little unpredictable, and gives me a sense that we don't -- i had been convinced with all of my conversations we were not going down certainly an impeachment road after the collusion thing came out. but the degree of stonewalling
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and level of frustration, don't forget, nancy pelosi is reflecting her caucus to a person, that says a lot about how they're moving. >> but you made the argument this is methodical, but there's a subpoena for tax returns, the subpoena for personal records, subpoena for his lawyers' records, subpoena to get mueller, this is what i mean where i'm not -- i understand the larger picture is we're trying to do our job holding the executive branch accountable. pick one. you have to prioritize. you know, this is a fight. does she need to prioritize this? >> listen, i think it is right to go down these many paths. the state senate in new york is going after his state tax return. i like the fact that what we're doing is allowing these different entities to gather information. that helps us make the case. i said this before, the calls to impeachment aren't as vicious as calls from the right to lock her up. it is not the same thing. i think the american people want us to make a very strong case
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before we go down this path. >> i don't know what the case is. >> i think the question is does this look like a righteous effort to establish boundaries and proper respect for rule of law or does it look like a gigantic fishing expedition where they're looking for ite to kill, wound, or maim trump. if you are doing the thing that makes america america, that's good. if it looks like a fishing expedition, that's bad. problem is sometimes it looks like it is good and sometimes it looks like it is bad, you know. jerry nadler i think sounds pretty good. in my opinion, adam schiff sounds pretty bad. it depends who you're listening to. unless you have a unified voice, someone that can speak in the right tone, that's the independents that are 60-35 against impeachment are going to say you're just harassing the
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guy. you're not letting the country move on. >> breaking news, "new york times" reporting a deal has been struck with donald trump jr. to get him to testify in a limited manner. my guess is that means must not be written, we were told written answers weren't going to be acceptable. we'll try to get more information. i am throwing this at you, kasie. >> reporter: i am reading it with you. >> what is your understanding of negotiations as they stood the last few days? >> reporter: the fact that richard burr had to resort to this tells you how far down the rabbit hole things have gone. this is something the committee was very clear about with witnesses. they said we night want you to come back a second time, and that was part of the deal. they want senators to be able to ask questions because the vast majority of conversations so far on the material that's been
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gathered is the result of staff questioning. very professional staff, they work together in a bipartisan way on the senate intelligence committee, but there was some pressure from members to be able to actually get a shot at this. the fact it went this far and that he did this with republicans pushed back against him quickly in public said a lot about where things stood in the course of the last couple of days. i'm interested to know, start to report this out, take a look at this agreement whether there was pressure to compromise. what is mark warner going to say about potential compromise. he has been protective of burr, they maintained a public detente. are there cracks in that as it unfields. >> -- unfolds. >> the fact that he is cooperating in any way says a
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lot. >> if it is written questions, to me, burr got rolled. anything more than written questions, then okay. >> it is what the senate side of the whole investigation has done better it appears is to work out some sort of agreements, negotiations, deals. the republican and democratic chairmen of the committee work well together. that's how this is supposed to work. it also means that donald trump jr. is not going to stonewall and refuse a subpoena like all of the people coming out of the white house. he is not a member of the white house, so he doesn't have executive privilege to shield him. perhaps he realized this was not the best look. his only alternative was to go plead the fifth, that he will actually answer questions. >> what burr and warner have done, john, to their credit, they said it privately to some of us and publicly, the focus is to stop the russians doing this again. >> right. >> the fact is donald trump jr. had information about that.
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>> just to go more global, this entire conversation we're having is about the senate, right? the first five, six minutes of this segment were about the house. now we're moving to breaking news about the senate. how many millions of people in the united states are going to be able to make any sense of the distinctions here. that's where the trump people have a certain leverage that pelosi and the investigators don't, which is it looks like everyone is going after them, they're going after his son, going after this, going after that. it is too complicated, too confusing, there's too much and we need to move on. >> i think politically, the white house may have seen or somebody got to trump and said hey, basil, it looks like all of a sudden you're not cooperating with republicans. you actually cooperate and then you can isolate house democrats. >> we have some friends here, it is easier to come here. i would add your point, too, if
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the presidential candidates are not getting the question on the trail, if they're not being pushed that far, it is right for us to stay in the lane we're currently at. if we go ahead of the american people who are probably not paying attention to it with the kind of meticulousness that we are, then we risk losing them. >> kasie, back to prioritization question again. is there any thought among house democratic leadership to say okay, we have to prioritize. what do you need first before you go down whatever road map you go down next. i keep coming back to this. i think democrats need to outline what's the road map they're trying to do, how do they get there. if they do that, they may have the american people at least understanding what they're trying to do. >> reporter: well, chuck, we do know that they are coordinating behind the scenes, you know, they have regular meetings with the committee chairmen to talk
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about this. nancy pelosi was pretty up front saying she didn't want everybody running all around, throwing their own subpoenas out there on different topics because obviously committee chairmen compete with themselves and everybody wants to be in the limelight. there was recognition what they didn't want is something that felt like a giant mess as you're sort of describing. and the challenge i think in how it even has been set up, she limited it to a certain degree, but that doesn't mean she hasn't empowered chairman to do what their areas of expertise say, and frankly, that's just mushroomed over time to the point that the clearest i think set of issues and ways in which the american people are watching, the congress have to do with the mueller report, the hearing with robert mueller. don mcgahn is an important part of that. to a certain extent, that all gets lost in the other inquiries that are going on, and they
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range in topic across the board. not to say there aren't things worth investigating. scott pruitt, i would be fascinated to learn what he did when he was running the epa. at the same time, it contributes to the sense they're taking on too much. >> talking members of congress in the third person, talk to one in the first person. donald trump jr. agreed to testify. maybe there's a sign there is a way to negotiate with the white house. we shall see. there's also a fight between trump and the oversight committee over the trump personal financial records. that went from capitol hill to a courtroom. president trump's lawyers are suing to block his accounting firm from turning over years of financial documents to house democrats. federal judge declined to rule, seemed to question the trump legal team position that the democrats subpoena was an
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overreach of congressional powers. joining me, a member of the oversight committee from maryland. congressman, i'm guessing you heard a little of this conversation. i want to get to specifics in a minute. but i want to go to the larger thing. do you buy this notion that maybe the american public isn't sure what the priorities are when it comes to oversight of this president? >> well, i think the public certainly understands that we want to get to the bottom of a series of questions, very legitimate questions, and as you have been pointing out, our committees are engaged very deliberately pursuing those inquiries, but i would say now the thing that's come out of the mueller report that to me is a red alert that points us in the direction of what we have to do and do quickly is to prepare against the russians coming again in 2020. i mean, mueller was very clear about how this meddling
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interference in our campaign in 2016 happened. we learned all about the disinformation campaigns, basically a form of warfare being waged against our democracy. then we have all of the foreign agents and foreign money operating inside our democracy. let's get going on this. let's move quickly. >> i asked you. congressman, i remember talking to you before you took over. and you laid out a campaign reform agenda, series of ideas to reform our campaign system a bit to try to mitigate against this. where are the votes? where are these, i mean, there's a whole -- in part one of the mueller report, mueller is not making an argument that laws weren't broken. he is making argument that laws are too ambiguous. >> right. and we can make it clearer. we can pass new laws that get rid of the gray areas.
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>> you're in the majority. where are they? >> we have done it. hr 1 did that, we passed that. that was the first thing we did. we told the american people, give us the gavel, we'll pass it. here's the problem. on the other side of the capital, mitch mcconnell has his arms folded standing at the gates of democracy saying to the american public you shall not pass. the onus is on him. we put all those reforms we talked about months ago in that bill. >> i'm talking about specifics of, for instance, how do you deal with stolen hacked material. like there are some specific ways you guys could be doing pieces of legislation to tighten up the laws and force some votes. >> that's a great segue. that's exactly what we're doing. last week we introduced title 3 of hr 1 as a stand-alone bill, election security act. that was introduced by lofgren,
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benny thompson and myself as chair of the democracy reform taskforce, so it is going right to the heart of the issue of protecting the ballot box. we're breaking it into a component part bill that can be a stand-alone and put the question to republicans in the house and certainly to mitch mcconnell on the senate side saying okay, we have broken this out, do you care about protecting the democracy, if so let's vote in the house. we'll do that, we gun control t -- we have a gavel. it is up to mcconnell. does he want to protect against foreign intrusion or not? the onus is on him. >> this gets to a larger challenge. a lot of subpoenas get attention, some of the legislation doesn't, and that's where i go back to prioritization. i know what your committee is prioritizing, what schiff's committee is prioritizing, i know what nadler's committee is prioritizing. how much coordination should you be having, and should you have
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more, and should one of you have more priority now? >> well, we certainly are going to coordinate and have been coordinating. i think the decision, for example, to break out election security act and begin to push that forward is a perfect example of how we are coordinating the effort and prioritizing. you're right. the average person out there can't be blamed for getting confused by all of the things coming at them. we have to stay focused. the main focus, chuck, is how do you fight corruption broadly, a rigged system in the country which people are upset about, you see a voting system that's been corrupted by the russians, but also by people in our own country that are putting obstacles up for people when they want to get to the ballot box, you see corrupt ethics and corrupt campaign finance and corrupt economy because it is working for a very small number of people and big corporations. people are fed up with the corruption.
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they want to fight corruption. they want to fix the democracy. democrats are saying we're going to do those for the people. that's the brand i think makes sense for democrats. >> what do you have left in your arsenal to try to get the white house to cooperate? >> well, look, we've got the committee investigations going forward. >> they're not complying. >> and then what we have is we have actual meaningful legislative proposals, what members of congress should be doing, what the public expects us to do, and we're going to keep breaking out and introducing these component parts, whether it has to do with election security or with disclosure of campaign finance, voting reforms to make sure people can get to the ballot box without running that obstacle course. these are all important measures. gerrymandering reform. everything i just mentioned to you, chuck, has the support of 75, 80, 85% of americans. they just want to see us get it done. house democrats are ready to do
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it. the problem is on the senate side with mitch mcconnell who like i said out of central casting has decided he wants to be the face of opposition to democracy reform. >> congressman, one last question to you. the attorney general asked a u.s. attorney from connecticut to review origins of the russia probe. what's interesting about the attorney general decision is that it was a review, he didn't appoint a special prosecutor, and the person he picked is somebody with good bipartisan credentials, seen as a fair minded u.s. attorney. does that tell you barr was trying to play indicacate the w house or are you troubled that barr is reviewing the investigators if not necessarily investigating the investigators. >> so it is a relatively new story, we'll have to see where it goes. obviously president trump's m.o. is to investigate the
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investigators, to some degree that's what barr has authorized here. on the other hand, i'm pretty confident anyone looking at the origins of this investigation into contacts between russia and the trump administration or trump campaign will conclude that those investigations were warranted. it made sense when you look at the legion of context that was occurring. we'll see where it goes. >> you have been on the campaign reform train quite sometime. thanks for sharing your views. much appreciate it. my thanks to kasie hunt who has to go back and do reporting. beth, john, basil are sticking around. another b entering the white house. other members of the alphabet are jealous. what the newest candidate says about where the democratic party is headed in 2020. the national security expert that quit his job over the president's plans to pull troops from syria.
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i talk to bret mcgerk about sending troops to the middle east. here's what the president said about that. >> i think it is fake news, okay? would i do that? absolutely. would i do that? absolutely humira patients, you inspire us.
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jumps into the presidential race and the fight for the middle is suddenly more crowded. >> if we actually look at what unites us, it's a lot more than what seems to divide us these days. >> montana governor steve bullock kicking off his presidential campaign today,
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welcome back today biggest story in the 2020 primary, the size and strength of the center of the democratic party. after early questions that the third presidential run could be a bust, joe biden is well ahead in polls out of new hampshire and south carolina. two candidates that got in after him are marketing themselves as pragmatists and the trend is to run away from bernie sanders and elizabeth warren on medicare for all. not saying a candidate from the left won't be a democratic nominee, but right now the strength seems to be in the mushy middle. back to our keen political minds of beth, john, basil. six months ago, conventional wisdom was everybody was going to veer left. bernie and warren are the farthest, but the center of gravity would lean left. and while the party certainly has shifted left in the last five years, it seems as if look at bet oh and kamala, they started leaning left and are swerving back to the middle.
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>> joe biden is moving a little to the left, too, embracing some of the single parent health care and $15 minimum wage. i think there is movement to the center which is a good thing, that's how we won in 2018. i believe that's how we win in 2020, but i would also say that bernie sanders has had a huge impact on the race already because we are talking about a lot of policy issues that a lot of democrats wouldn't be talking much about in 2016, but we're now talking about in 2020. that's important. i do think and i said it before, one of the reasons biden is doing well is the structure. >> nothing has changed. perhaps we looked to the wrong people to decide where the party was headed. michelle goldberg gets at this when she notes of biden, utterly at odds with
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dominates the internet. offering half measures on climate change and praising my republican friends in the house and senate. >> the democratic party has shifted totally to the left on the kind of issues that dominate the republican primary discussion. social issues. there's no such thing as pro-life democrat any more, barely -- >> governor of louisiana would disagree with you, but i hear you. >> no such thing as pro-gun democrat. >> harder to be. >> i am vulgarizing for the sake of emphasis. all i am saying is party shift on social issues is almost total. joe biden is not getting outflanked on the left on social issues. >> fair enough. >> what we have is policy distinctions. how far do you go on health care on this and that.
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and all of the polling said for years that majority of democrats describe themselves as moderate, not as liberal, majority. 53, 55, 57%. so the notion that this race would be run on the left falters because when the republican party has a rush to the right, the rush to the right is on social issues, not on policy, because that's where the hot buttons are. the hot buttons in the democratic party, the voters don't want hot buttons as it turns out. >> can we make another point about joe biden, he is not running away with this, right now we're seeing a couple of weeks, but doing very well. >> biden pundit whiplash. he's dead! he's unstoppable. >> couple of other things going on. it is not his position on issues, it is who he is and this return to what democratic voters remember from 8 years ago. we all have conventional wisdom people don't want to go
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backward, they want to go forward, move ahead. biden was the guy to take everything back. you know what, maybe some liked where joe biden came from. they liked the fact he was associated with president barack obama, that helped him with african-american voters, seen it in polling that he is doing well among black voters that probably will decide this nomination. it is not just checking between left and center, it is this guy, this particular guy who fills a moment that many voters are desiring. >> not just that. i think that 60 million, 70 million people watched joe biden take paul ryan apart in the debate in 2012. how did he do that, he was scornful, he was dismissive, he laughed at ryan. he said it is a lot of malarkey. he showed he was tough and nasty and people remember this. people think he is so wonderful, lively, i think there's in the collective memory, that they saw this guy go at a republican and
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slaughter him in a debate and they're thinking maybe that's the guy. >> i want to put up something here. john sort of alluded to this. this is a harvard harris poll, asking democrats which label do you most identify with. the number one label is obama democrat, 21%. number two, moderate democrat. number three, liberal democrat at 15%. nothing else, progressive was only 5%. democratic socialist, 4%. environmentalist, 6%. it sort of underscores the point. the democratic party on twitter may be one place, the democratic party in america is in another. >> a lot of democrats like the era of obama and like that coalition. the question is does biden bring back that coalition. i don't know if he can actually do that, but i think there's hope and sense that he will. the question i ask myself was
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president trump -- that's the question, do voters want a disrupt error somethi disrupter or something -- >> something that biden said today that will get him scorn, the idea, bite number six, guys, about that we labeled republican epiphany. take a listen. >> i just think there is a way to fundamentally change things with donald trump out of the white house, not a joke. you'll see an epiphany occur among many of my republican friends. >> apparently he was absent during the obama, biden administration. i remember barack obama saying and the fever is going to break after the 2012 election and all this. that felt naive. >> inflame democratic twitter, and putting that aside, he is
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wrong. there's not going to be an epiphany. donald trump owns the republican party whether he is president or not, he fundamentally changed the party. sides are dug in, my team versus your team, there won't be any epiphany and he is naive. >> i'm going to argue maybe he isn't wrong. that is to say, you take down a sitting president, knock him out, ronald reagan in 1980, knock jimmy carter out, the other team goes oh, whoa. we may be misreading tenor and spirit of the country. >> did they work with bill clinton when he knocked out george h.w. bush? >> some, the crime bill, remember that famous crime bill. >> republicans are going wow, we're impressed that -- >> it was a big fight and republicans when bill crystal and others said did not make common cause on the health care bill, it was a controversial position to take.
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we may not have the pulse of the country now. i don't think biden is the big sword, the fact that v lives in their own bubble makes it harder, but the motion the republican party wouldn't be knocked on its heels by ouster of trump in 2020 and change the spirit of things -- >> mitch mcconnell has said i will be the grim reaper for anything the democrats do. >> all right. thank you. we're pausing the conversation. up ahead, why i'm obsessed with what president trump says about tariffs versus what's actually true about tariffs. >> we're having a little squabble with china because we have been treated very unfairly for many, many decades. i think it will turn out extremely well, we're in a very strong position. tremely well, w strong position. every day, visionaries are creating the future. ♪
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...and brake too hard. with feedback to help you drive safer. giving you the power to actually lower your cost. unfortunately, it can't do anything about that. now that you know the truth... are you in good hands? welcome back. tonight i am obsessed with what's increasingly apparent as we plunge into a trade war with china. president trump doesn't get how tariffs work. >> i happen to think tariffs for our country are very powerful. we're taking in billions of dollars in tariffs, in the form of tariffs or taxes. i put tariffs on $250 billion of products, right? nobody is feeling that. >> here he is on twitter, tariffs are now being paid to
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the united states by china. tariffs will make our country much stronger, not weaker. just sit back and watch. that's not how tariffs work at all. now, we do export lots of goods to china, and china will be taxing those in retaliation. but that's nothing compared to the list scrolling beside me now, these are just some of the items we import from china. all of these goods are now subject to tariffs which is just another word for taxes. here's the thing. the importer here in the united states pays the tariffs, not china. so importers of chinese goods just passed the expense onto the american consumer. so walmart buys from china on these and have to pay tariffs and charge us more at the walmart. all those things are going to cost more. let's be clear. china does not pay the tariffs. the companies that are importing it do, and eventually they're likely to pass it on to you.
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you could follow the president's advice and just buy goods from the united states or nontariff countries. and that's surely true, except did you see how much stuff was on that list? the president claims trade wars are good and easy win. but what say you? trump cheap economic adviser larry kudlow. >> in fact, both sides will pay. both sides will pay in these things. >> how much will we all pay you ask? just sit back and watch. >> behr presents: outdone yourself.
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. we are headed too a war with iran? are you looking at a regime change? >> we'll see what they do, if anything, i'm hearing little stories about iran, if they do anything, they will suffer greatly. we'll see what happens with iran. >> welcome back, that threat from president trump yesterday came hours before the white house was reviewing military plans against iran, plans including sending 120,000 u.s. troops to the middle east should they act sell rate work on nuclear weapons. today president trump dismissed that report but with a very trumpian caveat. >> i think it's fake news. okay. now, would i do that? absolutely. but we have not planned for that. hopefully, we're not going to have to plan for that, if we did that, we'd send a lot more troops than that. >> with me is brent mcgirk, he
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held national security commissions in the trump, obama consecutively. go find somebody to defeat isis, he resigned of president trump announced signs to withdraw from syria. she a foreign affairs analyst. >> it's great to be here. >> i'm sure you are excited to be willing in palo alto these days. let me start with what the president said and the report, itself. because that number, 120,000 troops, that seemed like a weird number. >> that is not enough troops, if you are actually going to try to, if you think are you going to ends up in a war with iran, then it seems like an awful lot of troops to be thinking of sending over. explain where you think that number came from. >> well, first, sending troops, moving aircraft car years, these are tactics. the issue here is what is the objective with respect to iran? and if you don't have an objective, you by definition don't have a strategy.
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a strategy is setting a political objective and marshalling can resources to actually achieve it. it's very unclear from the administration what the objective is with iran, it's very unclear 120,000 troops would do, or a greater number of forces president trump suggested today might do it's unclear where those troops might come from. but there is a first principle question of what is the tragedy, the objective we are trying to achieve vis-a-vis iran. you see this regime collapses, national security adviser john bolton in february suggested the supreme leader of iran, his days are numbered. perhaps within a year we'll see from somebody else, secretary pompeo has talked about 13 demands to get back to the table. president trump last week said there is one issue, the nuclear file. we don't know what the objective is, it's hard to assess what these tactical moves are about. we have to check our people. we send a strong message.
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but there is a longer principle here of what we are trying to do. >> do you get a sense the gulf states and israel are almost lobbying the trump administration to be more aggressive with iran? >> i think. i mean, look, we hear this all the time from our partners in the region. i spent a great portion of my life in those capitals. they have concerns about iran, rightfully so. we discussed that with them about how to protect themselves. again, president trump has san antonio e shown no indication that he's looking to get sucked into a broader middle east conflict, which i think would be quite disastrous and the one thing we've learned over the last decade are the unintended consequences if you launch a military campaign in this part of the world can be quite dramatic. so you know it's interesting. some of the voices coming out today from trump, from the supreme leader in tehran, both of whom said and secretary pompeo speaking today in sochi. >> right. >> that nobody is looking for a conflict.
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our ambassador in saudi arabia seen battlefields up close said the same thing. there seems to be an escalation in red rick from the senior leaders. again, nobody know what is the objective is, the strategy is, this is a big problem and i think some members of congress are asking the right question. >> i want to play something here. >> that had to do with president trump sort of dismissing john bolton's statements having to do with venezuela. i think it gets to this larger point regarding iempblt let me play that and ask you specifically on the other side. >> yeah. john is very good. john is a -- he has strong views on things. that's okay. i actually temper john, which is amazing. nobody thought that was -- i'm the one that tempers him. that's okay. i have different sides. i have john bolton and i have other people that are a little more dovish than him and ultimately i make the decision. i get -- i like john i get very good advice from him. >> all right, if i were the
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iranian intelligence in charge of telling the ayatollah what do we think president trump is going to do, that doesn't sound like a guy that will send 120,000 troops to the region. it seems like john bolton might be sending a message. if the president doesn't support it, i don't think the message gets received. >> again you know president trump is a guy, i worked for him. he made very clear he wanted to get out of syria where we had 2,000 troops. when i read there might be a plan to send over 100,000 troops to the region. i read that i was kur why us to see such a thing. you asked the right question. there is a real disconnect between the national security adviser and the president. we seen this issue after issue. >> he's not the first national security adviser he has been on track with either. >> it's a problem. when you don't have a national security process that is really connected to the president, where you have a constant feedback loop to revise your assumptions, what is underlying the policy, do we need to
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adjust? when we don't have that, the national security system moves on its own. >> that can cause a lot of risk around the world. we might be seeing with iran, we are putting pressure on them, they're maneuvering. we maneuver. it increases the risks of accidents and a lot of wars can start by accidents. on top of that we don't have diplomatic channels with iran, those have been severed. we're in a risky period. i think cooler heads here are trying to prevail. >> brett, i have as to make that your last word about cooler heads prevail. a lot of us hard you there. that's all we have for tonight. i will be back tomorrow with "the beat" with ari melber. my apologies. >> that's okay. attorney general bill barr pushing to investigate the investigators. this comes, of course, after the heat and the contempt, though, for misleading the public. also tonight, an untold story from a mueller report. what an aid


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