tv Andrea Mitchell Reports MSNBC May 22, 2019 9:00am-10:00am PDT
the shutdown meeting when he walked out. exactly, that's according to two democratic sources with knowledge of that meeting. we'll hear from senator schumer and speaker pelosi any moment now. but that's it for me. andrea mitchell picking things up right now. i'll see you tomorrow morning. >> what a day. craig melvin, thank you. good day. i'm andrea mitchell in washington. we are awaiting comments at any moment from house speaker nancy pelosi and senate democratic leader chuck schumer. moments after president trump suddenly appeared in the rose garden to lash out at them, pouncing on comments pelosi had made this morning, that the president had engaged in a cover-up, comments she made in part to slow her own caucus' march to impeachment. the president walking out of that pre-arranged meeting over infrastructure and trade with pelosi and schumer, and leading democrats on capitol hill. here's part of it. >> instead of walking in happily into a meefg, i walk into look at people that had just said
that i was doing a cover-up. i don't do cover-ups. we've had a house investigation, we had senate investigations, we have investigations like nobody's ever had before and we've done nothing wrong. these people were out to get us. the republican party and president trump. >> and nancy pelosi about to respond with chuck schumer on what happened when he walked out on them in the oval office. >> good morning, everyone. this morning, we went to the white house for a follow-up meeting with the president, follow-up to a meeting we had a few weeks ago, where we agreed on a dollar figure, where we agreed on the percentage of 80/20, in terms of responsibility, and we discussed some priorities about infrastructure. it was agreed at that time that we would return today to talk about how we would cover the cost of such a proposal.
last night, in the time in between, the president was making some sounds that would question how serious he could be if he was saying what he was saying, and last night he put forth a letter saying that unless we passed the u.s./mexico/canada free trade agreement, there was no reason for us to -- you know, we couldn't go forward with infrastructure. we didn't see those two as related, but the fact is, hopeful, optimistic, and seeing the necessity for a big infrastructure initiative for our country, we went in the spirit of bipartisanship to find common ground with the president on this. he came into the room, made a statement that he made, i won't even characterize it, but i will say this, and what i said after he left, thomas jefferson, when he was president of the united states tasked his secretary of the treasury, gallatin, to put
forth an infrastructure proposal, initiative for the country. it would follow the lewis and clark expedition, the louisiana purchase, it would be about the erie canal, the cumberland road, things like that to build into america. 100 year to date later, a hundred years later, teddy roosevelt did his infrastructure big initiative and it was called the establishment of the national parks service, the green infrastructure of america. we had hoped that we could give this president an opportunity to have a signature infrastructure initiative to create jobs, to improve the quality of life, to just do so much for our country on the ongoing -- not only the jobs it created by building, but the commerce it would promote. and that included roads and bridges and mass transit --
well, broadband into rural america and other underserved areas, clean water, waste water, all of the things that have numerous needs. the american society of civil engineers says it's in the trillions, the deficit we have, we're talking about a couple billion dollars. for some reason, maybe it was lack of confidence on his part, that he really couldn't match the greatness of the challenge that we have, wasn't really respectful of the reason -- of the congress and the white house working together. he just took a pass. and it just makes me wonder why he did that. in any event, i pray for the president for the united states of america. i'm pleased to yield now to the
distinguished democratic leader of the senate, mr. schumer. >> well, thank you, speaker pelosi. and to watch what happened in the white house would make your jaw drop. we democrats believe in infrastructure. we believe our roads and bridges need repair. we believe that rural america, as well as inner city america needs broadband. we believe that bring clean, new energy around the country we need a power grid modernized and updated. we believe in modernizing our transportation fleet with electric cars. we believe in all of these things. and so despite signals in the previous few weeks, that he might not be serious, we went forward. we came here very seriously. the president asked in his letter last night, where would democrats spend the money on infrastructure? i was prepared to give him a 35-page plan detailing this in
all the areas i mentioned and more, that have the broad support of senate and house democrats. we were interested. we are interested in doing infrastructure. it's clear the president isn't. he is looking for every excuse, whether it was let's do trade first, or whether it was, he's not going to pay for any funding, or whether today, that there are investigations going on. hello, there were investigations going on three weeks ago when we met. and he still met with us. but now that he was forced to actually say how he'd pay for it, he had to run away. and he came up with this pre-planned excuse. and one final point, it's clear that this was not a spontaneous move on the president's part. it was planned. when we got in the room, the curtains were closed, the president -- there was a place for him at the front, so he could stand and attempt to tell
us why he wouldn't do infrastructure. and of course, then he went to the rose garden with prepared signs that had been printed up long before our meeting. we want the president to do infrastructure. we want our congress to perform its constitutional responsibilities and create jobs, create income, create wealth for the average american. we can do both. it's clear the president doesn't want to do any of that. >> i just would add this one thing that we had a very distinguished delegation to the congress, very powerful house and senate, as you can see, distinguished leader on the appropriations committee, senator patty murray, mr. carper, the ranking member on the committee of jurisdiction that oversees some of what we're talking about here, richey neal, the chairman of the ways and means committee in the house. our distinguished democratic leader in the house, steny
hoyer. where's dick durbin? is he this way? the senate whip, whatever the title is in the senate. >> number two. >> debbie stabenow of michigan, leader on all of these issues in her committees in the congress. our assistant speaker, mr. ben ray lujan of new mexico. our distinguished whip of the house, democratic whip of the house, mr. clyburn, the chair of the -- i love saying chair, the chair of the transportation infrastructure committee appropriate to this discuss, mr. defazio, and the top democrat on the finance committee in the united states senate, ron wyden. so we came with heft, with commitment, with knowledge, we hoped with a shared vision of
creating this great jobs initiative for our country. and the spirit of president eisenhower, when he substituins the interstate highway system. it was important for jobs and mobility. it was a national security initiative and it was bipartisan. lyndon johnson and sam rayburn in the house and senate, the president of the united states, dwight eisenhower, we had hoped that we could do something comparable. unfortunately, the president isn't ready for that. thank you all very much. >> well, joining me now, peter alexander, nbc's kelly o'donnell on capitol hill, joyce vance, former u.s. attorney and an msnbc contributor, matt miller, former chief spokesperson to attorney general eric holder and
an nbc justice and security analyst, "usa today" washington bureau chief, susan page, and "washington post" political reporter, eugene scott. peter alexander, first to you. it does appear that this was pre-planned, they had the posters all planned. he has been tweeting all night and all morning about the democratic investigations. he said that he came into the rose garden because nancy pelosi koo accused him of a cover-up. >> reporter: yeah, there may have been some degree of planning, obviously, andrea, because we were handed these as we exited the rose garden. this was basically one of the signs that was on the podium. the key sound bite from president trump today was "i don't do cover-ups," which of course ignores the facts that he had involvement with a series of hush money payments to former playmate and to a porn star to try to buy their silence over the course of the 2016 campaign. it also reminds me of what we heard from this president in that first news conference, the day after the midterm election, andrea, where he was pressed
what he would do if democrats pursued investigations. he said, in effect, if they do that, for us, it would be a war-like posture, this is, from president trump, a war-like posture. but it's also a bookend, in many ways. because you'll remember late last year, where there was that contentious visit with nancy pelosi and chuck schumer in the oval office, with the president, where he said, basically, he would take the blame. he would be the one responsible for a shutdown on the issue of border security. well, today, basically, he said, i'm willing to say, we're not going franywhere on infrastructure, as long as the democrats won't move forward and get over it in terms of their investigations. the democrats tried to make hay with that, trying to capitalize on that today, and the sound bite that everyone's going to be talking about as it relates to the democrats is nancy pelosi saying at the end of her remarks, "i pray for the president of the united states, i pray for the country." >> indeed. and peter alexander, when you talk about, "i don't do cover-ups, there's also the fact that he has been refusing to let
his current and former aides testify, refusing to turn over documents that have been demanded, including the tax returns, which are argue blip under a real legal mandate and more on that to come, and also, refusing to grant an interview to robert mueller, which plays into all of that, right? >> reporter: you're exactly right. he's consistently says he's been the most transparent president of all. he didn't sit down with robert mueller, even though mueller desired that, requested for that to happen. instead, he provided written answers. he said "they were out to get us." and about this claim he's made repeatedly about the effort to investigate the investigators, where he's even referred to some of those investigators as treasonous, saying they committed treason, when that rose garden event was over, i yelled to him a couple of questions that he ignored. one was, if you've been cleared, why not let robert mueller testify? he walked away. and separately, i asked him, as it related to this separate issue, i asked him broadly
about -- you know, i was peppering with him a lot of questions. >> i think it was whether or not he had read the mueller report. >> that was another one of them that we asked him in that moment that he didn't answer. we also asked him who he was accusing -- that's it. who he specifically was accusing of treason. he said in his remarks that it hopes it will come out well, but he doesn't think so. while he's claiming there was treason, he's acknowledging that he doesn't know. >> what a morning for you guys over at the white house. and meanwhile on capitol hill, kelly o'donnell, first to you. you've got some insights into what happened in that oval office meeting, beyond what we heard from nancy pelosi and chuck schumer. >> reporter: a senior democratic aide says to me that pelosi herself said that she knew the president was not serious about infrastructure and would find a way out. as the president left the meeting. that was reflected in her on-camera remarks. and i think part of what we'll take away from this day, andrea, is not only the words and the unexpected nature of everything
that played out, but the imagery that was cast here. the president standing alone in the rose garden, which is sort of the solitary nature of being president. there may be strength in that, according to his supporters, there may be isolation in it. and then on capitol hill, the speaker of the house, the leader of the democrats in the senate and so many of their leadership team standing together and describing the scene at the white house in terms that cast the president in a very dark and isolated fashion. that is both in the way they described the room, the words, and so the imagery of this day, i think, will stand out beyond just how we're covering this back and forth. speaker pelosi may have contributed by saying that the president is engaged in a cover-up. certainly, he knew last night, as he described it, that there would be this meeting this morning for all democrats to talk about impeachment and investigations. that window of time from last night to today's event certainly
enough to do the posters and the planning. but the cover-up phrase was something new that happened right before the house speaker went to the white house, and clearly, that agitated the president. from the democrats' side of those we've been able to talk to, in the minute since this unfolded, they've described the president as having been late, they described his mood in sort of dark terms. and as we heard the speaker say, trying to find a way to give the president an opportunity for an achievement in infrastructure, while all of this other stuff is swirling on capitol hill. she thought there might be a path for that. clearly the president said that that is an obstacle that he cannot tolerate, as far as negotiations and so forth. so the state of governance right now has boiled down to dueling press conferences, a lot of emotion, and some very tough feelings on both sides of pennsylvania avenue. andrea. >> kelly, thank you so much. and of course, our chief
congressional correspondent, kasie hunt, up there and in the room when nancy pelosi and chuck schumer came in. do they have any concerns that the president has a bigger megaphone than they do, and he can say, i want to get stuff done, but they were just engaged in investigations and name calling, which is not polling very well. >> reporter: that's always a concern, andrea, and it's always one of the central challenges of being a leader here on capitol hill, instead of being in what we've long called the bully pulpit, even before what may be the quintessential embodiment of that afraid entered the white house. so that is a potential challenge for them. and i think you saw, when they first started, trying to get underway on this infrastructure package. you know, a pretty remarkable moment from schumer and pelosi, when they went to the white house and they said, hey, we really want to do this. i think that they know that showing the american people, you know, what their agenda is, that they are actually focused on
being for something instead of just against someone is an incredibly important political calculation. now, that said, it seems pretty obvious, kind of, how this all played out. and where, you know, those stronger set of emotions were coming from. i mean, nancy pelosi's words here, the fact that she said that the president was engaged in a cover-up, that was actually messaging that came out of that meeting that they were holding on impeachment. elijah cummings, the chairman of the oversight committee has urged his colleagues to use that phrase to kind of take a stronger stance toward the president, even if they're not going to actually launch impeachment proceedings. so nancy pelosi was kind of reflecting that consensus in her caucus, as she up and left. but pelosi has worked in this town a long time. there have been a lot of presidents as well as a lot of congresses that have, on the one hand, you know, done things, passed bills, gotten things signed into law while at the same time, having a massive
partisan, often personal fight with a member of the -- the person occupying the oval office. and i think it's pretty clear here that this president does not operate on that wavelength. there's also been reporting that, you know, when he does see pelosi privately, he wants to focus on questions about impeachment, he brings it up, and clearly, he could not handle what she had said before the cameras. now what she said while it was all jue unfolding, an aide said knew he was going to find a way to wiggle out of this. she did open the door or give him an excuse out of all of this. but at the end of the day, i think this is another episode where we see that trump's form of governing is frankly, you know, what he says can't be trusted. and that's kind of the defining, you know, principle here on capitol hill, quite frankly, for both parties, republican and democrat, andrea. >> kasie hunt, such a big point. i want to bring in the rest of the panel here, susan page.
we've seen this happen before, but this seems to be the most critical, it is so personal. because we've seen the blow-up with dianne feinstein and others when they talked about guns. they were all going to try to get something done, they were in the cabinet room, and nothing came of that. it all fell apart. and then on immigration and the wall and the border deals. and now this. the most critical showdown i think we've seen between the president. "the new york times" is reporting that he blew up in the oval office at them. >> and you know -- >> and left after just three minutes. >> if there was an issue on which it's possible you might see a big legislative package between the white house and democrats on the hill, it was on the issue of infrastructure. it's the issue in which they have the most overlap and interest in positions, but it's pretty clear that nothing -- you wonder if things are going to happen legislatively on substantiative issues over the next year and a half, no. this is a sign that we're going to have, for better or for worse, we'll have a president who is opposing all the investigative efforts by the
house democrats and that house democrats are going to pursue them. we don't know if they're going to pursue impeachment or not, we know we'll snu tthey'll pursue investigations. >> and there were more subpoenas last night, for hope hicks, closest to him. the increased tempo as they have finally really reached a crescendo. there's a hearing today on the deutsche bank materials. there's action in the new york state legislature today against the president. and he lost a key battle just two days ago in court, saying they have absolutely no grounds. that there's no reason to demand what the legislative purpose is. you can't impugn that. >> and we see the courts beginning to weigh in. the process begin to work its way through the courts, which adds another dynamic to this. and if there's one thing that could lead to impeachment in the house, it would be if the president defied a court order.
if the courts weigh in on the impasse between the white house and the congress on subpoenas or testimony, and the white house defies the courts, that's when i think you would see a true crisis. >> well, in fact, eugene, the democratic caucus was already moving nin that direction. they've been incredibly frustrated by the -- you can only call it stonewalling, refusing to let don mcgahn appear. nadler then falling that up with the hope hicks subpoena and a lot of the other materials that are so close to the president. and your colleagues, our colleagues, peter baker and katie rogers at "the washington post" saying that -- rather, at "the new york times," saying that the president walked out without even letting -- within three minutes or less, without letting them say a word. >> and the democrats are going to use this as they campaign in 2020 at the presidential level as well as in congress. they're going to say, they tried to deliver to the american people things that the american people said they wanted and that the president and the
republicans also said they wanted, but weren't able to. a year is a long time not to get anything done. and people are going to take note of that. i remember during the hearings when the democrats were questioning, i believe, bill barr. and some of the democrats said, we can walk and chew gum at the same time. the president wants them to focus on one thing at a time and drop impeachment requests or interests. the democrats don't want to do that. and neither do their base. and it's going to be interesting to see how the republicans are able to frame what they've been able to do as helping the american people, if nothing is actually done ultimately. >> matt miller, how quickly would the courts proceed? because time is a real factor here. and they still have not heard from robert mueller. >> well, one of the courts we saw moved very quickly this week in the oversight committees for trump's financial records. you have another hearing today. it's a very similar case. you'll see the court move very quickly in that case, as well. the proposition the president advanced today, which is basically, unless the congress
agrees to abdicate its responsibility to hold him accountable, he's going to hold the legislative priorities of the american people hostage, is kind of an offensive proposition, and also a politically not very bright one. i don't think that was a wise move for the president to come out and just say, look, i'm not going to do anything legislatively unless you agree to drop all of your investigations. i think to some extent, in the last few weeks, since the report was delivered, the congress and the president have been fighting a little bit of an asemitic battle, where the president somebody coming out and saying, no collusion, no instruction. and the democrats have been saying, we need to see more documents. you saw nancy pelosi change that this morning by coming out and accusing the president of a cover-up. and you can see it very clearly got under his skin. and i think what you're seeing is a little bit of a new, more aggressive posture by democrats in the house. you've heard them saying this privately, that we cannot just allow the president to frustrate our ability to conduct oversight. and we're going to have at the same time we go to the courts and try to get the courts to move quickly, we're going to have to step up our rhetoric and
our attempts to hold him accountable. and i think you saw the speaker do that today and you saw the president clearly stung by that. >> and one thing that did happen, is that somehow politicously adam schiff and his house intelligence committee got access to the counterintelligence records or at least some of them from the mueller probe that he's been demanding. they have a mandate, the intelligence committees, to get access. that is written in stone. so that was going to happen. he was confident that that was going to happen, but it finally, apparently came through today. i want to bring in joyce. we've been talking about these other courts that have been working in parallel. there was the decision on monday and refusal to grant a temporary injunction, or six days or seven days from now, they have to -- the accounting firm has to turn over the financial records. now the deutsche bank hearing today, these are both district judges, one doesn't bind the other, but correct me if i'm wrong, the judge today will be
certainly knowledgeable and will be observing what happened two days ago and it could influence a decision today, they could be on a parallel track. it seems to me the president's anger today, what may have tipped the scale is not only nancy pelosi, but this is getting awfully close to the crown jewels, the trump financials. because if there's action in the new york state legislature, on the state tax returns, there's action on the accounting firm and once they see the state tax returns, they can infer a whole lot about his sources of income. >> you know, this fight is finally in the hands of people that the president doesn't control. we're seeing the third branch of our government, the courts, finally having an opportunity to weigh in, and they're weighing in on issues where there's really no law in the president's favor. these subpoenas by congress are legitimate, they should be enforced, we're seeing judges enforce them. we're seeing cases move on an expedited track.
that, i think, is something that we will see continuous. not a political issue. it's just a clear matter of law. and of course, in new york now, there's legislation in place that permits the state of new york to turn over state tax returns. the president's new york state taxes, which he's required to report any of his foreign financial activities in as well, those can be requested by congress. this is trump's red line. and it's finally being crossed by a variety of different people who he can't tell to keep on -- to hold on to his resources. so now they'll all become public. >> joyce, a lot of people are asking, why didn't robert mueller go there on the financials? because you could argue that if you're investigating russia and what influence russia might have had during 2015 and '16 and before, with donald trump, what leverage they might have had for his behavior and his behavior was not similar to other candidates, republican or democratic, when he talked about vladimir putin, so admiringly. couldn't he have gone to the financial records.
or was he brushed back by the president saying that that was his red line? >> this very limited remit or scope of investigation that mueller drew for himself is something of a mystery, because rosenstein's original document, giving mueller the grant of the special counsel's office said he could investigate matters related to the campaign and russia, but also anything that directly arose from that investigation. people, commentators like myself long assumed that there would be at least some investigation into financial matters, perhaps limited to russia, perhaps broader. i think many people were surprised by how narrowly mueller interpreted this grant of jurisdiction. we don't know whether if that's because he believed it was the right thing to do or whether limits were imposed on him my rosenstein, by the white house, by someone else. that's one of the questions that we still need to have answered. >> and i want to go back to the meeting that was held on capitol
hill this morning over impeachment with nancy pelosi trying to hold back the firebrands and increasing calls for at least the start of impeachment hearings. kelly o'donnell, first to you. you were staked out there, as people were going in. it seemed to me that many more mainstream democrats, to the just the more progressive wing, not just the freshman were now saying, it's time. >> there has been a bubbling up, andrea, with more people willing to talk about it. but at the same time, there was also a certain calmness that seemed to take hold during the meeting, where as members left, they were willing, it appeared, based on those that our team surveyed to go along with some of the main themes of the speaker. so in recent days, we've clearly seen a more passionate bubbling up based on facts and the environment politically, where more members are talking about impeachment, but during the course of the meeting that was focused on presentation from the six committee chairpersons who are working through all the different lines of inquiry,
hearing those presentations, getting a sense of the leadership strategy here, which is to amass as much information, grind out the facts, get the witness testimony where possible, win in the courts, and then ultimately come up with a strategy. interesting that some of that passion seem to be quieted a bit. not that they're not still interested, but willing to go along strategically. i think that's a real takeaway from today. do more democratic members talk impeachme impeachment? yes. do they also talk about the plan? it appears so, this afternoon. >> kasie hunt, we want to play a little bit of nancy pelosi and chuck schumer just moments ago and talk to you on the other side. >> maybe it was lack of confidence on his part that he really couldn't come match the greatness of the challenge that we have. he just took a pass and it just
makes me wonder why he did that. in any event, i pray for the president of the united states. >> it's clear that this was not a spontaneous move on the president's part. it was planned. when we got in the room, the curtains were closed, the president, there was a place for him at the front so he could stand and attempt to tell us why he wouldn't do infrastructure and, of course, then he went to the rose garden with prepared signs. >> so, kasie, there's a momentum to these events, and this was unplanned, but also planned in a certain way. >> reporter: it certainly seems so, andrea. and you know, i'm trying to recall another -- another time when a president has essentially used members of congress to teenage his own kind of dramatic show. i mean, i suppose this is to be expected from, you know, i mean, president trump has a very clear record of, you know, focusing on
made-for-television events, for taking chirons and rewriting them, to try to say what he wants to focus on. i think going into this meeting, relationships between the democratic leaders and the president were not great. i'm anxious to have some private conversations with some of the people that were in the room as we kind of flesh out exactly how people are feeling now. but, it just has to be -- you have to think it's at a new low. because this really is kind of a remarkable -- a remarkable turn of events for some of the most powerful people in the country. i mean, nancy pelosi, you know, in line to the presidency of the united states. and somebody that, you know, the president has, it's been reported, has had respect for before. he has criticized the former republican speaker of the house, paul ryan, for not being able to deal with misfits in his own
conference and said that he admired pelosi for being able to keep all of her people on the straight and narrow. so, again, if there was any hope of trying to get anything done here in congress, it seems to have just evaporated. and there's a couple of other big questions coming up. one of them is disaster relief for puerto rico, for iowa. there are, you know, people who are hurting, who have been waiting for months and months for relief there. they're kind of on the verge of getting that done, but the wild card is the president, because he has expressed issues around border wall issues and previously about funding for puerto rico, disaster relief. there's also this massive budget deal. i mean, we are heading into another series of fiscal crises, potential government shutdowns. if you can't come up with a deal up here, and that also is going to require the president. in every single one of these cases, it's actually kind of stunning, because usually, i'm used to covering these massive fights where we're standing outside doors late into the night, waiting for members of congress to tell us whether or not they've managed to figure it
out. the president is typically just down the road, waiting to put pen to paper and sign the thing. it's the opposite here. these guys up here can agree. and the president is throwing monkey wrenches into all of it. and so it really raises a lot of questions, in my mind, for kind of the governing period between now and the 2020 election. obviously, you know, nothing usually very much gets done in any election year, but there are some basics that really have to happen. and even those basics -- disaster relief used to be an easy thing here on capitol hill. and it is not in president trump's washington. >> it's such an important context. kasie hunt, thank you so much. peter alexander at the white house, that brings to mind newt gingrich versus bill clinton. newt gingrich had led the impeachment drive. he was incredibly unpopular afterwards, because the democrats had campaigned so effectively against him on that. and yet, they sat down in the cabinet room and worked out a deal to bail out mexico. very unpopular deal, he signed
on to it. the treasury secretary, bob ruben, got it through. you know, they still made some things happen. welfare reform, things that were unpopular with the progressive left of the democratic party, but everybody came to the middle and they got things done. >> yeah, andrea, what's striking is i had a conversation before what happened in the rose garden with a senior white house official who said, there really is this sense that they might be able to get one big thing done before the 2020 campaign season. that was the usmca. the sense was that they would like other things to happen, but that was not going to happen. it's clear that that may also be in jeopardy today given the divisions we just wnd aitnessed the president's line in the sand as evidenced businey his commen the rose garden. to pull back the curtain on what we just witnessed, one of the things that struck me is while the president spoke there outside the oval office, just to the side, we could see a ton of his aides.
i spotted ivanka trump, steve mnuchin, larry kudlow, sarah sanders, kellyanne conway, hogan gidley, and pat cipollone, who is the white house counsel right now, who are all there, you know, nodding along with the president, smiling when he said that the press in effect should be ashamed of itself. and another thing that also struck me as we've had time to digest it is i showed you this flyer that was handed out to reporters as we left the rose garden. it says mueller probe by the numbers. this focuses on all the subpoenas, effectively, the search warrants and the like. but it also, by the way, notes abc news. it was literally lifted off the abc news website. it doesn't show a separate graphic that abc news also printed at the time that listed all of those who were indicted, all of those who are behind bars and all the other evidence that would be more damaging to the president as he suggested, as he has suggested that this was a witch hunt that came up with nothing. >> and matt miller, peter's
point there, i mean, here they are, and also, the 18 angry democrats, we were talking offline, that's his reference to the mueller staff. we don't know what political affiliations any of them may have. at the same time, there's this big argument over the irs returns. and that is heading to a showdown. there was a showdown on the hill today. i think we have some tape of mnuchin, steve mnuchin, the treasury secretary, before m maxine waters. that's a matchup that has not gone so well. and in the past, he's been very patronizing to her. they've had some really rough goes. and i think if we have that tape, we can show something of what went on also this morning on capitol hill. >> let me just comment, i have no idea -- i just saw that memo this morning. i've never seen that before. i don't know who wrote that memo. we will try to get to the bottom of it. >> did you discuss the memo with the president of the united states? >> i've had no discussions with
the president or anybody in the white house about releasing the president's -- >> did you discuss the memorandum with anybody inside the white house, outside the white house? i'm referring to legal counsel? i'm referring to lawyers. i'm referring to advisers. >> let me be clear. the only person i've discussed that memo with is my general counsel on the car ride over here who's sitting behind me. >> reporter: so that memo, eugene scott, was broken by "the washington post." josh dawsey, i believe, was the correspondent on this. and it is a draft confidential memo of the irs, saying that it is mandatory, mandatory that the irs, the treasury secretary turn over the trump tax returns. any president's tax returns, it's not optional. but mnuchin had told the committees, ways and means financial services that they were not turning it over because there was no, quote, legislative purpose. >> this shouldn't be a problem for the president, given that he
just said, he is the most transparent president in recent history. the reality is, so many of the questions that this committee, that representative waters have about this current president and the finances and who's behind these finances require this documentation and this information. and that's why they're pursuing it. and it looks like they very well may be able to get it. the question becomes, what will the president say once this becomes public and he has to be accountable for all of these things he just has said he doesn't have to reveal or he's been dishonest about or he's tried to portray in a way that's very different from what he's campaigned on. i think that's the position he's trying to avoid putting himself in that could really cause him real jeopardy heading into 2020. >> this puts the irs in the crosshairs. rachel maddow has done a lot of reporting on how this irs commissioner and general counsel, michael desmond, were, you know, personally shepherded through confirmation by the president of the united states. he's got all of these acting cabinet secretaries, but he
cared most, it seems, about getting an irs commissioner and a friendly lawyer, by all accounts, who had done some work for the trump organization. peter, do you have a new statement from the irs in response to all of this? >> yeah, in the course of this conversation, i did receive a statement from the irs. i had reached out to them earlier today. and for all the reasons that you just indicated, it makes sense that they would be distancing themselves from this draft memo. it reads as follow, the memo in question citizen a draft background mapaper that was nev finalized. it is not the final position of the irs, they insist. the document was prepared last fall. the irs commissioner and the chief council were unaware of the paper until this week's media inquiry. the document was not sent to treasury. again, that's the latest statement from the sirirs as th try to push back in this reporting, that they have known as far back as last fall that the only way that the president could stop any access to his tax returns would be by exerting executive privilege. of course, this is a big concern to the president when you get into the issues of his personal records, his financial records.
that's when they put up a lot of stop signs. >> and one point you could make is that of course it's a draft. this irs general counsel and commissioner would never have approved this legal memo. so it would, of course, be a draft. and that's one of the issues. did they cover it up and deep six it? i wanted to play a little bit more of president trump earlier today in the rose garden. >> i just saw that nancy pelosi, just before our meeting, made a statement that we believe that the president of the united states is engaged in a cover-up. well, it turns out i'm the most -- and i think most of you would agree to this. i'm the most transparent president. i want to do infrastructure. i want to do it more than you want to do it. i would be really good at that. that's what i do. but you know what? you can't do it under these circumstances. so get these phony investigations over with. >> stephanie cutter joins us
now, former deputy adviser to barack obama. you've been in the white house, you've been on campaigns. sort of take your democratic hat for a moment. i'm trying to assess how this plays in the country. the president saying, i'm not going to do the nation's business until they stop investigating. we know that investigations have not been popular outside of the democratic pace. you know, who has the play here, do you think? or is it too soon to tell? >> reporter: well, i don't think it's quite accurate to say the investigations haven't been popular. i think people want the president to be transparent and people want the president to do what other presidents have done. and understand that there's a check and balance with working withing on and on substantiate stonewalling has actually, you know, led people to believe that he's actually covering something up. i also think that it's important to remember that we are approaching a presidential election in a little over a year. and the president's at the top of the ticket. it is critical for a president to be able to point back and
show that they tried to work across the aisle, that they put the country's interests ahead of their own, and got some things done. and this president is not able to do that, at least at this point. and today was a major breakdown in that. at the end of the day, he's to blame for this. he is the president of the united states. it's not the speaker of the house or the minority leader in the senate. it's always the president of the united states. and i think he needs to understand that. today, he looked like he was picking up his toys and going home, because he didn't want to be transparent with the american people. >> well, i just also want to point out that in the pennsylvania rally monday night, in a red part of pennsylvania where he was campaigning for -- in a special election, the republican won handedly, that was predetermined. but when we talked to people afterwards, they really liked what he said. so they didn't care if he was claiming credit for things that haven't really been accomplished. the fact checking somehow doesn't always catch up to this president. i wanted to bring in a
presidential contender, montana governor, steve bullock, who knows something about red states and running against a trump tide. president trump won your state by 20 points. you won by 4 points. so you pushed back against that and succeeded. you're a late entry into this race. we now have 20 candidates. we are talking about a very crowded field. how do you make your mark? >> reporter: yeah, andrea, first, thanks for having me on. i am late, because i was still in the middle of a legislative session. i had to get medicaid expansion through. i actually got a $400 million infrastructure package through and i didn't even have to threaten anyone. but i think i make my mark because we need to defeat donald trump, but we also have to get this country working again. as you noted, i'm the only one in the field that actually won in a state when trump was on the ballot. and if we don't win back some of
the places that we lost, we're never going to win in 2020. i have also been able to actually work with democrats and republicans to get progressive things done in a majority republican legislature, from health care for 100,000 monta montanans from freezing college tuition and banning dark money half an hour elections. and i think i've been able to move in other places and to really address i think what is the original season now of the system. that's corrupting influence of outside dollars. and until we address that, it's going to be that much harder to address many of the other issues we're facing. >> so in montana and in the rest of the country, from your perspective, how are people going to react and what is your reaction? the president says he's not going to do infrastructure, he's not going to do bridges. a lot of projects that your state needs as well as the rest of the country, until they stop investigating. does he have the hearts and minds of a lot of his trump supporters and a lot of other people when he makes that argument against the
congressional democrats? >> yeah, no, look, congress needs to fulfill its investigatory and its oversight function. and the executive branch actually has an obligation to respond to that. so i think that more or less saying, i'm going to take my ball and go home, i won't do anything if congress is going to continue to fulfill its obligations, that won't play well anywhere. because people expect washington, d.c. to work. expect things like the base issues like infrastructure, roads, bridges. we need it in montana and you need it all across the country. >> and finally, when you talk to people in montana, what do they say about the house democrats? >> well, i think that people in monta montana, and really, people both in montana and iowa and elsewhere, they're less focused on the dysfunction and the
frustration out there and they're worried about, will government work? so i don't hear folks saying, oh, these democrats are going too far by asking questions and fulfilling the functions that they have. but even more than that, people really want to make sure that their kids can get health care, that they can drive on safe roads. that education can continue. i was in iowa last week, we made eight different stops, not on one of them were the investigation investigations and the mueller report were brought up. it was more about, how are you going to address issues like climate, like health care, like making sure everyone has a fair shot at a better life. >> governor steve bullock, thanks so much. busy news day here. i'll look forward to catching up with you in iowa, new hampshire, or somewhere else. hopefully montana. it's so beautiful out there. >> thanks for having me, andrea. >> thank you. and souvenusan page, you're oute
a lot and you know this is a very delicate balancing act for nancy pelosi. >> it is. and she has made the case that it is a mistake both for the country and for the party to impeach the president at this point. not that she's against pursuing investigations, but she thinks the act of starting an impeachment inquiry carries huge risks for democrats and it is divisive for the country. and that is a case she has managed to make pretty effectively, even in the face of this rising tide of frustration, by other house democrats, who want more aggressive action. i think she came out and quite deliberately this morning said, the president is guilty of a cover-up, as a message to her own troops, she heard what they were saying and agreed with them, even if to some degree might disagree on exactly what to do with it. this is a big risk for the president not to engage on substantiative legislation, but there's a risk for house democrats if they cannot deliver on having the majority and actually getting things done that affect the lives of the people who elected them.
>> and it wasn't really a press conference, he took one or two questions, that's not a press conference. but this morning, the president again took aim at one of his favorite targets. and he said that the whole thing was a takedown -- sorry, we played that sound for you earlier, but he said that the whole thing was a takedown of him, of the president, but according to retired four-star admiral william mccraven, who led the raid that killed osama bin laden among a lot of other heroic achievements, the greatest threat to american democracy is not from a rogue regime or terrorist group, but from president trump's rhetoric. rhetoric we heard again today. joining me now is admiral william mcraven who served 37 years in the navy. his new book is "sea stories: my life in special operations." admiral, great to see you. >> good to be with you. >> i know it was our own colleague here, souvenusan page
has that headline out of your comments to her about the rhetoric of the president. we saw it again in the rose garden, refusing to deal with democrats, refusing to work on infrastructure, walking out of a meeting without even letting them say anything. you've worked with so many commanders in chief at every level, how does that affect the national conversation and the character of america? >> first let me say, andrea, i want the president to do well. i think every president should want the president to do well. and to your point, i had a chance and a great honor to work in the bush 43 white house and i was one of president obama's military commanders. and while i didn't agree with everything that either president bush or president obama did, what i knew is that they were men of integrity and character and always trying to do the right thing for the country. and i think you can always, as a military member follow somebody
that you believe has the country's best interest at heart. and i will tell you that the military will follow this commander in chief contrary to, i think, kind of the player narrative out there. i think the president does listen to his military commanders. he does listen to his secretary of state and pat shanahan, the acting secretary of defense. again, he also listens to other people. but the fact of the matter is, you know, i'm not concerned about the direction of the military. the folks in the military are going to do the right thing. the great service men and women, you know, have an understanding of what their responsibility is. >> what about the rhetoric of the president, though, as you described it, as the bigger threat right now than cade? >> yeah, so, what i talked about, and this really started as an address i gave to the school communications at the university of texas at austin. but there's always a part that the press leaves out. i did say that i thought that the president's attack on the media, saying that the media was the enemy of the american people, was the greatest threat to democracy in my lifetime.
and i stand by that. however, part ii of that was to the media and to the young journalism students that were there that said, look, you have a responsibility, as a journalist, to leave your bias at the doorstep and to make sure that you check your sources and that you are doing everything you can to get the facts right. so, again, i have, as i have told susan and others, look, i've been raked over the coals by the press. having said that, there is nothing more important to this nation, to this republic, than a free press and freedom of expression. however, having said that, i think the press has an obligation to make sure they leave their bias at home, they get their facts as straight as they can. >> i think we all agree with that. and i believe, if you would just stand by for a moment, i believe nancy pelosi is now speaking at the center for american progress and talking about the meeting and let's listen for a moment. >> aren't you impressed with our
freshman members of congress? aren't they fantastic? and i know you heard from adam schiff earlier. we're so proud of his work. i just want you to know this. when watergate babies came -- when the watergate babies came to the congress in 1976, it was a big transformational class of members of congress. it was fantastic. fantastic. people have compared this class in terms of size and energy and enthusiasm and entrepreneurship and all the rest, diversity, as a similar class. the reason i bring it up is in 1976, when they came, not one of those freshman chaired a subcommittee in the first year. and this freshman class, 18 freshman chair subcommittees. we view this as something
spectacular. ten women -- where's stephanie? thank you, stephanie, for making that happen and eight men. but this is remarkable. >> nancy pelosi talking about her achievements with the new class and we'll replease what she said earlier. but admiral, i wanted to play a little bit of what the president said today, just to refresh our viewers on that. >> this whole thing was a takedown attempt at the president of the united states. and honestly, you ought to be ashamed of yourselves for the way you report it so dishonestly. not all of you, but many of you. the way you report it. now, i just want to say that the placard that he had taken was misleading. it was misleading in the way he describes the mueller team and no obstruction, no collusion.
it was taken from an abc website without the rest of it. your point, very well taken, from your speech, the communications team, but the way he has attacked the press, the way he has attacked the fbi and the cia, from day one of his presidency. and i know from having heard you speak to the intelligence community the last year or several months ago, how you honor the work of the people in the field from the agency. and what we know now is that fbi recruitment is down, agency recruitment is down, foreign service tests are not being taken. these attacks on our institutions are really taking hold. police departments around the country are not getting recruits, other than the really high-paying suburban districts that pay high. so if you could speak to the character of that kind of rhetoric? >> and the rhetoric does concern me. as i mentioned this to susan a week or so ago, you know, presidents will come and go, but our institutions are fundamental to the running of this great
democracy. so i do get concerned when the president talks about dirty cops and the fbi or doesn't listen to his intelligence professionals or, again, goes after the media. it's just not helpful. and to your point, it does impact the moral of the great men and women that are working at these phenomenal institutions. and to your point, i am a huge fan of the intelligence community, obviously, as well as the military and the first responders, so, you know, my hope, again, would be that the president would tone down the rhetoric and get back to supporting these institutions, because they will have to survive him long after he's gone as the president. >> admiral mcraven, thank you very much. the book is "sea stories" and thanks for being with us today. and as we continue, nancy pelosi picking up on her comments. >> -- investigating him since we took majority. so there is nothing new in that. but -- and then he had a press conference in the rose garden with all of this sort of visuals
that obviously were planned long before i said most currently that he was engaged in a cover-up. so it's really sad. and here's the thing -- and i told this to the room when he came in and made that statement and then he walked out and you've got the secretary of the treasury and all this, that, and the other thing, and a distinguished group of members from the house and senate, democrats. i said, you know, 200 years ago thomas jefferson tasked his secretary of the treasury, the other one was standing right there, to develop an infrastructure initiative for america to build into the louisiana purchase, the lewis and clark expedition, it was the erie canal, the cumberland road, all those kinds of things for our -- a hundred years later, teddy roosevelt instituted his infrastructure initiative, the national park service, the green infrastructure of america. and so we were -- and i said to them, and i said to the
president after, i said, we want to give this president the opportunity to do something historic for our country. while there are those in our family who think, why would you work with him if he -- you know. and basically he's saying back to me, why would i work you if you're investigating me? but the fact is, something happened there. so i pray for him and i pray for the united states of america. it's really -- he walked away. whether he ever intended to honor what he said before remains to be seen. but democrats believe in building the infrastructure of our country, mass transit roads, bridges, broadband into rural america, into underserved areas in our cities. waste water, clean water, infrastructure, the satellite so we can have precision farming. >> nancy pelosi speaking at the
center for american progress, a left or progressive think tank here in washington. matt miller, i wanted to share what frank thorpe, our senate and house producer -- our senate producer has been picking up from people who were in the room. they say that the democrats waited for 15 minutes. the president then came in, spent three minutes talking, two minutes was pelosi saying something after he left, and then the democrats leaving. so the whole meeting was the president speaking for three minutes and walking out before he could listen to what she had to say. >> it was a little bit of presidential temper tantrum. it might have been a temper tantrum that has been playing out over the last couple of days as he gets angrier and angrier about these investigations. i don't know if it was the thing that caused him to do this, but what clearly got under his skin was nancy pelosi coming out and saying he was engaged in a cover-up today. and to tie all of these things together, you're seeing the administration fight on multiple fronts. they are trying to prevent his tax returns from being made
public, they are trying to block witnesses from coming up to the hill. they're trying to block the underlying pieces of the mueller report from being made available. they cannot win on all of these fronts. the fact that they're fighting on so many fronts is damaging politically and will damage them in the courts. they look like they are covering something up. and they don't just look like they're covering something up to the american people, but they'll look like they're covering something up with judges. the one place where they decided to give documents over to adam schiff, that was the justice department recognizing that they cannot continue to stonewall on every front or there will be consequences. >> we've got a lot of people to thank. this has been impromptu and continuously live broadcast with, of course, all of our colleagues, peter alexander, kasie hunt, kelly o'donnell, our panel here, matt miller, susan page, stephanie cutter, eugene scott, joyce aileen vance, and
of course we want to thank admiral mcraven and steve bullock. and that does it for us for this edition of andrea mitche"andrea report reports". a lot of breaking news continuing right here on msnbc. here's ali velshi and stephanie ruhle. >> it's been an eventful couple of hours. >> i'm stephanie ruhle. >> and i'm ali velshi. it's wednesday, may 22nd, and we begin with a dramatic stalemate in washington today. president trump walking out of infrastructure week talks. don't say how many times this is infrastructure week. walking out of talks with democratic leaders, nancy pelosi, and chuck schumer at the white house. >> then an unexpected news conference, defiantly claim can go negotiations are not possible if congress is investigating m him. moments later on the hill, nancy pelosi and chuck schumer reacted. this spat started after speaker pelosi accused president trump of engaging in a cover-up. >> would you believe it's important to fol