tv Andrea Mitchell Reports MSNBC February 16, 2017 9:00am-10:01am PST
this is just the latest blow to the administration after the resignation of the national security adviser, michael flynn. good day, i'm chris jansing in for andrea mitchell. following the breaking news from washington a surprise news conference announced by president trump just over an hour ago. the president is expected to announce zapt zant acosta as his next choice to run the labor department. this all comes one day after the president blamed what he called the fake media for his decision to demand the resignation of national security adviser michael flynn. and another surprise announcement. this time from the speaker of the house. >> after the house returns following the president's day we intend to introduce legislation to repeal and replace obamacare. >> joining me now here in new york, nbc news white house correspondent halle jackson.
nbc's casey hunt is on capitol hill. and stephanie rule is in our washington bureau. let's say yet again halle jackson something comes out of nowhere. it's been 20 hours since we learned about puzder. what are we expecting is this going to be a news conference where he will take questions. >> during the campaign what we saw was the campaign calling for a press conference but he does not take questions. the times this week he has taken questions from members of conservative learning outlets, there are still questions that linger about russia and, et cetera. i'm not sure if he will make a east room statement or open it up to questions or frankly if alexander acosta is going to be there to be brought out. >> as he did with the supreme court justice. it was a dramatic unveiling. >> i'm hearing from a source close to senator marco rubio.
i'm being told by this particular source just now that this was not part of the discussion, at least to this person's knowledge who heard about the meeting with president trump and senator rubio. so there were some questions maybe senator rubio gave him a wink, wink nudge nudge to point him in this direction. >> i'm curious about the timing. what are we looking at, 20 minutes -- 20 hours from the time we learn about puzder. >> withdrawing the nomination. >> yeah. >> that's a good point. i think the meeting had been prior to the official withdrawal of puzder. >> is this some sort of backup. >> there was a lot of discussion for weeks whether andy
puzder would end up as the labor nominee. we heard it from capitol hill. we think this is going to happen. the white house knocked that down again and again and again repeatedly. even up to a week ago because there were delays getting the paperwork into the house of government ethics.
the white house pushed back saying they were not delays. it just takes time. it wasn't totally unexpected. the other thing is, this is an interesting way the president is announcing his pick. he took heat from people who wanted to see him appear at picks earlier in the month. it's interesting we are seeing that in this ins steps for the new labor secretary choice. >> there are many questions out there. mr. trump mentioned leaks just moments ago. i want to play that. >> we're going to find the leakers. we're going to find the leakers. they are going to pay a big price for leaking. >> there is so much going on
with this whole question about leaks, he put tweets out, they are going to get these guys, they are going to punish them and the person they are talking about putting in charge, somebody, frankly, who really doesn't have a background in national security. >> i will tell you this.
there seems to be two sides this coin. talking about steve fineberg coming in to do the top to bottom intel review if you will of the apparatus in the intel community. i spoke with someone who said why would you put someone who has no intelligence experience in? i talked to someone who supports donald trump who says, he wants to drain the swamp. >> the push back would be, he has been draining the swamp but it's chaos, upheaval. >> the other push back is these are intelligence analysts who work with their boots on the ground here. i think ellett shouted questions on this. you heard that in the last two press conferences in the east room, one on monday and
wednesday. the president walked out. you know, you have been to two and twos, two questions from one, two questions from the other. he was shouted questions, which is unusual, you about he has not responded. >> amid all of this, there has been a determination clear stated by the speaker of the house since before the inauguration. he intended to get things done. now all of a sudden big news on obamacare. >> it sounds like we are going to get at least the outlines of a plan from house republicans here on the health care law. we learned from house speaker paul ryan today, a just a few minutes ago. he talked to reporters. there was a closed door meeting earlier this morning in the basement of the capitol to go through some of the options with what exact will he are the republicans going to replace the health care law with? they have come under criticism for that because they have had quite a bit of time to try and figure out a replacement plan. auto i'm going to put the speaker of the house on the spot
right now. mr. speaker, why exactly are you going to release this plan? he walks by us a lot. doesn't always stop but sometimes says hello. that is what they are trying to hmm hammer out right now. the speaker also told us they have essentially sent these plans to congressional budget office to find out how much they will cost. we are not likely the see outlines of the policies until they estimates come back. >> i'm shocked and dismayed he would walk by you. clearly he saw you there. >> i want to find out how this press conference came about. the president said, i do have a little free time right around 12:00 so we'll hold a press conference in the east room then. it is unclear if this was a surprise to his aides as well or if the president decided at 10:50 to say this. we have free time between then. if anybody would like to show up -- will any ems in of the
press corps join him then? >> the press conference was moved to 12:30. maybe they needed time for people to get in place to actually set up the cameras and do that kind of thing. i want to go to stephanie ruhl. if we go back, the big question before we introduced what appears to be a new nomination for the labor secretary, there is this whole thing about leaks and how much the president loved leaks beforehand when he was talking about hillary clinton and was praising wikileaks. now, as many presidents have found themselves in this position, they actually get into office, leaks are their enemy. tell us what you know about fineberg. >> here's what's interesting, if you remember, the day after the inauguration when president trump went to the cia and he said i've got your back, i've got your back more than anyone. you guys are going to be saying get off my back you are loving
me so much. choosing a guy like steve fineberg is not sending that message. he is a princeton alum, he was part of drexel, the if i were that it laer had to file for bankruptcy but that founded the leverage finance junk bond business. he cofounded the $40 billion private equity slash hedge fund. he specializes in being a wrecking ball, going into very distressed kpts, tearing them up, finding new parts of, putting them together and selling them. what does this say about how president trump feels about the intelligence community? if you were to say i want to bring in someone from the outside, and they are not part of the intelligence community but maybe they want to sit down and have a common sense conversation with the generals, maybe it is a mckenzie type, each a buffet or like a jack welsh. it's not what steve fineberg does. knost not what he does. as i said, specifically dealing in bankruptcies, that sending the message that president trump does look at these agencies as
broken. and you wonder, does he have respect for how they work? i'm sure it has people inside the intelligence community worried. i mean steve fineberg, extraordinarily successful guy. doesn't have experience with the intelligence community. but there is one positive -- i shouldn't say there is one positive -- there is one thing of note. if the question is, is he a lifetime trumper, will simply follow president trump and do as he wishes -- when he hear from people like kellyanne conway who say i'm here to serve at the fles pleasure of president trump. that's not narrative you are going to get from a by like steve fineberg. >> what about the testimony connection to the president. >> he does know steve bannon and he knows jared kushner. doesn't have long time connections to president trump but he was a big donor. he gave something like a mall and a half dollars to the campaign or the super pack. he had hired dan quayle, john
snow in different chairman roles to build relationships. it's not like he is new to the party but he doesn't have a longtime relationship, not. going buddy of president trump. >> i want to go to the east room, where the news conference will take place. peter alexander is standing by. now that we may have some sense from the president himself that he may answer a few questions let's talk about what is royaling out there. although as we have seen in a break from tradition there often are peep who are called on who doesn't ask the questions that may be the vast majority of people otherwise in that room might ask. but let's talk about lineup of things that people want to get answers to. >> there are a lot of questions that folks are going to want to answer today. i'm told by officials here it's not entirely clear the president will be allowing for questions on this occasion. that's still to be decide as they indicate. their intention is to focus on the selection for the new labor secretary pick that nbc news is
reporting basketball alexander acosta. some of the unique points of difference for him. he would be the first hispanic member this cabinet. the president has been criticized for a lack of diversity in his cabinet selections to this point so far. also unlike any pusu puzder who abruptly withdrew his name from the nomination last evening on the eve of what was to be his confirmation hearing. he had no government experience, and akossa has years of experience, including being assistant attorney general in the department of justice, its civil rights division, and a senior administration official writes to me as i'm speaking to you and says one of the real elements they feel strongly about today is he has been confirmed by the senate three times. obviously, that was this significant obstacle for andy puzder who couldn't get the republican support. it was obvious democrats won't support him. but as republican opposition
grew that is what tanked his opportunity to be the next labor seth. you talk about the other questions we will want to focus on on this day given that questions haven't been directed to the president about michael flynn. that's going to be one. we have been waiting over the course of several news conferences to get a better example of what president trump knew, whether he was involved in providing information basically to michael flynn, directing him to have conversations with the russian ambassador that spoke about those sanctions on russia. more broadly, why did he wait for 15 days before clueing in his vice president about the fkt fact that the department of justice then acting attorney general sally yates communicated her concerns that michael flynn had misled the vice president and others here, and more broadly that he was potentially vulnerable to blackmail. questions about potential contacts between donald trump's campaign officials and senior russian intelligence figures that mr. trump has repeatedly denied. one of the questions we would be asking is he claims he didn't
know about michael flynn's communications with the russian ambassador, how can he be so certain there were no contacts between those working on his behalf during the campaign and the russian officials as well. that's just the starter in what we expect to be a news conference 15 minutes from now. >> thanks peter. i went to bring in chrissy liza and chris, i want to talk to you. i'm loathe to do too much gazing as someone who has been in the press. would don't need to focus too much on ourselves. everything that happens here happens in such a different pace and in such a different way than we've seen before. look, that's not to say that the president didn't get elected to change things but i want to get your view of again what we are seeing today and the feeling that a lot of people have in and
outside of washington, noutside of journalism, in the great american public with real people as i'm often told by folks within that white house, about justice the chaotic nature or the deluge that people are feeling with no sense of really having a path forward understanding the way things work? yeah, chris, i think that's right. first of all the point you made at the start is important. donald trump was elected as an unconventional candidate. it's not terribly surprising he is an unconventional president. that's why he won. he believes that he thrives amid chaos. the campaign was evidence of that. i mean, i was on lots of times on television in which we talked about thing where people said golly, it seems like there is no plan, no strategy, he is just saying and doing things. it worked. he won. he is right. everyone thought he was going to lose, and he won.
now, the question is, can that same chaos work when it comes to running a giant bureaucracy, the federal government, and then also being the sort of face to the worlds of the united states as it relates to diplomacy? that's a much tougher question. i think he has struggled with that. the campaign has its own momentum to it. every day you are one day closer to a vote. you are four years away from when he has to stand again. and i think that he has struggled. i feel like he has lost some momentum. he has gotten bogged down. all of a sudden obamacare repeal might take two years. he is not reacting every day, taking action in a way that he wants to do and what has been successful for him. >> as we look at jonathan, the possibility there is going to be this investigation, they are going to look into the intelligence leaks, and obviously we know how the intelligence community feels about what they perceive, many of them, as attacks on what they do every day, including putting
their own lives at risk for the defense of this country. but having said that, there have been a lot of questions raised as well about what this means for a free press. this just a little bit hyperbolic? >> no. this isn't hyperbolic. what we have happening, chris, and you, and the other chris, you both know this, is that not only are we dealing with an unconventional president. but we are dealing with an unconventional president who seems at war with everyone, at war with the intelligence agencies, at war with the government he was elected to lead, at war with the press, whose job it is to hold him and every public official, elected official accountable for the actions that they do and don't do and for what they say and don't say. and you have people within the government who are generally speaking probably appalled by what is happening or concerned by what is happening. and considering how chaotic thing are at the white house.
and no one knows exactly what's going on, that they are, you know, leaking information, talking to journalists, making sure that someone knows, or has an inkling into what exactly is happening. it would be one thing if it were just sort of career officials in the government who were leaking information to journalists. but from what we also know, there are people within the west wing, within the white house, on the president's staff, who are leaking information to journalists to make sure that they know what's going on. you know, chris, i was at a -- i gave a speech last week at michigan state university. and one of the questions that came from the audience was, you know, how -- there is so much happening in this white house, so many chaotic things that are happening, how do you stay on top of it? and i sort of lost track how long donald trump has been president of the united states. i thought it had been a month by then. it had only been two and a half weeks. so to sort of riff on what chris
was saying before, you know, et cetera he a one thing to campaign as an unconventional candidate, as someone who is going to take a sledgehammer to the system and be chaotic and be the bull in the china shop, but as we're seeing from what i'm calling the trump fatigue that's beginning to grow out there, people don't necessarily want that in a commander in chief n a chief executive, in a president of the united states. they -- they want, i think, in addition to the flurry of tweets and the flurry of unconventional things -- they also want to see that the person in the oval office is someone who has clear direction, clear path, and a clear idea of what it's wants to do and how he's going to get there and does it and articulates it and communicates it in way that lets the american people know that he definitely as his hand on the tiller and is
keeping thing on course. >> jonathan, all of our folks are going to stay with us, at the white house, here in new york, we have jonathan and chris there. we are going to take a break. we are waiting for what we believe may be a press conference, definitely the introduction of a new labor secretary. nbc news says that it is alexander acosta. he is the dean, since 2009 of florida international university law school. another big day at the white house of breaking news. we've got it all conferred for you coming up right here on "andrea mitchell reports." want longer lasting heartburn relief?
russia, if you are listening, i hope you are able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing: all you have to do is take a look at wikileaks. this just came out. wikileaks. i love wikileaks. amazing how nothing is secret today when you talk about the internet. oh, we love wikileaks. boy, they have really -- wikileaks, they have revealed a lot. >> yes, that was then candidate donald trump praising the hackers who leaked hillary clinton's e-mails to the press. but now, president trump is singing a different tune, tweeting this morning, quote, leaking and even illegal classified leaking, has been a big problem in washington for years. failing "new york times" and others must apologize. the spotlight has finally been put on the low life leakers. they will be caught. now, this is all happening as we
are awaiting the first solo press conference from president trump. joining us now, former white house chief of staff for president clinton. good the see you. i want to talk about this leaks. it happens in every white house. >> it does. >> but maybe we have never seen anything like this. what about the impact on this administration's ability to get thing done. does this president -- is he smart to say i'm going to appoint somebody, we are going to go after these folks? it isn't like the obama administration didn't? >> chris, you are right, every administration faced this. linden johnson has a great story. he put out wrong information, it was leaked and the papers got it wrong and i think he identified some of the leakers. this is not a new phenomenon. but i think has risen to a different level and it reflects how president trump has started to govern. i think the real issue, and you talked about it with some of
your guests. it is a transition from the campaign to governing. it's about getting thing on lays and staying on your message and priorities and these leaks and controversies distract from that. >> let me lay out what a lot of people pointed to as we look at as what has been characterized a a slow start to the government. >> the cabinet, only 12 have been confirmed. in 209, 28 members of obama's team have been confirmed. he is behind on that point. and he does have a republican senate. is all of this a distraction from getting the business done? >> no question about it. it is. you have got to get your team in place. there is no doubt it is a daunting formidable challenge to do so.
particularly with confirmation. we were very fortunate. we had all our cabinet secretaries in place ready to go day one after the inauguration. president trump needs that advice. you can see it from secretary mattis and tillerson who have been confirmed. he is already getting good counsel advice. but he needs to get his full team on the field. that's imperative. >> i have been talking to leading democrats around the country doing a series of panels, many of them folks who are in state legislatures or who have headed a long time organizations that fight for progressive causes. one of the things they are concerned about is when all of this stuff is royaling around or you have the resignations, the replacement, or you have the talk about the investigation into the intelligence community that other things get slipped in. that in the turmoil other things are going on under the radar. one of the thing we are seeing
from the perspective from a lot of lemg lators is roll back on the obama gun regulation that was designed to make it harder for certain people who have mental disorders from buying a firearm. are these the kinds of things that are in danger here and potentially a danger for the administration because these are things that matter to the american people? >> i think you have got to ultimately be in step with the american people and more importantly, the american people have to be in step with you. that's going to be the ultimate task when you come to the midterm elections and the next presidential election. chris, i think it cuts both ways. i think if you have this kind of chaotic situation, you are not going able to stick on your agenda, focus on what you need to get done in terms of jobs and national security. but the point you are raising, also some other things can get in the mix. and you suggested below the radar screen. having said, that you do have
very passionate, committed members of the congress, both in the house and the senate. in this case, the example you cited largely but not exclusively would be on the democratic side. that's the safeguard. that's the way our democracy is supposed to work. >> let me ask you finally as you look at this and you have been in situations within a white house and things look like all hell is breaking loose. and that is the way it feels to a lot of people who are inside the white house or in washington in general. do you see this ship being righted? due look at this as growing points? or do you see this as part of the style and just get used to it because this is the i with a it's going to be? >> we'll have to see. you made the right point. beginnings are hard. there is no question about that. president trump came in as an outsider. governor clinton came in as an outsider after 12 years of republicans being in the white house. so start-ups are hard. you are right, they can be uneven to say the least.
but you have got to get things settled down. in our case we were fortunate to have a team in place so we were ready when north korea challenged president clinton at the beginning of his tenure. i do think his chief of staff is solid, serious person who knows the ways of washington. he is capable of instilling order if he gets the support he needs. >> matt mclarty good to talk to you. i want to bring in ed markey who serves on the foreign relations committee. good to see you. >> thank you. good morning. >> good afternoon, i guess. i want to start with a statement from senator john mccain. a pervasive concern among the rest of your colleagues as well as i understand with the news of this intelligence agency review
that in fact at the they don't know who is in charge. i wonder how you look at the national security apparatus as it stands right now under this white house and whether you think this intelligence review could be a good idea. >> right now let's be honest, the national security apparatus in our country is in chaos. it's in disarray. we don't have the president praising the national intelligence community for finding there could have been a compromise of our election potentially a compromise of the sanctions which president obama announced that he was going to impose upon russia. instead, president trump is mad at the information being put out into the public domain so that we can all know about it. and now what he's doing is naming another wall streeter to go in like a corporate take over of the intelligence community clearly with the intent of creating a chilling effect upon these intelligence professionals
who are trying to help america to understand how our security may have been compromised in our relationship with russia. >> in the meantime, we have what looks to be within the next couple of minutes, perhaps, alexander acosta the deane of the fiu law school who is going to take over as the labor secretary nominee. do you know him? had there been any buzz about him? it happened so quickly after puzder was gone. >> i don't know anything about him any more than i knew anything about puzder. but more we learned about puzder, is the more we understood that he had an anti-worker, an labor agenda. so the president has a right to propose. but we have a right to dispose. the united states senate in these confirmation hearings. so we are going to give him the closest possible examination that the senate can provide
because every worker in america is dependent on having a labor secretary who is their advocate and not just another corporate represent isn'tive in the trump administration. >> if i can, senator, i want to ask you about a george will column. he talked about ways in congress that preached trade war initiated by the white house. do you think as this presidency tins there is going to be any kind of growing bipartisan push to take power away from president trump? >> well, president trump's power is limited. he is unfortunately not as familiar with the united states constitution as he should be. the congress has to determine whether or not a funding for a wall on our southern border. the congress has to determine whether or not a treaty is ratified. the senate has to determine whether or not we in fact change fundamentally our relationships with these countries around the world. i don't think he fully grasps yet the role that the other
branches play. and as a result, i think that increasingly we are going to have to play an even greater role in ensuring that he does not act arbitrarily in way that actually hurts our trade relations, puts a chilling effect upon it, without actually being able to change the laws in any way. he cannot unilateral put a tariff on the, into. he cannot unilaterally just walk away from u.n. many of the commitments that were already made. that's going to be the senate's job to make sure that we police that area. and i agree with george will that that is an essential responsible in this trump era. >> you talk about your job and the responsible over the course of this interview. one of the concerns i have heard from other democrats, senator, is that they feel that they need to focus, that there are so many things going on that they have to make sure that they have a plan going forward, that they choose well where they are going put their time and effort and energy. because you can't go after every
shiny new object, every new tweet that gets out there. do you feel you have a plan? how is this working now on the democratic side of the senate? and how is it different from what you are used to in your experience there? >> well, we're in unprecedented territory. yes, at the top of the list, without question, is whether or not the russians hacked into and interfered with our elections, whether or not there was a compromise on the day that obama was imposing sanctions on russian with the promise that they would be undermined once donald trump was, in fact, sworn into office. that's at the top of the list. but these other issues are very important. if secretary of health and human services price is committed to undermining medicare and medicaid and security social and the affordable care act that's a big fight. if scott pruitt, the attorney general from oklahoma who had sued the epa 19 times is actually confirmed as the head
of the epa that puts clean air, clean water, murk mercury, smog, haze, all of these things affecting the well-being of the americans. we can go down the list. we wish we could triage them. but he is making a wholesale assault on two generations of laws in our country. we don't have a choice. we have to raise our energy level. we have to fight every one of the issues as hard as we can because the public out there expects us to. the fact he is flooding us with these issues does not in any way reduce our responsibility to ensure that every day on every issue we are there fighting to make sure that the public understands the implication of the repeal of laws that go right to the heart of the security, the safety, the health of every family in america. >> senator markey, thank you so much. appreciate your time. we are awaiting the solo news conference from president trump, expected to start five minutes ago.
nbc's peter alexander is in the east room of the white house. nbc white house correspond end halle jackson is here. the "washington post's" chris alizza and jonathan cape hart. both msnbc contributors. and stephanie ruhl. peter, i understand we are expecting alexander acosta to come out with the president? >> yeah, we are being told alexander acosta will arrive alongside the president. not expected to make any remarks which will allow an opportunity for reporters to focus on questions they would like to with president trump on this occasion. you have been speaking about the significance of this selection on this day. noteworthy, he would be the first hispanic member of president trump's cabinet. obviously that's significant given the criticism that president trump has faced from some who suggested there is not enough diversity in his administration. the chairman of the committee
that oversees this decision-making process that would i don't have see the confirmation hearing, he communicated that he received no knowledge who the nominee would be. what is also notable, and white house senior administration officials tell me is that what makes them confident with this pick versus andy puzder's pick which was derailed is the fact that on three separate occasions acosta has been senate confirmed. right now he is the dean of the florida international univers y university. >> again, as we try to sort of focus in on where we are with
this administration and the number of things that are royaling out there, what's out there, what's on your mind today. >> if i were to hit my priorities for topics, number one is russia and mike flynn. one and two. i think the connections the reports of continued connections with russia, during the campaign, reports the white house has denied is essential. i think the question of trust when it came to mike flynn. we know the time loin now. the president still hasn't addressed this. he said it was unfair for flynn. what happened. the president asked for the res egg nation of mike flynn. what was unfair and why did the president keep him on for two weeks after he learned about his deception of mike pence. and the president as a candidate praised wikileaks, praised leaks in general. now he is talking about going
after sources of the leaks. what changed? >> i want to bring in chuck todd. chuck, all of this happened very, very quickly. still unclear whether or not the president is going to take questions. what do you make of what we're seeing here right now? >> it is -- look, this is what you would do, and what previous administrations have done when they are a bit under siege. don't put your spokesperson out there to take a beating today that i think sean spicer would have been taking. you put the president out there. if there are unanswered questions and he can't answer them, but better at this point -- better that you figure out a way to try to button it up with the president hymn himself so there is no other -- well, there is no other mystery behind it. especially if he can clean up some of these discrepancies. i have two giant questions. number one, how soon did he know that mike flynn talked about sanctions? did he know that day? did he get a briefing on the
call? what was he briefed? then of course why the delay in firing him if he knew that it turn out that his vice president was misled. and why was mike pence kept out of the loop or at least ten days never mind lied to initially? especially when did the president find out that he knew about the sanctions stuff? but then why did he keep him out of the loop? there are a lot of questions. right now, you are an administration under siege. they have -- the reason why puzder so easily went down i think yesterday is right now there is a lot of capitol hill republicans who don't fear this white house, chris. and this is what happened. so you might have some weak kneed senate republicans that might want to bolt on you on some thing. if you are a strong competent confident white house you may say i don't want this guy but i'll vote for him because the white house asked me to. if you fell like you are dealing with white house that doesn't know what they are doing and they seem to be all over the map you may feel like wait a minute
i'm not putting myself out on a limb for them. he has to clean up and show he has some control over washington here a little bit or easy going to see more bleeding on capitol hill from republicans. >> we have seen a few, you know, beyond the folks who often have disagreed with him, you know, the john mccains, the lindsay grams. >> sure. >> we have gone a little bit beyond that. do you sense, chuck, a softening of the ground. >> a hundred percent, yes. >> do you feel some of it is starting to go out? and how close are we to quick san here? >> look -- by the i with a, let me set something aside of this is a smart pick for labor secretary. he comes in credentialed for the job in a different way. he will idea onically pass the test for many in base. he has credentials, served on the nrb. knows the basics of the job, knows government in and out. so this is somebody as peter has
pointed out who has been through the senate confirmation process. aren't going to be surprises here. he should vet well. and the cabinet gets more diverse with this pick. i don't think it's enough to change the subject if you are the white house right now. they do -- i think, chris, that the ground has softened. you now have senate republicans fighting beyond mccain and lindsey on who gets to investigate russia. before it was let richard bird do it. i don't want to get involved in that. now that suspect the case. you had this -- you had almost a dozen -- ten at least -- eight to ten republicans who were willing to buck the president on this labor secretary nominee earlier. that is evidence that the ground is starting to soften. and yes, if you don't soften -- if you don't dry that ground in a hurry it will become political quicksand. >> do the optics help him at all. >> i was thinking about during
this hour when the president and his wife greeted the netanyahus, and they did it in a more grandiose manner than would normally happen. now you have this this announcement happening in the east room of the white house. you and i have been there for some pretty monumental things. he is making this a deal. do these optics help him at all? or are they just that? >> they might with at least his base. when a moment like this, when you fell like you are under political siege you certainly can't start losing your base. you may have a long way to go to win back sort of moderate skeptics or the independents. but you don't want to lose your base. that's when they stuff matters. a lot of times when you are in the barrel when you are president and you don't know what you should do, you should think three words, go be president. this is a go be president moment. it is the east room. it's grandiose. make a candidate announce men. have that seal out there.
do a press conference. and yes the questions and the print coverage may not be good but you may be able to look like you have a little more command and control. and they need -- right now, he doesn't -- there are a lot of people in this town that doesn't think president trump has full control of this situation right now. so that's where this can help. and that's why this is i think politically and tactically a smart thing to do if he does take questions. and frankly, questions from all over the map not just cherry pick questions from supporting outlets. >> that really was my next question because, again, i don't like to engage in too much naval gauging but i have been surprised at how many people who asked me how the white house used to work under obama as opposed to now and how they come to who gets to ask questions. and it has been very obvious a few other times when he has taken questions. >> sure. >> that what seemed like the obvious question not just that we the press have had, but i
think the american public that they didn't get asked. >> no. and all it does is feed suspicion of cahoots and things like that. that's not good for anybody. not good for those journalistics outlets. plenty of them are good journalists. but they have a specific beat. they are almost being use by the trump white house. they know they have a specific beat and they have a specific readership and they know they are going to stick to topics that their readership cares about. but that's not serving the general public well. it's not -- and frankly, it doesn't serve the white house well. you know, because all it does is try to bury stuff. and it doesn't -- you canterbury this stuff. so, you know, we'll see how -- what he does today. we'll see if he even takes questions. may not at all. but if he does, and he does the cherry pick business, where he doesn't take questions from neighbor that might ask anything aggressively, it's only going to
feed -- i think it's only going to hurt him with capitol hill republicans. bottom lean. >> chuck todd, thank you very much. >> all right. >> stephanie ruhl, and as i'm watching this i was thinking about the various tweets we heard from the president today. one of them about the markets. you know, a lot of people when we were out on campaign trail would talk to us about the reason they were giving donald trump a chance was because they thought he would create jobs. he was a successful business man. he is going to be naming his new labor secretary, who as chuck point out may give some people a little bit of encouragement, you know, given his credentials and so on. look, from his perspective, the president's perspective, look how the markets are doing, how wall street feels about me. here we are in the middle of the day -- i haven't checked the numbers since i came on the air but wreath has been doing very well. >> without a doubt. right now the markets are down slightly but it's really about the overall narrative. donald trump as far as the markets go has had an
extraordinarily strong start to the year. and while andy puzder, if you want to get technical would probably be better from a markets perspective because he is the guy who is more on the side of the employer rather than the employee. what today is doing, what we are looking at on television is stability. president trump is controlling the narrative. we are all sitting here watching the white house. we are not having pundits on tv. we are not having republicans and democrats or former white house officials talking about the chaos and the wheels coming off. because the markets don't have emotion. but the markets want stability. earlier in the week when you say look rex tillerson he is not weighing in on general flynn, we are not seeing mattis weighing in on general flynn. they are out there in brussels and germany, they are getting the job done. the market looks at those individuals as real guys. there is a sense of quiet. the president is about to nominate someone who to what you said earlier has already been senate confirmed three times, a
solid, safe choice. president trump is saying, stability, i have the reigns. the mark responds well to something like that. >> i want to go back to chris and jonathan. as we look as whether or not this will be a good moment for this president, what kinds of questions he will take, who they will take them from, guys, the other question really is about on the democratic side and how their voice is heard in a very clear way. and i was thinking earlier today about january 18th as i was in the room with president obama for his last press conference. and he made it clear, i will not be quiet in the tradition of past presidents. we did hear him come out once unde already. could we hear again. i want to replay what he said on january 18th. >> there is a difference between that normal functioning of politics and certain issues or
certain moments where i think our core values may be at stake. i'd put in that category institutional efforts to silence dissent or the press. >> that was one thing that he had to say. chris alizza, also worth mentioning again that the speaker of the house today said they are going to be unveiling their repeal and replacement of obamacare. what's your guess with president obama, and at some point are we getting to the point he may be more of a player in all of this. >> i appreciate his kind words about members of the press. he is right, echoing what chuck said. but i would be skeptical that obama obama, after he came out and said something about the travel ban, he said i don't agree and he also said he supported the marches and protests. i am a skeptical he comes out
and talks about the media and how important the media is and donald trump suspect treating the media right. to be frank, obama obama, was not exactly the most transparent easy to sort of get access to president ever either. i think he is going to really reserve the times that he wants to speak out to things that he views as sort of morally wrong, things that he feels as though he has been a leader on when he was president, things that jeopardize his legacy, jeopardize what it means to be an american. and while i think the media is part of that, my guess he won't come out and talk about it. >> i want to go back into the room. peter alexander standing by. we are expecting the president any moment now. and with him will be alexander acosta. as you point out, somebody who has credentials, but somebody who the only thing we know so far that the president has said about him earlier today was that
it would be a phenomenal man. tell us a little bit more. >> well, bottom line here is that this is a selection that has been prepared for over the course of several days. we know that president trump spoke with alexander acosta and some of the other candidates as recently as just yesterday in anticipation of this moment. you this bee moved very quickly to move forward with this selection. alexander acosta is 2 deep at the law school at florida international university. he has a lot of public service, in stark contrast to andy puzder. he once served on the labor relations board. most recently the assistant attorney general. this is a harvard educated launch he is a man who formerly clerked for samuel alito, the supreme court justice. some of the back story for him. he will be the first hispanic member of president trump's cabinet, a cabinet that faced criticism for its lack of
diversity so. more of an establishment pick. andy was a multiple millionaire behind hardy's and carl's junior. but he was derailed for those racy commercials that the restaurants ran. acosta is a public servient. they feel confident by the fact he was confirmed by the senate three previous times going to help him. president trump over theers could of the campaign then candidate trump insisted unemployment numbers were higher than reported. you start to hear the shutter bugs. which means the president will be out here momentarily. just a couple of empty rows in front of us in anticipation. we imagine his senior staff will be with him for this announcement. alexander acosta also expected to be in attendance. >> jonathan, we will keep a close eye on door. he is someone, dean acosta,
three presidentially appointed, senate confirmed positions. he was a member of the national labor relations board. he would be the first hispanic. would your guess be you are not going to see a lot of democratic pushback on this? probably not. and this -- if this indeed is the nomination, it's probably one of the smartest things that the president has done this week. but to rip on something that chuck todd was saying earlier, the theatrics of all of this, the setting there in the east room, it's very gran. the pictures we are showing right now are also very august. but president trump has the uncanny ability to stomp all over his own thee at ricks and his own message by saying things that get him into bigger trouble. i reserve judgment to see how well this will -- how this will ener to the benefit of the administration until after we see what happens today in the east room and whether the
president does indeed take questions. that's the first thing. the second thing is what questions does he take? the third thing is does he actually answer the questions? in particular, the question i think it was halle jackson who said earlier in the hour, the questions that she brought up and the questions that chuck todd brought up in terms of the time line, what did the president know about general flynn? and why did he keep him on if he knew what was going on? those are all very real questions that the president has to answer. if he doesn't answer them to the satisfaction of the maamerican people, people on capitol hill, and people in that room, the press, he could very well make a very bad situation even worse. >> we are looking at those front rows that were empty. that's not uncommon in a situation like this. often members of the cabinet or people who would be involved depending on what the issue is or the person is will be there. we did see kellyanne conway come
in. hope hillary clintons come. in omarosa as well. secretary kelly. it will be interesting to see who else fills those chairs. >> jared kushner is often in the first row, reince priebus, vice president pence, steve bannon. we received what was a two minute warning five 1/2 minutes ago. >> there is the vice president. and reince priebus. >> i see jared kushner, steven miller and steve bannon. as if on cue, chris. so we do expect the president any inminute. you are right they would normally be sitting in the front row as we expect to see the president and alexander acosta any second. >> yes, sometimes he can get himself into trouble. the other thing he does have going for him as president is eyes on the television and ears -- here he goes. the president of the united states coming in with his pick for labor secretary. well, we don't see him yet, but we are expecting to see -- there we go.
alexander acosta. let's listen. >> thank you very much. i just wanted to begin by mentioning that the nominee for secretary of the department of labor will be mr. alex acosta. has a law degree from harvard law school, great student. former clerk for justice samuel alito. and he has had a tremendous career. he's a member and has been a member of the national labor relations board. and has been through senate confirmation three times, confirmed, did very very well. and so, alex, i've wished him the best. we just spoke. and he's going to be -- i think he will be a tremendous secretary of labor. and also, as you probably heard just a little while ago, mick
mull veiny, a former congressman has just been approved -- weeks late, i have to say. that weeks, weeks, late. office of management and budget. and he will be, i think, a fantastic addition. paul singer just left. as you know, paul was very much involved with the anti-trump or as they say, never trump. and paul just left. and he's given us his total support. and it's all about unification. we are unifying the party. and hopefully we are going to be able to unify the country. it's very important to me. i've been talking about that for a long time. but it's very, very important to me. so i want to thank paul singer for being here and for coming up to the office. he was a very strong opponent. and now he's a very strong ally. and i appreciate that i think i'll say a few words and then we'll take some questions. and i had this time -- we have
been negotiating a lot of different transactions to save money on contracts that were terrible. including airplane contracts that were out of control and late and terrible. just absolutely catastrophic in terms of what was happening. and we have done some really good work. we are very proud of that. and right after that, you prepare yourself with some questions. you always have enough questions. that's always a possibility. i'm here to update the people on the progress that has been made in the last four weeks since my inauguration. we have made incredible progress. i don't think there has ever been a president-elected who in this short period of time has done what we've done. a new rasmussen poll, in fact, because the people get it. much of the media doesn't get it -- they actually get it but they don't write it. let's put it that way. a new rasmussen poll came out a short while ago and it has our
approval rating at 55% and going up. the stock market has hit record numbers, as you know. and there has been a tremendous surge of optimism in the business world, which is to me means something much different than it used to. it used to mean oh, that's good. now it means that's good for jobs. very different. plants and factories are already starting to move back into the united states, and big league ford e general motors, so many of them. i'm making this presentation directly to the american people with the media present, which is an honor to have you, this morning, because many of our nation's reporters and folks will not tell you the truth. and will not treat the wonderful people of our country with the respect that they deserve. and i hope going forward we can be a little bit -- a little bit different and maybe get along a little bit better if that's possible. maybe it's not. and that's okay, too.
unfortunately, much of the media in washington, d.c. along with new york, los angeles in particular speaks not for the people but for the special interests and for those profiting off a very, very obviously broken system. the press has become so dishonest that if we don't talk about it we are doing a tremendous disservice to the american people. tremendous disservice. we have to talk about it. we have to find out what's going on because the press honestly is out of control. the level of dishonesty is out of control. i ran for president to represent the citizens of our country. i am here to change the broken system so it serves their families and their communities well. i am talking and really talking on this very entrenched power structure. and what we are doing is we are talking about the power structure. we are talking about