tv MSNBC Live With Alex Witt MSNBC December 16, 2017 6:00am-7:00am PST
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hey there, good morning, everyone, i'm alex witt here in new york at msnbc world headquarters. here's what's happening, the massive tax plan comes one step closer to reality. republicans say they have the vote. what does it mean for the middle class? president trump trashing the fbi in the russia investigation. what did he have to say about a potential pardon for national security adviser michael flynn. >> have you ever tried a jury trial? >> no. >> civil? >> no. >> criminal? >> no. >> that woefully embarrassing hearing for one of president trump's court nominees up for a lifetime appointment as a federal judge. but we begin with new details on the gop tax plan, house speaker paul ryan says it is headed to the house and the senate for a vote or tuesday. it could be on the president's desk in time for what he calls
the greatest christmas present, rather, a lot of people have received. the bill lowers the corporate tags rate to 21%. it lowers the tax rate for top income earners to 27%. it doubles the amount wealthy taxpayers can pass on to their heirs. they say it's a win for the middle class. >> i have seen it. i think it's going to do very well. i think that we are going to be in the position to pass something as early as next week, which will be monumental. >> i think it's going to provide the kind of middle class tax relief that's desperately needed right now. people are looking at flat wages and higher expenses, this will help. in ohio, the average will be about 1,400 bucks for a median income family. people living pay check to paycheck, that's important. >> this delivers and prioritizes middle class tax relief and for many families in america, working blue collar families will see a tax reduction of between 1,200 and $2,000.
that's real money for working class families. >> listening to house minority leader nancy pelosi, she says the tax plan is a scam, stealing from the middle class, giving more to the wealthy. she called eight moral obscenity and warns the american people will hold republicans accountable. let's go right to nbc news' kelly o'donnell at the white house for us, kelly with a welcome to you the president says he will sign this bill into law before christmas. is that bill a likely scenario here in terms of timing? >> reporter: the timing does seem to line up. what is different this time than when we've talked about the health care law attempts in the past is that you've got much clearer identified support from republicans and very few, if any, sort of landmines to step on in the next few days. that's why you see a heightened sense of enthusiasm among republicans and the trump administration for this. we've talked so many times over the last 11 months about the president wanting a legislative victory, not getting one. so that really heightens this. you described how he put it in
sort of christmas wrapping in a way he's describing it. democrats have been critical. republicans believe it will make a difference with the elections coming up in the 2018 mid-terms. >> reporter: longing for a holiday win the president gained out chances for his promised tax cuts. >> i think that we are going to be in a position to pass something as early as next week, which will be monumental. >> reporter: with newly announce yes votes from marco rubio and critic bob corker. emboldened gop lawmakers unveiled a final draft, that including lowering the corporate tax rate to 21%, setting lower tax rate brackets for individuals, roughly doubling the standards deduction many families claim and then a proceed to obamacare the tax bill ends the insurance mandate. this expected legislative victory tempered by the president's frustrations over the russia probe.
>> my worst enemies. they walk out, they say, there is no collusion, but we'll continue to look. they're spending millions and millions of dollars. there is absolutely no collusion. >> reporter: president trump turned his ire towards the february fib, after he was disclosed a top agent was removed from the special counsel investigation last summer, because of anti-trump text messages sent during the 2016 campaign. >> well it's a shame what's happened with the fbi, but we're going to rebuild the february fib. it will be bigger and better than ever. >> reporter: that criticism came as the president headed to the fbi academy at quantico for a law enforcement graduation ceremony where the president ripped in campaign style you have see this, there's the fake news back there, look. fake news. no actually some of them are fine people. >> reporter: while prize i praising local law enforcement, the president decried urban violence. >> what the hell is going on in
chicago? what the hell is happening there? >> reporter: and back to the tax bill, there will be a pr battle between democrats and republicans over the next days and many months, perhaps, over who benefits most, how americans should view it, early polling has been negative about the bill and now specific details with a final package will be more available. so republicans are saying, a family of four earning about $75,000 would see a $2,000 reduction in annual taxes, they'll try to sell that as something that could appeal to the masses, while democrats point out the many ways wealthier americans and corporations would certainly benefit if this becomes law. alex. >> all right, kelly o'donnell, thank you for that. with a good morning to you both, ladies first here, melanie, given the holdouts on the republican tax bill like senators corker and rubio they have now fallen in line.
are we going to see passage of this deal or are there any road blocks that could prevent that? >> i think it's a huge shot in the arm. this bill is on fast track for package, last minute hand winging, rubio announced he wanted a higher child tax credit. we're watching how collins is going to vote on this, she had wanted a vote on some obamacare bipartisan fixes. she's been generally supportive of the tax effort. there are some absences with some of these senators out this week with health issues, but it's looking like the text is locked in, this will pass, it will be a huge victory for not only the president and speaker paul ryan who has made tax cuts one of his lifes work in his political career. >> when you announce those two senators, that would include senator mcclain. that's why i think they flipped from going to the senate and then the house. now the house first and the senate, giving those guys time to get back on capitol hill. >> reporter: that's right.
>> mike the lite latest poll shows 55% of americans disapprove of this bill, do you think law makers are worried, how dangerous is it for republicans given this bill's unpopularity? >> it could be very dangerous is the short answer, there is a sense of desperation, they're ramming it through, no hearings, no witnesses, they needed a victory so badly that everybody is coming on board. they don't want to go into christmas and say we didn't do obamacare repeal and taxes, those were the promises made, that's why he delivered this here, in one sense there is this hellation. we will reward the voters, the middle class with this tax cut. the polls indicating it's not that popular. if the cut is not significant, it's not showing up in a way that's tangible for the middle class, these people who sent trump to the white house, then you could have a backlash, very similar to what we saw in 2010 when president obama and the democrats controlled all
chambers, all leverage of power in washington. they passed obamacare and then they got wiped out, eight months later at the polls, they lost 63 seats, the house, it was a highly unpopular bill, legislative victory, politically a disaster. we have yet to learn whether that will be a case for the republicans. yes, that exists. >> you mentioned health care. one of the revisions in this final draft includes the ending of the individual mandate, so what does it mean for obamacare over all, is it a failure to repeal and replace the health care law? i'm curious what you think about that, melanie. >> on the one hand, it does deepen the gop victory, keep in mind, next year they will have one less republican player in the senate after the alabama senate race elections, so i don't think the chance to repeal obamacare is going to be any better next year than it is this year, but certainly, repeopleing this core backbone of the law is a huge domestic policy
achievement. there are some people that say, look the penalty in the tax code for not having obamacare or having health insurance wasn't that stark to begin with. maybe it won't be as damaging, certainly the gop will be able to run on this, and say we were not only able to cut taxes and a part of our promise to repeal obamacare. let's turn to mueller's investigation, there have been reports the president's team is meeting next week. you have one of the trump lawyers jay sekulow says we do not talk about the special counsel. what does it signal to you? >> reporter: it's not new t. mueller team have been meeting with lawyers in the past and will be meeting in the future t. significance about next week, it comes at a time when there is all these charges from republicans of bias, you had these leaked e-mails from the former fbi act who worked on the hillary clinton e-mail scandal.
he looked at the russian collusion question. it comes at a charged time and a time when the white house is increasingly saying enough is enough. this thing has dragged on long enough, wishfully, they're saying this meeting is significant, because it might signal the end at least of the interrogation process and then we can get into some sort of conclusion and wrap this thing up. you are also hearing that from republicans on capitol hill that they might be wrapping up their intel investigations, in both the house and the senate. it's more a time lean i think than a substance issue. >> melanie, what do you think the likelihood this is, this indicates it will wrap things up tightly and neatly with a bow under the christmas tree. >> i don't think that will be the case. look the interviews have finished. mueller said he's interviewed officials within the white house. they have turned over all the documents. so i think there is at least some hope on the team of the
trump administration that this could be coming to ends. my sense is they want to try to see where mueller's cards are right now. he's cut things close to the vest. they may not get the efforts with this upcoming meeting. >> good to see you both. thanks, guys. coming up, the president plays coy about whether or not he will pardon michael flynn. the presidential comments up next. ♪ give ancestrydna, the only dna test that can trace your origins to over 150 ethnic regions... ♪ ...and open up a world of possibilities. ♪ save 20% for the holidays at ancestrydna.com. the markets change... at t. rowe price... our disciplined approach remains. global markets may be uncertain... but you can feel confident in our investment experience around the world.
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pardon about michael flynn? >> i don't want to talk about pardons for michael flynn. we'll see what happens. let's see. >> the president there dismissing questions about pardoning his national security adviser is premature, comments coming up after he criticized the role, once again casting a shadow of doubt over the entire intelligence community. joining me with the latest issues surrounding the russia probe is cynthia oxney, good morning. let's talk about the possibility of the president not pardoning flynn. if that's appropriate, what's the timing? flynn is currently working with the fbi. >> it's completely inappropriate. but fought surprising. you know trump criticizes almost everybody and their mother. but he never criticizes flynn. he's always holding this little carrot out for flynn, even-he left, he said, stay strong. he's always hinted about that.
you have to wonder that flynn has something he does not want to withhold. >> with that came all the reports that jared kushner was the one that ordered flynn to contact russia. yesterday we learned that kushner's legal deteam, now looking to hire a pr firm is this standards procedure or a sign of panic? >> reporter: well, i do think the white house is beginning to feel the pressure that indictments are coming. you feel that by all the criticism that they're giving mueller and the team. the whole business the week of criticizing the fbi agent who had the e-mails removed from the team. you know people don't understand that prosecutors and fbi agents do have political opinions and the key is not to allow anybody to let those opinions affect your prosecutorial decisions. for example, i prosecuted the clan, i don't like the clan.
i don't say anything nice about the clan. if you looked probably at my e-mails, you'd finds i'm very open about that. when the time comes to make a decision about whether or not the clan burned a cross in somebody's yard, that's a decision that's straight facts. either the guys were there and burned a cross and they didn't. i know it's not my guess, it would be exactly the same with mueller's team. people will have opinions, ultimately the facts will determine what prosecutorial decisions are made. >> the many trump allies trying to discredit the investigation. adam sclif on the senate intellicommittee says he is increasingly worried republicans will shut down the house intelligence investigation at the end of this month. do you see that happening? >> reporter: i don't see that happening politically. i think that's a political question i do think what they're desperately trying to do is taint the jury pool, when the time comes that i have people that want to nullify. i think that's the goal, that's
what would be the job of a political crisis for him would be to figure out how to taint the jury poll. it doesn't surprise me, given they believe indictments are coming. >> i want to turn to the somewhat shocking testimony from president trump's judicial nominee this week. let's watch a portion of that. >> have you ever tried a jury trial? >> i have not. >> civil? >> no. >> criminal? >> no. >> bench? >> no. >> state or federal court? >> i have not. >> as a trial judge, you obviously are going to have witnesses. >> yes. >> can you tell me what the do bear standards is? >> senator kennedy, i don't have that readily at my disposal. but i would be happy to take a closer look at that. >> that is not something that i have had to get. >> just for the record, do you know what a motion in limine is? >> i would fought be able to give you a good definition right
here at the ticket. >> there are some that sucked a second year law students would know the answer to many if not all of those questions. keep in minds, this is a lifetime appointment. what is your reaction when you hear that? >> well, i was thinking maybe first year lawsuit. >> wow. >> reporter: depending on the they had moot court in first year or over the summer. but he should know the answers no what a motion in littleinae -- liminae is. >> how did that nomination happen in the first place? io. i don't know, they must be rushing it. it's embarrassing. it's embarrassing for the federal bench. they don't want somebody like that. they're very proud of their status and that they're experienced judges. even state court bench, that would not be acceptable for a state court bench. my sister is a judge in
california. she would know those answers 7,000 years ago. i mean, it's embarrassing, that's all i can tell you. anybody should know the answers to those questions. they should have tried cases. >> you would think so to become a judge. thank you. good to see you. >> thank you. in just a moment, one of the 13 republicans who voted against the house tax bill, how will he vote on the final bill tuesday? i will ask him. what does he think that ceos are not waiting on a tax cut to jump start the economy and that the bill will not lead to significantly higher wages if growth. jersey congressman leonard lance joins me next.
welcome back, everyone, i'm alex witt at msnbc headquarters in new york. alabama republican roy moore is showing no signs of contending defeat in tuesday's special senate election. he says the battle is not over. moore is now asking supporters to contribute to his election integrity fund. he wants voting irregularities as he awaits the vote count from provisional and military ballots. let's go to republican's plan to rebound the tax code. yesterday last-minute changes were made to a consolidated
version of the house and senate bills and an upcoming vote on the unified tax bill is expected early next week, scheduled for tuesday. joining me now, leonard lance, a congressman from new jersey, thank you, welcome back to the broadcast. >> always a pleasure to be with you. >> thank you, sir. list talk about your vote, originally you and 12 other republicans said, nope, we're not going to have this. why was that the vote then? >> because of a significant reduction in salt. deductibility of state and local taxes. it's been in the tax code since 1913. the advent of the modern tax code. i think it should continue in the tax code in its entirety. >> which means you will vote how come tuesday? >> i continue to be a no salt is so incredibly important to the residents of new jersey, including the residents of the district i serve in. also i tend to be a budget hawk and i would prefer that this be revenue neutral. >> okay. i want to look at the major differences between the house
bill and compromised bill. here they are, sir. this is a permanent tax cuts for individuals, added liability rather to deduct the large medical costs a. couple others there that we look out there, are these changes substantial enough overall, granted i know you how kiel feel about salt, are you comfortable with where they stand? >> i will be voting no. i think it's improvement that you can deduct extraordinary medical tension, it should be in the code, students should not have to pay taxes on tuition at the graduate level and that has been rectified as i understand it. it certainly teachers should be able to take into account the expenses that they might pay out of pocket for their students, but the salt issue is of great importance to the people of high tax states. it's a matter of federalism as
well. i also think you should not have to pay taxes on taxes. >> how many of your colleagues feel the way do you about salt and how hard was the push to keep it as it had been prior to this bill? >> i worked in a bipartisan capacity with josh gotheimer from new jersey. we presented a plan to the conference committee for retention of salt. fortunately from our perspective, that did not eventuate. we are 12 members, 7 democrats, 5 republicans in the new jersey member. 11 of 12 of us will be voting no that is a strong bipartisan support, at least among the new jersey delegation. so there will be republicans in the state of new york who i believe will continue to vote no and perhaps others as well. >> but do you find any sympathy from those that are not in these high salt affected states, if
you will, new york, new jersey, california and the like. does, do you find any sympathy or understanding from someone from say north or south dakota? >> at the advent of tax reform, the discussions earlier this year, there was the complete elimination of salt. it's now at $10,000 which is not strong enough for me, but there has been at least modest movement in the direction where it should be and the direction where it should be is complete retention of what is currently in the code. i don't want winner states and loser states. >> right. >> doesn't it feel that way? >> i do think that high tax states will not continue to have the ability to the extent that they may now have and obviously i think that that is not the direction in which we should be moving. >> okay. in terms of the fairness overall, congressman, i want to look at that. the richest would receive, richest rather .3, .3% would
receive 22% of total benefits. corporations do not have to pay the amt. many individuals still do. it doubles the amount of shielded from the estate tax, mainly used by wealthy people, 13 million peer people will be having insured premiums will arise, do you think the benefits are spread evenly enough? is it honest? fair to call this a middle class tax savings? >> i do believe that middle class americans will benefit by doubling the standard deduction. it's doubled to $24,000 for husband and wife towing, spouses together. but regarding the federal estate tax, the original plan had eliminated it completely and this doubles that. i want to make sure that family businesses and family farms are protected, but it does not completely eliminate the federal estate tax, which was in the original plan. having said that, i think that we should make sure that all
americans benefit and i think that because of the reduction in salt, that is one of the strongest reasons why i continue to be a no. >> i continue to know why the push the rub for this. if you look at a popularity standpoint this is under water. you got 52% of americans who say we do not like this bill. there is only 30% approving of this bill. so is the a public relations nightmare potential will i for republicans come mid-terms? >> i believe that each of us will be judged next november based upon how we vote on our records and certainly there will be those in other parts of the country where this will benefit. but i want all states to benefit and that is why i'm voting as i'm voting. >> all right. new jersey republican congressman leonard lance, thank you very much. happy holidays. >> happy holidays and merry christmas. >> what president trump's worst enemies are saying about his
alleged collusion with russia. first, political humor begins with omarosa's exit from the white house. >> omarosa is leaving the white house. this is huge. with omarosa gone, who will be in charge of -- >> omarosa said she didn't make a scene and kelly fired her in a private place. >> john kelly and i sat down in the situation room, which is a secure, very quiet room in the white house. >> wow the situation room. though i have a feeling any room omarosa goes into becomes a situation room. >> omarosa is trying to put a positive spin. she said her goal all along was to finish one year in the white house. which is funny, that's actually trump's goal, too.
let's go now to the latest attempt be i the president to downplay the ongoing investigation in russia's election interference the president making this claim to reporters yesterday. >> there is absolutely no collusion. >> that has been proven. my worst enemy, they walk out, they say, there is no collusion. but we'll continue to look. they're spending millions and millions of dollars. there is absolutely no collusion. i didn't make a phone call to russia. i have nothing to do with russia. everybody knows it. >> joining me now msnbc and columnist for the strategy beast and prince am atco gent
strategies and formerly a senior adviser for the national committee. is it fair to say that the question of collusion has not been proven one way or the other yet? >> well, i'm not sure anywith uncan come to any conclusion, it's special counsel. one thing that bob mueller has run into is problems from the standpoint it was announced there was bipartisan support and applause for his appointment and how stand-up he was. then ever since then his best day was his worst day. there have been significant things, specifically with his team that raised issues and created problems, especially pr problems for him. so i think it's right to question these things and i think it's fair for people to do so. i also do think that no one has shown any evidence of collusion yet. a few people have been charged for does not have to do with the 2016 election. i think it's fair to question it, say it hasn't happened yet.
they're a special counsel, it's premature to say anything. >> we heard the president say i didn't make a phone call to russia. i had nothing to do with russia. everybody knows it. here then is what he said about his call with russian president vladimir putin. >> it was great. he said very nice thing about what i have done for this country in terms of the economy. but he said also some negative things in terms of what's going on elsewhere. but the primary point was to talk about north korea. because we would love to have his help on north korea. china is helping. russia is not helping. we'd like to have russia's help, very important. >> okay. so what are your take aways from that? >> i'm glad they're talking about russian help with north korea. that's important. that's what a president is supposed to do. but this idea oh there is no collusion, it's like somebody standing in front of a car accident saying nothing to look at here, keep moving, keep moving. there is an enormous amount of smoke and we don't know yet whether there is a conspiracy,
which is the legal definition of what collusion would be, but there were no fewer than nine trump administration and trump campaign officials who had suspicious contacts with russians. just because donald trump, himself, didn't pick up the phone and say, hey, let's fix this election, doesn't mean that nothing bad happened here. and what's really alarming is that they seem to be laying the groundswork here on fox and public statements to make it possible that over the holidays, they're going to fire bob mueller. that would thrust this country into a constitutional crisis the way nixon did when he fired archibald cox during watergate, it would be on its face, evidence of obstruction of justice. we would have a you know really really serious constitutional problem in this country. it used to be unthinkable that
it would happen. now they are developing lame pre techs like bob mueller did the right thing by firing or sidelining some people on the investigation who had some indiscreet, you know, tweetings about fought liking trump as if that should discredit everything they're doing. mueller responded properly, you have republicans on the hill calling for his head, the president and those republicans are calling the fbi a disgrace, with i is a dangerous thing to do in this country. so we're in uncharted and dangerous waters. >> kevin, i'm going to ask you to respond to that. because i have another question for you. but what do you think the likelihood is of these being the last few weeks of bob pulmonaryer's tenure heading up this investigation? >> reporter: i don't think any of us know. it's all rumor and conjecture. people need to let it play out. jonathan is right, it needs to be vecked. everyone agrees with that.
if the tables were turned and it was president clinton and these things were coming out of a special counsel investigating. remember this started with her putting a home brew server on her basement it getting hacked by the russians. that's how this whole thing began. so if the tables were returned and you had these agents saying and doing these things, i would argue rightfully so you are raising holly hell. >> kevin, wait a minute, ken starr investigating bill clinton was a republican, a partisan republican who was put in that position bipartisan republicans. that was a clear case where one party wanted to get the other party in the white house, bob mueller is from the same party as the president. this idea that there is some witch hunt coming from bob mueller is just a confection i'm glad you want to see this investigation continue because just last summer there were a
number of republicans who said we cannot interfere with mueller. it's not right. hooacy man of great integrity. let him finish his investigation. your voice on this is one of the only ones, it's not a very loud and firm voice, would you agree that we need to make sure, it would be terrible for the president to fire this special prosecutor during the holidays. >> reporter: jonathan, are you now doing what the president is doing talking about ken starr when we talk about bob mueller. all i'm saying, i'm bringing up hillary clinton saying if the tables were turned, not bill clinton, hillary clinton, they're two different people. my point is the fact of the matter here is if these folks on his investigative team. i'm sorry for bob mueller. he is responsible, he hired these people. they made mistakes. you know as well as i do that perception is everything and as you are going through this, it's a very hot button issue, obviously, the integrity of our elections so if you investigate it, you need to be buttoned up tight. i have immense respect for bob
mueller. no one can argue there haven't been serious missteps that cast doubt on this investigation. >> fought very serious. >> reporter: really? are you kidding me the people investigating are biassed against president trump? how much more serious can it get, jonathan? >> there are people that have opinions, they say indiscreet things t. fbi, the new york office of the fbi said much more indiscreet and harsh things about hillary clinton last summer when she was being investigated. >> reporter: again we're not talking about hillary clinton. >> you have saying to end the investigation. >> reporter: i never said end the investigation. i says it raises serious questions. >> much more serious questions being raised about what trump administration officials, whether it was the president, himself, or not, were doing when all these conversations with the russians, our election was compromised last year. the fact that republicans don't seem to care about that. >> reporter: that's insane. >> it's going to hit them the next time. they're not showing a lot of
interest in that right now. turn on the other channel fox it's 24/7 on indiscreet tweets by fbi guys who have been fired instead of focusing on job one here, which is to find out how a foreign power, a hostile power tried to interfere in our election. president trump doesn't want to hear it because he thinks it will cast a shadow on his election. but that, itself, is dangerous. he's not protecting our national security. >> can i ask both of you before we go to brake, what do you think the likelihood of bob mueller, you first, give me a percentage few can, go on record with that. >> i used to think it was very small. now i would say in the next few months, it's 50-50. >> kevin. >> i'm not a prediction game. i don't have any insight into that. so i really can't give you an idea. none of us do. >> guys, i want to thank you for. that we will come back in a minute and talk about the nominees for the judicial bench. we will get to that. still ahead, what might cause
disorder in the court if one nominee gets approved? here's a question, how do you get nominated in the first place? >> just for the record, do you know what a motion? liminae is? >> i would fought be able to give you a good definition. i would not be able. in our next hour on "am joy" lawrence o'donnell is joining joy reed with the potential fallout of the republican tax bill. more people shop online for the holidays than ever before. (clapping) and the united states postal service delivers more of those purchases to homes than anyone else in the country. ( ♪ ) because we know, even the smallest things are sometimes the biggest.
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. president trump setting a record for getting his judicial nominees confirmed, he is now experiencing a setback. two tom nations have been derailed, another in trouble after a rough hearing this week. justice correspondent pete williams has more. >> that's fantastic. i will tell you, this is an important race we feed voter turnout. we were sharing with everyone upstairs.eed voter turnout. we were sharing with everyone upstairneed voter turnout. we were sharing with everyone upstair upstairs. >> so that is not exactly the report we were hoping to get from pete williams. but i know my guests know what we are talking about here. we will discuss this. okay. guy, i hope that we're going to
get at least some sound on listening to this nominee, mr. peterson who went before the court and was unable to answer a lot of questions. it was a difficult thing to hear, you were embarrassed for o said this was embarrassing. can you, kevin, imagine any scenario in which a nomination of this quality this lack of understanding about certain things, can move forward? as a matter of fact guess what, the guys in the booth just got this clip. let's listen to that so everybody out there knows what we're talking about. here it is. >> have you ever tried a jury trial? >> i have not. >> civil? >> no. >> criminal? >> no. >> bench? >> no. >> state or federal court? >> i have not. >> as a trial judge, you obviously going to have witnesses. can you tell me what the dobare standard is? >> senator kennedy, i don't have that readily at my disposal. but i would be happy to take a
closer look at that. >> that is not something that i've had to get that. >> just for the record, do you know what a motion in limine is? >> would probably not be able to give you a good definition here at the table. >> look. sidney oxny said this was the kind of thing that a first-year law student. she corrected me, i said maybe a second-year law student. she said no, a first-year law student. what's your thoughts about this, kevin? >> it's almost hard to listen to without video. i feel sorry for the guy. there's one thing, i'm not going to defend it, it was very painful to watch. one thing i will say is the guy is no lightweight he was chairman of the f.e.c. a nine-year commissioner, a professional lawyer counsel in the senate. at the same time i believe he's withdrawn his nomination. i think you're correct in your opening, one of the things we promised to our base and to voters in 2014 and '16 is that we were going to get the right folks appointed to the judicial
nominations. and it's been an historic year for president trump and the united states and leader mcconnell. what we've done as republicans we've delivered on that promise. and as you look at the end of the year, that's one of the shining stars in our caps. as we go into the election year of 2018. >> but kevin, before i ask jonathan couple of details, you're right there have been 12 appointees by this president, there were only three in at this point in his tenure by president obama. how did this one slip through? i mean isn't it kind of general consensus that to be to get a lifetime appointment for a federal judgeship, you maybe should have spent some time in a courtroom. tried a case? come on. >> you think it might be general consensus, but it's not. you don't have to be a judge. you don't have to be a lawyer. you can be whatever you want to be from what i understand for a lifetime appointment. so if folks don't want that thing to happen, we might want to change the law. that's something that's worth talking about. to the best of my understanding, there is no requirement for
that. >> jonathan, are we reading too much into this hearing? >> no. i don't think so i agree with kevin. there is no law that requires it. and we've had many distinguished judges, even justices over the u.s. supreme court who for instance came from the senate or earl warren had been goffin of california. he been a prosecutor, i guess. there are others who have had very limited trial experience or even none. that wasn't the problem. the problem was that peterson didn't even study the basics of what the job required. he could have dusted off some law books, from law school and gotten through that hearing. by just getting a sense of what was necessary to do his job on the bench. if he had done that, the fact that he hadn't tried cases would not have inhibited him. but just came off like an idiot. senator kennedy, i think we need to take our hat off to him.
republican senator kennedy. he did -- something that was interesting. he was very tough on another republican. >> i want to play something right now. you brought it up. we're going to go right there right now. he spoke about this last night. another trump jude ishld appointee. here it is, guys. >> one of his nominees for example, didn't tell us, he was, it was revealed by the press, one of his nominees, was caught blogging in support of the early klu klux klan. and again, this is america, you can do what you want. but i can do what i want and i said i'm not going to vote for him. >> that was the nomination of brett tally there. what is the motivation behind nominating people of problematic background like these to serve on federal courts? jonathan, kevin, you can take a quick stab at that. >> this white house is standpointed with idealogues who want to shift our country far to the right. even though we just had a very
close presidential election where their president lost, our president lost the popular vote. that doesn't mean he shouldn't be president. but it should be an indication to keep these judicial nominations somewhere to the right of center, not way off in cloud cuckoo land on the far right. they're not doing that. they're trying to make -- they want to expand the courts and have a takeover by judges who will be on the bench for the rest of their lives, this is the most important, most long-lasting impact of this administration. >> is it just going too fast? i mean again, 12 appointments thus far, versus president obama had three. >> i would say this is an incredible civics lesson for everyone who says our government doesn't work. this is advise and consent in real-time. like jonathan said, god bless senator kennedy. he's a great man, very understated. a man of principle, a man of his word. he stands up to whoever he thinks is right or wrong. even those in his own party.
i actually think this is a celebration of the process and i think it's a good thing and this has gone through the process. and i think it's a really great thing for every kid in school should watch this. >> to your point, kevin, i mean these people who appear to be not qualified enough, you're right. now they're not moving forward in their process, that's one way to look at it jonathan alter, kevin mclaughlin, good to to see you. they made the deciding difference in the alabama special election. the power of the african-american vote.
that's a wrap of this hour of msnbc live. i'm alex witt. right now it's time for a.m. joy with my good friend, joy reid. >> unless they figure out a way to increase the refundable part. unless they figure out a way to give corporations an extra year of cuts. the way they figured out a way to lower the top rate for families making $1 million. unless they can figure out a way to add to the 1100 figure, i won't support the bill. >> good morning. and welcome to "a.m. joy" to quote our very own chris hayes, if your life depends on marco rubio having a spine, you're already dead. rubio is now a yes. on the gop tax plan, surprise. but he did manage to wrangle a tiny bit more generous child tax
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