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tv   Deadline White House  MSNBC  December 20, 2017 1:00pm-2:00pm PST

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time. like i said go home, take the day off and think about what you'll do with all that money you're getting back next year with your taxes. don't go home yet. watch nicolle wallace. i'll be back at 11:00 a.m. tomorrow and then at 3:00. but right now it's nicolle wallace and "deadline: white house." >> it's 4:00 in new york. donald trump made history today by becoming the first american president to ever promise to sign a tax cut of this size without revealing how the legislation will impact his personal finances or those of his businesses. president trump, of course, still hasn't released his taxes. the massive tax cut passed both republican-led chambers and now heads to the president's desk where he's expected to sign it into law. here's president trump last hour taking a bit of a victory lamp. >> hasn't been done in 34 years but, actually, really hasn't been done because we broke every
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record. it's the largest -- i always say the most massive, but it's the largest tax cut in the history of our country, and reform. but tax cut. all friends. i look at these people. it's like we're warriors together. we are making america great again. you haven't heard that, have you? >> they're warriors together and they're all smiles now but the hard part politically speaking may lie ahead of them. only 24% of americans think the bill is a good idea. that's according to a brand-new nbc news/"wall street journal" poll which may have led to this admission from mitch mcconnell. >> do you believe there's a need for republicans to go out and sell this bill given how americans are currently viewing it? >> absolutely. we're looking forward to it. my view of this, if we can't sell this to the american people, we ought to go into another line of work. >> and the stakes could not have been higher for the republicans who, until today, had not a
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single legislative achievement. "the washington post" writing, quote, with the expected passage in congress on wednesday of a tax code overhaul that also dismantles part of the affordable care act, trump hopes to shed the label of legislative loser. but whether the probable win could help him pass other urgent items in 2018 and catapult him on to firmer political ground ahead of the midterm election is an open question. joining us, some of our favorite reporters and guests. with us from the white house, kristen welker along with "washington post" white house bureau chief phil rucker. on capitol hill, garrett haake and at the table, kimberly atkins, chief washington reporter for the boston herald. john heilemann, msnbc national affairs analyst, philip bump, reporter for "the washington post" and doug, president of the american action forum, former director of the congressional budget office and former chief economist of the president's counsel on economic advisers.
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he played a big role in helping to craft the tax bill, work with the ways and means committee and consult with senators. among the less fancy things you've done is explain tax policy to me over the years. let me start with you and ask you about the bad branding so far of this bill with only 24% of americans in the nbc news/"wall street journal" poll thinking it's a good idea. yesterday cnn had that number a little higher. i think about a 33% or 35% approval rating. why doesn't anyone like it? >> i think there are three things to think about here. the best explanation of how it works is in the economics explanation and people hate economists. so if i -- >> we don't hate you. >> but if you start winding through the logic of the business tax reforms, the incentives to invest in the united states instead of elsewhere to have more innovation and patent boxes and have all these fancy trademarks and copyrights here. and with the ultimate goal being
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raising productivity and real wages you're five links into a long, complicated argument. they don't buy that. you're giving a big tax cut to corporations. >> but isn't it true? >> we're making american corporations more competitive. there's no other way to do it. >> we are giving corporations a big tax cut. >> the revenue -- >> yes or no? >> no. the revenue part of the international tax reforms raises money. so that is not a tax cut for those guys. the rate cut -- >> so corporations are not getting -- this is a news alert. >> rate cut is a tax cut, period, but the international reforms that sore important in stopping driving everything overseas are not a cut. they are raising revenue. so there's a combination of reforms and cuts. no question about that. and there, that's the proof. we're five minutes in and people are like, what is he talking about? it's too complicated. the second problem, this is the president's major domestic policy initiative. it's his only legislative success. the president is unpopular.
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just the affordable care act, it's going to get the same polling the president is getting. and it will become more popular if he becomes more popular. that's going to be true throughout. >> kristen welker, you were -- you and phil rucker were both at this event. it struck me watching the president that it dawned on him somewhere while he was surrounded, and it had all the hallmarks of trumpian stagecraft that he seemed to, in the moment, enjoy legislating. do you think he might do more of it? >> well, i do. and i think that what you saw today was that he learned from some of his past mistakes. remember the process to repeal and replace obamacare that failed a number of times. in those instances, president trump wasn't deeply engaged in the details. he didn't go out and sell it. he was very eager to move on to tax reform while he was working on obamacare. and ultimately, i think that did make a difference.
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another important point about that process, nicolle, remember that big victory lap during the attempts to repeal and replace obamacare that took place at the white house after the house had voted and before the senate voted and then ultimately, they failed. this was a very different process. the president engaged himself in the details. he engaged himself in the legislative nuance. he went out and sold this tax bill. this was something that was really, i think, his signature issue, even though he also campaigned to repeal and replace obamacare. now the tough work of trying to sell this does begin. and, of course, the talking point here at the white house and on capitol hill is that once americans start to feel more money in their pockets which they're promising will happen by february, that's when the public opinion will start to turn around on this. that's still a wait and see. bottom line, this white house is celebrating because this is his first major legislative victory. >> phil rucker, the people he had to sell it to were people that probably should have been there from the beginning.
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republicans in the republican led house and senate. that's so far all that he's won over. not a single person outside of the republicans in the house and senate supported this legislation. i worked for a president who had a hard time making tax cuts popular with bipartisan support for said tax cuts. how does this white house plan to sell this tax plan to anybody who didn't vote for it? >> well, it's a great point and one of the challenges for the white house going into 2018. president trump has other agenda items he wants to get to. he'd very much like to be a bipartisan president working with some democrats to pass this legislation. but it just doesn't look like it's in the cards. there's absolutely no willingness among democrats on capitol hill to work with him. he's a deeply unpopular, historically unpopular president and, remember, the senate majority that the republicans have is now going to change from 52 votes down to 51 votes. it's a one-seat majority.
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it will be pretty divided next year. >> john heilemann, you heard you on the 11th hour last night -- actually both of you. but you were specifically explaining how somebody like bob corker could vote for this. and the explanation was one that's so simple but i hadn't heard before. republicans by and large are for tax cuts. this is pretty standard republican stuff. but it does point to how unrepublican donald trump has been so far. and just how low the bar is. and i want to throw a couple poll numbers at you and see what you think. the gop favorable/unfavorable in this new nbc news poll is 27% to 49%. so if they are going to do what doug said, they are less popular than even the president. and republicans are upside down on the economy. who would do a better job on the economy? 35% of those polled thought democrats would. 30% thought republicans would. i think it's been at least five years since republicans were upside down on the economy.
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>> you can say whatever you want about donald trump not being a conventional republican, not a standard republican or ideological republican, he's still the leader of the republican party and the most unpopular president in the history of the country first term, first year. he is the personification of the party for a lot of people. i want to go back to the question you asked doug which i think -- and i think it's a moment we must just pause and think about this bill. part of the reason why the bill is not popular and why there's branding is that no one knows what's in it. and one of the things that's happened, when i got to washington, d.c., in 1987, we lived in the rosy glow of the 1986 tax bill which was said to be the model. we'd have extensive hearings, public education, everything would be debated. bipartisan coalitions would be built. revenue neutrality would be part of it. we'd know exactly what was in this big, sprawling piece of legislation. it would be trade offs would be made. >> i think i know where you're
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going. >> and you end upped with an extraordinarily popular and important landmark piece of legislation that lasted for 30 years, largely because it was a really good piece of legislation. republicans and democrats said it's not perfect. we'll always have to fix the tax code again and over the years lobbyists piled in and the code got more complicated and more reform was needed. this law, the way it was passed, we have no idea what the effect will be. the process has been an abomination. it's been the opposite of everything we think good legislation about big, big social and domestic and economic policy is. doug has -- knows as much about this law as anybody probably in the country and he probably doesn't understand more than 25% of it. i say that with all due respect because it's a grab bag -- >> having a good day. >> it's a grab bag of crap sandwiches thrown in there -- >> by lobbyists. >> by lobbyists and all the swamp dwellers th erers that we
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supposed to get drained. whether this is popular or unpopular. economically effect of or not. people will look at it and say that's not how you pass big laws. >> how did it happen? here's paul ryan essentially saying about 1/100 of what you just said about the bill proving that you definitely know more than at least paul ryan. let's watch that from the "today" show. >> you saying the growth you'll get from this tax cut will equal the amount it would cost on the deficit side. so that it's a wash. so that you're not adding to the deficit at all because of this. >> nobody knows the answer to that question because that's in the future. but what we do know is that this will increase economic growth. >> nobody knows. to john's point, what are they doing? >> that's a big part of what makes this unpopular, right? there is this idea that there is this magical growth that is going to pay for this bill that is going to fuel the economy and all these magical things are going to happen. and i think that most american people don't fully understand
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what this is. and i think it is really interesting watching paul ryan because i'm old enough to remember when paul ryan was a deficit hawk and this bill, this is finally paul ryan taking charge and putting forth the bill that he's always wanted to do. this isn't the bill he's always wanted to do. this isn't the kind of bill he talked about. this is a bill that republicans can pass right now. >> garrett haake is with us on capitol hill. it's remarkable to me that after the health care debacle, mitch mcconnell and paul ryan dusted themselves off and dove back into the shallow end for the president but that does help explain why the bill is what it is. it ended up being almost like a '90ss era pork barrel spending bill where everyone got a little something to get to yes. >> absolutely right. this was sort of the art of the deal to get just enough republicans across the line. when you look at what came out of this bill, mitch mcconnell was able to give a lot of people what they asked for, at least
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enough of what they asked for to keep them in the room, whether it was promising some considerations on the d.r.e.a.m. act to jeff flake, to expanding the medical deduction tax credit and the salt language for susan collins, pass-through provisions for ron johnson and steve danes. it really was the art of assembling just enough votes to get this thing across in the senate and steamrolling a dozen or so republicans in the house from these high tax states who said it wasn't good enough. now it's a situation which you saw on the white house lawn where all of these republicans have to lock arms on this and stay together because they are all 100% in on this bill regardless of the frankenstein monster elements that were sewn onto it to get it across the finish line. >> the person laughing the hardest at this table is doug. >> so much to say. >> i have to get you back in on this. defend your frankenstein. >> first of all, you have a rosy
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view of the '86 reform which was not that great a bill in the end because it went through the same kind of process which made it no more popular in the midterm elections and unwound by 1992. then if they needed the revenue it was a very short lived reform. it wasn't so great. this is a different ifrt. it's unprecedented in that it will take the u.s. from a world wide system of taxation to a territorial system for the first time in its history and probably the last. it's truly an amazing policy accomplishment. >> i don't have any idea what you just says, but i want to know why as a new yorker i get screwed. >> you as a new yorker get screwed because they needed the money. honest to god. >> that's just like third grade political retribution. and ted cruz going nanny, nanny -- >> it's math. it started out with ryan doing the bill he wanted, truthfully. the house set out to do revenue neutral, dramatic reform and it
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died a political death. so this really wasn't the bill the house started out with. this is the one that was the merger ever the campaign promises of donald trump with the house dream for business tax reform. there's a trillion and a half in deficits they're allowed to have. they needed to get some money. they broadened the base, and the state and local tax is the place where the money is. this is just -- >> go ahead, john. >> it leaves the code as much of a monstrosity, if not as much as before. it hasn't simplified anything. it's not revenue neutral and it's fully partisan. and there's been no public buy-in on this gigantic -- what the president keeps calling the most epic tax reform ever. there's no buy-in because no one knows what's in it. even the advocates. >> so imp going to agree with you. >> how can that be good? >> i didn't say it was. >> the striking thing about the aca if you polled people, they didn't understand the provisions but they hated the way it got
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done. special procedures, partisan politics. well, that was reconciliation on democratic votes. this is reconciliation on republican votes. >> i would just say that you -- the point you made that was more accurate in regards to this is this is tied to donald trump. polling is absolutely -- if you like donald trump you like this bill if you don't -- >> let me put your piece up. this is your headline. for better or worse, the gop is passing a tax bill linked to how people feel about trump. the president, a boon for those seeking re-election next year. many republicans see their actions through the lens of a president they dislike suggesting even well-meaning legislation could face opposition solely because of the president who advocates it. what we're saying is this is the opposite of that. and he's unpopular. >> right. if you don't like donald trump, you don't like this bill. if you like donald trump, you like this bill. this is what happened with obamacare. when you called it obamacare, republicans hated it. if you called them affordable care act, they were more
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lukewarm about it. there's partisanship layered into this. all of this -- iship the s shou all of it. but the republicans wanted to do something now. they didn't have to pass this bill now. they could have spent a lot more time dealing with this, a lot more hearings. >> we're still talking about -- >> how about one hearing? >> they want to do it now in part because donald trump wanted a victory and donors were irritated they hadn't done anything yet. the reason we're at this point and the republicans own this bill, for better or for worse is they wanted to do something before christmas. they did it. >> the starting point for this is in 2016 people who worked full year, full time saw zero increase in their real income. they had to do something to change the tra jectry of the economy. that's what they'll get judged on. the economy has to be better in november or they're in trouble. >> they also spent the last two months talking about a child molester say thhad to get something done. when we come back, donald
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trump as we said, making history by being the first president set to sign a tax cut benefiting corporations and wealthy people without disclosing how it affects them. also, democrats sounding the alarm over the russia investigation. the top democrat expected to warn the president against firing mueller. and congressman eric swalwell who sits on the house intel committee will join us this hour on that breaking news story and other developments in the russia probe. stay with us.
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this is going to cost me a fortune this thing. believe me. this is not good for me. me, it's not -- i have some very wealthy friends. not so happy with me, but that's okay. >> really? that was the president's claim that the tax bill will cost him a fortune. but having never seen his tax returns, we have no way of knowing whether that promise contained even a kernel of truth. as the "washington post" philip bump puts it a billionaire president already under fire for blurring the line between his private economic interests and his official duties will sign into law the most sweeping changes to the nation's tax policy in decades. and we have no idea how it will affect him personally. everybody is still here. john heilemann, just weigh in on the fact that, it was in the gop primary when he refused to release his taxes. mitt romney came after him. everyone came after him not knowing that we'd reach this day
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where he'd reach the gop primary, the general election and pass the largest tax cut in a generation. >> and won with provisions that at -- on the surface of it, knowing what he supposedly makes his money from, real estate, and where the giant carve-outs and giveaways are in the tax code. without even having his taxes, it's almost unimaginable this is not a huge boon to him. someone says last night, john harwood, said either the president is a lot poorer than he claims or he has really bad accountants or he's going to make a lot of money from this tax cut. i spent the entire presidential cycle almost every day saying we have to get the president's tax returns, and i wasn't talking about this. i was talking about minimum standards of disclosure and transparency and the history and why presidents for generations have put their tax returns out. why that was just a necessary thing for -- so we could have a basic sense of who these people are who we're electing to
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office. not like the notion we needed to know because we needed to prevent against blatent acts of self-enrichment. now what i would have put as fifth on my list of why we wanted to see his tax returns is now the main reason we want to see them because this looks like, without being able to prove it, it looks like one of the most grotesque cases of self-dealing, of self-interested legislating that we've ever seen in our lifetimes on the part of a president. >> philip bump? >> i don't disagree. donald trump seized on this idea that his tax returns were under audit he couldn't release them and his accountants said everything pre-2008 sunday under audit and he said they're all linked. the returns we had show he paid no federal income taxes for, you know, i think five years prior to that point. eventually we saw a tax return that came out in 2005 that show he had played tens of millions of dollars in taxes.
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but this is the broader point which is that i actually saw it out. when donald trump says this, when he said this is going to be really bad for me. i sought out an accountant. what is the case where donald trump actually isn't going to see a huge windfall from this tax reform. and the guy was like, essentially if he's not really in real estate and all he does it marketing and gets hit by state and local taxes, maybe. that was the best case. but everything donald trump puts forward about himself, and there's no reason we should give president trump the benefit the doubt on this since his entire campaign is predicated on this great builder who makes all this money. >> either he's flat broke and a fraud and he's telling the truth on that stage that we just showed you -- >> or. >> or he's as loaded as you think he is and he's a big, fat liar. >> either way it doesn't work. this is a president who has no compunction about making money
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off his presidency. the fact he -- the federal government is paying mar-a-lago a great deal of money. trump tower. this is a president who has no problem making money off of his position. and the idea, as you said. the only thing i disagreed is we have no idea what he makes. we have an idea of what he makes and every analysis of this tax bill says it benefits most the higher earner. doesn't mean there's not some tax cuts for low are and middle income tax folks but it's geared -- the vast majority of this, the white house officials said, yes, a big chunk of this is the tax cuts that's going to go to high earners. it just is. so i don't know why he's trying to make the case. he says people want somebody who is -- who is popular, who is successful. that's why i'm here. so why he even has to lie about this. >> why don't republicans care to know how much the president is going to benefit from a bill with their names on it.
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>> i don't understand this. >> what's wrong with it? >> i think they are desperate to get this over the finish line for a whole variety of political and economic reasons, and they've just decided to look the other way on this one. but it's not to their credit. it's not to the president's credit. this is a really bad moment. no question about it. >> let me quickly remind everybody at the table. every president in every year is, by law, audited. so the notion that i'm under audit and that's why i'm not going to turn over my tax returns is the least convincing explanation. when we come back, the top democrat on the senate intel committee expected to take to the senate floor this hour to warn the president about firing the special counsel and issues pardons. calling such actions a possible point of no return.
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the house intelligence committee yesterday grilled fbi deputy director andrew mccabe for nearly eight hours. that's among the longest the panel has gone this year. about the same amount of time as the donald trump jr. meeting a couple weeks ago. it just so happens we've got a member of the house intelligence committee joining us. democratic congressman eric swalwell of california. there's a lot you can't tell us about andrew mccabe but remind us how much mccabe has been in the president's crosshairs and now is really part of the effort to undermine the entire fbi over questions of -- about his wife, and questions about his conduct during the hillary clinton e-mail probe. >> good afternoon, nicolle. what i can tell you is i've seen no evidence that calls into question the credibility of deputy director and at one time acting director mccabe. we do know from director comey's
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testimony to congress that donald trump brought up to director comey in one of their one on one meetings that mccabe thing, and alluded to andrew mccabe's wife and her political race that she ran. but again, i think this is just an effort from republicans to distract from the greater responsibility we have which is to understand what the russians did and report back to the american people. >> and i want to ask you about his -- and you can't talk about the substance of his testimony but is there anything to suggest that under the new director chris ray there's reason for republicans to have any concerns about whether the fbi is functioning at its highest levels? >> no, mr. ray and mr. rosenstein both appeared before the judiciary committee where i also sit and i asked both of them is the fbi in taerts? do you have confidence in bob mueller? of course, they stated the fbi is not in tatters. there is high confidence in bob
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muell mueller. his character is unpeachable. this is a narrative perpetuated by conservative voices in the media but assisted by my colleagues on the house judiciary committee where many people hoped that was the deterrent for president trump to not fire bob mueller because articles of impeachment for obstruction of justice would be referred there but now after hearing my colleagues on that committee, i think a lot of them on the republican side would take credit for the firing of mueller from what they've telegraphed to our prior witnesses. >> congressman, i don't know if you're able to stick with us but your colleague on the senate side, senator warren is speaking about this very topic. let's listen. >> sure. >> or shut down the investigation would be a gross abuse of power and a flagrant violation of executive branch responsibilities and authorities. these truly are red lines and simply cannot allow them to be
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crossed. let's take a moment and remember why special counsel mueller was appointed in the first place and why it remains so critical that he be permitted to finish his job without obstruction. recall last spring, we were all reeling from a series of confounding actions by this president. begin with the firing of fbi director jim comey on may 9th. mr. comey was fired just two months after publicly revealing the fbi's ongoing investigation of the trump campaign and, as we would find out later, after several attempts by this president to improperly influence director comey. try to put yourself back into those dangerous days. director comey's dismissal was met with confusion and widespread condemnation.
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we needed a stabilizing action from our nation's law enforcement leadership. we needed some certainty that the facts would be found and brought to light, regardless of what they were. eight days after mr. comey's firing, trump appointee and deputy attorney general rod rosenstein appointed robert mueller to oversee the investigation into, quote, any lengths and/or coordination between the russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of president donald trump and, quote, any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation. his appointment reassured americans that there would be a full and thorough law enforcement investigation. the announcement was met with support on both sides of the aisle and received nearly
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universal praise. in fact, many of the same people who are attacking him today praised mr. mueller's appointment just months ago. indeed there's much to praise. the fact is that robert mueller has impeccable credentials as a man of the law. he's assembled a team that includes some of the nation's best investigators. and he is leading the investigation with the professionalism it deserves. mr. mueller is a dedicated vietnam war veteran and a life-long republican. appointed to his current role by deputy attorney general rod rosenstein, also a republican. in fact, all of the major players to date in this investigation. former director comey, current fbi director ray, rosenstein and even attorney general sessions who has had to recuse himself, are all republicans.
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the charges -- the charges that some have made that somehow democratic political bias have crept into this investigation are baseless given the makeup of the leadership team. in recent weeks, much has been made of some political opinions expressed by an fbi agent during the election last year. this line of argument conveniently ignores the fact that as soon as mr. mueller learned about these comments, he immediately removed that agent in question from the investigation. if anything, this incident only adds to mr. mueller's credibility as a fair and independent investigator. mr. president, i stand here as the vice chairman of the senate intelligence committee. we are in the midst of our own investigation into russian incursion, and i'm proud of the
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way that chairman burr and our committee has taken on this very difficult task. we've made tremendous progress uncovering the facts of russian interference in our elections. our committee's work helped expose the dark underbelly of disinformation on many of our social media platforms. we've successfully pressed for the full accounting of russian cyberefforts to target our state electoral systems. and despite the initial denials of any russian contacts during the election, this committee's efforts have helped uncover numerous and troubling high-level engagements between the trump campaign and russian affiliates, many which have only been revealed in recent months. we've got a lot of work to do yet. but our committee has gone out of its way to ensure continued
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bipartisan backing for this effort. and i'm committed to seeing the effort through. however, it should be very clear that our committee cannot and will not stand as a substitute for mr. mueller's investigation. as chairman burr and i have noted on numerous occasions, the fbi is responsible for determining any criminal activities related to this inquiry. as such, mueller has already moved to indict two individuals and has negotiated two additional guilty pleas. there's an investigative path -- this is an investigative path reserved solely for law enforcement, and it is essential that it be permitted to go on unimpeded. a country no doubt remains severely divided on the question of the last election. however, the national security threat facing us today should
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demand that we rise above partisan differences. no matter the political divide, surely each of us and all americans should want to know the truth of what happened during last year's election and no doubt, we all want to know that as quickly as possible. now the president has long called the investigation into the russian meddling into the 2016 election a witch hunt. and he's done much to discredit the intelligence community's unanimous assessment of russian interference in our election. the failure of this white house to lead a whole of government approach to prevent this type of election interference in the future, either by the russians or some other adversary defies understanding. the president's refusal to accept the intelligence community's assessment and his blatant disregard for ensuring that russia never again
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infiltrates our election process has been unnerving and cause for significant concern. in recent days, the president has said he is not considering removing special counsel mueller. but the president's track record on this front is a source of concern. i'm certain that most of my colleagues believed that he wouldn't fire jim comey either. firing mr. mueller or any other of the top brass involved in this investigation would not only call into question this administration's commitment to the truth but also to our most basic concept rule of law. it also has the potential to provoke a constitutional crisis. in the united states of america, no one -- no one is above the law, not even the president.
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congress must make clear to the president that firing the special counsel or interfering with his investigation by issuing pardons of essential witnesses is unacceptable and would have immediate and significant consequences. i hope my concerns are unfounded. in many ways, i hoped i would never have to make this kind of speech, but there are troubling signs. it is critical that all of us, as elected officials and as citizens, speak up against these threats now before it's too late. thank you, mr. president. with that, i yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum. >> you've been watching democratic senator mark warner, the ranking member of the senate intel committee giving an extraordinary speech. a democrat shouldn't have to
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give a speech defending someone who was the appointed by a republican president after 9/11 to lead the fbi in those harrowing years and months afterward. but i wonder congressman swalwell what you make, not just of your colleague on the senate side's remarks, but of the fact that he had to make them at all. >> nicolle, those were stirring words from a man who knows. an individual who has seen on the unclassified and classified side just what the russians did in the last election. and fearful for his country. it's sending a smoke flare out because it does seem there's a concerted effort now, an ominous tone here in washington that bob mueller may be fired. and so i think the best thing we can do is to put in place bipartisan legislation to prevent his firing without cause, to have a judicial panel have, too prove the firing. i hate to say that, but i believe that's the only way to
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prevent what senator warner just warned could happen. >> are democrats on the two intle committees speaking out because the bipartisanship that usually typifies the work of the two intelligence committees has broken down? >> well, what we are seeing is that we are charged in this investigation to hunt a bear. and our republican colleagues are distracted chasing rabbits. we see that with the effort in the judiciary committee to bring in deputy director mccabe and to focus all of their questions of the past few weeks with fbi witnesses on the hillary clinton e-mail investigation. this was a serious attack and the intelligence community has assessed it's going to happen again. that the russians are sharpening their knives and they'll come back at us. and we have colleagues who, at best, are not focused, and at worst, are working hand in hand with the white house to advance this narrative that this is a hoax. >> are you concerned that over the holidays donald trump will
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fire jeff sessions who he is on the record being quite displeased with as the leader of the justice department and rod rosenstein who is reported in "the washington post" to have been very unimpressed with rosenstein's recent testimony up on capitol hill last week. is there a concern that the firing of those two men would be the actions that would put in motion the removal of special counsel mueller? >> you know, frankly, nicolle, i believe that jeff sessions should go. i don't think you can keep him on board just because he muelle. i think the senate would have to confirm someone who would not fire bob mueller. there's enough questions bhs forthcoming -- whether his testimony was forthcoming to the senate and his undisclose contacts with the russians. but the larger issue is would he fire mueller and is the senate willing to do something to protect mueller? >> is it surreal, though, that it's democrats out there
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defending bob mueller, a registered republican, who was at one point a candidate for donald trump's fbi director? >> that's right. and also defending rod rosenstein, who was appointed at first by a republican. and james comey who was appointed, you know, who made contributions to mitt romney. i think this goes to larger issues, though. these are individuals who work for an independent agency. that's not supposed to really get involved in politics and are sporesed to be above that. and we're seeing the many republicans willing to torch the entire fbi building just to advance the president's narrative. and that's so disheartening because most of those men and women, they're not focused on this russia investigation. they have other important matters but you can imagine it may be demoralizing to hear these constant attacks on their institution. >> what of the president's closest allies outside the white house, chris christie, was on this show yesterday. he defended bob mueller. does not abide by the thinking
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of some on the far right that he should be fired or even maligned and smeared because of the appearance of political bias. i don't even know if you can call it bias, but political opinions among some fbi agents. i don't know if you can speak behind closed doors there's more support for mueller than we see in public? >> i don't see that. i was hoping i would see more of that, but i don't see that right now. and that's where mr. schiff, i think, is so effectively sounding this alarm because we're fearful that our investigation in the house is winding down and the tone here in washington is to set up and give a permissive environment for the president to fire bob mueller and have no recourse. >> congressman swalwell, thank you for spending some time with us. >> my pleasure. >> didn't know it would be such an important day but it was and we're grateful to have you. john heilemann, pretty extraordinary to see a
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democratic senator take to the floor, clearly alarmed. i know on the house side they've been alarmed for longer because i think the bipartisan spirit of their investigations broke down well before it did, if it has, on the senate side. can you talk bay democrat taking to the floor truly alarmed that the president may fire and set a crisis. >> in the previous incarnation where we had this moment where, as you point eed out, the house bipartisan nature broke down. what we saw was richard burr and mark warner standing up side by side in a bipartisan show of, we are the adults on the senate. the bipartisan adults in the room. don't worry about the house of representatives. we are standing as one. we'll get to the bottom of what's going on. now we've seen the house process has completely fallen apart and it's clear that there is no red line around firing mueller and
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there are many people, republicans on the house committee, who would happily get -- stand behind donald trump if he fired bob mueller. so now mark warner out alone on the senate floor. what message does that send about where richard burr is? d why are the two of them not standing side by side? we may hear from richard burr within hours or within a day that he's with mark warner. but if he's not and if the senate committee is headed in the direction of where the house committee is, we're entering a dangerous period because if this becomes partisan and donald trump is given the encouragement of not just republicans in the house who he's kind of orchestrating but republicans in the senate that he can go ahead and fire any of the people you mentioned, that he can fire rod rosenstein, get to firing bob mueller. if he seems like he has a permission slip from republicans on both sides of capitol hill, the likelihood he'll do it which is already high will become much, much higher if he thinks that he has that kind of backing from other members of his party. >> it's or understanding, nbc
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news' understanding that richard burr was not at the white house today. obviously, if you are watching, senator, give us a call. we'd love to know where you come down on this. what is your theory on the and what's your opinion of the situation that seems to started as a bipartisan decision on collusion with russia? >> the overwhelming narrative, a subtext for the entire year. everyone is aware of it. it sort of hasn't emerged much, which is the stark partisanship that exists isn't america today. everyone knows it. >> think through -- it started with devin nunes a stooge of some trump staffer since fired in the kelly regime. i raemember sean spicer saying you're going to hear about this -- tried to assassinate
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susan rice. gone after jim comey, who democrats have more reason to hate and distrust than republicans. uranium one a big thing. if you tick through all of the fake scandals that the partisan republicans on the intel committees have tried to sort of throw up to, i don't know what, to distract -- here's the thing. why don't they want to get down to the bottom of russian collusion? >> overlay of partisanship, a poll done pew asking people which was the most significant gulf in america? race, between black and white people? more people said between democrats and republicans, had a very strong gulf there than between black and white people which obviously has been a key issue this year. i point that out because the nunes thing itself stems from donald trump's weird tweet about trump tower being wired tapped.
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this is people who recognize a core base within the republican party stepping up, wants to stand with donald trump, staying alive with donald trump despite everything done over the course of past year and value from voters and conservative media in standing with donald trump no matter the odds because partisan tension is so high. because republicans are, team republican and team democrat, team democrat so forcefully, standing with trump despite all the flaws we've talked about today and every day since january 20th, despite that, partisanship carries the day. >> donald trump is the republican president they've got. if they want to do anything, he's the republican president they got. they see this investigation as far as its reaching into the trump administration and in part -- not speaking to everybody -- in part as an obstruction, impediment to getting that across. muddying waters, talking about hillary clinton, all of these things are ways to sort of are take the -- to build more distrust into this
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investigation. i think that's one part of it. the other part is that the more distrust you build among the american people the more credibility you knock on bob mueller, the easier to have a situation where one of three things happens. either donald trump feels em boardment enough to fire bob mueller, or donald trump has, when something goes down and there are more indictments, he issues pardons because he says this whole investigation was so unfair, or he fires attorney general jeff sessions, puts something else in and says, okay, this new attorney general isn't recused. so thank you, mr. mueller, for your service. we don't need you anymore. either way, it makes these things go away and that's why democrats are starting to raise the red flag a lot more loudly right now, because they see all of these things happen and they don't see either of those three outcomes as good for not just this investigation but for democracy. >> let me put this to you one
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more time. are republicans dead inside? why don't republicans care that a republican-led justice department, a republican-led fbi, led by men appointed by donald trump is being smeared and the character of the men leading those agencies assassinated by people associated with the republican party, not the democratic party? >> i obviously can't answer for a republican. i don't know how they think about this. >> what's wrong with it? >> i think in every one of these situations there is a very simple transactional element, which is, he is the president of the united states. we want to get some things done. we will have to have that president -- >> getting the house bill, more important whether russia meddled in the 2016 election and making sure they don't -- >> marco rubio said, next time, go the other way around. this guy's wacky even for us? >> i hear you. republicans believe they can get it both ways.
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get the tax bill. don't poke the bear until we're done with that thing and then worry how he reacts to us saying this is not the way we play here. so they -- if you were to question him, you know, everything's personal. he's going to fire up twitter. you're going to lose the votes needed to get over the finish line. >> the twitter feed? >> they're terrified. >> jesus christ, the men in the republican party afraid of his tweets? the most absurd thing i've heard all year. >> of course they care. >> for you to believe otherwise is wrong. >> and voters love him. >> this is an extraordinary test forthcoming for senate republicans most of all, because if the president of the united states believes that he has a permission slip from house and senate republicans to fire bob mueller, he will fire bob mueller. he wants to fire bob mueller. he does. he thinks the whole thing is ill
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legit, a hoax, illegitimate, a witch-hunt, he said it a million times and people around this table and every respectable republican i know and most democrats at this moment regard bop mu bob mueller as an american hero. no other conclusion to come to beyond the reach ares of party. the president doesn't feel that way. the president wants to fire him and is looking for a permission slip. house republicans have gishen it already. what senate republicans do may be the deciding factor whether bob mueller survives or not. >> sneak in another break. don't go anywhere. we'll be right back. [ clacking continues ] good questions lead to good answers. our advisors can help you find both. talk to one today and see why we're bullish on the future. yours.
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talk to one today and see why we're bullish on the future. i am totally blind. and non-24 can throw my days and nights out of sync, keeping me from the things i love to do. talk to your doctor, and call 844-214-2424.
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dad: molly, can you please take out the trash? (sigh) ( ♪ ) dad: molly! trash! ( ♪ ) whoo! ( ♪ )
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mom: hey, molly? it's time to go! (bell ringing) class, let's turn to page 136, recessive traits skip generations. who would like to read? ( ♪ ) molly: i reprogrammed the robots to do the inspection. it's running much faster now. see? it's amazing, molly. thank you. ( ♪ ) ten seconds to put this day
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in context. >> my god. >> tax cut, democrat saving mueller. >> ah -- look. donald trump looked happy today. >> he did. seemed to like that legislating. >> that -- that's good for you, john? >> look, you know, on a day when donald trump is happy he's less likely to do something. >> like fire bob mueller. my thanks to you all. in a does it for our hour. "mtp daily" starts now. hi, chuck. >> nicolle, we missed somebody wits perri whispering into the president's ear this was a bfd. i'm hoping it was don young. most likely to do it. >> if you have it -- i'm watching your show. >> we know don young was thinking it, anyway. if it's wednesday, we know the president is finally putting some points on the board. tonight a victory lap on taxes. >> it's always a lot of fun were you win. >> you'rhe


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