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tv   MSNBC Live With Velshi and Ruhle  MSNBC  January 23, 2018 8:00am-9:00am PST

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supposed to begin sending these refugees back to myanmar, but this move is now being put off because the u.n. says it could be dangerous for these kids to return. the kids are raising their hands to say they want to stay in bangladesh, not go back to myanmar. their homes that were, in many places, lit on fire, villages torched. secretary jim mattis is speaking out, saying the situation over there is even worse than the media is showing. even worse. the photographer here from the "associated press." good to hear jim mattis talking about this. as always, we'll have more on facebook, twitter, instagram and snapchat. that does it for me. i'll turn you over to my friend stephanie ruhle, as i head to meet your partner, ali velshi, in davos tomorrow night. >> bundle up and bring yourself snow boots. >> thank you. good morning, everyone. i'm stephanie ruhle. as hallie mentioned, my colleague, ali velshi, is on assignment in davos, switzerland. today, it is tuesday, january
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23rd. let's get you started. >> we're told by the justice department that, in fact, the attorney general was interviewed by mueller last week for several hours. >> this potentially signifying that maybe this thing is getting close to being over. not that you have these high-level officials, cabinet-level officials like jeff sessions, talking with the special counsel. >> of all of the players and actors in this particular drama, sessions is the weakest link. >> the president has expressed public frustration with sessions' decision to recuse himself from the russia probe. he's attacked him on twitter. >> we should remind everyone, while the president may choose who the attorney general is going to be, that attorney general is there to serve the american people. >> it would be completely a surprise if this investigation didn't, very soon, conclude with the interview of the president, donald trump. >> now comes the test, the real test, as to whether we can get this done. >> require the best for all of
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us. i hope we can remember some lessons from this regrettable incident. hostage taking do ne ining does >> while this procedure won't sat satisfy everyone on both sides, it is a way forward. i'm confident we can get the 60 votes in the senate for a daca bill. >> negotiations can't last forever. >> why did you all trust? why did you all make this deal predicated on a promise from mitch mcconnell about daca? >> at the end of the day, i was convinced we were not going to get more from him than that commitment, and it was time to move forward. >> i hold him very accountable. >> we blame republicans. we blame the democrats who cave in to the republicans. >> this is unfair to keep kicking the can down the road. >> legal status versus pathway to citizenship, or does it not matter to the president. >> that's part of the negotiation process. >> man, oh, man, we have breaking news this morning on that russia investigation. nbc news has confirmed that
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special counsel robert mueller's office questioned attorney general jeff sessions last week for multiple hours. first reported by the "new york times," this marks the first known time that a member of the president's cabinet was questioned by mueller's team. all this as talks are still reportedly underway to secure an interview with the president himself. joining me now, the "new york times" reporter that broke this story, michael schmidt. also an msnbc contributor. talk about the significance of this probe now going into the president's cabinet. not just anyone but, of course, jeff sessions, the guy who recused himself. >> well, there's two issues mueller is looking at. the election meddling and the questions of whether the president obstructed justice. jeff sessions is at the heart of both of those issues. he was a major player in the campaign, the most nationally recognized politician to endorse the president. he had several meetings with russian officials, including the ambassador. when he became the attorney general, was at the center of
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the comey firing, and has been criticized by the president publicly and privately for recusing himself, stepping aside from the russia investigation. the president saying privately he needs someone at the justice department that will be there to protect him. sessions is someone that touches on both of those huge issues that mueller is focusing in on, and how the president truly saw the russia investigation. >> if sessions met with mueller or mueller's team last week, what did the white house know and when? >> i'm not sure what the white house knew. the lawyers that are representing these different witnesses, white house officials, the campaign officials and stuff, often will share information with each other about what's going on, but i do not know whether this was something that was relayed to the white house. my guess is that the president wanted to know what sessions said. the president has keened in on what these people are telling mueller, as he wants to have as great a handle as possible on
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what's going on. >> was it the special counsel's office, or was it mueller himself? if it was mueller himself, doesn't that signify we're sort of getting our way up to the top here? >> i don't think it matters whether it was mueller's investigators or mueller. from my reporting, i do not know whether mueller actually did the questioning himself. mueller typically comes in and will speak with the witnesses at different times. come in and talk to them, sit in on the questioning. i'm not sure how significant of a role mueller played in it. at the end of the day, it really doesn't matter. mueller's investigators are out there doing the interviews, collecting the information, sifting through things and figuring out what they're going to do. they're at the front lines of this. he can't, obviously, do everything. >> does sessions have an outside lawyer? >> yes. he has an outside lawyer. this long-time washington lawyer, chuck cooper, who has represented him since all these question came up over a year ago. mr. cooper is someone that has
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known mr. sessions for a long time. >> i know this is tricky, but i remember last week when steve bannon was speaking with members of congress, and there was this executive privilege. he could talk about things up until the transition, and then he couldn't. other members of president trump's cabinet might not have been part of the campaign team, but jeff sessions certainly was. is he going to be in this situation, as well? >> well, the white house has taken differing views on executive privilege to the special counsel and to capitol hill. on capitol hill, the white house is going to try and enforce as much executive privilege as possible and stop witnesses from telling the hill things that would touch on things that the president was deeply involved in on executive privilege levels. with mueller, the white house made the calculation they will not win those executive privilege wars and that mueller will get what he wants. they have taken perspective of, let's give mueller cooperation, give him every document he wants, let him interview whoever
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he wants to speak with, in the hopes, you know, based on the president telling his lawyers he did nothing wrong, in the hopes this will hasten the end of this investigation sooner. >> do we know if jeff sessions was done? that was one meeting. could there be more? as we're getting closer to the president, some are expressing that maybe mueller is getting close to being finished. >> this would be something that if you are in the white house and watching this, you would think we are getting closer to the end. sessions was among a small group of folks who we had known mueller had not spoken to yet. steve bannon, who mueller hasn't spoken to yet. there's a small number of these folks. mueller is going through them as he moves toward interviewing the president. look, this could be a sign that this is coming to an end or it couldn't. we don't know what mueller intends on doing. we don't know how long it'll take for him and the president's lawyers to work out the terms of the interview of him. >> michael, great reporting. thank you so much for sharing it with us. i have to break this down with the panel.
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nbc news's pete williams, and white house correspondent geoff bennett. pete, what's the latest you're hearing on this. >> you covered it well with michael. we don't know whether they'll have another session with the attorney general or not. i think it also raises an interesting question about the deputy attorney general, rod rosenstein. here's the reason why. the attorney general recused himself. everyone saw that coming, apparently, except the white house, maybe some of the people at the white house and the president, because he was involved with the president's campaign. the justice department will say you can't investigate somebody if you were involved in their campaign. so that just seemed a equals a simple, that he'd have to step aside on the investigation. it fell to the deputy attorney general, rod rosenstein. if, in fact, it is correct that mueller wants to ask questions about obstruction of justice, about the firing of comey,
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potentially, jeff sessions is as much a witness as rod rosenstein was to that process. so what happens then? will the special counsel want to ask him questions? will he refuse in part? will he carve that out? i just don't know the answer to that question. i don't know whether the special counsel wants to talk to him or not. that's something we'll have to watch as it comes along. the broad outlines, i think, you've covered pretty well. the fact that this is done is interesting, but it was obvious this was going to have to happen. that the special counsel people would be talking to the attorney general. >> ron, as an investigator, walk me through sort of the order of operations. they speak to jeff sessions. jared kushner is the name we hear over and over again. it doesn't sound like mueller has spoken to jared yet. is that significant? >> first, i think that mike schmidt's reporting is testament to the shroud of secrecy that is
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wrapped around what bob mueller is doing. sounds like the initial reporting on the sessions interview has come out of doj, has not come out of mueller's staff. so i think it is significant. what we don't know here, we don't know the scope of what mueller's engagement has been with kushner or with bannon or potentially with others. i think it is significant, what is unseen here. that may be the more -- the larger portion of the ongoing mueller investigation. i think there's plenty that's unseen. there's probably plenty that has gone on outside of our vision, outside of the reporting. it makes it hard to predict where mueller is going next, when we don't know where mueller has already been. >> isn't it amazing? i feel like we talk about this 24/7, yet there's so much we don't know. i want to bring in mica, a former hill staffer and vice president for national security at the centers think thank, the
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third way. take us into the mind of lawmakers. how are they going to be reacting publicly and privately to this? we know the president loves to say, the russia situation is a hoax. thus far this year, when you look at the gop, they kind of like want to ignore the russia situation because they've had, we just got taxes through. let's focus on policy. can they continue to focus on policy when you've got jeff sessions being questioned by robert mueller? >> it is important to remember that lawmakers have a separate responsibility here in their own investigation of what happened in the election and russia's influence there. i think there is a serious question about ongoing protection of our election system, what level of foreign influence is appropriate, and congress sets the rules here. they haven't had jeff sessions back in closed session to talk through these issues. he's been refusing to answer questions about what the trump campaign was doing with the russians, meetings with
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ambassador kislyak, why it was that jared kushner is trying to set up separate, secure communications inside of russian facilities. i think congress has some serious homework to do and may feel pressure to bring sessions back and talk about some of these influence questions. >> jeff, from your perspective, how is the white house responding to this? they like to say, we're being completely cooperative, but they also like to say the russia investigation isn't anything. >> reporter: yeah, well, steph, i'll tell you, i asked a white house official if president trump knew that attorney general jeff sessions sat for an interview with the special counsel before news broke of it in the "new york times." no response yet. we might have a chance to get president trump's direct view on this. he's set to do a bill signing in the 1:00 hour eastern time. we'll be in the room. our colleague kristen welker will be in the room as part of the press pool. this could be another point of tension between the two men. president trump views, as jeff sessions original sin, his
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recusal from the russia probe, which paved the way for the appointment of the special counsel. president trump said he had a lot of respect for eric holder for the way he thought he protected former president obama. president trump suggesting that jeff sessions hasn't done the same thing for him. the official line from the white house though is that jeff sessions has the full support of this president and that the white house is fully cooperating with the special counsel investigation. >> ron, how does that work? would jeff sessions will obligated to call the president or call the white house and tell them he's been questioned, or is he supposed to keep that to himself? >> i don't think he's under any particular -- certainly not a legal obligation to notify the white house of his interview. >> yeah, but trump doesn't want to find out in the headlines. >> no, he doesn't. i think as a practical matter, sessions likely would have notified the white house counsel or somebody at the white house that an interview was contemplated, that an interview had occurred, maybe even shared in a broad way what had happened
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in the interview. i don't think he's under any legal obligation to do so. >> mwhat does it seem the priority for mueller's team would be? figuring out if the president obstructed justice in the firing of comey, or more business tied to the meeting that took place in trump tower, or true russian involvement or possible collusion during the campaign? if it is about trump's business and money laundering, sessions isn't involved in that jazz. >> no, he isn't, but he is involved in the campaign. i think there's a dual focus for mueller. one is the counter-intelligence investigation. the fbi has a national security mission to protect the country. they're the ones who prosecute espionage. they'd be very concerned if it looked like the russians were getting close to trump campaign officials and swaying them away from american interests. the other option -- or the othe obstruction of justice, is part of the key mandate from the director of the fbi -- firing of the director of the fbi. mueller is going to be looking into that, too.
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questions about money laundering and how they might have gotten to trump earlier on, before he was even considering running for president, that's something mueller is looking at, but they probably weren't asking sessions about that. >> quick, pete, before we go, any word, any development on when the president might be questioned by mueller and his team? >> no, we don't know that. you know, a lot has been made about the fact that this is the first cabinet member that the special counsel folks have questioned. i don't know what other cabinet members they'd want to question. when the director of national intelligence. i can't imagine he's going to go through all the cabinet members or even many of the cabinet members. >> all right. we also have to remind the audience, they're just questions at this point. just questions. pete, geoff, ron, mieke, thanks so much. the government shutdown is over, but for how long? what does it mean? the spending bill is a temporary fix, and there is still no deal. there's a commitment by mitch mcconnell but no deal on d.r.e.a.m.ers. we're going to break down what needs to happen next to avoid a
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welcome back to "velshi & ruhle." i'm stephanie ruhle. we're following breaking news. this morning, a gunman killed one person at marshall county high school in the city of benton, kentucky, as the school was just getting underway. multiple other people were shot. no word on their condition. a family member of a student at the school tells nbc news a
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bullet went straight through another student's backpack but, luckily, they were not injured. the shooter is in custody, and we'll monitor this tragic story as it develops. let's take you back to capitol hill. the clock is ticking to the next potential government shutdown after monday afternoon's temporary compromise. here's the statement that helped bring democrats to a yes vote, reopening the government. >> as long as the government remains open, it would be my intention to take up legislation here in the senate that would address daca, border security and related issues. >> now moving into this round of negotiations, a priority for democrats, is creating permanent legislation for daca, which extends legal protections to d.r.e.a.m.ers, those undocumented immigrants brought to this country as children. republicans want it paired with increased border security, including funding for president trump's long-promised border
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wall, an end to the visa lottery system and changes to what president trump calls chain migration, or family reunification, as immigration advocates term it. a priority for republican repubs on defense spending imposed bid the 2011 budget control act. they want to remove the caps on defense spending cuts and increase to non-defense issues. democrats want to increase non-defense levels. disaster areas are still suffering after the effects of hurricane maria, which devastated the island of puerto rico, now a total of four months ago. one thing that's not on the table, and this is a huge positive, we talked about it so much here, the children's health insurance program. the temporary deal approved monday funds the crucial initiative for a total of six years. the looming deadline for all of this is just 16 days from today,
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on february 8th. lawmakers hope that is enough time to make a deal on all of these issues. there is no time to waste, or we could be living through all of this all over again. joining me now, democratic senator from vermont, patrick leahy. congressman, i want to begin this morning with the breaking news, of course, before we get to the shutdown. attorney general jeff sessions was interviewed by mueller's investigators last week. you're on the judiciary committee. have you heard about this? >> i heard about this this morning. the news of it came not from the special prosecutor's office but from the attorney general's office. he's obviously being asked about how involved he was in the trump firing of director comey and the attempt to try to cover up what the russians were doing. i actually asked him questions about that under oath. i think it was in october atin
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hearing. we've never had a fully satisfactory answer about what he might have done to help the trump administration cover up the russian investigation. unfortunately, in the hearing you have, you have a few minutes, one way or the other, to ask such questions. here, according to what came out, the questions went on over five hours. if that's the case, then these had to have been pretty intense questions. >> my goodness. all right. let's get to the shutdown or the shutdown that was. when the news came out that a deal had been struck, the white house chose to take an aggressive victory lap. he's howsa sarah huckabee sande characterized it. take a look. we don't have it. she basically said, this is evidence that they followed suit. they came to the table. they realized that this is a big
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win for republicans. i know you voted against this bill, but do you think your fellow democrats blinked? at the end of the day, you need to have some sort of compromise here. >> i think, you know, ms. sanders may be a very nice person, but she has absolutely no credibility on capitol hill. the only person who called for a shutdown, the only person publicly urging the shutdown, was donald trump. he had a very brief one. now you have people say they want to compromise. what i would say is this, the reason we came to this, we're 115 days late in doing our budget agreement and doing our appropriations bills. i talked with senator mcconnell and senator schumer. i said, can we now get together, do a budget agreement and vote it up or down, and then do our appropriations bills, vote them up or down, so we don't have
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this happen again? it's good that senator mcconnell has given his word that there will be a vote on d.r.e.a.m.ers. there is a bipartisan support for that. republicans and democrats should vote for that. if he keeps his word, we'll have that vote. but we need the thousands of things in the federal budget. questi we don't get to those unless we have votes on appropriations bills. i don't say this as the vice of the committee, but as a dean, i've never seen this as dysfunctional. >> maybe this is a sign things are starting to work. we're hearing so many from the left furious that a deal was made. but a deal was made, and you've got 9 million kids that are now going to have their health insurance. why isn't chuck schumer and other democrats trying to hang their hats on that and simply
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put pressure on republicans to now deliver on daca? >> i think senator schumer has expressed his pleasure at getting chip through. but the thing is, unfortunately, sometimes the press just wants to go one point or two points. there are a thousand points in these budget negotiations. unfortunately, there are thousands of points that have never been discussed and were supposed to have been discussed. we're 115 days behind. let's go do it. i think all of us can work together if we do it, as we have in the past. i want to see republicans and democrats work together. i want to see these young people protected. my grandparents were immigrants from italy to the united states. my wife's parents were immigrants from canada to the united states. we are a nation of immigrants. we ought to -- part of our strength as a nation. we shouldn't be trying to close
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our back on that, as the president has. but i think -- i'm hoping, as i talk with both republicans and democrats, that we can get somewhere. i know senator schumer -- >> do you believe mitch mcconnell though? mitch mcconnell made a statement yesterday, and people believed it. those who simply want progress said, yes, let's move forward. then you hear from mark meadows and say, they can do it in the senate but i'm not doing it in the house. do you believe mitch mcconnell? d.r.e.a.m.ers are panicpanicked >> senator mcconnell as a majority leader stated on the floor of the senate that he will do this. he has to keep his word. i realize the house has the sacred dennis hastert rule they have to follow, which allows a minority of the majority to kill bills. well, maybe now that dennis
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hastert served his time in prison, maybe they'll follow a different rule. but the fact is, i'll take senator mcconnell at his word. the proof will be in the pudding. bring up the bill on this. there are enough republicans and democrats in the senate to pass it. i can't speak for the house. there are enough republicans and democrats in the senate to pass it. then we ought to get back to doing our job. we're 116 days late in doing the appropriations bills. >> all right then. senator, sounds like you're saying, let's add a little love and trust to the mix and end all this fighting. i'm with you there. senator patrick leahy, i appreciate it. >> thank you. joining me to break this down, senior washington correspondent anna palmer and washington correspondent for pbs news hour. congressman gutierrez was on with my colleague kasie hunt yesterday, and he had a pretty
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aggressive reaction to the senate deal. let's take a look. >> i'm disillusioned. i think they're caving. you know, democrats are pretty good at arctticulating values, t a little weak on defending them. >> he's disillusioned but, at the end of the day, weren't democrats falling into the trap, fulfilling that republican ad that said, they're siding with illegal immigrants, not sick children? can't democrats say, we have now put this in mitch mcconnell's hands to fix daca, and we got health care back for kids. >> well, i think essentially, ambigui gutierrez is giving voice to the base. many are angry at the democrats, including the liberals that usually support them. if you look at the democratic senators who voted against the spending bill, it essentially reads like a list of 2020
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hopefuls. they're making the case that democrats didn't want to vote for the budget because they wanted two big things. one, they didn't want a stop and start of the government, the spending bills that are short-term and, two, they wanted to fight for d.r.e.a.m.ers. they didn't get either of those things and voted for a bill to reopen the government. in some ways, for the base, it makes them really angry to think the democrats said they were going to really hold the line and then they didn't. likely, it also shows that president trump, without being very active in the negotiations, was able to also get the democrats to start talking about building his wall and funding it. >> well, building his wall and funding it are not necessarily the same thing as more border security. anna, to you, is it correct, that what it looks like is a list of 2020 hopefuls? if that's the case, is 2020 going to look like a far right and a far left race? >> certainly, i think she is correct in the sense of if you
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look at who voted to -- against this bipartisan compromise to open the government, it is those kinds of people. cory bookers of the world. it's the gillibrands of new york who are trying to split the baby here a little bit. i think democrats are trying to explain, yes, we did get you childrens health care. but they are in a bad negotiating position going forward, when they used all their leverage and collapsed three days into a shutdown without extracting anything from republicans. >> good point. but at the end of the day, the daca issue is a 90/10 issue. maybe democrats can't negotiate three weeks from now, but all of those republicans have to go to their home states who care about this issue. >> they do care about the issue. republicans are going to have to answer, but they'll have to answer if the images come out when you see daca recipients being dragged out of the country
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by border security. now, they can say, trust mitch mcconnell. he said he'll put something on the table. i sat down with mark short yesterday, the legislative director for the white house, and he said for daca, the white house is essentially looking to stop the visa lottery program. they want to end the idea of immigrants bringing their family here, so-called chain migration, they want $33 billion for a border security that includes $18 billion for a wall. so the republicans are asking for a whole lot to save daca recipients. >> the wall. i could have sworn mexico was going to pay for that thing. thank you for joining us. i appreciate it. donald trump promised to spend $1 trillion to fix the nation's aging infrastructure while on the campaign trail. now, a copy of his alleged infrastructure plan has been leaked. a big chunk of it has targets in his rural base. we have details ahead. you are watching "velshi & ruhle" live on msnbc. infrastructure, we need it, but
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infrastructure of our magnificent country to crumble and decay. while protecting the environment, we will build gl m gleaming new roads, bridges, railways, waterways, tunnels and highways. we will rebuild our country with american workers, american iron, american aluminum, american steel. we will create millions of new jobs and make millions of american dreams come true. our infrastructure will again be the best in the world. >> those plans sound pretty good. an infrastructure plan could notch another win for trump in administration. they seem on promoting public/private investment, turning off democrats. let's break down what's in the leaked document with the caveat that nbc news has not yet verified it. without detailing a total cost, the plan sets aside half of all funds to create financial
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incentives for both public and private entities to compete for what they're calling milestone projects. 25% of the money is for rural projects with an emphasis on broadband internet access in remote areas. 10% of the funding is marked for transformation projects, high-risk innovations that might otherwise not get any funding. the plan emphasizes a few major categories for revitalization. transportation, water infrastructure, veterans affairs and land revitalization. on transportation of water projects, the proposal encourages deregulation and simplified bureaucracy along with public/private partnerships. it'd give the va more autonomy when it comes to the sale, construction, leasing and updating of its facilities. it'd change how the epa spends money on cleanup projects. why is this necessary? the american society of civil engineers gives our country's
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infrastructure a d plus. help is needed all over. in rhode island, 25% of bridges are under code. in connecticut, 57% of roads are in poor condition. in texas, over 1,000 dams are considered a high hazard. and the cost of hawaii's combined drinking and wastewater needs over $3 billion. the former secretary of transportation under president obama joins me now. first, we have to reiterate that the plans may not represent the administration's current intentions. having said that, you and i both know, an infrastructure overhaul is urgent. why hasn't it happened thus far? that's what people don't seem to understand. >> well, i think the reason it hasn't happened, stephanie, is mainly because congress hasn't been able to figure out how to pay for it. what you outlined there, which is outlined in this paper, which has been talked about, is we all
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know of roads that need to be fixed. there are 60,000 structurally deficient bridges in america today. 50, 60 year old transit systems all over america needs new cars and infrastructure. the problem for congress has always been, how do we pay for it? look, public/private partnerships, fine. we did a lot of public/private partnerships when i was at dot in obama's first administration. you need to do more. you need a big pot of money. you need to create other pots of money. in order for congress to really enact a strong, big infrastructure program, they have to increase the gas tax, have hasn't been raised in 23 years. they have to give states the opportunity to toll. they have to do an infrastructure bank. they have to do public/private partnerships. they have to create five or six pots of money that then can be used to fix up america.
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we're a third-world country when it comes to infrastructure. we got a d from the engineers. every american knows of a pothole that needs to be filled, a road that needs to be fixed, and congress needs to come up with the money. that's the reason that we don't have a big, bold infrastructure plan in place today. >> a d plus, sir. every plus counts. i want to stay on the public/private partnership. that is a significant thing the president likes to talk about. he likes to be seated next to equity giants, talking about investment coming in. but public/private partnerships, you get a 3% return. if the government wants investing giants to come in, they want to get 10%, 15%, 18% back. doesn't that put our projects at a major risk? what would we be giving away if our -- if the investors in these projects want 10% or 15% back? >> well, if you look at the public/private partnerships we invested in, the silver line,
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connecting downtown washington, d.c. with dulles airport, there are a -- the economic corridor, we invested for the program in chicago, the tapestry bridge in new york. some of these projects do allow for private investment and a return, a little bit bigger than 3%. so you have to really look at the projects in terms of what, you know, the kind of return that investors will get. there are those projects out there. no question about it. one of the biggest ones is in new york. building new tunnels from new jersey to new york. it's a high priority for that region of the country. there are lots of projects that, i think, can reap big investments, but that then begs the question, what about all the rest of the infrastructure? what about the 60,000 structural deficient bridges? what about the interstate
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systems crumbling, the 50 to 60 year old transit systems that need new cars and infrastructure? we need another pot of money to do that. >> what about regulation? we know corporate america loves to hear the trump administration say, we're getting rid of all of this regulation. that's great because no one likes rules, but don't we need to remember, the reason regulation exists, especially around infrastructure projects, is because safety is essential. >> that's correct, stephanie. the reason you have regulations -- and you can reduce sometimes for creating these kind of projects and get the so-called environmental impact statement reduced, but you want to make sure that when you build a new bridge, build a new road, that it's the safest it can possibly be. that's the one thing that people require. we know what happened in minneapolis more than ten years ago when a bridge collapsed.
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it was because of structural deficiencies. you know, we don't want to shortchange the idea that safety is still the number one priority for infrastructure. >> if you're going to go through the time and effort and money of building a bridge, please do it right. ray, thank you so much for joining me today. >> thank you, stephanie. when we come back, new fallout from reports that porn star stormy daniels, well, she was paid big dollars to stay silent about her alleged affair with donald trump. details next. maybe those big dollars caused some campaign finance. we'll find out. "velshi & ruhle" here on msnbc. needles.
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ask your doctor about xeljanz xr. an "unjection™". welcome back to "velshi & ruhle." we are following a new twist to the story -- i laugh because i still cannot believe this is not the top, top story. it is amazing. a new twist to the story involving president trump and porn star -- that's right -- porn star stormy daniels. the "wall street journal," owned by rupert murdoch, said one of trump's lawyers paid daniels before the election. the payment is said to have
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violated campaign laws. the group, common cause, argues the payments amount to a campaign expense, since the purpose was to cover-up a potentially damaging story. by not disclosing the defense, the group argues the campaign broke the law. we should note, it is unclear whether or not the alleged payment was made with campaign funds. daniels alleges that she and trump had a wromantic relationship in the early 2000s. michael cohen dismissed the claims saying, quote, the common cause complaint is baseless, along with the allegation that president trump filed a false report to the f.e.c., the federal election commission. i'm joined now by nbc news legal analyst danny cevallos. have you ever paid $130,000 to somebody for no reason? >> not talking about me today. technically, no. >> out there in the world, anyone wants to pay anybody $130,000 for no reason, call me. i'm here to take it. any merit to the claim? >> on the one hand, federal
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election law is broadly drafted, such that, possibly any contribution, any expenditure made by any person, to any person, with the intent to influence a campaign or electio within the law. on the other hand, there are many things that are defensible about these allegations. i'm a biased defense attorney, but some of the glaring things that come out are the idea that no campaign money was ever implicated. that's not required, but it does take it outside the spirit of the law, and also, i can see you are doubting already -- >> michael cohen was more than trump's lawyer. he was one of president trump's most outspoken tv pundits for president trump all along the campaign, and then a month before the election, he pays a porn star $130,000 to hide an affair? >> let's say you're right, cohen is trump's agent, let's concede he made a payment and concede that it was to stormy daniels.
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under the law, what was the benefit to donald trump, the campaigning person? >> that no one knew when his wife had a month old baby, he had an affair with a porn star? >> agreed. we saw this before in the case of john edwards, a very similar kind of case which was actually, it made it to trial and charges were dismissed. however, the idea that the only benefit was that people, that stormy daniels wouldn't tell all, that might be a bit of a crowbar getting that into federal election law. again, it's very broadly drafted but there still needs to be a nexus between the benefit conferred to trump as the candidate and the benefit to stormy daniels which is very clear, under these allegations. >> call me a prude. the naive woman that i am somehow believed people might not feel good about someone running for president who had an affair with a porn star with a new baby at home and that might affect how they thought of that
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person in terms of being a world leader. >> all true. those are all true. i can't deny that part. but whether it fits into federal election law, at least the canon of federal election law, remains to be seen as a public policy issue. >> i guess i'm just a prude. thank you so much. i have never been called that before. president trump is slapping new tariffs on two key products. i want to talk about this. he says the move can save american jobs but it's also going to hit american consumers right in the wallet. those details next. so, that goal you've been saving for, you can do it. we can do this. at fidelity, our online planning tools are clear and straightforward so you can plan for retirement while saving for the things you want to do today. -whoo! while saving for the things i no wondering, "what if?" uncertainties of hep c. i let go of all those feelings. because i am cured with harvoni.
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we are back. it is time for money, money, money. we are talking about how president trump is set to impact your money this very afternoon. the president is expected to impose steep tariffs on imports of specific products, washing machines and solar panels, as part of his america first trade policy. the tariffs on washing machines will affect popular brands lg and samsung. the first 1.2 million washing machines imported will have a 20% tariff imposed on them in the first year. it will be a 50% tariff on machines above that number. the tariff on solar panels will be 30% in the first year and that certainly affects china, which has been accused of selling artificially low priced solar components in the united
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states. cnbc editor at large joins us now live as well as another favorite of mine, dave chappell. let's take a look at dave. >> i'm going to go to china and i'm going to get those jobs from china and bring them back here to america. for what, so iphones can be $9,000? i want to wear nikes, i don't want to make them. what are you doing? >> yes, that's dave chappell with a little comedy but john harwood, let's be serious about this. one of the reasons many of these american jobs left is americans don't want those jobs. are they going to want them now? >> well, first of all, before i answer that question, stephanie, i did think you were a prude until you played and bleeped david chappell. >> there you go. then you should know i'm a huge dave chappell super fan. but let's talk about this. is president trump going to bring american jobs back? are americans waiting for these
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jobs? >> he will protect some jobs by raising tariffs on imported washing machines, imported solar panels. he will also raise prices for consumers. that's how it works. that's the trade-off. is that american consumers benefit from imported products that come in at a low price. that is to the detriment of people who are involved in making those products, but of course, there are fewer and fewer people involved in making them. solaris a little different because that's a growing industry within the united states. however, the price of solar panels has come down so much, i don't think it's likely to have a substantial effect on the cost curve of the solar industry. it's also the case that one of the biggest american solar firms doesn't use those silicone panels that china imports to the united states. but everybody has to be aware of the trade-off. it's the same thing that happens with walmart. you get very low prices from that chinese supply chain, but
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that is going to cost some jobs in the united states. >> then i want to stay on the trade-off, because we know that for years, whirlpool sought this kind of protection from cheaper imports, but whirlpool is just one company. made in america is not a new concept, but in the last 10 to 15 years, the american people decided what they thought was a priority was not made in america, they wanted cheap stuff fast. that's what made walmart and amazon two of the biggest and most powerful companies in the world. >> that's what -- that's exactly the trade-off we're talking about. the other thing that's true is that american companies, because of technological advances and use of robots and artificial intelligence and all that sort of thing, they are using fewer workers to make products domestically. so you can protect an american company but there are fewer workers being protected by that
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protection every year, because there are fewer people involved in the manufacturing process. >> that's a great point. whirlpool and whirlpool's robots might like it, but it might not help that american worker who doesn't get paid more money, doesn't get his job back, and cannot afford a washing machine because it costs more. >> i like my whirlpool washer and dryer. >> there you go. i can't tell you what the brand on mine is, to be honest with you. john, thank you so much for watching. thank you for joining me. that wraps us up. i'm stephanie ruhle. ali velshi in davos right now. "andrea mitchell reports" is here but andrea mitchell, overseas. she sat down with vice president mike pence this morning and the person in her seat is a very special host, my dear friend and colleague, steve kornacki. good afternoon. right now on "andrea mitchell reports" cabinet confidential. for the first time, robert mueller reaching inside the white house cabinet, interviewing attorney general jeff sessions in the russia probe.


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