tv MSNBC Live With Stephanie Ruhle MSNBC July 22, 2019 6:00am-7:00am PDT
the fact that our discourse is being so -- what used to be, you couldn't say in locker rooms, you can say now, and that's because of donald trump. >> i think walter has identified the most petrifying trend in american political life. it is the discourse. >> listen to buttigieg. take a stance on what's right. >> just be woke. all right. that does it for us this morning. stephanie ruhle picks up the coverage right now. >> thanks so much. hi there. i'm stephanie ruhle. you ready? let's talk former special counsel robert mueller. this man has done everything he can to stay out of the public spotlight but that changes this wednesday when he appears before two separate house committees, committing to at least five hours of public testimony. now, democrats would love for him to breathe life back into the question of whether the
robert mueller should not be given another bite at the apple. in the end it will be bad for him and the phony democrats in congress who have done nothing but waste time on this ridiculous witch hunt, result of the mueller report, no collusion, no obstruction. in a second tweet, steph, he tries to point the finger at his former democratic challenger hillary clinton and says, but the question should be asked, why were all of clinton's people given immunity and why were the text messages of peter s. and his lover lisa page destroyed? of course those are former fbi officials right after they left mueller and right after we requested them. a legal question mark. this echoes similar rhetoric we've heard from president trump in the past trying to paint the fbi as in some way conflicted in the investigation overall and trying to shift the focus to hillary clinton. how is the president preparing for this, though, steph? there is no doubt this is going to be a monumental day for him and for his presidency. he has publicly said he has no
plans to watch but my colleague monica alba and i have been talking to campaign officials, white house officials, the president's legal team. they say, look. it is unlikely he won't tune in for at least a little bit of it and of course he'll get briefed by his top advisers. we'll all be watching our twitter feeds very closely that day. it is notable, though, unlike other big moments in the russia investigation the legal team at this point doesn't have a broad response prepared. the reason for that? they go back to what you just heard from robert mueller, the fact that he says he is not going to go beyond his report. they say they expect him to follow that when he testifies, but, steph, he is going to be testifying for five hours. now, what is president trump going to be doing that day? his schedule is pretty light at this point in time but he does have a big dollar fundraiser in west virginia in the evening. at this point in time it's closed press. we'll have to see if he answers any of our questions on that day, steph. >> the president is kind of all over the map. when the report came out and bill barr put out his summary,
donald trump and his allies said totally exonerated, totally exonerated. now they're back to saying robert mueller is highly conflicted. over the weekend you spoke to adam shift. he has a lot on his plate. he is the chairman of the house intel committee. are he and the other democrats taking wednesday as their last shot to convince the american people that the president should be removed from office because of his conduct that was specifically investigated by robert mueller? >> reporter: for a lot of democrats, steph, wednesday is do or die on the question of impeachment. there is no doubt about that. i asked the chairman of the house intelligence committee if he's been practicing and preparing. he wouldn't get into specific details about the extent to which they've been practicing but he said, look. of course they have been preparing and also talking to mueller's team. and he really wants to try to push mueller to go beyond the report. and also to bring that report to light. take a listen to what he told me at the aspen security forum over the weekend.
>> i think there were certain things, certainly, that we would like to explore that go beyond the report. we will be doing our hearing after the judiciary committee so we will get some sense of how worth while it is to fight with him over areas outside the report. >> reporter: so a little bit of a preview there. i also pressed him on what some of the critical questions are he is going to put to mueller. he said, one of them will be if he, in fact, thinks president trump should be charged once he leaves office. will mueller answer that? that's one of the big questions we'll be watching for. he is going to testify for five hours on capitol hill, steph. >> it's a long time. nbc's kristen welker, thank you so much. we have a fantastic group with us. joyce vance, former u.s. attorney and professor at the university of alabama, school of law. matt miller, former chief spokesperson for the justice department under precinct obama. a democratic strategist and former executive director of the new york state democratic party, and matt gorman, republican strategist and former
communications director for the nrcc. joyce, to you, first. what do democrats need to do to get robert mueller to reset the narrative? he doesn't want to. >> democrats have a very careful needle threading job that they need to do wednesday morning. stephanie, i think what they can do, most importantly, is help americans understand the connection between volume one of the report and volume two. in volume two, mueller finds, lays out ten areas of potential obstruction, legal experts have said they believe between three and five of those are indictable. but obstruction never happens in a vacuum. and here it happens in the context of the volume one discussion of collusion and cooperation between the campaign and russia. democrats should try to get mueller to focus on his inability to fully develop evidence. he says he didn't have sufficient evidence to indict a
conspiracy. but he says that in many ways that is because witnesses were unavailable or they lied or evidence was destroyed. if democrats can hammer that point home with the public, they may be able to make some of the inroads that they need to make in this hearing. >> mr. miller, one issue that was not explored in the report was robert mueller's interactions with the new attorney general, bill barr. and we know they didn't agree with how bill barr summarized the report. is that the area democrats can get the most bang for their buck? >> i think it is absolutely. i've looked at two big areas i think are important to question the special counsel on. one, to elicit the answer to the question, if the president wasn't a sitting president would he be indicted? i don't think he'll answer directly but there are ways to back into it. the second is to try to show how the attorney general misled the public about his report. i don't think if you ask mueller if he, you know, directly, do you disagree with the way barr has handled it i don't think
he'll answer in the affirmative but i think there are ways to ask him short, factual questions. for example, is it true that your investigation confirmed that there was no collusion? which is a statement the attorney general made at his press conference. the answer to that question will be, no. i think you can also ask him, is it true that as the president has said, that your report found no obstruction of justice? we know the answer to that question is no because the report said so. so i think if you frame the questions to him as, do you disagree with the attorney general you're not going to get a direct answer. however, if you just read some of the more aggressive statements the attorney general has made, many of which are directly contradicted by the special counsel's report, i think some of the yes or no answers from the special counsel that directly contradict what the attorney general said can be very politically damaging. >> michael conway was congressional counsel during the nixon impeachment and wrote this about mueller's testimony. the questioning by democrats and, more importantly, by republican members, may create a spectacle that could undermine mueller's credibility with the public and therefore his report.
could democrats actually hurt their own case here? >> it's possible that both sides could, quite frankly, because i'm not an attorney but he seems to be a reluctant witness and therefore in the absence of a lot of information he might provide both parties are going to be projecting their own desired outcomes on him. i think for democrats and i think joyce is absolutely right with this, what democrats need to do is get him to provide just enough information that they can hone their narrative. i don't think this in and of itself is do or die but what is do or die is if democrats don't actually form that narrative that our candidates can use throughout the rest of the cycle. and i would also say this. jerry nadler, for example, who had been very cautious in his conversation about whether or not we should start impeachment hearings, has leaned into it a little bit more over the last few days. he's actually going -- he is actually getting a primary from a challenger that wants
democrats to go further into this impeachment and actually start these hearings. my concern is whether or not if the democrats, if some democrats take their time and try to create this case that they're not going to do it quickly enough to stave off some of the challenges because that actually would be a lot more divisive for us than us making sort of a credible case over time. >> mr. gorman, i, too, am not a lawyer, but i am an enthusiast of law and order. i consider myself a law amateur. republicans. how are they going to play this? does it make more sense for them to go hard on the deep state, pushing on the origins of the investigation, comey, struck, lisa page, or do they go easy as bacil put it, knowing mueller is a reluctant witness and is most likely not going to give democrats something new? >> from what i hear the
republicans want to do a lighter touch. >> i've seen a lot of republican light touch. >> but there will be some outliers certainly. a lot of topics you just mentioned. for the most part the ranking member of the committee and others are going to do a lighter touch. remember, in many ways the mueller report came out okay for the republicans. if they undermine mueller's credibility they're defeating themselves. to basil's point, he has done this 88 times before, testifying in front of congress. so this isn't something he is going to do lightly. he is probably not going to make a lot of mistakes. it is very important as basil said that neither side over reach. when it comes to impeachment i think the biggest thing for democrats out of this, it'll give them cover to call for impeachment. they'll pull something from the hearing and give it as an excuse to call for impeachment. i would watch that in the coming days. >> if i could add very quickly one thing i really do want to come out that we can act on is election security. we're not talking as much about
that, but it is probably the most pressing issue. >> first paragraph of the report. sweeping and systematic interference. good point. joyce, i want to share what the president said about robert mueller when the president was asked about mueller testifying. it was just a week ago. >> no i don't. i don't. as far as i'm concerned they already took their impeachment vote and the impeachment vote was so lopsided it was a massive victory. you know what? at some point they have to stop playing games because they're just playing games. no i won't be watching mueller. >> joyce, what is it going to take to convince the american people this issue is worth digging back into for many people they think this thing was decided a month ago even though they may not realize all that's in it. >> there are two things that are important. the first will be to move people off of the original summary that they heard from the attorney general that there was no collusion and no obstruction.
mueller's testimony will likely clarify that. the question will be whether people are listening and hear the message. and then, secondarily, it is important for people to understand that a criminal investigation is different from an impeachment hearing. criminal investigations look solely at very specific federal statutes. mueller chose for a number of reasons not to indict the president. but it'll be important for people to learn on wednesday that what happens in impeachment is very different and that a clean bill of health for a criminal investigation doesn't mean that high crimes and misdemeanors weren't committed by this president. >> mr. miller, let's go back to jerry nadler. he said over the weekend he is finally going to court to enforce the subpoena for don mcgahn, former chief white house counsel. does that in any way change the narrative around impeachment or does one say, why are you finally getting to it now? the president is trying to run the clock. and if that's his goal, he is
sort of achieving it. >> yeah. i think more of the latter. if you look at the kind of way that this entire investigation has played, it has been, by the time mueller comes back and testifies this week, 14 weeks since his report was released to the public, 18 weeks since he finished the investigation. we're finally seeing the special counsel, the day before congress leaves on a six-week recess. when they get back they are only in session a couple months. it is hard to see impeachment in 2020 when the country is in the midst of a conversation about who the next president ought to be, if it is someone other than donald trump. for this hearing to kick-start kind of this -- if you were looking at this hearing as a way to kick-start momentum for impeachment you want it to be followed up with other hearings that would shine a light on the president's behavior. we're not going to see don mcgahn any time soon. it's been several months since he blew off the subpoena for him to come testify. they're just now going to court. it will take many more months to resolve it. i think it's likely that it's resolved if, you know, at all before the election sometime in the fall of 2020 when those
hearings will be largely a side show to the presidential election. i think we ought to look at this hearing on wednesday not as the kick-start for impeachment but as a chance for the congress to show the american people just what it is the president did during his campaign and just what he did in office and the american people can decide for themselves whether they think it's appropriate behavior or not. >> joyce, if it is going to be many months, if and when we see don mcgahn testify, hope hicks is not looking to testify, nor is don mcgahn's deputy. that being the case, if the clock is on the president's side, not democrats' side, what are they to do? >> well, democrats have to make a decision about how serious they are about pursuing these matters in court and whether they can craft a narrative that explains to the american public how unusual it is to have people ducking subpoenas. if they don't have the witnesses available, and i think matt is right, that the clock continues to run and it doesn't run in
democrats' favor, then they will have to explain to people why this behavior by the president is so unseemly, so indicative of an effort to cover up wrongdoing, and they have not been successful in doing that to date. it is a significant challenge that they face because the president is so good at running the clock and behaving in ways that previously would have been unacceptable and damaging to a president. >> but, joyce, there is a difference between unseemly and a cover-up. unseemly, the president and theoretically his voters, are okay with. they knew unseemly was what they were voting for. a cover-up is something entirely different. >> it is. and i think that's the important point here, stephanie. because there are actions the president may have taken for political reasons. he didn't want, for instance, voters to know that he was engaged in a deal with russia in the late stages of the campaign. but the question becomes whether or not that was criminal behavior. as you point out, at least in his base, people are satisfied
that what would have previously been politically unacceptable is at least for this president tolerable behavior. that's why democrats have such a heavy lift here. the rules are different for this president. >> seems that way. joyce vance, matt miller, thank you so much. basil, mike gorman, please stick with me. coming up the president renews his attacks on who are now known as the squad while the vice president promises that president trump will push back if the crowd chants send her back. again. maybe. plus puerto rico bracing for its biggest protest yet. a sweeping settlement reached with equifax over a huge data breach in 2017 that exposed the
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to resign. on sunday the governor announced he would not seek re-election but wouldn't immediately resign. nbc news correspondent gabe gutierrez is live in san juan where he joins me. gabe, these protests have been going on for over a week. how did they start and how did they get so big? >> reporter: hi, stephanie. well, the governor made his announcement yesterday on facebook live. some people were expecting he would resign. he obviously did not. even though he did say that he would not seek re-election, and was stepping down as head of his political party, that isn't enough for all the protesters that have gathered here. already thousands have filed into the parking lot here, roberto clemente stadium in san juan, and many more are expected throughout the day. they are expected to shut down san juan's main avenue.
some are selling t-shirts right now. this is the rallying cry we've heard really for the past several days urging governor rossello to resign. ma'am, why are you
here today? >> we are here united as a country. we are denouncing the ongoing corruption that has been going on in puerto rico and that has now been unveiled via telegram chat. we are tired of the government stealing money from education and health and as third-year medical students we want the government to renounce, resign, and we want our community to have their basic needs. >> reporter: he said yesterday that he would not resign but that he would not seek re-election. is that enough for you? >> it is not enough. we acknowledge him apologizing, but he has not the moral ground to continue governing a country that now knows what has been going on. now we have evidence. >> reporter: ma'am, thank you so much for talking with us. stephanie, this is an ongoing political crisis we have been covering for several days now. thousands of people, tens of thousands demonstrated last week during one of the marches last
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currently constructed. they want to tear down the structure of our country. they want it to be a socialist, open borders country. >> and not just the rhetoric, the most hard line policies, courtesy of that guy. now, vice president mike pence, he was asked about the president's recent rally where we all saw the chant of send her back. we saw it begin and we saw it was carried on for quite sometime. >> this could all go away with one simple word or phrase or something. you have a chance to say it right now. don't do it again. is that your message? >> major, the president was very clear. >> was he? >> that he wasn't happy about it. and that if it happened again he -- he might -- he'd make an effort to speak out about it. >> he will make an effort to speak out. >> that's what he's already said. >> okay. >> he did. joining me now, the editor-in-chief of the michigan advance and she knows michigan politics inside and out.
nbc news national political reporter jonathan allen and basal and matt back with me. one of the four congresswomen targeted by the president, help us understand the reaction from her constituency and remind our audience how powerful she is or isn't in terms of the national scope. >> well, congresswoman tlaib is a freshman. she represents a detroit based district. it's heavily democratic. so her constituents obviously are on her side, outraged at the president. as far as michigan goes, we're a swing state. obviously we were very pivotal in the 2016 election. some of the president's supporters stand firmly behind him. what he is banking on is he can whip up the furor that he was so successful at in 2016 and carry the state again. but at the same time, he's also
motivating people on the left, democrats, congresswoman tlaib supporters, who are just up in arms about his rhetoric, which, you know, is unequivocally racist. i don't think there is any debate about that. >> jonathan, on friday the white house was anonymously pushing out that it was ivanka trump who advised her father against the send her back chant. causing him to in some way rebuke it. yet on sunday it wasn't ivanka trump the president had out defending him. he chose steven miller. what does that say? >> number one, i think if ivanka trump wants to be popular at georgetown social parties and in manhattan, she'll want to get out on background through newspapers that she objects to this kind of language so that her friends don't throw her out of their homes. so i'm not surprised to see that in newspapers. in terms of the president's message, sending steven miller out there, he said that it's these four women, these
congresswomen that want to change the essential nature of america, but, truly, it is steven miller and the president of the united states who are trying to change the essential nature of america in that the policies that they are espousing are an effort to have fewer, less diversification of the united states to have fewer people in this country who don't have white skin. we've seen that time and again whether talking about a muslim ban, the immigration policies pushed by steven miller, or talking about this racist rhetoric by the president. so it is interesting that he has doubled down by sending out steven miller, who not only espouses those policies, who not only basically sucks up to the president and public as much as possible but is a symbol to the community, the people on the very extreme fringe of conservativism, who talk constantly about, you know, the
sort of crazy ideas of purifying this country. they love steven miller. he's a symbol to them of what the president is trying to signal with this rhetoric. >> purifying the nation, race. is that from a strategy standpoint, matt, what the republican party thinks is the right approach for the 2020 election? one would guess that the party of reagan would say, why don't you go with economic prowess? >> certainly the economy needs to be part of the big message and if it's not republicans are in trouble. >> that's not the president's big message. >> stepping back i think actually helps both the squad and the president in a way because president trump has elevated the squad and now they're the face of the democratic party. that's good for them. i think they enjoy that. >> right. but those are four freshmen congresswomen in office less than a year. whether it is good for them personally doesn't mean it is good for the democratic party. i'm asking you a question about republicans and the president is clearly making race the central strategy for his 2020 re-election. how does the republican party feel about that?
>> yes. and i think elevating those members also helps president trump because it gives him an enemy. right now the presidential primaries on the democratic side are a bit of a muddle. as we saw in 2016 the president is at his best when he has an enemy. having the squad now as the face of the democratic party helps him as well. it riles up the base. it gives them something in the meantime until they have a nominee as a foil for president trump. >> but does it help the educated voter who knows that these congresswomen, again, have been in office less than a year and don't have an overwhelming majority in the democratic party? nancy pelosi a week ago said, these are just four. >> right. she's right. if you are highly civically engaged you understand the nuance of that. i don't know most voters have the time to really care because, you know, 70% of this country is living check to check. do you have time to think through all of those -- you may not have time to think through all of these details. there is a really interesting article in "the washington post"
that talked about what james baldwin said was the most segregated hour in our nation, the church community and how the church community itself is divided. what is interesting to me about this is that i -- when i used to think donald trump was just doubling down on his base i think a lot of this racist rhetoric is his attempt also to create a wedge in traditional democratic coalitions to try to grow his base but at what cost is he doing this? that's what my major concern is. that republicans are not standing up to him. mike pence, for all of his rhetoric, is not ever going to stand up to him. despite what donald trump says, he has enshrined the thinking in the white house by having folks like steven miller go out and speak on his behalf. i don't trust anything that the white house has said and all of what he is doing is still to try to create this wedge and divisions within the american public. >> jonathan, you say the send her back chants are a branding exercise.
explain. >> the send her back chants are definitely a branding exercise. what is going on here is that in 2016 the president appealed to people with tremendous amounts of racial resentment. it's a part of his base, not all of his base. but he basically wanted to turn out voters who felt like they had no home before. the democratic party had rejected outright racism in politics. the republican party had rejected outright racism in politics. there were a whole lot of americans who didn't vote because they didn't feel comfortable with either because they were racist and felt like outcasts. when president trump started articulating their views, they felt like he was a spokesman for them. they came out to vote for him. he needs more of those people to show up at the polls. he needs to energize them because he has alienated so much of the rest of the country. in order to do that he is kicking this up into overdrive. what we saw in 2016 is now in, like i said, overdrive. so we're going to see more of this and it is going to get
uglier over the next year and a half. >> maybe he is alienating people in places he doesn't necessarily care about those votes. maybe he is alienating people in new york and california. susan, take us to michigan. what does the michigan voter think? the president won there but not in a landslide. >> right. he won by roughly 10,000 votes, so certainly not a landslide. what he's counting on is that he is going to motivate voters in northern michigan, mccomb county, which has been a swing county, with this racist rhetoric. but he really does risk losing a lot of others in suburban detroit, in oakland county, which is the wealthiest county in all of michigan, in suburban wayne county where detroit is. those voters were huge for democrats in 2018. that's how we ended up with a democratic governor, and all democrats -- >> is that why he is pushing the narrative to those wealthy voters? is that why the president
twoonts frawants to frame the narrative that it is either him or a very far left candidate? >> yes. that is definitely paurt of it. but his explicitly racist rhetoric turns off highly educated, wealthy voters. so it's a real risk for him. >> but bernie sanders also turns off those voters. >> he does. and i think that's why you've seen that some of the other candidates have had more traction in michigan. bernie sanders started out as, perhaps, the favorite since 2016. he won the state here. but he has definitely stalled in michigan and i think that's because of a lot of those voters in oakland and wayne county who are more well to do and they're not responding to his message as much. >> i got that. jonathan, thank you so much. susan, basal, matt, stick with me. moments ago the markets opened. as you can see, a flat start to the week. president trump earlier this morning lashing out at the fed
again. basically demanding that the federal reserve cut rates immediately. the fed has been hinting at a rate cut later this month. president trump hitting hard, saying he wants it big and he wants it fast. there's also growing uncertainty over a budget deal. negotiations continue this weekend between treasury secretary mnuchin and speaker pelosi. just two months remain to solidify a two-year budget deal and a debt ceiling deal, all signs seeming to be indicating that the two are getting close to reaching an agreement but you must remember, president trump needs to sign off on anything those two agree to. next we are live in detroit, michigan, where several 2020 contenders are speaking at the naacp convention. can anyone break into joe biden's massive lead with african-american voters? apply that same speed to the ford hurry up and save sales event. for the first time ever get 20% estimated savings on select ford models,
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next couple days in detroit. most of the current top tier will be here, from joe biden to kamala harris, cory booker, elizabeth warren, you name them will also be speaking here. as for the candidates who have the most to gain you could make an argument it is any candidate not named joe biden. his lead across a number of these states is built largely on his strength with african-american voters. he is the most known commodity. he continues to get the most african-american support in these early states so the candidates who might be able to chip into that will be the ones who have the most to gain. i'm looking specifically at kamala harris and cory booker, two candidates, african americans themselves, have staked a lot of their campaigning on south carolina. they need to do better with that crowd, quite frankly. i have said on this show before that cory booker tends to do well in front of big crowds, big audiences. he takes a lot of energy from it. i would look for him to turn in one of those performances when he speaks. steph, what is working against all of these candidates, most of them will be speaking at a presidential campaign forum that
starts wednesday morning at 9:30. as you have noted, there is another former government official, slightly obscure older gentleman named robert mueller who is speaking at the same time on wednesday. so for the message to get out of this room, we'll have to -- it will have to be a pretty powerful speech to break through that on wednesday morning. >> let's talk about other speakers specifically this morning. speaker nancy pelosi will be on the stage and separately but also on the stage congresswoman tlaib. this event is taking place in michigan. that's why she's there. this is her home district. what are we expecting from these two women? a week ago they were certainly not on the same page, but after the president's attacks on tlaib and three other freshmen congresswomen nancy pelosi has stood with them. >> reporter: that's right. pelosi has really had the backs of these so-called squad over the last week or so because of the president's attacks. pelosi's spokesperson drew hammel told me to expect her to mostly focus on economic
justice, making sure african americans, people of color across the country have access to the ballot box. it is not clear that either one of these women will directly address the president's taunts although i think both of them will have the opportunity to take some questions here at this event. and i can tell you they will certainly be asked about it. again, so far the president's attacks have had the effect of drawing really all these disparate elements of the democratic party back together to push back against him. i don't think today will be any different. >> it's brought the democratic party together. the president's goal is to push that entire party to the left. we have to figure out if he has been successful. thank you. i want to bring back susan, basal, and matt gorman. this is your state, susan. what do michigan voters want to hear most? >> well, in the democratic primary i think people are focused on kitchen table economic issues especially working class and middle class people who feel they've been left behind even with all the
prosperity. women's issues are very important. women were very decisive here in 2018 on the democratic side. as far as the naacp convention goes, issues of racial justice will obviously be first and foremost and, you know, we do have a huge contingent of african-american voters that are decisive in the democratic primary. >> basal, joe biden is going to be at the convention. we know what a massive lead he has among african-american voters. do you see that support going anywhere? >> not any time soon. you know, he did very well after the last debate with the kamala harris dust up because he started to own more of his relationship with barack obama. that helps a lot. that is why a lot of african-american voters are with him and will stay with him for quite sometime. he's in front. he will be in front at the naacp conference. a group we talked about in the earlier segment, educated, very educated voters and activists. so i want him and other candidates to lay into some more
policy, particularly after an article last week that black home ownership is at the lowest level ever in this country. i do think some policy is going to be really important. for joe biden, he's really got to lean in to that relationship with barack obama as the chief defender of the president's when he was being attacked racially and otherwise. and, you know, i also think with respect to bernie sanders, for example, who is polling at one or two under him, one of the reasons african americans aren't as supportive of bernie sanders is because his attacks against the democratic party. remember the party for a long time has been a source of political economic justice for african americans. it is the party of shirley chisolm, ron brown, barack obama. so if you're going to attack the party you are essentially attacking them. >> if black home ownership is at a low and that's what joe biden should focus on can't voters say that didn't happen yesterday or in the last two years? if we're going back to the party of barack obama wouldn't those
same voters say, but it wasn't working out for me three or four years ago? >> that's why i would also add that we've been spending a lot of time talking about white working class and some of the other constituencies. what i think democrats should focus on are all those voters that didn't come out in 2016. a lot of them are african-american voters for exactly that reason, that they feel the party has not done enough of these issues and i talked about a wedge issue before. when i talked to older african-american voters they have concerns about immigration. in part they feel that the party's move in that direction takes away from their stature in this country. and so there are concerns there that i think the party should address. that is going to come up even if it's not on a stage. it does come up in conversation and should get addressed. >> what does early polling tell you? we just saw over the weekend
biden has a slight lead in iowa and new hampshire but another early voting state, south carolina, massive lead. >> look, he has signs of life certainly. he is still in the driver's seat. there are others gaining on him. as we saw petehim. we saw pete buttigieg raise more than bernie sanders. there is a debate next week. he cannot turn in another performance like he did in the past. a and, basin, joe biden famously mocked rudy giuliani. he said every thing that comes out of his mouth is a noun, verb, and 9/11. >> thank you all so much. now we have to turn over seas. days after seizing a british flag tanker, iran is claiming it has arrested 17 iranian nationals acting as spice for
the cia and sentenced some of them to death. mike pompeo was on fox this morning. insisting iran has a history of lying, he didn't indirectly deny the report. . >> i would take with a significant grain of salt any iranian sources about actions they have taken. >> so you don't believe they have arrested these individuals? if they are americans, we don't want them approximate it to death, obviously. >> there are many americans that have been held inside iran, as far back as bob levinson. a lot of americans we are working to get home. >> but a short time ago, president trump tweeted this, the report of iran capturing cia spies is totally false. zero truth. just more lies and propaganda put out by a religious regime that is padly failing and has no idea what to do. their economy is dead and will get much worse.
iran is a total mess. matt, what can you tell us about these alleged arrests? the president saying baloney. >> reporter: the iranian ministry of intelligence said they were extensively trained by the cia. they were given foreign passpor passports. they were trying to leave the country and go to europe or at scientific conferences or some kind of conferences abroad. that's where they were had he approached by cia officers who then trained them extensively. now, as you mentioned, trump and pompeo both denied this was true. is it true? is it not? that might not matter for the iranians. because this might be aimed more from domestic consumption within iran than it is for the americans. remember, the iranians are obsessed with this notion that america is constantly spying on them. this is a major mix, documentaries, dramas, showing americans insidiously trying to
undermine the republic. this might be proof for the republic that they have cards to play in this escalating fight with the u.s. >> i want to bring in senior international correspondent keir simmons here with me in new york. matt is making the argument maybe this is for the iranian public. >> yeah. >> why does this matter to the american public? set the stage. >> well, look, i think matt is absolutely right in relation to the allegations of spying. look, it's spying. it is secret. the iranians quite frequently make these allegations. it does play well with their domestic audience. for the american public, i think the real question when it comes to iran is whether there has been a shift in american policy since president trump, you know, infamously stepped pack from the brink of war and didn't launch an attack on iran.
one senior aide saying over the weekend that he thinks they are now being more methodical in their approach. >> they being the united states? >> they being the united states, yeah. look, here's the thing. is that the sanctions are having a real effect in iran. . >> they are economically strangled. >> they are. so the strategy for america could easily be just to wait, just to let that work. of course the other question, though, and we don't really know the answer, what's the purpose? what's the objective? so it bolton's objective, president trump's objective, which seems to change quite regularly? the iranians are under pressure. what we want from them is a different question. >> nbc's matt bradley, thank you so much. keir, great to see you in new york. we'll be right back. but we head -- as we head to break, a live look at the supreme court where they are paying respect to justice
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♪ so good to raise money for the united cancer front. a campaign and aimed at finding a cure for cancer. i can't think of anything better to dance for. and now i am challenging terry cruz, zach posen. you, gentlemen, are up next. dance or donate. it's your turn. i will see you again not dancing at 1:00 p.m. coming up, more news. . >> you have impressive moves. how did you coordinate? >> i'd like to say it was jersey shore meets baliwood. that's my hood. my kids, my neighborhood. >> i have to tell you, well done. appreciate that. hello, everyone.
i'm in for hallie jackson. new reporting on how president trump and they planned to respond to the house hearings featuring robert mueller. nbc has learned the president plans to watch from the white house residence. an hour ago he took aim at democrats on twitter. a lot is on the line for democrats trying to build a case for impeachment. one democratic aide tells us the public may not have read the whole report. they will watch the movie. hans nichols at the white house. geoff bennett on capitol hill for all of us. handicaps, let me begin with you. what we are hearing from the trump team in terms of what the president's plan and his team's plan is to respond to robert mueller's testimony as it unfolds. >> reporter: i suspect we will hear from the president himself. he is heading t