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tv   MSNBC Live With Katy Tur  MSNBC  November 7, 2018 11:00am-12:00pm PST

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thank you to all of you for watching "velshi & ruhle." >> and thanks for watching the crybaby show. again, we delivered. >> katy tur. >> stephanie, you are such a big softy. >> i'm a big ole crybaby. >> i love it. and congratulations to jane ginn and christina, that is amazing. thanks, guys. it is 11:00 a.m. out west and 2:00 p.m. in washington. today the president repeatedly insisted that he is not worried about the democratic takeover of the house. but all evidence points to the contrary when he lost control with reporters today at the white house. >> mr. president, if i may -- >> peter, go ahead. that's enough, that's enough. >> i was going to ask -- >> that's enough. that's enough. put down the mike. >> mr. president, are you worried about indictments coming down in this investigation? >> i'm not a big fan of yours either. sit down, i didn't call you. i didn't call you. i didn't call you. >> listen, we're not dumb.
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we know that this is exactly what the president wanted to do today, to pick a fight with the media. that's why he had that news conference. and that is not the news that he's picking a fight with the media, he does that all the time. the news is the way he bullied his only party today. >> you have some that decided to, let's stay away, let's stay away. they did very poorly. carlos curbelo, mike kauffman. too bad, mike. mia love. i saw mia love. she called me all the time to help her with a hostage situation, being held hostage in venezuela. but mia love gave me no love, and she lost. barbara comstock was another one. i think she could have won that race, but she didn't want to have any embrace. >> was it to make sure they keep
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protecting him or was it pure ego, or was it both? so our big question today is if this is an example of the president on day one of a split congress, how will he handle a democratic house over the next two years? joining me, nbc news national correspondent peter alexander, politico's senior writer, jake sherman, "boston herald" white house bureau chief, kimberly atkins, the director of progressive programming for sirius xm, zerlina maxwell and republican strategist rick wilson, the author of the book "everything donald trump touches dies." peter, i want to start with you. listen, him getting into it with cnn, him getting into it with reporters, telling them to sit down, he's been doing this now for three years. it was markedly more out of control today than it has ever been admittedly, but i was struck, peter, by what he did at
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the very beginning of that news conference when he singled out individual republicans and said they did not win because they did not embrace him. and he said the retiring republicans, had they not retired, they would have been fine. they retired, peter, because they couldn't win in a primary against a donald trump supporting candidate. >> yeah, katy, you make an important point here. that struck me as much as anything, that the president right out of the gates mocked those members of his own party, but he wasn't done. he also maligned democrats and members of the media. let's be clear, this is not about us. we are just vehicles to ask these important questions of the president. nonetheless, what struck me being in that room just steps away from the president was sort of his mood. it was obvious that he was not in a great mood when he walked out into that room. you could just tell as you were watching him over the course of this. we've seen him jovial, boastful at times. this time he was obviously upset about the way things went down last night.
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even as he was trying to cast it as a victory, despite the house now in the hands of democrats. he was, of course, celebrating his success had paidding the republicans' advantage in the senate, specifically in races that he campaigned. but those are the things that struck me today. the bottom line is the president had concerns about the questions being posed to him by reporters today. it remains to be seen how he's going to handle the democrats, who have a whole heck of a lot more power. they have the ability to launch investigations, they take over those committee chairmanships. they can subpoena administration officials and documents as well. at the end of the day what we witnessed in these first hours of the second half of his first term is that it's almost identical to the first half. katy. >> kimberly atkins, let's stick on that. is this donald trump nervous about what house republicans can do, the power that they will now have? >> of course he is. i know he talked very glowingly about soon-to-be speaker pelosi
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today saying how she deserves this win and how hard she fought and said that that was very sincere. but we know how president trump feels about and treats people who challenge him and who pose any threat, as he sees it, to his presidency. just look at how he talks about the mueller probe, how he talks about his own attorney general, the fear that some folks have that he's going to fire his deputy attorney general and probably do a big housecleaning in the justice department about this probe. once democrats start wielding subpoena power and start going after the president, as he himself said, he is going to fight back. and i don't think there is any question that that is going to happen. so the soft tones from him today i think are quickly going to be taken over by a really cantankerous relationship between the house and the white house, if we thought president trump and senator elizabeth warren was a tough fight, wait until pelosi v. trump.
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>> jake, i've got two questions for you. what should we expect from house democrats? >> broadly speaking -- i want to make a point on the investigative front. there's always a process when it comes to these investigations where subpoenas aren't necessarily the first thing that you'll see. you'll see committees send letters to the white house and agencies saying pleads come up here and provide these documents. that goes on for a couple of weeks or months. there's negotiations behind the scenes about what to produce. finally the last step is a subpoena. again, there are deals to be cut when it comes to investigations. and pelosi is very savvy when it comes to these things. she understands what overreach would look like and what the perils of overreach are. she said this is not going to be a scatter shot deal, this is going to be very targeted. so she's already pretty well aware of the consequences. now, my personal view just in covering this for the last couple years is that there isn't a huge appetite in the democrat base, the people who just got elected to congress, to do big deals with donald trump.
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i don't think, maybe that will change. maybe we'll all be surprised. but i think a lot of people got elected who were pretty disgusted by the president and didn't like the way he did business and will not gain from doing business with him. are there spots where they could get things done? sure. could there be an infrastructure bill? i'm skeptical about a lame duck. i think in the early part of next year there will be somin se -- some incentive to get that done. the president is very worried about losing republican support. so this is a mine field. it's a complex situation and we'll see what happens in the next couple of months. >> well, you just led into my second question, which is something that we raised in the open of this show. you said he's worried about losing republican support. that message that mia love didn't support me, barbara comstock didn't support me, et cetera, was that a message being sent to republicans in the house, republicans across the hill that they better get on board with him or else? and if it was, was that message heard?
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>> it's a stunning thing to say considering republican groups have just dropped $200, $300 million into this election to save some of those people. now, the president doesn't seem, according to his comments this afternoon, doesn't seem to realize that in a republican conference, people represent all sorts of different districts where trump is popular and where he's unpopular. he's not very popular in barbara comstock's northern virginia district. he's not very popular in mike kauffman's district. i could think that a lot of that -- those kinds of republicans have been cleared out and you now have a much more conservative house republican conference filled with people who represent districts where trump is more popular. so in that he got his wish. but i'm not really sure what calling out certain republicans does for you. right now the reality is this, the president does not have a majority on capitol hill and those people that lost took the majority away from him. >> peter, donald trump did well
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in 2016 because he had a clear foil. his clear foil was hillary clinton. it was the establishment. it helped him win 2016. in the past two years he hasn't had as clear a foil. he hasn't been able to easily blame democrats, even though he's tried, on what has not happened on congress. or in congress. republicans have controlled everything, so his arguments kind of fell flat there. now he's going to have a very clear foil in the house. so when he goes to his voters or voters across this country, independent voters, and says, hey, i want to pass a tax bill but the democrats don't want to. and i tried to pass a tax bill and republicans were all onboard but the democrats refused to do that, or an infrastructure bill, et cetera, et cetera. he has now somebody to blame. >> katy, you're right obviously. in the absence of another party to blame over the course of the last couple of years when it was one-party control of washington, the president chose to attack the media. he picked that as his foil and
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it's something that resonated with his base of supporters in large swaths of this country. what struck me most in this news conference on this specific topic is when the president sort of addressed the new democratic majority in the house and he said, you know, if i was given the choice of us having -- the republicans having a slim margin or the democrats having the margin, i think i'd prefer the democrats have the margin. the bottom line is he now knows that he has that foil in the democrats that he will try to berate and beat down going forward. if they come after him, he'll return the favor and investigating democrats as well. but what was missing in all that was while the president said today strikingly he views himself as a great moral leader in spite of a racially divisive, racially charged divisive campaign over the course of the last several days, his attacks where he accused democrats and others of being evil people in recent weeks, is that the president on one hand said, you
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know what, i want to unite and tone things down, but at the same time he just went right back to vintage trump form, katy. >> no doubt about that. listen, i don't know if donald trump's attacking the democrats in the house will work for him in 2020. i don't know if anybody can answer that question right now so i think it's useless to try to answer it but it is something to raise. zerlina and rick, in the past 24 hours or 12 hours since we've seen what has happened in the house and now we've seen donald trump's reaction, what are your big takeaways? >> his performance today reminded me of the day after charlottesville. he looked tired today. we're all tired. >> i'm exhausted. i got two hours of sleep. >> that's more than me so you're doing well. but i think when he's tired, the truth always comes out. >> i think the truth comes out no matter what. tired, awake. >> but it's even worse. after charlottesville when he was very tired because of protests outside of trump tower all night when he was here in new york, he said there were
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very fine people on both sides. today you saw in all of his glory a tired donald trump who feels, i think, cornered because today he woke up for the first time in his entire life with a chance that somebody may hold him accountable and have the power to do so. and i think that is terrifying him. >> for the first time in his entire life, somebody may be able to see his tax returns. >> that's exactly right. somebody outside of his inner core. i think what you saw today is this is donald trump desperately trying to cast his new reality show and to turn nancy pelosi into his foil. the caravan, by the way, will disappear in a puff of smoke today because he has to find a new bandit, a new devil. and he's going to try to do it to nancy pelosi. he recognized today, and i hope republicans recognize this, this man has no loyalty to anyone. he's blaming mia love and carlos curbelo and others for not embracing them. he gave them a fatal disease. he pushed them as republicans alone into a corner where they were unacceptable to their
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voters. >> listen, dave brat totally embraced donald trump. >> kris kobach could not have been further up donald trump. >> these incumbents did and dave brat lost in the virginia -- in virginia 7 and kris kobach lost. >> there are plenty of ways that everything trump touches dies theory played out last night. donald trump endorsed 31 house candidates and 28 of them lost. >> but he also endorsed two senate candidates and they won. >> in red states though, katy. he's taking away the wrong message from last night. when elections happen every two years in the house, it's the whole country telling us what they think about the state and the direction of the country. when it's senate races in predominantly red states, that's a whole different calculation. >> first read calls it more of a realignment, not a blue wave. they describe, and i think this is borne out of what we saw last night, suburban and urban areas getting bluer, rejecting donald trump, and the rural and red areas getting even redder.
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in fact this country becoming even more divided. >> if i were donald trump, i would be very concerned about 2020 paubecause we saw in pennsylvania a hard break to the democrats, scott walker lost in wisconsin. in michigan, democrats pushed the board. this is not a situation where he gets to roll in in 2020 that hillary clinton is not paying attention to the upper midwest again and skate into those states. there's a sgal being sent in these states where the right direction number in wisconsin was 58%. scott walker should have withbe able to skate for a third term. sit on the beach and eat crab. but all the climate things for trump in the upper midwest, they're gone now. those places broke to the democrats. >> that was part of the reason why donald trump won, the upper midwest, the breaking of the blue wall. we will see how that plays in the next two years but it is a very interesting question. we'll address it later this hour
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in fact. zerlina maxwell and rick wilson action thank you very much. also jake sherman, peter alexander, kimberly atkins, we appreciate it. he wants to become the third most powerful democrat in the house. we'll whip over to capitol hill where jim clyburn is standing by live to join us. smile dad. i take medication for high blood pressure and cholesterol. but they might not be enough to protect my heart. adding bayer aspirin can further reduce the risk of another heart attack. because my second chance matters. be sure to talk to your doctor before you begin an aspirin regimen. gimme one minute... and i'll tell you some important things to know about medicare. first, it doesn't pay for everything.
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if you woke up this morning with one message, it was this, the american electorate is divided. as nbc first read puts it, this wasn't so much a blue wave as it was a political realignment. quote, we are living in extremely volatile and divided times. and what we are seeing is a further realignment of our politics, with urban/suburban going democratic, and with rural and red areas going more republican. one thing is for sure, though, democrats are in a position to make donald trump's next two years difficult. they could launch a slate of investigations, touching on everything from his campaign to russia to his businesses and, yes, that great white whale, donald trump's tax returns. it is a threat that leaders on the hill and the president himself addressed today. >> almost from the time i announced i was going to run they have been giving us this investigation fatigue. it's been a long time. they got nothing.
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zero. you know why? because there is nothing. but they can play that game, but we can play it better. because we have a thing called the united states senate. >> the democrats in the house will have to decide just how much presidential harassment they think is good strategy. i'm not so sure it will work for them. >> i don't think we'll have any scatter shot free lancing in terms of this. we will have a responsibility to honor our oversight responsibilities, and that's the path that we will go down. >> and today donald trump had a message for democrats. investigate me and i'll investigate you. joining me now, congressman jim clyburn, a democrat from south carolina. congressman, thanks so much for joining us. you are in leadership for the party. tell me what the priority for house democrats will be going forward. >> thank you so much for having me, first of all. our priorities are very simple. to do for the american people
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what they elected us to do. and i think the american people demonstrated very clearly on yesterday that they want to see their problems solved. they want to see their issues addressed. they want to see this country come together. i've been saying throughout this campaign that i believe that our real challenge, as elected officials, is to make this democracy work fairly and equitably for everybody. this whole notion about making america great again is not anything we should be concerned with. america is great, it always has been great. our challenge is to make that greatness apply to all americans fairly and equitably and that's what we are going to do. >> well, when you talk about that, my question to you is does that mean working with donald trump to get bills passed, or
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does that mean holding donald trump and his administration accountable for ethics violations, for the russia investigation, et cetera? >> i have no idea why those two would be mutually exclusive. i think you do both of those. we have to do the oversight that the american people elected us to do. but, we have to work with this administration to try to develop legislation that we can pass in the house, senate hopefully will concur and the president will sign into law. we aren't going to do that by eternally battling over every issue that may pop up in the morning news. what we'd rather do is work together. now, that doesn't mean that if the president has a bunch of people out here violating federal law that we are not going to pursue oversight of that. just look at what's been going on with zinke and others. we have to provide oversight.
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we were elected to provide oversight. but we were also elected to make this democracy work for everybody fairly and equitably. >> let me ask you what you want to work with the president on. do you want to work with him on an infrastructure bill? that so far has not been proposed. do you want to work with him and the republicans on potentially repealing and replacing obamacare as they want to do or shoring up the exchanges? do you want to work with him on this 10% tax cut for the middle class that he claims he's already made a plan for that nobody has seen? >> well, i've already offered legislation to do two of those things. number one, to address his tax cut. that tax cut benefitted 83% of the tax cut benefit only 1% of the american people. we want to fix that and make sure that middle income americans get the benefit of this and to make it permanent.
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every time -- this tax cut addressed middle income americans, it made it temporary. we want to make it permanent for middle income americans. we want to get rid of that unfair tax on charities and places of worship. we have never done that before. why are we taxing these people for the first time? we want to get rid of that. and i have introduced legislation to do that, and that's something we can do before this session of congress is over. we want to fix the affordable care act. we knew when we passed it that we were only beginning a process. now today we must protect people about pre-existing medical conditions and we will work with this president to do that. we want to do what is necessary to put an infrastructure program in place that will provide jobs while at the same time providing services for rural americans, broadband, fixing roads and bridges, putting in water and sewage, doing the kinds of
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things that i have been approaching under my 10, 20, 30 formula. every time i talk about 10, 20, 30, people say that is a great idea, why aren't you doing it? well, i thank speaker ryan into putting that in sections of the appropriations bill. what we need to do is make that broadly applicable to all communities, to all people fairly and equitably. if we were to do that, i think the american people will reward us handsomely in the next election. if we don't, and go off on a tangent following this president down rabbit holes, we'll be in serious trouble when we go back before the american people. >> first, i do want to get you on the record for this. you are a member of the congressional black caucus. >> yes. >> your caucus has said that they want somebody in the top two leadership positions. you've already said that you want to be majority whip.
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does that mean someone like hakeem jeffries will be challenging steny hoyer for the majority position or is somebody in your caucus going to challenge nancy pelosi? >> katy, that's not what the caucus said. the letter from chairman cedric richmond said simply we want -- if there is a change at the top of our leadership, we will vie for one of the top two slots. that's what it said. if there is no change, nancy remains number one, dozeny remains number two, then jim clyburn is going to make a run to remain number three. >> got it. so let me ask you this. if nancy pelosi does not get enough votes to be speaker of the house, will you step up and throw your hat in the ring to be speaker of the house? >> well, that could be. that's a possibility. we'll cross that bridge when we get to it. as it stands now, i'm running for whip and i fully expect for
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the leadership to stay in place as it currently is. >> all right. that's good to know. one last question. you talked about following the president down rabbit holes. mitch mcconnell, you just heard him a moment ago in the lead-in to this conversation saying that the democrats need to decide, he called it harassment. i think you guys would call it oversight or investigations, how much they want to do of this president and how much they think will be effective. when you say rabbit holes, do you mean following him or launching too many investigations? >> no. i mean following him out in pursuit of a caravan that's no threat to the american people. i mean talking about constructing the wall that would be ineffective. we want to protect the borders. we think that we can wall off the borders to the south using updated and what i would like to call internet efficient
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processes that we can work with the law enforcement officers with and be effective. building a cement wall to provide jobs for favorite contractors that will not do anything to secure the border is a rabbit hole that we ought not go down. we ought to work with this president securing the border, using the electronic mechanisms that we know we can use to do it. we use it for everything else, so why won't we use it to secure the southern border? that's what i mean by rabbit holes. >> got it. south carolina congressman jim clyburn. congressman, thanks for joining us and congratulations on the house win for the democrats last night. >> thank you very much. i appreciate it. >> and we know democrats will control the house and republicans the senate, but by how much is still too close to call. i would like to take a moment to address my fellow veterans.
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despite democratic control of the house, republicans have a lot to be pleased about today. they have not only retained control of the senate, they have
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added seats. meanwhile a number of races are too close to call, which could provide even more pickups for the gop. republican martha mcsally holds a narrow lead in a race for arizona's open senate seat. rick scott declared victory in florida last night, but right now senator bill nelson has refused to concede, and that race may be poised for a recount. meanwhile, on the gubernatorial side andrew gillum conceded to ron desantis in florida. and in georgia, stacey abrams and brian kemp are still locked in battle, although kemp is up at the moment. it's unclear whether that race will go into a runoff. joining me from naples, florida, nbc news political reporter ali vitali and from decatur, georgia, rehema ellis. ali, first to you. what's happening in florida? why has nelson not conceded and does he expect to be able to narrow the margin to force a
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recount? >> reporter: so in the nelson race there is probably going to be a recount there. there's a reason he's not conceding and it's because they're already within to 0.5 percentage point margin where an automatic recount is already triggered. on the other side of the spectrum we have the florida's governor's race and that race has not hit that threshold. they're at 0.6%. in conversations with the guillm folks, there's no expectations that they'll move forward to the recount unless it drops to 0.5. but the scott campaign is not that pleased that the bill nelson campaign is trying to push this recount. they said in a statement from a spokesman, this race is over. it's a sad way for bill nelson to end his career. he is desperately trying to hold on to something that no longer exists. that's from a scott spokesman. the nelson campaign is going to push forward with this recount effort. i know that florida is no stranger to recounts, but maybe some of our viewers might be so i was looking up a little bit of the timeline on this today. really the first thing that we're going to see is on saturday, there's the first unofficial round of ballots of
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canvassing due to the secretary of state's office in tallahassee from all of the counties here in florida. and so saturday is the first day we'll see movement on this recount effort going forward. as someone warned me last night, all these races in florida are always close. there's a reason why we love this, it's a swingy swing state, so this is one of the things that all the campaigns prepare for. someone said to me you prepare for a recount in florida like you prepare to brush your teeth every morning. >> a swingy swing state. as long as there are no hanging chads, i think people will be happy. rehema, georgia is not a swingy swing state, georgia is a red, red, red state. the fact that stacey abrams kept it so close with brian kemp is a feat in itself for democrats, especially progressive democrats. right now, though, it looks like brian kemp is up a bit. neither party, neither candidate has yet declared themselves the winner. neither candidate has conceded. when do we expect some
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information on where this race is headed? >> reporter: there might be a good chance that we'll hear something next week, perhaps as early as tuesday. that's what we're hearing from the secretary of state's office about all of this. but you make a very good point. you were in the room for that watch party last night, katy, as it was a defiant stacey abrams who came out and said she still thinks she has a road to victory even though she is trailing in the numbers. meanwhile brian kemp, her republican opponent, he, however, thinks the numbers are on his side. take a listen. >> there are votes left to count, but we have a very strong lead. and folks, make no mistake, the math is on our side to win this election. we are waiting on the final results, but i'm confident that victory is near. >> but i'm here tonight to tell
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you votes remain to be counted. there are voices that are waiting to be heard. across our state folks are opening up the dreams of voters in acty ballots, and we believe our chance for a stronger georgia is just within reach. >> reporter: she believes those absentee ballots could be critical. between the absentee ballots, she thinks there's about 15,000 of them that could narrow the gap between her and brian kemp, which would mean that would lead this into a special runoff election and that, she thinks, would give her an opportunity to still have a chance at winning this. as we pointed out at the beginning, however, the count is what everybody is waiting on and that may not come until tuesday so we've got to wait until then. katy. >> yes, we do. as i said last night, georgia remains on our minds. i don't have any jokes, that's about all i have. rehema ellis and ali vitali, ladies, thank you so much. a number of undecided races
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in california could further expand the democrats control of the house. nbc hasn't yet called the race for the state's 48th district, but it's looking increasingly like democrat harley rouda will unseat dana rohrabacher. rohrabacher, the controversial republican, once dubbed vladimir putin's favorite congressman. joining me from yoirvine, california, harley rouda. harley, thanks for joining us and congratulations on making it this far, i should say. if you do pull it off and right now you are leading a little bit in the polling. if you do pull it off in very red orange county, what will the message be from voters down there to the country, to republicans specifically? >> the message will be that people want elected officials and politicians to get back to the middle doing the work of their country and their community. that's what our campaign has been all along, common sense for
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common ground. i'm thrilled we're almost there. we still have some votes to count but we're getting close to the finish line. >> why do you think there's been a realignment if not a blue wave? and i say realignment because that's the way our politics team here at nbc news has framed it because we didn't see -- we didn't see low turnout among one party. we didn't see low turnout or decreased enthusiasm among republicans. they won in some rural areas and they won some senate seats. why do you think it was a realignment? >> i'll leave that to the pundits. the one thing i am excited about is that people across the country came out to vote. that's what our founders wanted us to do, debate the issues but get out and vote. eventually we've got to work together and i'm hoping in this new congress that we will see bipartisan efforts that our country so desperately wants. >> how much do you think house democrats should investigate the president of the united states? should they try to get donald trump's taxes? should they even think about impeaching donald trump as some
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voters have said they want it? >> i think the first step here is make sure that mueller has the time to do the breadth and depth that his investigation deserves. let's see what that says. let's go from there. let's not jump the starting line here. there's a lot of important histories we need to work on for our country. that one will take care of itself as time goes by. >> how much will you work with republicans. >> absolutely, can't wait to work with them because that's what we have been elected to do. first of all, i've got to win this election, right, but assuming that happens, i'm prepared to reach across the aisle and put the work of our country and our communities forward. >> and if you do win, who will you vote for for speaker of the house? >> you know, i want to see who all is running and do appropriate due diligence and then make a decision at that time. >> so not an automatic yes to nancy pelosi? >> no. i've said all along i've got to win this race, which i still have not won, and then do
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appropriate due diligence and make an appropriate decision. >> i've asked you again so i tried to get you again. harley rouda. harley, good luck out there. we'll be watching your race. >> thank you. last night was big for democrats in the upper midwest was well. democratic candidates won three key gubernatorial races in pennsylvania, michigan and wisconsin. wisconsin proved to be one of the biggest stories of the evening in fact. democrat tony evers beating out incumbent scott walker in what was a pretty tight race. this was a region that surprised democrats when it largely went for donald trump in 2016. but did last night signal that democrats have officially rebuilt their blue wall? joining me from madison, wisconsin, nbc news reporter shaquille brewster and in columbus, ohio, senior election analyst from real clear politics, shawn trendy. shaq, i'll start with you. what happened last night in wisconsin? why did scott walker go down?
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>> reporter: katy, this is a major pickup opportunity for democrats who finally were able to defeat the man they have been trying to go after since 2010, who they have been losing to since 2010. it looks like democrats were able to get out their key voters. we're talking about places like madison, wisconsin, where we are now. dane county. tony evers was able to collect almost 75 percentage points. you go over to milwaukee, tony evers performing extremely well there. not only getting their voters out but limiting walker to his strong holds. if you look at the wow counties are the counties that surround milwaukee, walker pulling in slimmer margins than he did in his last re-election in 2014. so to be clear, walker has not conceded this race, tony evers is accepting victory. he says he will be the next governor, but walker has not conceded or granted a concession call yet. they sound like they're in for a long fight and they say this may be a long drawn-out recount process.
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>> shawn, we might have to go in a moment for chuck schumer who will be addressing reporters, but let's first try to get into this conversation. michigan, pennsylvania and minnesota all getting a number of democrats including some governor seats. does that mean the blue wall is rebuilt? >> well, i think people overestimated how much of a crack there was in it. i mean those were very close states in 2016, so it didn't have to go much the other way. you still have some issues in michigan. debbie stabenow had a closer race than expected, but as of right now i think democrats in those states have to be pretty pleased with how things turned out? >> what about ohio? >> ohio is interesting because it went the other way. democrats were hoping they could rebuild some of what they lost in the industrialized northeast of the state and it came back a little but not as much as they needed. it was a really surprising night and we'll be digging into those returns for a long time. >> what is your big takeaway from what happened in the upper
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midwest in 2018? >> well, i think the upper midwest is still where the action is at. there are a couple of states, ohio and iowa, where donald trump's margins seemed to hold. they eroded a bit but not too much. there's going to be all-out war in two years in pennsylvania, wisconsin, michigan and minnesota. >> and what do voters want there? >> i think voters want people who are going to listen to them and address their needs. i think they were hoping donald trump would do that as president. i think there have been a lot of distractions he's let get in the way of doing that. democrats will have their shot now. >> why did democrats win? what was the message? was it individually tailored to each of the races or was it a larger national message? >> well, the democrats did a good job of fielding quality candidates who were a little bit more moderate which up in the midwest tends to appeal to people. i think cordray here in ohio got tagged as a little bit more liberal than the state is comfortable with. at the end of the day the president's unpopularity drove the results in a lot of the
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states. >> that can't bode well in 2020 if you're donald trump. shaquille brewster, you look cold, my friend. what last night will mean for the russia investigations. remember those? the president is saying game on.
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and we have breaking news. this question was asked earlier at donald trump's news conference. he did not answer it or didn't really answer it, but he is now officially it looks like, if not fired or allowed jeff sessions, the attorney general, to resign. take a look at these tweets from the president just now.
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we're pleased to announce that matthew g. whitaker, chief of staff to attorney general jeff sessions at the department of justice will become our new acting attorney general of the united states. he will serve our country well. we thank attorney general jeff sessions for his service and wish him well. a permanent replacement will be nominated at a later date. pete williams is with us now. pete, what happened? i guess this was somewhat expected if not expected this particular afternoon. >> yes. first of all, jeff sessions, i'm going to hold it up here to get clear of the graphics, jeff sessions has sent this letter to the white house chief of staff. the first line of it says this. at your request, i am submitting my resignation. the letter is addressed to the president, but it was delivered through the chief of staff. there's no -- curiously there's no date on the letter, so i don't know when jeff sessions wrote this letter, but he presented it today. again, it says at your request i am submitting my resignation. then he goes on to say what a
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pleasure it's been to be attorney general. what he thinks he's done as attorney general, some of the things that he believes he's accomplished. he concludes by saying i've been honored to serve as attorney general and have worked to implement the law enforcement agenda based on the rule of law that formed a central part of your campaign for the presidency. thank you for that opportunity, mr. president, and it's signed jeff sessions. so the man that the president has apparently chosen to act as attorney general, matt whitaker, is a former u.s. attorney in iowa during the bush administration, and he has been chief of staff to the attorney general now for a little over a year. under the federal vacancies act, the president can make anyone who's had a senior position at the justice department acting attorney general. so let's think this through here, katy. what this means is that rod rosenstein will no longer be the person in charge of overseeing
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the robert mueller investigation. because under the special counsel rule, it's the attorney general who oversees the special counsel. now, that wasn't jeff sessions. he recused himself because of his work on the trump campaign. that is, of course, something that has been a continuous irritation to president trump, who apparently didn't see that coming or at least wasn't told by his staff that jeff sessions would have to recuse because of the work he did on the trump campaign. the recusal statute reads like it it was practically written for jeff sessions because he was involved in the campaign. so now that someone else is going to act as attorney general, that recusal issue will no longer be an issue. so matt whitaker will now oversee the mueller investigation. it won't be rod rosenstein doing that anymore. >> pete, do we know anything about whitaker and how he stands on this investigation, on the russia investigation?
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>> no, he's never taken any public positions on it. his name may be familiar. he was i conservative commentator for cnn for some period, i don't know how long, but he's been the attorney general's chief of staff now for about my recollection is about a year, ever since jody hunt, who was the original chief of staff, became the head of the civil rights division at the justice department, left that job to become head of the civil rights division at justice. so a lot of moving parts here. the president normally speaking when there's a vacancy in the office of attorney general, the law says that the principal -- the principal, the number two person takes over, and that would normally be rod rosenstein. normally the deputy attorney general would act as attorney general. this is what's happened before. for example, when janet reno stepped down, eric holder became the acting attorney general. so this is the normal procedure for these things.
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but there is a separate federal law, the federal vacancies act that the president has used before that allows him to put someone else in that job and that's what apparently he intends to do here. >> pete, let's read into this, why didn't he put rod rosenstein into that position? >> well, your guess is as good as mine. he doesn't explain it here. as you know, the president has been critical of rod rosenstein, although in recent days he seemed to have a sort of coming together of minds with the deputy attorney general after that "new york times" story suggesting that the deputy attorney general wanted to have somebody wear a wire around the president, which rosenstein strongly denied. so now, you know, he's chosen someone else. he's been critical of rosenstein in the past, thought he wasn't aggressive enough, and i frankly don't think it's a big surprise that he didn't allow rod rosenstein to take over as attorney general. i don't think anyone expected that the president would do that. >> pete williams, i know you
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have to get to our sister, nbc news, for a special. come back when you are cleared from that. let's go over to my colleague, ari melber, who's just joined us. ari, what do you -- what's your takeaway from this and what do you think happens next? >> this is a huge deal, as you know, appeared as you were just discussing. this is a game-changer for how the justice department runs. there is no department in the u.s. government that president trump has openly clashed with as much as the justice department. the legalities of this will play out. you were just discussing some of them. the president does as a general matter have a lot of authority to make these determinations, that is to demand a resignation, to replace with an acting. but the long-term road is still the senate having a big role to play. it's a senate that is ever crucially in control by republicans even after -- more strongly after last night. so i think one of the big questions that are raised, katy tur, is number one, what else is
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behind the scenes regarding the russia probe, what is the status of any open questions there. rod rosenstein would presumably still be overseeing bob mueller, but then when you go into the recusal situation you have that whole debate. number three, what has donald trump done behind the scenes about this? obviously he didn't release this before the press conference but he's doing it now to take up attention and dominate over anything that might have been discussed regarding the elections last night. then you're going to have a house come in that is controlled by democrats. i spoke last night to jerry nadler, the incoming judiciary chair. he said anything that looks like sabotaging the mueller probe they will take very seriously with all options on the table when they take the gavel in the house. >> we also have nbc's kelly o'donnell at the white house. kelly, you've got reporting for us? >> reporter: sarah sanders tells us that this resignation letter was submitted by attorney general jeff sessions today and the president accepted it today. so jeff sessions was clearly aware of the environment in which he has been working and
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offered this to the president and this transpired today. that historically is a pattern we've seen before, that the day after midterms you get that cabinet shake-up. clearly the president was aware of this during his lengthy news conference. now when you look back on his comments regarding changes in his cabinet, he did not want to break that news at the moment and instead things are unfolding as we see now. the president also has the advantage of an increased margin in the senate, which could make confirming an eventual successor to replace jeff sessions, that confirmation process may be easier just simply on the math, not knowing who that person will be or what the circumstances will be. but for the president being able to make changes in his cabinet that require senate confirmation become a bit easier in the way things are shaking out with the map that we saw play out across the country in those senate elections.
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so the resignation submitted today, accepted today. of course it's been one we've seen for many, many months. at first there were republican senators in the earlier phases of this administration saying that the president should not in any way challenge jeff sessions because there wouldn't be an appetite to find a replacement who would be confirmed. that began to change over time and now the era of jeff sessions has come to an ending. katy. >> and our own geoff bennett spotted jeff sessions and his family at the white house, i guess, over the weekend. >> yes, with grandchildren. >> which is interesting. >> taking some photos. >> matt miller is with us, a former doj spokesman. matt, what can you tell us about matthew whitaker, the chief of staff to the attorney general who is now going to be the interim attorney general? >> i think for anyone who wants to protect the integrity of the mueller investigation, this is really the worst possible choice. matthew whitaker before he joined the justice department actually wrote an op-ed that laid out a blueprint for how you
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could starve the mueller investigation of funds and bring it to an end. the president has now picked him, i think not coincidentally to be the acting attorney general. there ought to be a principle at the justice department that no one can pick the person who oversees the investigation, including the president. that's exactly what the president has done here. by forcing jeff sessions out, he made it clear that this resignation was at his request. and then picking someone to replace him, not just any person but one of the few people at the justice department who's weighed in on the record criticizing the mueller investigation. i'm not sure you could finding anyone else in the current ranks of doj that you could say that about. that's the person he's picked to elevate to this investigation. i don't think that's a coincidence. and if you look at the time that he's done this, i think we are -- i think everyone knows we are kind of in the critical ending stages of the mueller investigation. we are now at the point where he's going to have to get approval from his supervisor, whether that's rod rosenstein or matt whitaker as it would now appear to be to bring further indictment on the u.s. side for
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conspiracy. if he wants to send a report to congress finding the president obstructed justice or other crimes, he'd have to get permission from his supervisor to do so. the president has now reached into the justice department and picked someone who appears to be hostile to that investigation. it is really red alert time for anyone who cares about it. >> matt, how can whitaker hamstring this investigation if, and that is still an if, if he chooses to do so? >> the very simple way would not be to fire bob mueller. everyone is worried that the president would finding a way to get rid of mueller. that wouldn't be the smart way, it would be disruptive and lead to mass protests. the smart way to simply be to say no. when mueller seeks approval to indict people, to say no. if mueller finishes with a report, the new acting a.g. could say thank you for that report, i'll take it under advisement, put it in a desk drawer and never turn it over to congress. even if mueller found that the president committed a crime, the acting attorney general could sit on that and resist turning
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it over to congress. for the president to have made this choice, there ought to be strong calls for matt whitaker, given both what he said about this investigation in the past and given that the president has now picked him to oversee an investigation into himself, there ought to be very strong calls for him to recuse himself and leave this investigation to the deputy attorney general who's been supervising it all along. >> is there anything besides calls that can be done to remove him from this position or to ensure that the mueller investigation is not touched? i mean earlier today, matt, the president had a news conference and he was threatening republicans. he was threatening them by saying if you don't cozy up to me, you won't win re-election. i think it was a message that was heard pretty loud and clear across the steps of capitol hill. so presumably, and i don't know this for sure, but let's go under the acting assumption that republicans don't go out and say that this man is not the person we want to oversee this investigation. i don't think i'm going out on a limb when i say that.
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but if they don't do that, what can the democrats do? they only now have authority over the house? >> from a practical operational standpoint, there's nothing you can do to stop the president from doing this. but i will say there are people at the justice department who if they don't like this, they don't believe that the president ought to pick the person who oversees an investigation into him, they ought to make this known. this is a time for the people in the justice department to stand up for the independence of that department and resign if they feel they're being short circuited. for people in congress, democrats, it's the time to make known that, look, when we take power in early january, you're going to get subpoenas from us and anyone who participates in covering up this investigation, anyone who participates in trying to shut it down, we're going to drag you in front of this committee and make you testify to the american public about what you did. and i think for everyone out there in the country who mine watching this who cares about the rule of law, it is time to take to the streets, because this is a severe active, ongoing threat to this investigation. >> matt miller, thank you very much. ali velshi, i don't know if you
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had 2:46 as the time of day that the president would make this announcement for jeff sessions. if you did, you won the lottery today. certainly this was one of the top things on everybody's mind as the midterms ended. donald trump clearly very unhappy with jeff sessions, also very unhappy with rod rosenstein. what would happen to them once the midterm election season was over? we got our answer on jeff sessions. we will still wait to see what happens with rod rosenstein. >> that's the big question. that's the big question. and after an hour and a half long press conference in which the president covered a lot of ground, very interesting that he waited until after that to do this. but the question is what this means for the rosenstein investigation overseeing mueller's investigation. i know you were talking about that and we'll continue to do so, katy, thank you. good afternoon, everyone, i'm ali velshi. we're starting with that major breaking news. attorney general jeff sessions is out. in an abrupt tweet last hour, the president wrote we are pleased to announce that mt. you g. whitaker, chief


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