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tv   MTP Daily  MSNBC  December 23, 2019 2:00pm-3:00pm PST

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my thanks to jonathan, basil, jason, and jackie. "mtp daily" with kristen welker in for chuck starts right now. welcome to monday. it's "meet the press daily." good evening. i'm kristen welker in new york in for chuck todd. we just got another indication that this last full week of 2019 is going to be a pretty good preview of what to expect in the first few weeks of 2020. a partisan battle over looming impeachment trial in the senate, a battle that continues to be waged over the terms of that trial. just moments ago, we heard from senate minority leader chuck schumer, who called on president trump and senate majority leader mitch mcconnell to allow witnesses to testify in that senate impeachment trial.
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schumer also demanded the white house release specific documents and e-mails that could shine more light on the hold on military aid to ukraine. take a listen. >> we say to president trump, release the e-mails. let your aides testify. we say to leader mcconnell, a fair trial with the facts. only the facts. >> schumer's comments come after the trump administration released a series of e-mails to the center for public integrity. in one e-mail, a senior budget office official wrote to the pentagon's controller about the hold on military aid to ukraine on july 25th. that's less than two hours after president trump's infamous call with ukraine's president. it reads, quote, given the sensitive nature of the request, i appreciate your keeping that information closely held to those who need to know to execute the direction. now, democrats say that proves the white house was aware that the nature of that hold was
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somehow improper. but republicans say that that is not the case. and the white house is saying that those e-mails were, effectively, taken out of context. so joining me to discuss all of this, nbc news chief white house correspondent hallie jackson. and nbc news correspondent heidi przybyla. hallie jackson traveling with the president in florida. do we have -- hallie, we haven't heard a whole lot from the white house about these newly-released e-mails. what are your sources telling you? and any indication they're going to comply with what chuck schumer's demanding? >> so that would be i think, kristen, breaking with the precedent that the white house has set so far in this process. right? you and i at the white house back home in washington and even here over these last few days in mar-a-lago have watched as the white house has been very consistent. they do not want to cooperate or at least share information or witnesses or documents with what they perceive to be this partisan investigation. this partisan impeachment led by house speaker nancy pelosi.
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so any change would have to have been instigated by something dramatic at this point. and unfortunately, i get the sense that chuck schumer's letter isn't going to cut it, right? that's simply not dramatic enough for this white house. and laying those out. keep in mind, the president is getting backup from his republican allies. for example, you had louisiana senator john kennedy out today. also echoing what we have heard from senator mitch mcconnell today and others. which is that they believe that this impeachment simply is not fair. the democrats are trying to sit on these articles of impeachment led by the speaker. and so without a significant crack in the wall of gop support here, it's difficult to see what incentive the white house has to, frankly, reverse course and provide democrats what they're looking for, which are these documents related to, for example, ukraine. that said, kristen, i would just note it's interesting to watch the documents that we are seeing, right? and the ones we have seen over the last 72 hours have come not from the white house releasing them but from freedom of
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information act requests, right? these foias submitted by outside groups like news organizations, like the center for public integrity. >> great point, hallie. heidi, pick up on that point, if you would. clearly no indication that the white house is going to comply or change course, as hallie notes. what is the strategy that you are seeing play out? because right now, we have a lot of tweets from president trump directed at house speaker nancy pelosi. >> well, this perfectly illustrates why speaker pelosi is pursuing the strategy that she is and withholding the articles. because she knows that once she sends them over to the senate, democrats effectively have no control anymore. unless they can find sympathetic republicans. and so far, they're just not seeing them. so what this e-mail underscores is that there is much more information being held under wraps by the white house that there is, in fact, a paper trail. that shows us that the timeline here is very poignant.
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okay? it tells us that within 90 minutes of the president asking for investigations of biden's son, that that hold, which they had been discussing previously, was formalized. it was formalized until the e-mail from duffy to the pentagon. and then 24 hours after that, kristen, what did we see? we saw gordon sondland confirming with the president, loudly, over a cell phone, that they had pressured president zelensky into acquiescing to those investigations. so all of this is very important. it underscores that these omb officials, who have more information, are refusing to testify. we know from mark sandy, who was the one omb official who testified behind closed doors, that at least two omb staffers quit. one of them, because they were concerned that there was a violation of the law that the president was withholding aid that was congressionally-appropriated. and they weren't being given
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reasons why. also, remember that in the testimony that we saw before the intelligence committee, that there was someone -- there was one of the witnesses who testified that they heard an omb official saying that order came from trump. mr. duffy could tell us whether that's accurate. >> heidi, just to follow up. do we have any sense that there have been any negotiations between leader mcconnell and chuck schumer? are they getting anywhere? or is this a standoff that is just deepening by the minute? >> it's a standoff through the holidays, which i have to say, like i think we're all personally thankful for that a little bit just in terms of the timing. but it is a real standoff. that we don't know how that's going to end because, you know, leader mcconnell is technically accurate that in 1999, there was an agreement between trent lott and tom dashel at the time to effectively set out a framework for the logistics. and then later, they had a partisan fight over the witnesses. but there is a big difference, kristen, between today and 1999.
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and that is that the witnesses in 1999 had already provided -- provided grand jury testimony. we knew what they were going to say. bill clinton had provided a blood sample. in this case, all of the key witnesses are refusing to testify. >> and, hallie, you've talked about the fact that, yes, the president is there in florida. but his team is pretty busy at work on this, right? >> oh, yeah. and i've talked to sources in and around the white house, kristen. who point out that, listen, you have to remember the president has his top aides and advisors who flew down with him here to south florida. there will be sort of a shift change, if you will, for mar-a-lago duty at some point over the holidays with other aides and advisors coming in. i've been told they are meeting to work on this plan for the senate impeachment trial. whenever that may end up beginning. what you are hearing from top administration officials is a publicly-projected confidence that there will be a deal, right? you and heidi just talked about are there any negotiations happening? we're in this holiday standoff.
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here's what we know. if there are negotiations happening, they're in public, which is probably not a good sign, right? when you have mitch mcconnell saying i talked to schumer and he said this. and you have schumer saying i talked to mcconnell and told him to think about it over the holidays. that said, white house officials do think there will be some kind of deal made for trial. this isn't going to be hung over them indefinitely. but every minute this goes into january, the end of january, the closer closer it gets to the iowa caucus. >> very important point. ultimately, white house officials feel like they will get to a trial. the question is, when is that going to happen? and of course the political backdrop to all of it. heidi przybyla, hallie jackson. >> political reporter and msnbc political analyst nick confessore. republican strategist susan del percio. also, an msnbc political analyst squchlt from d.c., doug thornell, former senior advisor for the dnc and the dn triple c. so thanks to all of you for
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being here. nick, let me just pick up right there. i mean, how do we get to a trial in the senate when you basically have these two sides that are digging in? >> slowly is the answer. and i think that president trump has already lost all of his leverage when he tweeted last week that he wants a trial as soon as possible. that gave nancy pelosi permission, so to speak politically, to say hold on a second now. so senator mcconnell was out there saying, look, i'm not concerned about the timing here. and then the president comes out and says, oh no wait, i'm very, very concerned. so i think, look. in a sense, pelosi wins either way. if she gets some concessions on the scope of the trial, she wins a little bit. if she gets none, she still has a chance here to extend the period of public discussion over this question of documents and witnesses. and if people, like duffy, are being misconstrued, the obvious answer is, well, construe it for us. you know, provide some documents. provide some witnesses. bring more to the table. instead, it's been a blockade.
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>> susan, let me just read some of what we're hearing from leadership. pelosi tweeting today on a senate impeachment trial, quote, the house cannot choose our impeachment managers until we know what sort of a trial the senate will conduct. president trump blocked his own witnesses and documents from the house and from the american people on phony complaints about the house process. what is his excuse now? this was the response from lindsey graham. trump ally. he says stop playing games with the constitution and our system. you can't be the speaker of the house and the senate majority leader at the same time. the senate will decide how we dispose of this sham created by the house. here's my question. speaker pelosi clearly thinks this is her best leverage. her best chance at pushing for some of these witnesses. to come forward. is this an effective strategy? could she, at the end of the day, actually get some witnesses? >> it's a two-fold strategy that makes sense. first is, she let donald trump twist in the wind for two and a half weeks while he's in
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mar-a-lago. that just is enough to have him just go crazy as it is. the chances of them transmitting the articles of impeachment to the senate when they come back on january 6th is highly likely. but in that interim, they can control, nancy pelosi can control the narrative because all she's asking for is a fair trial. and the public deserves to hear witnesses and see documents. it's a very easy thing for the public to understand. to have a trial, you would have witnesses, of course. like, they don't understand what -- what lindsey graham's talking about. of course, you would have witnesses. of course, you would see documents. this is a trial. so i think that's the narrative she's trying to build. which she can do over this time and really just let the president go off on twitter. >> doug, i don't have to tell you this but republicans are piling on, essentially, saying that she's playing politics. i want to just play a few of the comments that we're hearing and get your reaction on the other side. >> yeah. as i said repeatedly, we can't take up a matter we don't have.
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and so hopefully, it'll -- they'll be on the way over at some point. >> speaker pelosi is now telling the senate you're prevented or you're -- i'm prohibiting you from doing something you really don't want to do. unless you do it in a way that i approve of. and it's -- it's very odd. >> i think it's a mistake on the speaker's part. i think this is pretty political anyway. and this is sort of the icing on the political cake. where at the end, the speaker still can't let go of this as an issue to try to wring the last vestige of politics out of. >>. do >> doug, i know a lot of democrats wanted speaker pelosi to take this strategy. they wanted her to play hardball effectively. but does she run the risk of having this backlash not only on democrats in those house races but of course presidential candidates potentially as well? >> i don't think so. and, you know, john kennedy, i
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just don't think has any credibility. he's been pushing russian propaganda for the last month about ukraine hacking the dnc. so i just don't -- i don't even listen to what he has to say. but i would say that i think the speaker has played this whole thing perfectly. you know, the house has done their job. and i think these e-mails show that were just released, show how important it is that we have a fair, honest, and open trial. where there's witnesses. now, the one thing is, is that i think we're just underestimating the ability of -- of -- of mcconnell to not really care about what's in the best interest of the country and do what's in the best interest of the party. much like he did with merit garland. so i'd be surprised if he acquiesces to anything. >> let me, doug, follow up with you on something leader mcconnell said today on fox news. he said, look, i'm getting criticism for saying i'm not going to be an impartial juror. he said, look, do you think
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elizabeth warren will be impartial? will chuck schumer be impartial? does he have a point there? that politics is at play for all of them. >> well, i -- look. these aren't traditional jurors in the sense that, you know, when this trial starts, it's not like they're going to be sequestered. right? but i do think that all -- most of these senators are on the record as far as their views of what trump did. but that doesn't mean you don't conduct a fair and open trial where witnesses are called. and where if the -- if the president truly believes and if his defenders truly believe that he did nothing wrong, then you would think he would want to have his -- you know, he would want people to testify to that point. and clear all this up. and then he would have a -- you know, a sort of clean slate to run for re-election. right now, you know, i think their strategy of -- of continuing to block witnesses, documents, you know, look. i think that just makes him look even more guilty. >> susan, what do you make of
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that argument that leader mcconnell is making? that, hey, look, yes. i was just telling the truth. but basically, a lot of the senators are not going to be impartial. have their minds made up. >> you know what? that may be true. this is a partisan, political process. however, they are about to take an oath to carry through and be, in fact, non-partisan and listen to the evidence and come to their conclusion. the fact that lindsey graham, the chair of the -- of the congressional committee -- i mean, that's insane if you think about it. and the -- and leader mcconnell. both are willing to just say, hey, what -- what does my oath mean? i mean, it means nothing. and that's a very interesting thing to say and it's reflective, frankly, in their behavior. their oath to office, their oath to the constitution, and in this process is worthless. it's meaningless because they are not honoring it. >> nick, let me shift gears here for a moment and talk about rudy giuliani. our josh lederman has some new reporting on what he's been up to in ukraine. essentially, digging into
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various different investigations. some of which have been debunked already. relying on some people who aren't necessarily reliable, who are questionable at best. and then he gave this new interview to "the new york magazine." let me read just a part of it. it says -- of giuliani -- if they think, the sdny, that i committed a crime, they're out of their minds. i've been doing this for 50 years. i know how not to commit crimes. and if they think i've lost my integrity, maybe they've lost theirs in their insanity over hating trump with some of the things they did that i never would have tolerated when i was u.s. attorney. what do you make of where rudy giuliani fits in with all of this with president trump saying he's going to release his findings to doj and to the senate? >> i'm sure the mayor hasn't forgotten it's not actually up to him to decide if he's broken the law or not. it's up to prosecutors and they will decide. what's uncanny is his ability to get into new messes over and over and over again.
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sometimes that the new mess is the same as the old mess. he's going back to ukraine and creating more problems for the president. and perhaps he comes up with some kind of a new conspiracy theory. like the old one. but then what's going to happen is the press, the mainstream press, the real press, will take a look at it and probably debunk it if it's a conspiracy theory. then back to square one. >> susan, the president thinks that rudy giuliani is helping him. clearly, he's keeping him very close still. >> well, the president also likes seeing rudy out there just yelling and screaming and defending him. so it's no wonder that the president keeps him close. he also likes the fact that rudy is willing to -- which as someone who worked in the giuliani administration, i can't tell you how opposite this is to everything that was being done when he was mayor. and how he ran the city. but right now, mayor giuliani is willing to go out there and just create messes. and use it as a deflection technique. and it's really sad to see him do it. >> great conversation, guys. stay with me. nick, susan, and doug, we have a
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lot more to discuss. ahead, the speaker's standoff with senate majority leader mitch mcconnell. she's holding off on sending the impeachment articles to the senate. but how long could we be waiting for a trial? and later, north korea says it has a christmas gift for the united states. new satellite images could reveal the potential threat. all that's next. at chevy, we'ret bringing families together. this time of year, that's really important. so we're making it easier than ever to become part of our family. man: that's why our chevy employee discount is now available to everyone. the chevy price you pay is what we pay. not a cent more. family is important to us. and we'd like you to be part of ours. so happy holidays. and welcome to the family. the chevy family! get the chevy employee discount for everyone today. we don't see who you're against, through or for,rs,
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position, we think, for speaker pelosi to say this president is such a clear and urgent danger to the world, to the globe, that we have to basically trample his constitutional rights. to force a quick impeachment. and then say, well, we're going to hold up impeachment papers and articles of impeachment to send to the senate. how can you possibly justify the contrast to say this is urgent to then say, well, we'll have to wait and see. >> welcome back. that was vice president mike pence's chief of staff with chuck yesterday.
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talking about the congressional impasse over a senate impeachment trial. and if anything, that impasse got worse today. not better. mcconnell is in a standoff with white house -- with house speaker nancy pelosi over the articles of impeachment. she does not want to send them over until she knows more about how the senate trial will play out. mcconnell's other stalemate is with senate minority leader chuck schumer who is focused on negotiating the terms for a senate impeachment trial. we have a lot to get to. so let's bring in democratic congressman from new york, gr gregory meeks. >> good to be with you. >> i want to start off with these newly-released e-mails between omb, the pentagon, and the white house. in which effectively they discuss withholding the aid to ukraine less than two hours after president trump had that july 25th phone call. do you think that strengthens the hand of house speaker nancy pelosi? who is saying we will only turn over these articles of impeachment when we are confident that the trial will be fair. >> i think it absolutely does.
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number one, what it shows is that the president is trying to hide and cover up. he didn't give these documents over. this was done by a foia request. and so it raises the question, what else is he trying to hide? and as the foia request continue to happen, you will see more and more. and that's why nancy is saying we need a real trial. because there's so much that this president is trying to hide, you know, not only the testimony of witnesses. but documents. >> congressman, what do you make of omb saying, look, these e-mails are being taken out of context. withholding the aid had been discussed for quite some time. yes, it was also discussed on that day. >> if you have nothing to hide, release everything. why are you holding it back? the proof will be in the pudding. the president keeps talking about, you know, it was a clean call. it was a -- it was a good call. why are you hiding the documents that would exonerate you? let it out.
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let's see. >> when you hear about these newly-released e-mails, though, do you think maybe we should have investigated a little bit longer? maybe the house process was a little too fast? >> no. what i think is what the house process was an indictment. you don't bring out or have to do as -- you know, in an indictment as you do in a trial. >> so you're confident it wasn't rushed? >> no, it's not. we had all the information and it was -- wasn't refuted. the president chose not to refute. so it was no question. we all wanted to hear. you know, in an indictment process, a defendant does not have to testify or anything of that nature. so, therefore, you decide to indict based upon what you've heard. so we've heard everything that we were going to hear. then you turn it over. you indict. then you turn it over for a trial. and that's where we're at now. at a trial, it should be a real trial where the senators are taking another oath of office, basically. they've got to take an oath that they're going to be fair and impartial and listen to all the
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evidence. we already heard from mcconnell, he's not going to do that. so he should then recuse himself. >> well, let me just ask you because if you listen to what happened today, leader mcconnell, chuck schumer, both spoke out. what we basically saw was both sides digging in. is there going to be a senate trial, congressman? >> i think there will be. >> are you confident there will be a senate trial? >> i think there will be, yes. i think the american people want a senate trial. and i think the american people want all of the documents released. and the american people want all of the testimony to be had. and i think mcconnell is going to be put in the box. and i think some of his senators, like senator susan collins and others, will put a little pressure on mcconnell in the end also. >> does house speaker nancy pelosi run the risk of overplaying her hand here? when has she held the impeachment articles for too long? >> have you seen her overplay her hand yet? she has not. she -- when you have the facts on your side, when you have the truth on your side, you can't
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overplay your hand. >> so you're not worried about the political implications of this? >> no. i think that the political -- the political implications will be greater for us as we continue to move on. look. one of the things that we know and we've been consistent. we've not changed who we are and what we've thought. the ones that have changed and flipped and now just become not even -- supporters for the president are the republicans. let's think about mitt romney and -- and -- and senator graham. you know, we should have listened to them back when they first talked to you and i about who donald trump was. all through this impeachment process, you know, i'm listening. and many of my colleagues said, oh, the democrats hated the president from the beginning. we never hated the president. but it was them that hated the president, if you gonna listen to the language. it was them calling them a racist and tell donald trump to go to hell. and he's a race-biding,
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xenophobic, religious bigot. >> who is that you're quoting? >> that's lindsey graham during that campaign. so that was in the beginning. but that was in the beginning. we -- they must've hated him. they used that kind of language. not us. >> let me ask you about something that you raised, which is the fact that leader mcconnell has said, i'm not an impartial juror. he's been very clear about that. he was on fox news today saying, look, elizabeth warren is not going to be impartial. she's called for the impeachment. bernie sanders is not going to be impartial. they've been very tough against president trump. does he have a point there? that almost everyone in the senate has made up their minds here. >> well, the minds on the democratic side, where folks say that they will move, is based upon the evidence that has been presented. the president has the opportunity to present evidence also that could rebut what we've already heard. and what we've heard from ordinary, american citizens who were hard, loyal people, whether
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they were in our military, in our intelligence. so you heard one piece of evidence that's unrefuted. >> very quickly want to shift gears here. you are on the foreign relations committee. i want to get your reaction to north korea, which is dangling some sort of christmas surprise. how concerned are you that there is going to be a ballistic missile test? >> i'm very concerned. i think that the president has played this all wrong from the beginning. and he seems to get play, the president does, by any strong man, like he's got played by putin. he's being played by kim jong-un. and i am very concerned that now north korea probably has more nuclear weapons than it had beforehand. >> just to be very clear, do you have any indication of what kim jong-un is talking about by that christmas surprise? >> no, i'm not sure exactly what he is talking about. but i am very concerned because all of the information i have
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received and that's been backed up by others, that it seems as though he's been continuing to try to get to a nuclear weapon. and -- and so testing is the next step. >> and i should be clear, it's long-range missiles that would concern u.s. officials the most. >> i'm concerned about long and short range because more so concerned about our allies in south korea and japan. and that's the best way to deal with north korea. >> congressman gregory meeks. thank you. happy holidays. thank you for being here. really appreciate it. well, it may be the dead of winter but the race in iowa is heating up. plus, the 2020 democrats' newest target. not donald trump. pete buttigieg. that's when we come back. (children laugh and scream) (dog barking) ♪music
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the mayor just recently had a fundraiser that was held in a wine cave full of crystals. and served $900 a bottle wine. we made the decision, many years ago, that rich people in smoke-filled rooms would not pick the next president of the united states. >> welcome back. tonight in 2020 vision, elizabeth warren uncorked a new line of attack on pete buttigieg's fundraising at last week's debate. and both she and others kept it up over the weekend. >> we don't go to rich people's wine caves.
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this is a campaign of the working class of this country, by the working class, and for the working class. >> i think now, we should decide that we're not going to let billionaires in wine caves pick the next president. >> joining me now is my nbc news colleague josh lederman, who is following the buttigieg campaign today in iowa. so, josh, i know you were just at an event with mayor buttigieg. and he also spoke to the des moines register today. so how is he handling these attacks? >> well, kristen, he doesn't want to give this more oxygen than is necessary. and i got to be honest with you. as we're talking with voters here in iowa, very few of them are talking about these sort of fundraiser, donor issues. and they say they think some of this is kind of petty. but they really want to hear more from the candidates about the issues that directly affect their lives, healthcare,
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immigration, education. but pete buttigieg knows this is getting a lot of attention more broadly. particularly, in the national media as his rivals continue to pile on. and so he's started to find ways to push back on it. somewhat subtly in this event that just wrapped up here, he was talking about education. and he made a point that was kind of interesting. to say, you know, "forbes" ranked me as the poorest of all the competitors in this race. well, who was he talking about there? probably elizabeth warren, who he pointed out in that debate last week, has a net worth of 100 times his. so he's trying to find ways to show that he's not going to take these attacks lying down. without giving them more attention and just adding to the fuel. >> and it's not just these attacks from the left, though, from bernie sanders, from elizabeth warren. he's also getting attacked from center candidates, like amy klobuchar, for example, who says he just lacks experience. what's his response to that? has he addressed that at all today, josh? >> that's been an interesting
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one because that is one that is pretty substantive. and, frankly, that is a question that we hear all the time from voters. that they are reluctant to vote for someone that hasn't had experience higher than serving as the mayor of a city. and he did get into it with amy klobuchar as far as she felt that he had dismissed the experience that a lot of these senators and other experienced candidates have. and his message has really been, look, i've been the executive of an organization. i -- i know how to run a large bureaucracy that has to handle all kinds of different elements of people's lives. and that it's time for people to take a chance on someone who is younger and has some fresh ideas. >> josh lederman, great reporting as always. thank you. appreciate it. and ahead, saudi arabia says it's sentencing five people to death for the killing of journalist jamal khashoggi. but has justice actually been served? we'll take a look at that when we come right back.
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welcome back. one of the dramas during last week's house impeachment vote was swing district members on both sides deciding if they wanted to toe the party in line in the face of a divided electorate back at home. but it turned out with just a couple exceptions, republicans and democrats voted with their respective parties on both impeachment articles. now that we know how these members voted, the question is how these votes will be seen back in their districts in november. joining me now is one of the most knowledgeable people out there on house elections, dave wasserman. he's house editor and an nbc news contributor. dave, thanks for being here. >> thanks, kristen. >> so let's start right there. what type of impact do you think this impeachment process, this vote in the house will have on 2020? the re-election chances. >> kristen, we have reached a opponent of near total polarization where you don't win more friends by breaking from your party than you lose allies. jeff van drew found that out the
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hard way. he assumed going into this that he could just take a pass on impeachment and still have the support of democrats back home. that turned out to be false. and so democrats in other districts that voted for trump felt, you know, they had no choice but to stick with the party line. even if they aren't enthusiastic, necessarily, about this process. keep in mind there are 31 democrats representing districts trump carried in 2016. if i really had to narrow it down to the democrats who could face the biggest risk back home in their districts over their vote, it would be the dozen democrats from places where trump got more than 50% of the vote. people like abigail spanburger in richmond, virginia suburbs. people like alyssa slotkin in michigan. but also, people who aren't freshmen. matt cartwright is a democrat from scranton, pennsylvania. so there is some risk for those dozen democrats.
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the good news for democrats is they can afford to lose up to 18 seats and still hold the majority. >> well, and you bring up jeff van drew. did he effectively save his job by switching parties? i was there in the oval office when the president announced it. a significant move. it was a significant way for him to express his opposition to the impeachment vote. and clearly, very political. >> well, had he voted in favor of impeaching the president and remained a democrat, he still would've had a path to re-election for sure. it's not as if trump is above 50% in his approval in that kind of district. keep in mind that there is still a sizeable share of voters in the middle. maybe 10 to 15% of the electorate who, you know, they don't main line cable news. they're not watching us right now. they're probably not watching fox. they are relatively non-political people. but they are going to decide the 2020 election. they may think trump is morally bankrupt. or that his tweets are reckless. but they also don't see impeachment as affecting their lives. and they are focused on healthcare and the economy.
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>> well, and taking a step back, that is the question. how long of a memory do voters have in some of these swing districts? or are they ultimately going to care more about issues like healthcare and the economy, education, for example, dave? >> well, it goes back to what won democrats the 2018 mid-terms and that was tying president trump and congressional republicans to that unpopular healthcare bill. to a tax cut that they, effectively sold middle income districts as a giveaway to the rich. and in wealthy districts adversely affecting homeowners. so, you know, democrats have to get back to those pocketbook issues if they are going to both capitalize on that anger at trump that's driving high democratic base turnout. but also, reach across and win those persuadable voters that matter the most in those six battleground states that are really going to decide whether trump remains in office beyond 2020. >> and one thing that we do know is that president trump is likely going to go after those
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democrats who are in trump districts. and we saw in "the new york times" this weekend, former representative dave trott, speak out about this how he views the party now. that it's nearly impossible to disagree with president trump. he said this. if i was still there in speaking out against the president, what would happen to me, trott said before answering his own question. mr. trump would have lashed out and pressured house gop leaders to punish him. it is remarkable the extent to which republicans feel as though he really has a stranglehold over the party. >> kristen, i've spoken to numerous republican members of congress who believe that donald trump is wildly unfit for office. but they know that if they were to come out and say that -- that -- that trump should be impeached, it would be akin to announcing that they're going to retire. there's simply no room for dissent in a party that's increasingly synonymous with donald trump. and on the democratic side, there's no payoff for breaking
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from the party, you know, unless you're the one democrat in a district that voted for 30 points for donald trump, which is colin peterson in minnesota. but those are really increasingly hard to come by in this very polarized era. >> dave, bottom line and very quickly, is the middle just shrinking? is that what we're witnessing? >> yeah. we measured there were 164 swing districts in 1998. today, there are 72. so we have seen a 56% decline in competitive districts. we also have a highly-polarized electorate right now. where, essentially, you've got razor-thin margins deciding american elections. much as, you know, profit margins between two warring, you know, major companies in a certain economic sector are very thin. >> fascinating conversation. dave wasserman. thank you and happy holidays to you. really appreciate it. >> happy holidays. >> ahead, the latest on north korea's, quote, christmas gift for the u.s. plus, why john bolton is slamming the white house over how it's handling the
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regime. that's when we come back. steyer: i'm about to say two words that will make washington insiders very uncomfortable: term limits. you and i both know we need term limits, that congress shouldn't be a lifetime appointment. but members of congress, and the corporations who've bought our democracy hate term limits. too bad. i'm tom steyer and i approve this message because the only way we get universal healthcare, address climate change and make our economy more fair is to change business as usual in washington.
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as we said earlier, north korea's warning of a christmas gift to the u.s. looking more serious today as we get closer to the threatened deadline. north korea issued a warning earlier this month. calling the dialogue with the united states nothing but a foolish trick and warning washington could be on the receiving end of an unwelcome christmas gift. and now, satellite images obtained by nbc news show the expansion of a military site,
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which is used to produce long-range missiles. increasing fears that the regime could conduct a long-range missile test in the coming days. and it comes just as former national security advisor forme adviser john bolton sharply criticized president trump over north korea, saying in an interview with axios that the white house should admit they got it wrong on north korea. back with me now, nick, susan and doug. thanks to all of you for staying with me. doug, let me good out to you first and get your reaction from what we heard from john bolton. he's criticizing president trump. he says time is on the side of the proliferator. the more time there, the more time there is to develop, test, and refine both the nuclear component and the ballistic missile component of the program. >> look, i don't typically agree with john bolton, but i do think what he is highlighting is an incoherent foreign policy and national security strategy by this administration on north
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korea. i think we have seen this president just getting played by kim jong-un throughout this whole process, and, you know, kim jong-un figured out trump pretty quickly. you be nice to him. you throw him a nice warm welcome, and you become his friend, and then you neuter him, and that's basically what happened here in the sense that he no longer -- he's not pushing north korea to do much of anything right now, because that's his buddy. and i think that type of relationship we're seeing with trump across the globe in terms of having our enemies figure trump out, and he has been played in so many different countries, and he has made our country less safe. >> president trump, nick, would argue, look, talking is better than not talking. at least there is a chance for some type of a broader deal here. what other course of action could he be taking? he'd be saying well, bolton was
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a hawk, and that's ultimately why we disagreed on so many different issues. >> some talking can be good, but in this case it looks like the president inherited among the hardest and intractable problems in american foreign policy, and he made it worse. he gave north korea a bunch of things north korea wanted while pushing away our allies and south korea. it's a strong argument to return to the status quo as a starting point, bring them back into the fold and resume exercises from there. >> is that the problem that there aren't that many good options left at this point? >> nick is right. we are worse today with north korea than we were three years ago. but here's the biggest problem i have with this administration. they lie about it. it's one thing to say that we have an issue and we want to -- we're trying to come talk it through because that's better than taking military action. i'm good with that. but when you say everything is perfect and i say i get love notes from kim jong-un and there is nothing to be concerned
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about, that's a lie. and that's deceiving the american public, and that's creating an imaginary foreign policy that simply does not exist. >> i want to shift gears here and talk about jamal khashoggi. saudi arabia convicted five people, but not two of the top officials who are believed responsible for his death. let me read you the white house statement and "the washington post" statement for comparison about how this is being viewed. the white house says this is an important step in holding those responsible for this terrible crime accountable, and we encourage saudi arabia to continue with the fair transparent judicial process. this was "the washington post" publisher fred ryan today. "the complete lack of transparency and the saudi government's refusal to cooperate with independent investigators suggests this was a sham trial. those ultimately responsible at the highest level of the saudi government continue to escape responsibility for the brutal murder of jamal khashoggi." what do you make of this, doug? these two response, very
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different responses that we're seeing? >> yeah, and i think you also saw that among khashoggi's family members. the trial was very secretive. it was closed doors. we don't even know who it was that convicted, and that's a problem, although there has to be some sense of closure for members of khashoggi's family, and that's great. but unfortunately, my biggest concern here with this whole incident is how trump handled it from the beginning. you know, he sort of treated it in the same way he treated russia hacking the election. well maybe the crown prince knew about it, maybe he didn't. and he gave a very tepid response. and i think it sort of set up the table for the sort of the lack of the pressure on saudi arabia to actually do a thorough and fair investigation, because they knew there weren't going to be real consequences. >> susan, how does this impact
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the trump administration's foreign policy? we know that even republican members of the senate have called on the president to get tougher here? it doesn't seem based on this statement that that's what's happening right now. >> of course he won't. and to the point of the five men that were killed were sentenced to death rather, for all we know, they're the ones who know the most about what actually happened. and that could be their biggest crime. but donald trump has proven always that he is transactional. and he says that saudi arabia is a very big economic partner with the u.s., and that's what he's going to keep good relations for because that's what's important to him. we have lost our standing in the world as a leader when it comes to human rights and what's the right thing to do. >> nick, weigh in. will there be a backlash to this, to the white house's response or do you any that this essentially will turn the page ultimately after we're in a holiday week here? >> it will turn no pages whatsoever. and fred ryan of "the washington post" has it right.
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this killing, according to american intelligence, was ordered by the crown prince. it was overseen by a top deputy, and both of those people are going to be unscathed. susan was saying they're killing off the evidence. it's despicable. it was a sham trial. there is no justice for khashoggi right now. >> nick, susan and doug, thanks very much for weighing in on all of those important topics. we'll be right back. [ suspenseful music ] you have a brother in the second battalion? yes sir. they're walking into a trap. your orders are to deliver a message
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that's all for tonight. we'll be back tomorrow with more "meet the press daily." "the beat with ayman mohyeldin" in foreari start rights now. hello, everyone, i'm ayman mohyeldin in for ari melber. welcome to "the beat" on this monday evening. tonight democrats ramping up the pressure for impeachment witnesses after new ukraine revelations. also, neal katyal on why mitch mcconnell is wrong about the senate trial. s are also, a new court filing showi ining democrats are still thinking about more articles of impeachment against the president. we start with new demands for witnesses in the trial of donald trump. those calls getting louder after release of emails sent 90 minutes after trump's infamous ukraine phone call. white house officials ordering the pentagon to stay quiet about the frozen military aid at the heart of this plot. a budget off


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