tv Morning Joe MSNBC December 23, 2020 3:00am-6:00am PST
back to sleep. she's sticking around for "morning joe." this is "way too early" for wednesday morning. "morning joe" starts right now. senator perdue never gave up. he delivered real help for georgians. billions in covid relief, direct checks for georgians. critical funding for vaccine distribution. small businesses, public schools, and help for folks out of work. >> i am asking congress to amend this bill and increase the ridiculously low $600 to $2,000, or $4,000 for a couple. i am also asking congress to immediately get rid of the wasteful and unnecessary items from this legislation. and to send me a suitable bill or else the next administration will have to deliver a covid relief package, and maybe that administration will be me. we will get it done.
>> yeah. >> in the mortal words of abraham lincoln, that administration will be me. are we sure? are we sure he doesn't drink? i mean, i understand -- >> that would be a relief. >> yeah. his brother drank, so he didn't. we've heard that. man, he's got to be on something. it's just full-blown crazy, mika. >> yeah. >> here's the thing, like, if you're going to say that, and i'm sorry to even try to suggest a logical sequencing to the crazy things he does, but if you're going to say that, if you're going to take that position, take it before the election. with this election as close as it is, a lot of democrats are even saying, if he had supported a $1,200, $1,500, i mean, he
could have won the election. now, he's talking $2,000. just break the bank, mika. i'll tell ya, if he had done this earlier, as close as the election was -- and, also, i will say, if he were smart enough to do what i was saying he needed to do every day, which was talk about the economy, talk about the economy, talk about the economy, and then talk about helping people like this -- sure, it's reckless and irresponsible now, but if he'd done this, he's done far more irresponsible things, like trying to undermine american democracy. the guy could have won. now, you have your own team, the republicans, finally out there, finally stuck their neck out there, finally done a deal, and this guy comes tottering in like otis on -- was otis the drunk on "andy griffith show," the one
that kept getting out -- >> loved him. alex, of course, knows. >> he's bumbling around up there like otis, and barney fife, like, let him out of his cell. it is an absolute mess for these poor, poor republicans. who could have ever seen this coming in the last weeks of his presidency? mitch mcconnell. >> i'm wondering. in fact, joe and willie, why don't we start right there. president trump is slamming, slamming the bipartisan covid relief bill in a twitter video posted last night. as you heard at the top there, he is calling for congress to amend this bill and increase the payments to at least $2,000. the disjointed message came as a shock to many of trump's own aides. >> a shock. they're just shocked you're
being irnational. >> they're just shocked. >> republicans and trump aides, you are not allowed to be shocked. that's one area, you can take your shock opera and take it home with you. >> yeah. >> because you're staying in this for some reason. you continue to be shocked? so even people on his economic team were shocked who, hours earlier, praised the legislation. the "wall street journal" notes chief of staff mark meadows kept the video under wraps, okay, within the white house until an hour before it was posted. it is unclear if the president intends to veto the legislation, which has taken months for congress to agree on. >> willie, mark meadows, top of the list of the people that are hanging up -- >> not one for the job. >> no, he'd not be up for the job with any other president, which i guess is why he is clinging on desperately, for
dear life, with this president. he sat there, and mark meadows' name will be in the history books as a guy helping the president of the united states trying to undermine democracy. mark meadows' name will be up there with a guy who was trying to help the president get his political opponent arrested two weeks before the election. mark meadows will be up there as being the guy who is trying to help disenfrn chianchise tens o millions of votes, to get the military involved. he is sitting there, listening while the president is talking about and considering martial law. he is letting people like michael flynn come back into the white house, even after they're on national tv talking about seizing voting machines and having martial law implemented. he's the one who is letting all these people into the white house, fomenting treason and sedition. it is not sedition by any other name. it is not treason by any other
name. it's sedition, it's treason, it is undermining american democracy, and mark meadows is in the middle of it. mark, that's your legacy. nothing else you ever do will be remembered more than you being a willing accomplice, a willing accomplice in donald trump's bunker, while he's trying to undermine american democracy. here, you have, once again, willie geist, republicans being thrown under the bus, being shocked, shocked, stunned, stunned. >> how could he do this? >> that the wild maniac of a president has now turned on them and is now attacking john thune, because he said, "hey, the election is over." i don't know, maybe john likes american democracy. maybe, i'm not sure. or attacking anybody that's not following right along with him.
now, he blows up a bill that's actually the first chance for working class americans. not in donald trump's oligarchy, but working class americans to get a little relief. he doesn't care because he's th. he passes massive tax cuts and tells his billionaire friends at mar-a-lago, "i just made you a lot of money tonight." >> yeah. the republican frustration comes on a couple of fronts. number one, they're there. they're at the finish lynn. they feel like they did the work. the president just had to sign it. checks go out, and everybody goes home for christmas. more importantly, perhaps, is he was completely missing in action for all the reasons you just laid out. he was busy attempting to overturn the election. he's still busy attempting to overturn the election. for months and months and months now, they've been negotiating this bill on capitol hill. in the last month and a half since the election, the president has had no role. mark meadows has had no role. steve mnuchin made some offers.
there's been no role from the white house until the very end, when president trump comes out in front of the holiday decorations and rips it apart, calls it a disgrace. so democrats now are hopping on this. yeah, they want the $2,000 checks, as well. democrats welcoming the president's call for higher relief checks and calling out that hypocrisy. the democrats spent months pushing for at least $2,000 checks, which was met by opposition from republicans, including from the president himself. house speaker nancy pelosi tweeted yesterday, democrats are ready to bring this to the floor this week by knunanimous consen. let's do it, she said of the president's idea. chuck schumer said, maybe trump can finally make himself useful and get republicans not to block it again. let's bring in msnbc correspondent garrett haake. nbc news and msnbc contributor shanna chthomas. and senior correspondent for the "washington examiner," david druker. good morning to you all. garrett, as you cover capitol hill, what was the reaction from
both sides yesterday when president trump released this video and totally blew up this deal? >> reporter: yeah, i mean, this could not have been a bigger debacle for republicans, who barely were able to get this bill over the finish line in the senate with the $600 checks that were in it. remember, everyone left town after this bill passed. i was on the hill all day yesterday. i did not see a single other lawmaker around. they fired off their press releases in the middle of the night the night before, praising the bipartisan nature of this deal, which 92 senators voted for, and then they left. for democrats, i mean, you're effectively dancing in the streets at this. number one, the potential option to get the larger checks across the finish line. talib tweeted a picture of the one-page amendment that will be filed to try to up be number to $2,000. or barring that, to completely embarrass all the republicans who ran on and talked about wanting smaller checks or no checks at all. i'm thinking about ron johnson,
the senator from wisconsin, who twice stood up in the senate to block proposals to raise the check amount to $1,200. this doesn't even get into georgia, which you played that out at the top of the show. david perdue, kelly loeffler needed this. they needed to run on a successful covid relief bill. now, that's completely hung up. i really can't emphasize enough the point about the president being mia in the production of this bill. he put none of his political capital on the line to push for this at any time. this is not someone who has ever been interested in the legislative process, but he was hands off. if this video was in the drafts folder on twitter, and he released it a week ago, he might have gotten bigger checks into the bill. now, we're in this bizarre limbo with congress essentially home, going to try to jam republicans and see if maybe we can, you know -- if congress can get something else done here, if they can raise the number, or if this is going to be a tantrum
thing online. >> garrett, what happens next? you started to answer the question. senators are home. congress is gone. they feel like they had the deal, just needed the president to put his stamp on it. so what happens at this point, if the president says, "i'm not signing that bill"? is everybody coming back to try to get to $2,000 on the checks? is that realistic? >> reporter: so the president is in a weird spot of his own making here. because of the hanging threat to veto the ndaa, congress is never going fully out of session over the holidays. they're going to stay in pro forma. that means one member, essentially, will open and close the floor every couple days. next time that happens is thursday morning, christmas eve. the house will be in session for a few minutes. they will try to pass this by unanimous consent in the house, then likely again in the senate in a couple days. all it takes is one republican or anyone else, for that matter, i suppose, to show up and object to that unanimous consent request. who is going to be the republican to stick their neck out, come back to washington over the holidays, and say, "no,
mr. president, we're not doing this"? >> garrett haake, thank you so much for your coverage this morning. shan shanna thomas, what are you hearing about where this goes from here? this is amid st a raging pandemic. we're months from a vaccine. soaring numbers, up to 18,000 people dead in a week. >> i mean, i think, you know, garrett brought up one point about the senate and georgia election. how this -- and y'all brought it up at the very beginning, contrasting david perdue's ad with the statement president trump made last night. part of what got senator mcconnell, the majority leader, to go ahead and get this done, and hopefully some of what got him to get this done was everything that you just mentioned, about how people are suffering and how some people can't afford enough to put food on their table for their kids, but some of it was the georgia senate race. two sitting senators are running for their lives in that state, and they needed to be able to
run on this. they needed to be able to run on bringing something home for the people of their state. somehow, the president has now put those two senators in this very weird position of, "hey, guys, we got something done. this $900 billion bill, we're going to fund the government. it's all, you know, going to be better now." also, they've had to hug the president so tightly, how do they reconcile this? you know, just like nancy pelosi tweeted, "okay, we're going to do a unanimous consent deal and try to put this amendment on the floor on thursday and send that over to the senate," congressman -- sorry, he didn't win the race -- but candidate ossoff in georgia tweeted along with that. basically, president trump gave the democrats campaign ads. he did it. he did it for them, apparently. so that was number one. number two, the thing about that video, that president trump tweeted out that i was kind of shocked by, is he really
conflated the stimulus bill with the government funding package. the omnibus, which is a technical term for basically taking all the appropriations bills, putting them all together, and trying to pass the whole thing, so as to force everybody to have to vote for this thing. the stuff he mentioned, about smithsonian museums and other sort of normal spending in this country, has nothing to do with the stimulus bill. they're not going to change that part of it. changing that part of it also could possibly end up in a government shutdown. that's the other thing going on here. part of that huge package is to keep the government open, which are also people's jobs. we don't want air traffic controllers wondering where their paycheck is coming from. we don't want the people working in the government wondering where their payment is coming from. we don't want them not to have a job because it raises the unemployment rate, then they can't actually also put food on the table for their kids at christmas. this is -- it's ridiculous. >> we all may not want that, but
let's just be really clear here, donald trump doesn't give a damn. he doesn't give a damn about the air traffic controllers. he doesn't give a damn about working class americans out of work. he doesn't give a damn about businesses. he's focused on one thing, trying to steal this election from joe biden. again, he's -- the fact that he doesn't know this should not be a shock because he's been ignorant for the past four, four and a half years about policy. the republicans have known it. it's one of the things mitch mcconnell told me at the republican national convention in 2016. he doesn't really know anything about policy, so they'll be able to pass whatever they want and trump will sign it. he'll just be glad to be there. david drucker, we warned everybody on this show in 2016 that donald trump is not a conservative.
he was not even a republican. he was a guy who wrote nine checks to hillary clinton, wrote a campaign check to kamala harris in 2014, charlie wrangle, elliott spitzer, anthony weiner. you go down the list. he's not a conservative. so i guess republicans can't be shocked now that he's trying to jump this up to $2,000. but what do they do? what have you heard from the hill? what is their strategy to survive this politically, especially with georgia staring them down and the control of the united states senate hanging in the balance on january the 5th? >> i think their strategy all the way through is to try to sidestep these land mines that trump throws out there and try and make it to january 5th so they can then pivot and not have to worry about all of this.
i mean, look, the reason why -- and people don't like it, but the reason why senate republicans, in particular, the house is another issue, but the reason why senate republicans, in particular, through the electoral college vote was-and-a-hawas navigating whether joe biden was the president-elect or not, is they were trying to this rinn s time president trump could cause trouble. they need republicans to vote in georgia to maintain the senate majority. if president trump is angry with them and isn't helping or, in fact, hurting, they have a problem. they could make it as far as the electoral college, and they were hoping that that would be enough to assuage the president. always a badded idea, if you t you can assuage the president. at this point, their larger
problem now is they pass this bill, which is supposed to generate checks to needy and hurting americans as quickly as next week, and the president didn't actually say, joe, whether he would veto this, whether he would just not sign it, whether the government funding portion of this, meaning the omnibus shanna discussed, he would consider as problematic as the covid relief bill without more money in direct payments for americans. republicans don't actually know what his exact problem is with this. they just know he has problems, and they don't know what solution he wants. this means that the president's term is ending as it began, with him as a bystander to his own negotiators and his allies on capitol hill, as they agree to things that he then blows up. so i think the first thing republicans have to figure out is, what exactly does the president want? will legislation that amends the
bill to up the payments actually be enough, or is he going to demand more? nobody actually knows, and that's always part of the problem with president trump. nobody actually knows what he wants and when he wants it. >> right. it changes. i mean, it's ever-changing and unpredictable. for anybody around him to be shocked by this, shame on you. let's turn now to the torrent of pardons unleashed by president trump. >> this is a disturbing story, isn't it, mika? >> yeah. let's bring in national security analyst michael schmidt. michael will read some of your and maggie haberman's reporting on this. president trump granted clemency on tuesday to two people who pleaded guilty in the special counsel's russia inquiry, for blackwater guards convicted in connection with the killing of iraqi civilians and three corrupt former republican
members of congress. it was a remarkable assertion of pardon power by a president who continues to dispute his loss in the election and might well be followed by other pardons in the week ps befos before he leaves january 20th. mr. trump nullified more of the legal consequences from the investigation into his 2016 campaign which he long labeled a hoax. he granted clemency to contractors whose actions in iraq set off an international uproar and helped turn public opinion further against the war there. and he pardoned three members of his party who had become high-profile examples of public corruption. in this, michael schmidt, in a way, he's admitting certain things were not hoaxes at all. >> look, doing damage to the
legacy of the mueller investigation. dolling out favors to allies and people who have supported him politically. pardoning people who were prosecuted by people who he thought wronged him. these were pardoned that were largely dominated by personal connections to others and politics. and the reason that a lot of people don't like that is that pardons were supposed to -- and we're not, certainly -- not all presidents follow this way -- but were supposed to be for grace and for mercy. to be an emergency brake on the criminal justice system. a way for someone to dip their hand into the cases of the -- the federal cases of the country, and to show that grace and mercy. in this country, people do not like it when we give you a power for one reason, and you use it
for another. and those will be the allegations here. look, there were allegations about that in previous presidencies. at the end of bill clinton's presidency, when george h.w. bush pardoned those from iran-contra. the difference here, those were slivers of the other pardons those presidents gave. they were slivers. those presidents still took a lot of heat for them. the difference with trump is that his pardons and co s up un point, and there's been about 60 of them, have been always exclusiexclu -- almost exclusively dominated by the personal and political. that's what we saw yesterday. >> so, mike, as you look down the list, obviously, you mentioned the russia investigation. the four blackwater guards. blackwater, of course, the private security firm no longer exists, but this was in 2007 in a square in bag dahdad.
one man was charged with first degree murder, serving a life sentence. in the statement, white house talked about hearing from a fox news analyst, a veteran, pushing this. we heard from other people in the republican party pushing for this pardon. how did this come about? in other words, how does president trump get these people on his radar screen, to the point where he is willing to use his power to relieve someone of a life sentence for first dedprdegree murder? >> well, if you're looking for a pardon or commutation, you know the best way to do that is get in front of the president and go on fox news and make your case. we've seen examples of this before in the administration. i just think it is worth pointing out, in terms of the blackwater pardons, this was part of the square shooting in 2007. it is one of the greatest stains of the iraq war on the united states. it is one of the lowest of low
points in that war, along with t the massacre, which happened shortly before that. these are things that have stuck in the minds of iraqis. that have destroyed any remaining credibility that the united states had with iraqis. these were cases that came out of the square, the prosecutions of the defendants were extremely difficult for the justice department to bring. they were, first of all, investigating shootings that happened on the other side of the world. they had to collect the evidence on this. they had to build the cases on it. the prosecutions were so difficult, that as recently as 2019, the trump justice department was still in court, trying to prosecute the main defendant in this case. if you were to talk to an iraqi today -- and in 2011, i stood in
the square was the justice department's case was reopened, because there were all these other problems that had gone on with it, with judges kicking it out of court -- they remember this. this is a profound moment. this is not just, like, a one-off thing that happened during this war. this is the -- one of the bloodiest massacres of iraqi civilians in the war on iraq. >> unbelievable. shanna thomas, when we look at post trump reforms, certainly, there has to be a very close look on reforming the pardon process that does in the allow a president to commute the sentence or pardon felons who have been caught guilty of lying to the fbi about russia, guilty lying to contacts about russia's
leaked information. i mean, you go down the list. where a president can actually pardon people that were ensnarled in an nrinvestigation involves that very president, a conspiracy that that very president is suspected of leading. and, yet, here we have donald trump, once again, finding people who he dangled the possibility of a pardon out to if they didn't cooperate with the fbi, if they didn't cooperate with mueller, and they did not, and they got their sentences commuted or got pardoned. certainly, this has to be the top of the list for reforms in the post-trump era. >> i mean, the thing is, the pardon power of the president is pretty absolute. so i think it would be very difficult to change that. i also think, you know, one
thing president trump is good at, though, as you're pointing out, is finding the weaknesses in our political system and finding the weaknesses in our justice system. he has continued to push the envelope in such a way that we are seeing the problems that we have. so i think, you know, hopefully someone is putting a list together of things for the senate to consider, the house to consider, president-elect joe biden to consider, about things we need to do to shore up our actual system. but i don't see a lot of things changing about the pardon power because, you know, if i'm going to be incredibly political about it, there are a lot of senators who want to run for president and don't necessarily want to hamstring themselves. but i think this also points to what the republican party needs to think about. you know, this president did some things that republicans are happy with. less deregulation, you know, helped them lower taxes, the things we think of as normal
conservative principles. but do you want to continue to follow somebody who wants to pardon former plaq ee eer black who committed an awful massacre? do you want to continue to follow someone who, you know, gives pardons out like candy to people he thinks were loyal to him? what does that say to the party? what does that say about the country? what does that say about the amount of power they want to continue to give him without the power of the white house behind him? >> giving pardons out to people, mika, that he was dangling in front of them throughout the mueller investigation, encouraging them not to tell the truth to fbi agents, not to participate in the inquiry to get to the bottom of donald trump's connections with russia. and there was in real time,
there was one news item after another news item. donald trump would send out a tweet, and there would be on that same day people saying, legal experts saying, he's sending a message to michael flynn, or he's sending a message to somebody else, "don't cooperation with this investigation, and i will take care of you. i will commute your sentence or i will pardon you." that's exactly what's happened. >> michael schmidt, thank you so much for your reporting this morning. still ahead on "morning joe," joe biden's pick for transportation secretary, former mayor pete buttigieg, will be our exclusive guest this morning. plus, the former dhs cybersecurity official who president trump fired for telling the truth about the integrity of the election, chris krebs joins us. and the u.s., its deadliest day of the coronavirus pandemic yet, as health officials try to ease concerns about the new, much more contagious strain
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one thing i promise you about my leadership during this crisis, i'm going to tell it to you straight. i'm going to tell you the truth. here's the simple truth, our darkest days in the battle against covid are ahead of us, not behind us. so we need to prepare ourselves, to steel our spines. as frustrating as it is to hear, it's going to take patience, persistence, and determination to beat this virus. there will be no time to waste in taking the steps we need to turn this crisis around. my administration will start to do this, its part, on our first day in office, with masking requirements, a new strategy for testing, accelerated protection, protective gear, and we're going
to challenge congress and the american people to step up immediately, as well, to do their part. >> president-elect joe biden speaking yesterday. comments that came on the day that the united states reported a record of 3,350 covid related deaths. according to an nbc news tally, the number surpasses the national record set last wednesday, when the u.s. posted 3,293 deaths. so far in the past week, more than 18,000 people have died in the u.s. from covid-19. a faster rate than any other time during the pandemic. willie? meanwhile, the centers for disease control confirmed yesterday the new coronavirus strain, first reported in the uk, could already be here in the u.s. european officials say it may be up to 70% more infectious than other versions of the virus. the cdc says, quote, at this
time, there is no evidence this variant causes more severe illness or increased risk of death. joining us now, dr. vin gupta, pulmonologist and medical contributor. great to see you, as always. let's get into this strain from the uk. we were talking about it yesterday on this show. had one physician on who was trying to temper some of the panic about it a bit and say, "yes, covid-19 was always going to have mutations." what's your level of concern about this new strain? >> good morning, willie. i think it warrants us to be vigilant as we think about what is ahead for us in 2022, 2023, in terms of are we likely to get another vaccine for this virus? i think the answer is yes. that is the significance here. i am not worried, as our vaccine experts across the world, that the current vaccine will not be effective. i'm not worried about that at all.
this vaccine will be effective against the covid-19 strain that we have been battling since march, and it will also be effective against this strain that we've seen pop up in southeast england. because we know these vaccines are very effective. they induce a very strong immune response. and this strain, even though there has been some mutations on the parts of the virus that we're actually targeting from the vaccine standpoint, there isn't that much of a difference between this new strain and the existing strain we've been battling for all of these months now. so we expect the vaccine to bef. i'm not that worried about the near-term implications of what's happening in england. i do think there is obviously a lot of anxioety, but it is appropriate to temper that. what we should be thinking about here is, okay, let's get ready to roll up our sleeves again in 2022 o 2 and/or 2023, because
they're probably going to update the vaccine to be sure we're protected against any future recurrence of this pandemic. >> dr. gupta, i know that there's a lot of complications and a lot of mountains to climb in terms of getting the vaccine to everybody, but if we could talk about the here and now right now, i mean, i'm in florida, and what i'm seeing in pockets of where i go are people not wearing masks. i picked up food somewhere, and i saw an entire bar full of people acting as if it was three years ago. clustered together, laughing, hugging, bringing in friends. what is the challenge in terms of messaging, when we're reporting numbers like 18,000 dead in a week, over 3,000 dead in a day? i know the hospital in the area where this bar is is totally overrun with covid patients. it's literally a parallel
universe. how and who can get to the people who still don't think this is a serious issue? >> well, i still stand to believe that effective, clear messaging from all of our elected leaders across the aisle will hopefully make a difference. so i have not given up hope, even though this is a dire situation, mika. let me start by saying right now, i have now additionally cared for patients who have ended up in the icu just in the last week because they were inadvertently exposed from family members who traveled during thanksgiving. this number is nearing double digits now it a this point. that's just me alone. i can cite tons of colleagues with similar stories. this is real. for everybody out there who thinks they're invincible, that it's not going to impact them and their immediate family if they, say, travel for christmas in the coming few days, that's the wrong attitude here. everybody who i know who ended
up in the icu has had this thought, that if they wear the three-plied surgical mask, if they wash their hands enough, if they make sure the middle seat is open on that flight, that, somehow, that's going to protect them. we know there is no such thing as safe travel right now in the middle of an out of control pandemic. so if you're listening to this right now, don't think -- don't have that thought that you're okay, it's everybody else. so i think, mika, that's number one. we have to get over this thought that the individual is okay, it's everybody else. number two, to your point, the vaccine. i think people are getting too reassured that this vaccine is here. they're going to get it in the ensuing months and, therefore, they can let their guard down. number one, even if you've gotten the vaccine, and we've said this before in the last week, and i've gotten blow back f for saying this. even if you've gotten the vaccine, the two doses, it's not
like life normalizes right away. we still need to be masking, distancing, and avoiding essential activities for a period of time, until at least enough of us have gotten the vaccine to feel transmission has gone down. that's number one. number two, we also know from modeling here at the university of washington, the vaccine is not going to get us out of the worst of the pandemic. we expect 560,000 deaths by april 1st, before the vaccine takes effect. >> so, dr. gupta, that is a staggering number, first of all, as you mentioned, you have had the first dose of the vaccine. you're sort of in between, in the period before you get your second dose. i think it is important for people to hear, number one, how you're feeling, how it is going for you right now, and, number two, from your position as a physician, how this rollout of the vaccine is going. do you feel it is efficient, it's getting where it needs to go, and we're on schedule to continue to phase two, where 75 and older get it, and, eventually, for healthy people to get it, as dr. fauci said,
perhaps in march or april? >> i feel great. i got mine last wednesday, due for the second dose on january 6th. i'm excited to get the second dose. my colleagues are excited, as well. largely speaking, there were issues with supply chain when it came to the pfizer vaccine. some states didn't get their allocation the way they expected. candidly, willie, i think we need to expect there are going to be hiccups here. in 2004 with the flu vaccine, for example, 50,000 viles were contaminated. sorry, 50 million viles were contaminated. we need to expect some unexpected things to happen here that might delay the timeline. i think end op march into early april for phase two to phase three is likely. which is why we need to set the expectation for the american people, that broad availability to this vaccine is probably not going to happen until may/june timeframe, which means if we could all do our part, get the vaccine, continue to adhere to
infection control guidelines until that point, we can start really thinking about normalization mid-summer potentially. certainly having a normal holiday season in 2021. >> okay. dr. vin gupta, thank you very much. again, the message here, and i know this is the day before the day before thanksgiving, but please don't travel. before christmas, sorry. please, please. this is not the year for it. we want next year. at this point, everybody who is making that decision is putting themselves on the line, but more importantly, putting others who perhaps are more challenged on the line. their lives on the line. it's not worth it. when we come back, president-elect joe biden's nominee for d.o.t., major pete buttigieg, joins us. they may not be able to take just anything for pain. that's why doctors recommend tylenol®. it won't raise blood pressure the way that advil® aleve or motrin® sometimes can.
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cardona for secretary of education, who currently serves as connecticut's education commissioner. cardona began his career as an elementary schoolteacher in connecticut, and was then a school principal for ten years. also yesterday, we found out who will replace vice president-elect kamala harris in the senate. >> can you imagine what mom would be thinking now, as i ask you if you want to be the next u.s. senator of the united states for the great state of california? >> you serious? >> this is the official -- this is the ask, brother. >> i'm honored, man. and i'm humbled. because of them. >> california secretary of state alex padilla getting emotional, as governor gavin newsom tells
him he is going to be the state's next senator. the 47-year-old will be california's first latino senator. he was considered to be the front runner due to his close relationship with the governor. he was also endorsed by the state's senior senator, senator diane feinstein. vice president-elect harris congratulated padilla, calling him a dear friend. let's bring in msnbc correspondent jacob soboroff, and professor at the lyndon johnson school of affairs in texas, and contributor victoria. i almost cried watching that. it's historic. there are so many firsts in the incoming administration, but that moment with governor newsom, very special on many levels. >> that was so moving, mika. i mean, alex padilla's parents were immigrants from mexico. his father was a short order
cook. his mother cleaned houses for a living. now, their son is going to the u.s. senate. that in and of itself just embodies what the american dream is and what the american dream is and how immigrants make this country great. for four years, mika, we have been hearing about how terrible immigrants are and how bad and how we're rapists and all of these horrible things when in fact immigrants and the children and grandchildren of immigrants make this country strong and beautiful, and in addition to that, we also see the historic first of a latino, a mexican american going to the senate from california. california is nearly 40% latino, yet there has never been a senator from california so i think this is really remarkable and the last thing that makes this historic is alex padilla is
of the generation of prop 187. in the mid 1990s, as hard as it is to believe, is california was a swing state, the state of nixon and regular begagan reaga anti-immigrant proposition was put forward and that mobilized a whole generation of latino advocates and we have seen thousand that growth has transformed california, and the cu leading to alex padilla of senator of california. >> it was moving when he said this to governor newsom. i can't tell you how many pancakes by dad flipped or eggs he scrambled trying to provide for us the many many years, and my mom cleaning houses and now i'm going to be united states senator. you have been watching him, having lived in southern california your entire life. you have been watching alex
padilla. l.a. city council at 26 years old. what will he bring to the senate? >> i think that's exactly right. that's sort of the spirit that i have gotten to know alex padilla over the years. a lot of people don't know this, i grew up in and around l.a. city politics. my dad had started his service working in the city, alex padilla was starting, a 26-year-old los angeles city councilman in 1999. two years later he became the president of the city council and stayed in that position for many years, proceeded by eric garcetti, involved with the presidential campaign of president-elect joe biden. padilla went to m.i.t. he went on to serve as the secretary of state, this key role, in administering the elections here. on a personal level, he's a good dude. i think that, you know, you're hearing some consternation from progressives. he didn't support medicare for
all in california. i think that's something a lot of people wanted to see of course. senator kamala harris becoming vice president-elect harris means there will be no black women in the united states senate, and some had wanted to see a black woman appointed to the seat as well. as victoria said, los angeles is a majority/minority city. padilla served here for an extraordinarily long time as a mexican american. the state of california has never had a latino senator. it is undoubtedly an historic and important appointment for the residents of the state and especially for the residents of the city. >> president-elect joe biden was asked yesterday about his promise to role back the trump administration's immigration asylum policies. >> what is your time line for rolling back some of the specific trump administration immigration policies? >> we've already started discussing these issues with the president of mexico, and our
friends in latin america, and the time line is to do it so that we, in fact, make it better, not worse. the last thing we need is to say we're going to stop immediately the, you know, access to asylum the way it is now, and end up with 2 million people on our border. it's a matter of setting up the guardrails so we can move the direction. i will accomplish what i said i'm going to do, a much more humane policy based on family unification, but it requires getting a lot in place. it requires getting the funding to get it in place, including just asylum judges, for example. it's a matter of it will get done, and it will get done quickly, but it's not going to be able to be done on day one, lift every restriction that exists and go back to what it was 20 years ago and all of a sudden find out we have a crisis on our hand that complicates what we're trying to do. >> victoria, defrancesco soto,
what's your reaction to that, and what are the hurdles that president-elect will face. >> so essentially we have no asylum system now, given the donald trump administration, what they have done and on top of that, the covid public health crisis, asylum seeking at the border has virtually gone to zero. i think anything that president biden does will be a win for immigration advocates. that being said, i think in terms of crafting policy, i was very happy to hear that he started off by saying, let me talk to my counter parts in mexico and in latin america. when i start off teaching any immigration class, the first thing folks have to understand is that immigration is about push and pull. you can do a whole bunch of things that receives immigrants but you also have to work with the counties that are sending immigrants. the fact that this is more of a
foreign policy, binational, trinational type of agreement that joe biden is putting forth in his immigration policy is very important in terms of what can we do to make the state of things in el salvador and guatemala better so folks don't have to seek refuge in the united states. beyond that, mika, it is going to be very difficult to unwind what president trump has done, but i am confident that the biden administration, regardless of what it does will do so with humanity, no more kids in cages. no more of these draconian steps toward immigration, and finally approach immigration in an adult manner with leaders from different countries and different organizations. >> jacob, we just heard president-elect biden say he's going to have a more humane policy on immigration, focused on family reunification. that of course is the story you have been covering for years. you wrote a book about separated
families. what is the status of the transition there. is the trump administration sharing information on these families with the biden transition. in other words, will they be ready to go on day one to begin this process of getting families back together. >> it doesn't sound like they will be ready to go on day one. i have talked to a transition official yesterday. they are hedging their bets. i don't think that they want, you know, their sort of forward messages like the president-elect said. 2 million people coming on day one. there are a lot of worried advocates and i have to be completely honest with you. the idea that there's going to be a new approach between mexico and the central american countries and the united states of america depends on what a new approach means. that was the language that the president-elect used in the transition in a readout not too long ago with his conversation with president. if children are suffering, if migrants are coming and dying on their journey here, ending up incarcerated for an extended period of time, advocates are
not certain there will no longer be kids in cages as victoria said, even though there may be a humane approach to what the biden administration wants to do at least in words, it is a very entrenched system that has been very broken for a very long time. family separations didn't happen just because of donald trump. it was decades, as you said. in the book i write about how decades of failed deterrence policy, punitive policy led to the point where like this donald trump was able to separate thousands of children and traumatize them for life. it will take a lot of work and a lot of effort to unwind all of that, and why i don't doubt that the biden administration wants to do that, it is much more complicated and i think they're alluding to that, than being able to show up on day one and do all of that. >> jacob soboroff and victoria de francesco soto, and what are
you looking as we march toward georgia elections. h >> i think the question is how consistent and helpful is the president going to be with his messaging relates ing to georgi and two elections. republicans need to win one of them. what they need from the president is not to discourage vo voter turnout, keeping mitch mcconnell as the senate majority leader, part of that will be what does the president ultimately do with this bill he's now sitting on so checks are not delayed. one of the things he talked about in the video is maybe the next administration, and we know what he said about that, will have to deal with this, but that would mean checks would not go out, businesses would not get paid in a timely fashion, and it's already been delayed, and i think for republicans, they need this to not be a mess so that they can say that they were able to get this done and clear it
off their plate, and so that people can feel like the government is working with a republican senate and a democratic house. >> david, thank you very much. and we'll start right there with our top story of the morning at just about the top of the hour. president trump blasting the bipartisan covid relief bill in a twitter video that he didn't tell anyone in the white house about except mark meadows. they posted it last night. >> i'm asking congress to amend this bill and increase the ridiculously low $600 to $2,000 or $4,000 for a couple. i'm also asking congress to immediately get rid of the wasteful and unnecessary items from this legislation and to send me a suitable bill or else the next administration will have to deliver a covid relief package, and maybe that administration will be me. and we will get it done.
>> just crazy. this disjointed message came as a shock to many of trump's own aides, including those on the economic team who hours earlier praised the legislation. they thought they had finally gotten there. this was great news. and then tweet. the "wall street journal" notes that chief of staff mark meadows kept the video under wraps within the white house until an hour before it was posted. it is unclear if the president intends to veto the legislation which has taken months for congress to agree on. willie. >> and funny that he caught himself talking about the next administration, mika, before saying maybe that administration will be me. a quote for history. the democrats meanwhile had spent months pushing for at least $2,000 checks, which was met by staunch opposition from republicans. house speaker nancy pelosi tweeted yesterday, democrats are
ready to bring this to the floor this week by unanimous consent, talking about $2,000 checks proposed by president, she said, let's do it. senator chuck schumer weighed in adding maybe trump can finally make himself useful and get republicans not to block it again. house democrats now will attempt to pass a stand alone bill to provide for $2,000 direct payments tomorrow. joining our conversation, white house reporter for the associated press, jonathan lemire. shonda thomas as well. the president gives a taped address in front of the christmas decorations at the white house, surprising members of congress who thought their business was done already back home. what was the point of this for the president, someone who has been completely absent for this negotiation up until last night. >> willie, i'm reasonably sure this wasn't in the art of the deal. this is, again, the president at the 11th hour trying to
seemingly self-destruct or detonate a deal that congress worked on for months. it was a couple of years ago he shut down the government after withdrawing his pledge of support for a spending bill because he was concerned there wasn't enough money for his border wall. the back story is that he has been angry now since the election but particularly the last week to ten days. he has been upset that more and more republicans, he feels, have abandoned him, that includes senate majority leader mcconnell who acknowledged reality by calling joe biden president-elect. we saw that senator thune, another republican who acknowledged it was time to turn the page. the new administration needed to come in. these legal challenges to the election were frivolous, and he has been stewing about this, and decided without telling much of anybody in the white house that he was going to do something about it. mark meadows, a couple other aides knew about this. they taped the video in secret. others in the white house were
notified about an hour before it was released that it was coming and the thought is this, the president demanded more checks for americans, 2,000 for individuals, 4,000 for couples, as opposed to $600 that was agreed upon. there's little chance that will happen. this passed with an overwhelming majority. it's potentially veto proof. the president didn't say it's veto. it's possible he will spend a few days railing about it, and quietly give in. he's done that before. the thought is it makes him seem like the populous, that he's trying to do more for americans. trying to win support, setting up for whatever might be next, the 2024 run or whatever it might be. but what it has done, the other effect of this of course is make life extremely complicated for republicans, some who stuck their necks out in this bill. there are two running for reelection in the runoff in georgia. their life just got harder, too.
>> mika, let's talk about the republicans for a second. >> do we have to? >> let's go way back to 2016. remember when paul ryan called the president a racist, and the next day endorsed him. remember what you and i kept saying, don't bend over to this guy. you have to get something. if you're just a patsy, he's going to play you like a patsy, and run you over. and that really is remarkable that the republicans and republican leaders have never called him out, have never stood up to him. and have allowed him to do whatever he's wanted to do over the past four years, which is exactly why they are where they are, and it's exactly, because no one in the republican party on capitol hill ever put guardrails up for him. and they're paying the price. >> if you're going to go there,
one of the biggest nightmares on this front is mark meadows, and i remember when he got the job as chief of staff, i was thinking, oh, no, that is like the worst option because he is the weakness. he is the weakness of the republicans, he is the weakest character. this is a man who not only held a wedding in the middle of a pandemic for his kid, even more so in a moment where he could have stood up and done the right thing for our friend elijah cummings, each were being called on issues of race, elijah cummings stood up for him. did mark meadows stand up for elijah cummings, no, too weak. he showed himself during that incident years ago to be someone who just couldn't handle the limelight, who couldn't handle a challenge to step up for the right thing ever and if the
couldn't do it then t him working for trump, that is the weakest of links. he will do anything for president trump. he's just not able to stand up for this country. he's too weak. here we are, having him hide, coveting a little video, that undermines the entire covid-19 legislation, and hiding it from everyone in the white house because he's too weak to stand up to a president who is literally doing crazy things right now, and he can't deal with it. he's too weak. he's too spineless. >> crazy things that, yes, are hurting the republic because they're trying to undermine an election and trying to pull off an auto coup, hurting the republican party, actually. the republicans are being damaged by this right now. so just be selfish for once, and worry about themselves instead of being so afraid of donald trump. >> too weak. >> hurting working class americans.
i know they don't care about working class americans. never have over the past four years or else they wouldn't have passed a tax increase that makes working class americans pay more in taxes than amazon, that makes working class americans pay more in taxes in than the largest multinational corporations on the planet. republicans wouldn't continue to line up for policies that actually helped those who need no help at this time. you look and you see the massive accumulation of wealth by not just the richest 1%, but mainly by the richest, what, i don't know, .001%. the billions and billions of dollars that the richest people in america have accumulated over the past six to nine months during this covid crisis and it then you compare that to the struggles, not just of working class americans. that's certainly where i want to
start, but just importantly for working class americans, those people that they work for in local restaurants, in local businesses, in bed and breakfasts, in local hardware stores across america, those are the people who are being damaged today, the farmers across middle america are being damaged. nurses and doctors that work in rural hospitals that are already radically under funded right now. those are the people being hurt by donald trump. but republicans just remain silent, remain silent while they allow this plutocrat, this autocrat, this fascist to continue to hold this country hostage, and he's got it for 30 more days.
i don't know. it's a shame that we abolished the 25th amendment. >> no, we didn't. >> it's abolished. >> no, we didn't. >> abolished the 25th amendment five years ago or else they could temporarily move him to the side, and allow mike pence to finish out the last 30 days without destroying every last democratic institution or at least challenging every democratic institution, without continuing to undermine people's confidence in american democracy, attacking republicans, getting in the way of a stimulus bill that, hey, guess what, the republicans need as much as the democrats because of this georgia runoff. there's a civil war in the republican party. and other than american democracy, other than the checks and balances found in democracy, the institution that's being challenged the most right now that may pay the biggest price for this, it's not the
democratic party, it's the republican party. they need to do something, mika. >> while everyone was watching this happen, president trump unleashed a torrent of pardons, wiping the slate clean for corrupt politicians and murderers. 20 people in all received a pardon or commutation last night, including the man who helped launch the mueller investigation, george papadopoulos, he along with alex vindervaughan a lawyer with ties to paul manafort, both lied to the fbi. three former republican members of congress also received a pardon, duncan hunter of california, chris collins of new york, and steven stockman of texas. also on the list, four security guards from black water, the private military company founded by eric prince that received full pardons for their role in killing more than a dozen iraqi
civilians, including two children. nicholas slayton has been serving life in prison for triggering the massacre that ended up with machine guns and grenade launchers used on unarmed ara unarmed iraqis, all receiving pardons. let's bring in msnbc law analyst ben wittis, can he pardon himself? >> that's one of the great unanswered questions of american constitutional law, and the reason it doesn't have a known answer is that no president has ever had the audacity to try it. the text of the constitution doesn't say he can't. but the traditional position of the justice department is that
he can't, and we have been blessed so far with 44 presidents who haven't forced us to answer that question, and we have 28 more days to find out whether donald trump will break that particular tradition. >> ben, as you look at this list of pardons, help our viewers understand how different this is. presidents pardonen peop people end of their time in the oval office. we have two people from the russia investigation, the president paying them back, a first-degree murderer, the black water security guard convicted of killing innocent people, and a congressman, convicted of stealing campaign money from his own supporters. lay out a little bit about how different this is from what we have seen in the past. >> i think it's quite different. it's a pretty normal thing for presidents to, a, pardon people right around chris ntmas time.
that's not unusual, and it's also relatively normal for presidents to store up controversial clemency actions until they're on their way out the door when they don't have obvious political costs to pay anymore. that said, if you had told the average american yesterday morning that the president was going to issue a spree of pardons, including war criminals, corrupt congressmen, multiple of both, by the way, and two people involved in an investigation in which he himself was the principle subject, the mueller investigation, i think most people would have found that surprising and that is something that, you know, none of his predecessors recently have done anything like that. and so i think it's quite extraordinary, although i would say totally unsurprising because, you know, this is exactly what we have been expecting him to do down to some of the particular names in
question. >> jonathan lemire, how did this list come together? we know as we talked about in the last hour, in fact, the white house said yesterday some of it came from fox news analysts. he sees people on tv, he knows about stories. those people know it's the quickest way to get the president's attention. how did he sort of curate this list of pardons? >> some of these pardons came through the normal process through the west wing. it's a long -- you know, which is something the president has not always followed in the past, but most of these are not. most of these are indeed the presidents own choices, those close to him pushing for, and they're about rewarding loyalty, and settling scores. certainly we know that some of these, congressman hunter and collins in particular were two of the first republicans in congress to support president trump and his candidacy. this is him paying them back. the four individuals with black
water, convicted of in many estimations a massacre of iraqi citizens. they work for eric prince, prince's sister, betsy devos, the president's education secretary, long time backer there, and we have george papadopoulos and others who were involved in the russia probe. this is another way of the president trying to signal that he feels that entire investigation was illegitimate, that it was a witch hunt, that its findings weren't fair and it was simply about trying to get him. i would like to ask ben, if i could on that subject, do we expect from the president in the last 28 days, more pardons like this, particularly on the probe, and i'm thinking of one name in particular, paul manafort, should that be a name we're looking for for a potential pardon before the president is done. >> your use of the word should adds a complexity there. i think i would be stunned if the president doesn't at least commute paul manafort's
sentence. he obviously should not do so, but i do suspect that he will. and there are other people involved in the russia investigation who you might -- i mean, he's already pardoned michael flynn of course, but there are people like rick gates. there are, you know, a number of other people who have been involved. the other, of course, issue doesn't involve the russia investigation specifically, but involves people involved in current or future investigations. for example, it's a, you know, it's not a secret that rudy giuliani is under investigation in the southern district of new york. that could be eliminated preemptively, and of course there's been talk as well, as you know, of preemptive pardons for some of the trump children.
i don't know how to game that out, but this round of pardons suggests that the president is willing to be very aggressive, and i expect that to continue for the next 28 days. >> oh, yes. absolutely. certainly it will continue. >> ben, what does that look like, a preemptive pardon? what exactly can the president pardon his children from when -- is it for investigations already underway? is it for known activities, we certainly know that ford did it with nixon, but i'm just wondering, the president can't sign a get out of jail free card for don jr. and ivanka, and eric and jared for the rest of their lives. what if we learn of crimes that were committed that we don't even know have the fact patterns
to today. >> so he could not pardon them for future conduct. but he could sign a document that says, you know, they're pardoned for all federal offenses known and unknown to the, you know, to the justice department as of a certain date, right. now, how such a pardon would stand up if it were ever l litigated, i don't know. i mean, there's presumably some degree of breadth that a court might link at, but realistically no prosecutor is going to go forward with a case knowing that such a document exists. i think if you're the white house counsel's office, and you're trying to draft what amounts to a retrospective get out of jail free card for don jr. or ivanka, you probably have a lot of running room to write it pretty broadly.
the only thing that would hold you back is shame, which of course is a gene that the president does not possess. >> yeah, so let me ask you this, ben: you've written a book about reforms to the presidency, what we get right after donald trump leaves office. so jack goldsmith wrote, i think, a pretty important column as well, a couple of weeks ago about post trump reforms. let's talk about the reforms regarding the pardons since we're so focused on it this morning. since the pardon power is a power that is given to the presidency and the constitution, it's something that obviously congress can't chip away at, what is the -- if our stated goal is to not let a president involved in a conspiracy or suspected to be involved in
conspiracy float offers of pardons to his coconspirators to obstruct justice and stop them from testifying and let's say the mueller investigation or any other type investigations moving forward, what's the best way to clamp down on that practice where we all knew he was floating the idea of a pardon to manafort, to flynn, to stone, to make sure they didn't cooperate with the feds and bust open this conspiracy. >> and successfully so, by the way, so. >> he successfully did it, do do we afford this? >> look at the aggregate pattern with respect to mike flynn. his lawyers send warm messages to flynn when flynn is under suspicion by mueller, when he agrees to cooperate, they send very threatening messages, including, you know, a famous voice mail.
the president then dangles the pardon. flynn withdraws his cooperation, and withdraws the plea, and now flynn gets the pardon, right. that is in pry ma -- the most important thing you can do is clarify in statute that the obstruction of justice statutes apply to presidential conduct, and i think one of the things that held bob mueller back was, you know, just a certain degree of uncertainty. he wrote a whole memo about this, about how the obstruction laws do and do not apply to the president, the congress could actually clarify that. and that would have at least a salutary effect on a president who's thinking about dangling a pardon and then delivering it in
exchange for silence. >> so ben, let me be a law professor here, and by the way, i was a bad lawyer, so why would i even try to be a law professor, but let me just try here. so since congress can't interfere in a president's power to pardon, since that pardon power is given to him expressly or her expressly by the constitution of the united states, so congress can't interfere with it, can only be interpreted by the supreme court, would it be possible for congress to pass a law that would make it evidence or make it a condition for a possibility of an obstruction of justice charge if you dangle the prospect of a pardon out against someone who is being investigated in a possible conspiracy that you the president is involved in?
so you can't actually have an impact on the pardon that's offered but even a president under suspicious dangling the prospect of a possible pardon, could that, could congress pass a statute saying that was prima facie evidence? >> i don't think it would need to. the pardon is a thing of extraordinary value. the president has an absolute authority to grant a pardon, but he doesn't have, you know, under the bribery laws, he does not have unbridled authority to give or receive a thing of value in
exchange for an official act, and so if you're giving the president something significant in exchange for something else, you've got a problem under the bribery statutes as it exists. the obstruction statutes are a little bit more complicated, but i think congress could do a world of good here simply by clarifying explicitly that presidential acts are not immune from scrutiny, subsias you say,r the obstruction statutes. there's a limit for the reason you say to their ability to do that. you can't tell the president he can't issue a pardon. you can't tell the president the pardon power is circumscribed in the following ways, but you can say, hey, if you as president are using your powers to frustrate a lawful investigation with the specific intent of
doing so, that is prescribed. you're not allowed to do that. and i think congress has ample authority to do that, and by the way, i don't even think bill barr disagrees with me about that. bill barr says there has to be a clear statement that you're doing this to circumscribe presidential conduct, so i say, okay, congress, give him a clear statement. then everybody will be in agreement that the obstruction sta statutes apply to the president. >> benjamin wittes, thank you very much, it's great to have you on the show during this time. and joining us now president-elect joe biden's nominee for secretary of transportation, pete buttigieg. he is a former intelligence officer in the naval reserve, and i guess we can call you mayor pete, still, that's sort of your name. >> i'll always answer to that. >> a lot of changes. all right. before we get to what you hope
and intend to do in this job, if it gets through, give us a sense of what this nomination means to you. >> well, it's, you know, something that i'm so excited about personally, as somebody who's eager to work on these issues, but also mindful of what it means historically. i grew up at a time when it would have been really unthinkable for a president to nominate an out individual to a cabinet position. i watched on the news as people like an appointee for ambassador under president clinton couldn't get a vote in the senate because he was gay. i'm mindful that the path for me has been cleared by a lot of people who came before, and it reminds me that there's a chance to make it a little easier for the next person who comes along. i'm thrilled about that. i'm thrilled about the opportunity, and i'm really thrilled about the team that will be joining.
it's an extraordinary, extraordinary team that the president-elect is putting together. it looks like america ready to serve on day one, and i'm just really honored to be invited to be part of this. >> and given the conversation we just had, what do you think the challenges will be in the transition and in the, you know, first few months of this administration trying to sort of bring order to whatever we would describe what is happening right now? >> we know what we're up against. we have a divided country, and multiple overlapping, we don't see the normal transition. having said that, the team has been phenomenal, i have been working as all of the proposed nominees have been with a transition team that is getting us the information that we need to be prepared on day one, and again, you look at the energy,
you look at the preparation, you look at experience of the top team that the president-elect is putting together, and i think america is going to be well served from the first minute of the biden/harris administration. >> mayor buttigieg, it's willie geist, it's good to see you this morning. i think anybody who drives around the country or flies around the country can tell you, as you know, having been a mayor in indiana that our infrastructure is dated in many places, bridges, roads, airports are crumbling in some places, so what is your vision of the job? what is your vision of what america can look like in the short term, and in the long term. obviously if you fly around the world, you see very different infrastructure, when you land at an airport in a european country or an asian country. they have moved on to a new vision for transportation. how do you view this job, and how do you view transportation in america? >> well, i view it as a massive opportunity. this is one of these areas where americans have been expected to settle for less, and we
shouldn't. there's no reason with the wealth and the capacity and the talent of our country, we should be leading the world when it comes to transportation infrastructure. not catching up. in terms of what it means to lead the world. of course the foundation for any secretary of transportation, any department of transportation is safety. and that will be my first priority. never mind wanting it to look and feel nice and smooth, safety is the fundamental reason why we need to make sure our bridges and our roads, for example, are in better shape than they are today. i do think there's a bipartisan awareness of how important that is. then on that foundation of safety, think about the other goals and values that we can pursue, and the big ones on my mind are climate, equity, and jobs. so when it comes to climate, again, in many ways, that's a safety issue, too, it's certainly an issue about whether we're going to have a safe and prosperous future, and that depends on having cleaner, greener, better ways to get around the country. that ties directly to the question of jobs.
think of the millions of jobs. i mean, first of all, just about every job in america today is either directly or indirectly supported in some way by transportation, and by infrastructure. and on the direct side, i see an enormous opportunity as we upgrade our fleets and our roads for that to create jobs in places like here in the industrial midwest where i come from. by the way, the first time around 100 years ago was really transportation building our economy to begin with, and then equity, at this moment of reckoning in our country. we know that a lot of issues of racial and economic justice were frankly driven by misguided transportation policy. either you had neighborhoods, especially neighborhoods with minortized groups that didn't have political power. they're either cut off from opportunity in what are sometimes called transit deserts to make it harder to get to work. harder to get to the store,
harder to get around. or when transportation dollars did come to the neighborhoods, sometimes it was in the form of a highway being plowed, and cutting it in two. we have a chance to do that. across all of these areas, safety, climate, jobs, equity, there is such an opportunity, and i think americans in, you know, red and blue and purple communities, urban, and rural, see what's at stake and are looking forward to a day we would be really proud of american travel, transportation, and infrastructure. >> as you know, you have an ally in the oval office, president-elect biden may be the only person who likes trains more than you, mayor buttigieg. what does that mean in terms of getting legislation through? obviously everything you just talked about is noble, but it's going to take a ton of money, it's a huge investment for a congress preoccupied rightly with the crisis in front of it. how do you get the money through to achieve the goals you just laid out?
>> i think really it's about describing the opportunity. it's about putting everybody in touch with the jobs that we can be creating. both the jobs that we support, just the fact that an economy that's connected is more likely to thrive, and the direct jobs that are going to be there, and so, you know, whether we're talking to labor organizations, business leadership, the constituencies are there. i think a lot of the political drive, the political support for this is actually coming from the bottom up, from communities where people get it. and it's one of the few areas where i see a lot of bipartisan energy and excitement and that's something that i think is going to be so important. you know, the president-elect campaigned rightly so on the idea of bringing the country together so that we can start to do good policy. i think this is one area where actually there's a lot of agreement on policy, and that might help us bring people together. i'm not saying that's going to
be easy. obviously funding this and getting it right is going to be a massive effort. but i also think that it's one that americans are ready for, hungry for, frankly are impatient for, and i think that's going to create a lot of pro propulsion. >> shawna thomas jump in. >> good morning, mayor pete. first point of personal privilege. i have a couple of friends who have coined the chasen your pete belts, for your nomination for secretary of transportation, so what i'm curious about is, you know, your nomination is a little bit different than some of the other ones. a lot of the other nominees for secretary position have long standing relationships with the departments they will run or they have long standing relationships with president-elect joe biden. how do you get up to speed to run the department of transportation, and how are you going to continue to further
your relationship with joe biden as you do that? >> well, you know, one of the things that identify really been thankful for was how gracious now president-elect joe biden was really from day one when i became involved in his campaign after ending mine, and you can tell that he's somebody who really believes in and supports new generational leadership, and i'm mindful that at least as of now, it looks like i would be the youngest person at that cabinet table. i'm mindful that a bring a different background than a lot of the people who are coming into this administration. i think that's part of where i have something to offer, and so when it comes to becoming involved in the depth and complexity of the department, that's where i really am so thankful to be guided by an extraordinary transition team. there's what's called an agency review team. they have been working for
months, before they even knew who the proposed nominee would be. gathering information, pulling together experts, and every day i'm talking not just with people who have interest in the policies but people who have been in this department at the highest levels and, you know, it's like every federal department, it's complex. it's sprawling, it's got everything from things we think about every day, planes, trains and automobiles to oversight of the st. lawrence seaway, and the merchant marina. a lot going on in there, and a lot of things if you're somebody who has worked on transportation and infrastructure issues from the local level, dealing with the u.s. department of transportation from the perspective of a mayor, i'm really excited and just so engaged by this process of fitting that, i guess what i would call kind of a user or customer experience to the policy issues that are really going to be there from day one
in the office of the secretary. >> so mayor pete or secretary designate pete, i'm not exactly sure the proper title. >> better to go with just pete, probably. >> pete. i'm curious what your approach is going to be to working with the rank and file inside the agency. we've seen so many examples over the past four years, you can, i mean, look at people who have failed to interact especially at state. it's just absolutely devastated over at state. justice, a lot of people at justice right now distressed by four years of mismanagement, but i'm curious, what's your approach going to be to get around to not only the department heads but the rank and file at transportation to
let them know that they've got a leader who actually is a team player and that wants buy in from them. >> you know, that's one of the things i'm most looking forward to. there are about 55,000 people working in the department of transportation. and that's, you know, across every state, not just the headquarters in washington, but in every part of this country. they are professionals. they are dedicated to that mission of making sure that we have the best infrastructure we have, and again, that fundamental issue of safety, which is a big part of why the department exists, and having interacted with them when i was mayor, not just political appointees and enjoyed participating in an international delegation with then secretary anthony fox, but those line level employees, those career level employees. i want them to know to know the support they're going to have. fortunately, some of the political dynamics that have impacted a place like the department of state or the department of justice hasn't
been quite the same at the department of transportation, but there are areas where i think a lot of the people who have been working day in, day out, you know, haven't felt like their work is a priority. to take one example, there's a vitally important organization within u.s. d.o.t. that's the office of civil rights, responsible for a lot of the equity concerns and considerations that are at stake in all of the decisions, the impact, the spending that goes on. i want to make sure that everyone in every part of the organization knows that they will have somebody in the office of the secretary looking after them and supporting their public service work. it's just across the whole administration, right, we've got to send a message that we value that work that civil servants, public servants do. they're not going to be demonized, they're going to be supported. >> former mayor pete buttigieg. we congratulate you, and thank you very much for being on the show this morning. and white house chief of staff mark meadows made a surprise visit to georgia
yesterday to oversee an audit of the presidential race. flanked by secret service agents, meadows showed up in atlanta unannounced to watch investigators match absentee voters ballots envelopes signatures. he was not allowed to enter the room where the matching took place. the secretary of state's office has been adamant that the process would not change the outcome of the state's election results and dispel conspiracies provoked by trump. president-elect joe biden won georgia by more than 12,000 votes. the audit is scheduled to be completed by next week. joining us now, former director of the cyber security and infrastructure security agency, chris krebs who was fired from the homeland security department after rejecting president trump's false claims of widespread voter fraud. very good to have you on the show. >> director, thank you very much for being with us. we have an awful lot to talk to
you about. i'm curious what you're thinking about the story, what your reaction is to story last night "the washington post" broke, the fbi has concluded that iran is behind online efforts to incite lethal violence against the fbi director chris foray and you, and other election officials that donald trump has been attacking. were you made aware of that by the fbi? what's your reaction? >> so yeah, we're aware that the investigation is ongoing. i saw that story break last night. had talked to some of the others that were on that list that they also were aware of the investigation, but i think to your bigger point, this is crazy that we're getting foreign powers, foreign adversaries, that are taking advantage of the threats and disinformation that's spreading in the u.s., and just amplifying it. we have seen the russians do
this in the past. this is something quite different where you actually have incitement of threats of violence against public servants. >> you know, i have been hearing about you for some time. a good friend of mine, david stafford is a supervisor of elections in scamby county florida, what's going on, when are we going to protect ourselves. he said, joe, there's this guy, and he has been telling me, i promise you, because david and i both know, and anybody who has been around elections knows, every two years, something goes wrong, there are votes that are screwed up, bad things happen but he's been saying consistently to me this is going to be the safest, most secure election in american history. i believed him, and i'll be darned if that's not what the experts are all saying right now, and in fact, that's what you had to reiterate, that this election for all the sound and
fury has been the most secure election in u.s. history. explain how you did it? >> well, we had the advantage of four years of work with great partners like david stafford down in florida, but also all 50 states across the country working also with the intelligence community the fbi, the department of defense, we had four years to plan, to prepare, to secure, to exercise, to equip all that good preparation work that led into the 2020 election. so when we talk about how this was the most secure election ever, it's not based on one week or two weeks in the run up to november 3rd. it's based on the confidence of the work that we collectively as a community did over years but most importantly and what we saw play out in georgia three times is the recount of paper ballots. the more paper you have, you've got the receipts, right, you can
go back and check your math, build it back up. the fact that 95% of the votes cast in the united states, including the swing votes, in pennsylvania, and nevada and arizona and all of those have paper ballots that can be canvassed and recounted. the outcome was consistent. even if there is a malicious algorithm and whatever the claims are, they're nonsense because we've got the paper, we can check the math. >> yeah, so looking ahead to the georgia runoff, what are you thinking? what are your concerns there? how important is it that it's tight, that it goes without a hitch? >> well, my concerns in georgia are that we've seen whether they're surrogates for the trump campaign or others that are acting of their own accord continue to sow and undermine
confidence in the systems down there, in the electoral process that the votes are rigged. it's nonsense. it's just a continuation of the last several weeks or months, really. the voters in georgia, and i am from georgia, so i feel like i got a little bit in this one, but they need to have confidence in the systems. when you go and if you vote in person, check that the ballot reflects your pick. if you're voting by mail, get it in on time, but, you know, to be intimidated into not voting because of, again, these specious claims, it's just not democratic. >> so i want to develop on the point you just made. how has this election been impacted already? because of what trump and republicans are trying to do to sort of undermine the presidential election? >> i think there's probably been some element of voter suppression, whether it's intentional or not, we'll see at the end, but there's still time.
there's still time between now and january 5th for georgia voters to get out there and cast their vote in the senate runoff. they should have confidence in the systems. they've been counted and recounted again from the general, and the outcomes were consistent. we know that there's no sort of, you know, again, malicious algorithm. you've got to have confidence in the process, if you're worried about fraud or whatever, i mean, look at the signature verification process. despite the claims of everyone else out there, the signature verification processes in place in georgia are stronger now than they have ever been. have confidence in the vote. >> director, it's willie geist, good to see you. i want to ask you about the russian cyber attack in just a moment. while we're on the question of the presidential election, you came out pretty clearly, very clearly, and said this was the safest election, most secure election in american history. there are a lot of people in
this country over the last four or five years, particularly republicans on the side of president trump, who have found it very difficult to come out and tell the truth because they're worried about the cost of telling the truth. they might get a mean tweet. they might lose their job. they might lose their seat close to power in washington, so can you talk about your decision just to step forward, knowing that what was going to happen was going it happen, that you were going to be relieved of your command, what did it take for you to come out and do that? >> look, i wasn't in the job for any sort of political accolades or higher office or anything like that. i came in to serve the country, to be a public servant, and when you come into these jobs as a federal official, you pledge an oath to defend and up hold the constitution, and that's what, you know, i did. and that's what, you know, putting country over party, and i told my team at cisa time and time again, you guys just do your job. do the security aspect.
don't worry about the politics, i'll take care of that, and yeah, there were consequence, but as i've said a bunch of times, i would do it over and over and over again. >> and it shouldn't be an act of courage to do it in your job, but it is in this case, and you did it. let's talk about the russia cyber attack, do you believe it was russia that infiltrated all of these private companies s. >> i do based on what i have heard and people i have talked to. this has all the hallmarks of a sophisticated russian foreign intelligence service operation and it's going to take some time to get to the bottom of this one, to really figure out the extent of the compromise, where they are, and then rooting them out. >> and you've said, yes, this happened on our watch, yes, we missed this. this dates back to march, based on what we know so far.
how did an attack this big go undetected for so long? >> well, you know, to my point that i made on sunday on another show, maybe it's something that's rare in d.c. these days to actually, you know, acknowledge responsibility for something, instead of blaming it on fake news or whatever, but look, i think you've got to start from a position of accepting what happened before you can really fix it. and so what happened here, though, was again, a very sophisticated patient, careful, deliberate, capable actor was able to compromise a widely used commercial product that then allowed them to sneak in via a trusted path into federal agencies. now i think as we investigate over time, what we'll find is that it was a human-powered operation by the russians, and they don't have an endless supply of cyber experts that
could exploit their access, and we may find that it's not as deep or as broad as we initially thought. but the key is, and particularly for president-elect biden and his team, is to really get to rs around, first and foremost, the federal cyber mission space and provide them the resources and authorities and the ability to go out and hunt my old team, give them the ability to hunt across civilian agencies and root out the russians. that's going to be job one. >> chris, jonathan lemire has a question for you. >> chris, you have said that 2020, this election was done with no interference, no fraud, that it was safe. obviously, some threats loom on the horizon for 2024. we discussed that. a cyber hack whether from hourua or someone. we may have a candidate, donald trump, has talked about running
again who is going to challenge the integrity of the election system again. what advice would you give to your su successor in 2024? what are things that could be done better when the challenge might be even that much greater? >> so i think the incoming administration has at least from where i sit and used to sit three challenges. first is on the cybersecurity front. second is on the election security front and third is on the disinformation front. on the cybersecurity front i would recommend that day one my successor working with the white house and the national security council make every possible outreach effort to the private sector, the big tech companies, the big cybersecurity companies, the critical infrastructure community. ultimately, that job, the cisa director job, is about being a partner to the nation's businesses and state and local governments. and you have to start from a
position of understanding what their challenges are, not telling them what to do, but figuring out their needs and providing those needs. on the election security front, again we approached election security in a non-partisan basis working with secretaries of state on both sides of the aisle, like alex padilla in california, who is going to fill that senate spot for the vice president-elect, but also republicans like brad raffensperger in georgia. so you have to take these things off without red or blue lenses and engage and again provide them the resources they need. but the biggest problem i see in the biggest challenge for the administration is disinformation. i think day one president-elect biden needs to impanel a disinformation advisory body made up of government representatives, private sector representatives, academia, and really figure out what we need to do to counter disinformation
to better educate. i am a big proponent of k through 12 education and how we can get the next generation more sophisticated in critical thinking about what's being presented to them, but also improve civics education. i think we have forgotten how elections and democracy works in this country and it's time to double back down on that. >> all right. chris krebs, thank you very much for coming on the show this morning. we appreciate it. now to this. if you watched our show yesterday you might have seen our interview with actor sean penn. here is some video of it as a refresher. penn was on the show to discuss his non-profit c.o.r.e., community organize relief effort, that has been assisting in virus relief. but twitter was quick to point out the actor's hair. one fan wrote that penn's hair was, quote, the physical embodied. of how we are all feeling as 2020 comes to a close.
another fan saw himself in the actor tweeting, quote, nice to see sean penn and i are both thriving during this pandemic. even mario lopez weighed in saying, quote, respect! okay. sean penn took all the tweets in stride joking that the russians allegedly hacked his hair, and took the chance to encourage people to donate to his organization c.o.r.e. so you can do that. his hair looked very good. i thought it was great. >> i liked it. >> i thought it looked nice. >> i wish i could do that with my hair. >> and another honor bestowed on msnbc's steve kornacki. first he was named one of "people" magazine's sexiest men of the year. >> and so he is. >> and now he is the new jerseyan of the year. the new jersey globe, who bestows the honor, said of kornacki, quote, steve kornacki might not be in new jersey anymore, but new jersey is very much in him, and since no new
jerseyan has had greater impact on the national election than he did, kornacki is the very clear choice. my daughter amelia would agree. she loves kornacki. doo he thanked the globe and said to be called a new jerseyan is the highest honor i could imagine. >> willie, you are a new jerseyan. this is your homeland that they are talking about. >> yes. >> quite an honor for steve kornacki. >> it's a great honor. he was quick to point out, he is not from new jersey but he had such a great year that they made him the new jerseyan of the year. yesterday when i read that, springsteen who put out a good album in mr. new jersey this year, he is like, yeah, it's kornacki this year. kornacki, you've got to be happy for the guy. he was incredible during the election. get him on the sexiest list. "people" magazine. get him new jerseyan of the
year. a nobel prize, whatever he wants, steve kornacki should have. >> amen. >> he is so earnest and brings heart and soul to hayes charts and maps. everybody has noticed it. still ahead on "morning joe," it took congress nine months to strike a deal on a second round of covid relief talks, and now president trump is threatening to blow it all up. the question is, how will congressional republicans respond? will they be shocked? "morning joe" is coming right back. you've got, oculus...
senator perdue never gave up. perdue again delivered real, meaningful help for georgians. 9 900 billion in new covid relief, critical funding for vaccines distribution, small businesses, public schools and help for folks out of work. >> i am asking congress to amend this bill and increase the ridiculously low $600 to $2,000
or $4,000 for a couple. i am also asking congress to immediately get rid of the wasteful and unnecessary items from this legislation and to send me a suitable bill or else the next administration will have to deliver a covid relief package and maybe that administration will be me. and we will get it done. >> yeah. >> in the immortal words of abraham lincoln, that administration will be me. are we sure? are we sure he doesn't drink? i mean, i understand -- >> that would be a relief. >> yeah. his brother drank, and so he didn't. we have heard that. but, man, he's got to be on something because it's just full-blown crazy, mika. it's because, here's the thing. like, if you are going to say
that, and i'm sorry to even try to suggest a logical sequencing to the crazy things he does, but if you are going to say that, if you're going to take that position, take it before the election. and with this election as close as it is, a lot of democrats are even saying, if he had supported, like, a $1,200 or 2015 teen hundred dollars -- i mean, he could have won the election. but now he is talking $2,000. just break the bank, mika. i tell you, if he had done this earlier as close as the election was, and also, i will say, if he were smart enough to do what i was saying he needed to do every day, which was talk about the economy, talk about the economy, talk about the economy, and then talk about helping people like this, sure, it's reckless and irresponsible now. but if he had done this, he said
so many things that are far more reckless and irspansable like trying to undermine american democracy. now you get the republicans out there, they are finally out there, they finally stuck their neck out there, finally did a deal, and this guy comes tottering in like otis on -- was otis the drunk on andy griffin's show? the one that they kept getting out -- >> i loved andy. >> i loved otis. he is bumbling around out there like otis and barney fife has let him out of his cell, and it's just an absolute mess for these poor, poor republicans . o who could have ever seen this coming in the last weeks of his presidency? mitch mcconnell? >> i am wondering, in fact, joe and willie, let's start right there. president trump is slamming,
slamming the bipartisan covid relief bill. in a twitter video posted last night, and as you heard at the top there, he is calling for congress to amend this bill and increase the payments to at least $2,000. the disjointed message came as a shock to many of trump's own aides -- >> a shock. they are just shocked. irrational. >> here is the thing. >> they are just shocked. >> republicans and trump aides, you are not allowed to be shocked. >> you cannot. >> that's one area where you can just take your shock opera and take it home with you. >> yeah. >> because you are staying in this for some reason and you continue to be shocked. so even people on his economic team were shocked who, hours earlier, praised the legislation. "the wall street journal" notes that chief of staff mark meadows kept the video under wraps, okay, within the white house
until an hour before it was posted. it is unclear if the president intends to veto the legislation, which has taken months for congress to agree on. >> you know, willie, mark meadows, top of the list of the people that are hanging on -- >> not up for the job. >> in the middle of this clown show. no. he would not be up for the job for any other president, which i guess is whey he is clinging or desperately for dear life with this president. and he sat there, mark meadows' name will be in the history books as a guy helping the president of the united states trying to undermine america democracy. mark meadows' name will be up there with a guy that was trying to help the president get his political opponent arrested two weeks before the election. mark meadows will be up there. he is being the guy who is trying to help disenfranchise tens of millions of votes to get the military involved. he is the guy that is in there sitting there listening while the president is talking about
martial law, considering martial law. he is the one that is letting people like michael flynn come back into the white house even after they are on national tv talking about season voting machines and having martial law implemented. he is the one who is letting all these people into the white house, fomenting treason, fomenting sedition. it is sedition. it's not sedition by any other name. it's not treason by any other name. it's sedition. it's treason. it's undermining american democracy, and mark meadows is in the middle of it. mark, that's your legacy. nothing else you ever do will be remembered more than you being a willing accomplice, a willing accomplice in donald trump's bunker while he's trying to undermine american democracy. and here you have, once again, willie geist, republicans being thrown under the bus, being
shocked, shocked, stunned, stunned. >> how could he do this? >> that the wild maniac of a president has now turned on them and is now attacking john thune because john thune said, hey, the election over. i don't know, maybe john likes american democracy. maybe. i am not sure. or attacking anybody that's not following right along with him. and now he blows up a bill that's actually the first chance for working-class americans not in donald trump's oligarchy, but working-class americans to get a little bit of relief. but he doesn't care because he is the head of the oligarchy. he is a guy that passes massive tax cuts and tells his billionaire friends, mar-a-lago, i just made you a lot of money tonight. >> yeah, and the republican frustration, number one, they are at the finish line, they feel like they did the work. the president just had to sign it. the checks go out.
everybody goes home for christmas. more importantly perhaps is that he was completely missing in action for all the licenreasons laid out. he was busy attempting to overturn the election. he is still busy attempting to overturn the election. for months they have been negotiating this bill on capitol hill and in the last month and a half since the election the president has had no role. mark meadows has had no rule. will there has been no role from the white house until the very end when president trump comes out in front of the holiday decoration and rips it apart, calls it a disgrace. so democrats now are hopping on this because, yeah, they want the $2,000 checks as well. democrats welcoming the president's call for higher relief checks and calling out that hypocrisy. the democrats spent months pushing for at least $2,000 checks, which was met by opposition from republicans, including from the president himself. house speaker nancy pelosi tweeted yesterday, democrats are ready to bring this to the floor this week by unanimous consent.
let's do it, she said of the president's idea. senator chuck schumer adding maybe trump can finally make himself useful and get republicans not to block it again. let's bring in garrett haake, insist news and msnbc contributor shawna thomas and senior political correspondent for the washington examiner david drucker. garrett, as you cover capitol hill, what was the reaction from both sides yesterday when president trump released this video and totally blew up this deal? >> yeah, i mean this could not have been a bigger debacle for republicans who were barely able to get the bill over the finish line in the senate with the $600 checks. remember everyone left town after this bill passed. i was on the hill all day yesterday. i didn't see a single other lawmaker around. they fired off their press releases in the middle of the night the night before praising the bipartisan nature of this deal, which 92 senators vote for, and then they left. for democrats, i mean,
effectively they are dancing in the streets at this. number one, the potential option to actually get these larger checks across the finish line. rashida tlaib tweeted a one-page amendment that will be filed to up this number to $2,000, or barring that, to completely embarrass all of the republicans who ran on and talked about wanting smaller checks or no checks at all. i am thinking about ron johnson, senator from wisconsin, who twice stood up in the senate to block proposals to raise the check amount to $1,200. and this doesn't even get into georgia which you played that ad at the top of the show. david perdue, kelly loeffler needed to run on a successful covid relief bill. now that's completely hung up. and i really can't emphasize enough the point about the president being mia in the production of this bill. he put none of his political capital on the line to push for this at any time. this is not someone who has been
ever particularly interested in the legislative process. he was totally hands-off here. if this video was stuck in his drafts folder on twitter and released it a big ago, he might have gotten bigger checks in the bill. now we are in a bizarre limbo with congress home, trying to jam republicans and see if congress can get something else done, raise the number here, or if this is going to be a tantrum thing online. >> garrett haake, thank you very much. and still ahead, more on the strange state of affairs in georgia. how do the senate candidates there stay lock step with the president when he just attacked the bill they supported? "morning joe" is coming right back. back never holds you back don't settle for silver #1 for diabetic dry skin* #1 for psoriasis symptom relief* and #1 for eczema symptom relief* gold bond champion your skin
five blades and a pivotingglide flexball designed to get virtually every hair on the first stroke, while washing away dirt and oil. so you're ready for the day with a clean shave and a clean face. done, raise the number here, or the bill they supported? done, raise the number here, or the bill they supported? (soft chimes)
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>> i mean, i think, you know, garrett brought up one point about the senate and the georgia election. how this -- and y'all brought it up at the very beginning, contrasting purdue pharma's ad with the statement -- david perdue's ad with the statement he made last night. part of what senator mcconnell, the majority leader to get this done and hopefully some of what got him to get this done was everything that you just mentioned about how people are suffering and how some people can't afford enough to put food on the table for their kids, some was that georgia race and two sitting senators are running for their lives in that state and they needed to be able to run on this. they needed to be able to run on bringing something home for the people of their state. and somehow the president has now put those two senators in this very weird position of, hey, guys, we got something done, this $900 billion bill, we are going to fund the government. it's all, you know, it's all going to be better now, but also
they have had to hug the president so tightly. how do they reconcile this? and, you know, just like nancy pelosi tweeted, okay, we are going to do a unanimous consent deal and try to put this amendment on the floor on thursday and send that over to the senate, congressman -- sorry, not congressman because he didn't win that race, but candidate jon ossoff also tweeted along with that. basically president trump gave the democrats campaign ads. he did it. he did it for them, apparently. so that was number one. number two, the thing about that video that president trump tweeted out that i -- i was kind of shocked by, is he really conflated the stimulus bill with the government funding package. the omnibus, which is a technical term for basically taking all of the appropriations bills, putting them all together and trying to pass the whole thing so as to force everybody to have to fovote for this thin. the stuff about smithsonian museums and other sort of normal spending in this country has
nothing to do with the stimulus bill. they are not going to change that part of it because changing that part of it also could possibly end up in a government shutdown. that's the other thing going on here, is part of that huge package is to keep the government open, which are also people's jobs. we don't want air traffic controllers wondering where their paycheck is coming from. we don't want the people who work in our government wonder where their paycheck is coming from. that raises the unemployment rate and they also can't food on the table for their kids at christmas. it's ridiculous. "the new york times" calls it a remarkable assertion of pardon powers. donald trump wipes the slate clean for two people convicted of crimes in the mueller probe. and that's just the beginning. "morning joe" is back in a moment. is now a good time for a flare-up?
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your and maggie haberman's reporting for "the times." inannahdatious pre-christmas round of pardons president trump granted clemency on tuesday to two people who pleaded guilty in the special counsel's russia inquiry. four blackwater guards convicted in connection with the killing of iraqi civilians and three corrupt former republican members of congress. it was a remarkable assertion of pardon power by a president who continues to dispute his loss in the election and might well be followed by other pardons in the weeks before he leaves office on january 20th. mr. trump nullified more of the legal consequences of an investigation into his 2016 campaign that he long labeled a hoax. he granted clemency to contractors whose actions in iraq set off an international uproar and helped turn public opinion further against the war there.
and he pardoned three members of his party who had become high-profile examples of public corruption. and in this, michael schmidt, in a way he is admitting certain things were not hoaxes at all. >> look, doing damage to the legacy of the mueller investigation, doling out favors to allies and people who have supported him politically, pardoning people who were prosecuted by people who he thought wronged him, these were pardons that were largely dominated by personal connections to others and politics. and the reason that a lot of people don't like that is that pardons were supposed to, and we are not certainly not by all presidents followed this i what, but were supposed to be for
grace and for mercy, to be an emergency break on the criminal justice system. a way for someone to dip their hand into the cases of -- the federal cases of the country and to show that grace and mercy. and in this country people do not like it when we give you a power for one reason and you use it for another. and those will be the allegations here. look, there were allegations about that in previous presidencies. at the end of bill clinton's presidency when george h.w. bush pardoned the defendants in iran contra. the difference is those were slivers of the other pardons that those presidents gave. they were slivers. this president still took a lot of heat for them. the difference with trump is that his pardons and commutations up to this point, which i guess there has been about 60 of them, less than 60 of them, have been almost
exclusively dominated by the personal and the political. and that's what we saw yesterday. >> so, mike, as you look down the list, you mentioned the russia investigation, the four blackwater guards. blackwater that private security firm no longer exists. but this was in 2007 in a square in baghdad. one men was charged with first-degree murder, serving a life sentence. in its statement, the white house talked about hearing from a fox news analyst, a veteran, pushing this. we heard from other people in the republican party pushing for this pardon. how did this come about? in other words, how does president trump get these people on his radar screen to the point where he is willing to use his power to relieve someone of a life sentence for first-degree murder? >> well, if you are looking for a pardon or a commutation, you know that the best way to do that is to get in front of the president and to go on fox news and to make your case. we have seen examples of this before in the administration.
i just think it's worth pointing out, in terms of the blackwater pardons, this was part of the square shooting that happened in 2007 at one -- it's one of the greatest stains of the iraq war on the united states. it is one of the lowest of low points in that war, along with the haditha massacre, which happened shortly before that. these are things that have stuck in the minds of iraqis, that have destroyed any remaining credibility that the united states had with iraqis. these were cases that came out of nisor square. the prosecution of these defendants were extremely difficult for the justice department to bring. they were, first of all, investigating shootings that happened on the other side of the world. they had to collect the evidence on this. they had to build the cases on
it. the prosecutions were so difficult that, as recently as 2019, the trump justice department was still in court trying to prosecute the main defendant in this case, and if you were to talk to an iraqi today, and in 2011 i stood in the square when the case was reopened, when the justice department's case was reopened because there were all these other problems that had gone on with it with judges kicking it out of court, they remember this. this is a profound moment. this is not just, like, a one-off thing that happened during this war. this is one of the bloodiest massacres of iraqi civilians in the war in iran. i got uh sausage -