tv MSNBC Live MSNBC March 19, 2017 3:00pm-4:01pm PDT
a lot of people are very worried that if i got in, if i got in, i would put in the wrong judge. i'm going to put in the right judges. i'm going to put in great conservative judges, great intellects, the people you want. >> president trump's supreme court nominee facing his first hearings tomorrow, also the one year anniversary of trump making that very promise. welcome back to our msnbc special coverage, supreme confirmation clash. trump pledged a litmus test on abortion for his judges. >> do you want to see the court overturn roe v. wade? >> if we put another two or perhaps three justices on, that's really what's going to be -- that will happen. and that will happen automatically in my opinion because i am putting pro-life justices on the court. i will say this, it will go back
to the states, and the states will then make a determination. >> listen to that closely, the argument about the states is a key pro-life talking point, the idea that even reversing roe v. wade would not end all abortion access in the u.s. but at other points in the campaign, trump was not on script. he said things that managed to outrage people on both sides of the abortion debate, like the bizarre claim that women should be punished or jailed for receiving an abortion, an assertion he made under questioning by chris matthews. >> do you believe in punishment for abortion? yes or no, as a principle? >> the answer is that there has to be some form of punishment. >> for the woman? >> yeah, there has to be some form. >> i take posions on everything else, it is a very complicated position. >> the kindest way to describe that is he was totally making it up on the spot, which was obvious. he quickly reversed the position. we should note that itself is a
reversal of his abortion position under questioning by tim russert on "meet the press" back when he was flirting with a candidacy in 1999. >> i'm very pro-choice. i hate the concept of abortion. i hate it. i hate everything it stands for. i cringe when i listen to people debating the subject. but you still, i just believe in choice. >> i just believe in choice. now, in a moment we have a special panel of guests including nina totenburg. but first, here now, the president of planned parenthood cecile richards. what are the key questions on this issue in your mind? >> well, i think that this justice gorsuch has a disturbing history on women's issues and access to certainly access to even family planning and to planned parenthood. i think these hearings are inconsiderably important to press this. it is -- i think that was important, the segments you showed about president trump, i
think are perfect indication of why politicians and judges shouldn't be making personal private decisions about pregnancy. those are -- >> let me put you on that, because it is none of their business, because they're wrong? or door number three, they just don't know what they'r talking about? >> absolutely they don't know what they're talking about, i think one of the things important to understand going into these hearings, obviously roe has been the law of the land for more than 40 years. and in fact the majority of women in this country have grown up in a country in which abortion is legal. and they don't even know the days when women died, young healthy women died from illegal abortions in emergency rooms all across america. it is horrifying to think this our president would think this is a right that only should be enjoyed by women in certain states and not others and that's essentially what he's saying. >> if it is a right, we don't divvy up human rights by state. >> shouldn't. >> in the law. the larger argument is a conservative movement that says this was wrongly decided, and thus it should not have been the
supreme court intervening in the issue as you know. and yet while abortion as a political topic remains one of the most controversial, when i worked in the senate, when i worked on campaigns, when i worked as a lawyer, this is a controversial topic. what is interesting is -- i would like you to speak to us about this, roe v. wade is not controversial. abortion is. look at the polling here, should you overturn roe v. wade? 28% say yes. a tiny minority for this country's politics. and a whopping 69%, two-thirds of the country, including many independents and republicans, say, no, don't overturn it. >> that's right. and supportor roe v. wade has only grownnd even since this election because i think that folks in this country not only women, but women and men realize what is at stake. i think that's -- in fact, you no he, know if you ask people in this country, they may have their own feelings about abortion but this is a decision that they can't make that decision for every other woman. that's fundamentally what roe
says this is a right of a woman to make her own decision. >> there is the rubber hitting the road in the hearings. some guests earlier pointed out that while legal junkies and politicos are interested in this, it is supremely important, you don't always learn a lot from the hearings. we have put together some sound. i want to play for you, you're familiar with, i imagine, of all of the different ways that it has been hard to get people to get answers on abortion or roe what we're talking about, whether you look at john roberts, who is still chief justice or o'connor, take a listen to this. >> i feel the need to stay away from a discussion of particular cases. >> i do not believe as a in mnoe i can tell you how i would vote on a particular issue. >> i would not attempt to signal by inference or by indirection my views on those subjects. >> can't answer your hypothetical because i can't look at it as an abstract
without knowing what state laws exist on this issue. >> those were all in response to abortion questions and you'll note that was irrespective of how a given judge might rule, those were both parties' judges. >> right. i think there is isome decisions that judge gorsuch has already ruled on and areas in which he already made his views clear, even on the question of access to birth control. he was a strong -- covered in your earlier segment, his position on hobby lobby, bosses should be able to decide whether or not women can get birth control coverage. >> you think that's telling? he referred to being complicit and evil? >> yeah. this is, look, 90% of women in this country use birth control. most women use it for more than 30 years. this is a fundamental right we have in this country. and in the case in utah, where he ruled basically sided with politicians who want to deny folks to access to planned parenthood for basic preventive health services, these are decisions and opinions that i think folks need to probe. >> where are you going to be tomorrow? >> washington, d.c. >> in a war room or --
>> just be -- as you know, a lot going on this week and i think all of this is related to the attempts to overturn the affordable carant, te act, it i sit oz on the supreme court and in courtrooms all across america matter because the court is the last in many ways the last bulwark against political interferences in women's rights. >> you are a warrior whether you've chosen to be one or not, your organization often in the cross hairs but a diplomat to speak to. thank you for being here. i appreciate it. back with us, dalla lithwick, and we're welcoming our own legend of supreme court reporting npr legal affairs correspondent nina totenburg. she broke the anita hill story in '91. another legend, msnbc analyst howard fineman. if you're watching for first time and you think i compliment all the guests, i don't. if you watch other sundays, i
don't always do this. i swear. nina, how does it look? >> at the moment, it looks like judge gorsuch will be confirmed. and that the folks who have the hardest job are the democrats trying to figure out whether they really want to try to launch an effective filibuster and find themselves cut off at the knees because the republicans will then just get rid of the filibuster rule for supreme court nominees, which the democrats would have done if they were in power and the shoe was on the other foot. or do they want to save this for the next nominee, who may well be more conservative than judge gorsuch and they may want to have a -- the filibuster for that in place. it is a very difficult calculus for the democrats. the republicans, i think, there are 52 solid votes for him. it is only a question as to whether you can stall it off or stall it until you can find more information or stall it into oblivion. >> we have been talking about
cases, now we're talking politics, we're talking votes. break down your view based on what nina was articulating, the roll call, and whether anything can break or happen in a hearing that would change any of this. >> well, things can happen in hearings. it has happened before from time to time. it is true that it is mostly boiler plate from the nominees and very carefully coached and then very shrewd for most part and not saying anything that will blow up their nomination. you never know, it is unlikely in the case of neil gorsuch, who is the son of a political figure, and wh is carefully schooled from the earliest days in politics and law that he would make such a mistake. i think the key thing -- nina puts her finger on the key political point, do they put it all on this nomination, i think mitch mcconnell, the republican leader, would just assume not have to blow up what is left of the filibuster role in the
senate and go to majority to approve gorsuch. i think donald trump and his advisers were pretty shrewd in picking somebody who at least has a chance of getting a democratic -- eight democratic votes, at least have a chance of getting through without the democrats being able to do something. and i think that's possible in this case. i think mcconnell doesn't want to blow it up but may have to. >> it may be this is going one way. if judge gorsuch does well enough for voters in democratic states that went for trump, dalla, that could put even more pressure on because this guy is not scalia and he's not trump in his style and how he might read and come across the country in days of hearings. listen to donald trump on all of this. >> he could have had any job at any law firm for any amount of money. but what he wanted to do with
his career was to be a judge to write decisions and to make an impact by upholding our laws and our constitution. the qualifications of judge gorsuch are beyond dispute. >> dalla, as you know there is nothing donald trump prizes more than turning your back on money and materialism for other pursuits. that's well documented. and obviously that was something he wanted to highlight in neil gorsuch's past. >> if the question is are we going to get another bork, we're not going to get another bork, there is never going to be another bork. the one lesson of the robert bork confirmation hearings is that no one will ever get up and tell the truth again and they will certainly -- nobody will say anything objectionable again. i think let's stipulate he will be, you know, gilded tongue and very warm and beloved by his clerks and his family and even
by supreme court watchers of the other party and so that's not the issue. the issue is, and i think it is important what nina said, you know, ruth bader ginsburg is 84, anthony kennedy is 80. stephen breyer is 78. add into the mix here not just that this is one seat, but potentially two or three, add into the mix that there are 124 lower court vacancies that we need to be talking about at the same time because this isn't just one seat, this is trump with the ality to transform the federal bench for years to come -- >> go ahead. >> no, go ahead. >> somebody say something. >> i'll say something. it is also true by the way with -- >> howard and then nina. >> i defer to nina. >> the one thing i think is that, you know, we all have been pouring over his opinions, and i expect he'll be asked about those opinions. but last week the justice department delivered tens of
thousands of documents from the justice department in the days when he -- when gorsuch was a very high ranking justice department official. and i would imagine that he'll be asked a lot about some of the positions he took about torture, about other things, and there may be other areas in which new stuff or old documents show up, or new charges show up, that is the stuff of -- it is never over until it is over, but for now, it is looking pretty smooth. >> right. this is what i'm going to do. dalla, thank you for your service last hour and this hour. howard and nina, stay with us on a double legend special. right after the break, we'll hear more from you. merrick garland not the only supreme court nominee to be denied a vote. president george w. bush had one of his own. a look at those that came close and failed. as we go to break, a little supreme court confirmation hearing test for you. listen to two senators, one
democrat and one republican. >> i think it has been a tour de force on your part. i've been impressed. >> you're precisely the person who ought to have this opportunity to serve on the supreme court. >> who were they talkingabout? the answer after a quick break on our special covage supreme confirmation clash. . >> do you know who this is? >> yes. that is the supreme court nominee, gorsuch. i think if we were to remove partisan politics from this, that he's qualified to be on the supreme court and that's what the senate should be based on. i've found a permanent escape from monotony. together, we are perfectly balanced. our senses awake. our hearts racing as one. i know this is sudden, but they say...if you love something set it free.
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biden and hatch talking about? the answer, david suitor. those warm feelings didn't last long. conservatives thought he was a cautionary tale about the wrong type of person to put on the court. now, to our segment on failed nominees. picking a supreme court justice is a way for presidents to leave a permanent mark, administrat n administrations can spend years on vetting and usually get their nominees approved by the senate. but sometimes the first choice fails as the senate squares over trump's first choice tomorrow, it is instructive to look at why past picks have faltered. the first reason, scrutiny. a candidate who looks great in theory can weather, wither under harsh processes and a harsh set of questions. take one promising reagan nominee. >> momentarily, president reagan will nominate a new member for the u.s. supreme court and it does appear that he will nominate federal appeals court judge douglas h. ginsburg, 41 year old, for the post. >> i'm looking forward to the confirmation process and upon
confirmation to taking a place in the court, and playing a part in the work that it does that is so important in our system of government. >> the vetting stung and npr's nina totenburg reporting that witnesses at harvard said ginsburg was a social user of mariju he went up in smoke as newsweek put it on their cover at the time. he stayed on the to eed on the . merrick garland experienced the second reason why some nominees fail, senate opposition. they didn't give him a hearing or voted him down, just declared his nomination doa. that was unusual as we reported today, but both parties have drawn lines in the sand on these nominations. democrats united against reagan's nomination of robert bork, a fight that changed the process forever. while many nominees are obscure
when picked, bork was known. democrats viewed the potential promotion as the last thing bork deserved. liberal ted kennedy led the party to denounce him the day he was announced. >> the man who fired archibald cox does not deserve to sit on the supreme court of the united states. robert bork's america is a land in which women would be forced into back alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens doors and midnight raids, and schoolchildren would not be taught about evolution. writers and artists would be censured at the whim of government and the doors of the federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens for who the judiciary is and often only the protector of the individual rights that are the heart of our democracy. >> and the naacp president at the time said they would fight
bork's nomination until hell freezes over. civil rights were an issue at the hearings. >> when did you first publicly change your position on the civil rights act? >> i don't know if i did it in the classroom or not. i know the first time -- >> publicly? you did publicly, you've written two important public declarations. i think we're entitled to know. >> i think it is implicit in some of the thing i wrote earlier. i first said it, i think, where it was written down at least in a confirmation hearing in 1973. >> and joe biden cast bork as anti-woman. >> does the majority have the right to tell a couple that they can't use birth control? >> there is always a rationality standard in the law. i don't know what rational the state would offer or what challenge the married couple would make. i have never decided that case if it ever comes before me, i'll have to decide it. >> the democrats didn't only
attack bork's philosophy. they dug into his personal life. home video rental and private matters that many of the same folks have previously said were off limits. bork got a floor vote but not the job. 58 senators voted him down and the senate has a constitutional right to advise and dissent. but senators said the way it all went down was a mistake. john danforth said what happened to bork is wrong, the man's been trashed in our house, some of us helped generate the trashing, others yielded to it, it made us all accomplices. the third way nominees go down is simple, they get pulled. that's what george w. bush did after nominating his own lawyer for the court, even republicans weren't sure where she stood. >> president bush today picking white house counsel harriet miers to be his next nominee for the u.s. supreme court. >> american people expect harriet's hearings to be handled with the same respect and civility that characterized the last three supreme court confirmations. >> if confirmed, i recognize
that i will have a tremendous responsibility to keep our judicial system strong. >> nbc justice correspondent pete williams live at the supreme court with more. pete, what do we know about her? >> precious little is the answer to your question. briefly involved in the policy shop and now the white house counsel, the person who succeeded alberto gonzales when he went to the justice department to become attorney general. but she's never been a judge. and that is unusual in terms of nominations to the supreme court. >> it means learning the nominee's judicial philosophy is going to be even more important than it was for john roberts. >> this is a pick that was made from weakness, an opportunity here to show strength, and confidence and i don't know if this is it. >> miers met with senators which was worse. when asked how she did, he responded, harriet, you flunked. we can't do this, we know, he
replied, give us time. if nominees go down based on vetting, political opposition or losing the white house's confidence, do any of those patterns spell trouble for trump's pick? joining me now, nbc justice rrest pete williams, who covered six of these battles and npr legal affairs correspondent nina totenburg who covered 18. great to have you both here. pete, we just saw you there on the miers nomination. what do we know about how any of that plays into gorsuch? >> well, i think that what has happened here is that the opposition to neil gorsuch is sort of like the opposition was to merrick garland. it has to do with the principle, not the person, the republicans were saying that it should be up to the next president and now the democrats are saying that what happened to merrick garland is wrong, and neil gorsuch shouldn't take the opportunity to capture a stolen seat. but i don't think any of those
things are going to apply here. now, i can't imagine the trump administration withdrawing this nomination unless as nina pointed out earlier, something comes up during the process that is rendered disqualified. so i -- whether he'll go down doesn't seem likely he'll be voted down. doesn't seem like any of those things will come into play. one thing i have to point out, you talked a lot about the garland nomination, one thing the republicans consistently said is that they were invoking what they called the biden rule, talking about a speech that joe biden gave after the nomination of bork and talking about how it could be much more civil. what he said is that during a presidential election year, especially when there is a possibility of a change in parties, the confirmationdelaye after the campaign. he didn't say the next president should get the choice. so when the republicans invoked the so-called biden rule which i don't think has ever actually
been used anywhere, i think to some extt they mischaracterized it. i can't at this point envision any of those things happening. sandra day o'connor used to say, it all matters can you get to five, it takes five votes for majority opinion in the supreme court, and here it may only take -- the answer may be 51. >> right. that's a great and useful piece of nuance there, and, pete, to your point, whether or not folks thought garland should get a hearing, it didn't move the needle. look at the polling on that. 64% of people said at the time in march he deserved some kind of hearing. that's higher than, say, support for trump or, you know, against democrats. but the notion of process didn't win out, nina. >> process is a pretty hard thing to win out with in the heat of a presidential campaign. and the white house was enormously frustrated they couldn't do something about this. i know democratic pollsters who
kept telling them you've got to do something, but nobody could quite figure out what. and they had a nominee whom every republican who had suggested a nominee to the white house had suggested merrick garland for the previous two slots that were subsequently held by sotomayor and kagan and then again for this one. he was their choice, if they had to have a decrat. but they didn't haveo have a democrat. that's the way -- in the las analysis and mitch mcconnell made that calculation. a lot of his folks thought it wasn't right, but every time somebody got wussy about the whole thing, they got shoved back into line very moran of k garland should have a hearing and he was told very quickly he would have a primary opponent. >> issue number one. pete, briefly when we think about president trump being
somewhat different, how much would you expect his comments about the judiciary to figure in tomorrow, what are you hearing from your legal sources? >> well, i'm sure his -- that neil gorsuch will be asked a lot about donald trump the president who nominated him. whether in the end it would make any difference, i don't know. i think to some extent that part will be political theater and these hearings now as long as everybody is clear about the process, for the first day the nominee doesn't say much except hello. he sits there and listens to all the members of the judiciary committee make openings statements, he gets to briefly introduce his family and say what a privilege it is to be nominated and the fireworks don't start until tuesday when the actual questioning begins and then on wednesday, any questioning that continues and then people who will speak for and against the nominee. >> well, pete williams, i think we can agree that senators make sure to schedule their remarks first en if that's also not a formal rule or a biden rule nbc's pete williams and nina
totenburg, thank you so much. >> appreciate. how will gorsuch fare in that senate hearing tomorrow and will the democrats filibuster? a special panel digging into the politics including former texas senator kay bailey hutchison up next. ♪ why do so many businesses rely on the u.s. postal service? because when they ship with us, their business becomes our business. ♪ that's why we make more e-commerce deliveries to homes than anyone else in the country. ♪ here, there, everywhere. united states postal service priority : you the unpredictability of a flaree may weigh on your mind. thinking about what to avoid, where to go, and how to work around your uc. that's how i thought it had to be.
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welcome back to our confirmation class special. right to the clash part. how will the senate greet neil gorsuch's nomination tomorrow? back with us, howard fineman from the huffington post, former republican senator from texas kay bailey hutchison and brian darling, former senate aide to rand paul. our first question is from twitter, okay, folks. you've been tweeting, #at the point about skotus. susan burk asked, why do the republicans get to fill a vacancy on the court they stole from obama? >> well, i think she's enca encapsulating the sentiment. they do feel they were denied the right and the opportunity to at least hold hearings on and have a vote on merrick garland.
i've known merrick garland for many, many years, i think everybody in the city of washington knows him, thinks of him as a model of probity and caution as a judge, and that made it even more outrageous in the minds of democrats that barack obama had put up a relative moderate and yet he was -- he too was denied the opportunity. but now the democrats face a very difficult choice. as i was saying earlier, in the hour, they have to decide whether they think they can and should -- mcconnell, mitch mcconnell has to decide whether he can or should woo democrats or whether the democrats themselves are going to -- are going to hold the line a fce mitch mcconnell to do what i think he doesn't want to do, which is to blow up the filibuster for supreme court nominees. if the democrats allow that to happen, then as nina said
earlier, you got the highway open and paved for future trump nominees. so they have to decide when they want to make their stand, is it now with somebody who is, i think, by many estimations, you know, an acceptable nominee, given the circumstances of a trump presidency. do they accept gorsuch or make their stand right now? i would predict the pressure on the democrats to make their stand now is probably going to result in the pierrick victory of mcconnell abolishing filibusters for supreme court nominees. >> senator and then brian. senator, go ahead. what do you think? >> i think that the -- what has been said is exactly right, from the standpoint of when the democrats decide to oppose a nominee. the democrats broke the rule, changed the rule, for filibusters on the lower courts,
and so they set a press teceden i think that precedent will be invoked if they decide it go against someone who is clearly qualified and clearly a superb choice. >> and, brian, on this point, the republicans have been pretty clear about that is going to happen. donald trump basically said, yep, bring it, here he was saying, what his advice to mitch would be. >> if we end up with the same gridlock they had in washington for the last longer than eight years in all fairness to president obama, a lot longer than eight years, we end up with that gridlock, i would say if you can, mitch, go nuclear. because that would be an absolute shame if a man of this quality was caught up in the web. i would say it is up to mitch. but i would say go for it. >> brian? >> just like in war, the nuclear option should always be the last option. i am not a fan of blowing up the
filibuster, but it is inconsistent that the democrats did blow up the filibuster and every nomination with the exception of the supreme court. so it wouldn't be the end of the world if the senate did get rid of the filibuster and supreme court nominees. we're not there yet. there are ways you can grind on the democrats, you can force a talking filibuster, democrats want to stretch this out, make them go to the senate floor and actually talk until they can't talk anymore. u there are procedures that can be used. one thing we heard earlier in the show is senator blumenthal. i think the democrats are going to start invoking the two-hour rule, going to try and go after this process in committee to stretch it out. they'll say that they don't have all the paperwork back, they need to look more into neil gorsuch's time at the justice department, and get more memos and more information about what he actually did, with some issues that were reasonably controversial. so i think ultimately the
democrats are going to need a controversy if they're going to beat this nomination. they don't have one yet, they have to more one. so look out, look out over the next few dayso see if they can start that ocess. >> senator, you've been on the inside of this process. does it work? do you feel as a senator you learn more and were able to make better decisions or is it as so many guests said today, a scripted political fight? >> i think that normal -- in the normal process as you really don't learn that much, and if a person is qualified going in, and doesn't make some huge mistake or something comes out, which is very unlikely in this situation that would be dispositive, i think that you're not going to see a change. but, the reason that you go through the process is because there may be that bombshell and, of course, the democrats are hoping to find something, but i don't think they have. they have done a thorough job
already of vetting, and you've seen the things come out, but this judge is in the mainstream, and it is going to be very difficult, i think, to rough him up enough that he would lose the votes of the republicans at least. >> to lose the coalition. >> and my guess is some of the democrats are going to end up vote for him. >> perhaps. or per snaps. thank you so much. howard fineman, stay with me. coming up on our special coverage, the supreme court and campaign cash, excuse me. before there was sentenced united, there was mccain/feingold, that legislation was trying to deal with something republicans and democrats complain about, campaign finance abuse. well, the feingold in that equation will join me next. >> he has a hearing on monday. >> oh. >> and he's -- >> gorsuch. >> gorsuch. >> neil gorsuch.
>> you to think the senate should confirm, yes, no, maybe? >> maybe. i think so, yes, but i have to hear some more about him. because god knows what's going on. >> i don't know anything about him yet. so i'm waiting to hear. >> i would like to hear what he has to say, however what i've read about him, on both sides, is good. both sides think he's a very good, decent man. holding you back or is it your allergy pills? break through your allergies. introducing flonase sensimist. more complete allergy relief in a gentle mist you may not even notice. using unique mistpro technology, new flonase sensimist delivers a gentle mist to help block six key inflammatory substances that cause your symptoms. most allergy pills only block one. and six is greater than one. break through your allergies. new flonase sensimist. ♪ youthat's why you drink ensure. sidelined. with 9 grams of protein and 26 vitamins and minerals.
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you know who this is? >> that would be our nominee for the supreme court. >> that's right. >> there you go. >> it is a judge. >> yes. >> president trump appointed him. do you know had his name? >> help me. the judge, the supreme court nominee, starts with a g. >> neil gorsuch. >> gorsuch. >> he's got a hearing on monday before the senate. do you think he should be
confirmed, yes, no, may be. >> without a doubt, yes. >> anything you like about him or trump picking m? >> very conservative, we're from oklahoma, we love the gu love trump too. >> you like trump. what is your favorite thing about trump so far as president? >> businessman, let's get things done, let's drain the swamp. >> drain the swamp. supreme court, of course, split 4-4 on so many issues and if donald trump's nominee neil gorsuch is confirmed, would it lock in the citizens united decision on money and politics? that ruling gutted parts of mckind fine gold. president obama warned it would open a money floodgate. >> with all due deference to separation of powers, last week the supreme court reversed a century of law i believe will open the floodgates for special interests including foreign corporations to spend without limit in our election.
>> that law was a rare bipartisan breakthrough from john mccain and russ feingold. that senator argued that overturning citizens united is key to saving democracy. >> if we can overturn citizens united which i think we'll be able to in the next few years, the mccain/feingold law will have the effect of preventing these contributions and think we should demand and we should pass a law roequiring these disclosures. >> russ feingold joins us. thank you for your time. should this be one of the big issues in the confirmation hearings tomorrow? >> well, it should be a big issue in the confirmation hearing and should be a big issue across the country. there is a real connection between this supreme court vacancy and what has been done to our campaign finance system. both of them are illegitimate.
the right and the conservatives in this country engineered a decision in the supreme court that guts our campaign finance system, they have gone after people's right to vote with jerry mandering and voter i.d.s. now they're trying to fill a supreme court vacancy that isn't theirs. it was barack obama's. all of these are illegitimate. i think people should look at this, not just a one person or one judge being considered, but the fact tt our basic pillars of democracy, these institutions, the right to vote, the way we elect people in terms of campaign finance, the way we elect the president, and the integrity of the supreme court, they're all under attack and these are illegitimate attacks that have to be countered. >> you put it that way, that's what i hear from a lot of people when i'm out reporting out in the field. a lot of times in the press and particularly on tv we're covering the narrow choice as it
is defined in washington. this up or down vote as you know from being a senator. and you're really talking about something deeper. you're saying how do we get to this point? you're saying that the actual way our democracy is functioning is illegitimate. are you saying president trump's victory is illegitimate? >> no, this isn't about president trump's victory in part. that's a whole other subject that is very important and has to do with legitimacy as well. these things precede donald trump. the attack on the right to vote in wisconsin and places across the country preceded this. the attack -- the alliance on the electoral college which has to go in my view and this act of stealing this supreme court seat by the senate in the last congress was not about donald trump. what it is about, and you're right, ari, thank you for saying it, it is so we can't get caught up in this individual or a couple of issues. neil gorsuch was your neighbor, you would be pleased, family man, nice guy, good gardener,
good person, he's a good judge, he's capable, that's not the point. it is an illegitimate seat. one that actually somebody of his ability and his background shouldn't even be getting because he's a person of integrity, far too conservative for my taste, but he's not a person who normally would be associated with something as illegitimate as taking a supreme court seat that absolutely does not belong to thispresident. >> do you think he would uphold citins united? >> that i don't know. one thing i was pleased about, you know, i was in the united states senate, i was involved with six different supreme court nominations and one case some of my friends, progressives and democrats are unhappy that i voted for chief justice roberts. chief justice roberts unfortunately voted for citizens united, but refused to overturn the most important part of mccain/feingold, the ban on soft money. so i'm hoping that if somehow neil gorsuch becomes a supreme court justice, he makes sure they don't do that, but it is
more -- even more important we overturn citizens united but the point here is much more fundamental. which is a supreme court itself, its legitimacy, its future, is being brought into question and can be really seriously delegitimized if this nomination goes through. something has to be done to make reparation for the theft of the supreme court seat and i think that should be fundamental to the discussion at the confirmation hearings this week. >> you're hitting the fundamental context and reporting on that earlier in the special, if this was unusual or illegitimate and it is met with a political or legal reward, does that actually serve to further encourage such political behavior, one of the questions we're looking at, former senator russ fine goeeingolfeingold, th joining us today. his ties to russia also under a legal microscope. as gorsuch testifies in one packed room, the lines might be longer at the intelligence
hearing for fbi director jim comey offering his first testimony since the election on inquiries into the trump campaign's ties to russia. we're going to take a turn to that topic with two experts for what could be the most pivotal day on the hill for the trump administration, malcolm performance-enhance and howard fineman are here after the break. i don't want to pry... dad. but have you made a decision? i'm going with the $1000 in cash back my son... ...a cash man. dad, are you crying? nah, just something in my eye. the volkswagen 3 and easy event... ...where you can choose one of three easy ways to get a $1000 offer. hurry in to your volkswagen dealer now and you can get $1000 as an apr bonus, a lease bonus, or cash back.
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forget the dwetweets. when it comes to governing, tomorrow will be trump's most important day in office yet. jim comey and the supreme court nominee neil gorsuch have their first hearings. comey, the key witness at an intelligence committee hearing on russian meddling in the election, senators plan to ask him about trump's unsubstantiated and potentially
libelous claim that he was wiretapped. adam schiff saying there is evidence of collusion between russia and trump officials. >> there is circumstantial evidence of collusion. there is direct evidence, i think, of deception. and that's where we begin the investigation. >> i'm joined now by msnbc intelligence analyst malcolm nance and howard fineman back with us. malcolm, what will we learn tomorrow from director comey who often stresses he can't discuss investigations except for when he can. >> well, i think for most part he's going to give us an outline of what the fbi can and cannot say with regards to the types of counterintelligence operations which may or may not be going on. director comen the political sense,e's been open mouth, but intensely closed mouth about anything that has to do with the
counterintelligence division of that -- of the bureau. that's necessary because for the most part, that is the most sensitive types of investigations we carry out. those who have fisa warrants on them, people who may actually be in collusion or cooperation or communications with russian intelligence agencies. i think he's going to be very circumspect. if he says there is no fisa warrants, that were issued during that time, that doesn't mean there hasn't been more activity. >> i feel you. and yet at the same time we're in the context of a president who complains about leaks and then makes unsubstantiated potentially libelous allegations and is daring everyone to respond to congress and his own federal employees including the fbi, he is making jim comey's job harder tomorrow, no? >> he is making it harder. we talked about how the democrats have difficult choices on the supreme court nomination. well trump and comey have difficult choices and situations
to deal with now. if jim comey indicates that in fact, even comes close to saying there was no wiretapping of the trump tower, et cetera, the specific thing that donald trump said repeatedly, that's bad news for donald trump. and if jim comey indicates in any way whatsoever the extent and dth of investigations that are going on about the ties between russian officials and russian citizens and companies and so forth and the trump campaign and indeed the trump white house, that's explosive. if jim comey, even if jim comey says nothing, everybody is going to be reading intensely every little twitch and hint on a topic that overall is bad news, extended, deep, continuous bad news for the trump administration, which is the relationship between him and his circle and putin and his circle. >> malcolm? >> yeah, he's absolutely right. the one question that i'm sure
people are going to want to ask, because as adam schiff said today, there is a lot of circumstantial evidence. and even though it is circumstantial and everybody wants to play lawyer on this, it brings to us and the intelligence community and jim comey who has to deal with that, with the counterintelligence teams is why? whys would there all of this contact and communication which we know exists, some of the people have admitted it themselves, with people in the russian oligarchy, was it financial? was it espionage? these are questions which will have to be investigated and there is no running away from it. and donald trump is only making it much harder by being so deceptive about it. >> to tie the two topics of tonight together, don't forget robert bork was distrusted by democrats because he fired justice department officials during watergate. can you imagine donald trump firing jim comey? i don't think so.
>> big question to end on. thank you so much. that'sur special coverage on the clash. i'm ari melber. thank you for tuning in. "meet the press" starts now. let me talk to you about retirement. a 401(k) is the most sound way to go. let's talk asset allocation. -sure. you seem knowledgeable, professional. i'm actually a deejay. -[ laughing ] no way! -that really is you? if they're not a cfp pro, you just don't know. cfp. work with the highest standard.
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this sunday, credibility crisis. president trump's unapologetic defense of his unsubstantiated claims. >> as far as wiretapping, i guess -- i, you know, this past administration, at least we have something in common, perhaps. >> did president wiretap mr. trump? the former head of u.s. intelligence. >> there was no such wiretap activity. >> the speaker of the house. >> i have not seen any evidence of this. >> the republican house intel chair. >> we don't have any evidence that took place. >> the top democrat on the house intel committee. >> thus far we have not seen basis for that whatsoever. >> now fbi director james comey