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Meet the Press - October 15, 2017

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Meet the Press - October 15, 2017

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NBC News - Meet the Press

"10.15.17."

CHUCK TODD:

This Sunday, trying to undo the Obama presidency. On Obamacare, President Trump moves to eliminate subsidies to help low-income Americans.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

That money is going to insurance companies to lift up their stock price. And that's not what I'm about.

CHUCK TODD:

But many see this as an attempt to simply sabotage the Affordable Care Act.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY)

Obamacare's not perfect. But it doesn't mean you take it away and hurt people.

CHUCK TODD:

On Iran, the president threatens to end the nuclear deal.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

Iran is not living up to the spirit of the deal.

CHUCK TODD:

Mr. Trump, taking aim at President Obama's chief domestic and foreign policy achievements. My guest this morning, the U.S. Ambassador to The United Nations, Nikki Haley. And Ohio Governor, John Kasich. Plus, Republican civil war, Steve Bannon I.D.'s the enemy of the Trump movement.

STEVE BANNON:

There's a time and season for everything. And right now, it's a season of war against a G.O.P. establishment.

CHUCK TODD:

And more and women accuse Harvey Weinstein of harassment and worse. Will the growing anger over this kind of behavior actually change Hollywood and beyond? Joining me for insight and analysis are Kimberley Strassel, columnist for The Wall Street Journal, Dan Balz, chief correspondent for The Washington Post, NBC News Capitol Hill correspondent Kasie Hunt, and Heather McGhee, president of the progressive group Demos. Welcome to Sunday. It's Meet the Press.

CHUCK TODD:

From NBC News in Washington, the longest-running show in television history, celebrating its 70th year, this is Meet the Press with Chuck Todd.

CHUCK TODD:

Good Sunday morning. It was easy to watch President Trump go after President Obama's signature domestic and foreign policy achievements this week, Obamacare and the Iran nuclear deal, and conclude that he was simply working to undo the Obama presidency. But it was also possible to conclude that Mr. Trump was eager to look as if he's doing something while punting the final decisions to Congress. Here's the president talking to reporters on Friday about the proposed cuts to the poor on subsidies via on Obamacare.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

Now, if the Democrats were smart, what they'd do is come and negotiate something. What would be nice, if the Democratic leaders could come over to the White House, the Democrats could come to me, I would even go to them.

CHUCK TODD:

And here's the president on Iran.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

We will see what happens with Iran. We're very unhappy with Iran, because we'll see what happens over the next short period of time. But we'll see what happens.

CHUCK TODD:

Of course, complicating matters for Mr. Trump is the chaos that consistently surrounds his administration. The president engaged in a Twitter battle with Senator Bob Corker, the chairman of the committee responsible for any reworking of the Iran deal. He lashed out at Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, actually even questioning his I.Q. perhaps. And when Tom Price resigned as head of H.H.S., it left no cabinet secretary to implement the changes the president wants to make to the Affordable Care Act. All this while President Trump is promising to make sweeping changes here and overseas. It's become a familiar tactic.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

We'll have Congress take a look at it. Congress has already begun the work. Hopefully Congress will come through.

CHUCK TODD:

President Trump pledged to follow through on his campaign promise to dismantle President Obama's signature domestic and foreign policy achievements.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

We're going to have great healthcare. We're very unhappy with Iran.

CHUCK TODD:

Then, pass the buck to a Congress controlled by his own party, which has been unable to pass significant legislation, challenging lawmakers to either constrain him, or to help him achieve the goals in a more realistic way. On healthcare, the president ended government payments to insurance companies that subsidized premiums for about six million lower-income Americans on the Obamacare exchanges. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says, "This move could raise premiums by 20% next year and leave a million more Americans without insurance."

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

That money is going to insurance companies to prop up insurance companies.

FEMALE REPORTER (OFF-MIC):

To help lower-income people?

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

That money is going to insurance companies to lift up their stock price.

CHUCK TODD:

The president is already facing pushback from some Republicans.

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R-ME)

Low-income people are going to have a very difficult time, that for some it may be impossible, affording their deductibles and their co-pays.

SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI)

The cost-sharing reductions, if they're not paid to the insurance companies, premiums will likely increase. And so the insurance companies will get their money either way.

CHUCK TODD:

And in the blame game of who broke health care, Democrats are threatening to make this a campaign issue this year and next.

SEN CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY)

Obamacare's not perfect. We should try to improve it. But it doesn't mean you take it away and hurt people.

CHUCK TODD:

Meanwhile, on Iran, after Mr. Trump was urged by many of his own foreign policy advisors to keep the 2015 nuclear deal in place.

SEN. ANGUS KING (I-ME)

Do you believe it's in our national security interest at the present time to remain in the J.C.P.O.A.?

GEN. JAMES MATTIS

Yes, Senator, I do.

GEN. JOSEPH DUNFORD

Iran is not in material breach of the agreement. And I do believe the agreement to date has delayed the development of a nuclear capability by Iran.

CHUCK TODD:

The president announced that he is decertifying the nuclear deal, but not scrapping it...for now.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

In the event we are not able to reach a solution working with Congress and our allies, then the agreement will be terminated.

LEON PANETTA

The president has kind of rolled the grenade in the room, had it go off, without having a strategy as to where we're going.

CHUCK TODD:

And joining me now is the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley. Ambassador Haley, welcome back to Meet the Press.

AMB. NIKKI HALEY:

Thank you, good morning.

CHUCK TODD:

Good morning. Let me start with the nuclear deal and what the president has proposed here. Defense Secretary Mattis said he believed the Iran deal was in the national security interest of the United States. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Dunford says Iran is complying with the deal. Are they wrong? Reports indicate that you have been advocating what the president did more strongly really than anybody else in the administration. Why are they wrong and you're right about this?

AMB. NIKKI HALEY:

They're not wrong. You know, when you talk about compliance, that is with the international agreement that was supposedly made. What we're talking about is all of the factors that go into U.S. law. U.S. law asks every 90 days for the president to decide is it still proportional for the threat.

And when you look at the threats and you look at the fact that they're the number-one state sponsor of terrorism, you look at the ballistic missile tests that they continue to do, you look at the arms sales, you look at all the trouble they're causing around the world, what the president's saying is, "It's not proportionate. We need to look at this. We need to see how it is."

But in reference to what General Dunford and General Mattis said, that's in reference to what the I.A.E.A. is doing and the inspections. With that, no one's questioning that what they've seen so far, they are in compliance.

CHUCK TODD:

You said something in a speech a couple months ago. And it was a rhetorical question. So I'm going to make you answer it, I hope, which is the Iran deal.

AMB. NIKKI HALEY:

Okay.

CHUCK TODD:

You said, "Congress has to determine whether it's too big to fail." Do you believe it's too big to fail?

AMB. NIKKI HALEY:

You know, it certainly seems like the international community acts like it's too big to fail. When the international community gives Iran a pass for all of these things, the ballistic missile testing, the arms sales, their support of terrorism, and they look the other way, all in the name of keeping a deal, then you're looking at something that's too big to fail.

And that's the problem is what we're trying to say is just because we all made the deal, just because that was done previously, doesn't mean you don't go back and look and say, "Is it still working? Is it still in our best interest? Are we still doing the right thing?" And I think that's what we have to make sure that we do, is to make sure that we are always re-looking at these agreements that we make and say, "Is it still in America's interest to be doing this?"

CHUCK TODD:

The ball is in Congress's court here. Is the president asking for, he obviously wants some more leverage in dealing with Iran. I get that. What leverage is he looking for? Is it leverage to renegotiate this nuclear deal? Or is it something that allows for a separate deal to be negotiated with Iran going forward?

AMB. NIKKI HALEY:

The goal at the end of the day is to hold Iran accountable. Is to get them to be good community leaders. Is to get them to stop all of these violations that they're doing. What we're trying to say is, "Look, the agreement was an incentive. The agreement was for you to stop doing certain things." You haven't stopped doing certain things. So what do we do to make Iran more accountable so that they do?

And so I think what you're going to see is the president's going to work very closely with Congress to try and come up with something that is more proportionate, something that does make sense for the U.S. to agree to. As long as it's disproportionate, I think that Congress does need to take a look at it and see what we can do to make it better.

CHUCK TODD:

If the United States walks away, as you know, Congress has not been effective at getting a lot of things through. It's not been an easy process to watch this year, I'm sure, for the entire Trump administration. But if nothing gets done, and the president does cancel the deal, what message does that send to a Kim Jong-un who, what incentive does he have to strike a deal with the world community if the United States walks away from Iran?

AMB. NIKKI HALEY:

It's interesting you say that, because the whole reason we're looking at this Iran agreement is because of North Korea. When you look at the fact that 25 years of botched agreements and negotiations and accountability not kept by North Korea, that's the whole situation that got us to where we're having to watch day by day to see if they do an I.C.B.M. test going forward.

What we're saying now with Iran is don't let it become the next North Korea. So what this says to North Korea is, "Don't expect us to engage in a bad deal. And also, if at any point we do come up with something, expect us to follow through with it. Expect us to hold you accountable. You're not just going to have a free-for-all."

So I think we're sending a very strong message to the international community. We're not going to just give you a lot of money and say, "Go have a good time." We're going to basically say, "Look, this is a deal. You either comply with it or you don't."

CHUCK TODD:

Is it better to keep this deal in place or get rid of it?

AMB. NIKKI HALEY:

Well, I think right now, you're going to see us stay in the deal. Because what we hope is that we can improve the situation. And that's the goal. So I think right now, we're in the deal to see how we can make it better. And that's the goal. It's not that we're getting out of the deal. We're just trying to make the situation better so that the American people feel safer.

CHUCK TODD:

Right. But what I'm saying is if there's nothing that Congress can do to make it better in the eyes of this administration, is it better to stay in this deal as it is, or get out?

AMB. NIKKI HALEY:

Well, I'm not going to try and pretend that nothing is going to happen. I think we have to go with the hopes that something does happen. I think on both sides of the aisle, they all agree that Iran is a threat. And I think you have to remember too, the previous administration never even let Congress have anything to do with this. This was an executive agreement. It was never an international agreement that included Congress.

CHUCK TODD:

By the way, that's not fully fair. The reason we have this certification process is because Congress put constraints on the deal to do this. That actually is bringing Congress into the conversation.

AMB. NIKKI HALEY:

And Congress did that because President Obama didn't give them the authority to be a part of that decision. So they did it to try and control the situation and not let it get to a bad problem. So I think Congress was actually thinking of this in the first place. Now we should let them follow through and see what they can do to make it better.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, in the reporting on this, there was a story in Politico earlier this week that called you the president's "Iran whisperer." And within that, there was a White House official that described some escalating tensions between yourself and the secretary of state and using the quote, "World War III proportions" describing tensions between yourself and the secretary of state. What's your reaction to that comment?

AMB. NIKKI HALEY:

That is just so much drama. I mean, it's really, it's all this palace intrigue. What I'll tell you is, every member of the N.S.C. works very hard to put options on the table for the president. And we all work very well together and our goal is to always make sure we're keeping Americans safe. And so I am glad to be living in New York just for that reason, is that I don't want to be near the drama and I don't want to be near the gossip. I'm going to continue to do a good job, and so is every member of the N.S.C.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, I want to ask you another question on this front, having to do with something Senator Bob Corker said. He believes when it comes to what Secretary Tillerson, particularly what he's been trying to do with China, both on the North Korea front and on the trade front, he said this: "Us working with Beijing effectively is the key to not getting to a binary choice when it comes to North Korea. When you publicly castrate your secretary of state, you take that off the table." Do you agree with Senator Corker's assessment here, that the president has essentially undermined his secretary of state when it comes to North Korea and China?

AMB. NIKKI HALEY:

You know, I'm not going to get into the drama of the he-said-he-said situation. What I will tell you is what I have witnessed is the president and Secretary Tillerson work very well together. I've been in the room with them many times. They continue to work strongly together. The secretary puts out as many options for the president as he can.

He makes a decision, there's a mutual respect, and they go forward. And so everything that I have witnessed, all was fine. And if there's a problem, that's really a question for Secretary Tillerson. That's not anything for the rest of us to answer.

CHUCK TODD:

To your understanding, does the president have full confidence in Secretary Tillerson?

AMB. NIKKI HALEY:

Yes he does, yes he does.

CHUCK TODD:

I want to ask you, put your hat on as a former governor of South Carolina. The president's decision on healthcare and these insurance payments, one estimation says that premiums could spike in South Carolina 23 percent due to this decision. If you were still governor, how would you handle the fallout from this decision by the president?

AMB. NIKKI HALEY:

Well, I think when I was governor along with so many other governors, what we asked was for Congress to act. And we said, "Act in a way that we can get block grants. Act in a way that we have more control over our money and we have more control over the decisions that need to be made for the citizens we represent." And I think what you're seeing now is Congress didn't act.

And if Congress didn't act, the president did what I think a lot of governors would want him to do, which is make some decision, do something, try and fix something that was really bad, that wasn't working for any of the states. And I think he's done that.

What you will now see is governors will step forward and look at how best to move from here. And I think that's going to be a conversation that happens between Congress and the governors, the president and Congress, and we'll see where it goes from there.

CHUCK TODD:

Is this though, I mean, you know this law well, you had to implement it in ways, and I know you didn't necessarily agree with all facets of it, and you didn't expand Medicaid and things like that. But does a decision like this, does it make the law work less better? Is that a good thing to do at this moment, since Congress couldn't come up with a replacement?

AMB. NIKKI HALEY:

Well, I think you're asking the wrong person. I did not agree with the healthcare law. I didn't agree with any aspect of it. So I just assume not have it. And so having said that, what we say is, governors are best to handle their people themselves, with their budgets themselves, in the way that's best appropriate.

What we've said is the federal government can't fix these things. And so I think that what we saw was action from the president, and that's what every governor wanted to see, and I think you'll see every governor step up and do what's in the best interest of their people.

CHUCK TODD:

And finally, back to your ambassador hat on.

AMB. NIKKI HALEY:

Thank you.

CHUCK TODD:

On Cuba, Chief of Staff John Kelly at the podium, he was asked about what's been happening to American diplomats in Cuba. And he had a very sort of cryptic response on sort of who's behind it. And he simply said this: "We believe that the Cuban government could stop the attacks on our diplomats. But we have never accused the Cuban government of being behind it." Does that imply we know who's behind it? Cuba knows who's behind it? And we've just got to get on the same page? Or we don't know yet?

AMB. NIKKI HALEY:

Basically, it says that we're not saying that the Cuban government is responsible for these attacks. What we are saying is that they are able to get down to the bottom of it. This is a small country that they can go and find out exactly what's happening, and that's what we're asking them to do.

What has happened to those diplomats is unconscionable. And we're saying, "Look, until you go and tell us how you're going to fix it, we need to start having this conversation." And I think it's very frustrating. But no, we're not implying the Cuban government did it, because we don't know that for sure. What we are saying is find out what's going on and get to the bottom of it and make it stop.

CHUCK TODD:

You have mentioned a few times that you're glad you're in New York and not Washington. Have you noticed a difference in John Kelly's tenure as chief of staff?

AMB. NIKKI HALEY:

Well, I can tell you this, he is certainly very disciplined. He has brought order and organization to the White House in a way that I think everybody is relieved. And I think that he keeps everyone on message, he keeps everything going in the right way. But he still allows for communication to happen. So I think we've all been very excited and happy to have General Kelly. I think he's a huge asset to the team.

CHUCK TODD:

All right, Ambassador Haley, that's all the time I have.

AMB. NIKKI HALEY:

All right, thank you.

CHUCK TODD:

Appreciate you coming on and sharing your views.

AMB. NIKKI HALEY:

Okay. Thanks so much.

CHUCK TODD:

You got it. When we come back, President Trump is increasingly under siege from those who would normally support a Republican president. Here's just one example. Columnist George Will saying the president is quote, "untethered to principle." There's plenty more where that came from. That'll be next.

* * *COMMERCIALS NOT TRANSCRIBED.* * *

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. Panel is here. Kimberly Strassel, columnist for The Wall Street Journal, Heather McGhee, president of the progressive group Demos, NBC News Capitol Hill correspondent, Kasie Hunt, who has a new show debuting on MSNBC today, the best name ever, for those about to rock, Kasie D.C. And Dan Balz, chief correspondent for The Washington Post.

All right, before you guys get into it, I'm going to start the conversation this way. Let's take a look at the criticism of President Trump. We've been hearing a lot these days. But it's all coming from folks who would normally be pretty supportive of a conventional Republican president. Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, used the phrase, "heading toward World War III," Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska, "recanting on the oath you took."

The Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan, "Something's going on." Syndicated columnist George Will, "tantrum as governance." And even the president's close friend, Tom Barrack, "He's better than this." Dan Balz, you called it "governing by cattle prod" here. What, what is happening? It feels like we're in another level of Republican concern about the president.

DAN BALZ:

Well, I, you know, I think you could argue that it's another level. I think it's a continuing level. I think this comes and goes and there are moments when something happens. And I think you have to give Senator Corker the responsibility for ratcheting it up this week with what happened a week ago today in the tweets.

But what we've seen from the president and both on the healthcare and on the Iran agreement, we've seen this effort of him clearly frustrated in action, clearly wanting to send a signal to his base, that he is trying to do the things he said he would do, but without a clear solution or a path to get to where he wants to get to. And so he throws it to the Congress and says, "You all fix it."

CHUCK TODD:

Right. Kimberly, Peggy Noonan, your colleague on The Wall Street Journal opinion page. Boy, she had a pretty tough piece on the president, noting all the different sort of both blind-quote complaints and public-quote complaints. And she writes this: "When a theme like this keeps coming up, something's going on. A lot of people appear to be questioning in a new way or at least talking about it, the president's judgment, maturity, and emotional solidity."

KIMBERLY STRASSEL:

Look, I think some of the people you mentioned there at the beginning actually have been long-time critics of President Trump.

CHUCK TODD:

Fair enough. Not Bob Corker, though.

KIMBERLY STRASSEL:

No. That is new. But then again, he was the subject of a tweet blast, so he probably needed to get it out.

CHUCK TODD:

It's a little personal.

KIMBERLY STRASSEL:

You know, just get something out there. But I think if you talked to most Republicans, it's actually interesting. They kind of moved beyond the surprise stage anymore. What surprises them is anyone is surprised anymore that the president does these things. And so they're instead trying to just get things done. And I would argue that what you actually saw come out of the White House this week was in fact the product of some very deliberate work. It wasn't necessarily chaotic. They've been talking for a long time and went through a long process to decide to decertify, even though, I mean, he didn't defy his advisors. They said, "Don't get out of the deal." And he didn't get out of the deal in the end. He just decided to have Congress finally have a say on all of this, which is what Congress should've got to do in the first place.

HEATHER MCGHEE:

But, I do think, first of all, playing games with the Iran deal actually does have a demonstrable effect on our credibility, on what's happening inside the country, it strengthens the hand of the anti-American hardliners. It's just not a well-thought-out policy that he's putting forward. It's, as you said, Chuck, it's the desire to sort of make news and look tough and then punt without a sense of the end goal. And the problem is that these are life-and-death situations. That his sort of desire to always look tough, his desire to make news, whether it's in Puerto Rico, whether it's with the NFL, whether it's with healthcare, you start to see this sense that he's trying to create this constant us versus them, where the "us" is a very narrow segment of the country, and the "them" is far too many people whose lives are on the line and are vulnerable right now.

KASIE HUNT:

One thing about Bob Corker's role in all of this that I think has been a little bit underappreciated is that I don't think his response is because the president tweeted at him. Corker is extraordinarily strategic in this way. And he is someone who has built a relationship with the president and who has figured out what the president responds to, which is strong public statements. Many of the senators who have the best, I'm sorry, it's most influential with the White House.

CHUCK TODD:

That is true. It does get his attention.

KASIE HUNT:

They've learned that if the president sees you on TV, then suddenly he thinks that you matter. And so I think Corker has been watching carefully to see if his remark that the president could start World War III perhaps inclined the president to make a public stand and show that's not what he was going to do. And Corker was very involved in these behind-the-scenes negotiations around what was ultimately a half measure for the president on Iran. He didn't go as far as he wanted to go, the president.

KIM STRASSEL:

Right, but many, many Republicans, in fact, want to be handling this issue. Because look, they were never happy that Barack Obama went out and had a piece of paper and didn't certify it as a treaty, give it to the Congress as a treaty for them to have a role in it. And no --

HEATHER MCGHEE:

But the reason they didn't do that was because Republicans, most of whom are still in office, were not willing to do that.

KIM STRASSEL:

Well, in fact, what the hope is here now, and this is where I disagree, I think you can come out of this much more strongly, is that what you do is you get Congress and you get the Europeans to renegotiate some of the terms of this and move beyond the kind of delusionary policy of Iran that wasn't really working.

CHUCK TODD:

But Dan, I guess, he's asking a lot of Congress in the next 90 days. We've got to get a budget passed to keep the lights on. The debt ceiling. Let's not forget the dreamers. I think that also, although they may extend that deadline.

DAN BALZ:

They may slip that.

CHUCK TODD:

I think these insurance, the healthcare issue is being punted to Congress. Iran, they haven't had the capacity to get much done. And now the president's made their plate fuller. It looks like it's going to implode.

DAN BALZ:

Loading more and more and more on Congress is an unreal expectation on the part of the president, given what we've seen this year and the difficulty to do it. I want to go back to one thing. You mentioned that a lot of the people who have been critical have been critical for a long time. I was struck by Tom Barrack's comments in our newspaper, Michael Kranish did the interview with him. Tom Barrack is an old, old friend, loyal to Trump, somebody who he's had a long relationship with, probably a friendship with, that is pretty deep. For him to suggest in the way he did that he is stunned, disappointed, surprised, I mean, there was a level of concern that came through in that interview that I think everybody has to take note of.

CHUCK TODD:

By the way, anybody else take note of Nikki Haley didn't pour cold water on the drama. She just distanced herself from it. "I'm in New York."

KIM STRASSEL:

Well, I just think there's a level of frustration. You heard the chief of staff say this as well in his meeting, that people are so focused on these internal "what's going on in the president's head" and do his allies, are they still happy with him. And no one's paying attention to what's really going on out there. You know, the Iranian deal, in fact, it is Bob Corker and Tom Cotton who are working on legislation--

CHUCK TODD:

But you know who's stoking these fires? Steve Bannon.

KIM STRASSEL:

Yeah, well yes.

CHUCK TODD:

Look what he did yesterday. He unloaded, basically said, "If you don't denounce Corker and McConnell, you're on my list." And he name checked.

KIM STRASSEL:

Yes, I agree.

CHUCK TODD:

Certain people like Deb Fisher of Nebraska. Seriously?

KIM STRASSEL:

Yeah, I know, you're going to go after her?

KASIE HUNT:

And the broader strategy here, I think we've talked about the president kicking all of these things to Congress, I mean, it sets up very well for 2020. The president just goes out there and says, "This priority, this priority, this priority. Congress, you have at it." They do nothing. Who's in a good position? Him.

CHUCK TODD:

Okay, it sets him up. What does it do to Republicans in 2018, Heather?

KIM STRASSEL:

Does he care? I'm not sure he cares.

HEATHER MCGHEE:

I'm wondering if Steve Bannon is trying to create enough of a new wave of Republican candidates that is going to be, and I don't think this is electorally going to happen, but I think there's a sense that there's an even more extreme, more pro-Trump wave of Republican candidates that he's trying to field in 2018.

KIM STRASSEL:

Well, a lot of the people though that we're talking about here and not necessarily big successful case studies out there, I mean, you look at Nevada, Danny Tarkanian, how many times has he lost? Five times? I think, and you know, and also--

HEATHER MCGHEE:

I agree, I don't think there's an electoral path, but --

KASIE HUNT:

--how many Republican donors do you actually get behind this movement? Steve Bannon is saying, "Well, I think it's something that the Republicans need to be aware of. But we still need to see if it's going to work."

CHUCK TODD:

Do you take this Bannon stuff seriously, Dan? Or is he a little bit, there's times that he strikes me as a lot of hat, and not much cattle.

DAN BALZ:

I do and I don't. I mean, I take it seriously because he has a megaphone right now and he has a platform that he is using. And, you know, in the same ways that Trump is a disruptor from where he is, Steve Bannon is disrupting. And the more tension and the more infighting and the more, you know, anger there is created in the base against the Republican establishment, the more difficult it is to get all these other things done.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. I'm going to pause the conversation here. When we come back, Governor John Kasich of Ohio, on the changes in Obamacare and on whether he and President Trump can exist in the same political party. Be right back.

* * *COMMERCIALS NOT TRANSCRIBED.* * *

CHUCK TODD: Welcome back. It's one thing to propose changes in how healthcare is delivered, as President Trump has done. It's quite another to implement those changes. That job falls to the nation's governors. One of those governors has had, and may still have presidential aspirations. Joining me now is Republican Governor John Kasich of Ohio. Governor Kasich, welcome back, sir.

GOVERNOR JOHN KASICH:

Yes, sir.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, let's talk healthcare. You've been implementing the law, you've been both trying to propose fixing it, and trying to make it work as it is. So let me ask you this. Did what the Trump administration announce on Friday, do you consider it as some critics have, a purposeful attempt to sabotage Obamacare?

GOVERNOR JOHN KASICH:

Well, Chuck, I can't read people's minds. But what I can tell you is to cut these payments off. And people are saying, "Oh, well these were some big bonus to insurance companies." No. These were payments to insurance companies to make sure that hardworking Americans, who don't make a lot of money, can have their copayments taken care of.

It's a subsidy to do that. And what this, what this decision leading to are higher prices. Some people will not be able to afford health insurance. Or people will have to make very significant choices. And I'm talking about hardworking people, trying to work their way up and out of their situation. It's going to impose higher costs on their families.

Some people will not be able to afford it. But what I don't understand, Chuck, is what are they doing? Are they just passing these things and people are praising what the president did because of politics? I mean, do they understand the impact that this has on families, on people? Read the stories of what these people are saying.

They finally have health insurance, and then the next day they wake up, and now they're not so sure they can afford it, or whether they'll be able to have it. What is the purpose of this? I've got to say, Chuck, this whole issue is about people. It is not about politics, it is not about numbers. It's about people. And these congressman, they're seemingly willing to do nothing.

And I've got to tell you, including the Democrats, who once this last Republican proposal died, they seemed to walk away from the table and not want to give states flexibility. It's a shame on everybody. And who gets hurt? People. And it's just, it just, it's outrageous. Think of, Chuck, if all of a sudden I told you, "You and your family have no health insurance. Or it's priced so high that you can't afford it." Can you imagine what your life would be like?

CHUCK TODD:

Well, let me ask you this. Next year, it's possible, like, we're not quite sure how insurance companies are going to handle this. In some states, we know that they've already filed their rates and in some places, they're talking about delaying implementation. What is Ohio going to do? What happens to, if anybody gets caught in there, do you have a plan to subsidize on your own? I know, like, Minnesota's coming up with different ideas. What are you going to try to do to mitigate this?

GOVERNOR JOHN KASICH:

Well, right now, Chuck, we actually anticipated that these payments would not be made. These companies are going to take this hit for the first two or three months. But for the next year, they anticipated that these payments would be cut. We always budget conservatively and plan conservatively. But over time, this is going to have a dramatic impact.

Now it's going to be up to the Congress. You know, Alexander and Murray, I mean, they were out there doing things, and then they, like, disappeared. We need to have, we need to stabilize that market, we have eight Repub--eight governors of both parties saying, "This was an essential thing to do." And I hope Alexander and Murray will do it, and I hope this will be absolutely bipartisan. This has to be demanded for our folks.

CHUCK TODD:

These payments have to continue? Period, pure and simple?

GOVERNOR JOHN KASICH:

Yeah, for a while.

CHUCK TODD:

And then what?

GOVERNOR JOHN KASICH:

Well, Chuck, you know, I've got a long--

CHUCK TODD:

I know you do.

GOVERNOR JOHN KASICH:

A long program of how we can give states flexibility within guardrails. What we don't want to have happen is massive numbers of people lose health insurance, and at the same time, they can have, they can have benefits that are flexible, but they meet the needs of people. And longer term, we need to pay for quality healthcare, not for quantity. That's a much bigger issue. We'll have to do a whole show on that, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

You've been, you've been working with a lot of governors around the country that share some of your concerns on this, both Republican and Democrat. Do you know if the White House reached out to any of those governors in the last week? Did the White House reach out to you?

GOVERNOR JOHN KASICH:

No, I don't know. I don't know.

CHUCK TODD:

When was the last time you spoke to anyone at the White House on this issue?

GOVERNOR JOHN KASICH:

This is a -- this is a mantra. This is a mantra about Obamacare. And it's, to me, it's fundamentally political. Because frankly, if you are to do these things, what is the result? What are you putting in place? What's going to happen to the people that get stuck with these higher costs, or lose insurance all together?

That's what I don't understand. I understand the politics. I really don't understand it, but the politics, but what about the policy? What comes in place? My mother and father used to say, "Johnny, if you don't like something, what are you going to do that's better?" I haven't heard that yet.

CHUCK TODD:

You keep saying, you keep referring to, and I'm curious, are you implying that you believe the president is just anxious to make it look like he's undoing anything Obama touched? And is that your concern here with Obamacare?

GOVERNOR JOHN KASICH:

No. I don't know about that, Chuck. What I am concerned is that look, I just don't think there's any policy here. What I am concerned, in terms of rejecting everything that Obama's done, and look, I mean, I disagreed with President Obama a lot of the time. But one of the things I am concerned about is the drift that we are in right now in terms of America and the world.

Chuck, there is a battle now. The Russians and the Chinese want authoritarian-type government, okay? And we're walking away from our allies on trade agreements, this Iran thing, we'll see how that turns out. There is a, there is an issue here where we're weakening the things that we put in place after World War II to keep the world safe and reflect our values. We can't afford to walk away, Chuck. Because if we walk away, this thing collapses. And who wins? The authoritarians. The Russians and the Chinese. Not good for our country, and not good for freedom.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, there seems to be a massive battle taking place inside this Republican party. Steve Bannon, yesterday at a, at a confab of folks, it's called the Values Voters Summit, he declared it a "season of war against the Republican establishment," singling out people like Bob Corker in particular. And he thought it was outrageous that Bob Corker dared to criticize the president. What do you make of what Steve Bannon is doing to the Republican party?

GOVERNOR JOHN KASICH:

Well, look, I was on a show not long ago saying that I'm very disappointed in the direction of the Republican party. The Republican party cannot be anti-trade. The Republican party can't be anti-immigrant. The Republican party just can't walk away from increasing debt. The Republican party can't go out and start grabbing people out of their homes who have been really good people living in this country and shipping them out of this country willy-nilly. That is--or taking away healthcare for millions of people.

This is not what the party is. Look, I grew up in the Reagan era. I hate to go back to the Reagan era, but here's what it was. It was sunny, it was positive, it was inclusive, it was a big tent, and there was room for everybody. Pro growth, all the things that we really like. Connectivity, welcoming, that's where this party needs to be. And when we don't head in that direction, well, I'm going to fight to push us in that direction.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, it sounds like though you're kind of a lonely voice, even in your own state.

GOVERNOR JOHN KASICH:

No, no, no.

CHUCK TODD:

Your lieutenant governor, let me just, your lieutenant governor who's running to replace you has said she wants to get rid of the Medicaid expansion. Jim Renacci, a congressman, I've got to read this quote. "We cannot have a governor who comes in with Republican values and goes out with Democrat values or Independent values and think that the state is going in the right direction." It seems as if Republicans who are on the ballot in 2018 are nervous about associating with your viewpoints about perhaps the Trump base. Are you--

GOVERNOR JOHN KASICH:

You know, I think the base drives the politics here, to be honest with you. But Chuck, we're up 479,000 jobs since I came in, after being down 350. We got $2 billion in the bank and a solid balanced budget. And let me tell you what else. We've left no one behind. Now I know it's difficult sometimes for people to be able to navigate all this.

But I don't just want economic growth for those who are the few. I want to make sure everybody in our state feels as though they're included. Including the issue of race, which we have dealt with fairly effectively, I'd say very effectively here in the state of Ohio.

So my view is everybody ought to have a chance to rise. That's the party I grew up in. And if people want to yell and complain and criticize, I don't pay any attention to that. We're doing the right things, 'cause the people, the state believe we're heading in the right direction.

CHUCK TODD:

At what point do you think you won't be able to change your party?

GOVERNOR JOHN KASICH:

I never give up, Chuck. You know, I'm optimistic that I can move the party, you know, in a direction that will be positive and we're doing it here. And in fact, just because there's some activists that scream and yell, whatever, that's not where the bulk of the people are.

CHUCK TODD:

Have you ruled out running for president in 2020?

GOVERNOR JOHN KASICH:

Chuck, I don't know what I'm going to do tomorrow. You know, I will tell you this. The other day, with all the chaos going on, my wife said to me one morning, she said, "You know, John, I wish you were president." That's how I knew the country was in trouble.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, there you go. Boy, there's an anecdote that a lot of people will use to say you might be running in 2020. Governor, I'm going to leave it there. As always, sir, I appreciate you coming on.

GOVERNOR JOHN KASICH:

Well, if it's Sunday, you know, of course, it's Meet the Press.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, should you be. Well done, sir. When we come back, why you may have more in common with someone living thousands of miles away than with people in your own state.

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CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. Data download time. Of all the splits that define the red/blue divide in America, none may be more important than where we live. Looking at the presidential election results since 2000, it's become pretty clear that the big metro centers are starting to look more like each other than the rest of the states they're actually in. Let's look at Fulton County, Georgia, home to the city of Atlanta. In 2000, Al Gore did 33 points better in Fulton County than he did in the rest of the state of Georgia. By 2016, that gap grew to 51 points for Hillary Clinton. It's a similar story in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin. In 2000, Gore did 24 points better in Milwaukee than he did in the rest of the state of Wisconsin. In 2016, that number climbed to 44 points for Clinton. Look, regional differences that we've long relied on have become frankly antiquated ways to describe the country. Atlanta and Milwaukee: urban, diverse, Democratic, look, feel, act more like each other than they do the rest of their regions: The South and Midwest. So why is that? Well, the Pew Research Center recently asked what kind of community people preferred to live in. 65% of Republicans said they would prefer to live in a community, quote, "where the houses are larger and farther apart, but schools, stores, and restaurants are several miles away." That's a pretty spot-on description of a rural community or an outer suburb. Among Democrats, on the other hand, 61% of them preferred, quote, "smaller houses, closer together, walkable to schools, stores, and restaurants." That's a pretty apt description of a big city or a close-in suburb here in America. Look, these aren't just cosmetic differences, by the way. Where you live plays a big role in who your neighbors are, stores and restaurants that you shop at, and how you see the world that you live in. The partisan divide isn't just about politics or geography. It's increasingly about identity and how people live their everyday lives. When we come back, the Motion Picture Academy expelled Harvey Weinstein yesterday and said, quote, "The era of willful ignorance and shameful complicity in sexually predatory behavior and workplace harassment in our industry is over." Really? Is it? Are more members of the academy about to see their lifetime memberships end as well? We'll be back in a moment with endgame.

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CHUCK TODD:

Back now with endgame. I want to start with healthcare. We know the politics of healthcare are fraught. Look at this poll. Who's responsible for healthcare going forward, according to Kaiser? 60% said President Trump and Republicans, 28% said President Obama and Democrats. Pottery Barn rule in effect here?

HEATHER MCGHEE:

Absolutely. Somebody needs to tell the White House. I mean, he is deliberately sabotaging...

CHUCK TODD:

You believe it's a deliberate sabotage? John Kasich wouldn't go there.

HEATHER MCGHEE:

Oh, I think he was being very politic. I don't think anyone has another theory about why he would really be doing.

KIM STRASSEL:

I do.

HEATHER MCGHEE:

Okay. Go ahead.

KIM STRASSEL:

I do. Yes. No, he's not deliberately, first of all, it's--

HEATHER MCGHEE:

Didn't Steve, I'm sorry, didn't Steve Bannon actually just admit it? I was just looking at Twitter. Steve Bannon I think just admitted that it's about sabotaging the bill.

KIM STRASSEL:

So, the one word we haven't even heard anyone say here today is extra-legal. These were extra-legal payments, okay? You're not supposed to make these payments unless they're appropriated by Congress. They have not been appropriated since 2014.

CHUCK TODD:

And there's a legal dispute about it.

KIM STRASSEL:

And a judge actually--

KIM STRASSEL:

But a judge has ruled. So far, the only ruling--

CHUCK TODD:

One judge.

KIM STRASSEL:

--on the books, so, has backed up that.

CHUCK TODD:

Fair enough. But it was going to be appealed.

KIM STRASSEL:

And Congress has wanted that authority back, okay? And so I think the goal here is that first of all, it's not necessarily going to destabilize the market, although it will likely decrease choice. Republicans--

HEATHER MCGHEE:

And increase premiums by about 20%.

KIM STRASSEL:

Which people will get back from subsidies that they get from the other end. Rather than--

KASIE HUNT:

Which is why whole thing costs more money.

KIM STRASSEL:

Which is why the--

HEATHER MCGHEE:

Which is why you lose the deficit--

KIM STRASSEL:

Why it costs more money.

HEATHER MCGHEE:

--and about a million people will lose health insurance. So how is this not a problem--

KIM STRASSEL:

So Republicans probably have a motivation now to go out and continue them and put their stamp on them. And Democrats may have a goal to go out and give them more choice.

CHUCK TODD:

So you have my theory. That's what I believe is that--

KIM STRASSEL:

This was to inspire a deal in Congress.

CHUCK TODD:

That he is not against these subsidy payments. He just is daring Congress to codify it.

KIM STRASSEL:

That's right.

KASIE HUNT:

Add it to the list, right? Add it to--

KIM STRASSEL:

Well--

KASIE HUNT:

That's what he's trying to get Congress to do.

CHUCK TODD:

But Kasie, how does that get--

KIM STRASSEL:

To put some more pieces into it for a negotiation.

CHUCK TODD:

How does that get through the House? That will get through the Senate. how does that get through the House?

KASIE HUNT:

Yeah, look, I think if they can in fact, if Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray are able to come back to the table and actually get something done, I do think there is a possibility that there will be a fix, a bipartisan fix for the markets. Now to get it through the House, you're going to need Nancy Pelosi on board. And I think that's been the sticking point.

And I do think that's part of the president's calculation here. I think he feels like Chuck Schumer understands how he operates a little bit here. And him daring Democrats to do this is part of trying to actually cut deals. I do think, at the end of the day, the president wants to cut deals. He wants to be viewed that way. And I think he's concluded that Mitch McConnell Republicans aren't going to help him, but Democrats might.

CHUCK TODD:

Dan, do you believe he will sign anything on healthcare that makes it looks like he made a change?

DAN BALZ:

Probably, sure. Yeah.

CHUCK TODD:

No matter what it does?

DAN BALZ:

Oh yeah.

CHUCK TODD:

Ideologically?

DAN BALZ:

Yes. Because he's never been any fixed position on what he thinks about healthcare. So I think he's open to anything that suggests that they are solving a problem or a piece of the problem. I think the question is, I agree with you. I think he wants to make deals. I think he's not clear which side he really wants to try to deal with first, or how he brings the two sides together, if there's a way to do that.

CHUCK TODD:

Heather, is there the political capital for the Democratic leaders to negotiate with Trump?

HEATHER MCGHEE:

I think that if they were to be able to do something which would reach real people, improve the healthcare situation in this country, because we're talking a lot about political gamesmanships and where the president is trying to move and he wants to appear, to look like he's the one who signs the deal. But meanwhile, people can't afford to go to their doctor.

And not because of any fault of their own. I mean, let's zoom back for a second. Why are there so many people who need these subsidies? It's because, you know, big profitable businesses are not paying their employees enough and they're cutting back on benefits. So it just feels like oftentimes the core question of can working families afford healthcare is getting lost in all of this.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, here's the good news if you like healthcare in your political TV ads, I think healthcare is going to be in our political TV ads for another campaign. I want to--

DAN BALZ:

What a great thought.

CHUCK TODD:

I figured that would be. Let me change subjects here, Harvey Weinstein. And I want to start with Maureen Dowd. Here's what she wrote this morning: "Women in Hollywood say social media, plus the anger about Trump getting into the Oval Office instead of Hillary, were propelling forces in the fire raining down on Weinstein. 'I hope it's a witch hunt,' said a top Hollywood woman.

"'I hope it's a purge. There are people we have to get rid of in our business. Everyone knows them.'" Now, let's set aside that actually witch hunt is the exact wrong metaphor to use here. Witch hunt is innocent. But Kasie, you sort of see the point here. Do we think Hollywood will follow through and truly purge?

KASIE HUNT:

I'm not sure yet. I think, look, I think a lot of us, this town is a place where there's power imbalances in all of the hallways. And I think, you know, a lot of--

CHUCK TODD:

Capitol Hill. Plenty of it.

KASIE HUNT:

A lot of women have experienced a lot of things like this. I think there's still a certain level of it here. I think the question is going to be, is the culture on now a long-term arc of change or not. Are women going to be willing to stand up and say, "Hey, this thing happened to me, it's not okay." I'm not convinced it's going to be a permanent shift.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. I'm going to have to give you a little insight on our editorial meeting. We were talking about this topic and talking about the discussion we should have this morning. And one of my producers said, "The way I feel about the gun control debate, which feels like we're always in a cul-de-sac, and it goes nowhere and we have to talk about it and then set it aside." She was arguing, Kimberly, that that's the sexual-assault conversation we have, and women in the workplace. We have the conversation when something high-profile happens, and then it goes away.

KIM STRASSEL:

Well, actually, I think we have the conversation a lot, if you think about it. For instance, just a couple of weeks ago, everyone was having a discussion about the Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and the campus rape guidance she'd given. What I would like to see I hope come out of this is that people can in fact begin to make some distinctions about the examples of this sort of very, very bad, like, I mean, allegedly what just happened with Weinstein. And realize too that not in every situation comes to that level. And that we need to make sure that those people are being made an example of. Whereas instead of having a very muddy conversation on campus about anyone.

HEATHER MCGHEE:

So I was sitting in this chair actually when the Access Hollywood tapes came out. And I remember just sitting there and thinking, "Okay, this is a man who is bragging about abusing his power to sexually assault women. And he's now in the White House." I don't think we are going to see a sea change until there is real accountability. And I mean criminal accountability for abusing your power. And that's what this is all about.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. I have to leave the conversation there. Because we are truly out of time. Thank you all. Before we go, I wanted to take note of the folks in California who are dealing with those devastating wildfires. One Santa Rosa resident told The L.A. Times, "When you stand there and look at the devastation, there are no words."

I want to recognize the heroism of these first responders who have been running towards this danger when the rest of us are running away and remember all the folks who have lost loved ones. Obviously all of our thoughts are with you. That's all we have for today. Thank you for watching. We'll be back next week. Because if it's Sunday, it's Meet the Press.

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