HH: I’m joined now by Chuck Todd, host of Meet The Press, who is welcoming a key guest in this investigation on Sunday. Chuck, welcome, tell people who you’ve got on Sunday.
CT: Well, we’ve got the chief law enforcement officer now that the feds are in charge of this, Loretta Lynch, the Attorney General. And it’s actually her first ever morning live interview, and so we will be able to get a fresh update on the investigation as it’s unfolding, as we keep learning. We learn more stuff every day, so we will be getting it from the horse’s mouth, I presume, on Sunday morning.
HH: Now Chuck, I’m not a prosecutor, and I didn’t stay at a Holiday Inn, but I was at the Department of Justice in the Counterterrorism Special Assistant slot to the AG, two of them. I’ve never seen anything like what happened this morning when they opened the crime scene, the terrorists’ home, to the media. Have you?
CT: I haven’t, and I’m frankly, I’m, I’m just going to say I’m stunned. I am beyond shocked. I don’t get it. I don’t get, I don’t get why A) opening it up this quickly, B) leaving all the things they left, and I have to say, I’m sitting here, I’m just, it just, it doesn’t add up. You know, and I’m just going to leave it at that. It doesn’t add up. I do not understand how this happened.
HH: Yeah, and I hope it comes up when you talk, I don’t try and work the refs here, but you’ve got the AG, and she’s an experienced terrorism prosecutor.
CT: No, I don’t, listen, absolutely a question. What are you doing? How does this happen? What kind of sloppiness is this? It just feels sloppy. If this truly, I’m now, I have to say, I’m like second-guessing. No, this can’t actually be their apartment. This must be a hoax, or this must be, like I just cannot imagine 48 hours after this happens in the middle of an investigation that keeps turning up more and more ties to international terrorism and ISIS, that this is just left out there, and that there are ID’s of perhaps innocent people just left around there for the public to see…
HH: I hadn’t even thought of that aspect. You’re right.
CT: I think that the whole part of it, if the FBI has been through here, then this was sloppy, to say the least.
HH: Yeah, and the first person you would turn it back over to is to the, if it is cleared, is to the terrorists’ family so that they could go and collect…
CT: Well, that’s, but for what it’s worth, it is the landlord, the guy that owns the place that let the media in. He made his decision. But…
HH: Okay, that’s almost the minor story. The major story is…
CT: It is a minor story, yeah.
HH: …ISIS connection, yeah.
CT: No, it’s a huge, it’s the big, yes.
HH: Yeah, and so last night, I was on with Don Lemon, and I said look, this is terrorism, and with Nick Kristof. And I said anyone with eyes who can see and anyone with ears who can hear can know this is terrorism. I don’t get the workplace violence angle. What was holding the media back, Chuck Todd?
CT: Because it never, look, it didn’t look like a terrorist incident that we’ve ever dealt with before. Let’s be realistic. Would you have expected San Bernardino? Would you have expected a sort of innocuous county government building in the Inland Empire in California? You know, so that’s, I think that, and so you, and at the same time, the guy worked there. And so when you have a connection where you know the shooter worked there, how do you not, you know, and so to me, it was everybody should just wait for all the, you know, to know everything before, to me, there was too much of a rush to judgment, frankly with political players on the left trying desperately to make this about gun control before we knew the facts, and on the right trying to make this about terrorism before we knew the facts. Now it turns out it was terrorism, but there’s nothing wrong with waiting.
HH: Now here, we disagree, because Robert Baer…
CT: There’s nothing wrong with waiting, Hugh.
HH: Oh, there is, only if, this goes to the intelligence debate in the Senate, and I talked to Mitch McConnell after I talked to you. The reason I wanted it to get there is because the metadata request that has to go to the phone company now because of the killing of the Patriot Act cost time once you know it’s a terrorism act. If the NSA had their phones, they would have been able to do metadata searches immediately.
CT: But you’re talking about the media, Hugh. That’s what I mean. I should hope that immediately, that all the subpoenas that were necessarily, I agree with you on that. That’s internally. You’re asking why did the media wait. I mean, the media needed to wait.
HH: Yeah, and that’s because I think what happens is if the media queues up and then puts out that it’s terrorism, everybody, the social distributed intelligence of the social media network begins to gather as they would not gather for workplace violence. And I think they help, actually, the investigators if they’re serious. So that’s a long conversation.
CT: Yeah, I can make an argument that it would hurt it, that if you do that, you’d soon then, those that want to cover their tracks cover their tracks. So that can cut both ways.
HH: Yeah, here’s the thing that’s amazing to me, though. The brother-in-law showed up at a CAIR press conference on the night of the attack. How does that happen, Chuck Todd?
CT: Well, I’m not, I’m not going there.
CT: I’m not going there. You know, it could very well be that he’s an activist. It could very well, we don’t know. I’m not going to say. I don’t know enough about him.
HH: We don’t know.
CT: I don’t know enough about him. Look, this is, these are all fair questions to the investigators. And look, I think, to me, the thing that we just, here’s what, I was talking, we had Shawn Henry, who is a former assistant director of the FBI, and he was, I think, the first person that said the anomaly in this attack is a mother leaving their child for six months. She’s the key to this whole thing. He said this yesterday, like she is probably the key to this whole thing. Well, lo and behold, we now know she may have been the once. And now it’s going to open up the door to wondering, boy, we knew ISIS was already sophisticated in its propaganda. But are they now essentially using dating sites? You know, this is now going to some next level stuff. That is pretty scary.
HH: Yeah, because Chris Christie said last hour on this program I wonder if the President’s going to mock me as a tough guy now for worrying about widows, because this was a black widow.
HH: That’s where my observation is taking me. And Christie just hammered the President. What do you think happens now inside the White House on their reluctance to use the term Islamist terror, on the jayvee stuff coming back? What happens now?
CT: Right. If he cares at all, if he is concerned, I know what he’s, I get what he’s concerned about. And look, I think the President, it was so clear to me yesterday now looking back on the timeline when the President made his comments from the Oval Office, how subdued he was, how he didn’t go off on a gun control rant. He had been briefed. Here’s what I think happened, is that in that moment was when he was told this is radicalization, there’s a connection here, we don’t have it cold, yet, but that’s what it is. And that’s why his remarks were what they were. Within an hour, Pete Williams on our air was reporting hey, you know, the Saudi Arabia connection, ISIS connection and all that stuff, so or excuse me, not the ISIS connection, just the terrorism connection. And so look, I think if the President cares, is worried about Islamophobia, and that’s what he’s worried about, okay, and it’s a fair thing to worry about. If he’s worried about that, then he needs to fill the vacuum. He needs to get out there and be tough on security, and at the same time, compassionate to Muslim-Americans, and at the same time, be tough on Islamic radicalism. Like he has got to fill this vacuum if he cares about it, because if he doesn’t, you know, and you’ve talked to Scarborough about this, Joe and I were talking about it this morning on air. You know, others are going to fill it, and he may be upset with how that vacuum is filled, but this is a country that is insecure right now. This is a country filled with anxiety. These, we have had, you know, Paris on top of, throw in Colorado, and then this. We’re now fearful of terrorism and lone gunman stuff. We feel like it’s happening a lot. It’s no accident that on Black Friday, you had the background check system for guns go through the roof. I have a close friend…
HH: Chuck, would you agree…
CT: I have a close friend for the first time in his life is thinking about purchasing a gun. And it is because, look, it is up to our president to, whether, no matter what you think of it, they’ve got to channel the insecurity/anxiety. And it’s his job to both be compassionate and tough, and right now, he’s not doing either.
HH: And in fact, I think what you’re saying, and this might be why he’s reluctant to do it, he’s got to act like George W. Bush after 9/11, by both saying we will get the bad guys…
CT: You can do both. Bush did it. That’s right.
CT: Go after the bad guys, and say leave Muslim-Americans alone.
HH: Exactly, but he doesn’t want to act anything like George W. Bush.
CT: Look, I think the fair thing is, you know, he believes, and I think he was, in many ways, he was elected to not be Bush, okay, and that is in his head sometimes too much. And perhaps, he’s overcorrecting a little bit. But I think that that’s the, you know, if you ask, look, as you know, when people are feeling insecure, there’s a vacuum. And right now, Trump’s filling that vacuum, all right? And he’s filling it, you know, with strong rhetoric, tough rhetoric. It may be like using tequila shots to take care of pain, you know. It feels good in the moment, and you may have a hangover later.
HH: That’s a very good analogy (laughing)
CT: (laughing) You know, but guess what? When you have that first pain, sometimes it feels good in the moment.
HH: (laughing) Trump is a tequila shot. I like that.
CT: Well, I mad you almost lose your composure there, Hewitt.
HH: Yeah, but Chris Christie is also filling that. That’s where, that’s what New Hampshire is going to be played out over, don’t you think?
CT: It is Chris Christie’s moment. This is his moment. This is, it is his opening.
HH: Wait until you hear the audio.
CT: I don’t know whether it will work, but…
HH: …he just gave me. Chuck Todd, we’ll be watching on Sunday, because if it’s Sunday, it’s Meet The Press.
End of interview.