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Chuck Todd: Nothing Surprises Me About Sid Blumenthal. Nothing

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Also, the Meet The Press moderator weighed in on the Iran deal and why Roger Goodell seems to have it in for Browns owner Jimmy Haslam.

The Audio:

The Transcript:

HH: The big headline of the day of course is that the pilot who killed 150 people on the Lufthansa airplane was sick and hid it and covered it up, and they should have known. Chuck Todd joins me. Chuck, I’m sure Meet The Press will be covering this, this Sunday, but the story is almost over, I think, in some respects.

CT: You know, it is. It’s funny you say that. I mean, you know, look, not to take you behind the scenes on how we try and produce the show each week, but that is, I think you’re right. Is it the lead story that everybody’s talking about on Sunday morning? It depends, unless we learn more information in the next 24 hours. But you’re right. I feel like we all think we now know what happened, or we have a pretty good idea – a sick guy and a pilot decided to do what he did.

HH: By contrast, your timing could not be better to be focusing on the Senate and the opening of the Edward Kennedy Senate Center, because Harry Reid stunned a lot of Washington, D.C. today with an announcement that he’s not coming back to the Senate. Chuck Schumer appears to be…the Senate’s all over the news, and you’re focused on the Senate.

CT: No, you’re right. No, that does help. Of course, to me, the big timing on Sunday morning, either going to be great timing or not, is of course the Iran deal. But to pick up on Harry Reid, you know, it’s funny, I know a lot of people were supposed to be surprised, and yet I’m not surprised when a 75 year old senator says you know what, I don’t know if I’ve got another eight years in me. Remember, he’s got to decide that he wanted to be leader of the Senate. But once you’re leader, and you want to decide do I want to do this job until 2022, that’s a lot to decide. And I think, you think, I do, I know a lot of Senate Democrats assumed you never try to predict his demise, because Harry Reid’s got more lives than most cats. But I think the accident made him sort of just reorder himself.

HH: Would you be surprised by a 69 year old at the time former Senator and Secretary of State declining to run, because boy, the news today was bad on her. And Gawker’s got a story out with Pro Publica about the Sid Blumenthal story. The Washington Times has Trey Gowdy, who you had last week, blowing up because she wiped her server clean and she’s not turning it over. Hillary’s at the center, and this new poll shows only 26% of Americans now have a favorable view of her, 37% unfavorable, another third are undecided. And it’s dropping like a rock, Chuck Todd.

CT: Well, and this is the pattern of Hillary Clinton, something I brought up last week. The pattern of her political career is when she is front and center, the polarizing view of Hillary Clinton comes into focus. And when she is off the front pages and is sort of a player but on the sidelines, like when she was a Senator or when she was Secretary of State, her numbers go up. And as a presidential candidate, and when she’s at the center, you know, I think all of a sudden, there is, and she might blame that press, that the press has old habits die hard, they only cover her like she’s a Clinton from the 90s, and so it doesn’t matter. But all of a sudden, I think this is such a big challenge in the email story, is not the email story itself, it’s the idea that it creates the ‘oh, there they go again, this is the 90s all over again.’ And if Clinton fatigue, which is already a disease in the press corps, actually becomes a problem with the voting public, and these polls, maybe this is the first time that it’s becoming a problem, that is doom for her.

HH: It is a rumbling drum in the background. Now the Blumenthal story is different. I thought until today, actually earlier this week when I began to get wind of this, that Blumenthal would send her emails and she would write him back, and it was the kind of thing where you had a former aide, a hanger-on, and you stay in touch with everyone. No. He’s running a private intelligence operation on the Libyan-Tunisian border through former CIA operatives. Chuck Todd, if W. had done that, or actually, Condi Rice or Colin Powell would be the appropriate analogy…

CT: Yeah.

HH: …people would be tearing their hair out.

CT: And yet I have to say nothing involving Sid Blumenthal surprises me. Zero. And I agree. I think this, I saw this Gawker stuff. You know, you’ve got, it’s Gawker and all this stuff, but I’ve learned over the years, nothing involving Sid Blumenthal is surprising. And you know, for some reason, they’ve had, he’s blindly loyal to them, and I think the Clintons have always had a blind spot with him, because he skirts the rules.

HH: Yeah, this is going to…

CT: He’s, you know, he likes to leak stuff. He likes being described, I think, as a practice of the dark arts in politics.

HH: Well, Murray Chotiner…

CT: And this goes right into his pattern of practicing dark arts. And in this case, instead of politics, it’s world diplomacy.

HH: Yeah.

CT: I agree it’s, if proven, and I think more of us are looking into this, I think it just, it only, all it does is no one thing will take her down. It’s the accumulation of bits like this that then feed the narrative of oh, do you want ten more years of what you didn’t like about the Clintons.

HH: You know, Richard Nixon had Murray Chotiner. Reagan had Lyn Nofziger. Lee Atwater was George Herbert Walker Bush’s guy.

CT: Yeah.

HH: But Sid Blumenthal is known as Sid Vicious for a reason, and none of those people, to my knowledge, ran a foreign private intelligence operation, because it raises, Chuck Todd, and this would go…

CT: Well, I don’t know about Nixon. Don’t forget ol’ G. Gordon. But when he was around…

HH: Well, he was domestically, domestically. But here’s what it raises. If they’ve got a private server and a private citizen collecting private intel, it is highly likely it’s compromised going into the Secretary of State’s server. I mean, it’s just going to raise all sorts of fun. If there was on the right someone with the chops of some of the famous investigative reporters for the New Yorker, this would be keeping them up all night.

CT: I think, and look, I think all things Sid are going to become a big part of our, I think this is going to get a lot of attention. And I don’t think it’s a right, left, right, center. And you know, this is going to be, I think, the more explosive part of the first time she testifies on Benghazi. I mean, I think the Blumenthal stuff is going to be the stickiest wicket for her.

HH: Wait until he gets subpoenaed. Now let’s talk about the real world mess, which is Egypt and Yemen and Jordan invading, I mean, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan invading Yemen, and Iran outside of Tikrit, and all this stuff going on. What are the odds in Chuck Todd’s mind that a deal gets done with Iran and a deal survives, Chuck Schumer announcing today he’s voting for sanctions.

CT: Yeah, I’m starting to be skeptical about the deal. I actually, because put it this way, I don’t know how the President politically sells this to the public, let alone Congress when you’ve got on one hand a proxy war that you’re helping Saudi Arabia to try to push Iran back in Yemen, and at the same time you’re trying to do a deal with them, I don’t know how you tell the American public we need to stop Iran over here, but we’re going to let them do this over there. And this, Yemen is just, it was hard enough already for him, politically. I think Yemen makes it nearly impossible.

HH: It does. It really does. Now let’s switch to sports. Do you have a dog in the NCAA’s?

CT: Not really. I’m really disappointed in my son. He keeps wanting to root for Kentucky. He’s so into the undefeated thing. And I’m just like, you’re not allowed to root for John Calipari’s team in my house. Come on.

HH: Tell him to root for Notre Dame. Notre Dame broke the UCLA streak, remember. They broke John Wooden’s streak.

CT: I hear, you know, I have to say, I am, Notre Dame, athletically, is the, other than Duke, is the only team I’ve seen that I think at least could give Kentucky a game. But who knows? I did think West Virginia would give Kentucky at least a half.

HH: Yeah, wake up the echoes. Now to the pressing story, you are an NFL guy. Has Roger Goodell ever accepted a Meet The Press invite?

CT: Not yet. Not yet.

HH: All right, when you get him, I want to be hanging around, because he’s got it in for the Brown, and I make an evidence-based case here.

CT: Ooh.

HH : He wants to drop a draft pick penalty on the Browns because Ray Farmer texted a dismal team in the middle of a game.

CT: Yeah.

HH: This is just crazy, Chuck Todd. Why does he hate the Browns?

CT: Well, I think it’s Jimmy Haslam, I hate to tell you. I think Jimmy Haslam, I think he feels he was lied to by Haslam about the federal investigation. I’m serious. I think Haslam’s got a problem with Goodell because of that.

HH: Well, there is a problem.

CT: And I think that’s why it hurts. It’s just, you want my theory, that’s my theory on that one.

HH: That’s a good theory. I hadn’t thought it, because the Josh Gordon penalty, the way they took forever, now this thing, and I keep thinking what does Goodell have it…that is actually a respectable and responsible theory. But now I want…

CT: Now I know he’s ripped at Haslam, because he feels as if Haslam covered up the probe while trying to get owner approval.

HH: Interesting. Now are you trying to get Goodell on the program often? Does he…

CT: You know what? I haven’t, look, I’m going to drop a hint about next Sunday already. Next Sunday, I do have a major sports commissioner set for coming on the show next week.

HH: Oh.

CT: I won’t say which one. I can’t, you know, it’s embargoed, yet, but it won’t be Roger. I can tell you that.

HH: Well, that’s a pretty good, interesting hit. Okay, last question, Chuck Todd, the reality, I had Scott Walker on the show this week, great conversation. You’re a Wisconsin-Green Bay Packers fan. Of course, that came up. The media’s hit him on not being available. I spent an hour with him without any preconditions. He answered every question. What’s the deal with he’s not being available? I think he’s being available, but he’s doing it with non-process stories like Rubio.

CT: No, I think that, no, I think that’s right. I think look, I think the challenge for him this week is all of his opponents are trying to bang on him on immigration. And I think the question is I don’t know if Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio beating him up on immigration, if that helps them, and if it really does hurt Walker. One thing I’ve learned about the base is they’d rather have a convert than somebody who disagrees with them.

HH: Chuck Todd of Meet The Press, going to be a great weekend show. Thank you for joining us. Follow him on Twitter, @ChuckTodd.

End of interview.


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