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Talking With Chuck Todd About 2016 And The Clinton Scandals And The Trump Ceiling

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Meet The Press’ Chuck Todd joined me this morning:




HH: I’m talking with Chuck Todd, host of Meet the Press, who got to spend the day yesterday talking baseball. I was extremely jealous, Chuck Todd. How did you enjoy that?

CT: That was fantastic. I mean, it was great, and it was, of all shows, Brian Kenny’s hour, they were basically the, you know, they’re the Sabermetrics hour. So they’re the big data, so you know, big data. We deal with it in politics, deal with it in baseball.

HH: I just thought it was fun.

CT: It was great to just talk baseball.

HH: Your Twitter feed was terrific yesterday. Well, let’s get to the news. The New York Times this morning has a story about Huma gets a call from Bill Clinton, please set up a meeting between Mrs. Clinton and Dow Chemical. Huma sets it up, Dow gives Bill a plane, and of course, they’re big donors to the Foundation. Yesterday, Politico had a story on Bill Clinton getting $16 million dollars from the Retired Presidents Fund. The Times of London picked that up today. Last Sunday when I was on the set with you, the Los Angeles Times had a front page story on Gilbert Chagoury and his ties. I mentioned on the show the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the Foreign Agents Registration Act. This is drip, drip, drip, and Circa this morning reports that today, the FBI’s referral to the State Department will leak. Obviously, they’ve got their hands on it, on the Records Act. How long can she put up with this, Chuck?

CT: I don’t know. I mean, I guess she’s thankful that she’s got Donald Trump on the other side. I mean, you know, under normal circumstances, you would say that this is an untenable situation, you know, that this is coming at her from too many sides. You know, there just needs to be, you know, and this goes back to on the Clinton Foundation, they just need to rip this Band-Aid off. I think we all know how this story’s going to end. It’s going to end with them totally severing ties at some point, but they seem to be making this as painful as possible. You know, at the end of the day, they want to defend the idea that they didn’t pay to play. Okay, fine. But people paid for access. That is a fact, and yes, that is not illegal, but that’s what happened here. And by the way, we live in a time where that is something that the public doesn’t accept anymore. So it is, I don’t know, I feel like they’re totally out of touch. They’ve got a 90s mentality about this, way too much. It just feels like, I mean, I’m having flashbacks to the 90s. And I just don’t, I don’t, I mean, I get it. They’re being defiant. But it’s a case of you know, we’ve gone through this with Trump. You sit there and say who’s giving them this advice? No one’s giving them this advice, you know?

HH: They’re coming up with it.

CT: They’re fighting it.

HH: You know, you just said that is not illegal, and you are right about 90% of their meetings because of the United States Supreme Court act regarding Bob McDonnell, a Supreme Court ruling. However, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act does make it illegal with regards to people like Chagoury. And I think that, that’s why the Times story of Sunday is so important to me. But I have a…

CT: Well, what you’re saying is the person that may have broken the law is not a Clinton, but the person that made the payment, is what you’re saying?

HH: Yeah, either Doug Band or if Bill…

CT: Yeah.

HH: If Bill Clinton gave a thing of value to Chagoury when he showed up on the fake island, that violates FCPA, too.

CT: Yeah.

HH: But let me ask you a bigger meta question. She raised $143 million dollars in August. It’s an astonishing amount of money. But I pose the question, and I am not comparing Mrs. Clinton to Bernie Madoff. What I’m trying to say is can $143 million dollars change her public profile now in the way that, you know, you could spend a billion dollars on Bernie Madoff and you could never change his public profile.

CT: No.

HH: Can they move…

CT: No, but what it can do is it prevents Donald Trump from being able to change his.

HH: Ah.

CT: You know, I mean, look, this comes back to they’re, she said it two months ago. I’ll never forget when she said it, because I thought wow, it’s throwing in the towel on your own campaign in some respects. But she said this campaign’s going to be a referendum about Donald Trump. Now you get to say something like that if you’ve got the most money, because you have more of an opportunity to impact that outcome than you do if you have less money. They’re determined to make this a referendum on Trump. And she has enough money that as far as TV advertising is concerned, it’s going to look like that. It’s sure going to look like it. I mean, you realize Trump still hasn’t completed, you know, they announced with big fanfare this week that they expanding their ad buy into normal battlegrounds.

HH: Right.

CT: Still no money has showed up in Colorado, Virginia, Iowa by Trump.

HH: No, it’s true. It’s astonishing. You’ve got, and I’m not blowing smoke here, you’ve got the best internal meter on politics. This goes back to your Hot Line days. The Real Clear Politics average is down to 4 ½ points. Kelly Ayotte’s closed to two points in New Hampshire. Portman’s up nine in Ohio. I’ve got Todd Young coming on next segment. He’s closed the gap with Bayh. Where do you see this election on the presidential level? Is it still winnable by Trump?

CT: The presidential level? I just, I struggle because of the demographics, Hugh. I really do. I can’t get that to 270 when you start going state by state. You look at the national numbers, and it’s definitely shrunk a little bit. But the problem is if you’ve noticed the number that has moved, it’s her number, not his.

HH: Right. Oh, and it’s bleeding.

CT: And that’s an important thing. Her number is fluid, and guess what? This, you know, and Peter Hart reminded me of this. He goes, you know, in 1979, he goes I was doing all these Senate races, and in ’79, I could have told you Carter couldn’t gain any more vote. The question was whether Carter couldn’t win the question. He said it was about whether Reagan could. And he goes, and his comparison is, he goes Clinton is in that, Clinton and Trump are there, Trump in the form of Carter.

HH: Interesting.

CT: The voters have decided that, and so Trump can’t add to his vote, is his theory. Now she can lose it, but it’s in her hands to win it or lose it, in the same way it was in Reagan’s hands to win it or lose it.

HH: We’ll look for that FBI referral, too.

CT: The opportunity is in her hands. It’s an interesting, interesting way of looking at it.

HH: Who’s on this Sunday, because I think you’re going to have some scandals to deal with, if I’m told correctly about the Circa drop.

CT: Well, I’m starting with Mr. Pence.

HH: Ah…

CT: Start there, his first on Meet the press since becoming the nominee.

HH: Oh, very cool.

CT: And it makes us the first Sunday show to have all four principals. We’ve had all four principals. So there.

HH: I note that you won the weekend last weekend. Keep it up, Chuck Todd, of Meet the Press, with Governor Mike Pence on Sunday.

End of interview.


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