MSNBC Hopes Flynn Flip Brings GOP Agenda to ‘Screeching Halt’

During MSNBC’s Velshi & Ruhle on Friday, the liberal co-anchors were giddy at the prospect that former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn pleading guilty to making false statements to the FBI in the Russia investigation would bring the entire Republican legislative agenda to a “screeching halt.”

Talking to Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd at the end of the 11 a.m. ET hour, Stephanie Ruhle eagerly asked: “Does this news that we’re seeing out of the White House today put everything else to a screeching halt?” Todd confessed that didn’t seem likely: “Nothing seems to ever stop Washington – you know, sort of stop everything....the Senate Republicans....I think collectively they’re gonna put blinders on in all this, and their gonna, their mindset is gonna be, ‘We’re just going to continue to do our agenda, do the taxes’...”

 

 

An exasperated Ali Velshi responded: “But at what point does that stop? At what point do Republicans say the tone has changed, the mood of the country is changing, it is – you can’t put blinders on about Trump v. Russia anymore?”

Todd observed:

It’s when they hear about it from home....Until this makes a Senate Republican or a House Republican feel as if, “Oh, my God, the bottom’s going to fall out on my political career if I don’t get right with the voters on this this regarding the President.” Then that’s when you’ll see that. But you know, we’re not there yet.

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Ruhle was disgusted, and replied: “Isn’t that sick?”

Just prior to their discussion with Todd, Velshi and Ruhle conducted a softball interview with Democratic New Mexico Senator Tom Udall, repeatedly teeing him up to slam congressional Republicans.  “But at some point this becomes very, very serious for your Republican colleagues to say the evidence is mounting that the White House did have something to do with the Russians....This has to become more political at some point with the dropping of this charge against Mike Flynn,” Velshi proclaimed. The Democrat agreed: “Yeah, I think you’re probably right.”

Ruhle followed up: “You talk to your Republican counterparts all the time....Behind closed doors, when is it that they start to say, ‘Maybe we’ve got to do something here’?” Udall predicted:

Well, I think this is something they don’t want to talk about. And at this point you have the three investigations. They can defer over to the three investigations and hopefully not talk about it. But as this builds up, I think we’re going to have the special prosecutor issue his report, we’re going to have the reports out of these three investigations, and it’s going to be pretty devastating. At that point they’re going to have to take some action.

Velshi implored the lawmaker to make the investigation the number one issue in Congress:

...have you inquired as to what Democratic senators or Democratic members of Congress have the power to do to now move this into the fore? Because as you said, your Republican colleagues tend not to like to talk about it. When we book people on to talk about taxes or whatever the case is, they don’t want to talk about Donald Trump and Russia. At some point, what can you do to make this the main course of conversation?

Udall assured him: “We need to clearly push forward on the investigations that are ongoing....Increasingly, this is going to build, and I think they have to face this, the Republicans have to face it.”

Here are transcripts of the December 1 coverage:

11:52 AM ET

ALI VELSHI: Senator Tom Udall from New Mexico, he’s a Democratic senator, he serves on the Senate Commerce and Foreign Relations and Appropriations Committees, joins us now. And, Senator, I think when we initially wanted to talk to you, we wanted to talk taxes. That’s on hold for the moment because the vote’s on hold. We do have the Dow now down 240 points.

Senator, at some point – we’ve had Liz Holtzman on with us this morning, we’ve had Bill Kristol on – at some point this cannot avoid the scrutiny of Congress. Now it’s not that it has, because there are three into the Russian investigation going on in Congress. But at some point this becomes very, very serious for your Republican colleagues to say the evidence is mounting that the White House did have something to do with the Russians in their effort to get sanctions not imposed on Russia. This has to become more political at some point with the dropping of this charge against Mike Flynn.

SEN. TOM UDALL [D-NM]: Yeah, I think you’re probably right. I don’t have any doubt with this disclosure today and this plea that what we’re seeing unfold is the special prosecutor now is going to have a very intimate view as to the President, his team, both in the transition and in the early days of the administration, as to how it was operating and what were the contacts with Russia and what exactly was the back and forth. So this is a very, very significant plea today.

STEPHANIE RUHLE: You talk to your Republican counterparts all the time. You’ve known them a lot longer than President Trump has. Behind closed doors, when is it that they start to say, “Maybe we’ve got to do something here”?

UDALL: Well, I think this is something they don’t want to talk about. And at this point you have the three investigations. They can defer over to the three investigations and hopefully not talk about it. But as this builds up, I think we’re going to have the special prosecutor issue his report, we’re going to have the reports out of these three investigations, and it’s going to be pretty devastating. At that point they’re going to have to take some action.

VELSHI: At some point, Senator, this crosses from – it is – for some Americans, this has been background noise. For some people, the Russia investigation has been in the foreground. But at some point, what – have you inquired as to what Democratic senators or Democratic members of Congress have the power to do to now move this into the fore? Because as you said, your Republican colleagues tend not to like to talk about it. When we book people on to talk about taxes or whatever the case is, they don’t want to talk about Donald Trump and Russia. At some point, what can you do to make this the main course of conversation? Because I think a lot of Americans today are saying, “Alright, I held out not knowing what this was all about, it’s now becoming a lot clearer what this was all about.”  

UDALL: Well, I think the important thing is that in all the committees that have jurisdiction, we can ask questions. We can inquire with officials that have some knowledge about this. We need to clearly push forward on the investigations that are ongoing and the special prosecutor needs to move in a thorough and timely way and get that information out there. Increasingly, this is going to build, and I think they have to face this, the Republicans have to face it.

VELSHI: Senator, good to talk to you. Thank you very much for joining us.

UDALL: Thank you.

VELSHI: We’ll call you back on when we have an opportunity to talk about taxes. At some point this vote will be rescheduled. It might be later today. Thank you, Senator. Senator Tom Udall.

UDALL: That’s great. Thank you. Thank you very much.

(...)

11:55 AM ET

(...)

STEPHANIE RUHLE: Does this news that we’re seeing out of the White House today put everything else to a screeching halt?

CHUCK TODD: You know, in – if you had asked me that question 10 years ago and the way Washington worked even just a decade ago, I would have said yes, screeching halt. Nothing seems to ever stop Washington – you know, sort of stop everything. There’s still business that has to be done. I don’t think the tax bill starts.

(...)

TODD: But look, the Senate Republicans, there’s a handful of them that say that they want to hold things up at some points in time on this stuff, but I think collectively they’re gonna put blinders on in all this, and their gonna, their mindset is gonna be, “We’re just going to continue to do our agenda, do the taxes,” and then sort of try to distance themselves a little bit.

VELSHI: So you heard we talked – we just asked Tom Udall about that. Obviously he’s not on the right side of aisle to give us an answer that would be satisfactory. But at what point does that stop? At what point do Republicans say the tone has changed, the mood of the country is changing, it is – you can’t put blinders on about Trump v. Russia anymore?  

TODD: It’s when they hear about it from home. You know, right now, I think, Ali, I heard you say this, it’s been background noise, right? And it has been. It’s sort of been like the background music you’ve stopped listening – paying attention to in the elevator.

RUHLE: It doesn’t affect people day-in and day-out in their lives.

TODD: Right. Until this makes a Senate Republican or a House Republican feel as if, “Oh, my God, the bottom’s going to fall out on my political career if I don’t get right with the voters on this this regarding the President.” Then that’s when you’ll see that. But you know, we’re not there yet.

RUHLE: Charles, isn’t that sick?

TODD: There aren’t enough – there are not enough in the Republican base yet that is ready to – I mean, thanks to the gerrymandered district, thanks to our polarization. Remember, 35 to 45% of the country is going to accept more of the Ty Cobb explanation here and the President Trump explanation here, at least for a while. I think it’s gonna take more shoes to drop. I think if you – you know, if it’s the President, his son-in-law, if it really does creep into the family – and perhaps Donald Trump Jr. here, we shouldn’t leave him out, since he also seemed to be dabbling in Russian diplomacy every now and then during that campaign year. Until it actually touches the family in public, and the public sees that, if it does, if indeed the investigation gets all the way there, then perhaps it becomes that political problem that your generic Republican senator or Republicans congressman has to say, “I’m out.”

RUHLE: Alright, Chuck, we have to interrupt you.

VELSHI: Just to underscore, actually, a point that Chuck just made, Mitch McConnell has just walked on to the Senate floor and said to reporters, “We have the votes.” This is for the tax bill that should have been voted on an hour ago. So, again, to your point, it would be much better for Mitch McConnell if he were to be able to hold this vote today and pass tax and let the media and the rest of the world focus on Mike Flynn.

TODD: Hey, guys, in an odd way, this may be a gift to Mitch McConnell in trying to get his 50 votes, right? The intense public scrutiny that was coming the last 12 hours on this tax bill may have had an impact on a handful of senators. Well, now, no one’s watching, right? Make your deal-cutting a little bit easier.

(...)


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