Voters want lawmakers 'talking about the future': Chris Christie

The Powerhouse Roundtable breaks down the latest news on "This Week."
16:19 | 04/11/21

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Transcript for Voters want lawmakers 'talking about the future': Chris Christie
Let's talk about it on our round table. We are joined by Chris Christie, Rahm Emanuel, our congressional correspondent Rachel Scott making her round table debut. Welcome. And "The New York Times" correspondent Maggie Haberman. The covid relief package has passed. The president is making progress on covid, on the pandemic. What does he do to keep the momentum going? First of all, keep pushing this because it's very popular. Not only what he did in the past in the sense of getting economic relief to Americans who have been hurt by the pandemic, but look. Every one of these items, whether it's roadways or broadband is very popular not just with Democrats and independents, but a third of the Republican party, and that's a problem for Republicans, and one of the things he has done and the white house has done is come up with a very secret sauce. Among his persona, his soothing and reassuring to moderate swing voters. His policies, soothing and reassuring to Progressives. That creates a problem for the Republicans, as a dynamic between the persona and the policy that they cannot crack which is why they're trying to divert everything away from the actual discussion of this package. Let me disagree with Rahm on the fact that I'm trying to divert anything away from his package. I want us to look closely at the package. You cannot call a $400 billion plan to force unionization in states to say that taking care of increasing medicaid payments in states is infrastructure. Now language does matter. We learned that in the last four years. How you use it and what you say, and I said last week that the president's not telling the truth, and he's not telling the truth about the infrastructure package. This is the care economy. This is care infrastructure. It's baloney, and so what's going to happen is the president right now is in the first 100 days and he's going to have that soothing persona and all the rest of it, but when people start to look at what he's really doing, George, those moderate voters -- But even the things you just mentioned right there are popular. People would love to have medicaid increases. Like their grandparents to be taken care of. Here's what's not popular. Lying is not popular. It's not infrastructure, George. Do you want to use the word lie there? Come on. Donald Trump -- let's be fair here. If Donald Trump had come out and called a dog a cat which is what Joe Biden is doing, we would be outraged by the fact that he's lying, but when Joe Biden is talking about, well, come on, it's Joe. It's not true. If he wants to make the case, George, for increased medicaid payments and connect it to those payments, mandatorily using union members, let him make that case and see if he gets it passed I know he won't, and people around this table know he won't either. You spend every day up on capitol hill. You talk to people on both sides of the aisle. What are the prospects of reaching a deal? I was talking to democratic senator Chris coons yesterday, and he's been working the phones along with Pete buttigieg, and they're trying to get Republicans and Democrats on the same page here. Coons does believe there's a narrow prospect for an infrastructure package. He's saying to the white house and saying to Democrats, let's try to work on this on a two-track system. You can have Democrats try to make this very broad package with everything they want in it, but at the same time, try to work with Republicans on a more narrow package, maybe working on that through memorial day, having that be sort of the deadline there. I was also talking to a senior democratic source who says right now they have five Republican senators who are on board with a package up to $1 trillion. The question though is, can you get five more, right? You need ten. Do you believe a Republican votes yes for any package? I think for any conceivable packages, there are changes that could be made, but what's on the table right now, no, I do not. I think Biden has, you know, decided the way he's going to go is to pitch very large projects. We obviously saw it with the covid-related bill, but that was different. The way people are responding to covid and their crises related to it is different. There are elements of this package that are popular, but the overall package I think requires a level of selling from the administration that is just beginning, and that I think is just different. I don't think the public is as keyed in on this overall bill as they were on the covid relief bill. Rahm, if all the Republicans are against anything like what the president is posing right now, is it Joe Manchin's No. Washington is America's capital, not his. He's a very crucial player, and he's playing that role excellent to that point. I do think we should not lose sight of this fact, which is the package, the first package as I like to say is covid and is one response. This package and I defer to issues of roads and broadband, is very popular with the American people. They see it in their own community. They know the impact of having delayed -- bad roads getting to their kids' soccer games or after school activities when they're back in school. I would say to this point, it's popular with the her. -- American people, and one of the things that Washington has not caught on, is that Joe Biden knows what bipartisanship is. When you get the American voters, that's a problem. I completely agree with that. That is what's in this package. He got 10% of the Republican vote across the states' average that he swung from 2016 to 2020. He's consistently from the covid package to this package, talking to Biden Republicans. Voters are also going to want to see Biden work with Democrats on this, too. This go at it alone -- You mean Republicans. Democrats and Republicans. Even Manchin, he's signaling by pushing past this filibuster discussion. Biden needs to come to the table and meet Republicans on some type of package, and maybe that's infrastructure. The Democrats seemed to calculate their best policy is to keep passing things as much as they can. Is it the best for Republicans to be no across the board? They're not going to be no across the board. Maggie knows this. If they put forward a real infrastructure bill, roads, bridges, tunnels, rail, broadband. If they put together something like that, they're going to get enough Republican votes in the senate to pass it, but that's not what they want to do. He says that's what he wants to do, but it's not. So let's not pretend. We haven't redefined bipartisanship with all due respect to my friend. We haven't. In a poll -- it's not translating to votes in ngress. You had Democrats who were willing to vote for a package signed by president trump. It doesn't appear right now that you have Republicans willing to vote for packages put forward by president Biden. No. He's put forward a liberal wish list of things they want to do, and they won the election. So they get to put forward their wish list, but you have to put it forward honestly. Joe Biden's got to stop not telling the truth, and if he stops not telling the truth, and makes the case for increasing the size of medicaid, then see if you can pass it or not. You can pass an infrastructure package. Republican mayors and governors are going to want it, and Republican senators are going to want to go home and say, I fixed that road. I fixed that bridge. I fixed that tunnel. I think here's the thing which is there are -- there's going to be an agreement, and this is what I think Chris is missing. When Biden says, look. There are going to be changes. I'm open to it. Come on down to the office. That open, basic approach, that tone and tenor is reassuring and I think you're missing the fact of how reassuring that soothes the public, and he's not trying to be partisan, and it's not up to the Republicans. Bipartisanship requires the other side coming forward. Maggie, we haven't seen much of trump the last couple of months, but he has a lock behind the scenes on the Republican party. Big Republican conference in mar-a-lago over the weekend. Spent as much time attacking Republicans as Democrats. Absolutely. Spent as much time attacking Mitch Mcconnell as he did talking about the future of the party or any kind of forward looking vision. It's really breathtaking. This was a Republican national committee donor event and that is where he chose to attack the most prominent Republican who exists in the country at the moment. Also continued to attack Mike pence, the former vice president whose life was threatened on January 6th. This is the dilemma Republicans have -- or some Republicans, not all, but there are Republicans willing to criticize him. There are any other number of Republicans who went down to kiss the ring at mar-a-lago, and as long as that is going to happen, trump is going to retain a presence in the party. He's the most sought after endorsement in the party. He's the leader of the party. Right. I mean, that's fact, and that's with any former president. When the other party takes over. Not Jimmy Carter. Well, look. Carter was a real exception, I think, because the American people had so clearly rejected him in 1980. I mean, you didn't have that clear rejection here in 2020 as you did four years earlier. Reagan won 40 states, I mean, in 1980. It was a pretty clear rejection, but look. Here's what Republicans need to do. The way you lose elections is to talk about the past. The way you lose elections is to look in the rear-view mirror and act that way. Voters want you talking about the future.- we need to stop attacking each other, and we need to start talking about the future and contrast ourselves to the Democrats, and if president trump is able to figure out how to do that, great. Join the chorus, but if he isn't, now -- we're only 11 weeks in. So I'm not ready to just say, this is the way it's going to be for the next two years, but if he's not able to do that, then he's going to diminish himself for the future. Rachel, we know the people want his endorsement. You're on the capitol. How much talk is there about Donald Trump? I would say it's split. The challenge for the Republican party is how do you reset in this moment? Is this a time after you've already lost the white house, after you lost the senate, is this a time where you try and figure out who is the next leader going forward, and I think that Republicans are split, and we saw that in the aftermath of the impeachment trial over the legacy of Donald Trump and his role in the party going forward. I don't think anyone is surprised to see trump's comments on Mcconnell after he said that he was immorally responsible for the violence that occurred on January 6th, but the question I think is here with the Republican party, how do you get them all together before 2022, and before 2024? Can I say one thing? Democrat. John Boehner has a book out. Galvanized it. He talked about gaining public control, and he got eaten by it. That's what's happening with Donald Trump. Mitch Mcconnell and the rest of the leadership thought they could use Donald Trump for their own advantages, and now they're being eaten by it. Boehner's experience that he talks about with fox and it being taken over by the tea party is what's happening with the rest of the party with Donald Trump and they cannot shake him and it's going to be a problem for them because it's going to be constantly his grievances about the past and it has nothing to do with the American people. In the meantime, one of president trump's -- former president trump's top accolades in the house, Matt Gaetz facing a world of trouble. It turns out that one of his associates in Florida may be turning against him in the sex trafficking case. Gaetz, defiant. So when you see the leaks and the lies and the falsehoods, and the smears. When you see the anonymous sources and insiders forecasting my demise, know this. They aren't really coming for me. They're coming for you. I'm just in the way. Maggie Haberman, I'm having a hard time figuring out who the you is. This is the Donald Trump playbook of what you say when you are under investigation. It's what we heard Donald Trump say over and over again over the course of four years. The you is supposed to be his district. I would note he remains very popular in his district. It is a very red and very trumpy district, but he has no one in congress -- not no one, but almost no one who really wants to stand with him right now. He has very few defenders. Former president trump is not defending him despite his years of -- You and the "New York Times" have been doing a deep dive into this case. Explain what's at issue here. Sure. So the issue is whether Gaetz working with this friend as you mentioned, this former tax collector named Joel Greenberg, whether they were involved in sex trafficking, and whether Gaetz paid for sex and had sex with a minor. He has denied both of those things, but Greenberg as you said, he is likely to take a plea based on what his prosecutors and own lawyer has said, and he said that Matt Gaetz should not be feeling very comfortable, and that indicates he's going to try to help himself with his prison term by cooperating on something about Gaetz. Again, we -- there's a lot we still don't know about this investigation, but this investigation began under former president trump. Gaetz has been describing this as a liberal witch hunt. This started under bill Barr. Reporting he tried to get a pre-emptive pardon. Not a lot of significant support from Republicans. It's interesting what we're not hearing from Republicans. You don't have anyone in Republican leadership rushing to the defense of Matt Gaetz. You don't have anyone coming out and saying this is wrong that he should be removed from these committees. It's this wait and see approach. Wait and see how it plays out. They're going to be pressed on this, and they're going to have to answer to this as this investigation sort of unfolds. Look. What I have learned over seven years as a federal prosecutor is the investigation will yield what it will yield, and we won't have to speculate anymore, you know, if Greenberg winds up cooperating, we're going to know that, and we're going to hear what he's got to say and evaluate the evidence when it comes forward, and whatever Matt Gaetz said in his speech about you and they're after you, not me. No, no, no. They're after you. I can say as a prosecutor. They're not going to prosecute any people in your district. They're investigating you. People woke up Sunday morning for that insight. Go back to your coffee. Relax. They're not looking for you. They're looking at that guy over there. They're after him, and we're going to see whether they have him or not, and one of the real ugly things that has happened over the last number of years has been the increasing leaks of these type of investigations. When I became governor, you know, the legislators would complain about the fact that I brought 29 federal prosecutors with me to the governor's office and said, these guys think they're prosecutors. It'll leak. What the hell is going on? It really, really bothers me, and I said to this attorney general Barr at the time about all the leaking that was going on, and I don't know what the truth is about Matt Gaetz, but one thing I'm confident of, is we're going to find it. You have this case, and nobody is saying anything, even though there's a lot to be said, and you have congressman Greene who raised an extraordinary amount of money. This is telling of the Republican party, and it's a an indication that the Republican party is trapped still in trump's world. I want to finish with Maggie there. More signs talking about prosecutors that the noose is tightening around the associates of president trump here in Manhattan. In the Manhattan case as we understand it, is they're trying to squeeze Allen weisselberg. He knows where all the finances have been over decades. He worked for Fred trump, not just Donald Trump. What they're trying to do is squeeze him. Whether that's successful I think is a very open question. Whether their case has much more to it, I think we will find out. They've got a former daughter-in-law cooperating. They have a former daughter-in-law cooperating, and they have subpoenaed financial records and they are talking to any number of people and going through Donald Trump's taxes which are millions of pages. This is going to take a little bit of time, but it's absolutely clear that this investigation is accelerating and every move indicates he's going to make a case. That's all we have time for today.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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