Meet the Press - October 10, 2021
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Meet the Press - October 10, 2021

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Stephanie Grisham, Nick Clegg, Yamiche Alcindor, Donna Edwards and David French

CHUCK TODD:

This Sunday: Democracy in crisis.

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL:

It was very, very close to destroying our democracy.

CHUCK TODD:

New details from Senate Democrats on how former President Trump wanted to replace his attorney general so he could overturn the election results.

SEN. DICK DURBIN:

He was really pushing the Department of Justice to bend to his political will.

CHUCK TODD:

Republicans are either staying silent or defending Mr. Trump’s actions.

SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY:

The president did the right thing. If he had made another decision, you would have had a problem.

CHUCK TODD:

I'll talk to one of the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and to former Trump press secretary Stephanie Grisham on her time in the White House. Plus: Facebook and the whistleblower.

FRANCES HAUGEN:

No one truly understands the destructive choices made by Facebook except Facebook.

CHUCK TODD:

Former Facebook employee Frances Haugen tells Congress the company won't make its products safer, because profits come first.

FRANCES HAUGEN:

I am here today because I believe Facebook's products harm children, stoke division and weaken our democracy.

CHUCK TODD:Facebook pushes back.

MONIKA BICKERT:

What you have here today is a former employee who didn't work on these issues mischaracterizing some documents that she stole.

CHUCK TODD:

I'll talk to Facebook vice president Nick Clegg. And crisis averted, for now.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER:

I am glad that their brinkmanship did not work.

CHUCK TODD:

The Senate agrees to raise the debt ceiling until December --

SEN. TED CRUZ:

Chuck Schumer won this game of chicken.

CHUCK TODD:

-- but Republicans rage against Mitch McConnell for letting it happen now.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM:

We shot ourselves in the foot tonight, but we'll revisit this issue in December.

CHUCK TODD:

Joining me for insight and analysis are: Yamiche Alcindor, moderator of Washington Week, David French, the senior editor of The Dispatch and former Democratic Congresswoman Donna Edwards. Welcome to Sunday. It's Meet the Press.

ANNOUNCER:

From NBC News, the longest-running show in television history. This is Meet the Press with Chuck Todd.

CHUCK TODD:

Good Sunday morning, from our NBC News bureau in Los Angeles. Every day, it seems, we're learning how fragile our democracy is. Just this past week: The Senate Judiciary Committee released a report about just how close we came to losing that democracy in the weeks after the election. The report provides new details on a January 3rd White House meeting where top Justice Department officials had to threaten to resign en masse to stop President Trump from taking further steps to overturn the election. We learned that last week Mr. Trump told his former aides not to comply with subpoenas from Congress regarding the January 6 riot at the Capitol. And a Facebook whistleblower told Congress this week how the company returned to relaxed security measures right after the election but before January 6, even as Mr. Trump was lying about vote fraud, all because they wanted to keep up engagement and profits. So ask yourself this: Is it alarmist to suggest that our democracy is at risk, or are we really staring at the abyss? Whatever side of the political divide you're on on that issue, getting to the bottom of Mr. Trump's actions on and around January 6 will give us all more clarity on how close we actually came to the shredding of our Constitution and how close we could come again.

PRES. DONALD TRUMP:

I never conceded.

CHUCK TODD:

Donald Trump, in Iowa last night – doubling down on the lie that he won the election – after a week of playing down the January 6 riot he incited.

PRES. DONALD TRUMP:

First of all, he didn’t get elected, ok forget that. No reason to concede.

LORI LEVI:

We’re not going to take it anymore. I see a civil war coming. I do.

CHUCK TODD:

On Friday - the White House formally blocked an attempt by Trump's attorneys to withhold documents related to the Capitol assault.

JEN PSAKI:

The president has determined that an assertion of executive privilege is not warranted for the first set of documents from the Trump White House.

CHUCK TODD:Among the documents requested by the select committee: Trump's Twitter messages, his calendar, schedules, video, photos and call logs.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

Well we want to know what was the president's involvement, what about people around him?

CHUCK TODD:Urged on by Trump, former adviser Steve Bannon told the committee he will not comply with a request for records and testimony. But former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Pentagon Adviser Kash Patel are “engaging with the committee” and former Trump Deputy Chief of Staff Dan Scavino has finally received his subpoena.

REP. BENNIE THOMPSON:

The committee will probably, to those who don't agree to come in voluntarily, we'll do criminal referrals.

CHUCK TODD:

This as a new Senate report describes Trump's extraordinary efforts in the days before the insurrection to overturn the results of the election --

PRES. DONALD TRUMP:

We will win this, as far as I'm concerned we already have won it.

CHUCK TODD:

-- detailing at least nine times Trump pressured Justice Department officials to overturn Biden's legitimate victory - including a meeting on January 3rd when Trump threatened to replace Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen with a loyalist, Jeffrey Clark, to carry out his scheme.

SEN. DICK DURBIN:

The president was relentless. We were a half step away from a full blown constitutional crisis. If Rosen would have folded --

CHUCK TODD:

But top leaders at the Justice Department warned they would resign en masse if he acted – as did White House counsel Pat Cipollone, who called Trump's plan a "murder-suicide pact." Now, a parade of former Trump officials are recounting Trump's obsession with overturning the election in an attempted coup.

STEPHANIE GRISHAM:

He was heightened, and he was so, you know, about, this was stolen from us, this was stolen from us.

FIONA HILL:

We all watched it happening. Because it didn't seem to be behind the scenes, clandestine in any way, it became normalized.

CHUCK TODD:

But many Republicans are still defending him.

SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY:

The president did the right thing. If he had made another decision, you would have had a problem.

CHUCK TODD:

And around the country - Trump allies are pushing laws that would allow Republican legislatures to overturn the vote if it does not go their way.

BRAD RAFFENSPERGER:

I'm alarmed and I think most people are alarmed that we're still talking and still facing these issues of election disinformation.

CHAD HOUCK:

This is about going after the integrity of not only the election system in Idaho, but people going after the integrity of the election system as a whole.

BILL GATES:

This is without a doubt the biggest threat to our democracy in my lifetime.

CHUCK TODD:

And joining me now is Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island. He is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which wrote this report on former President Trump's efforts to overturn the election using the Justice Department as cover to do it. Senator Whitehouse, welcome back to Meet The Press.

SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE:

Thanks. Good to have -- good to be on with you.

CHUCK TODD:

I want to start with -- I know that you were limited in your investigation because you're the Judiciary Committee and this was about the actions of the Department of Justice. So, how complete of a picture do you think you have of what President Trump did and what more would you like to know?

SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE:

Well, we have a very complete picture of the extent to which Trump was personally involved in this. This is a question in which you can actually connect the president of the United States to the scheme. The second thing that we know is that it focused very heavily on Georgia. So, that relates and feathers into the Georgia prosecution that's underway, I should say the investigation that's underway, down in Fulton County. Those two things link up. What we don't know is who was really behind this. The text of the transcript and the body English of the witnesses suggests that they had very little regard for this character Jeffrey Clark, who was nominally going to be the new attorney general. They doubted his qualifications to even have that role. So, it's a possibility, I suppose, that he saw this moment and grabbed it, but it's an equally real possibility that he was a cog in a larger machine and we've got a lot of work to do to figure out how that machine ran through this period, who was behind it, where the money came from, and what's been going on.

CHUCK TODD:

And you think it's somebody other than Donald Trump? I mean -- you know, when I hear that, you're essentially saying you believe there's somebody else involved, somebody else was pulling the strings. Who could that be besides Donald Trump?

SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE:

We don't know yet, but, you know, this guy jumped to a dark money enterprise. So, he's been taken care of, Jeffrey Clark. There was a lot of activity around this with members of Congress. There's just a lot left to be learned.

CHUCK TODD:

Right --

SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE:

And particularly, as the old saw goes, follow the money. Who was paying for this stuff? And how did it all work?

CHUCK TODD:

The fact that it’s a -- these are former Trump appointees that have divulged what clearly, at least Mr. Rosen and some others, clearly are divulging this because they were alarmed at the pressure campaign they were under. You have seen these folks behind closed doors. Shouldn't the public see this? I mean, we have a credibility problem thanks to the former president. Shouldn't the public see these folks under oath, telling this story to the American public?

SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE:

Yes. Absolutely. It's really telling stuff. And when you consider that these were Trump appointees, people who are willing to go right to the chalk line and, in my view, even over it, when those folks saw this as outlandish and illegal and something that they’d all quit before they'd participate in, that shows how berserk this had gotten. And with that question, we then go on to the further question of, okay, how was this organized? Was this really just one little guy in the Department of Justice with a wild idea? I doubt it.

CHUCK TODD:

How about Bill Barr? He resigned. And that resignation, to me is -- looks more and more compelling all the time, meaning what did he know? Why did he resign when he did? Are you going to get him under oath to tell his story?

SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE:

Well, I'm not going to try to predict what the investigation is going to continue to do, but this was an interim report, so we will continue looking at these questions.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, I was also looking at this and I was thinking back to the impeachment proceedings, the second impeachment, and this goes to the decision in the moment to hurry up with the -- on one hand, there was a move to get the impeachment done before he left office. But when it was clear the trial wasn't going to take place until after, this would have been highly compelling testimony at the impeachment trial, senator. Maybe it doesn't add -- maybe it doesn’t find 12 more convictions or not, but considering that the public and the Senate didn't hear all of this stuff, in hindsight, was impeachment rushed?

SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE:

It's hard to say. Obviously, the longer you take, the more evidence develops, but at the same time you want to react to an insult to the body politic such as we saw. So, I don't want to second guess what the House did, although I bet you Jamie Raskin would have loved to have had footage of what we saw in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

CHUCK TODD:

In the report --

SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE:

And there’s the January 6th Commission out there still looking at these questions. So, there's going to be, I think, a good public airing of it.

CHUCK TODD:

In the report, you talk about some potential fixes. And it does seem as if, some of these fixes, that it's really limited. I mean, you know the law, you know the Constitution very well, separation of powers. Do you really think Congress can pass a law that would prevent this kind of communication between the Justice Department and the White House?

SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE:

You know, we're working on that. I've been working this issue for a long time and the White House and the Department of Justice have for a long time had a rule between the two of them of who is allowed to talk to whom about various issues. And it appears that they broke those rules this time. It appears, frankly, that they break those rules in every Republican administration and then we have to patch it back together again. That's always been done by rule, memorandum between the White House counsel and the Department of Justice. But there is nothing that would prevent Congress from stepping in and putting reporting requirements on that so that the public knows when those rules are being broken. It's hard for the Department of Justice to say, "You can't enforce this rule. It's our rule," when all we want is disclosure.

CHUCK TODD:

By the way, considering how much the idea that the Justice Department is biased gets weaponized in politics, particularly on the right, do you think we should move to a system that appoints our attorneys general more like how we deal with the FBI, the Federal Reserve, where it's five-year terms and you try to create some sort of -- more distance between the Justice Department and political leaders?

SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE:

I think we'd have to watch out for unintended consequence there. I would say that what we really need is to make sure that the Senate is only confirming attorneys general who will be honest, who will stand up to the president when he tries to get them to cheat, and who will do the job and follow the law properly. And unfortunately, what Barr sold himself as to us and how he behaved were two very, very different things.

CHUCK TODD:

At the end of the report, there's some talk of criminal referrals. What would be criminal in this case?

SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE:

I don't want to get into criminal referrals. We're still at the interim level. But I would point to just the geographic fact of so much of what took place at the Department of Justice being focused on Georgia, being focused on sending letters to the Georgia legislature, saying that they could open up in special session and redo the election and send a separate slate. And the extent to which that interconnects with the D.A. 's investigation into Trump's personal efforts to threaten officials in Georgia on the same question, I think, is a very ripe area for at least Georgia's further investigation. And we'll see what the Department of Justice wants to do with it.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Democrat from Rhode Island, senior member of the Judiciary Committee. I appreciate you coming on and sharing your intel and your perspective.

The White House press secretary is one of the most high-profile jobs in Washington, but you'd be forgiven if you had no idea what Stephanie Grisham looks like. That's because she's the former Trump press secretary who never actually held a press conference. She has, however, written a book, I'll Take Your Questions Now. - Get it? - What I Saw at the Trump White House. It is a rather chatty account of her time with Team Trump, where she also was chief of staff to Melania Trump, who has responded to Grisham's book this way, quote, "Ms. Grisham is a deceitful and troubled individual who doesn't deserve anyone's trust." So, with that, Stephanie Grisham joins me now. Ms. Grisham, welcome to Meet The Press.

STEPHANIE GRISHAM:

Thank you for having me. I appreciate it.

CHUCK TODD:

So, I want to start with you explaining why viewers tonight, today, should trust what you say in response to my questions. Because you lay out in the book, you admit you were, many times in Trump world you're asked to misinform or perhaps lie on behalf of the boss. So, you're doing a tell-all now. Why should we believe you?

STEPHANIE GRISHAM:

I think that is a very, very fair question and I will let anybody who chooses to read the book decide for themselves. In short, I don't have anybody to answer for anymore. I had a lot of time to reflect. I really moved far, far away from the bubble of D.C. and had a long time to almost deprogram myself from what I went through and reflect on it. And I wanted to write it down. And I thought to myself, if I'm going to write a book, I want to write something that is just honest and brutal. And, you know, I don't spare myself in there either. And I hope that people will just take that for what it's worth.

CHUCK TODD:

So, I'll just start with some of the things. Do you regret not resigning sooner? You waited until January 6th. After seeing everything you saw for four years, you wait until January 6th, some might argue the day everybody was wanting to run for the hills from Team Trump. Why did you wait so long?

STEPHANIE GRISHAM:

Right. Right. Right. Yes, again, fair question. I did -- for about the last six months, I actually tried to resign a couple of times and Mrs. Trump talked me out of it. And, in fact, I had a resignation letter written out with some very specific points in it that I was ready to hand over at any moment. January 6th, of course, was my breaking point. And I was really proud that I was, well, the first in the administration to resign. But absolutely, to answer your question, I do regret it and I did try for a while before.

CHUCK TODD:

When do you believe -- do you believe President Trump thinks he actually lost the election or not?

STEPHANIE GRISHAM:

I do think he believes it. That's been part of what has been scaring me as I've been watching from afar. You know, at first, I really thought he wouldn't run again. I honestly thought this was a lot of his bluster, which you know, he's good at doing. He was doubling down. He'll never admit to losing, et cetera, et cetera. I thought he was going to just kind of raise some money so he could pay off legal bills, et cetera. But I think now, because his base is reacting to him the way that it is and polls are showing that he is still very much the leader of the Republican Party and very, very few Republicans are refusing to speak up about, you know, his role in January 6th, but also this current attack on democracy with regard to election integrity, I think he is going to run again. And you know, that's why I'm speaking out the way I am. I don’t, I don't want him to run again. I think people aren't remembering that if he does run again in 2024, he'll have no guardrails because he will never have to worry about re-election. So, he will do whatever he wants. He will hire whomever he wants. And I think that that includes people of the January 6th mind. And I think that, you know, earlier your guest was talking about the DOJ and it being weaponized. Imagine who he could put into the DOJ in 2024, knowing he's got no consequences there.

CHUCK TODD:

Who was -- you heard Senator Whitehouse saying -- do you have an idea of who was helping sort of fund and back these crazy claims of the president and his former chief of staff, Mark Meadows?

STEPHANIE GRISHAM:

Well, certainly, I know, you know, as does the public, that there was Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell and some of those characters. I do know that there were a lot of private meetings in the residence taking place that were perhaps not taking place in the White House where there would be public documents about that. So, hopefully, the January 6th or you know, somebody will look into that, whoever the appropriate entity is. I don't have a specific name. I don't think it was one person. I think there were probably a few.

CHUCK TODD:

So, walk me through election night and the day after. There seems to be some evidence that he was accepting what was happening with the results and then something changed. Can you pinpoint it?

STEPHANIE GRISHAM:

I can't. I was with Mrs. Trump most of the night, to be honest with you. I wasn’t -- when I walked past to go to her room, he was surrounded at that point by a lot of people from the campaign and by his family, et cetera. And he was just angry and wanting somebody to call Fox about calling Arizona. When they went down to take the stage, I remember specifically there was still kind of a debate on what he should say when he took the stage. And it was kind of decided he should say, "We'll see what happens," which obviously he did not say that when he took the stage. So, I think he just refused to give up. I mean, it's Donald Trump, right? And he will never admit to being wrong or to losing anything. And now, he's doubling and tripling down because he's got so many people supporting that theory. I think one thing he's gotten really good at or he did get really good at as president is taking advantage of the base and this group of people who are, you know, so desperate for a voice, which I understand and support.

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah.

STEPHANIE GRISHAM:

But I think they're being taken advantage of now. And I think he knows they'll do whatever he says.

CHUCK TODD:

Did you get taken advantage of by him? You know, it was interesting to me that you sort of admit that you got into that White House and perhaps you wouldn't have gotten there with another campaign. Did he take advantage of you?

STEPHANIE GRISHAM:

I think, I don't want to pin that on him. I definitely got very excited to be around this glamorous world of the Trumps. And certainly, when I got into the White House, you do get heady with power. I don't know that he took advantage of me in that regard. I think that that was my own weakness there. I wish I would have been a bit stronger.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, I've heard from several former Trump staffers, some of whom share your concerns about him, but say that every decision you made was always in the best interest of yourself. Whether it was to stick in order to get a good job in the White House or, now, to do a tell-all when you need to make money. What do you say to that criticism?

STEPHANIE GRISHAM:

Well, two things. If there are people who are sharing my same concerns, I wish they would speak up because right now, looking back, I don't think is what's as important in terms of personalities and who did what and why. But I would disagree with that wholeheartedly. When I was in the White House, I lost a lot of friends and a lot of family. And I think I lost a little bit of my own moral compass. And now, leaving, you know, yes, I got paid to write a book, but you cannot put a price tag on what is happening to me now. The right is mad at me, the left is mad at me. My family is getting threats. I'm being smeared. I'm being sued. I knew all of that would happen. So, when I wrote this book, I knew this was going to be a very, very tough battle. So, yes, I got paid, but there is no price tag for what's going on. I just find it to be very, very important for the country looking forward.

CHUCK TODD:

You said one of the reasons you're speaking out is you hope he doesn't run in 2024. If he does, do you plan to actively work against him?

STEPHANIE GRISHAM:

If I'm asked to. If there is anybody who wants me to speak out or talk, yes, I will. I think that, you know, I had a very unique perspective in that I worked for the former president, I worked for Mrs. Trump, and I worked for both of them at the same time. I know the way they think. I know the way they try to distract. And if there's any way I can be helpful, to help decipher some of those movements and what's really going on, I would do that, yes.

CHUCK TODD:

Do you think, if he's elected again, he'll destroy the democracy?

STEPHANIE GRISHAM:

I think it will be a very terrifying time. I think he's on a revenge tour right now, right, with the people who voted to impeachment -- impeach him. I think it will be nothing but revenge, retribution, and how he can benefit himself. There will be pardons happening. I think there will be very draconian policies that go way too far. So, I believe, if he is re-elected again, it will be a really, really scary time.

CHUCK TODD:

Stephanie Grisham, the one-time press secretary for former President Donald Trump, and former chief of staff for the first, former First Lady. Thank you for coming on and sharing your perspective with us.

STEPHANIE GRISHAM:

Thank you for having me.

CHUCK TODD:

When we come back, I'm going to speak to a top Facebook official about charges that the company helped incite the January 6th capitol riot. Stay with us.

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. On Tuesday, the Facebook whistleblower, Frances Haugen, told Congress that in the interest of making more money, Facebook eased some security safeguards just after the election. And that it ended up helping to incite the January 6th Capitol riot.

[BEGIN TAPE]

FRANCES HAUGEN:

And Facebook changed those safety defaults in the run-up to the election because they knew they were dangerous and because they wanted that growth back, they wanted the acceleration of the platform back after the election, they returned to their original defaults.

[END TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

Well, joining me now is Facebook's Vice President for Global Affairs, Nick Clegg. Mr. Clegg, welcome to Meet the Press, sir.

NICK CLEGG:

Morning.

CHUCK TODD:

Thank you. I want to get you to respond to that specific quote from Miss Haugen. But I also want to put something up that you wrote after her initial 60 Minutes appearance. You said, "This is also why the suggestion that is sometimes made that the violent insurrection on January 6th would not have occurred if it was not for social media is so misleading. "Mature democracies in which social media use is widespread hold elections all the time. For instance, Germany's election last week," now two weeks ago, "without the disfiguring presence of violence." I understand why you wrote that sentence, Mr. Clegg. But why put in the safeguards before the election if you didn’t think -- if guys at Facebook didn't think you had a role in potentially inciting folks?

NICK CLEGG:

So just for folks who don't, sort of, follow this very closely, what we did in the run-up to the election was we put in -- obviously, because it was an exceptional election happening at a time of a pandemic, the obviously, very stark polarization in this country -- put in a number of exceptional measures. It's simply not true to say that we lifted those measures immediately. We, in fact, kept the vast majority of them right through to the inauguration. And we kept some in place permanently. So, for instance, we permanently now don't recommend civic and political groups to people. But it's worth remembering what those exceptional measures are sort of like. It's a bit like closing all the highways and roads in a town because of a temporary, one-off problem in one neighborhood. You know, you don't do that on a permanent basis. And actually, some of those temporary measures we took, for instance, bearing down on the virality of videos, meant that we were just basically stopping the distribution of perfectly innocent videos that had nothing to do with the election at all. So it was a mixture of permanent measures, measures which were one-off, which had to really, sort of, meet the moment for the elections. We did keep them up right through to the inauguration. It's not true to say that we immediately lifted them all. And actually, we're now going even further. So one of the things that we have heard from users both in the U.S. and around the world since the election is that people want to see, if you like, more friends, less politics. So we've actually been looking and testing ways in which we can reduce the presence of politics on people's Facebook experiences. So I hope that's useful context for what we did and what we didn't do and what we're doing going forward.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, why did you lift any of them, any of those procedures considering what former President Trump was doing and saying and acting at the time? I mean, he was a fire hose of misinformation, so why, why roll back any of those security provisions? You clearly rolled back some. You want to dispute that you didn't roll them all back. That's fine with me. Why'd you roll back any of them?

NICK CLEGG:

Well, as I explained, because some of them were very, very blunt tools which were basically scooping up a lot of entirely innocent, legitimate, legal, playful, enjoyable content. And we did that very exceptionally. It's a bit like sort of throwing a blanket over the whole platform. We just simply let perfectly normal content just circulate less on our platform. And that's something we did because of the exceptional circumstances. I think it shows how, sort of, precautionary and responsible we were trying to be at the time. As you also remember, we stopped running any new political ads for a week in the run-up to the election. We labeled huge amounts of content, including content from Donald Trump or subsequently we have said that Donald Trump is not able to use our platform for at least two years. So I don't think anyone can claim we haven't taken a lot of exceptional measures to meet those very exceptional circumstances.

CHUCK TODD:

I want to get to the issue of labeling misinformation. Why are -- you still allow the misinformers to get their information out. You know, shouldn't there be just a flat policy, if you're a known misinformer, whether it's on Covid or the election, you know, whether it's one strike, two strikes, three strikes, maybe you can decide how many times you intentionally misinform, throw them off. I mean, you guys seem to always want to find a way to keep these folks on. How does a warning label help? Keeps the misinformation out there.

NICK CLEGG:

Sure. So, I mean, the first thing to say is, of course, if someone keeps saying things which leads to real-world harm, we kick them off. And we do that on a very, very significant scale, I think on a far more significant scale than any other part of the industry. So you're quite right. If someone is doing, saying stuff which is going to lead to real-world harm, that is simply not permitted on our platform. We bear down very aggressively on hate speech. I mean, in recent years, because of the 40,000 people we now employ to do this work, 40,000 people is more than twice the number of staffers who work on Capitol Hill. We've invested $13 billion in this integrity work to bear down on misinformation and hate speech. I mean, again, for context, that is more than the total revenues of Twitter over the last four years. And that's actually been successful. Hate speech, the prevalence of hate speech, the presence of hate speech on Facebook now stands at 0.05%. That means for every 10,000 bits of content that you'll see on Facebook, only five will be hate speech. I wish we could bring it down to zero. We're not going to do that because we’re not -- we can’t -- with a third of the world's population on platforms, of course, you're going to see the good, the bad, and the ugly of human nature on our platforms. Our job is to mitigate and reduce the bad and amplify the good. And I think those investments, that technology, and some of that evidence of how little hate speech there now is compared to a few years ago shows that we are moving in the right direction.

CHUCK TODD:

I want to go to the issue of how to regulate Facebook. The founder and CEO wrote this, Mark Zuckerberg. He said, "Similar to balancing other social issues, I don't believe private companies should make all of the decisions on their own. That's why we have advocated for updated internet regulations for several years now. We're committed to doing the best work we can. But at some level, the right body to assess trade-offs between social equities is our democratically elected Congress." On one hand, this is a very reasonable statement. On the other hand, it sounds like Facebook is saying, "We're not going to do much until Congress tells us what do to." Do you want Congress to write Facebook's moral and ethical code?

NICK CLEGG:

No, no, no. We're not advocating regulation as somehow to sort of divest ourselves of our own responsibilities. Of course, with the success of a big global platform like Facebook comes accountability, comes scrutiny, comes criticism, and comes responsibility. And that's why we make those very considerable investments that I said. That's why we are being ever more transparent in how our systems operate so that people can hold us to account. We're the first company, for instance, every 12 weeks to publish data on all the content that we act on, that we remove, and so on, and to actually subject that to independent audit. But there are certain things that no private company can do. Only lawmakers can pass federal privacy legislation. We don't have nationwide federal privacy legislation in this country, which we clearly need. You do have it in other jurisdictions like Europe, but not here. Only lawmakers can pass legislation to strike the right balance so that as people move data from one platform to the other, which is good for competition, you strike the right balance with the privacy safeguards, which should be in place at the same time. That has to be enshrined in law. Only lawmakers can create a digital regulator, which we believe would be a good thing. So, absolutely, you're right. We're not saying this is somehow a substitution for our own responsibilities. But there are a whole bunch of things that only regulators and lawmakers could do. And at the end of the day, I don't think anyone wants a private company to adjudicate on these really difficult trade-offs. But between, you know, free expression on the one hand and moderating or removing content on the other about which, as you know, there is fundamental political disagreement. The right thinks we take down too much content, we censor too much content. The left thinks we don't take down enough. In the end, we make the judgment we possibly can, but we're slightly caught in the middle in this political debate. In the end, lawmakers have to resolve that themselves.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. Nick Clegg, the vice president of Facebook, appreciate you coming on and sharing Facebook's --

NICK CLEGG:

Thank you.

CHUCK TODD:

--perspective here. When we come back, the growing instability in American politics. The protesters now confronting public officials at their homes and in bathrooms. How much is too much? And is this just another sign of our polarization? The panel is next.

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. The panel is now joining us: Yamiche Alcindor, moderator of Washington Week; David French, the senior editor of The Dispatch; and former Democratic member of Congress, Donna Edwards from the great state of Maryland. The engagement of American politics and the electorate is getting closer and closer, and at times a bit uncomfortable. Here's a quick, little selection of just the last week.

[BEGIN TAPE]

PROTESTER:

If you don't pass this, we're going to lose the midterms

PROTESTER:

We need a build back better plan right now.

PROTESTER:

You're not -- We need solutions. The build back better plan. We have solutions that we need.

PROTESTER:

No to vaccines. No to masks.

[END TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

So Yamiche, to sum up, that was Joe Manchin with protesters at his house boat, that was Kyrsten Sinema being followed into a bathroom stall, and a school board member in Sarasota being harassed at her own home. We know we're polarized. We are getting more combative, it feels, by the hour.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR:

I think that that's a wise observation. And I think when you look at those videos, what you see is really a country increasingly at war with itself, and increasingly at war with the truth. There are deepening traditional policy differences when you look at social policy programs, when you look at the way that people are looking at taxing the wealthy. That's sort of at the heart of Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin. But there's also I think this added layer of the fact that we're living in a pandemic and we're living through a time where Americans are really debating over who can have access to the American dream and who can have access to the benefits of the wealth of this country. So take Senator Manchin in particular. When I talk to my Democratic sources, yes, they're frustrated with the fact that he is sort of wondering whether or not he wants to spend trillions of dollars on social policy programs that most in the Democratic Party do think are necessary. But they're also very bothered and simply disturbed, I will also say, by his use of the word "entitlement." That is a word that so many people see as stereotyping African Americans, as calling some sections of Americans lazy. So I think you're seeing both a passion in people having real policy differences, but also this real feeling that there are Americans who feel as though that they are being, again, criminalized and again stereotyped as being sort of locked out of the American dream.

CHUCK TODD:

David French, I want you to react to something Matthew Continetti wrote because, frankly, it's something I would have imagined you could've written and you sort of touched on it earlier this week. "Just when politics is most in need of a cooling off period, interested parties have upped the stakes of politics to national, civilizational, and for some, global survival. And when survival is your primary end, you are tempted to use any means to achieve it, even extrajudicial ones." David?

DAVID FRENCH:

Yeah. I mean, he's exactly right about that. And what's happening is we're in this cycle of malice and misinformation. And so what we have, extreme partisan animosity right now, where Republicans hate Democrats, Democrats hate Republicans. And when you are in that atmosphere of hatred, you are ready to receive misinformation about your political opponents. And so people are now sometimes believing the wildest things about their opponent. This was part of the Stop the Steal. Some of the wildest conspiracy theories wormed deep into some Republicans' hearts. Why? Because they were primed to believe that Democrats were so evil that that's exactly what they would do. And so we're in that position. It is very dangerous. I mean, these up close and personal encounters with people, especially people who are living now under an atmosphere of death threats, it is very dangerous. Somebody is going to get hurt.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, Donna Edwards, I'll admit I have my own debate with myself about how concerned we should be, how alarmed we should be about the democracy. And I actually sense that there is this debate inside the elected Democratic party in particular. Your Joe Manchin I think desperately wants to believe there's a normal routine to politics again. And I think others sit here and say, "Whoa, with Donald Trump out there, there is no return to normal." And you know what? We have some polling that seems to agree on this. Half of Trump voters think that maybe the red and blue states ought to secede from each other. And over 40% of Biden voters think this, Donna. Where are we headed?

DONNA EDWARDS:

Well, I think it's a very dangerous time. And, you know, people take their cues from leaders. And unfortunately, the kind of cues that they're getting right now are divisive, are combative. And I think that that contributes to the environment that we find ourselves in. And so it isn't just that there is a narrow margin in the House and the Senate, but that that margin has actually been exacerbated because of the cues that ordinary Americans are getting from their leaders. And so I'm very concerned about our democracy. I'm concerned that people think that the only way that they can achieve something in our body politic is by violence, by secession. We haven't heard that kind of language in a couple hundred years. And so it is really a dangerous time. But I think that we have to have leaders who are going to step up, Republicans and Democrats, to just cool the jets a little bit. And I worry that, you know, even things like -- you know, I disagree with Senator Sinema, but I don't think we should be chasing her into a bathroom. And so, you know, we have to figure out ways in which we can engage that are worthy of our democracy.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, Yamiche, I'm starting to think that one of the reasons why the Democrats are struggling to come together on the Biden agenda is that there is a disagreement on the urgency of this moment. I go to -- I think Joe Manchin believes we should return to a normal routine, hence his hands in his face to the Chuck Schumer speech. And I think there are others that think, "Oh, no, no, no, no. This time is different." Do you think that is what is making it hardest to reach Manchin and Sinema?

YAMICHE ALCINDOR:

A sense of urgency is absolutely at the heart of some of the disagreements in the Democratic party. When you talk to young Democrats, base voters, some of the people who feel passionately enough to show up at Senator Sinema's class in Arizona or on Joe Manchin's boat, they feel like they're fighting for their survival in the middle of a Covid economy where women are being locked out at higher rates, where people of color are being locked out at higher rates. They feel as though these are the times where they need the federal government to step in and to say, "Here is a lifeline that you have. And here is the sort of lifeline to being able to access your future." And then you have Senator Manchin and others who are sort of saying, "Okay, we need to sort of change this, but we don't wanna change too fast. "And we don't want to have a wholesale retelling of the social policy," because let's remember, what President Biden is essentially saying that he wants to do is overturn in a really big and large way, in one of the largest ways in history, our social policies in this country. He's wanting to redo how we look at childcare. That's a completely different outlook than what Senator Manchin wants to do, which is really sort of change people's lives bit by bit, but not in a wholesale --

CHUCK TODD:

A little incremental --

YAMICHE ALCINDOR:

-- way.

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah. Well, we're getting another test of civility. Kyrsten Sinema's running the Boston Marathon tomorrow and some protesters have promised to be there. Let's see how that goes. All right. I'm going to pause here. When we come back, how the voting block of the future, Hispanic Americans, is now the voting block of the present. What that could mean for the next presidential election. Stick with us.

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. Data Download time. For decades now, Hispanic voters have been seen as a key voting block of the future. But what the Hispanic vote means is a harder thing to nail down these days. In fact, when you look closely, it looks less like a consistent block in favor of one party, and more like other groups of American voters where other things like geography have an impact. In fact, take a look. So far overall, the electorate that is Hispanic is 13% of the vote. And in the 2020 election, it broke pretty heavily for the Democrats, two to one for Joe Biden. But when you start to look inside the numbers, in the breakdowns by states and by where you live, you start to see the different, differences in the Hispanic vote. In the big, blue states, Joe Biden won the Hispanic vote three to one margins. But in two southern states with large Hispanic populations, Texas and Florida, that Donald Trump carried, he got more than 40% of the Hispanic vote. That is not a coincidence. And here's another thing you're starting to see about the Hispanic vote. Like the white vote, in rural America, Hispanics are more conservative, and therefore a bit more Republican, than in urban and suburban. And check out this final stat that shows you how much more of a melting pot swing vote Hispanics are becoming. Twenty states now have at least one county with 30% of the population is Hispanic. And look at how Donald Trump did in 2020 in those counties. He lost ground in 21 of them, but he gained ground in 194. Look, like ethnic groups and immigrant groups that have come to this country for decades, when you hit the third and fourth generation, you start to see that those ethnic groups blend into the melting pot and break down like the rest of the American electorate. When we come back, meet the new boss. Apparently, it's same as the old one. Former President Trump's hold on the Republican party is only growing stronger. Stay with us.

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. Well, there's one politician that probably best embodies Donald Trump's hold on the Republican Party right this week, and it's Chuck Grassley, the senior senator from Iowa and ranking member of the Judiciary Committee. Here's what Chuck Grassley on February 13th of 2021 said about Donald Trump."He belittled and harassed elected officials across the country to get his way. He encouraged his own loyal vice president, Mike Pence, to take extraordinary and unconstitutional actions during the Electoral College count. There's no doubt in my mind that President Trump's language was extreme, aggressive, and irresponsible." Now, that was Grassley's statement voting to acquit the President at the impeachment trial. Earlier this week, he said he'd get Trump off the hook on the Judiciary Committee report by saying, "He didn’t take -- he listened to his advisors." Now, here's Chuck Grassley Saturday night with Donald Trump.

[BEGIN TAPE]

SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY:

I was born at night, but not last night. So if I didn't accept the endorsement of a person that's got 91% of the Republican voters in Iowa, I wouldn't be too smart. I'm smart enough to accept that endorsement.

[END TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

Well, David French, the Chuck Grassley legacy is going to be a survivor, I guess, is probably one way to look at it. But is there any better explanation of Trump's hold than Chuck Grassley these days?

DAVID FRENCH:

I mean, look, here, I think here's the explanation. I live in a red bubble, Chuck. I live in a neighborhood that's about 85% Republican. And there's basically two broad categories of people: there are the people who are ready to move on from Donald Trump -- they do not want him in 2024 -- and they're the people who are, like, the third bass boat in the boat parade. And the Trump supporters are very much more vocal. Many of them, not all of them, are extremely vicious. This is the voice that Republican elected officials are hearing constantly, all day, every day. The people who are ready to move on, a lot of them are exhausted. They're pulling away. They're not engaging. And so only one voice is being heard and it is the Trump voice. That is not the only voice in the GOP electorate more broadly.

CHUCK TODD:

It may be true, but Donna Edwards, I think that that's part of the problem. You know, one of the points of this show today that I wanted to make is that this Senate Judiciary Committee Report was written based on Trump appointees telling what really happened. Stephanie Grisham, no matter what you think of her, is trying to warn the country about a return of Donald Trump to the White House. Why don't the former Trump officials have any sway, in your opinion, with the Republican electorate at large?

DONNA EDWARDS:

Well, I think it goes right to President Trump. I think the former president, what he does is he dismisses those people. He harasses them in his, you know, public remarks. And I think it makes many quite afraid to speak up. But, you know, you look at somebody like Chuck Grassley, and part of the reason that Trump continues to have sway in the Republican party is because there's no moral center and no moral clarity from senators like Chuck Grassley.

CHUCK TODD:

Oh, Yamiche, the other thing is there seems to be no power in numbers. Everybody's afraid, if they all join hands, they could rid the party of Trump. But they're not doing it.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR:

They're not. And really, at the heart of this is fear and at the heart of this is the idea that the threat continues. Watching the Trump rally yesterday, and I would only do it because I was coming on Meet the Press with you, Chuck, I watched it from beginning to end and what I saw yesterday was a president who was continuing to not only lie, but also up the ante. He was telling people last night, "We're not going to have a country in three years. We need to take this country back." And what you see is a Republican party that simply cannot divorce themselves from the alternate reality that the former president is living in. And you see people riled up, excited about that. In talking to Democrats, they're just so worried that the energy is on the GOP side.

CHUCK TODD:

David French, Stephanie Grisham, is she Jose Canseco -- meaning you may not believe her on a lot of stuff, but you believe her on this?

DAVID FRENCH:

I mean, if you're writing a book saying that Trump is unstable and lies a lot, that is not exactly news. I mean, this is something that was seen all over the United States of America for year, after year, after year. The problem is that his loyal fans always turn on his appointees. Trump, who was supposed to hire the best people, is always being betrayed. He still never has made a mistake. And so what we're dealing with here is it's not news. It is not news. At this point, if you don't know that already, where have you been?

CHUCK TODD:

It's a fair point. That's all we have for today. Thank you all for watching. Thank you, panel, for being with us. We'll back next week in Washington because if it's Sunday, it's Meet the Press.