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updated 8/4/2013 12:03:51 PM ET 2013-08-04T16:03:51

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(MUSIC)

Our key issues and people this Sunday: high alert, an Al Qaeda terror trap. Who is behind the administration's high anxiety? We'll hear from two leading U.S. senators, including the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, the Snowden affair, Russia gives him temporary asylum. How the Obama administration is trying to win the debate over privacy versus security. Craving the spotlight, politicians and personal scandals. What makes them think they should stay in public light?

Inside on the pursuit of redemption from our political roundtable, including the hose of MSNBC's Morning Joe, Joe Scarborough. And judgment day, the fate of some of baseball's biggest stars hangs in the balance as they face the prospect of severe penalties over steroid use. Is it enough to restore trust in America's favorite pastime? Perspective this morning as we talk with Bob Costas of NBC Sports. I'm David Gregory, all that ahead on Meet the Press this Sunday Morning, August 4th.

ANNOUNCER:

From NBC News in Washington, the world's longest-running television program, this is Meet the Press with David Gregory.

DAVID GREGORY:

And good Sunday morning. The U.S. is on high alert at this hour. Twenty-two U.S. embassies from North Africa to Bangladesh are closed now and a worldwide travel alert is in effect for America. Andrea Mitchell is NBC's chief foreign affairs correspondent. Andrea, it's good to have you here. What is it about where this is coming from and the significance of it that has engendered such a big reaction?

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Well, they have intercepted chatter and it's coming from and targeting Yemen. They believe it's either emanating from Yemen, where Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is the strongest unit or factional unit of Al Qaeda that still remains. It's also the most operational unit. They're concerned about this unit, but now they're looking at other areas as well.

If there is no attack today because this is the holiest day of the month of Ramadan, the holy period in the Muslim calendar, if there's no attack today, they have to decide today whether to expand this to some places in Europe, I'm told. They're looking at all of the most vulnerable posts, and they have to decide whether or not this is so actionable that they have to keep these embassies.

DAVID GREGORY:

You've also got news on the Obama administration and Russia, the Snowden affair, which we'll be talking about throughout the hour. There's a big trip that's planned for the president.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

A big trip, he will go to Saint Petersburg for the G20. But I am told that they will announce this week if there's no change in Edward Snowden's asylum, the president is not going to have that meeting with Vladimir Putin next week in Moscow, the separate bilateral. They see no reason to have him invest himself in a presidential-level trip with Vladimir Putin right now. Despite all the other interests they have with Russia, they can handle that at a lower level.

DAVID GREGORY:

A new low in our relationship with Russia.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Exactly.

DAVID GREGORY:

Andrea, you'll be with us. We'll talk more about this and other matters, thank you very much. Let me turn now to the Vice Chair of the Intelligence Committee, Republican senator from Georgia, Saxby Chambliss as well as the Assistant Majority Leader in the Senate, the Democratic senator from Illinois, Dick Durbin. Senators, welcome. Senator Chambliss, let me start with you. Your Republican colleague in the House, Peter King said, "This Al Qaeda threat is the most significant that we have seen in many years." What have you been told about it?

SENATOR SAXBY CHAMBLISS:

Well, the one thing that we can talk about David is the fact that there's been an awful lot of chatter out there. Chatter means conversation among terrorists about the planning that's going on. Very reminiscent of what we saw pre-9/11. We didn't take heed on 9/11 in a way that we should, but here I think it's very important that we do take the right kind of planning as we come to the close of Ramadan.

We know that's always an interesting time for terrorists. We're also, what, 38 days, 37 days away from the September 11th anniversary. So we're paying very, very close attention to the chatter that's going on. And I can tell you, David, this is the most serious threat that I've seen in the last several years.

DAVID GREGORY:

Can I just press a little bit? What makes it so serious? Is it the nature of what the attack could be? Is it that it could be in different places? Because we have such a wide area here that's being covered.

SENATOR SAXBY CHAMBLISS:

Well, obviously we don't know where the location is. That's part of the problem. But what we have heard is some specifics on what's intended to be done. And some individuals who are making plans such as we saw before 9/11. Whether there are going to be suicide vests that are used or whether they're planning on vehicle-borne bombs being carried under an area, we don't know. But we're hearing some kind of that same chatter, David, that we heard pre-11 leading up to anecdotes like that taking place by the terrorists.

DAVID GREGORY:

Senator Durbin, the Benghazi attack became not only a tragedy, but also a politicized event in our national security debate. Here you've got embassies that are being protected, they're being closed down. Is this a big deal or a big reaction?

SENATOR DICK DURBIN:

No, it's a big deal. Vice President Biden gave us a classified briefing this last week. They identified more than 25 of our embassies around the world that are particularly vulnerable. More than 25. In the Defense Appropriations bill, which we wrote and sent to committee this week, I included $48 million specifically to upgrade in 35 embassies around the world the security that we need. We need to protect the people who are out there representing us, we need to know and realize we're living in an increasingly-dangerous world. And this specific threat that we've been briefed on over and over again has reached a new level.

DAVID GREGORY:

And Senator, Chambliss, look, we're also in the middle of a big debate over surveillance programs. I've got to put the question to you directly. Are our surveillance programs what are giving us this stream of specific information, specific intelligence on this potential plot?

SENATOR SAXBY CHAMBLISS:

Well, that's kind of interesting, David, because in fact they are. These programs are controversial, we understand that, they're very sensitive, but they're also very important because they're what allow us to have the ability to gather this chatter that I referred to. If we did not have these programs, then we simply wouldn't be able to listen in on the bad guys.

And I will say that it's the 702 Program that has allowed us to pick up on this chatter. That's the program that allows us to listen overseas. Not on a domestic soul, but overseas. And that's where all the planning is taking place, we think that's where the activities is planned for. So yes, these programs, even though they're controversial, this is a good indication of why they're so important.

DAVID GREGORY:

And this is a key part of the debate, Senator Durbin. It was the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, your colleague, Senator Leahy who said, "Wait a minute, I know the N.S.A. tells us 54 plots in one way or another have been thwarted," because of the program Senator Chambliss is referring to. He says, "That's a bit of an overstatement." And he said it in open testimony this week, listen.

SENATOR LEAHY (ON TAPE):

Well, (UNINTEL) open testimonies that Section 215 helped to thwart or prevent 54 terrorist plots. Not by any stretch can you get 54 terrorist plots. This program is not effective, it has to end. So far I'm not convinced by what I've seen.

DAVID GREGORY:

Do you agree with that?

SENATOR DICK DURBIN:

We had a meeting in the White House, Saxby and I attended it with the president. There were about ten of us, Democrats and Republicans in the House and the Senate. And we spent an hour and a half with the president in the Oval Office, an hour and a half, going over this N.S.A., debating it back and forth. The N.S.A. 215 Program that we're talking about here is a program on domestic surveillance.

In other words, do we need to collect all of the phone records of all of the people living in America for five years so that if we're going to target one particular person, we're ready to jump on it. That is being discussed and debated. The president is open to suggestions to make this stronger and more responsive and transparent.

DAVID GREGORY:

Well, what's your suggestion? Because--

SENATOR DICK DURBIN:

But secondly, the--

DAVID GREGORY:

--the N.S.A. argues you can't have half a haystack. You've got to have basically all the numbers in the United States if you're going to be able to match it against what Senator Chambliss talked about, a bad guy overseas talking to somebody in the United States.

SENATOR DICK DURBIN:

That's one of two questions. First is how much do you need to collect, who should hold this, does the government need all this information on everybody in this country? That's the first preliminary question that we're going to address. The second is the FISA court, this court we know very little about, it isn't public, how much authority should it have, what checks should be in place to make sure that there is at least an adversarial proceeding there when it comes to the issue of privacy and security. So I think that we're open to changes in both, the president is committed to the safety of this country. But let's do everything we can to protect the privacy of innocent Americans.

DAVID GREGORY:

You know, the secrecy, Senator Chambliss, surrounding these programs is, of course the intelligence community tells us, necessary. And they say, "Look, the executive branch, all branches of government are involved in checks and balances." And yet, you have frustrated members of Congress like your colleagues who have put some of these questions, who tried to force this into the open a little bit, and you have the director of National Intelligence-- Mr. Clapper who appeared on Capitol Hill, James Clapper, and had this exchange that was not leveling with the American people. Watch.

SENATOR WYDEN (ON TAPE):

Does the N.S.A. collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?

JAMES CLAPPER (ON TAPE):

No sir.

SENATOR WYDEN (ON TAPE):

It does not?

JAMES CLAPPER (ON TAPE):

Not wittingly. There are cases where they could inadvertently perhaps collect. But not wittingly.

DAVID GREGORY:

James Clapper told our Andrea Mitchell after that testimony that was the least untruthful answer he could give. Now this morning The Guardian Newspaper is reporting that members of Congress who want more information, now that it's been leaked and been in public is still not learning about the true extent and depth and breadth of these surveillance programs.

SENATOR SAXBY CHAMBLISS:

Well, if they are it's their own fault because all they have to do is ask. And we make available within the confines of the intelligence community where, it's what we call a skip, where classified information can be reviewed. All members of Congress have the ability to come in and review most of the documents that are involved in these programs.

Not all of them, but most of them. And I'm not going to defend General Clapper there. He can defend himself. But the fact is, Senator Wyden knew the answer to that question when he asked it. He knew that he was asking about a classified program. And yet, he still asked the question. It put the general in a very, very difficult position. But again, we go back to the fact that as Dick said, we do gather an awful lot of information.

And if you could tell us who the bad guys are, I assure you, we'd limit it to gathering on just the bad guys. But we don't know. But this information is not shared. There's an article out today talking about the complaints from other federal agencies who don't have the benefit of this information. So the N.S.A. does do a pretty good job of keeping the information within the law enforcement community only. And not sharing it around all federal agencies.

DAVID GREGORY:

I've got less than a minute left, and I want to ask about what one columnist called "Gridlock among Republicans" this morning. And it's about the domestic debate over funding the government, defunding Obamacare in some circumstances. Republicans, Senator, as you know, are divided about this. Senator Ted Cruz, appearing with Glenn Beck on Monday said, "It's about one thing, and that's fear." This is what he said.

TED CRUZ (ON TAPE):

What I can tell you is there are a lot of Republicans in Washington who are scared. They're scared of being beaten up politically.

DAVID GREGORY:

Are you scared about taking on the president over the budget?

SENATOR SAXBY CHAMBLISS:

Well, I think Dick knows that I hadn't been afraid to step out and take on my own party and take on others within the administration to make sure that we do the right thing. I've never been scared since I've been in D.C. other than when I get classified briefings. So I appreciate Senator Cruz's passion, his intent to want to defund Obamacare. I'd love to do it too. But shutting down the government and playing into the hands of the president politically is not the right thing to do. Plus, it's going to do great harm to the American people if we pursue that course. We've been there. It didn't work.

DAVID GREGORY:

Senator Durbin, final point here, with a few seconds left.

SENATOR DICK DURBIN:

I can just tell you, Senator Cruz is part of a few extreme people in the Senate when it comes to this subject, calling for shutting down the government of the United States, even shutting down the American economy to make his political point. That's not the right way to go. Senator Chambliss and I have worked on a bipartisan basis, we are producing bipartisan appropriations bills which have been held up on the floor of the Senate. It is time for us to work together. The American people are sick and tired of this political gamesmanship.

DAVID GREGORY:

All right, we'll leave it there. Senator Durbin, Senator Chambliss, thank you both very much. I appreciate it.

SENATOR DICK DURBIN:

Thank you.

DAVID GREGORY:

And coming up here, (MUSIC) the politics of national security. Is the administration winning the debate over the N.S.A. surveillance programs? And the big divide over America's role in the world that may in fact be a preview of the fight ahead in 2016 among Republicans. Our political roundtable is here, including Morning Joe, Joe Scarborough himself, and former presidential candidate Rick Santorum. We're back here in 60 seconds.

* * *TRANSCRIBER'S NOTE: COMMERCIALS NOT TRANSCRIBED.* * *

ANNOUNCER:

Meet the Press continues with our political roundtable. Joining us this morning, Joe Scarborough, Rick Santorum, Joy-Ann Reid, and Andrea Mitchell. Now here's David Gregory.

DAVID GREGORY:

And we're back with the news that we've just heard about this terror threat, and very specific information. Former presidential candidate Senator Rick Santorum, I'd come back to you to ask the same question I asked the senators. How significant is this? We know it's a big reaction, is it really a big deal?

SENATOR RICK SANTORUM:

Oh, I think it's a huge deal. And I think it's really a consequence of the policies of this administration. I mean, if you look at Benghazi and what happened there. We had an attack on our embassy. We've seen really nothing other than cover-ups. We haven't seen anything from this administration really go after the people who are responsible, or the network behind it.

And I'm sure if you're looking at it from a terrorist perspective, you say, "Well, here's an administration that's pulling back, that's timid, and an opportunity to go after additional embassies." So this is to me a direct consequence from what we saw in Benghazi. And the general program that this administration has, which is not being aggressive in concerning the--

(OVERTALK)

DAVID GREGORY:

I'm not sure, Joe Scarborough, that critics of the administration's drone program would say--

(OVERTALK)

JOE SCARBOROUGH:

I was just going to say.

DAVID GREGORY:

--timid in the face of terror.

JOE SCARBOROUGH:

I was just going to say, even the president's critics inside the C.I.A. have been surprised at his drone policy, been surprised that he's adopted a lot of Dick Cheney and George W. Bush's approach in the War on Terror. I will agree with Rick on one point, and that is we do live in a post-Benghazi world, especially when it comes to embassy protection.

And there are a lot of families of people who were killed at Benghazi that wish they'd gone on this sort of alert. So this is, Benghazi is the 800-pound elephant that nobody's speaking about on this matter. That's why so many embassies have been shut down. But I don't know that there would be a lot of people saying it was because of the timidity of Barack Obama, rather than the mistakes that were made in Benghazi.

RICK SANTORUM:

Look, the drone policy is one policy. What we've seen is an administration that has refused to confront radical Islam. That has embraced the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and now you see the consequences of that and what's happened there. They have not been, they won't even use the word "terror." They have withdrawn politically from the engagement in sight. Yeah, sure, they're going after bad guys with drone programs. But that is not a comprehensive policy against radical Islam.

JOE SCARBOROUGH:

They're doing more though, really quickly, Rick. And I am not certainly, if you ever watch my show, I'm not in the business of defending Barack Obama. But if you talk to people in the intelligence community, they will tell you that Al Qaeda is busted, it's broken, it's splintered. There is a reason right now that they're in Yemen, because they've been chased out of Afghanistan, they've been chased out of a lot of other countries.

Al Qaeda is not any stronger today than it was when Barack Obama came into office. And most people, conservatives in the intel community will tell you that in fact it is weaker today than it was. Because the president has surprised a lot of people.

RICK SANTORUM:

I've seen--

(OVERTALK)

JOE SCARBOROUGH:

The president has surprised-- I've got to finish this.

RICK SANTORUM:

Yeah.

(OVERTALK)

JOE SCARBOROUGH:

The president surprised a lot of people.

RICK SANTORUM:

--by the way.

JOE SCARBOROUGH:

And that is, he's adopted the policies of Dick Cheney and George W. Bush in many, many instances.

JOY-ANN REID:

Right, but not the policies which I think really did risk America's image around the world. And in a sense, a lot of people would argue promote more terrorism, the torture policies. The president has rolled back the rhetorical bluster that we got used to during the previous administration. But has actually amped up in terms of going after Al Qaeda directly. I don't think the administration that got Osama bin Laden, rhetorical bluster did not bring down Osama bin Laden. It didn't get him.

Actual intelligence and aggressive maneuvers inside of Pakistan did. And I don't think that the former dictators in Libya or in Egypt would think that this president has been weak. I think what we've seen is a president who has tried to get the United States really to conform and support with this sort of moral standing that we--

(OVERTALK)

JOE SCARBOROUGH:

--counter every single point, but now I feel like I need to counter on the other side. Because the fact of the matter is, Barack Obama has adopted policies that I think have actually been less targeted. He will fire drones into countries where we aren't even at war, when we had a plan, we had a policy, we had a program that would allow us to go in, snatch terrorists, like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, brings them out without killing their four-year-old daughters, without killing their grandmothers, without killing everybody in the general vicinity.

And I've got to say, nothing that he has done has made us comport to international standards more than under George W. Bush or Dick Cheney. In fact, you look at a lot of these countries, and America's approval ratings, lower than they were when George W. Bush left office.

DAVID GREGORY:

I want to get to Andrea. The level of specificity we heard from Senator Chambliss--

ANDREA MITCHELL:

That was really--

DAVID GREGORY:

--that level of alarm is what struck me.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

He has said that this is the kind of chatter that we heard before 9/11, which by the way was a Republican administration. So he's talking about a very serious intelligence threat. Not specific in terms of whether this is going to be a car bomb or a suicide vest. But specific enough to warrant the closure of these embassies.

The other thing that they're doing today, I'm told, is that Homeland Security has ordered much tighter airport screening on flights coming from overseas into the United States. And they do not think that this is related to the prison breaks. But you have to be concerned about the prison breaks in Libya, Iraq, and Pakistan, where all of these arrested terrorists are now on the loose.

DAVID GREGORY:

So much--

(OVERTALK)

JOE SCARBOROUGH:

--diminish capacity about that.

DAVID GREGORY:

Well, all right, but let's put this in a barter context. One of the debates we're having about these surveillance programs is we are far enough away from 9/11 that we ought to look at the means we are using to try to track these threats. And our programs may have helped in the intelligence stream here. Part of this debate goes back to something that we found in our Meet the Press archives. Back in 1975, Senator Frank Church, warning about the potential of enhanced government capability to monitor communication. This is what he said then.

SENATOR FRANK CHURCH (ON TAPE):

In the need to develop a capacity to know what potential enemies are doing, the United States government has perfected a technology capability that enables us to monitor the messages that go through the air. Now that is necessary and important to the United States as we look abroad at enemies or potential enemies.

We must know at the same time that capability at any time could be turned around on the American people. And no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor anything, telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn't matter. There would be no place to hide.

DAVID GREGORY:

Rick Santorum, is this the debate we should be having?

RICK SANTORUM:

Well, here's the debate we should be having. We have an enormous capability with technology and improving analyzing of big data. Everyone talks about big data. Well, guess what all of these metadata, information about who's calling who? It's big data. It's just terabytes, it's huge amounts of data. The question is, we can't use human intelligence to review that.

But what's happening and what's going on in N.S.A. and other places is they're developing algorithms, other things to be able to analyze it, not looking at any particular thing, but looking for patterns. Looking for things that would be helpful, which is not an invasion of privacy. It's an analyzing of something that is, again, enormous amount of data, trying to find patterns to see if we can then draw conclusions from it. I don't see that as interfering with anybody's privacy. I think I see that as using the technology that everyone else is going to be using to--

(OVERTALK)

DAVID GREGORY:

But is it a concern, Joy-Ann, that we entrust the government to stay away, not bother us with stuff when they're looking for terrorists. But the fear is until such a time that they might have a different point of view, a different imperative, and they've got all this data. And that makes a lot of Americans uncomfortable at a time when the administration's trying to defend these programs.

JOY-ANN REID:

Well, I think one of the things that's the most alarming about what we learned from Edward Snowden is the extent to which we have contractors, people who are not even working directly with the N.S.A., but who are with a company, that a private, for-profit entity, that also has access.

I think the potential for a contractor like an Edward Snowden, let's say an Edward Snowden with impure motives to get at this data and to be able to access it. That is actually alarming. And I think that a lot of Americans would want to start to rein that in. But look, we have to understand that we are the source of the thing that people most fear.

We are sharing so much data with private companies from Google to Facebook, et cetera. Sometimes more data than we're giving out in our I.R.S. returns. And so we're giving that data out. And so the government can either blind itself to it, pretend it isn't there, or they can subpoena it and try to access it. But we also need to deal with privacy with these corporations, the amount of data they're vacuuming up and holding onto really indefinitely.

DAVID GREGORY:

Andrea, this is part of the fight that's going to be an even bigger political fight. We saw that play out with Rand Paul and Chris Christie this week, which is within the Republican party saying, "Hey, we need to take a look at the extent to which we want to be a security state in the face of this threat."

ANDREA MITCHELL:

And the White House is certainly, as Senator Durbin was indicating, that 90-minute meeting, you have ten Senators and Congress leaders in there, with for 90 minutes, with the President of the United States. That was a crisis meeting to say, "We can narrow this. Five years, is that too long? Should we hold these data for two years? Should it's force the telephone companies to do it rather than the government?" They see the political blowback in the White House as well as now, as you point out, the fight that's emerging everything the Republican party.

DAVID GREGORY:

Joe Scarborough, Dan Balz, who wrote the book Collision: 2012, a terrific book about the 2012 campaign, he said this about the feud we've seen this week and where it's going looking ahead when I spoke to him for our press pass conversation.

DAN BALZ (ON TAPE):

Rand Paul's views, particularly on foreign policy, are alarming to a lot of people in the Republican party who are internationalists, who tend to be interventionists, who believe in a muscular foreign policy, and what you've seen is the first of what is clearly going to be a long series of clashes about the direction of the party.

DAVID GREGORY:

Cue up Joe Scarborough.

JOE SCARBOROUGH:

Well, but it's not just the Republican party. Hillary Clinton has a much different world view. She's almost a neocon, dare I say. She has a much different worldview than, say, Pat Leahy. So there are going to be those battles going on in the Democratic party. I think Rick and I agree probably on a lot of economic issues, I think on foreign policy, a little closer to the Rand Paul camp. And I would guess you're a little closer to the Chris Christie camp. But there have been--

RICK SANTORUM:

Chris Christie's closer to me.

JOE SCARBOROUGH:

Chris is closer to you, exactly, exactly. You already pegged him for 2016. I love it, right here. But you know what though, the important thing to remember here is a strong party has two wings. The Republican party doesn't win 49 states anymore like we did under Reagan and Nixon because we have one wing right now. We need neocon, we need realists, we need people that balance each other out. And we have it, but don't forget, again, the Democrats have it too. Because they're going to be electing somebody-- if they elect Hillary, who's closer to view of a neocon--

DAVID GREGORY:

But so how does this--

(OVERTALK)

DAVID GREGORY:

--the G.O.P., Rick, in a different place than the party was in 2012?

RICK SANTORUM:

Well, I want to reiterate what Joe said, which is the media has a fascination with how divided the Republican party is and tends to ignore the divisions within the Democratic party. And I think they are as very much is real on this issue. Certainly on the N.S.A. security issue, big division. A big division here on--

JOE SCARBOROUGH:

Huge division.

RICK SANTORUM:

Look, these are very complex issues, and as Joe said, it's a healthy debate because we're at a very transitional time in our nation's history. So I don't think it gets resolved. I think on the issue of national security, we're going to be iterating ourselves to report on this.

DAVID GREGORY:

Talking about media fascination, I spent time with you in Iowa, you had a very successful run there in the caucuses. You're headed back there this week to a family summit. Are you laying the groundwork now for 2016?

RICK SANTORUM:

I'm open to looking at the presidential race in 2016. But got a little ways, we've got elections in 2014 to go focus on.

DAVID GREGORY:

Okay, we've got more coming up here. We're going to take a break. The other big story that we're following, of course, craving the spotlight, what makes politicians (MUSIC) with personal scandals think they should actually stay in the public eye to work through this? More with our roundtable on that question right after this break.

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DAVID GREGORY:

(MUSIC)

Coming up a little later in the program, I'll talk to Bob Costas of NBC Sports about baseball and the Alex Rodriguez saga about the larger issue of steroids in the game. I took a couple of minutes to share my own thoughts about it, and I've posted it exclusively vBox (?). If you haven't yet, download the app for your mobile device so you can join the conversation online. There's a link on our website, MeetThePressNBC.com. We're back in a minute with our roundtable and former New York City Mayor, Rudy Giuliani.

* * *TRANSCRIBER'S NOTE: COMMERCIALS NOT TRANSCRIBED.* * *

DAVID GREGORY:

We're back with some of the images to remember from this week, that last one, of course, Anthony Wiener remaining defiant in the New York City mayoral race. And Joy-Ann Reid, he spoke about this on Friday with some comments that raised eyebrows. This is what he told the reporter.

ANTHONY WEINER (ON TAPE):

And I think citizens have had plenty of chances, they think now I understand I've got something personally embarrassing in my background. And you can try to come up with the next combination, permutation of it. At what point do I get to say, "Let me talk about the issues important to the city of New York?" When do I get to say that, do you think?

DAVID GREGORY:

When do I get to talk about the issues. We've had a little distance now from the start of these scandals, and whether it's New York, whether it's Spitzer or Wiener, whether it's Filner in San Diego. I think the question that really drives me this week is what makes these politicians feel like it's okay for them to stay in public life in light of all this?

JOY-ANN REID:

I think it's history. I think that there are very few political disincentives to stay in. I mean, you can go back to Larry Craig being able to just retire from the Senate, David Vitter getting reelected over and over again after people understood about the madam business. You can go all the way back to Bill Clinton being impeached over a sex scandal and being more popular than ever afterwards.

There are no real political disincentives to get out. I think in Anthony Weiner's case, the problem for him is that he doesn't have a record, a congressional record to weigh against what people are talking about now, so it is all about the scandal. I think that if you were a politician like Bill Clinton, who has accomplishments in office that people want to retain, you're excused.

Or if you're somebody who was for whatever reason personally popular, like the former governor of South Carolina, who had a very public sex scandal, very public divorce, but was still able to get elected to Congress because people liked his body of work, I mean, you can survive. So what is the incentive to get out?

DAVID GREGORY:

You know, Andrea, I talked to people about this. It's not even a question of why do men behave badly, but why do politicians, what is it about politicians that think that they should remain in public life despite this?

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Well, in most cases, I think it's ego, enormous ego. And the thought that you have something to share in public service. But also needing the spotlight. But I do think it is remarkable that we have not seen women politicians, now there are fewer women politicians. But we don't see women with these kinds of personal scandals. Everyone can be criticized for policies and judgment and character. But not this kind of behavior. The kind of behavior where you'd hide in a closet somewhere and put your head down and never come out into the--

RICK SANTORUM:

Stick your head in the-- wow.

(OVERTALK)

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Well, no, the comment being--

DAVID GREGORY:

Right, the question is--

ANDREA MITCHELL:

--in the electoral spotlight is just extraordinary.

DAVID GREGORY:

The question is, why isn't just going away a reasonable option? Nancy Pelosi spoke out about this recently. She said the following:

NANCY PELOSI (ON TAPE):

Let me be very clear. The conduct of some of these people that we're talking about here is reprehensible. It's so disrespectful of women. And what's really stunning about it is they don't even realize it. You know, they don't have a clue. And it is really, if they're clueless, get a clue. And if they need therapy, do it in private.

DAVID GREGORY:

Do it in private is what strikes me about that comment.

RICK SANTORUM:

Yeah, I agree with Nancy Pelosi.

DAVID GREGORY:

There you go, stop the--

JOE SCARBOROUGH:

Oh my God.

(OVERTALK)

JOE SCARBOROUGH:

That's it, we're done here, we're done here.

RICK SANTORUM:

Peggy Noonan wrote a column a couple of weeks ago about a British politician named John Profumo who went through a even more elaborate sex scandal in Britain. This was the story of Britain.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

It brought down the government.

RICK SANTORUM:

Brought down the government. And what did he do? He went to the soup kitchens of London. He had shame, he knew the consequences of his actions, and if he really did care about the people that these politicians say they care about, they'd go and serve them directly, humbly, out of the limelight. When he died a few weeks ago, he was given a hero's funeral. He never appeared in public again except to do what he said he really cared about, which is serving those who are in need.

DAVID GREGORY:

And Anthony Weiner is saying, "Wait a minute, I mean, I know I've had two rounds of this, and I have not leveled with the public, but when do I get to talk about the issue?"

JOE SCARBOROUGH:

And we don't know if there's going to be round three, four, five, or six, but when can we talk about prices of water in New York City. I don't think people are ready for that yet. You get to look at each one of these cases differently. You take a guy like Mark Sanford. Mark Sanford believed he needed to get back into the race because he had fought over debt issues and deficit issues and he thought it was his time to get back.

Anthony Weiner, there's a question of what else can Anthony Weiner do but be a politician. And then you look at Spitzer, Elliot Spitzer, I mean, what he says, you know, he was making great money as an attorney, but what Elliot Spitzer does is run for office, try to get votes, win elections and serve in the public. It's different for different people.

JOY-ANN REID:

But Wiener had, like, three days or two days of, quote, "therapy." Filner in San Diego says he's going out for two weeks of therapy. If he--

(OVERTALK)

RICK SANTORUM:

But, you know, Fil-- in Filner's defense though, the city of San Diego did not offer him-- they had to give him the manual in sexual harassment. You believe that? He's suing the city.

DAVID GREGORY:

And this is--

RICK SANTORUM:

Yeah.

DAVID GREGORY:

--San Diego Mayor--

(OVERTALK)

DAVID GREGORY:

--Bob Filner who is actually starting his therapy tomorrow, Joy.

RICK SANTORUM:

It's unbelievable--

JOY-ANN REID:

Right, but at the same time, though, there is a certain level I think of puritanical sort of a vibe that we have in the United States that maybe in Europe we don't see. We had Jacques Chirac have tremendous marital issues publicly and it didn't really matter. We have politicians who are able to compartmentalize and have great achievement despite being lousy husbands.

I mean, you can go back to F.D.R., you can look at J.F.K., people we consider to be great. I mean, Ronald Reagan was the first divorced president. And people didn't hold it against him. The idea that you cannot perform well as a politician because you are not a stellar husband I think has been disproved by history.

The problem for Anthony Wiener and Filner and others is that when the scandal becomes all you're about, when you're not weighing that against something else you have to offer, I mean, Anthony Weiner's having trouble getting out what it is would be his program as mayor.

(OVERTALK)

DAVID GREGORY:

My final word--

JOE SCARBOROUGH:

It's an ongoing crisis, as Nancy Pelosi said, and just like Rick Santorum, who agrees with Nancy so often, and I do too, just in this one moment, as she said, if you've got to get therapy, that's cool, everybody needs therapy. But get it in private, don't do it on the campaign trail. And that's the problem here. These are evolving crises. We're watching the wheels come off the cart in the middle of these campaigns and it perhaps should wait a couple years.

DAVID GREGORY:

Joining me now is the former New York City Mayor Rudi Giuliani. He's got a unique perspective on some of the big issues that we've been talking about, not only the scandal surrounding Anthony Wiener, but also the split in the G.O.P. on foreign policy, of course the New York Yankees and A-Rod, which we'll get to in just a moment. Mr. Mayor, welcome.

RUDY GUILIANI:

Glad to talk to you as always.

DAVID GREGORY:

Let me start on this discussion, what makes politicians think they can keep working through this in public life? Look, you've had to face personal questions about your own life when you were mayor of New York City. How do you think this is reflecting on the city, if at all?

RUDY GUILIANI:

Oh, I guess it creates a lot of interest in the race. Hopefully at some point, that's going to focus on the real issues. I think, and maybe some of this when I'm listening to it, we have so little confidence in the electorate. I mean, they get all these issues, they get to evaluate it. In the Sanford race in South Carolina, everybody knew what happened with Sanford.

They knew all the details of it. Turned out to be a much closer race than anyone thought. Maybe if the Democrats had run a different candidate, they might've won. Who knows. But the electorate made a decision, knowing all the facts. Same thing with Wiener and Spitzer. Everybody knows everything about them. It's in front of the electorate. The electorate is adult, it's mature, we have a democracy. I'm very confident they're going to figure this out.

DAVID GREGORY:

So I guess the only question I have as a parent, is this life in session (?) that voters can judge or is there something disqualifying at a point when I can't even turn on the news, that that's going to create a bigger conversation than I want to have with my eight year old?

RUDY GUILIANI:

Only way we can solve that, David, is if we had a disqualification, process, right? If people put themselves up for public offices and somebody investigated them and said, "Oh my goodness, your personal life is not so good, we're going to throw you out." And then we have, as I think a number of your panelists made the point, these situations, actually we lump them together.

They're all very, very different. People with great accomplishment made a big mistake, personal, but made a big mistake. People with no accomplishment made a big mistake. And these are very hard to evaluate and say, "This person should be out, that person shouldn't be out." This is why we have elections. The electorate can evaluate this, and usually they get it right. And when they don't, like remember in Boston when they elected a mayor who was in jail? Well, they got a mayor who was in jail.

DAVID GREGORY:

Let me ask you about national security and the fight within your own party. You went round and round with Ron Paul when you ran for president about national security and 9/11. Well, it's happening again with his son and Chris Christie and you're hearing Rick Santorum who looks like he's running perhaps in 2016 as well. Where do you see the resolution? Where does this fight within the party over America's role in the world and how best to protect the country go in 2016?

RUDY GUILIANI:

So this is a good fight. Now we're getting on a subject where we're having a good fight about what the role of America should be in protecting itself. I would agree with Rick and with Governor Christie, I'm on that side of it. I think we need a strong, robust, national security. I think though Rand Paul makes some good points in alerting us to how sensitive we have to be about privacy.

But we can't stop doing all the things we're doing to protect us because we want to overprotect privacy. And I think to some extent, this debate maybe can reduce some of the places in which we've gone to excess. But what I wouldn't want to see is, "Hey, we do away with all these programs." That would be a terrible mistake.

DAVID GREGORY:

I saved probably the most sensitive for last for you as a diehard Yankees fan, and that's judgment day for coming up for baseball, particularly for star third baseman of the Yankees, Alex Rodriguez. Here you are last year, September of 2012 with some young people getting an autograph from Alex Rodriguez. And now our reporting indicating today that he is on the verge of a major suspension. As you look at that, what do you think this morning?

RUDY GIULIANI:

I don't know, when you showed me that picture, and it's very, very sad. He, Alex Rodriguez, went out of his way to not only autograph that for the boy, a wonderful young boy, but he also gave him his glove, his batting glove. And the young boy still has that batting glove. And he says, "I have a batting glove that A-Rod sweated into. He-- his sweat was in here." And he shows me the batting glove.

I've seen the other side of A-Rod, extremely kind to kids, very good teammate. I can't evaluate this. Here's the part I'm a little confused about, David, and I don't exactly understand completely this biogenesis situation. I don't understand exactly what it is they did wrong. Did they just do biogenesis, which is basically blood enhancement, which a number of other athletes did, or here's what I suspect, under the guise of that, they were getting human growth hormone, which is what would make it as serious as is it. So I don't know all the facts, so it's very hard-pressed for me to make a definitive conclusion about it.

DAVID GREGORY:

All right. Mayor Guiliani, thank you as always.

RUDY GIULIANI:

Thank you.

DAVID GREGORY:

All right, coming up here, morning on (MUSIC) this topic. Judgment day, as I say, for baseball, the future of America's past time. Bob Costas of NBC Sports is here, we're back in 90 seconds.

* * *TRANSCRIBER'S NOTE: COMMERCIALS NOT TRANSCRIBED.* * *

DAVID GREGORY:

Sources this Sunday morning are telling NBC Sports that Yankees star Alex Rodriguez will be suspended for the remainder of the 2013 season and likely the entire 2014 season, Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig expected to make that announcement tomorrow. I want to bring in Bob Costas of NBC Sports, always good to have you, Bob, especially with a developing story like this. This is about biogenesis, as Mayor Guiliani referred to, and a second round of steroid use for Alex Rodriguez.

BOB COSTAS:

Yeah, and they feel, they being baseball, feel that they have such abundant evidence against him that they can make the case stand up. Ryan Braun was already suspended for 65 games. There were few players more defiant than Ryan Braun who got off the first time on a technicality. But when presented with the evidence that baseball had, he settled.

For whatever reason, and there may be financial reasons protecting the remainder of his contract, other issues involved, also just personal pride because A-Rod is a different sort of individual in terms of how he views himself and his possible legacy in the game. For whatever reason, they have, they being A-Rod's camp, and baseball, have not been able to reach any kind of settlement.

So Selig is going to go ahead tomorrow and suspend him. And the key is, he's going to suspend him on two counts. Under the Joint Drug Agreement, but also under the overall collective bargaining agreement and the so-called Integrity of the Game clause.

And the reason why that's significant is that on the first, if he or any other player, like let's say Nelson Cruz of the Texas Rangers, who leads them in RBIs and is expected to be suspended tomorrow as well, any player could appeal and remain on the field pending the outcome of the appeal if they're just suspended under the drug agreement.

But if you're suspended under the Best Interest of Baseball clause, you can still appeal but you're off the field and cannot play while that appeal is being adjudicated. And baseball apparently wants to make sure that A-Rod doesn't play until this thing is completely settled.

DAVID GREGORY:

The cover of Sports Illustrated this week is people have rendered the last days of A-Rod. I wanted to talk about this not just as a lifelong baseball fan, of course, but also because this is a major American institution dealing with cynicism, dealing with a sense of loss in terms of trust of heroes for young people. And yet as I've talked to you about it this week, you've been struck by the culture among the players and how that has changed, that has led to discussion of a lifetime ban by baseball, which is so significant.

BOB COSTAS:

Yeah, this is a positive, in my view, this is a positive turning point. I mean, it's not good that many players, including star players, are involved in ongoing performance-enhancing drug use. But it's very clear that baseball is serious about this, they may have gotten religion on it late, but once they did, they got serious about it. They're showing no favoritism.

A guy like Ryan Braun was a very, very popular player in the home city of the commissioner of baseball, A-Rod, one of the game's biggest stars, they'll go after anybody who either fails a drug test, or where other evidence, like in the biogenesis case, indicates that they may be guilty. And not only is baseball itself putting pressure on these players, but now the pressure comes from within.

Even the players who didn't use a decade ago, there was kind of this code of silence. No one said anything. And the leaders of the players association were complicit in taking the game down the drain, corrupting both contemporary competition and the record books in the sport where records and comparisons across the generations matter most. Now you have players saying, outspoken about it, "We want Ryan Braun to receive a more significant penalty. We're behind these punishments. And in fact, if anything, we'd like to see the punishments strengthen."

DAVID GREGORY:

And that's the question of how do you disincentivize this behavior? I mean, the blight on baseball from '90s, McGwire/Sosa et al with steroids. And here you had kind of a more sophisticated turn that these players were making in order to still juice.

BOB COSTAS:

Yeah, there are ever more sophisticated means of doing it. I don't think they can get the full-blown effect that McGwire/Sosa/Bonds got where they could practically turn themselves into cyborgs. But clearly, with the use of H.G.H. and testosterone and what not and masking agents, they can get some edge. Otherwise they wouldn't do it. So it's ongoing. But within the game, the disapproval mounts and the vast majority of players stand firmly against it.

And you find some of them like Max Scherzer, for example, who's a player rep from the Detroit Tigers, and others saying, "Look, here's what we should add to baseball's arsenal. The right at the team's discretion to void a long-term contract if a player is found, and after he gets due process and goes through appeals, so it's a fair process, if the is found to have used PEDs, the team has the right to void the long-term contract." In the case of Ryan Braun, for example, he loses $3 million. That's a lot of money. But there's still about $100 million left on the contract. If you put in that clause that you could void a deal, that's a tremendous disincentive.

DAVID GREGORY:

Bob Costas of NBC Sports, thank you so much. We're in an important time with the suspension of Alex Rodriguez coming down tomorrow, according to your reporting from NBC Sports. Bob, thank you as always.

(OVERTALK)

DAVID GREGORY:

Andrea Mitchell, you're such a big sports fan, my own said to me if one of his players he really likes a lot is caught up in this, he's going to throw away his jersey. This really matters in terms of the future of the game.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Baseball is America. Baseball to me is the essential sport. And the fact that it has been so disgraced in the past and now ongoing, it's got to be cleaned up. And the Yankees of course are motivated by the $100 million left on the contract and the salary cap. But they also have to be concerned about the pinstripes.

DAVID GREGORY:

Do you agree with Bob, though, Rick, that this is a good day for baseball in terms of how strongly they're acting?

RICK SANTORUM:

I was very encouraged to hear about the players. Because I think that's been one of the big problems, the complicity of the players unions and the other players in sort of letting this pass and sort of rallying around the guys whether they deserved it or not. I think that's a great turning point. And the point is, and Bob mentioned this, baseball is a game about records.

You always talk about your team and you go, "Well, what era?" And baseball is not the glitzy, glamorous sport that football can be and the NBA. It's got more tradition and records. And you're throwing all that out when you throw this in.

DAVID GREGORY:

Yeah, and most if you don't have that level playing field.

JOY-ANN REID:

Yeah, I went to a screening of 42 of the story of Jackie Robinson--

DAVID GREGORY:

Great movie.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

That's a great movie.

JOY-ANN REID:

Yeah, and so baseball has this tremendous capacity to bring out the best in individual athletes and really to showcase the potential for growth in the country. As a kid, I used to collect baseball cards, I was a huge baseball fan, I was a Yankee fan. And it's just disappointing that you can't count on the individual heroism of athletes, you can't believe it.

And the fact that the authenticity of those records is questioning going all the way back to the '90s, it's difficult to find heroes in our society. And I think when you know that people are really motivated by lifestyle and by money and trying to be bigger and stronger, but not better, that's a problem, I think, that's fundamental to the culture not just of baseball.

JOE SCARBOROUGH:

I think it's also a problem that you're a Yankees fan.

(OVERTALK)

JOY-ANN REID:

I was born in the U.S.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

But you know, it's another reason to love you.

JOE SCARBOROUGH:

When we were growing up, we were roughly from the same era, I followed Hank Aaron, Roberto Clemente.

DAVID GREGORY:

Steve Garvey.

JOE SCARBOROUGH:

Willie Stargell, Steve Garvey, all of these guys, Ron Cey. I mean, we could go on and on and on. And what was so great is my dad and I would debate, Mickey Mantle versus Hank Aaron. Of course, I always took Hank Aaron. I can't do that with my son because my son lives with an AstroScope for his entire era. And I never let him forget that it.

DAVID GREGORY:

We're going to be right back and we're going to remember a dear colleague and friend at NBC News that we lost this week.

* * *TRANSCRIBER'S NOTE: COMMERCIALS NOT TRANSCRIBED.* * *

DAVID GREGORY:

And we're back here. Yesterday we got word that we lost a dear colleague and friend here at NBC News, John Palmer who was with NBC News for the better part of 40 years from the White House to war zones and the anchor desk on Today of course, Andrea, he was-- a mentor to you.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

He was a mentor, he taught generations of colleagues generously. And he had it all. There was an aura about John, he was a prince of a man. And he brightened any room he walked into. But here at NBC, he was a war correspondent, a diplomatic correspondent, White House correspondent, five presidents, and a great writer. I think probably all told as an anchor and writer and correspondent, the greatest correspondent we've ever had.

DAVID GREGORY:

A great dad, a great husband, and someone who in the later stages of his career, when I would travel with him covering the White House beat or at the White House, was so wise, would always be so quick to teach you. But was also a lot of fun. He had a lot of experience in having a good time in this job.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Judgment, character, and a great amount of fun. And John Palmer was one of a kind.

DAVID GREGORY:

Yeah. Well, he was a real friend to so many of us and we're going to miss him. Thanks for your reflections. We're going to leave it there this morning. That is all for today. We'll be back next week. If it's Sunday, it's Meet the Press.

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