On Thursday’s NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer accused Donald Trump of reversing an Obama administration school transgender policy just to appease conservative activists gathering at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference: “Or is the timing more tied to the fact that CPAC starts today? Conservatives around the country coming for a victory party and he wants to fire up that base.”
The discussion began with MSNBC host Steve Kornacki arguing the President’s decision “has a lot to do with the base that elected him. Donald Trump, remember, ran as the candidate of the protector of evangelical Christians.” The reporter went on to proclaim: “But more to the point, this has to do with his attorney general, Jeff Sessions….This is not an area Jeff Sessions wants to go in, and Donald Trump chose to go along with that.”
After Lauer pushed the theory that the timing was related to CPAC, Kornacki declared: “Yeah, you know, you’ve got that, too. And Jeff Sessions really is that base. If you’re pleasing Jeff Sessions, you are pleasing the conservative base.”
In a report prior to the discussion, correspondent Hallie Jackson proclaimed: “…a senior administration official tells me the President has made clear his position has always been to leave this decision up to the states. But now, fallout from that decision is coming fast and fierce….Transgender rights advocates furious, calling the reversal cruel and heartbreaking.”
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In another segment at the top of the 8 a.m. ET hour, fellow correspondent Kristen Welker promoted more left-wing attacks against the administration: “The White House says it’s a matter of states’ rights, but the Human Rights Campaign blasting the move, calling it ‘a blind and cruel attack on young children.’ Adding, ‘This isn’t a ‘states rights’ issue, it’s a civil rights issue.’”
Here is a transcript of Lauer’s February 23 exchange with Kornacki:
7:11 AM ET
MATT LAUER: Steve Kornacki is with us now. Steve, good morning to you.
STEVE KORNACKI: Good morning.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Trump Changes Course on Transgender Rights? WH Reversal Comes After Comments]
LAUER: Hallie was right, during the campaign, then-candidate Trump said he thought this issue of transgender bathroom rights should be best left to the states. But in a town hall meeting on our plaza on April 21, when asked about this, this is what he said.
DONALD TRUMP [APRIL 21, 2016]: One of the best answers I heard was from a commentator yesterday, saying, “Leave it the way it is right now.” There have been very few problems. Leave it the way it is. People go, they use the bathroom that they feel is appropriate. There has been so little trouble.
LAUER: What he said then is not what he did yesterday. Why?
KORNACKI: Yeah, it has a lot to do with the base that elected him. Donald Trump, remember, ran as the candidate of the protector of evangelical Christians. He had overwhelming support from evangelical Christians. But more to the point, this has to do with his attorney general, Jeff Sessions. Jeff Sessions was one of the first Republicans to come over and endorse Trump, he holds considerable sway with Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions had some decisions coming up about what the Justice Department was willing to defend. This is not an area Jeff Sessions wants to go in, and Donald Trump chose to go along with that.
LAUER: Is that the reason for the timing? Or is the timing more tied to the fact that CPAC starts today? Conservatives around the country coming for a victory party and he wants to fire up that base.
KORNACKI: Yeah, you know, you’ve got that, too. And Jeff Sessions really is that base. If you’re pleasing Jeff Sessions, you are pleasing the conservative base.