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MTP EXCLUSIVES: ERNST SAYS TRUMP ‘DOES NEED TO WORK WITH CONGRESS’ ON FURTHER SYRIA ACTION, BOTH ERNST & RYAN DON’T BELIEVE TRUMP WILL FIRE MUELLER

EXCLUSIVE: House Speaker Ryan Says Comey is a Man of Integrity “As Far As I Know”

PLUS: Former CIA Director Brennan Supports Trump’s “Appropriate” Actions on Syria

NEW NBC News/WSJ Poll: Democrats Have Midterm Intensity Advantage, But No 'Knockout' Yet

APRIL 14, 2018 – In an exclusive interview this morning on “Meet the Press,” Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) addresses Friday’s airstrikes in Syria, telling moderator Chuck Todd if President Trump “wishes to go any further, he does need to work with Congress.”

“I am uncomfortable going forward if he [Trump] wishes to commit ground troops in the area,” said Ernst. “The president does need to come to Congress,” adding, “We need to have these discussions because we don't see that Bashar al-Assad will all of a sudden become a real nice guy.”

Ernst also addressed upcoming legislation from Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) on protecting Special Counsel Robert Mueller from being fired, noting she’d like to “see the final text of that before I state whether I would support it or not.” “I don't believe that the president will fire Mueller,” she said. Watch the full interview.

Former CIA Director and NBC News Senior National Security and Intelligence Analyst John Brennan told Todd he has not been interviewed by the Special Counsel and reacted to a report that Mr. Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, was in Prague during the 2016 campaign despite his well-known denials: “If these allegations are true, they are explosive from the standpoint of this provides the basis for conspiracy. Because you have to conspire with a foreign government in order for these charges to stick.”

On Syria, Brennan said, “This administration's actions against Syria were appropriate. And I tend to be a critic of this administration, but I think the way they handled this was exactly right.” He also addressed his criticism of the president on Twitter: “I believe that I have a responsibility as an American citizen to speak up when I see some wrongdoings, and I have taken issue with a lot of things that Donald Trump has done. I'll continue to do that.” Watch the full interview.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, who announced this week he would not seek re-election, spoke with Todd in an exclusive interview on Capitol Hill Friday, endorsing House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) as his successor. On the Russia probe, Ryan said, “I don't think he's [Trump] going to fire Mueller,” adding, “I don't think he should be fired. I think he should be left to do his job.” He says that former FBI Director James Comey is a man of integrity “as far as I know.” Watch the full interview.

New NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll numbers debuted on the broadcast, revealing that an advantage in intensity — against Trump and for voting in November — is fueling Democrats ahead of the midterm elections that take place more than six months from now. Read more on the poll’s findings.

Republican strategist Al Cardenas, NBC News’ Carol Lee and Kristen Welker, and Mark Leibovich of The New York Times Magazine joined the show for insight and analysis on the week in politics, including a discussion on the FBI’s raid of Cohen’s office. “When the news came out on the court filing that Michael Cohen's been under surveillance for months, it is notable the president spoke with Michael Cohen on Friday,” said Todd, to which Welker replied, “The White House was asked if the president continues to be in constant contact with Michael Cohen. They dodged that question.”

Read the full transcript of this morning’s “Meet the Press” on MeetThePress.com.

For more from moderator Chuck Todd throughout the week, sign up for the “First Read” newsletter, and subscribe to “1947: The Meet the Press Podcast” for on-demand interviews.

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