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tv   Anderson Cooper 360  CNN  October 19, 2017 5:00pm-6:00pm PDT

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president trump, if local officials want that ten, they have to work for it. >> thank you so much polo. thanks for joining us. watch "outfront" anytime on cnngo. "360" now. white house chief of staff john kelly retired general and gold star supporter spoke to reporters and delivered a defense of president trump's call to widow, wife of sergeant ladavid johnson. congresswoman was with the wife when president called her. said the president was insensitive when he told the wife, he knew what he signed up for, but i guess it still hurts.
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her office says she stands by the words. look at statement from last night. despite president trump's sthau suction that i recanted my statement, i stand by it. moreover this account has been confirmed by family members who witnessed mr. trump's incredible lack of compassion and sensitivity. also listening was chief of staff kelly. his son robert kelley was killed in action in afghanistan in 2010. reluctant to talk about the loss but today didn't hold back. given what happened this week, decided it was time for him to spieng. here's some of the key moments. >> he called four people the other day and expressed his condolences in the best way he could. and he said to me, what do i say? i said to him, sir, there's nothing you can do to lighten
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the burden on these families. but let me tell you what i tell them, what my best friend told me, my casualty officer. he said kell, he was doing exactly what he wanted to do when he was killed. he knew what he was getting into by joining that 1%. he knew what the possibilities were because we're at war. and when he died, four cases we're talking about niger, my son in afghan stan. when he died he was surrounded by best men on this earth, his friends. that's what the president tried to say to the families. i was stunned when i came to work and broken hrted when i saw
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what a member of congress was doing. member of congress who listened in on a phone call from the president of the united states to a young wife. and in his way tried to express that opinion, that he's a brave back, a fallen hero, he knew what he was getting himself into, he enlisted. there's no reason to enlist, he enlisted. he was exactly where he wanted to be with exactly the people he wanted to be with when his life was taken. that was the message. when i listened to this woman and what she was saying and doing on tv, only thing i could do to collect my thoughts was to go and walk among the finest men and women on this earth. you can always find them, they're in arlington national cemetery. i went over there for an hour and a half. walked among the stones, some of whom i put there because they
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were doing what i told them to do when they were killed. >> emotional defense in john kelly. jeff zeleny, what are you learning about the decision to send him out to speak? his decision? president's? >> reporter: white house official told me that chief of staff john kelly would never have done this on orders. they said he rarely talks about his son robert to died seven years ago next month in afghanistan. it's something he's been deeply troubled by, disgusted by in the words of the white house. he wanted to try to put an end to this, explain this as they viewed only he could. but i can tell you just by watching him stand, before he took the podium, looked like he wanted to be anywhere but there. but again we are told that he
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would not have been there if he did not want to be. >> i used word remarkable, because watching on television it was. you were at briefing, what was it like in the room? >> reporter: i was probably four or five feet away from him in normal seat in the briefing room. can be fairly prefunktry. this was unlike anything i've seen in that room. you could hear the emotion, feel the emotion, see the emotion. particularly when he was talking about the pain stking detailed version of how american fallen soldiers come back here. used detail about how they're packed in ice, flown from the battlefield on to dover and wrapped in flag, going detail by detail. that was the point. white house was trying to definitely turn the page here. but it's important also to point out that, you know, john kelly
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talked a lot about politics today. blasted this member of congress from florida. she now is not responding. stands by account but not adding on. but he talked little about president trump's role in all of this. if you look at his words carefully, actually was being gently critical of the president in the sense that he was not able to deliver the message that john kelly was trying to help him with. he said he did it in the best way he could. at end of all of this, we're left with, will this story go away? move on? questions about the attack, no doubt. but not reconciled about what president trump said yesterday, he did not say that. john kelly said he did say that, he gave him the words that were misconstrued and politicized. but we shouted questions as he
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walked out. president trump's role in all of this. they were unanswered. >> worth pointing out, reason entire situation is the public discourse is because the president was asked about 12 day delay in talking about what happened in niger. instead of responding to that, he interpreted it as either insult or tough or critical question, he pivoted to attacking former presidents about how they handled this most sensitive of subjects. president is the one who put this into the national discourse. >> did on monday in the rose garden without question. that's something that chief of staff today did not talk about. he was wearing three hats. chief of staff, political. new job is political. old job is marine commander. and most difficult haft all, gold star father himself. talking about his son who he's
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been reluctant to bring into this sphere here. but it was very raw, emotional in there. extraordinary. >> jeff zeleny. appreciate you talking to us. general kelly talked about the sacrifice of those who served and families. said in so many words, unless you've worn the uniform you can't understand, the camaraderie of service, the loss family feels when loved one is killed. for them, it's not politics, want the focus on fallen son or daughter, loved one not to be forgotten. certainly true for etienne murphy, killed in rollover in northern syria, first deployment, murphy was -- spoke with parent sheila and calvin just before air thanks for being with us. can you talk about him?
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>> etienne was a fun-loving young man. >> still call him a boy. >> always going to be my baby boy. he loved skateboarding, a "star wars" fanatic. he liked patriots, football team. and most importantly, he loved his wife and his two children. >> he was dedicated to those two sons. >> yes he was. >> he's a family man. >> and mr. murphy, i know you've talked about him as god-fearing man and all his decisions in his life led him to being an army ranger. can you explain that? >> my son, even when he was young, he just lived and breathed army. he liked to play with marsh men. didn't know what he was talking
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about, went to the store, gathered up army men. running through the woods with paintball guns, everything. >> meant to be a ranger from the beginning. >> yes. >> yeah. >> yes, we do believe that. >> how did you learn about what happened to your son? >> my daughter-in-law called me, said are you home? no. go home, someone is coming to the house. i had a gut-wrenching feeling that something was wrong with my child. >> as soon as we walked in the door, five minutes after we shut the door, doorbell rang. i peeked through the blinds and i seen the two gentlemen standing there and i fell to my knees. >> mrs. murphy, we were talking before the break and i told you about my mom losing a brother. sometimes don't take it day by day but minute by minute, second
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by second, breathing in and out. wonder if that's the way it is for you. >> yeah. second by second because the pain is so great. you have to remind yourself to breathe. mind all over the place. expecting him to come in, a phone call. when i receive calls from numbers i don't know, hoping it's him, still in shock to tell you the truth. still in disbelief, i don't even know if i've accepted it yet. i don't know what to do some days. beg god all day to just let my child come back. i'll take his place and go. let him come back and be with his family. he was agood boy and i wish he could just be here. >> i want to ask you about
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another gold star parent, john kelly, he spoke about what it's like, obviously you're not speaking for other parents but your own experiences. i want to play part of what general kelly said and get your thoughts on it. >> typically the only phone calls a family receives are the most important phone calls they could imagine, that is from their buddies. in my case, hours after my son was killed, his friends were calling us from afghanistan, telling us what a good guy he was. those are the only phone calls that really matter. letters count to a degree but there's not much that can really take the edge off what a family member is going through. >> wondering if you had a similar experience or what has given you strength in this time? >> i don't know, i think only
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thing is each other and our grandchildren. and making sure we're there for his wife. that gives us strength >> i know you've received a huge number of letters, probably from complete strangers, obviously loved ones, people in washington, officials. didn't receive a letter from the president but does that matter to you? >> no. it doesn't matter. no hard feelings towards president trump for not reaching out to us. this is just something that has happened to us. i'm not expecting him to call or send us a letter. and i'm not angry or upset or surprised by it. it's just something that happened to us. we're just trying to get through it, through the day. my son would not care about a letter either. i just didn't want people to
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forget my son and i just want people to know that there is an aftermath of soldiers and gold star families. can only speak for mine, want people to see our pain. >> you wrote president trump a letter. >> i did. just thanking him for what he's doing over there, thanking him for trying to bring some type of solution. i don't know. i don't keep up on those things. as military mom, it made it nervous, tried best not to get involved, i'm a nervous person. i still don't know what is going on about the letter and phone call, i don't watch the news anymore. i reached out to president trump just to thank him. he was my son's i guess commander in chief and my son loved this country. would not want his name to be involved in something that was
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negative about a phone call or letter. i want -- he wants to be -- yes. he wants to be remembered as man, army ranger that loved his country. he did what he wanted to do, accomplished what he wanted to do. that's what i want people to know about specialist etienne j. murphy, it's not about a letter or phone call. >> he was doing exactly what he wanted to do with his life. >> yes. he loved it. begged him not to join, not to go to syria. he said mom, i have -- told me he didn't want to go but he did. >> grief is something we don't talk about nuch this society. makes people uncomfortable. loss is language that only those who experienced it speak to each other. i'm wondering, does it help to talk about etienne? >> in the past, didn't help me. didn't want to talk about it. but for some reason these past
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few days when i did speak about him -- i think it's because of the responses and support i've receiving from others, it's helping me. some days i still feel like i don't want to go on. when i'm reading letters and outpouring of the support i've received, it's touched my heart so much, it gave me a little bit of strength. i want to thank everyone for their support and understanding and compassion during this hard, very difficult time. in our lives. >> mr. murphy, anything else you wanted to say? >> well, yes. me as the father, i have my pain and we handle our pain and our feelings a little different than our wives but our wives carry our children and they nurtured them and everything like that. when i sometimes hear her pouring out her feelings and i get uncomfortable because i
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think it's just going to bring more pain to her. but i'm finding out when she does that it might be healing her little by little. as long as i know she's healing, th then i know i can heal as well. >> mr. and mrs. murphy, i wish you strength and peace in the years ahead. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> john kelly said to put politics aside. it was president trump who brought up the subject of conversations with gold star families when he talked about former president. and continued to praise puerto rico. gave his administration an ten. on the ground in puerto rico to keep him honest. when you're close to the people you love, does psoriasis ever get in the way of a touching moment?
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john kelly said he was brokenhearted and stunned by the congresswoman's comments. >> it stuns me to a member of congress would have listened in on that conversation. absolutely stuns me. i thought at least that was sacred. when i was a kid growing up, a lot of things were sacred in our country. women were sacred, looked upon with great honor. that's obviously not the case as we see from recent cases. life, dignity of life was sacred. that's gone. religion, that seems to be gone as well. gold star families, i think that left in the convention over the summer. but i just thought the selfless devotion that brings a man or woman to die on the battlefield, i just thought that might be sacred. >> joining me military analysts. i understand general kelly, his
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criticism of the congresswoman for making public this conversation, he's in an odd position though. he is no longer a general. chief of staff for an administration and president of that administration, of this country that brought this into the conversation by using conversations with gold star families to attack former presidents. >> yeah. anderson. what i would say, couple of things first. i consider john kelly a friend and comrade and battle buddy. we served together for 15 months in iraq, had quite a few exchanges in that period of time, i hope he feels same about me. we often talked about both of us having two sons in the military. wife and i had two sons and daughter-in-law who served nine tours in combat. i can't imagine the knock on the door was like for him and his wife. attended the funeral and been --
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multiple times as well. this isn't about john kelly or his past experiences or combat tours or rank of four star general. this is about presidential leader subpoen leadership. i was also disgusted with congresswoman wilson's remarks and listening in to a phone conversation that was private but that's not the point. point is we have continued to be divisive in all of this. that john kelly's actions today were separated from his time as a general and commander. he's now in the political realm. unfortunately think his comments today were untoward. he should not have been the one out there. i didn't appreciate what he did to the professional members of the press, the journalists, i'm sure many people consider journalists the enemy but
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truthfully they're far tpart of free society but he attacked them today and continued the divisiveness in free society. another day where the focus wasn't on the families like mr. and mrs. murphy and mr. and mrs. johnson on earlier today and suffering they're going through because their soldiers are dead. we have to stop this divisiveness and go back to the point of empathy and understanding and humility within our society and within our presidential leadership. >> admiral kirby? >> i couldn't agree more with everything that general hertling said just there, i've known general kelly, worked with him every day at pentagon for a couple of years, incredible respect for him but he is a political figure. i was sorry and sad to see that that press conference got as political as it did when it didn't need to. i want to echo the general's
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comments exactly. this thing continues to fester. now another day of coverage of this and headlines of this. i do hope that as a result of all this, that two things will happen. one that we'll begin to try to understand that every gold star family is different. all their experiences are different. you've had them on your show, seen that for yourself. maybe begin to allow ourselves to think that young 24-year-old widow with two little kids and unborn child on the way maybe received the president's comments a little differently than general kelly did when he got them. message may have been transmitted as general kelly said to all four families but not received same way. number two, i hope the discussion elevates the need to wrap our arms around as a nation these families and all military
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families. civil/military gap continues to widen in the country and it's not healthy for us. i hope as result of all the ugliness we can move past it and have serious discussion how to bridge that gap and make sure the families are supported throughout the rest of her lives. >> some of the most powerful things that general kelly was saying was about things used to be held sacred that he believes no longer are. many of the things he said are well-taken but representing a president, number of things he mentioned, attitudes towards women, towards gold star families, this president is certainly -- has a track record on these things as well that general kelly is now in awkward position of bringing these things up, going after democratic congresswoman which i understand but leaving unsaid anything about administration he
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works for which for political reasons he has to. >> and your great producer sent me the transcript. i didn't see the presentation by john kelly but read the transcript. i -- just reading the words, i was wondering is john kelly not only commenting on society as whole but sending a message to his boss? i hope that's the case. >> was very careful in how he phrased things. could be interpreted that president would be included in on the inherent critiques he was making. >> thing that i found interesting was his comments about president trump asking him how he should deal with these calls. i agree with admiral kirby, when you're told how to handle it, way you handle it between members in uniform who have lost a son versus a president reaching out to a family would be very different. i don't want to judge that. but i think it was interesting
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the way john kelly parsed his words today. i don't want to put anything in his mouth, judge him, but i think and hope he was sending as much of a message about presidential leadership to his boss as he was about divisiveness in the country because i know john kelly to be a true patriot and marine, he does the right thing for the country. hopefully, what i think he was saying in those words were, hey boss, take a look at what you're doing too. it's a technique of leading up which i think president trump could pay attention to. >> appreciate you both being on. lot of questions about the niger attack that left the four service members dead. defense secretary is demanding answers. john mccain is saying subpoenas might be needed. all of that next. you ever call your broker for help? >>once, when volatility spiked...
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ask your gastroenterologist about entyvio. entyvio. relief and remission within reach. amid the controversy over president trump's condolence call to widow of soldier killed in ambush in attack in niger, there are serious questions about the operation as well. john kelly was asked about that this afternoon. >> people that will answer those questions are people at other end of the military pyramid. i'm sure the special forces group is conducted -- i know they're conducting an investigation. that investigation under auspices of afr com. will go to the pentagon. i've read the same stories, i know a lot more than i'm letting on but not going to tell you.
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there's an investigation being done. >> kelly wouldn't say too much, understandably. but senator john mccain, chairman of the armed services community was more blunt about the growing questions. >> what does the committee need to know in terms of details? can you be more specific? >> everything. >> what steps are you taking to get to bottom of it? >> everything. up to subpoena. had a conversation with -- and said that they would be briefing us. we have a long friendship and we'll hopefully get all the details. >> do you feel the administration has been forthcoming about what happened there? >> of course not. >> more now about the investigation. jim sciutto. >> reporter: head of the committee is demanding answers.
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>> loss of our troops is under investigation. we in department of defense like to know what we're talking about before we talk. so we do not have all the accurate information yet. we'll release it as rapidly as we get it. >> reporter: two weeks after the ambush, defense secretary james mattis officials say is discouraged by lack of information he's received from his own people on isis attack in niger that killed four u.s. soldiers and injured two more. 12 member u.s. army team meeting villagers on the border and walking back to vehicles, not armored, when up to 50 isis fighters attacked them with machine guns and rocket propelled grenades. fought back but only armed with light rifles. >> had reason to believe they were in permissive environment. >> reporter: after 30 minutes
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french aircraft flew by to disperse attackers from the air and later to evacuate the wounded. u.s. had to rely on private contractor to airlift out the dead. in the chaos sergeant la david johnson was separated and left behind. joint search and rescue and hours later recovered his body. today secretary mattis attempted to answer hard questions about what went wrong. for one why military intelligence assessed it was unlikely the team would run into enemy forces. >> contact was considered unlikely. there's a reason we have u.s. army soldiers there and not the peace corp. because we carry guns. it's a reality, part of the danger our troops face in counterterrorist campaigns but we do these missions by, with
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and through allies. it is often dangerous. >> reporter: as the families grieve, another question, why was a u.s. soldier left behind on the battlefield? >> u.s. military does not leave its troops behind. i ask you don't question the action to the troops caught in the firefight and question whether or not they did everything they could to bring everyone out at once. >> jim joins us now. what more do we know about what happened? >> right now the pentagon is not asking hard questions, even disputing the characterization of sergeant johnson being left behind, preferring separated his fr his unit. fact is for 48 hours he was missing. when the french evacuation came to take wounded and 55isurvivin members away, did they know
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there was missing soldier and his condition? night this raid happened there was concern he might have been captured. and you had a long operation there, joint operation, urgent aggressive operation to try to find him in those circumstances. so what happened then? did they know then, have an idea? know how he got separated? from the podium john kelly said he knew something, classified presumably but can't share it. do the military have the answers? we don't know. even the exact time of the attack, pentagon won't confirm. it's early. lot of basic questions have not been answered. when we come back, two former presidents, both speaking out against what they see happening in our country. neither spoke of president trump
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by name but message is clear.
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♪ ♪ wow! nice outfit. when i grow up, i'm going to mars. we're working on that. some people know how far they want to go. a personalized financial strategy can help you get them there. see how access to j.p. morgan investment expertise can help you. chase. make more of what's yours. breaks us in, former president obama just wrapped up a campaign speech in virginia and he assailed direction of politics in this country. here's part of what he said. >> instead of our politics reflecting our values, we've got politics infecting our
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communities. instead of looking for ways to work together and get things done in a practical way, we've got folks who are deliberately trying to make folks angry. to demonize people who have different ideas. to get the base all riled up because it provides a short-term tactical advantage. >> he wasn't the only member of the president's club to speak out today. former president george w. bush offered point by point takedown in morning. >> we've seen our discourse degraded by casual cruelty. at times it seems as forces pulling us apart are stronger than those binding us together. disagreement et escalates into
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dehumanization, nationalism distorted into nativism, forgotten the dynamism that immigration has always brought to america. >> joining me now, scott were you surprised to hear president bush coming out forcefully today? didn't mention president trump by name but implication was clear. >> i was not surprised he made these comments. this is the same decent, civil, dedicated to public service george w. bush i've always known and we've always known in the republican party. wasn't surprised to hear him espouse his views on politics and policy. consistent as he was when he ran for president and got elected. >> he's been careful though, with president obama careful not to publicly criticize things he disagreed with. >> and he didn't mention donald
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trump today. and i don't think the concept of us unraveling in politics started with donald trump. it's been a number of years. we don't understand each other, urban/rural divide and seeming inability to disagree with each other without hating each other. unraveling and president bush was watching it. talking about it today. barack obama knows it too and these two are pleading with the country, we have to pull ourselves together, we're americans, all in this together. >> coincidence they were speaking same day i assume but what did you think? >> it was coincidence. two former presidents of the united states who most recently sat? the oval office giving what were not complicated sets of remarks. really about human decency, finding what unites us and don't divide us. themes that president obama has been talking about since he ran
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for office and president bush also for a long time. in a week when we've been arguing about whether or not past presidents called military families, they stood up and i think said this is not normal. we need to rise above this. it's not just president trump. it's elected officials. public servants. we need to realize this is not normal, what we're seeing from oval office. >> people on television and news and pundits can decry what is happening or praise it all they want, to hear from two former presidents gives it a particular weight. more from president bush today. >> free governments are the only way to ensure that the strong are just, and the weak are valued. we know that when we lose sight of our ideals, it is not democracy that has failed, it is the failure of those charged with preserving and protecting
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democracy. >> it almost gives them both more power to not name president trump. if they name president trump, then it falls into the realm of yet another he said/he said twitter war kind of coverage almost. allows president trump to go after george w. bush for something or president obama. >> sure. and doesn't do any good to single out one political actor. everybody in politics bears responsibility for making it better. president bush said all we have to do is remember who we are. goes for republicans and democrats. just remember who we are and our own values, things will get better. i'm glad he didn't name names today. it heightens the discourse and we have a lack of civil discourse in this country and what he had to say enhanced discourse. >> do you expect to hear president obama campaigning more and more?
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>> i think he will. talked about doing before he left office. one of the things he felt before he left office and stuck consistently to, he doesn't want to be voice of the democratic party. thinks it's time for other leaders to rise and also didn't mention president trump today for the same reason. both remarks about the values of who we are, rather than attacking person in the oval office, even though implied in there is criticism of what is going on. >> it was refreshing to hear from them because we don't very often, but in what is a steady diet of partisanship and shamelessness in many quarters, to hear from them, even if people on all sides didn't like either one when they were in office, in hindsight they take on a different tone and tenor. >> go ahead. >> we're getting along.
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just going to say what is striking, they had policy disagreements and still do. but fundamentally both are good human beings and talked about decency. that was striking because we're in such a moment where that's not common in our politics. >> and not mentioning donald trump or specific politicians, reminds us that people who occupy the offices are temporary but offices go on and values. what i took from president bush's speech, doesn't matter who the president are, underpinnings of american democracy are always the same. >> one hopes. >> that's the lesson i think he wanted us to take out of this, not only underpinnings but need to protect them from -- he mentioned foreign actors, i big theme of the speech. >> thanks. see you later. coming up, president gives himself a ten out of ten for his performance in puerto rico. asks the governor to do the same
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white house today with the governor of puerto rico. the island of 3.4 american citizens, the island where access to food, water and electricity remain a challenge after hurricane maria. the president spoke about some of those challenges, but mostly spoke about the good job he's doing. >> between 1 and 10, how would you rate your response to puerto rico. >> i would give a ten. >> ten out of ten, a perfect score, presumably meaning nothing could have gone any better. everything's great. keeping him honest, here are some other numbers. four weeks and a day since hurricane maria hit puerto rico leaving towns full of people barely getting by. four weeks and a day later more than 28% of puerto rico has no access to drinking water. just this week ed lavandera found people -- another number
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78.4%, that's how many people still don't have electricity, people waiting in line for gas, money, food and water isn't getti getting everywhere it needs to go. president trump pushed the governor to do it as well. >> did the united states, did your government when we came in, did we do a great job, military, first responders, fema? did we do a great job? >> you responded immediately, sir, and you did so, you know, calm and brought -- they have been on the phone with me essentially every day since the disaster. >> that sounded kind of familiar because it's not the first time the president has looked for compliments from those around him. he does it all the way around the table sometimes. >> so i think what we'll do, most of you know most of the people around the room, just go around and just your name and position. >> mr. president, we thank you for the opportunity and the blessing that you've given us to serve your agenda. >> it's an honor to be your steward of our public lands.
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>> mr. president, what an incredible honor it is. >> mr. president, it's been a great honor to work with you. >> an even greater honor to be here serving in your cabinet. >> progress has been made in puerto rico. there's no doubt, and the white house deserves credit for some of that. once again, the president made it about himself, the great job he says he's doing, not actually the people of puerto rico who continue to suffer, the american citizens struggling with basic necessities. it's about collecting compliments. >> i think we did a fantastic job and we're being given credit. it's very nice that the gentleman who worked for bill clinton when he was president gave us an "a" plus and that included puerto rico, gave us an "a" plus. the response was better than ever seen. an "a" plus for the man who did this, did what you were doing for the clinton administration. while i don't know him, i'd like to thank him for what he said.
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>> what the president said is not true. it's not tree the former fema director gave an "a" plus on puerto rico. it wasn't true when the president said it on monday and not true today when he repeated it twice. the former fema director was asked if he'd give an "a" plus with texas and florida. that was before hurricane maria hit puerto rico. as i mentioned, more than 28% island without drinking water, and some parts of puerto rico it still seems like help is slow in coming. bill weir has been there all week and continues his excellent reporting all night. >> reporter: it is the most popular music video ever. "despacito" has been viewed on youtube over 4 billion times. but most of that massive audience probably didn't realize the video was shot in one of the most notorious neighborhoods in all of puerto rico. welcome to la per la. this place was written off as
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being drug and gang infested. community organizers fought against that stigma. hadn't been a murder here in many years. then came "despacito." the economy started to blow up. people felt good about themselves. then came maria. now you've got an outbreak of conjunctivitis among the children, the clinic is without power, no roof on the school and no hope help is coming anytime soon. tourists wanted to come here. they came from africa, china, south america. after maria nobody comes. it's like a ghost town. so the doctors will see people in the dark here? dr. rosita shows me around the hospital, medical records are worthless. is it true that luis fonsy
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donated a generator. it is true, she tells me. you need permission, oh, my gosh. the excited scramble for a single bag of ice is proof that potable water and power are still elusive luxuries over a month after maria. which puts enormous pressure on the men paid to electrify puerto rico. there are countless hospitals, dialysis centers, homes, depending on power that runs through those lines over there. that's the artery, the main spinal column of the power system. maria devastated it, crushed it. how do you fix it? you get guys like troy and nick, guys who aren't afraid of heights, and you send them up to heal the lines. they are journeymen linemen contracted by white fish, a
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small company out of montana. raised a lot of eyebrows when they were given a contract without any input from the army core of engineers. how the hell did you get this contract? you're a brand new company. >> we've been around for a few years. we specialize in difficult and mountainous terrain projects. all's i can say is we took the call and we're here. >> they called you? >> we called each other. >> he struck a deal with prepa, the publicly owned utility notorious for high prices, rolling blackouts and a $9 billion debt. >> is it a risk for you to take this gig? >> it's a risk. when you come down here and you see what i've seen and you have that skill set that can have an immediate impact on the people here it becomes a mission. >> not just a job? >> it's not a job, no. it became a mission. >> how long before juice is flowing through these? >> good question.
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we hope to have this line back up in the next three to four days. >> the governor is promising 95% power back by christmas? >> yeah. >> is that reasonable? is that a fantasy? >> it's going to take a lot of people po reato reach that dead >> a lot more people. >> than we have here today, yeah. >> white fish says they have 300 linemen on the island, and another 700 on the way. they have bulldozers still stuck in florida ports. >> thank you. >> you're welcome. it is anyone's guess as to when they'll have the lights back on in la per la. until then there is little to do but take care of each other. the kids with no school. the elderly with no hospital. and they clean up, just in case the tourists ever decide to come back. >> bill, you've been in puerto
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rico on and off for -- relief effort a ten. what are you hearing from people on the ground? >> reporter: well, i mean, let's put it this way. if you lived in one of donald trump's buildings and only 20% of the people had power and 50% had water and there was holes in the roof, would you give him a ten or an "a" plus? our president came up as a salesman on television and the thing about selling yourself on tv in puerto rico these days is no one sees it because they haven't watched tv since maria hit because there is no power here. >> appreciate you being there. thanks very much. the extraordinary moment at the white house today, john kelly, white house chief of staff, and gold star father, extended president trump's condo lens to sergeant la david johnson, one of four soldiers killed in niger. you'll recall