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tv   Anderson Cooper 360  CNN  October 19, 2017 9:00pm-10:00pm PDT

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choose by the gig or unlimited. xfinity mobile. a new kind of network designed to save you money. call, visit, or go to good evening. we begin tonight with a remarkable moment at the white house press briefing room this arch. john kelly retired marine general and gold star father spoke to reporters and delivered an emotional defense of president trump's phone call to an army soldier's widow this week. the call was to the wife of la david johnson. he and three other service members were killed in enemy fire in niger. this week democratic congresswoman wilson was with sergeant johnson's wife when president trump called the congress -- called her. congresswoman wilson says the
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president was insensitive when he told her wife that her husband knew what he signed up for but i guess it still hurt. tonight her office says she still stands by those words and they said to look at her statement from last night. here is part of that statement. quote, despite president trump's suggestion that i have recanted my statement or misstated what he said, i stand firmly by my original account of his conversation with mrs. johnson, the widow of sergeant johnson. moreover, this account has been confirmed by family members who also witnessed mr. trump's incredible lack of compassion and sensitivity. also listening to the phone call was chief of staff kelly. his son robert kelly was killed in action in afghanistan in 2010. kelly has been reluctant to talk about the loss he and his family suffered publicly. but today he didn't hold out. he said given what's happened this week he decided it was time for him to speak up. here is some of the key moments. >> so he called four people the other day and expressed his condolences in the best way that
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he could. and he said to me what do i say? i said to him, sir, there's nothing you can do to lighten the burden on these families. but let me tell you what i'd tell them. let me tell you what my best friend dunce ford told me, who was my casualty officer. he said kel, 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 in the four cases we're talking about niger, in my son's case in afghanistan, when he died he was surrounded by the best men on this earth, his friends. that's what the president tried to say to the four families the
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other day. i was stunned when i came to work yesterday morning and brokenhearted at what i saw a member of congress doing. a 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. he's a brave man, a fallen hero. he knew what he was getting himself into because he lesson listed. there's no reason to enlist. he enlisted. and 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. and when i listen to this woman and what she was saying and what she was doing on tv, the only thing i could do to collect my thoughts was to go walk among the finest men and women on this earth. and you can always find them.
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they're at arlington national cemetery. went over there for an hour and a half. walked among the stones. some of whom i put there because they were doing what i told them to do when they were killed. >> an emotional defense from white house chief of staff john kelly. again, a former marine commander and a gold star father. what are you learning about the decision to send general kelly out there to speak? was it his decision? do we know. >> anderson, a white house official told me tonight that chief of staff john kelly would never have done this on orders. they said that he rarely, as we know, talks about his son robert, who died seven years ago next month in afghanistan. this is something that he has been, as he talked about, deeply troubled by, disgusted by in the words of the white house yesterday, so he i'm told wanted to try and put an end to this. wanted to try and explain this as they viewed only he could. but anderson, i can tell you
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just by watching him stand before he took the podium there, it looked like he wanted to be anywhere but there. but again, we are told that he would not have been there if he did not want to be. >> remarkable a few minutes ago. watching it on television, it certainly was. you were there at the briefing when this happened. i'm wondering what it was like in the room. >> i was probably four or five feet away from him of the and these briefings can be fairly pur funk to her over these administrations, over the press secretaries. this was unlike anything that i have seen in that room. and it is -- you could hear the emotion. you could feel the emotion. you could see the emotion. particularly when he was talking about the pain staking detailed version of how american fallen soldiers come back here. he used such detail about how they're packed in ice and they're flown from the battlefield on to dover eventually and wrapped in a flag. and, you know, going detail by detail by detail.
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but that was the point. the white house was trying definitely to turn the page here. but i think it's important also to point out that, you know, john kelly talked a lot about politics today. he blasted this member of congress from florida, and she now is actually not responding. she said she stands by her account but is not adding on to this. but beyond that, anderson, he talked very little about president trump's role in all of this. he said that -- and if you look at his words carefully, he actually was being, i think, gently critical of the president in the sense that he was not able to deliver the message that john kelly, you know, was trying to help him with. and he said he did it in the best way he could. so obviously at the end of all this, around son, i think we're left with, you know, will this story if away? will it move on? there are questions about the attack, no doubt. but also still not reconciled with what president trump said yesterday he did not say that and in fact john kelly said today he did say that. he gave him those words.
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those words were simply misconstrued and politicized. but, again, we shout questions as he walked out. what was president trump's role in all of this? those questions weren't unanswered. >> yeah because it is worth pointing out that the reason this entire situation is in the public discourse right now is because the president was asked about a 12-day delay in talking about what happened in niger, and instead of answering that question and responding to it, i guess he interpreted it as -- either as an insult or a tough question or critical question, he pivoted to attacking former presidents about how they handled this most sensitive of subjects. the president is the one who put this into the national discord. >> he did on monday in the rose garden without question. that's something that the chief of staff today did not really talk about. but he was wearing three hats, anderson, of course as chief of staff. he was very political. his new job is political. his old job is a marine commander, of course.
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and perhaps the most difficult hat of all, of course, is the gold star father himself, talking about his son which he has been so reluctant to bring into this sphere here. but i can tell you it was very raw, very emotional in there. it was extraordinary. >> appreciate you talking to us tonight. thank you. general kelly today takd a lot about the sacrifice of those who serve and their families and said in so many words unless you have worn the uniform you can't understand. the you can't understand the loss a family feels when their loved one is killed. for them it's not about politics. they want the focus to be on their fallen son or daughter. they want their loved one to never be forgotten. that's really the case for the family of army ranger murphy, who was killed during a vehicle roll over this past may in syria. it was his first deployment. he was just 22 years old. a son, a husband, a father of two children. i spoke with mrs. and mrs.
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murphy before hair. >> thank you for being with us. i'm so sorry for the loss of your son again. can you just talk about him. what kind of a guy was he? >> yes. he was a fun loving young man. >> still call him a boy. >> i do, because he's my baby boy. he's always going to be my baby boy. >> sure. >> he love -- he was a star wars fanatic. he liked the patriots and most importantly, he loved his wife and his two children. >> he was really dedicated to those two sons. >> yes, he was. yes, he was. >> he's a family man. >> and mismurphy, i know you've talked about him as a god fearing man and that all of his decisions in his life led him to being an army ranger. can you explain that? >> yes. my son, even when he was young, he just lived and breathed army.
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he liked to play with march men. we didn't know what he was talking about. we took him to the store and said what are march men and he grabbed a bag of plastic army men. and he's been doing that, running through the woods with paintball guns and everything. >> so he was meant to be a ranger from the beginning. >> yes. >> yes. yes. >> we believe that. >> we do believe that. >> how did you learn about what happened to your son? >> my daughter-in-law called me and said are you home? i said no. she said go home. someone is coming to the house. and i just 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 that door, the doorbell rang. i peeked through the blind and i seen the two gentlemen standing there and i fell to my knees. >> mrs. murphy, you and i were talking before the break and i
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was talking about my mom losing a son, my brother. one of the things i remember my mom saying to me sometimes you don't even take it day by day. you take it minute by minute or second by second. i wonder if that's the way it is for you. >> yes. it's second by second because the pain is just so great. and sometimes it's hard to breathe. you have to remind yourself, tell yourself to breathe. and your mind is just all over the place. you know, i'm expecting him to come through the door any minute. i'm expecting a phone call. whenever i receive phone numbers or calls from numbers i don't know, i'm hoping it's him. i'm still hoping that he's coming home. i'm still in shock, to tell you the truth. i'm still in disbelief. and i don't even know if i accepted it yet. the clock has stopped for me and i'm just -- i don't know what to do some days. i don't know. i beg god all day to just let my child come back. i just beg. i'll take his place. i'll go. just let him come back and be with his family. he was a good boy and i wish he
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could just be here. >> i want to ask you about another gold star parent the white house chief of staff general john kelly because earlier today he spoke at the white house about what it's like being a gold star parent and obviously you're not speaking for other parents. you're speaking from your own experiences. but i just 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 margin and that is from their bud i didn't see. in my case hours after my son was killed his friends were calling us from afghanistan, telling us what a great guy he was. those are the only phone calls that really matter. and, yeah, the letters help to a degree, but there's not much that really can take the edge off for the family members going through. >> i'm wondering if you have
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similar experience or what has given you strength in this time? >> i don't know. i think the only thing that gives us strength is each other and our grandchildren and making sure we're there for his wife. >> and our children. >> and our children. that's right. that gives us strength. >> i know that you've received a huge number of letters from probably complete strangers you don't even know, obviously from loved ones, from people in washington, from officials. i know you didn't receive a letter from the president, but does that matter to you? >> no. >> no. >> it doesn't matter. and i just want to say i have no hard feelings towards president trump for not reaching out to us. this is just something that has happened to us, and i'm not expecting him to call or send us a letter. and i'm not angry or upset or surprised by it.
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it's just something that happened to us and we're just trying to get through it through the day. and my son would not care about a letter either. i just didn't want people to forget my son, and i just want people to know that there is an aftermath of these soldiers and the gold star families. and i can only speak for my gold star family. i just wanted people to see our pain. >> i understand you actually wrote president trump a letter. >> i did. and i wrote him a letter, you know, 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 these things because as a military mom it made me nervous, so i tried my best not to really get involved in it because it would make me -- i'm just such a nervous person. i still don't even know what's going on about the letter and the phone call because i don't watch the news anymore. but, yes, i did reach out to president trump just to thank him, you know, because he was my
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son's i guess commander in chief and my son loved this country. my son would not want his name to be involved in something that was negative about a phone call or a letter. he wants to be -- yes. he wants to be remembered as a man, an army ranger that loved his country. he did what he wanted to do. he accomplished what he wanted to do. that's what i want people to know about, especially murphy. it's not about a letter or a phone call. >> he was doing exactly what he wanted to do. >> yes. yes. he loved it. i begged him not to join. i begged him not to go to syria, but he said mom, i have -- he told me he didn't want to go, but he did. >> you talked about this a little bit, that grief is something we don't talk about much in this society. it makes people uncomfortable. loss is kind of a language that only those who experienced it speak to each other. >> yes. >> i'm wondering, does it help to talk about him? >> you know, in the past it
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didn't help me. i didn't want to talk about it. but for some reason these past few days when i did speak about him and i think it's because of the responses that i'm receiving and the support that i'm receiving from others, it's helping me because i felt like, and some days i don't want to go on, but when i'm reading these letters and the outpouring of support that i have received, it has touched my heart so much that it gave me a little bit of strength. so i just want to thank everyone for their support and understanding and their compassion during this hard, very difficult time in our lives. >> mr. murphy, is there anything else you want to say about -- >> well, yes. you know, me as the father, i have my pain. you know, we handle our pain, you know, and our feelings a little different than our wives, but our wives, you know, they carry our children and they nurtured them and everything
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like that. so when i -- sometimes i hear her pouring out her feelings and i get uncomfortable because i think it's just going to bring more pain to her, but i'm finding out that when she does that, it's healing her little by little. and as long as i know that she's healing, then i know that i could heel as well. >> mr. and mrs. murphy, i know you have a long road ahead and i just wish you strength and peace in the years ahead. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> well, general kelly today said to put the politics aside. it was, of course, president trump who brought up the whole subject of conversations with gold star families when he went after former presidents and then back tracked. we'll talk to a general and an admirable about that. and the president today continued to praise his response to puerto rico. our bill weir is on the ground tonight in puerto rico, keeping him honest. and keep us protected. we've got to have each other's backs
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if you'd rather be home, ask your doctor about neulasta onpro. our breaking news tonight, congresswoman wilson is standing by her comments about president trump's condo helps call. she believes he was insensitive. this afternoon in a surprise occurrence white house chief of staff john kelly said he was brokenhearted and stunned by the
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congresswoman's comments. take a look. >> it stuns me that a member of congress would have listened in on a conversation. absolutely stuns me. and i thought at least that was sacred. when i say a kid groelg up a lot of things were sacred in our country. women were sacred. that's obviously not the case anymore as we see from recent cases. life, the dignity of life is 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 that might be sacred. >> joining me now two of our military analysts. general, i understand general kelly, his criticism of the
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congresswoman for making public this conversation. he is in opposition, though, because he is no longer general. he's now the choef of staff for an administration and it's the president of that administration, the president of this country who actually brought this into the conversation by using conversations with gold star families to attack former presidents. >> yeah, anderson, what i'd say -- i want to say a couple things fist. i consider john kelly a friend and a comrade and a battle buddy. we served together for sa months in iraq. we had quite a few exchange during that period of time. i hope he feels the same way about me. and we often talked about both of us having two sons in the military. my wife and i have two sonds and a daughter-in-law who served a total of nine tours in combat. i can't imagine what the knock on the door was like for him and his wife. my wife and i attended his son's funeral at arlington. i've been to section 61 and 60 multiple times as well.
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but this isn't about john kelly or his past experiences or his combat tours or his rank of four star general. this is about presidential leadership. i was also disgusted, truthfully, with congresswoman wilson's remarks and listening in to a phone conversation that was private. but that's not the point. the point is that 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 as a commander. and he's now in the political realm. and unfortunately, i 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. and i'm sure there are many people who consider journalists the enemy. but truthfully, they are part of a free society, and he attacked them today. and he separated and continued the divisiveness that continues
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in this society. what we saw today was another day where the focus wasn't on the families like the couple you just had on, mr. and mrs. mufbry and mr. and mrs. johnson that were on earlier today and the suffering that they're going through because their soldiers are dead. and i think we have to stop this divisiveness and go back to the point of empathy and understanding and hugh millty within our society and within our presidential leadership. >> admirable kirby, how do you see what happened today? >> i couldn't agree more with everything that general hurt ling said just there. again, i've known general kelly, worked with him every day at the pentagon for a couple of year. i have incredible respect for him and he is a political figure. and i was sad to see that that press conference got as political as it did when it didn't need to. and i want to echo the general's comments exactly that now this
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thing just continues to fester. and now we have another day of coverage of this and headline of this. i do hope that as a result of all of this that two things will happen. one, that we'll begin to try to understand that every gold star family is different of the all their experiences are different. you've had them on your show. you've seen that for yourself. and maybe begin to allow ourselves to think that that young 24-year-old widow with those two kids and an unborn child on the way maybe perceived those comments a little differently than general kelly perceived them when he got them from general dunce ford. the message may have been transmitted but not received the same way. and number two, i hope that the discussion over these last few days really elevate the need to wrap our arms around the nation these families. the civil military gap continues to widen in this country and that's just not healthy for us.
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i hope that as a result of all this ugliness we can move past that and have a serious discussion about how to bridge that gap and how to make sure that those families are supported throughout the rest of their plooifs. >> general, you know, some of the most powerful things that general kelly was saying there was about things that used to be held sacred which he believes no longer are. and i think many of the things he said are certainly well taken. but again representing a president who has been a number of the things he mentioned in terms of attitudes towards women, attitudes toward gold star families, this president is certainly, you know, has a track record on these things as well that general kelly is now in the awkward position of bringing these things up, going after the democratic congresswoman, which i understand, but leaving completely unsaid anything about the administration he works for which understandably for political reasons he has to.
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>> yeah. and anderson, your great producer sent me the transcript. i see why the presentation by john kelly today, but i did read the trants crypt. and in just reading the words i was wondering is john kelly not only commenting on society as a whole, but is he also sending a message to his boss? >> he was very careful in how he phrased things so it could be interpreted that the president would be included in on the critique that he was making. >> yeah. the thing that i found interesting his comments about president trump asking him how he should deal with these calls. and i agree with admirable kirby that, you know, when you're told how to handle it, the way you handle it between members who are in uniform who have lost a son versus someone, a president reaching out to a family would be very different. i don't want to judge that, but i think it was interesting the
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way john kelly parsed his words today. i don't want to put anything in his mouth. i don't want to judge him, but i think, i hope he was sending as much of a message about presidential leadership to his boss as he was about the divisiveness in the country. because i think john kelly to be a true patriot, and he's a true marine and does the right thing for the country. so 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 that i think president trump can certainly pay attention to. >> appreciate you being on. there are a lot of questions about the niger attack that left these four u.s. service members dead. the defense secretary is dmantding answers. senator john mccain says subpoenas might be needed. we'll get into all of that next. who knew that phones would start doing everything?
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amid the controversy over president trump's condo lessons call to a widow of the u.s. soldier killed in niger, there are serious questions about the attack itself. an investigation is under way. chief of staff john kelly was asked about that this afternoon. >> the people that will answer those questions will be the people at the other end of the military pyramid. i'm sure the special forces group is conducting it. i know they're conducting an investigation. that investigation, of course, under the auspices of afterry comm ultimately will go to the pentagon. i've read the same stories you have. actually know a lot more than i'm letting on, but i'm not going to tell you. there is an investigation being done. >> well, kelly wouldn't say too much, understandably. but senator john mccain talked to cnn and other reporters today. he was more blunt about the growing question. >> on the niger, what does the
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committee need to know in terms of details? >> what's the best way, senator, to get to the bottom of it? what steps -- >> a subpoena. i did have a conversation with general mcmaster and they said that they -- and we'll hopefully get all the details. >> will you wait until -- >> do you feel the administration has been forth come up to this point about what happened there? >> of course not. >> well, more now on the investigation under way at the pentagon. >> reporter: tonight the head of the u.s. military is demanding answers on the deadliest u.s. combat mission of the trump administration. >> the loss of our troops is under investigation. we in the department of defense like to know what we're talking about before we talk. and so we do not have all the accurate information yet. we will release it as rapidly as we get it. >> two weeks after the ambush
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defense secretary james mattis, officials say, is discouraged by the lack of information he's received from his own people on the isis attack in niger that killed four u.s. soldiers and injured two more. the 12-member u.s. army team was meeting villagers in a town on the mali border. they were walking back to their vehicles which were not armored when up to 50 isis affiliated fighters attacked them with machine guns and rocket propelled grenades. the americans fought back, but were not only armed with light weapons such as rifles. >> there had been nearly 30 trips along this route already, so they had reason to believe that they were in a permissive environment. >> after 30 minutes french aircraft flew bay to try to disperse the attackers from the air and later to evacuate the wounded. the u.s. had to rely on a private contractor to air lift out the dead. in the chaos sergeant la david johnson was separated from the rest of the team and left
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behind. commanders launched a large joint u.s. nigerian and french search and rescue operation. 48 hours later nigerian troops recovered his body. today secretary mattis attempted to answer hard questions about what went wrong. for one, why the military's own intelligence assessed it was unlikely the team would run into enemy forces. >> it's a specific case contact was considered unlikely, but there's a reason we have u.s. army soldiers there and not the peace core, because we carry guns. and so it's a reality. it's heart of the danger that our troops face in these counterterrorism campaigns. but remember we do these missions by with and through allies. it is often dangerous. >> and as the families grieve, another question. why was a u.s. soldier left behind on the battlefield? >> the u.s. military state department leave its troops behind, and i would just ask that you want question the
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actions of the troops that were caught in the fire fight and question whether or not they did everything they could in order to bring everyone out at once. >> what more do we know about what happened? >> well, right now the pentagon is just not answering a lot of these hard questions. they're even disputing the characterization of sergeant johnson being left behind, preferring the terminology separated from his unit. the fact is for some 48 hours he was missing. and the question is when that french evacuation came after the fire fight and took the wounded away, took the surviving members of the unit away, did they know at that point that there was a missing soldier still? did they know his condition at that point? i remember the night that this raid happened there was concern that he might have been captured. and you had a long operation there, a joint operation, an urgent, aggressive operation to try to find him in those
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circumstances. so what happened then? did they know then? did they have an idea. did they know how he got separated from his unit. today john kelly said that he knows something, classified presumably about this to explain it, bt he can't share it yet. does the military have those answers? we don't know. but even some simple things too, the exact time of the attack, the pentagon won't kwirl that. they're doing their best to find out what happened. a lot of very basic questions have not been answered. >> thanks. when we come back, breaking news. two former presidents, both speaking out against what they see happening in our country. neither speak of president trump by name, but the message was clear. why they say the country is moving in a dangerous direction. i'm an outdoorsman. so i've asked chase sapphire reserve cardmembers to find my next vacation.
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breaking news. former president obama wrapped up a campaign speech and in it he assailed the direction of politics in this country. here is 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, so demon eyes people who have different ideas. to get the base all riled up, because it provides a short-term tactical advantage. >> well, he wasn't the only member of the presidents club to speak out today. former president george g. bush offered a point by point take down of trumpism in a speech in new york this morning. >> we've seen our discourse degraded by casual cruelty. at times it can seem like the forces pulling us apart are stronger than the forces behind every binding us together. argument turns too easily into animosity. disagreement escalates into dehumanization. we've seen nationalism distorted
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into native. forgotten dine michl that immigration has always brought to america. >> well, joining me now scott jennings and general sacky. scott, were you surprisesed to hear president bush coming out so forcefully today? he didn't mention president trump by name, but i mean, the implication was cheer. >> i was not surprised he made these comments because this is the same decent, civil, dedicated to public service george w. bush that i've always known. so i wasn't surprised to hear him espouse his views on politics in this country and on policy. he was as consistent in his views today as i think he was when he ran for president and got elected. >> he's been very careful -- under president obama he was very careful not to publicly sides things he would not agree with. >> and he didn't mention donald trump by name today. i don't think the concept of us unraveling a bit in our politics
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started with donald trump. i think we've been unraveling over a number of years. i think there's a sense right now that we don't understand each other. we have an urban rural divide that's plaguing our politics. i think this has been unraveling over several years and i think president bush has been watching this. i think brum knows it too. and i think these two guys are pleading with the country. we're americans we're all in this show. >> they happen to be speaking on the same day. what. >> it tells you a lot that you have the two former presidents of the united states who most recently sat in the oval office giving what were not complicated selts of remarks remember really they were about human decency. finding what u nights us and not what divides us. and these are things president obama has been talking about since he ran for office and president bush has also been
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talking about for quite sometime. what struck me is in a week we've been arguing about whether or not these past presidents called military families. they tood up today and they were saying this is not normal and we all need to rise above this. it's want just about president trump. it's about all of you elected officials. it's about people who are public serve ants, and we need to recognize this is not normal what we're seeing. >> you know, people on television and the news and pundits can did he cry what's happening all they want or praise what's happening all they want of the to hear from two former presidents, it and it give a particular weight. i want to play more of what president bush said today. >> we know the free governments are the only way to ensure that the strong are just and the weak are valued. and 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
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protecting democracy. >> it almost gives it both more power to not name president trump, because if they name president trump, then it just fouls into the realm of, oh, yet another he said he said twitter war kind of pofrmg almost. it allows prosecute ut to then go after george w. bush or something or president obama. >> sure. and look, i don't think it does any god to single out any one mitt cal actor because i think everybody in politics bears responsibility for making it better. and president bush all we have to do is remember who we are. if we just remember who we are and remember our own values, then things will get better. and so i'm glad he didn't name names today because i think it heightens the discourse and i think we have a lack of civil discourse in this country and i thought what he had to say today helped to enhance the discourse. >> do you expect to hear president obama campaigning for candidates more and more.
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>> i think he will. and it's something he talked about doing even before he left office. i think one of the things he felt before he left office and he's been stuck consistently to is that he doesn't want to be the voice of the democratic parti party. he thinks it's time for other members to rise. more about the values of who we are than about attacking the person in the oval office even though implied in there was criticism of what's been going on. >> it was refreshing in a way just to hear from them in what is a steady diet of partisan ship and shamelessness in many quarts, even if people, you know, on all sides didn't like either one of them when they were in office, in hindsight they kind of take on a different stone and ten or. >> sorry. no. go ahead. >> so -- we're getting alodge.
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i was going to say what's striking is they had policy disagreements and they still do. but fundamentally they're both human beings and they talked about decency. and that was striking because we're in just a moment where that's not common in our politics. >> and not mentioning donald trump or any specific politician reminds us the people who occupy these offices are temporary. but ut office go on and the values took on of the that was what i took away from president bush's speech is it doesn't really matter who the president is. the underpinnings are always the same. >> one hopes. >> and that's the help that end us to take out of this today and not only that the underpinning is are the same but the need to protect those from foreign actors also i think was a big theme of the speech today. >> thank you. coming up the president gives himself a ten out of ten for his response to puerto rico. keeping him honest. next. business has been great.
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the energy conscious whopeople among usle? say small actions can add up to something... humongous. a little thing here. a little thing there. starts to feel like a badge maybe millions can wear. who are all these caretakers, advocates too? turns out, it's californians it's me and it's you. don't stop now, it's easy to add to the routine.
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join energy upgrade california and do your thing. the president met at the 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 what a good job he thinks he's doing. >> between 1 and 10, how would you grade the white house 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
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some other numbers. it's been four weeks and a day since hurricane maria hit puerto rico knocking out power to the whole island, destroying homes and roads and bridges, 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 collecting and drinking water from a super fund site. here's another number 78.4%, that's how many people still don't have electricity, people waiting in line for gas, money, food and water isn't getting everywhere it needs to go. but it wasn't enough for the president to praise himself, he pushed the governor of puerto rico, who was sitting next to him, 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.
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>> that sounded kind of familiar because it's not the first time the president has looked for compliments from those around him. sometimes he does it all the way around the table. >> 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. >> 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
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clinton when he was president gave us an "a" plus and that included puerto rico, gave us an "a" plus. i think our response was better than anyone has ever seen. again, we were given an "a" plus by the man who did this for the clinton administration. while i don't know him, i'd like to thank him for ha he said. >> what the president said is not true. it's not true that 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 for the response to hurricanes in texas and florida. he said he would, no doubt about that. that was before hurricane maria hit puerto rico. as i mentioned, more than 78% without e lek tris si electricity and 28% island without drinking water, and some parts of puerto
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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. for years this place was written off as being drug and gang infested. community organizers fought against that stigma. hadn't been a murder here in six years. then came "despacito." and suddenly this rough side of town was a tourist destination. 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 there is no hope that help is coming any time soon. tourists wanted to come here. they came from africa, china, south america.
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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 powerless hospital, where cardiograms and electronic medical records are worthless. is it true that luis fonsi donated a generator? they are trying to get it installed but they are trying to go to the mayor's to get it instaled, 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
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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 energy, a small, two--year-old company out of montana. raised a lot of eyebrows when they were given a contract without any input from the army core of engineers. you know the headlines down here was, how the hell did you get this contract? you're a brand new company, right? >> 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,
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rolling blackouts and a $9 billion debt. >> is it a risk for you as a business man to take this gig? >> it's a risk. but 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. 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 to reach that deadline. >> a lot more people. >> a lot more than we have here today. >> than we have here today, ya. white fish says they have 300 linemen on the island, and another 700 on the way. while they wait for a hundred bucket trucks and bulldozers still stuck in florida ports. >> thank you.
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>> 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 rick rico on and off for two weeks. when you hear the president say he gives a 10, what do you hear 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