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tv   Andrea Mitchell Reports  MSNBC  November 13, 2015 9:00am-10:01am PST

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right now on "andrea mitchell reports" did they get him? a u.s. drone may have taken out jihadi john, the isis executioner raised in britain responsible for beheading american hostages. >> the coalition forces conducted an air strike targeting mohammed emwazi, a british citizen also known as jihadi john. >> britain and our allies will not rest until we have defeated this evil terrorist death cult and the poisonous ideology on which it feeds. donald trump, unplugged. this time going after ben carson, the most popular republican in iowa. will the trump attack backfire? >> carson's an enigma to me. i'm first, carson's second. and i don't understand it. how stupid are the people of iowa? what the hell have we come to? >> are you personally offended
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by it? >> let me put it this way. i expect that kind of thing. and corporal clinton. hillary clinton sets off a new round of fact checking about her repeated claim she once tried to enlist in the marines. >> and i said well, i'm 26, i'll be 27. he goes well, that's kind of old for us. and then he says to me, and this -- he says to me maybe the dogs will take you, meaning the army. good day. i'm andrea mitchell in new york. a drone strike overnight in raqqa, syria, targeted the isis executioner known as jihadi john. his real name, mohammed emwazi,
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the masked isis executioner with the british accent responsible for brutally beheading american hostages among other westerners. the pentagon tells nbc news the strike came from a hellfire missile launched by one of three reaper drones taking out jihadi john's vehicle. >> still a little bit early, but we are reasonably certain that we killed the target that we intended to kill which is jihadi john. it will take some time as it always does for us to be able to finally formally declare that we know we have had success. >> keir simmons joins me from london and ayman mohyeldin in beirut. ayman, given the horrific bombings in beirut claimed by isis, and isis apparently taking down the airliner out of egypt, the russian airliner, how
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important is this if in fact they did get jihadi john? >> reporter: well, i think there's going to be a long-terminals along-term analysis. in the short term, this is a symbolic strike because this is an individual certainly known to the western world, he has become the face, if you will, or certainly the voice of isis given the fact he appeared with a mask in all the videos of those executions. he certainly was an individual who was used for propaganda purposes for isis in terms of recruiting in the western world so being able to take out somebody at that level who was the symbolic face and voice of the movement in terms of going after westerners and going after americans who had been captured by isis, it will have a tremendous value and certainly demoralizing effect to many of the propagandists and those who look inside isis to those western voices. in terms of a tactical level, in terms of a battlefield level, i
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think we have to wait for the long-term analysis to see what role jihadi john actually played in the organization, whether or not he was in any way, shape or form part of the command and control structure of isis in going after westerners, not just executing them. was he just simply executing orders and being involved in putting out the propaganda videos or was he in some way, shape or form also commanding troops on the ground, commanding units, commanding forces, and that's going to be determined perhaps in the long run. perhaps the u.s. and western intelligence agencies already have the answer to that question, but certainly in terms of that coming out in the light, it's going to be a little bit longer for that to come through. >> keir, and ayman, we have gotten some reaction from the families who have been struggling with this and grieving for their losses. we have got from dianne and james foley, who have been so
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active, john foley, i should say, the parents of james foley, says it is a very small solace to learn jihadi john may have been killed by the u.s. government. his death does not bring jim back. if only so much effort had been given to finding and rescuing jim and the other hostages who were subsequently murdered by isis, they might be alive today. and from the satloffes, if they got him, great, but it won't bring my son back. i don't think there will ever be closure. also, dianne foley earlier today. >> it saddens me that here in america, this is here, we are celebrating the killing of this deranged, pathetic young man. it's just so sad that our precious resources have been, you know, concentrated to seek revenge, if you will, or kill
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this man when if a bit of them had been utilized to save our young americans, that's what our country should be doing. >> keir, i spent a lot of time with hostage families over the years and their frustration is so, so clear as to the way they were handled by the fbi, contact by the state department, by the white house. the president tried to address this, they believe belatedly. >> reporter: yeah, that's right. it's a very deeply felt and thoughtful response from the families. perhaps not what some people watching would expect, because i guess some people might think the families would emerge and say thank goodness for that, that's what we have been waiting for for the past year, that's obviously not what the reaction of some of them is, at least. just to support what ayman was saying, we are hearing from the pentagon that as far as they're
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concerned, jihadi john was an isis celebrity. they use the term isil for isis. they called him an isil celebrity, although they also back up what ayman was saying, saying he's not considered by them to be a major tactical figure but clearly they thought it was important enough to continue to pursue him over a matter of a year, as you mentioned, there were three reaper mq-9 drones involved, one british, two american. i was apparently the american drone that fired the missile that we think killed him, and they think that they did kill him, because they saw a man they believed to be jihadi john, emwazi, emerging from a vehicle, getting into that vehicle and that's the vehicle they struck. they also, we understand in the last past hour, believe that he was with what they call his best friend that we don't seem to have a name for that yet. so they still are unable to
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confirm actually that jihadi john has been killed. interestingly, they say one of the ways they might get that confirmation is from what we now regularly hear of, chatter between different members of isis. they aren't hearing that. they seem to be saying, and they aren't likely to get dna evidence because they are describing what happened to jihadi john as that he was incinerated. >> thanks so much to you for your expertise on all of this. and of course, your experience on the ground in beirut. for more about all this, i'm joined by congressman adam schiff, top democrat on the house intelligence committee. congressman, thank you very much. >> you bet. >> we have now heard within the last hour from colonel steve warren we are reasonably certain that the target, jihadi john, emwazi, was killed, and we have certainly heard on camera from john kerry, from the prime minister david cameron. they must be reasonably certain, they must pretty well know that they got their target.
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>> well, i'm sure that they feel very confident on the basis of what they were watching at the time of the strike. we won't get dna evidence from this because we don't have access to the site, so yes, we will be reliant really for confirmation by listening to what the jihadis say amongst themselves about the loss we expect of jihadi john. but it's rare for military officials or the secretary to come out this early, this confident. they must be feeling quite certain based on the evidence of what we observed and other technological means that we got our target, and frankly, if he died in an instant and was incinerated, it was a better death than he deserved. this is someone who killed members of the press, human aid workers with no remorse, the most grotesque fashion. i do think it's an important milestone in taking out this
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very public face and voice of isis. it isn't going to alter the situation i don't think appreciably in terms of the tactical or strategic level but nonetheless, it sends a message, you take the lives of americans, we are going to come after you. we will be patient, we will be methodical but we will get you. >> i appreciate your putting it in that context because operationally, you still have isis being able to take down a civilian plane, presumably, according to all the intelligence that i have been able to glean, and also, claiming responsibility for the bombings in beirut which is ramping up their attack against hezbollah whom they consider their enemy. >> yes. you can certainly look at different facets of this fight and see areas where isis is expanding, they are building a greater presence in places like afghanistan, very troubling what's going on in libya. if we're not careful you could see a large area of libya at some point held by isis. nonetheless, there is increasing
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pressure on isis. we are going after their oil resources, we are increasing the number of sorties, the russians are likely to increase more of their air power on isis and shift away from attacking the more moderate rebels. you have the offensive going on in sinjar by the peshmerga, you have the encirclement of ramadi. isis is feeling a lot of pressure on the one hand, yet on the other it has the resilience as well as the ability to attract followers that still makes it a very lethal threat around the world. >> how did we track this guy down, do you think, without -- i know you can't talk about intelligence briefings, but presumably they had some signals intelligence, did they have some evidence given how hard a target it is to get ground truth out of raqqa? >> it will be a combination of factors and i can't go into great specifics but as you can imagine, we have some sources of human intelligence, often through some of our sister or
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liaison relationships in the region, we have signals intelligence, as you mention. we have often aerial surveillance and when you put all those streams of intelligence together, it's a process of refining and refining and refining until you are quite certain of your target and then once you have identified those essentially those selectors, those bits of information, then you watch for the opportunity when that individual is apart from others or only in the company of other isis members and often you have to be very patient for that opportunity. i expect we were very patient here before taking that strike. >> adam schiff, thank you very much. thanks for being with us today. >> thanks, andrea. up next, primary battles. donald trump going after ben carson. carson's response up next. opportunity has no slow season. no off-days, or downtime.
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so much for leaving the nice guy alone. donald trump went after ben carson during a 95-minute rant in iowa thursday night, ripping into his rival's redemption story, implying that carson lied about stabbing a classmate as a teenager but was saved by a well-placed belt buckle. >> he took a knife and he went after a friend and he lunged. he lunged that knife into the stomach of his friend but lo and behold, it hit the belt. it hit the belt. and the knife broke. give me a break. how stupid are the people of iowa? how stupid are the people of the country to believe this crap? he said he's got pathological disease. he actually said pathological temper, then defined it as
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disease. he said he has pathological disease. if you are a child molester, there's no cure. they can't stop you. pathological, there's no cure. >> carson is in south carolina today, just moments ago chris jansing asked him about trump's personal attack. >> reporter: i wonder how you feel about donald trump telling the people in iowa they would have to be stupid to believe your redemption story. >> well, the wonderful thing is it's not really up to me. it's up to the people. they will listen and they will be able to make a decision about whether they want to listen to the usual politics of personal discussion or whether they want to deal with something better. >> reporter: are you personally offended by it? >> let me put it this way. i expect that kind of thing. >> joining me, sam stein and chris cillizza in washington and
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chris jansing covering carson in greenville, south carolina. chris, first to you, because that exchange was so telling. ben carson, not fighting back and really sticking to his brand which is iowa nice. >> reporter: he said he's not going to get into the mud. before he even took my question, that was what he started with. he clearly didn't even want us to ask about it but of course, we did. this is a very clear strategy by this campaign. they like the comparison. they think that donald trump looked -- a lot of people might agree -- looked unpresidential last night and it was really interesting to me that going into that media avail, i took time to talk to a number of people in the audience and they all talked about him being measured and being calm and that he was intelligent and thoughtful. they like his demeanor. i real it really works for him and consider the numbers in states like south carolina and iowa, where there is a heavy evangelical population, you do
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have to question the political strategy of going after someone's faith and the way they say they have a redemption story, something many of those people not only believe in but have experienced, they say, themselves. >> chris, at the same time, donald trump is not leaving it with what happened last night bringing in sam stein and chris cillizza, take a look at this instagram video which they put out today for friday the 13th. >> i had a large camping knife and i tried to stab him in the abdomen. >> what? >> does it fit with a guy who you knew? >> no. >> chris cillizza, this takes negative campaigning to a whole new level. >> yeah. he's either a violent criminal or pathological liar. pretty interesting choices.
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look, we wouldn't expect based on what we know about donald trump presidential candidate i think that there would be an apology on its way after his 95-minute speech last night, the doubling down is something we have seen before. we saw this cycle with meghyn kelly and attack her even further when people were calling on him to back away from it. i'm always hesitant to say this is the beginning of the end or the beginning of the beginning of the end for trump, because there's been so many things like this and while he doesn't -- he's not at 50% in polling, he's not eroded drastically, either. but golly, that speech last night coming after talking about a force to round up undocumented workers in the country, some of the other comments he's made over the last 24 to 48 hours, it
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just seemed off even for sort of the unorthodoxness we have come to expect from donald trump. >> sam, president obama is just previewing what democrats are going to do in the general election, talking about that force to round up people who are deported. take a listen to what the president said to george stephanopoulos. >> imagine the images on the screen flashed around the world as we were dragging parents away from their children and putting them in detention centers and then systematically sending them out. nobody thinks that is realistic but more importantly, that's not who we are as americans. >> maybe that's the strategy, go after ben carson so people don't focus on what i have just said about the deportation force? i don't know. >> i don't know. i guess as we all predicted a year ago, this election would come down to abdominal stabbings and child molestation analogies. >> i heard you say that. i remember that.
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>> i'm on record. pretty sure it was on your show, actually. i think the bigger picture, putting aside the craziness that's happening between trump/carson, i think the bigger picture is the deportation talk. the positive references that donald trump has made to operation from the dwight eisenhower operation could be very damaging in the general election. there's no other way around it. the question you have to look at if you are a republican strategist right now is will he drag marco rubio along with him. marco rubio is in this middle ground. he has abandoned the gang of eight bill he was part of, he is not quite at the donald trump level of mass deportations. to what extent would marco rubio feel the pressure of this argument weigh on him and to what extent will he start to mimic some of this rhetoric. i have talked to a number of top republican operatives today and
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yesterday who are deeply worried about the effect this will have on the logical front-runners, the marco rubios of the world. >> ted cruz as well of course pushing that envelope. you are getting into self-deportation territory here when you talk about the general election. chris jansing, the other thing that was notable today was ben carson is not backing down from what has been derided not only from the white house, from susan rice and other foreign policy experts, but from anybody who knows anything about foreign policy, when he claimed in the debate the other night that the chinese are in syria. >> reporter: as a matter of fact, andrea, i got a look at three sets of papers that the campaign is putting out to defend what he said, and it's interesting, he actually told the media assembled sometime this weekend we will get those papers out. we were able to get them this morning. what carson said, i just want to remind people, i'm quoting here, the chinese are there, referring to syria, the chinese are there
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as well as the russians but now what they're saying in those papers is that the media got it all wrong, that he never said that the chinese were physically there but it was about their influence and about weapons that were sold and then they had documents, some of them that were translated from chinese on google translate that said that there had been sales of military weapons to syria. so they are trying to push back on it. he's talking about these documents. we still don't have a good sense of exactly who his advisors are on this, who told this to him and where he got them from. >> chris jansing and sam stein and chris cillizza, thank you all. still ahead, that drone strike. will today's attack slow isis down? the former ambassador to syria and iraq coming next. ♪ there are no medals won for earning a living. it's just what you do for family.
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gaining strength. what is true is that from the star our goal has been first to contain and we have contained them. they have not gained ground in iraq and in syria, they'll come in, they'll leave, but you don't see the systematic march by isil across the terrain. >> isil or isis has been contained? i'm joined by ryan crocker, former ambassador to syria and iraq and lebanon, among other countries. he's now dean and executive professor at the george bush school of government and public service at texas a & m. ambassador, great to see you again. i wanted to ask you about that assessment from the president, because we see isis, now these bombings that they claim responsibility for in beirut, a place you know very well, tragically from the bombings all the way back in the '80s, and also what isis claims it did and there's been intelligence to confirm that against the russian plane. so how is isis contained?
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>> well, first, we have to decide what is our policy here. when the president first rolled it out last year, he didn't use the word contain. he said to degrade and ultimately defeat. they're certainly not defeated. 15 months later, i would argue they're not degraded, either and very questionable if they're even contained. as the beirut bombing sadly shows us. the crash of the russian airliner is deeply disturbing. if it is in fact the case that islamic state planted that bomb, that would mark their first major attack on a western target that hasn't been part of their modus operandi thus far.
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if they are now moving into that phase, we are facing a real strategic threat that goes far beyond the region. we need to figure out how to counter it. i don't think we have so far. >> our 50 special forces ops on the ground to be deployed the solution? >> look, we have the best special forces in the world, but 50 personnel who as i understand it are going to be largely working with kurdish fighters in northern syria, that is not going to be a game changer in this fight against isis. we have to decide are they a threat to the region and to us? if they are, we really need to ramp up our game, not just make incremental changes. if they're not, then okay, pursue a strategy of containment instead of defeat. but i'm not sure i would want to
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bet the empire state building that they're not that great of a threat to the homeland. >> and general john allen has stepped down as the special coordinator for the region. what is the value of having a special coordinator in this mix right now? >> i think it is important. john allen is one of the finest officers ever to wear the uniform. he was my military counterpart when i was in afghanistan. >> why do you think he has become so frustrated by the process? >> here's the problem as i see it. he was an envoy for the department of state. that basically meant the department of defense and the military commands didn't have to listen to him. i have argued that he should have been and his successor should be a presidential envoy with the full weight of the
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white house behind him to be able to command with real authority what everybody needs to do in this campaign, but again, it's an issue, are we really all in on this or not. that would be a small step but it would be more than symbolic. i just wish the white house would do it. >> ambassador, as you know very well, it may sound like an alphabet soup of different agencies to the general public, but power really matters in that region and if you come even with all those medals on general allen's chest, when you come as a state department enjoy, it is very different than if you come representing the president of the united states, the national security council and all of the intelligence agencies that report to them. >> that's exactly my point. if the fight against islamic state is a top u.s. strategic priority, we need to act like it
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in the way we organize. i would badly wish that the white house would reestablish the deputy national security advisor position that ambassador lute held and did such fine work on to coordinate back on the u.s. side because right now, nobody is really in charge of a whole of government approach to countering the islamic state. presidential envoy in the field, empowered deputy national security advisor back home would start to indicate that we are really serious about an anti-islamic state campaign. >> do you think we are not all this? are we just trying to -- is the white house just trying to get through the next 15 months without suffering any more grievous harm? >> it looks to me that rather than a strategy of degrade and defeat, we are pursuing a strategy of containment.
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i think that's highly dangerous for all the reasons i have cited. the islamic state is aiming at the disintegration, the destruction of the whole state system in the middle east. they may now be aiming at targets outside the middle east so i think containment is a perilous course. i think we really need to move into what the president said we were going to do which was degrade and defeat. >> ambassador, always good to see you. thank you very much for your service, sir. >> good to see you. thank you. and more on the drone strike coming up. the white house is about to brief. we'll have all the details. you drop 40 grand on a new set of wheels, then... wham! a minivan t-bones you. guess what: your insurance company will only give you
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this guy was a human animal and killing him is probably making the world a little bit better place. >> the pentagon now says it is quote, reasonably certain that jihadi john was dmikilled in la night's strike in raqqa. i'm joined by missy ryan, who broke the story last night. thank you for being with us. can you give us the details you were able to glean as to how they tracked him down and why they are quote, reasonably certain they got the right guy? >> thanks, andrea. we don't know much about how they tracked him down. i think one can assume based on previous strikes and targeting of islamic state militants and other militants that they use a combination of human intelligence and then of course, electronic surveillance. one thing i have been told by american officials is that emwazi along with some of the other senior islamic state military -- militants have used extremely effective
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communications security meaning that they don't e-mail, they don't use cell phones, they are not on facebook and this distinguishes them from other militants and it makes it much harder for the united states and its allies to target them. but occasionally, people slip up. we don't know exactly how they got to emwazi but we do know that there was a car that was targeted in raqqa, syria, and that there were two people in the car, both of whom were believed to have been killed. now the pentagon is saying they are reasonably certain this was emwazi himself. >> and they say they are not going to get dna evidence because he was incinerated. we are talking here of apparently a hellfire missile. >> that's right. it's not uncommon for the pentagon to use drone strikes for these targeted operations and even if there had been, even if the sort of immediate results of the strike had been different, i think it would have been difficult for the united states to obtain the dna
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evidence. remember that we don't have a military presence on the ground just yet in syria and he was killed near the heart of islamic state territory in syria and so it's difficult to imagine that a u.s. operative or ally would be able to -- would have been able to go and retrieve the body or retrieve enough to get the dna evidence even if it had been a slightly less dramatic outcome. >> missy ryan, the pentagon correspondent for the "washington post," thank you very much. after the break, the next debate. this time democrats on stage. up next, the democratic chairman. how you doing? hey! how are you? where are we watching the game? you'll see. i think my boys have a shot this year. yeah, especially with this new offense we're running... i mean, our running back is a beast. once he hits the hole and breaks through the secondary, oh he's gone. and our linebackers and dbs dish out punishment, and never quit. ♪
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office a few years later and tried to join the marines. >> he looked at me and he goes how old are you? i said well, i'm 26, i'll be 27. he goes well, that's kind of old for us. and then he says to me, this -- he says to me maybe the dogs will take you, meaning the army. >> those comments are being mocked by republicans today and they are getting two pinocchios from fact-checker glenn kesler. joining me, florida congresswoman debbie wasserman schultz. >> nice to be with you. >> good to talk to you. i have to tell you, i have covered her a long time, i was unaware of this. she first said it when she was first lady in 1994 at a meeting on the hill and then it was written up by maureen dowd in 1994. it doesn't track. maureen wrote mrs. clinton offered the story to illustrate
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how far women had come. she said it was not an isolated situation for women to be turned away by military recruiters. she lauded efforts to bring women into more aspects of military service. that said, she had worked for both george mcgovern and gene mccarthy, she was actively against the war in vietnam. why on earth would she go to a marine recruiter in 1975 and try to -- and she was a lawyer, professor in fayetteville, arkansas, married to bill clinton or engaged to marry bill clinton? it doesn't make sense. >> withal all due respect, why earth are we talking about this? >> if she hadn't brought it up it would not be an issue in this campaign. >> andrea, andrea, what the story illustrated was that we have made a lot of progress in america. secretary clinton is absolutely right. back then, you did have a much
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tougher time for women to be able to make it successfully through the recruitment process and move up in the military and we have made tremendous progress since then. same thing with the number of women that serve in congress. we have a record number of women serving in congress today but even during the time that i have been in office, we have come a long way. it is absolutely important that we talk about during this presidential campaign the issues that are important to women, not just that we need to make more progress when it comes to opportunities for women but that we need to make sure we get equal pay for equal work, where there's a very stark contrast between our three candidates for president and the republicans. all of whom oppose enforcing equal pay for equal work. when it comes to -- >> congresswoman, with all due respect, i won't defer to anyone in terms of people who have done stories over the decades about the challenges of women in the military. >> i agree. you have been remarkable. >> i don't think that's the point. i think the point is did this
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happen. you have a presidential candidate saying something happened which is quite strikingly dissonant to people who knew her back then. the bottom line is the campaign, her campaign spokesman put out a statement saying her interest was sincere and it is insulting but not surprising that republicans would attack her for this, too. so he is not saying she was doing it to make a point. he says her interest in being recruited was sincere. i think. >> i just find it really unreasonable, and i know you have done stories and i certainly don't question your track record of making sure that those types of issues are raised publicly, but this is a personal story that hillary clinton has told, and it's not the first time sthhe told it. it didn't come out of the blue. but using it as an illustration is an important way to jump off
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so that you can talk about the topic of making sure that we continue to make progress for women in this country in a variety of ways. where democratic candidates for president are fighting for that and republicans want to take women backwards. republicans have brought us to the brink where they were willing to shut the government down over planned parenthood funding and access to health care for women. this is a personal story of hillary clinton's and it is one that i have heard over the last few days is not where you can go back and ask a recruiter whether that happened. she was using it as an illustration and it's not the first time she raised it and it's an appropriate illustration and a personal experience. do we need every single experience in a person's life to be written in stone and blood and verifiable? there are things that happen to people all across america that can't be verified and i know your next question's going to be about ben carson. i think quite frankly, the same goes for stories about ben
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carson. the issues that are important to americans in this race are who is going to go to bat for them, have their back and make sure they can build those cornerstones of the middle class life. >> fair enough. in that regard, i was going to play a little bit of donald trump and try to see how you react to him questioning her credentials on women's issues. let's play donald trump. >> she's playing the woman card up. that's all she has. honestly, outside of the woman's card she's got nothing going. believe me. she's playing the women's card big league. i know so many women, they said i wouldn't vote for her if you gave me a million dollars, i wouldn't vote for her. >> have at it. >> well, you know, donald trump has made mysogenistic statements throughout this entire campaign, been patronizing towards women. i will tell you that whether it's hillary clinton, bernie sanders or martin o'malley, the
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overwhelming majority of women in this country support the agenda that they have been talking about championing if they were to become president. the republicans have all talked about issues that would turn the clock back for women, whether it's on our health care, whether it's on making sure that we can get equal pay for equal work, whether it's making sure that we have access to an affordable education which so many women don't have access to now that you've got families in america who are headed by women, 40% of those who have children in the household and we need to make sure that women have economic opportunities so that they can have a good job with good pay, a good roof over their head, access to quality affordable health care, making sure that they can build towards a good education and then have a secure and safe retirement. all of those things are under attack by any one of the republican candidates and all three candidates have been the champion of those issues, so we can make sure americans in this country have the chance to
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succeed. that's the contrast we continue to have in this election. >> congresswoman, thank you very much. we will be watching the debate. thanks for being with us today. >> thank you so much. today is world kindness day. the official kickoff of nbc universal's season of kindness initiative to promote acts of good will and giving in the community throughout the holiday season. we want you to join in. the challenge for day one, tag the kindest person you know on social media using hash tag share kindness. ♪ yeah. that's the one right? we forgot dave! thank you. so, can the test drive be over now? maybe head back to the dealership? it's practically yours, but we still need your signature. the sign then drive event. zero due at signing, zero down, zero deposit, and zero first months payment on a new tiguan and other select volkswagen models.
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coming out of the break to go directly to the white house, where josh earnest is briefing. >> -- an is is ill leader, he ws a strategist for that organization and he was directly involved in the effort by isil to recruit individuals to their cause. so his ability to use social media to inspire and radicalize people around the globe meant that he was making a valuable contribution to isil. at this point i'm not in a position to confirm the results of that operation. confirmation of the results of that operation will be shared with all of you by the department of defense once they have had the opportunity to take a close look at what exactly
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occurred and there is a very rigorous process for assessing these outcomes, and so any final determination about this will be issued by the department of defense, but the fact is that final determination has not been made at this point. >> reporter: the british prime minister described the strike today as quote, an act of self-defense. i was wondering if you have any idea what he meant by that. is that how the u.s. would characterize the air strike? >> i didn't see the entirety of prime minister cameron's remarks so i would refer to his office for an explanation. but certainly, the role that mr. emwazi has played in radicalizing individuals around the world and inspiring individuals to join their cause
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made him a threat not just to the region but to countries around the world, and i would just note that this air strike that has gotten understandably a fair amount of attention here in this country is consistent with a number of other operations that the united states military has carried out inside of syria against leading isil figures. earlier this summer, we noted that an isil senior leader described as some people as the number two in isil, was killed in a coalition air strike in iraq. there were other external fight ers killed in an air strike, coalition air strike in august near raqqa. so this is consistent with the kinds of operations that the president and our coalition partners have -- the president ordered and the united states and coalition partners have
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carried out against isil leaders. it's consistent with our broader, with the broader military component of our counter-isil strategy to apply significant pressure to isil leaders and that has yielded in some cases important intelligence that can be exploited. it also serves the purpose of ensuring that those isil leaders are devoting a significant amount of their time to their own security. and that is less time that they can devote to ensuring that their operation can run successfully and that frankly, that they can devote to plots and plans they may be considering against western targets. >> reporter: switching topics, is there any comment or reaction from the white house to the latest allegation of misconduct against the secret service agent? >> i'm aware of those reports.
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obviously from reading the reports, the allegations, included in them are disgusting and allegations that the administration including the secret service takes quite seriously. i think that the fact that as soon as the secret service became aware of this information that they acted is an indication of how seriously they take this matter, but i'm unable and unwilling to comment much more about a personal matter. for additional details you can check with the secret service. >> reporter: one last question. are you aware that ben carson said earlier today that he's going to be releasing evidence that he has of china's military involvement in syria and that he's going to share that with the white house before the weekend is over? >> someone did tell me that he said that earlier today.
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i guess it's not common that -- maybe it violates my job description as a spokesperson to be speechless but in this case, i am. roberta? >> reporter: is there a way to sort of characterize how -- the importance of this air strike on this individual in the overall fight against the islamic state? >> well, i think what i would -- the way that i would describe it to you is i think it is clear evidence that we are making important progress in one element of our strategy which is to apply pressure to the isil leadership and to capitalize on available intelligence to advance our goals. again, i say all of this without
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the department of defense having rendered a final assessment about the results of this particular action. but the fact that we were even able to conduct this air strike i think is some indication that we are serious about applying pressure to isil leaders and to using that intelligence to do that. again, in the case of mr. emwazi, somebody who is an isil leader, strategist for that organization and somebody who was actively involved in their online recruitment and radicalization efforts, that made him a target worth going after. >> reporter: as you mentioned earlier, this individual had a role in the deaths of some western hostages. i'm wondering if the white house has reached out today or yesterday to the families of those hostages and if you could describe what kind of outreach was done for them.


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