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tv   MSNBC Live With Thomas Roberts  MSNBC  December 15, 2015 10:00am-12:01pm PST

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vigilant. that includes the citizens of our country. we encourage them if they see something, they should say something. that advice of course continues to be operative. and we encourage local law enforcement and state officials to be vigilant as they go about their basic business of protecting the american people. at the same time, the president is resolute in his refusal to allow this country and our citizens to be terrorized. there are several things the president's doing about that. obviously the first is we have engaged this aggressive campaign to counter isil to degrade and ultimately destroy that organization. that's an indication and should be an indication to you and to the american public that the president and the federal government are cognizant of the risks and are taking appropriate steps to protect the american people. this is after all the president's top priority and i think that as people go about their business and go about the
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kind of holiday routines that many people rightly look forward to, that people can have confidence that our law enforcement professionals that are on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week, are actually doing the work that's necessary to keep us safe. and they will remain vigilant and they continue to use every element of the power and authority of the greatest country in the world to protect our citizens, and that is part of what should give people confidence that they can go about their holiday routine. >> reporter: one of the topics, i wanted to get your reaction to this new saudi-led coalition that is going to be working against the islamic state. can you describe how that's going to work overlapping significantly with the u.s.-led coalition and does u.s. have any concerns about having saudi arabia head that operation fueling the kind of sunni/shia
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tensions we have seen at play in iraq and elsewhere in the middle east? >> well, the first thing that's important for people to understand is that this coalition that was announced by the saudis was not solely directed at isil but rather to extremists and terrorist threats that are threatening all the members of that coalition. so it's certainly broader than isil. i think the second thing is -- >> the subject having changed in the white house briefing room, 1:02 p.m. eastern time, 10:02 a.m. on the west coast, the white house press secretary josh earnest was talking before the subject changed to news from overseas about what we are covering in los angeles. let's go to pete williams, our justice correspondent in our washington newsroom for a quick update before we go to a news conference in los angeles. pete? >> we have been told that the decision was made out in l.a. by the school superintendent in consultation with law enforcement and other authorities but it was the
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superintendent's decision and we have been told that at least some law enforcement folks advised against making this decision, but understood that it was the superintendent's decision and the safety of the children came first. so it's our understanding that the advice to the school superintendent was not unanimous. >> all right. pete williams, thanks. to our viewers, to those listening to our coverage on sirius xm radio, there is going to come a time here in the next few minutes or seconds where we have to pause our coverage. you will hear it then announced as an nbc news special report. we will then be simulcasting on msnbc and across the nbc television network. that is because this news conference, we have been showing you pictures of one of our colleagues from knbc reporting from inside the room, a small but packed room is now the focus of so much attention on the west coast. we are going to hear from the
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mayor of los angeles, we are going to hear from the police chief in los angeles and most importantly, from the man who has made this momentous decision today, the superintendent of the l.a. unified school district who, acting on the information he had in the early morning hours, opted to shut down schools in the second largest school district. he is i believe approaching the microphones. let's go to this news conference in los angeles. >> good day from new york. quickly now to los angeles. a news conference by, among others, the superintendent of schools, ramon cortinez, about the momentous and first time ever decision there today to close all the schools in the
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l.a. unified school district. >> based on past circumstances, i could not take the chance as it relates to one student or our staff that served our students. it is important that in the last four hours, this city, this community, has come together on behalf of our students. our students that are in the regular schools, our students that are in the charter schools, that are authorized by this school board. we are taking all sorts of precaution. our plant managers are walking the campus with law enforcement people. our plant managers and principals with law enforcement are looking at all of our schools, both small, large
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schools, et cetera. we have made sure that our parents are notified through connect ed messages and we have repeated that time and time again. those students that walk to school, especially young children, neighborhood children, we have had the principals meet and administrators meet them at the gate of the school and they were not dismissed until parents came to pick them up, a guardian, et cetera. we are doing everything possible to make sure that children are safe but that also, students and parents understand that the precautions we are taking are done in a calming way, are done in a way that is in the best
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interest of everybody in this particular city. not only is it the city of l.a., as you know the school district represents many independent cities and we have reached out to them also. there are unincorporated areas in the school district that we have reached out to. i have reached out to the board of supervisors. i have reached out to the city council. i have notified the state superintendent of schools. i have notified the secretary of education. mainly because there are no secrets. somebody has sent information that leads us to pause and make sure that we are safe, that our children and our staff are safe. nobody could be more interested
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in this city than our mayor. our mayor and his staff, his staff has joined us early this morning and our mayor is here now. i would like to turn it over to him. >> thank you very much, mr. superintendent. good morning, everybody. the decision to close the schools is not mine to make, but it is mine to support as mayor of the city of los angeles. since san bernardino, we have seen whether it was our colleagues there who asked for the help of the los angeles police department as that shooting unfolded, or this morning, when l.a. usd reached out to los angeles police department and the city of l.a. for assistance. we are here because our first job is to ensure that people are safe in the city. it is very easy for people to jump to conclusions and i have been around long enough to know that usually what people think in the first few hours is not necessarily how it plays out in later hours. we see investigations unfold sometimes for a series of days. but decisions need to be made in a matter of minutes.
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i have been immediately on the phone when we learned of this with phil washington, the ceo of mta, to ensure that students could travel free on our buses and our rail lines today to ensure they can get home safely to make sure that they are able to get through this city without having to worry, because we know a lot of parents still have to continue to get to work, and can't even afford to miss one day. but we are here, local law enforcement was here through lapd's very extensive training and leadership that connected some of the dots nationally on this. we of course reached out and the school district reached out immediately to our federal law enforcement officials who have been extra taxed in recent weeks since san bernardino but to bring them into this investigation. but also, it was in talking to our counterparts in new york and learning of other places where now, we realize this was not the only city to face that threat. we will continue to hope that this is nothing and that our children can be back at school tomorrow. but as a parent, and as a mayor,
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certainly i'm here to support this school district as it seeks our help to ensure that we can look at each one of these campuses and make sure that they are safe for all of our children. in an abundance of caution is something i think all of us who have children appreciate. so we will be here, continue to be here, we have also activated the city's emergency operations center at level 1 which is our lowest level but constant staffing to make sure we can follow this, continue to share any intelligence, work with our federal law enforcement officials and do whatever the school district asks of us. my number one priority is keeping this city safe. i will continue to do that no matter who reaches out to us, we have incredibly well-trained police force and one last thing i would say to the people of l.a. whether this pans out as something that could have happened or not, and we might not ever be able to conclude that, definitively, i do not want people to say because sometimes things don't result in a shooting or don't result in a foiled plot, to not speak up and
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to not speak out. we need to continue to have people if you see something, say something. visit i watch l.a..com and learn how you can be more vigilant as we continue to live our lives here in the city of los angeles and the values that we hold of freedom, of our liberty, we want to make sure we are safe. [ speaking a foreign language ] [ speaking a foreign language ] >> to our viewers who just joined us on the nbc television network, to our viewers who have been following our live coverage on msnbc, on cable and sirius xm radio, here is the situation we just watched unfold.
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the police chief is speaking now. the first man to speak in the yellow hat with the logo of cape cod is the man right now at the center of this story this morning in los angeles. he is the superintendent of l.a. unified school district, ramon cortinez. it appears on early information it was his call to shut down the schools in the l.a. unified district. let's listen to the police chief in los angeles, charlie beck. >> -- our best advice on moving forward. we were able to do that. the superintendent made a decision. we support his decision, as does the mayor. i would say this to people that are critical. it is very easy in hindsight to criticize a decision based on results that the decider could never have known. it is also very easy to criticize the decision when you
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have no responsibility for the outcome of that decision. the school district safeguards three quarters of a million lives every day. when they make a decision, they have to take into account the safety of the children of los angeles. i think it's irresponsible to, based on facts that have yet to be determined, to criticize that decision at this point. all of us make tough choices. all of us have the same goal in mind. we want to keep our kids safe. these are tough times. these communities, our communities, southern california, has been through a lot in the recent weeks. should we risk putting our children through the same? i'm also joined by my partner in law enforcement here, the other half of what keeps the region
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safe, sheriff jim mcdonald. >> welcome, sir. >> thank you. thank you very much. just here to be able to i guess add a note of reassurance that we are working very closely together, once we became aware of this issue, we immediately became in contact, we have co-located our representatives in the emergency operations center and we then strategically from there start vetting the information that's available to us, working with all of our partners at the federal, state and local level. we are blessed that in this region we have great relationships and when we have the need, we come together in a way that i think you would all be very proud of, although we don't and can't really talk about it. a lot of work is being done to be able to run this to ground and we are working together to ensure that the 700,000 young people who go to l.a. unified are safe and that we continue to move forward with that common goal in mind. so i thank you for your understanding and for working with us as we deal with this
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very difficult issue. thank you. >> thank you. i want you to meet the chief of school police, and then i will turn it over to the board president to introduce the board. >> good afternoon. i just want to say again to all of my law enforcement colleagues, sheriff mcdonald, chief beck, honorable mayor, as indicated before, sometimes we have to make tough decisions. it's already been stated. i assure you that our number one priority is the safety and security of not only our students but our staff as well. we go based on the information that we have. >> if you hear in any of the words of these officials a hint of anger or a flash of defensiveness, here's why. as we have said, 900 schools shut this morning in los angeles.
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that affects close to three quarters of a million students, a number far greater than that when you add in all the employees, the bus drivers, the members of the community affected by this. in the hours after the superintendent there made the decision to shut down l.a. unified, second largest school district in the country, the top two officials here in the city of new york, the mayor and the police commissioner, bill bratton, former l.a. commissioner, by the way, bill bratton, came out and said they suggested that l.a. overreacted. they said they believe in effect they saw the same threat and dismissed the threat as not credible. so we are going to hear phrases all day as we have been, phrases like an abundance of caution, phrases like the cost of good intention. the fact is, this decision was made in the backyard of and in light of san bernardino, california, from the area they
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call the southland in through the area they call the inland empire of southern california, they of course have been in shock after that horrible terrorist attack and the loss of life there. let's bring in our justice correspondent, pete williams in washington. pete, what we lack is hard proof that these officials in both cities, this trans-continental threat was broadcast via e-mail to both cities and they were looking at the same thing. >> what we are told now is that the messages came from the same internet address so they believe they were the same source, and that the messages were substantially similar, similar wording in both cases, the same kind of generalized threats then custom-made for each school district to which they were sent. whether they were sent to other school districts other than new york and los angeles, that we don't know, but we know at least that those two officials received them with very
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different results. it's also not entirely clear at this point how much of that was known to the l.a. officials when they had to make this decision in the early hours of the morning about whether there had been a similar message elsewhere and one of the things they may have had to consider is whether that was part of the effort to disguise the true source here. >> pete williams in our washington bureau, our long-time justice correspondent. to those joining us on the nbc television network, there will be much more on this story. of course, news as it happens will come on the air. on your early local news and of course tonight, a complete wrapup on "nbc nightly news." our coverage continues live on msnbc for now. i'm brian williams in new york. and we are back with you here on msnbc, having shared that special report with our network of television stations across the country. so let's go back into this news
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conference that's happening in southern california. you heard the superintendent say we are going to meet the board president and some of the others that were involved in this decision today. >> our parents and guardians need to be parents and guardians. so as we move forward throughout the day, we will work with and continue to work with the superintendent, his team and our law enforcement partners and we will make sure that we will do everything that we can to help you do your job and we thank you for keeping our communities informed and engaged and making sure that we will be able to continue with the business of public education in los angeles. superintendent? >> i want the media and the press to know that i have instructed mrs. haber, the district's communication officer, to issue half hour information briefs for the rest
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the day. so there may be some of them that say we don't have anything new, but i want everybody to know as much as possible. i want you to know we are not going to take questions. this is an investigation. the investigation is not complete and when the city police who have charge of the investigation decide that information is available, we will make that information available to you. but we will have no comment until then. miss haber, though, will release updates every half hour. thank you very much. >> apparently they are going to remain true to their word and not take questions here. so the man you just heard from, the man in the yellow cape cod baseball cap, is indeed the superintendent of schools in the l.a. unified district.
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if he looks familiar, if you're in new york, he had that job in new york. he's had that same job in pasadena, san francisco and san jose. let's go back and listen in to what's being said now. >> students have learned today and parents have learned how much we value them, how much we value students. this is an educational experience. they are more valuable to us than any of the people in this world. our children's safety is important enough for us to take this extreme step. we know it's extreme. but we take it with the heart, with the support of law enforcement and the belief that we are doing the right thing. to do otherwise might be unfortunate. but rather than maybe, we want to do what we know is possible. we cannot divulge everything you would like to know and i'm sure we would be here for a long time with you asking questions but we will not be able to do that. we want you to know, to the parents, as soon as possible we
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will be back in school. schools will always be here. this is an educational experience. teach your children that we do this on their behalf, not to give them a day out of school. some of them may enjoy a day out of school, but this is not a good thing. this is a thing that we have to do on their behalf. thank you for your interest. i'm sorry, i'm sorry you are asking questions that we will not answer. [ speaking a foreign language ] >> again, to explain some of the freneticism and confusion going on in that small corner of a small room which is the focus of a big school system, the man in the yellow hat is the man who made the call this morning to close 900 schools in the l.a.
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unified school district. he did so apparently because one of the members of the school board was sent an e-mail, we now know apparently from an i.p. address in germany, and further, apparently, that same e-mail text arrived not only in los angeles but in new york as well, say nothing of any other locations. again, if the text is the same, if we're talking about the same e-mail here, new york officials have this morning said they didn't find it credible. they dismissed it out of hand, no action was taken. corollarily, what we have been covering is the l.a. unified school system shut down. think of the working parents, think of the commuters, millions of people have had to scramble. let's go back to mayor garcetti who has come back to the podium to take over this event.
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>> -- all the campuses, it was received last night. i won't go into any further detail about who received it right now but it threatened violence to our students and our campuses, and implied that that could come in a number of forms of violence, with weapons and things were already in place to bring that violence about. that is why i believe the superintendent made the call that he did. again, we have learned since that we are not the only city that received an e-mail like that, which is one of the pieces we put together. you heard about that in new york. there may be other places that come out in future hours as well. and that is why there's an abundance of caution of going into campuses to ensure that it is nothing more than a threat but if it had any credibility here or anyplace in the united states, especially given about what just happened in san bernardino, we wanted to make sure we supported the school district in the mission, the
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10,000 police officers we have and the sheriff felt the same way, to be able to support the clearing of those campuses and the reassurance that there is nothing there. we can't assume that there isn't until we do that work which is why it is so critical to do that. i would like to ask the chief to see if he would like to add anything to that. hold on one second. >> let's do this. when we began the investigation we found out a number of things. the e-mail was very specific to l.a. unified school district campuses and it included all of them. it was also very specific about the threat, the implied threat, the implied threat was explosive devices, the specific threat was attack with assault rifles and machine pistols. these obviously are things that we take very seriously. we worked with the fbi to vet this as best as possible and i think this has been reported already. the original document was routed through a european country,
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germany, but the origin has yet to be determined and we believe to be much closer than germany. i'm not going to go into the specifics of that but suffice it to say that any time these kind of threats are made against our campuses, given all the school shootings in america, given san bernardino, we take them seriously. we gave the school district our best advice on this and they chose a path and you know what? as i said, everybody has to make decisions in life. some people, the superintendent in this case, had to make a decision that affects everybody in this city's children and another hundred thousand of his own employees. i think it's irresponsible to criticize the decision maker when they make a decision based on totality of information and based on following their heart and their belief. [ speaking simultaneously ]
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>> you got to do this one at a time. i cannot hear you all. >> reporter: knowing what you know now, do you believe this to be a credible threat? >> we are still vetting this threat. i will not categorize it as credible or not credible at this point. as i said, there is work left to be done on this. we will run this to ground with the help of the fbi. hopefully by the end of the day, so we can make an even better informed decision or the superintendent and the school board can make an even better informed decision tomorrow. >> reporter: would you have recommended closing down the schools? did you recommend that? >> no. that is not my role. i get to make a lot of decisions in my life as the mayor gets to make a lot of decisions in his life. this is not one of them. my role in this scenario is to give the superintendent and the school board the best information i have and to help them with that information to make a decision that is theirs to make. it is not my decision.
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just like any time i give decision makers advice when it's not my decision, my advice to them is my advice to them, not to you. >> reporter: there has been a spill-over effect to parochial schools, private schools, other citizens who might feel their children are not safe. what do you say to them? >> the threat was very specific to l.a. unified school district. we have made that well known. now, if other learning institutions out of an abundance of caution want to make the same decision, then that's their decision to make. these are very high stakes. we are not making a decision about the color of a car or where we are going to eat for dinner here. this is the safety of our children. there is no more important decision. >> i will give advice on that. i think it is important. people can get scared about every incident that happens and they can get overly scared. they can stop living their
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lives, they can stop going out, going to school. there are prudent moments but there is nothing about parochial schools, private schools, nothing about universities in any threat anywhere today. i respect the decisions of those schools. sometimes they will make those decisions and again, we will support them no matter what that decision is. but i want those schools to know there is no threat that we have come across against any other schools besides l.a. usd. here in los angeles. >> we will provide another update at 11:00. thank you. >> we have really been privy to the anatomy of a decision here. you have heard repeated attempts to end this news conference and the reporters keep asking questions, and the chief has been asked another question here. hang on a second. still, this goes back to the man exiting the room in the yellow
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baseball cap with the logo of cape cod on it. he has been at the center of this and on and on we have heard public officials add this note of caution, which is absolutely essential to everyone watching our coverage and to infuse our coverage here today. that is when you are in a position of public safety, to act on as we keep hearing an abundance of caution, that's a big call. in the era, in the atmosphere of terrorism, after san bernardino, they got what they thought was a valid threat. mentioning specific weapons, we just learned. mentioning automatic weapons and machine guns, assault rifles. they did what they thought they had to do. as a result, 900 schools are closed, portions of southern california have seen great
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tumult this morning. we have been joined, i am told, by a former mayor of los angeles, antonio villagairosa. thank you for being with us. i'm sure as you watched the current mayor, you were playing back some feelings in your mind. >> yes, i was. look, the notion that some would be second-guessing this decision minutes, hours after a deliberative decision was made i think is irresponsible. look, i wasn't involved in this decision. as you heard, this was a decision made by the school district, the superintendent, in consultation with law enforcement including federal law enforcement. it's easy to second guess and be a monday morning quarterback but you're talking about the lives
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of children, their safety, and i think we have to hold, when you are in the public trust, a public servant, you have to hold that responsibility in the highest regard. just as simple as that. >> we are talking to the former l.a. mayor villairagosa. mr. mayor, some of these comments we heard at the press conference were frankly a little defensive and they are allowed to be because we had this news conference here in new york where the mayor de blasio and police commissioner bratton, former l.a. police commissioner bratton said they dismissed this threat, that they suggested l.a. unified overreacted. do you think that's valid or do you think new york has overreached in criticizing this decision? >> well, i have a great deal of respect for chief bratton. we have worked together. he was my chief when i was
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mayor. but look, the notion that from new york, they can second-guess great public, you know, law enforcement professionals here i think is just wrong. an overreach, frankly. we couldn't do that, second-guess what new york, a decision new york would be making. i don't think they should be doing that in this case. they can say that in their own case, they made their decision not to do it. we don't even know if the e-mails or the threats are exactly the same, the one they received and the one that l.a. received. i think it's just not appropriate and borders on irresponsible, frankly. >> you raised a correct point. we don't know for sure. we have no proof that both of these cities were dealing with
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the same text that new york had their reasons to dismiss it. well, to listen to the l.a. police chief, theirs was very targeted, very specific. we also talked about this issue, you will note it's just l.a. unified as mayor garcetti pointed out. that's because the threat was to l.a. unified, not private schools, not parochial schools, not community colleges. mr. mayor, perhaps -- >> brian, although i'm not mayor any longer, i continue to operate 17 schools, 16,000 kids in watts, downtown and on the east side of los angeles so i can tell you, our schools are closed as well. they are part of the l.a. unified school district although my partnership runs these schools so they are closed as well. this was, we felt the impact as did the other schools, the 900
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or so. look, again, i wasn't part of this decision making. i'm not mayor any longer. but you started out with i have been in this kind of situation in the past, not exactly this. when law enforcement gives me -- tells me that it's a credible specific threat that we ought to take seriously, we take it seriously. that's what they are done here. we can second-guess tomorrow and the next day when we know exactly what transpired here but for now, it's just wrong, it's irresponsible to be second-guessing men and women who have to make realtime decisions about the lives and the public safety of our children. >> i think a lot of sensible people are going to agree with you, mr. mayor, and thank you for making that point. we have been pointing out to our audience as well, this is in the wake of san bernardino and a part of our country that's been
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really shocked to its core. the former mayor of the city of los angeles, antonio villaraigosa, thank you for joining us. our justice correspondent, pete williams, with us from our washington bureau with more. pete? >> some additional information about why new york city officials reached the decision they did and a little more insight here into the wording of the e-mails that were sent we now know to both new york and l.a. public schools. this information comes from jonathan dienst of wnbc in new york who has been talking to officials there. here is the account that he has. he says that the message that was received by new york schools which they believe substantially similar to what was sent to l.a., and we have been told now by authorities in both places that the wording is similar but not identical in the following important way. the writer of the e-mail claims to be a senior, a high school
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senior who says he was bullied and he says in this message we understand that he has an army and that he's going to attack the schools, then he talks about what you have heard from the authorities in los angeles that he's going to attack them with bombs and with guns and you heard the authorities in l.a. say he talked about both assault rifles and pistols. but then as we have heard from authorities in both places, he says things, he claims to be a jihadist but misunderstands islam, uses incorrect terms, and he also doesn't, one of the reasons the new york authorities got -- decided this was a hoax is that his nomenclature and references to public schools in new york, he doesn't use the term that any student in new york would use in terms of referring to a public school, pmt p.s. 84, that kind of thing. based on those factors, they decided this was a hoax.
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what we are told is that the wording of the note sent to l.a. follows the same form but substitutes los angeles schools for new york schools. so in other words, what we are told here, this is again john dienst reporting from wnbc backed up from what we have been told by authorities in both places, is he also claimed to be a senior in l.a. public schools, then went on to follow the same thing and referencing schools there. as the superintendent said this morning, didn't mention any specific schools but just talked about l.a. area public schools. so according to our friend john dienst, one of the things new york authorities said to themselves is how can this person be a senior in public school, high school in new york and los angeles at the same time? he says in this note i am a senior in these various public schools. that's one of the reasons we are told that new york authorities decided this was a hoax and they are investigating it as a
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criminal act, a criminal hoax. now, how much of this information was available to the authorities in los angeles this morning, of course, we don't yet know. i thought it was telling that during the comments by the police chief, charlie beck there, he said we gave our best advice and they chose a path. studiously there not saying what his advice to the school superintendent is but what we have been told by authorities there on the west coast is that the advice to the school superintendent was not unanimous about what should be done here in terms of assessing this threat. >> as i listen to you, this sounds like the mechanics of people who have ever written out or received a form letter where you add customizations and personalizations that either read sincerely to the recipient or not. so i see as you continue to talk
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how it's possible you could be a public official in new york and dismiss this letter because the wording is not serious, the wording is not rooted in what you know locally, yet the customized paragraph, the customized form of it in l.a. usd, the l.a. unified school district, may sound legitimate. >> right. the note here knew enough to at least get their attention, get them very worried. then you add in the factor much -- i just, you have to think if this same threat was received in, say, chicago or dallas or denver or st. louis, they may have responded differently. they said themselves that san bernardino was a big factor there. that undoubtedly entered into their decision. they had to make this decision with we are now sitting here 12, 14 hours later, knowing a great deal more clearly than they knew at the time. but i think, let's not lose the
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fact of one thing. we began this morning worried about a potential threat. as the hours have gone on, we are talking now about the decision, the apparent good news here is that there isn't, it would appear, isn't a threat to the schools there. >> yes. easy for us to say, in other words, the folks who had to make the decision had to make the decision. pete, there is another aspect of this that we have all been struggling with. that is this kind of issue of radicalization and this issue of someone who may be motivated to be a star within the jihadi network. that's what's so dangerous about this. that an aspirational actor, this as any one individual anywhere usa who has become self-radicalized and that's why all of these sadly have to be
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taken so seriously. >> well, the other thing to think about, we are a long way from knowing what the motive here may have been. if as is the case, another interesting thing the law enforcement official said at the briefing here is that while the e-mail was routed through germany, it originated closer than germany, he seemed to say, strongly suggesting that maybe they believe now the message was written in the united states and routed through germany. but we don't know yet whether this in fact was someone truly dedicated to jihad, truly following some plan to cause disturbance by a threat or somebody knowing that the easiest way to pull the chain of officials is to claim that you are that. that is precisely the scenario we had a couple weeks ago that shut down the university of illinois chicago campus, because the using the magic words about islam when in fact there's no connection whatsoever. >> pete williams in our washington newsroom, we have
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already heard this hint of defensiveness by some of the officials in los angeles. because they are going to be defending their decision, the decision of the superintendent of schools there specifically to do this all day, think of this another way. if you get a threat that mentions explosive devices, assault rifles and machine pistols, and appears to have been at least threaded if not originated in europe, are you going to be the one to say you know what, that's fine, school as usual today, let's open those 900 schools and let's bring three quarters of a million students to school despite this threat. this has to be looked at through multiple prisms. malcolm nance is on the phone with us, one of the voices we turn to as a security expert in times like this. it seems to me we have this
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investigation going on an electronic front to find out who this is, where it originated, where it was routed through, how sophisticated or not and we see here today again the definition of terrorism because this has all but terrorized a huge area of our country. >> you are absolutely right. the definition of terrorism is violence or threat of violence intended to influence an audience beyond the immediate victims. this is clearly the easiest form of terrorism there is to perform which is writing a letter which may or may not be a hoax but terrorist cells generally don't send a message ahead of time. they will just carry out the attack. so in this instance, someone has decided that it was just easier to threaten both new york and los angeles, i understand, just to see what the effect would be and they have achieved their effect. >> yeah. i have been trying to explain all morning to our viewers at
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least that traditionally in the news media, we don't report threats. we try not to. when they become germane to how cities function, how airports and grids function, when they become a huge news story as this is today, we are forced to report them. if you spend any time listening to a police radio in any major u.s. city during the day, you will hear threats being carried out, units being dispatched, places being closed, traffic being stopped, all day long everywhere. this is something we have always lived with, yet there's this overlay. as you mention, the overlay of terrorism, the overlay of san bernardino. for those of us here in new york, we have the overlay of 9/11 which will be with us for the rest of our days and that's what tempers and educates and informs these decisions by our public officials. >> absolutely. if i could just make one point.
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i think that in the face of the superintendent's decision, i think it was a good move. i think considering we have only just had san bernardino and that parts of this nation are really feeling very anxious about terrorism, lapd which is searching every school in the city of los angeles, has made a very good decision to create a demonstration of their capacity as well. we need to, you know, we found out during the san bernardino investigation that syed farook and his cousin, marquez, decided not to carry out an attack in 2012 because they had seen that the fbi was actually going out and investigating other people for active terrorist acts. if there is someone else, if there is another cell in the united states right now, they have got to be second-guessing what their operations are. will this lead them to detection, you know. so i think that this is going to be in the end actually something
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which will assist our counterterrorism efforts. >> one of the very best in the business of analyzing such things, malcolm nance, thank you as always, for offering your viewpoint as part of our coverage. something tells me we will be talking to you along the way. we have been joined again this time on television by democratic congressman brad sherman of california. senior member of the house foreign affairs committee and former chair of the house terrorism subcommittee, representing the san fernando valley. we were only able to reach you by phone earlier. now we can see each other. you have been watching and listening to our coverage. you have seen this, i won't call it sniping but this public disagreement between officials in new york and officials in l.a. usd in southern california about this tough call that had to be made this morning. what do you make of it now in the light of the few hours of clarity we have had? >> well, there are a few elements of the los angeles e-mail that give it a little bit
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more credibility. the new york sources are saying that the supposed student misidentified schools or didn't use the right term. this e-mail refers to los angeles unified school district. so that's the way los angeles students and parents would talk. second, this e-mail of course references not only los angeles but san bernardino and bakersfield and san diego as well. i think this e-mail had a little bit more credibility. of course, once you learn that identical e-mails had been sent elsewhere, that diminishes the credibility of the e-mail. people in los angeles were unaware that anyone had received a similar e-mail elsewhere in the country. >> and further, as you indicate, when you see those markers in an e-mail that personalize it, localize it, that's how it's possible for new york officials to have passed on it. for new york officials to have
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dismissed it. but l.a. usd, on the other hand, sees just enough in here of local references, it really got their attention. >> it did, yet there are clearly parts of the e-mail that are false. the writer claims to be a devout muslim. i might use the term extremist muslim. but the from line on the e-mail which i won't disclose but it contains a pornographic reference to a body part. that's not something that either the extremist or devout muslims would tend to do. the word allah is not capitalized in one circumstance. there are other typos in the e-mail but this is a place where you would expect a devout muslim to be careful. and there's certainly nothing in the e-mail that indicates that the author has any understanding of islam, no references to the koran, no allusions to events in the life of mohammad.
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another part that doesn't seem credible is that he claims that he has 32 accomplices and that he has nerve agent. there other parts of this e-mail that turn out to be accurate and that's why an abundance of caution is called for but i would be very surprised this attack involved 33 people and nerve agents. so parts of this e-mail may be true, parts of it i don't think are. >> but again, the more we hear about the content of this e-mail, the more you read to us, the more it makes you think you try reading all of that and then having to make the decision that 900 schools open on schedule this morning or 900 schools remain shut. and all those parents are forced to scramble. and the chill gets sent through an already weary public in southern california forced to
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watch and witness so much. this was a very tough call. >> very tough call. there were intermediate steps of putting large number of l.a.p.d. at every school. that would have alarmed parents. it's not at all clear what was the right decision and an abundance of caution certainly cannot be criticized. >> what about this finally, congressman? and that is, you're the superintendent of l.a. unified. should this have been a decision in concert? do you put this up on the net as they say? do you bring in homeland? do you bring in sacramento? do you try to do what we were supposed to do after 9/11? get all this interagency discussion going with fbi, with nypd, your counterparts in the next largest u.s. city? >> you get as much information through coordination as you can.
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right up until the time you have to make the decision. but i don't have a time line in front of me. when was this e-mail sent to the board member? when did he notice it or did she notice it an get it to law enforcement or the school district police? so, i -- i don't know how many minutes they had to make a decision and let parents know what the situation was so if you're gong to spend, you know, wait until 10:00 a.m. pacific time to gather your information and to consult, by then you have got almost three quarters of a million students in classrooms next to god knows what. >> you make some terrific points. thank you for also adding to our understanding of what was in the e-mail. thank you for joining us twice this morning since this news broke. congressman brad sherman, represents significant part of the valley, democrat of
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california. we're now joined by ron epstein, his daughter is a daughter in the l.a. unified school system and he happens to be publisher of l.a. parent magazine. few people are better e skippqu to talk about this. talk about what this has done to your family, school district and the metropolitan area. >> it's chaotic, obviously. but listen to chief beck and our mayor and i would agree with how the l.a. unified school district handled this. you are talking about our most precious thing in the world to us parents, that's our children. so they made their decision. it was made early enough, it was made, you know, i started hearing the news about 6:15, 6:20 in the morning out here. by 7:00 we received the phone call from the school telling us the school was closed. i don't fault them. now, that said, it's chaotic. dealing with i think it's --
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everybody's saying three quarters of a million students and we have to find day care or somewhere for them to go suddenly and early on there was a very appropriate request by i believe it was the superintendent out here who implored employers to say cut your employees some slack. it's a rush situation. an employee brought her daughter into the office and that's fine. that's fine. she is doing homework today and obviously chaotic and more so at the high school level this is finals week so it's been a little bit nut the i to say the least. >> yeah. i'm thinking about the logistics, the crazy logistics when you close 900 schools, this many students. just shy, three quarter of a million. but when you add the staff, employees, bus drivers, all of that community, you are well over a million people affected by this. what about the working mother,
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single mom, east l.a. who may work in santa monica and be forced to undergo a horrendous commute every day and today has no plans, no way to provide child care back home? i guess l.a. becomes a very small town in that respect today when neighbors and friends have to get called together to help these kids. >> well, we do. i think that's one thing that our community has shown it can do very well, come together. support each other. i remember very clearly how our community has come together, certainly after the 1994 earthquake here. and that's what we do. that's what all communities across america do. i thought the mayor made a great point early on asking the public transition organizations not charge the students coming into the schools early in the morning and probably boarded buses or boarded trains before the news broke to let them on and let them return home with no fares. it's hard. you know, los angeles, we're a big target.
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we have the second largest school district in the country so we are a big target for this. when this disrupts the city and the work flow and the lives, we have to adapt. the most important thing and i'm hearing the common thread this morning nobody's hurt and whether the threat is credible or not, i'm not to say. i'll adap for the day and resume life tomorrow. >> ron, thank you for adding so many good points the our conversation. ron epstein has been with us, publisher of "l.a. parent requests and an l.a. parent of a school-age child. ron mentioned earthquakes and i have to say because the aerial pictures we have been showing you show so many empty streets, school yards, the kind of early morning angle of the sun in southern california, and something else that is germane that we have to talk about, temperatures in parts of the south land in southern california this morning in the 40s.
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way colder than it has been from buffalo, new york, to washington, d.c. and on up to portland, maine, in some cases. the traditional cold cities, here we are just over a week to go until christmas. this was a cold morning in southern california. you had some of these kids idled. some of them at bus stops where buses never came. some of them forced to kind of ad lib the way through the morning with working parents struggling to make sure there was child care. but what we're seeing is a lot of that. parking lots that would usually be full. school yards that would usually be bustling. street scenes usually be very busy including those front steps that are now just desolate and it's the kind of thing you see after a natural disaster. after an earthquake. thank goodness we are not talking about that today. we are talking about this and to repeat for view earls as we near
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the top of the hour, when we'll toss our coverage to thomas roberts, we are talking about a decision this morning by the superintendent of l.a.u.s.d. the los angeles unified school district, ramone cortenas, we heard from him in the past hour, to shut down the schools because of what sure looked like a serious threat to public safety. an e-mail, if it didn't originate, it was routed through europe, an e-mail mentioning explosive devices, mentioning automatic weapons, machine pistols and the like. and e-mail that was just localized enough to give public officials in los angeles pause and reason to fear for the public safety. they have taken responsibility for that decision. despite some second guessing, to be candid, at the other end of the country in new york city
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where the mayor and police commissioner said we have seen the similar e-mail. it's believed they may have gotten portions of text that were the same, that overlapped. they have been saying they dismissed it. they have hinted at an overreaction in los angeles. but to a person, the public officials in southern california early today have said, we did what we needed to do. and we cannot second guess a decision like this that was made. let's not forget in the wake of a terrible domestic terrorist attack in san bernardino. all of that is the backdrop for a crazy and momentous day in southern california. with that, thomas roberts to take over our live coverage. thomas? >> brian, thanks so much. just far quick second, can i keep you with me? >> sure a they hinted whether or not this was a hoax or not.
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i think they said they'll update us every 30 minutes. were you surprised by that listening to this they did not give information about whether they believed this to be credible or not credible? in the capacity of which they operated. >> a little bit, i was. thomas, i have had the strange experience with an earpiece of listening to l.a. local news radio during our coverage and having listened to it prior to going on the air, when you view this through the prism, i see we have the signal of knbc that we have been taking, we can at any moment you can see stop and listen in to what this sounds like when it's local news for you in southern california. you got a kid in that school system. deciding hoax or real, tough call. and a decision needed to be made. so i guess there will be as they say plenty of time for second gue guessing. >> absolutely. thank you so much. appreciate that. we'll stay on the breaking news waiting for that update out of
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los angeles and getting new information about the threat that caused l.a. unified school district officials to make this cause, to close all of their schools so officials just wrapping up this news conference. we were all waiting on. happened just a short time ago. but now, we are awaiting for the possibility of a second news conference any moment. they said they're going to continue to update us throughout the day. it is early out in southern california. only 11:00 a.m. today and earlier that the police chief went into as much detail as he could about what was mentioned in the threat. >> the e-mail was very specific to l.a. unified school district campuses and all of them and very specific about the threat. the implied threat. the implied threat was explosive devices. the specific threat was attack with assault rifles and machine pistols. >> all right. so a lot to cover now and starting with nbc's joe fryer in los angeles.
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joe, explain the reaction people are feeling to this, what parents are telling you, what kids might be saying. what have you heard? >> reporter: yeah, well, thomas, for parents and kids, confusion. this has to do with the timing. a lot of students were already on their way to school or had arrived at school when they found out that school had been canceled for the day. we talked with a group of students saying they were on their way here and passed by a group of students who were leaving saying, hey, classes are canceled today. they continued here to find out for sure, yes, that is the case and school canceled today. some students then old enough found their way own way home. others had to wait with faculty and staff for parents to come and pick them up. we spoke with one parent, christine clark, coming here to hollywood high school looking for her 13-year-old son. she has two kids who are impacted by this closure today. here's what she had to tell us. >> it is inconvenient for me.
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i'm supposed to be at work this morning so i have to be at work in tarrance. >> reporter: will you get to work? >> maybe by lunch. >> reporter: will you have to find child care? >> yes. she's supposed to be in the school and here i am looking for my other child. >> reporter: she says she understands why the school district made the decision it did but this eels the story that we'll hear time and time again throughout los angeles today. the ripple effect of this decision, you're talking about more than 900 schools, more than 600,000 kids. along with the staff and everyone who works for the school district and the parents who now have to make other arrangements the try and deal with this situation. now, here at hollywood high school, all has been quiet since classes canceled this morning. a squad is parked out front. a couple of police officers have been walking around the school throughout the day, sweeping it to make sure there's nothing out of the ordinary and we're told
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that's what's happening at every school in this district until they can give the all clear and say that they know everything is safe. and it's safe to resume school. thomas? >> joe, we heard from the l.a. superintendent of schools talking about the that they made this decision, a calming way and not take a chance on this. but explain the efforts that now have to go into what you saw there at hollywood high school about sweeping and how many different school locations to get that kind of attention before they say all clear. >> reporter: yeah. well, our understanding is that every single school is going to have some sort of sweep done. we don't know the exact details of that but we're talking about more than 900 schools in this district. many of them are elementary schools so, again, we have seen two police officers here. they basically walking around, talking to people, even us sitting here for a long period of time just to make sure there's nothing suspicious, seeing if there's anything out of the ordinary.
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when the superintendent made this announcement this morning, they put out a twitter that basically said all qualified personnel would be conducting these searches at schools throughout the area. as we heard from the school district just a little bit ago, we haven't really heard what you would say is the all-clear yet at this point. we believe the searches and investigation going on before a final decision about when school is going to resume. we should note finals were supposed to start today in this school district. a lot of kids told us that. they were maybe up late last night preparing for the tests to take place tuesday, wednesday and thursday and we have to wait to see if that schedule is bumped to wednesday, thursday and friday as the week moves along and for kids it's another issue and spent time preparing for finals and wait another day for those to start. >> different perspectives of ripple effects with this. joe, thanks so much. we with a tonight bring in nbc's morgan radford. morgan is in los angeles inside the room where we had that press
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briefing. police and city officials defending the decision to close the schools but it seems as if and if i heard it correctly the l.a. police chief and also the mayor said while they support this decision, it wasn't theirs. it was truly the superintendent's. >> reporter: it was interesting, thomas. i think you hit the nail on the head. listening to you and brian describing the ambivalence, that's the feeling inside this room waiting for the next press conference to begin. in the last press conference, thomas, you heard l.a. officials seem to do three separate things. one, they really backed off of this being a credible threat. two, you could hear in their voice preparing for criticism against their decision to close these schools and then third and finally, we heard them give very limited specifics about the actual threat. they did say the e-mail is very specific. it only targeted the public schools and that the original document routed through germany and the origin of that document
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they believe is much closer. we heard the mayor say that today he's arranged for students to travel free throughout the city on buses and rail as the 900 campuses of the public schools here in l.a. are swept by plant managers looking for any sort of bombs or anything like that. but when it comes to this criticism, you know, you heard the police chief say, quote, it is easy in hindsight to krit sichl the decision based on the outcome when you have no responsibility. and then you heard the mayor say even if it's nothing, don't be discouraged for speaking up and saying something and you can feel the ambivalence in the room and the preparation for a criticism blowback against the decision to close the schools. >> morgan, so we don't put the cart before the horse with folks just joining us, what was not determined is whether or not they feel that this was a credible threat that triggered this reaction. they seemed as if they wanted to explain where that decision came from. but they did not give
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information about the credibility of this threat. and would not say it's credible or not credible. seems ambivalence of what caused all of this. >> reporter: well, you're exactly right, thomas. i mean, they're ambivalent not sure about the outcome and saying it's easy to criticize our decision making process judging it purely based upon results. we don't know the results yet and that's why they're saying -- clear to say this county is in charge of three quarter of a million lives every single day. so they were clear to say we're talking more than 700,000 students, 900 campuses. second largest school system in the world. so every person, every official to a person in this room, thomas, has said, look, we're hoping this amounts to nothing. i heard the mayor saying in spanish we're going to hope schools opening tomorrow and our first job is to hope and pray and plan for the safety of students so that is where you see them making decisions, thomas.
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>> okay. when are they going to update? again, every 30 minutes? >> reporter: every 30 minutes. they did prepare us for the fact that the every 30 minutes may not be something new and will let us know the latest every 30 minutes and we are in a room filled with reporters and people waiting for the next update supposed to happen any minute now. >> morgan, thanks so much. we'll come back to you when that happens. what was happening parallel, coast to coast, new york had a same threat, similar threat. the language being somewhat different according to our pete williams an we'll talk to pete coming up here within this hour and talk about the discrepancies in the language used to threaten new york city schools. now we had the mayor bill deblasio and the commissioner bratton speaking about what it was that they felt that they needed to do. now, it was commissioner bratton saying that the language in the e-mail would lead us to believe this is not a jihadist initiative he said.
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it's incredible to think they would not spell allah with a capital "a." i'm trying to book the bratton folks to get the commissioner on in this hour and hear what they felt was the background on the information they received, how it differed from that in los angeles that triggered the reaction we saw in los angeles opposed to any type of reaction we saw here in new york city. i think a lot of people observing this would look at what the mayor and the police commissioner did in referencing what happened in california as a potential overreaction. and i think that's what morgan was alluding to, as well. what we saw out of california and the first press briefing about this from the police chief all the way to the mayor is the fact that they did not want to take a chance on this. and there will be a lot of monday morning quarterbacking. it was moments ago of the white house jumping in. they had to give their opinion on this.
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when reporters had an opportunity to ask josh earnest about whether the decision by l.a. officials to close school today was appropriate. this is what earnest said. >> i'm not going to stand here at this podium and second guess the decision that is are made by local law enforcement officials. in any community across the country. ultimately, these individuals are making these decisions based on information that they have received and based on their knowledge of what they believe is the best interest of the community and they would know better than anyone else. >> nbc's chris jansing joining us from the white house. the president was briefed but what else was the reaction as josh earnest i know probably peppered with a lot of questions about this? >> reporter: yes. we don't want to get into too much of the details or parsing words and will tell you, thomas, it was interesting the language that josh earnest used and didn't say that the president was briefed which is what he would normally say with a terror
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threat and said he was informed of the decision made by los angeles and when we did, indeed, press him for information about was he given an assessment of what federal officials thought of the level of threat, again, he was not going to get into the middle 0 of a decision that was made by local officials. however, the fbi has been and continues to be in touch with local officials there. and look. everybody at the white house has a very clear understanding of where we are right now in this country. and the level of concern, the level of fear that obviously does contribute to the decision that was made there today. we saw the president, for example, not just making that speech after san bernardino last sunday but he started this week by going to the pentagon to get a look at the military situation in terms of the fight against terror and on thursday he's going to make another trip to the national counterterrorism center which is over in virginia. now, every year he gets updated
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from the department of homeland security about the level of threats and what's being done about them. he usually does it here at the white house and now what he is going to do is go there. obviously, something optical for them that he can give a show to let people see he is keeping track of that. having said all that, thomas, in terms of today, i would not expect to hear from this white house and finally when i did ask him, when i asked josh earnest today in the briefing, does this require a reassessment? there's a level of anxiety with this, obviously, but also a cost and logistics and diversion of resources that might be doing something else and he said, while there's no immediate plans he is aware of for any sort of reassessment of the federal and local partnership or federal/state partnerships in situations like this, it's obviously something that will continue to develop, thomas. >> okay.
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chris at the white house, thanks so much. while they're not going to second guess any of the close frgs the white house, we are waiting for another update out of los angeles. they'll be briefing roughly every 30 minutes for the latest details on what they have as this is a fluid situation for them as the schools have closed, 900 different schools within the l.a. unified school district affected by this. so the ripple effect for students, parents, those that work within the school district itself, for the school district, it's big. congresswoman karen bass of california joins me now an serving on the house fiduciary committee. congresswoman, what have you been snoeld. >> well, pretty much that this was a very serious threat. i've talked to leadership of los angeles and it was made really clear that in the abundance of caution they decided to close the schools. as you have reported, we are
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talking about over 1,000 schools. >> this is a large school district, second largest in the country so this is a major ripple effect for folks. we heard from the superintendent ramone cortenas talking about the precautions in a calming way, didn't want a chance and we know here on the east coast that new york received a similar threat and they deemed it to be a hoax. >> we are not sure the messages were the same. it is important to wait until they've been vetted. i would take them very seriously. and, you know, if new york decided to do that decision, that's one thing. but i'm very proud and stand behind the decision of the l.a. school leadership. >> is it of your opinion, though, there's not a coincidence of the two threats? >> well, i think it's probably
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not a coincidence but, you know, again, until the threats have been vetted, it is premature to say l.a. acted. >> i think the police chief said it's easy to krit sichl without the responsibility of the decision. >> the other thing that's said is the superintendent's decision to close the schools so i also don't feel like the police chief or the mayor was backing away from that decision. i think they were just being factual. >> yes. they were very factual in pointing out that they support this decision and it was not theirs. california representative karen bass, thanks for making time for me. and i just want to remind everybody we are expecting another news conference. you can see the miniature box of the live shot. we'll have it for you as we continue to cover much more. coming up, speaking with a mom with two kids in the l.a. school
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a lot more as we continue to cover the breaking news out of the los angeles today where the l.a. unified school district shut down, shuttering the doors not allowing some 900 schools to open. all students were told to go home. teachers told not to show up. we wait for the next news conference to talk about the threat that the superintendent felt was credible. joining me is rehema ellis and watching what's hamming on both coasts and the may why are of new york city talking about what they received as a threat.
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and there are similarities between the two coasts but a big difference. >> really is a big difference. and mayor deblasio and police commissioner bratton said while specific the threat was not credible. in conversations with jonathan deintz with the sister station here in new york, he's been talking with some sources in law enforcement, they said one of the things that was a trigger for them to say that this was not credible is that the person who wrote the e-mail used nomenclature not credible for new york city. for example, they may have referred to the school but not used the term psxx. using a number. public school. which is what we do here. that gave law enforcement authorities here in new york a sign of, this person does not know what they're talking about. so it was that and other instances such as calling themselves someone who was aligned with allah but they did
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not capitalize the first letter of a "a." they put in it a small letter. someone who is a muslim would never do that. again, another sign to law enforcement officials here in new york city that the threat was not credible. >> and we are waiting for another press conference to come out of los angeles. where they'll talk about exactly whether they felt that this is leaning more toward a hoax. they were in a defensive posture in that first press conference we saw in the 1:00 p.m. eastern hour talking about the fact that it's easy to criticize this type of decision. was that a direct shot you think at the mayor of new york city and bill bratton? they came out to talk about they received this and felt it was a hoax and did not deem the threat to be credible. >> in part, some of it was a result of them being asked a question of whether they thought they acted appropriately versus what happened in los angeles. and the police commissioner and the mayor said in part that what
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this person intended when they sent the message was achieved and that was to create fear and to cause people to go outside of their normal routine. and it wasn't said -- i didn't get the impression it was a faulting or blaming way and something that you have to assess with a fine-tooth comb and as has been said they have acted on an abundance of caution. i'm a parent myself of a child here in new york city. if i heard they said they'll close schools, i would have to scamible to get child care but at the end of the day i think we all would rather be cautious than rather regretful. >> absolutely. i think obviously there's the san bernardino effect and dealing with that in southern california whereas new york might have different essentialabiliessentia sensibilities at this moment. parents would rather work out of an abundance of caution than to take a chance. >> almost dumb the number of
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school heers in new york city. we have 1,800 schools in new york city. 900 in l.a. we have got 1.1 million students in l.a. not playing a numbers game of more or less who should make did decision or shouldn't but the numbers are huge but that doesn't say that they would take the threat any less seriously if they thought it was credible. that's according to new york city authorities. >> big questions remain about whether or not they feel this was credible and that they need to sweep the 900 schools to a level of an all-clear and the manpower that goes into that to then make everybody feel comfortable sending their kids back to school on wednesday. >> it sounds to me they're going to sweep the 9 0 schools and i'm sure that every single parent wants them to do exactly that. i think that, again, as a parent, they wouldn't care how long it takes you to do it. get it done. >> get it done.
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we'll see what they have to say going back to los angeles as we expect them to take to the microphones shortly. thanks so much. and we have a lot to talk about here as we're figuring out the details from los angeles but as you can imagine for parents this is a worry and a concern but also in the immediate moments they have to figure out exactly what to do for child care, especially for a lot of working parents. we are back with more after this. we'll talk to some of those l.a. parents, what they're doing today and responding to the schools closed. think your heartburn pill works fast? take the zantac it challenge! zantac works in as little as 30 minutes. nexium can take 24 hours. when heartburn strikes, take zantac for faster relief than nexium or your money back. take the zantac it challenge. theand the kids always eat sky their vegetables.e. because the salad there is always served with the original hidden valley ranch.
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welcome back, everybody. much more on the breaking news coverage of what happened in los angeles this morning when the superintendent of los angeles unified schools decided to close down 900 schools and make students, teachers, any faculty stay home from these locations because of what they felt was a threat to these schools. right now we are waiting for
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police officials, the mayor, all the folks there to come back to the microphone and talk about whether they have moved into a position of saying that this was not credible and potentially a hoax. the difference on the east coast is the fact that we can report from our jonathan deantz of nbc talking to police and investigative sources who said that these letters sent to l.a. and new york through e-mails and potentially originating in the u.s. and routed through germany had similar claims in them. but the distinction being that the e-mail to l.a. writing in the first person claiming to be a high school senior who had been bullied in the school for last four years said he's sick and tired of being picked on and has a small army in l.a. and will attack with schools an bombs. same thing for new york city. again, a person claiming to be a high school senior bullied over four years, also referencing
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having a small army and will attack new york schools with guns and bombs. locations different. wording similar. nypd according to sources spoke with fbi officials came to the conclusion likely a hoax. and so, that's where we had the mayor of new york city and commissioner of police come out talking about why they didn't feel a need to close down new york city schools today based on any type of e-mail threat. the difference in l.a. is they saw this through a different lens and the superintendent of schools decided that he would close down the school system for today. we had in the 1:00 p.m. hour the update from the superintendent of schools but also standing side by side with mayor of los angeles and charlie beck, the chief of the lapd saying it wasn't their decision to do this but they support the
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superintendent. i want to go to jim cavanaugh for some context on all of this. jim, this is a big deal for what we know now is 900 schools being shut down and the effort that needs to be placed in to sweeping these schools before they're reopened. so, if you're tasking a team, what do you say? >> it is broken down, thomas, into each individual school and you get the school administrators, teachers, maintenance staff, some uniformed officers and search and find out what's out of place, suspicious bags or packages, you know, you bring in bomb disposal officer. i did this so many times, i can't tell you how many times, grade schools, high schools, colleges, abortion clinics, business facilities, skyscrapers on real bombs and bomb threats. we did this all the time and i was in charlie beck's chair many
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times talking to the leader of the business or the school over the threat and their question always was what should i do? should i evacuate the place? and i remember one time one of the big three automakers, we were in a plant, a union strike. a lot of threats. and he was asking me should he shut the plant. and it would cost him a million dollars to shut the plant. and i said, i can't advise you to shut the plant and tell you what the threat said and what we can do, how can we can search and you have to make the decision. so, it always comes down to the decision of the leader, in this case, the superintendent of the schools to make that critical call and as you point out, the search is ongoing. hopefully it's a hoax. >> right. >> but i would say i'm not sure there's a wrong decision here today. you know, we are talking like a right or a wrong. in the climate, thomas, that he made that decision which is the next county over, 14 dead, 19 pipe bombs, 4 remote controlled bombs, 2 weeks ago in the
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climate he made that decision was a completely different climate than new york city and it would be as if someone said to the mayor of paris, there's a threat and someone said it to the mayor of moscow. the mayor of paris might react differently. >> you make a great point there. >> you have to take that in. >> second largest school district in the nation and reference december 3rd, the massacre in san bernardino, that shooting. jim, i'm going to bring in shanna bogarat and correct me if i said your name improperly. mom of two and part of the school district. did i get your name right? >> you did. thank you. >> how were your first notified of what would today in l.a.? >> i started to get text today from other parents who had heard
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the news. and then, we received a call both from the school from the principal and also from the district informing us that the school had been closed. >> so when it comes to what we're learning and waiting on another press conference about whether or not this was a credible threat, are you okay and do you support the superintendent for the actions that he decided that this was worth shutting down the school system? >> i'm very okay. as a parent, obviously, my priority is that my kids are safe. and despite certainly being very inconvenient to me and many other parents across the district, i feel very reassured in knowing that the district's priority is also my kids' safety. i realize given the number of students and parents and staff and money involved that that was likely not a very easy decision for the superintendent to come
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to. but i certainly support the decision. >> you know, there's going to be a lot of people -- we know a lot of people are going to evaluate how this decision was made, especially in context of the fact that there was a similar threat made to new york city schools and we are still waiting to find out exactly whether or not these came from the same source or not but what do you think and what are you going to tell other parents that come to you for questions about how do you get on with your regular routines and trust in the school system and make sure that we're not reacting to crying wolf all the time? >> right. certainly a lot of parents contacted me this morning and concerned. how do we know that tomorrow is any different than today? and the answer i'm giving them is that, you know, we'll wait and get more information and hopefully the vetting process will tell us more about whether this threat came from, certainly
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we don't want this happening all the time and the extent they believed at the time they made the decision of a very real threat, i feel, i feel good about that decision. >> did you have issues with child care or what to do with your kids today? >> i was fortunate that i did not. i know other parents had problems. finding places and i know that there has been a lot of sharing through facebook and twitter and e-mails, parents by themselves helping each other out and other local community centers that opened day cares for the day to allow parents to work and have their kids be somewhere safe. >> shanna, thank you for your time, pta president of chandler learning academy. i appreciate your insight. we are following the fast-moving developments out of los angeles. official there is from the los angeles unified school district, they're expected to give us another update coming up any moment in their last update about an hour ago we had the mayor, the police chief,
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officials defending this decision to shut down the schools in light of this threat. also, in support of the superintendent of schools ramon cortines. joe fryer is tracking this at hollywood high school in los angeles. joe, i know you said you have seen people sweeping this facility trying to make sure that it's okay, part of the all-clear. as we heard from that parent that i just had the opportunity to speak with, most people feel that this was the right decision. >> reporter: yeah. we're hearing that from parents, too. sort of a split decision here. people talking about it on social media, as well. balancing two things. keep in mind, first of all, 60 miles from san bernardino. so southern california really felt the impact of what happened there a couple of weeks ago and fresh in people's mind and some people say it's better to be cautious in a situation like this and certainly this decision is a big one impacts so many people, more than 600,000 students, more than 900 schools.
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all the parents now who have to figure out how to handle the kids who aren't in school today. we spoke with a parent coming here to hollywood high school. christine clark, about this very issue. here's what she had to say. >> it's very scared, confusing situation. to think that it happens in your own backyard. normally we don't think that it would happen but here we are now. >> reporter: is this an overreaction or appropriate? >> i think it's appropriate. >> reporter: so she has a difficult situation. she has two kids, an 8-year-old and 13-year-old and now has to find some sort of day care for them today. she is going to be late to work and about 20 miles from here and probably won't get there until midday and still feels that this was the right decision for the school district to make so that is the opinion of a number of parents right now despite the inconvenience. thomas? >> nbc's joe fryer in hollywood, thanks so much. joining me here at 30 rock is randy winegarten, president of the american federation of teachers. nice to have you here.
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>> nice to be here. >> not under the best of circumstances but you spoke to local leaders in los angeles. >> yes. i spoke to local leaders in los angeles, in new york because it was a different reaction in new york. and look. both i think both were exactly justified for all the reasons that you have been covering so well today. you know, if you are in l.a. and you're 20 miles north of san bernardino, 3 years to the anniversary of what just happened in fnewtown and you se and an experienced superintendent as ray cortines is and vet things and know school is about to start and things -- threat, credible, for many schools, then you have to give the superintendent his due in terms of making that decision. and so, i think that better safe than sorry. and, you know, what i'm
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concerned about is that all these people are second guessing his decision as opposed to, okay, what do we do to make sure that schools are safe and then tomorrow teachers all throughout l.a. talking to kids about, you know, what happened and also about their role in making a peaceful world. >> well, and also, there's going to be evaluation about appropriate reaction to how these are vetted threats, especially if there is a correlation between what happened in new york city and the same type of information that was sent to l.a. why triggers were pulled in los angeles that weren't pulled in new york city. and how to be better at that so that we don't go into what we're doing right now, this panic mode. >> exactly. >> of making people afraid. >> right. >> of giving in to this kind of b.s. for lack of a better term and giving the person that wrote these e-mails exactly what they want. this type of fear.
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>> but, but, what's happened is talking to people in l.a. right now, they're not panicked. they think what happened was appropriate and now they'll see what to do in the future. but if this is the first time that this has happened in to -- in the l.a. school district, and you are an experienced superintendent and you've done whatever vetting you have done, maybe the next time there's a different reaction because maybe a different protocol but you have to give that person who has that kind of experience his due and you got to support the decision. >> you're saying the first time that this has happened since san bernardino. >> right, absolutely. >> so when it comes to federal guidelines, is there anything? or, is this supposed to be based on what you're saying? experience and evaluation of leaders in charge. >> of course there's now federal guidelines about this stuff. look, remember back -- i don't remember if you remember in new york during 9/11 or not but back in 9/11 -- before 9/11, we did not have an emergency protocol
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for a terrorist attack. and those schools, i was the local president out that time. those schools right around the world trade center, they used their common sense. and people were shepherding kids, they were moving kids away. they were doing everything they could do in terms of common sense. i suspect that ray cortines based upon looking at whatever vetting that he did, then used his common sense and, frankly, that's what we need to do to -- in this situation. can't panic. we had to use common sense. what i loved is in talking to people in l.a. the teachers stayed in and around the schools to make sure kids back on buses and back safety. safety has to be our first issue. >> we know that mayor garceti said he was urging the buses and transit systems to let kids ride free until noontime and roughly coming up on the noontime hour there in los wills.
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>> hopefully businesses will let parents do what they need to do to help their kids. >> thanks. nice to see you. >> thanks. other big story for you today, all ramping up to tonight. the republican debate ahead of us and donald trump surges again in the polls and texas senator cruz on his heels. will it be a slug fest tonight in vegas? noise) (elephant noise) (mic screech) there's a big difference between king noise... (mic tap) ...and making sense. (elephant noise) (donkey noise) when it comes to social security, we need more than lip service. our next president needs a real plan to keep social security strong. (elephant noise) hey candidates! enough talk. give us a plan.
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big day in national polit politics. nine candidates square off in the last debate of 2015. don't worry. there are more to come in 2016, though. less than seven weeks to go now until the iowa caucuses and latest polls showing donald trump increasing his lead and by the sounds of it he's ready for a fight tonight. take a listen. >> so we're watching television before, hearing these announcers saying, well, who's going to
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take on trump tonight? who's going to hit him -- i'd say bring them on. who cares? what difference? i will say it won't be like an evening in paradise for me. do we agree? >> just an evening in las vegas. three reports from nour reporters in las vegas. we'll start with katy tur on the trump campaign. and, katy, explain what you have been hearing from the campaign about a the trump approach and trump preparation and the rally last night did get chaosic. >> reporter: the trump approach is what it always is is trump being donald trump. he is getting ready for the debate. reading up on the relevant topics. foreign policy centered debate and expected to do pretty good even though he doesn't have experience. supporters believe that he would do well coming to foreign policy, do well coming to fighting isis.
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they like the idea of this proposal to ban all muslims coming into the country. they like that he's unequivocal on terror and expecting to do well on that subject tonight. as for that rally last night, it did get a little heated, a little rough. protesters that were physically dragged from the room as people who were attending that rally screamed shoot him. he's a muslim. one man even giving a nazi salute and not necessarily trump supporters but they were atte attending trump's rally. >> katy tur, thanks so much. and now find out from halley jackson exactly what's taking place out there following marco rubio and dr. ben carson. both gentlemen toward the center of the stage and near donald trump. what have you been hearing from their campaigns? >> reporter: trump and cruz and then rubio and what's at stake for him? coming out strong. he had several good debate performances so far.
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they talk about being undefeated. 4-0 in the prior debates. expect to see him hit hard against ted cruz and this is a line of attack that marco rubio is previewing and as for dr. carson, debate states are not his place where he traditionally has been able to shine and not seen but that's an issue for him potentially because of how steep his slide has been in polls particularly in iowa where many thought maybe a month or month ago he was a fit for that conservative group. looking if carson to if he happens to be attacked turn the other cheek as he's done and not likely that he will be able to come out necessarily and make a big play. >> hallie jackson, thanks so much and now back to kasie hunt and talk about ted cruz, the man of the hour having the big surge. i wanted to give you the last word on this because is he still going with the strategy of kill them with kindness, especially
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coming to donald trump? >> reporter: thomas, i don't think you should expect ted cruz to roll over in the face of punches on the stage tonight but i think the strategy of dealing with it with humor, don't try to take him on directly is one to expect to continue to see from cruz. whether we'll see it from donald trump i think is the open question and also from marco rubio. we have seen cruz engage directly with rubio and especially on national security tonight. rubio going aggressively after cruz and i will say, thomas, the one person to have my eye on tonight is chris christie. think about all of the things that happened since we had the last debate, the paris attacks, the shootings in san bernardino. and we have seen christie start to rise in new hampshire partly on the strength of the background of prosecuting criminals in the wake of the terrorist attacks on 9/11, tells emotional stories on the
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campaign trail about his own personal experience and broaden identity out into governing experience and i think he's somebody who could potentially have a strong debate moment tonight that we might not otherwise be expecting. >> all right. he is back on the main stage. we still have the happy hour debate first and then the folks taking the stage later on. kasie hunt, thanks so much. so we have got the debate tonight in las vegas. the home of mega donor smell don adelson. are any candidates meeting with the millionaire? yeah. think'd like to. steve kornacki has the details. this is the one place we're not afraid to fail. some of these experiments may not work. but a few might shape the future. like turning algae into biofuel... ...new technology for capturing co2 emissions... ...and cars twice as efficient as the average car today. ideas exxonmobil scientists are working on to make energy go further... ...no matter how many tries it takes.
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welcome back. nbc news confirmed that donald trump is expected to meet with sheldon adelson in las vegas. he owns a number of casinos in the u.s. and broadway aabroad. steve kornacki is following this
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story. does this change donald trump being a self-funded candidate or what? >> we'll see. we talk about the republican primary itself and then there's the adelson. primary. he got behind newt gingrich in a big way. kept him in the race for months with tens of millions of dollars and the question is will he do the same thing for a 2016 candidate? trump with the rest in town in las vegas this afternoon. the debate being held at a hotel that adelson owns and now we know trump meeting with him. this is what trump just told "the washington post" minutes ago saying sheldon knows that i'm in town because the debate. he's been a friend of mine for a long time. he called to see whether or not we could meet and we are going to meet. now, again, i wouldn't say it signals an endorsement right now on adelson's part and known to be in contact with several candidates and reports that maybe he favors or leaning towards i should say marco rubio. he's staked out some of the most
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hawkish turf on national security issues and adelson is pro-israel position and donald trump to meet with him this afternoon is significant. >> as you make a point about marco rubio, he would certainly welcome a kind of financial support. again, donald trump still claims to be self-funded. we'll see if that changes. thank you, sir. appreciate it. thank you for your time here. stay tuned. kate snow picks up the coverage next.
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because of an e-mail threat sent to the los angeles unified school board. parents told to keep their children home or to turn around and go back home. it's a decision that's impacting nearly three quarter of a million children and their family, also a decision that's come under criticism in the last few hours. at a press conference this afternoon, los angeles officials explained why they did what they did. >> they reviewed with me the information that had been shared with them. based on past circumstances, i could not take the chance. as it relates to one student or our staff. >> nbc's joe fryer is outside one of those evacuated schools and quite a morning out there, joe. >> reporter: yeah, that's right, kate. today was supposed to be the first day of finals for students in this high school

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