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tv   MSNBC Live With Thomas Roberts  MSNBC  December 18, 2015 10:00am-12:01pm PST

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i'm thomas roberts. two major political stories breaking in this hour. president obama holding his final news conference of 2015, this being a meet the press moment where homeland security and the threat of isis is expected to dominate the conversation. we expect to hear from the president within this hour and when that begins, we will take you to the president live. meanwhile, expected any moment from now, the presidential campaign of bernie sanders expected to hold a news conference after a major revelation which resulted in a staffing shakeup and drew the ire of the dnc. the problem involves a software glitch in the democratic national committee data base which allowed the sanders team to improperly access the hillary clinton campaign's voter data. the dnc has barred the sanders camp from accessing its data base and last hour, senator sanders spoke exclusively to our nbc news team on capitol hill. >> reporter: senator sanders, do you have any response? >> i think we are going to be
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doing a press conference at 1:00. >> reporter: personally are you disappointed with this staffer? >> we are going to be doing a press conference at 1:00. >> we will talk about all that at 1:00. >> dnc congresswoman debbie wasserman schultz spoke to tamron hall about this earlier. take a look. >> we are going to be having an independent audit done so we can assess the depth of this breach. the voter file is of tremendous value to campaigns, to state parties, to party committees, because it includes data about individual voters' habits. >> so we have our political experts, our whole team assembled with us to help break down what this means for democrats, also for the sanders campaign. we expect to hear from them coming up within a couple of minutes. steve kornacki is an msnbc anchor and political
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correspondent, mark murray is our nbc news senior political editor, joy reid is author of "fracture, barack obama, the clintons and the racial divide." steve, let me start with you. help everybody at home understand why this is so important, especially when we are just ramping up to the next democratic debate tomorrow night. >> yeah. well, think of that next democratic debate tomorrow night in new hampshire, the leadoff primary state, the other leadoff state iowa, the caucus state. these are both states when we talk about how you win them, we always talk about the ground game. we always talk about identifying, recruiting, motivating, turning out voters and that's what this national voter file, the dnc keeps it, is all about. it helps figure out who these people are in the party you should be going after. it helps campaigns target who they should be going after. so what happened here basically is the dnc keeps this master file and it's supposed to be separated. there is supposed to be a pretty strong barrier between one side, the sanders campaign, they have access to it, they can take the information, they can tweak the
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information, they can add stuff that they find through their volunteers, through their own research, they can make it their own. on the other side of that wall, the clinton campaign have access to the same basic information and they can do the same thing. they can tweak it and make it their own. well, the wall broke down at some point. what you have here is at least one person in the sanders campaign made the decision to go ahead and start looking through some accessing the clinton side of the wall. that's not something obviously you are supposed to do. the clinton campaign right now, there's no evidence that anybody on the clinton campaign did the same thing to the sanders campaign. so that punishment is a potentially significant punishment. the longer it goes on, depriving bernie sanders and his campaign of access to that national voter file at this point in the race in particular, they can't afford to have weeks of being denied access to sort of the guts of the party or knowing who's who and what's what. >> getting the cold shoulder right now. mark, let me ask you about this. they are trying to contain the damage from the sanders camp on
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this. we just had the shot up, we expect them to be coming out to talk about this, but how can they recover, especially when they were having good headlines from donations and endorsements. >> i'm fascinated by the response. we saw bernie sanders in that little, our camera with frank thorpe who got him on camera. bernie sanders looked incredibly shaken in that exchange. of course, it will be interesting to see his reaction. i can say that nbc news, we have been able to get some more information. we actually obtained documents from what are logs getting into the voter files. it's worth noting that getting into these voter files, when you are a campaign, it is entirely traceable. nbc news was able to obtain documents that end up showing actions that seemed to be taken at clinton information saved and downloaded and by not just one sanders staffer, but multiple
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sanders staffers. so that is the news kind of going forward into this story. as you mentioned, there had been some very good news from the bernie sanders campaign. they picked up a couple of big endorsements heading into saturday night's debate, and the big story going into perhaps before we found out these documents was that the sanders campaign said they were being improperly shunned from the voter file information. the dnc said the sanders campaign temporarily couldn't access the voter file anymore due to these allegations. we saw a lot of bernie sanders allies saying that was unfair. i think that was what we thought was the subject matter of today's news conference and it still might be, but we now have these documents revealing that, almost being a smoking gun here. it will be fascinating what they have to say. >> the sanders camp is arguing the vendor who runs this data base made the error. we have the campaign also firing the national data director for sanders campaign. >> right. >> do you expect hillary
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clinton's campaign to capitalize off this moment, or say bygones because of the damned e-mails comment where bernie sanders bailed her out of the last attempt? >> i wouldn't expect the clinton campaign to bail sanders out of this. i wouldn't expect them to try to capitalize on it directly. if the sanders campaign cannot access that data file and the conditions that were set by the dna is they have to prove they destroyed all of the clinton data, how do you prove that, if they don't have the data it will be very difficult to prove. there had already been quite frankly among sanders supporters a belief among them, fair or not, that the dnc was on hillary clinton's side and was doing things like steering debates towards low viewer days and hours in a way to try to help hillary clinton just sort of skate through the campaign. as mark mentioned, this was a huge week for the sanders campaign. they just got the communication workers of america endorsement, they scored 90% in the poll for democracy for america which is
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an important liberal leaning group. so i think the hillary clinton campaign will benefit from anything that destabilizes the sanders campaign's momentum and obviously, that voter file is so critical to building momentum ahead of the iowa caucuses and new hampshire primary. >> we just saw someone come out. they gave the two-minute warning and are saying the campaign spokesperson and lawyer are going to be there to address this. i assume sanders will as well, as we were seeing him earlier as we saw in that exclusive video, trying to get him to answer questions about this. this week, sanders did surpass this $10 million donation mark. that's significant, because the only other person on the presidential campaign to do this in basic context of barack obama back in 2011, so this is really down to he or she that has the data wins and that's why this is so important? >> well, it's very important, obviously, but i think for bernie sanders to actually win it would take a lot more than just having access to this data.
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let's be real about the situation here. he's generated an awful lot of grassroots enthusiasm for this campaign. you see it in the crowds he draws, you see it in the donation statistics you just put up. you see it in a lot of measurements. however, if you look at iowa, she's ahead right now. probably by about ten points. if you look at new hampshire, there's a new poll out there today that actually has him up by two points there. so the two early states, yes, very competitive right now. however, take a jump past those first two states. look at south carolina. look at the big states that come after iowa and new hampshire. they are bigger, they are much more diverse, they are much more reflective of what the democratic party is today. bernie sanders is getting swamped. i cannot emphasize this enough. he is getting swamped in those states. the big reason for that, his campaign is welgl aware of this among african-american voters he getting blown out, 50, 60, 70 points behind depending on the poll you look at. this is something bernie sanders
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has been focusing on for months -- >> let me jump in. they are about to begin. >> two months ago, shortly after our digital vendor who conducts modeling for the campaign, told us there was a failure in the firewall that prevents campaigns from seeing each other's data. we contacted the dnc and told them about this failure. we were very concerned that our data had been compromised and we were assured at that time that the firewall between the campaigns data would be restored. we are actually very confident that at that time some of our data was lost to one of the other campaigns. instead we found out two days ago that once again, this sensitive and important data was compromised because the dnc and its vendor failed to protect it. we have invested enormous campaign resources in acquiring the rights to use this proprietary data. but the dnc in an inappropriate
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overreaction has denied us access to our very own data. this is data collected by hundreds of thousands of volunteers across america. this data base for our campaign is funded by the over two million contributions that this campaign has received from people all across the country. let me briefly discuss three issues involved in this matter. first, as i pointed out earlier, this is not the first time the vendor hired by the dnc and the dnc to run the voter file program has allowed serious failures to occur. on more than one occasion they have dropped the firewall between the data of competing democratic campaigns. this is dangerous incompetence. it was our campaign months ago that alerted the dnc to the fact that the campaign data was being made available to other campaigns. at that time, our campaign did not run to the media, relying instead on assurances from the vendor that the problem would be resolved. unfortunately, the other day, the vendor once again dropped the firewall between the
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campaigns for some data. secondly, after discussion with the dnc it became clear that some of our staffers irresponsibly accessed some of the data from another campaign. that behavior is unacceptable to the sanders campaign and we fired the staffer immediately. and made certain that any information obtained was not utilized. we are now speaking to other staffers who might have been involved and further disciplinary action may follow. clearly, while the information was made available to our campaign because of the incompetence of the vendor, it should not have been looked at, period. third, rather incredibly, the leadership of the dnc has used this incident to shut down our ability to access our own information, information which is the lifeblood of this campaign. this is the information about our supporters, our volunteers, the lists of people we intend to contact in iowa, new hampshire
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and elsewhere. this is information we have worked hard to obtain. as i mentioned before, this is information gathered by our volunteers across the country, funded by the over two million individual contributions we received online. it is our information and the information of all of these volunteers and the people who support our campaign, not the dnc's. in other words, by their action, the leadership of the democratic national committee is now actively attempting to undermine our campaign. this is unacceptable. individual leaders of the dnc can support hillary clinton in any way they want, but they are not going to sabotage our campaign, one of the strongest grassroot campaigns in modern history. we are announcing today that if the dnc continues to hold our data hostage, and continues to try to attack the heart and soul of our grassroots campaign, we will be in federal court this afternoon seeking immediate relief.
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what is required here is a full and independent audit of the dnc's mishandling of this data and its security from the beginning of this campaign to the present, including the incident in october that we alerted them to when we were fairly confident that large amounts of our data were sent to another campaign. thank you very much. this is brad deutch, who represents the campaign and our legal team. i'm happy to answer any questions that people might have. >> reporter: can you assure the dna that you no longer possess any of the clinton campaign data? >> i can tell you this campaign in an official capacity does not possess any data, does not retain or want any of their data. when this data was dumped into a vendor of ours computer system we had it isolated, locked up and alerted the dnc immediately. we are running a clean campaign. we will beat secretary clinton and everybody else in this campaign on the issues.
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we don't need dirty tricks. that's not how we run it here. [ inaudible question ] >> i think after this independent audit we will find that out. look, we -- one of the ironies of this situation is because the dnc inappropriately cut us off from the voter network it makes it impossible for us to do any kind of independent review of who looked at what during that time period. what we did is we immediately froze the e-mail accounts of all employees we suspected were involved. we reviewed all their e-mails and google documents. we restored any documents or e-mails that they had deleted during the relevant time periods and have reviewed them all and the investigation internally is ongoing. in the heat of these campaigns, sometimes young people make misjudgments. [ inaudible question ] >> i know data is being used. >> was anything downloaded? >> nothing was -- no data that i'm aware of was exported in a
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way that could be used by anybody. >> reporter: nbc has documents to show that up to ten early voting states may have been accessed and efforts were made to store the data and [ inaudible ]. >> an after action report was issued saying none of these reports were printed and none of them were exported. so i'm relying on ngp and i have to rely on them, unfortunately. the dnc's monopoly vendor has sole access to this information because we have been cut off from it. whatever you are hearing from them, you are getting their side of the story and it's not been verified by us. that's why we look forward to a full independent audit of the dnc's handling of data going forward. >> reporter: how can this inhibit your campaign? >> look, this is taking our campaign hostage. we have a grassroots campaign, right, so when we have people come to our headquarters to call volunteers or call voters to talk to them about bernie sanders' campaign to transform
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america, we can't generate phone numbers to do that. it's impossible to mobilize the kind of grassroots campaign we have without access to that data. we are, because of the nature much our campaign, peculiarly affected by this type of taking of data hostage by the dnc. >> reporter: does it make it impossible for you to win? >> it does not. i think people across this country, we are beginning to see it now already online, are outraged by this conduct by the dnc which is clearly a heavy-handed attempt to undermine this campaign. >> reporter: has the dnc given you any indication how long they plan to freeze your access? >> to our data. how long they are to freeze our access to our own data? they have not. that's why we have to go to federal court if this is not resolved very, very shortly to vindicate the rights not only of this cam opinion but of the millions of people across this country who want change. [ inaudible question ] >> i'm sorry? [ inaudible question ] >> well, as i mentioned, we are
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doing an internal investigation. further disciplinary action may come depending on what we find. but the truth is that our ability to investigate this has been inhibited by our inability to look at the van that's been withheld from us. [ inaudible question ] >> the dnc is by their own action, is hindering our ability to do the kind of investigation that they say that they want. >> reporter: your former staffer says [ inaudible ] the extent of this vulnerability. [ inaudible ]. >> we have very high ethical standards in this campaign. bernie sanders is a different kind of candidate. we are running a campaign to transform america. people who work on this campaign have to understand even the appearance of something that's not right is too much. we did let that staffer go. that was a clear signal we take this very, very seriously with respect to our data and other people's data. we will certainly not use anybody else's data or retain anybody else's data. the dnc is clearly acting in a
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heavy-handed unpres unpressedented way. [ inaudible question ] >> excuse me? [ inaudible question ] >> two months ago we found out when we were downloading some data it was dumping a bunch of other campaigns' data along with ours which clearly indicated the firewall between campaigns was ineffective. we immediately segregated that information, put it in a password protected file so we could document that in fact there had been a breach because we were very concerned that large amounts of our own data was being downloaded and contacted the dnc to remedy the situation. they assured us, we talked to them and we were assured this was going to be taken care of. apparently, they are not competent in terms of maintaining the security of data between campaigns. [ inaudible question ]
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>> what's that? >> reporter: is the dnc taking sides with the clinton campaign? >> look, all i can tell you, i don't know the motivation of every single person of the dnc but i think if you look at a pattern of conduct, we obviously have concern about the saturday night debate schedule and its impact on the ability of campaigns to get their message out. clearly in this case it looks like they are trying to help the clinton campaign. we were taking on the establishment and i'm sure there are people within the democratic establishment who are not happy about the overwhelming success senator sanders is having all across this country but we are determined to win this campaign and we will win this campaign by talking about the issues that are important to american people. to do that, we need our data which has been stolen by the dnc. that's what we want back. thank you all. >> thank you. >> all right. there we are hearing from jeff weaver, the campaign manager for bernie sanders. we did not see bernie sanders at this event. we also did not hear from the lawyer for the team, brad
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deutch, but he was there. they talked about the fact they will end up in federal court this afternoon using very strong language if the dnc doesn't give back the information and access to their own curated files about their campaign, saying that this is incompetence of the dnc, that they brought this up to the dnc originally two months ago because of a firewall failure. they are saying it's basically the dnc's fault that this happened. they also discussed their own liability of having a campaign staffer access and probe clinton information. now, they are saying they did not retain or possess any clinton information, that they wouldn't use it. also one of the bigger lines we got here from weaver, we're running a clean campaign, no dirty tricks. steve kornacki remains with me as does joy reid and mark murray in d.c. steve, let me start with you. that's a big statement that they want to take this to a federal court this afternoon if the dnc doesn't unfreeze their access.
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>> a couple big statements. outright saying the dnc has stolen their information, calling this a heavy-handed attempt to undermine this campaign. at one point there, jeff weaver said he believes the dnc in this case is trying to help the clinton campaign. he's coming out putting into words in front of all of the national media things that have been whispered, things that have been sort of said behind the scenes by the sanders campaign for a long time about the democratic national committee but now it is all out in the open. what i'm interested in, too, he also alluded to and he want too specific on this, he alluded to it seemed like the possibility that some sanders campaign information from this file had fallen into the hands he said of another campaign, presumably the clinton campaign. he didn't specify, though. i would be curious to know more about that allegation, when that happened, what kind of information fell into the clinton campaign's hands, if it did, and what the clinton campaign did with it, if it did anything, because ultimately, for all of the history here, he's painting a picture of incompetent management on the
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part of the dnc and certainly the picture that weaver is painting here does point to that, but ultimately, there was an opportunity here for people on the sanders campaign to get inside and to look at what the clinton campaign had been putting together and at least one person on the sanders campaign took advantage of that opportunity. that is the one thing that we do know here. so it is a little bit like saying, you know, hey, if the money falls off the brinks frtrk is it the fault of the truck or the fault of the person who picks it up. ultimately there is culpability on the part of the sanders campaign. he seemed to be suggesting this might have happened on the other side with the clinton campaign. that is something they can establish? >> i don't know if the finders keepers rule will really work with that kind of information. martin o'malley's team might have figured this out as well. if this was an issue for all the campaigns, accessing their information, curated through the dnc, if these firewalls are dropping, this would be obvious
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to anybody who was trying to access that, correct? >> yeah. our understanding of all the software is it is very traceable on who has accessed what, who has logged into the system. nbc news has obtained documents showing that bernie sanders' staffers were reviewing, in fact saving files that seemed to be that were part of the clinton campaign and their information. but i was really struck by the fact that you had the sanders campaign emphasizing that they want their voter file data, that has been taken from the dnc or suspended temporarily from the dnc back and emphasizing that a whole lot more than the transgression by one or multiple members of the bernie sanders campaign, where earlier this morning, even the sanders campaign says that that kind of conduct was unacceptable and one other thing in this entire reel here, bernie sanders is not a democrat in this race. he is running for the democratic nomination. he's on the ballot as a democrat in new hampshire and other
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states, but these caucuses, he caucuses with the democrats but is an independent socialist so having someone who is an independent now going to court and his campaign going to court with the democratic party is a fascinating subplot here. >> let's remind everybody exactly what jeff weaver had to say about that and whether or not they are going to end up in court today. take a listen. >> individual leaders of the dnc can support hillary clinton in any way they want. but they are not going to sabotage our campaign, one of the strongest grassroots campaigns in modern history. we are announcing today that if the dnc continues to hold our data hostage, and continues to try to attack the heart and soul of our grassroots campaign, we will be in federal court this afternoon seeking immediate relief. >> joy, the narrative really changes here. not so much about bernie sanders' campaign and the staffer, that had access to this, it's now a bigger deal about them being frozen out and also, this cozy relationship between the dnc and hillary
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clinton. something the o'malley campaign has brought up, especially when it comes to this debate schedule. >> with everything from the debate schedule to the overall conduct of the dnc, as you have been listening to the democratic side of the aisle which a lot of people have not because there has been so much emphasis on the republican side. one of the things that has been a subplot has been the sense among supporters of bernie sanders and to a smaller extent, the supporters of martin o'malley because there are fewer of them, that the democratic national committee has been putting its hand on the scale, thumb on the scale, in favor of hillary clinton and has been essentially working to ensure that there was no rival to hillary clinton and what mark murray just said is extremely important. we have to recall that there is only one leading democrat in the democratic race for president at the moment and it is hillary clinton. martin o'malley's campaign has not had as much momentum. bernie sanders is not a democrat yet had access to this voter file. this company is a major vendor. it has worked on campaigns, everything from the barack obama
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presidential campaign all the way through but its clientele consists of progressive and democratic clients. now you have a non-democrat coming in with full access. these are their own files, again, it's not access to all the democratic voter files, but this company essentially holds everything. if you want to do a phone bank, if you want to do door knocking in iowa, all that data is being held by this data security company. so what you are hearing now from sanders supporters and from the sanders campaign is that the dnc which is partial to hillary clinton is now not letting them access their own data, information they gathered with their own money and their own resources. this is a civil war, i guess you could call it, on the democratic side of the aisle that's breaking out into the open. >> we have not heard anything yet from the clinton campaign or o'malley campaign, for that matter, about this. we expect to hear something probably pretty soon. everybody is being tlhrown unde the bus, everybody had access, the firewalls were down and the
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sanders camp notified them two months ago about this issue. why would the dnc only come after bernie sanders? good question, right? we will talk about that and much more about president obama's year ender press conference coming up this hour as well. 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... 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... matter how many tries it takes. energy lives here. ugh! heartburn! no one burns on my watch!
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we found out two days ago that once again, the sensitive and important data was compromised because the dnc and its vendor failed to protect it. >> so there we have jeff weaver, who is the bernie sanders campaign manager, coming out just at the top of the hour to talk about what has happened, this big breaking story about the fact that the senator's campaign had access to clinton data through the dnc and saying the vendor that provided what is a curated collection of all their resource voter files was corrupted because firewalls would fall down and it would allow everybody to cross streams. a sanders staffer has been fired
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because of inappropriate access and going into the clinton campaign's files. jeff weaver says that they do not possess or retain any clinton data. one of the big stressors coming out of that statement moments ago was the fact they are willing to take the dnc to federal court because the dnc is now freezing out sanders' campaign from their own data. data that's been provided by two million people because of their grassroots effort. they are furious that they have been frozen out and they say the dnc is just trying to collude and get cozy with the clinton campaign because of the fact bernie sanders has had such success on the campaign trail. debbie wasserman schultz, chairwoman of the dnc, appeared with tamron hall earlier today to address this. take a listen. >> i would ask any sanders supporters or anyone who is formulating an opinion about the actions that we have taken to put the shoe on the other foot. if it were the clinton campaign that accessed the proprietary
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information of the sanders campaign, you can be darned sure understandably that his supporters would expect that we would take the exact same action. >> steve kornacki is back with me now. steve, the other accusation that came out of this is the fact that other campaigns have, or a campaign, has accessed sanders' information. the dnc has not told any revelation about that and also, the sanders camp didn't throw any other campaign under the bus about access. >> that was a very almost cryptic comment made by jeff weaver. we need to find out more information about that because jeff weaver seemed to be saying two different things there. there was this breach we are talking about here where that firewall broke down and where somebody, this what is we know, somebody on the sanders campaign when that wall broke down went looking into the clinton, the hillary clinton side of that wall. that is why they are being disciplined. that is why their access is being shut off. he also seemed to be saying that
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there was another time where the wall broke down and they ended up in possession of hillary clinton information and their response to that was to immediately seal it off, to not look at it, to not do anything with it, and to alert the dnc. if this happened on the other side, if hillary clinton at some point, sanders' information fell into their hands and they responded the same way, presumably there would be no need for the dnc to discipline the hillary clinton campaign for that, just as there would be no need for the dnc to discipline the sanders campaign for acting responsibly in the way we described. again, weaver is saying the sanders campaign is sitting here saying problem here is the dnc, its lax security, its firewall, its incompetence, that does seem to be an issue but that is not the issue over which the sanders campaign is losing access to this access. the issue over which they are losing access is because when that firewall fell down even if it was through the incompetence of the dnc, somebody on the sanders campaign went looking through the clinton side of the wall.
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i think what they are saying there, certainly there's a lot of -- a lot to that, i think, because if hillary clinton's campaign were caught in this situation, i can guarantee you we would be hearing from the sanders campaign a lot of outrage right now. >> it almost appears as if this distraction over here, let's talk about that as opposed to what we know. we know a staffer from the sanders campaign has been fired for inappropriately accessing this data. also jeff weaver claims that it was two months ago back in october that they notified the dnc about vendor issues, firewalls falling down, and the fact that there was access being granted or no security issues that should probably be there to keep people in their own lanes and was allowing for this inappropriate access. mark, let me bring you back in. in modern memory, do you recall any political issues like this
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where there was some dirty campaigns trying to steal the others' information, especially when it came to this type of access issue? >> not on this type of access issue. to go back in time in the last time there was a big blowup about the dnc and potentially siding for one candidate over the other, i have to go back to the 2008 presidential campaign between barack obama and hillary clinton over what was going to be done about the delegates with michigan and florida. i know those of us who followed that, that was a huge story back then, and that was the last time that really, you had activists from both sides really up in arms over rules, that time howard dean was chairman of the democratic national committee. thomas, it's important to note that after this story came out about a potential bernie sanders campaign accessing clinton information from these voter files, we ended up hearing from the dnc, it was temporarily suspending bernie sanders from the overall voting file. of course, that's very tough language you heard from the bernie sanders campaign, their
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threat to go to court all over this, but it is worth noting that debbie wasserman schultz in her interview earlier today on msnbc as well as the statements we have received from the dnc that as long as the dnc is able to get an assurance that nothing was downloaded, still in the bernie sanders' possession of these clinton files if they were downloaded and exported, that basically, the sanders campaign turns over everything because i was mentioning to you earlier, a lot of this stuff is very traceable. it's easy to know who logged in and made what kind of action with this voter file. if the dnc can get an assurance from the sanders campaign, then they are happy to give access back. i think what the dnc really wants is 100% assurance that they have -- that the sanders campaign doesn't have more than what they are actually saying. >> so we heard from jeff weaver there. he said that they do not possess or retain any clinton data. also saying that they are running a clean campaign, they don't need the dirty tricks about this. so as you point out, this
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temporary suspension, the debate is tomorrow night. what is temporary to the dnc, especially if as weaver alludes to, other campaigns are guilty of this access like sanders' campaign? >> yeah. that last point as steve was making was very cryptic and of course, we are dealing with information that we do know. the statements we have received from the dnc, the statements we got from the sanders campaign, and then of course, the documents that nbc has been able to obtain that actually show that through this traceable log, that there was some poking around the clinton proprietary information on these voting lists. how long this ends up getting resolved before tomorrow night's debate, i don't think that any of this gets resolved. one other component, thomas, about this whole taking legal action. of course, i'm not an attorney, but following as a reporter, previous lawsuits against the dnc or the rnc, that it's
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sometimes very hard to be able to sue these groups because they are considered political parties. they get to make up the rules. now, what the sanders campaign is making the argument that the dnc is holding some of their proprietary information with these voters lists so that's probably their argument there, but it gets really tricky if you try to actually have a lawsuit in federal court and the court might say these political parties get to make up their own rules, they're not the federal government, not a state or local government, and that's where it gets complicated. >> so i'm not going to make you play a lawyer on tv, mark murray, because jeff weaver alluded to the fact that other campaigns had access to their information and they brought this to the attention of the dnc two months ago. to your point about how traceable all this information is, they might have evidence to back that up and the dnc might want to get out ahead of that and put all their cards on the table if that's true? >> right. yeah. the dnc or even the vendor who
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is really responsible for all the software here. that is right, thomas. this is all that traceable and trackable, you can see there would be footprints for everyone, maybe not in 24 hours or 48 hours, but pretty soon to be able to see who took what, who was able to log in at what point. yes, i think that that is very understandable. but i do think that where the sanders campaign is coming from, saying we want this information, we want it back now, and the dnc has basically said we are actually happy to resolve this and give it back to you, get your voter file information back, we just want an absolute assurance that you don't have any proprietary information from the clinton campaign. >> mark, stand by. i want to remind everybody, we are awaiting president obama's year end news conference. you will see that small box on the lower side of your screen where people are assembling in the white house press briefing room. we will be hearing from the president coming up here shortly. but joy ann reid is back at the table. you left to get on a campaign call from the clinton folks.
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no call? >> no. the call has been rescheduled. this is actually a call we were talking about the importance of the african-american vote. this was about african-american voters and the clint be campaign effort there. that was rescheduled. >> steve, i know you have somebody on the phone that is pivotal to this whole story line. >> yeah. that's right. the man who was running the digital operations for the sanders campaign, he was fired by the campaign over this. he did not, i am told he did not listen to or was not able to hear that press conference we just played. nonetheless, he is obviously at the center of this. he joins us by phone. josh, thank you for taking a few minutes and joining us. let me start with this. apparently from what we are told, from the documents that nbc news has been able to obtain here, a lot of what went on here is actually very traceable, very trackable and when we are able to see from these documents is that people from your campaign for over 40 minutes were able to access, were able to look at,
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search and make copies of clinton's supporter lists from her side of the wall. what is the justification for doing that? >> so i want to talk first of all, i was doing data [ inaudible ]. i guess what i want to say is that we knew that what we were doing was trackable and we were trying to create a clear record of a problem before reporting it so that we could make sure we weren't crying wolf and so we understood the extent of our exposure to any other political entities. >> are you saying you wanted to be able to prove to the dnc that you were able to access files from hillary clinton? >> we had to assume that our data was equally exposed and you know, and updated reports prove
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that it was. we wanted to document and understand the scope of the problem. so that we could report it accurately. >> josh, i'm trying to figure out, when you're saying document the extent of the problem, does that mean you wanted to go through everything that hillary clinton had, you wanted to see if she had anything you had? >> no. what i mean is that we could see that -- we could see there was a problem in the security and so we wanted to create a record on their system without taking any data for our own purposes. >> but if this was traceable and trackable, you were making copies of her voter lists, weren't you? >> i guess you could phrase it that way but we never -- the systems were always in the vote builder van system, the vote builder dnc system, it was all
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within their custodianship, if that makes sense. we didn't, at least to my knowledge, we did not export any records of voter file data that were based on those so yes, we did establish proofs that there was a problem so that, a, we understood what that problem was and b, we could accurately report that up the chain. that did take us some time to figure out. >> but the problem besides the firewall being down, what are you able to establish by going into her voter -- i think that's the confusing part to people here. if you went into her voter files, if you searched them, if you copied information from them, it basically sounds like you are telling me you are committing, crime is a strong word here but you are committing the misdeed to prove it's possible to commit the misdeed. >> well, no, because we didn't actually like use it for anything valuable. we didn't take custodianship of
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it. it's the equivalent, the analogy maybe would be somebody leaves the front door open for the fifth time, this was the first time van made a mistake like this, somebody leaves the front door open and you left a note inside the front door saying you left the door open. then maybe you went and checked the side door, too, to make sure that door was closed. >> do you feel like, our understanding is how traceable and trackable this is, you have been fired from the campaign for this but there were i think four others from the sanders campaign at least who accessed this. none of them have been fired. are they serving you up here? >> look, i was in charge of the department. it's my responsibility. >> but from what you're describing to me, you are basically saying you don't feel you actually did anything wrong. should you have been fired? >> i think that honestly, the system belongs to the dnc and i did not believe at the time that i did it that they would think
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what i was doing was wrong. frankly, i did it knowing full knowledge that they could see what i was doing and i did not at any time do something that i was going to try to hide from them. knowing that they could see it. i did not expect them to react in the way that they did. >> in this press conference, i understand you didn't see the press conference, but one thing that jeff weaver was making reference to was that he said a suspicion in the campaign that sanders' information had been made available because of a previous breach in this firewall, that information from the sanders campaign had become available to what he said was another campaign, presumably hillary clinton's campaign, i guess maybe it could have been martin o'malley's campaign. is that something you can shed any light on, what specifically he's alluding to there? >> yeah. without going too much into specifics, there was a previous time, it wasn't actually within the van vote builder system, it
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was another system provided to us by the dnc where we discovered and assessed a problem and we reported that within about a day of having discovered it and trying to figure out exactly what it was to make sure it wasn't something we were supposed to have. >> did you, again, i'm trying to make sense of what weaver was saying happened here, did your campaign establish or think it established that hillary clinton's campaign at any point got access to and reviewed your information? >> we had to assume they had access to it. i did not conduct the audit so i will rely on them to conduct an honest audit and establish that they did not view or access or whatever adjectives or verbs they're using to describe what happened, but i had to assume. speaking through how we know it was a bug in code that was pushed out wednesday morning. we had to assume that happened sometime between 8:00 and 9:00 a.m. we found out about it at about 10:30 so we had to assume that
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our data had been exposed all morning. so like we had to know how exposed our data was. that was to me important. >> all right. >> that was my judgment call to try to find out how exposed our data was. >> josh uretsky, formerly with the sanders campaign, appreciate you taking a few minutes. thank you. >> thank you. >> thomas, back to you. >> that was fascinating, especially your questions about whether he feels scapegoated by the campaign and also who else had access, who might have had access to their data as these firewalls were down. we will wait to see where this goes this afternoon as jeff weaver had said, they are willing to take the dnc to court if they do not unfreeze their access. wild hour we have been watching. in the lower side of the screen, we are waiting for the president to come out and hold his year end press conference. brian williams is standing by to carry us through that.
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brian? a wild hour indeed. all of it political news. thank you for that. the president is about to give his fifth end of year news conference. he is bypassing the more regal confines of the east room for the decidedly un-regal and workmanlike west wing press briefing room, where reporters are standing by and ready to talk to their various networks. ron allen is standing by for us at the white house and ron, the president often uses this event to get expansive, to talk about the record of achievements as he sees it for the past calendar year and then take questions, some of which are off the beaten path. >> reporter: indeed. you never know what to expect. yes, we expect president obama to talk about the successes of the past year as he sees them. the climate agreement in paris, the trans-pacific trade partnership that he has formed
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with those asian nations. a long list that he has. he's about to sign the tax and spending bipartisan bill that just passed through the congress that the administration insisted they did not concede a lot to get. so a lot of good news the president has. but of course, everything now will be dominated by this issue of terrorism, the threat here, the attacks in paris and the attack in san bernardino, which has really changed perhaps everything, and the president's approval ratings in that area are relatively low, very low, based on polls and public response to how he's been handling this issue. and we know he leaves here and goes to san bernardino to meet the families who lost loved ones in that attack. the president said that this is perhaps the most frustrating issue that he has faced during his time in office, his inability to get some sort of what you would call gun safety legislation passed through the congress to try to mitigate in some way these mass shootings that happen in the country.
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so that's one issue that may come up. a question, for example, we have heard so often that the administration is trying immigr and other issues. the word now is that that may come soon, sometime after the holidays but not before. so there's that. there's the issue of guantanamo bay, the closing of that. a high priority he set early on in his administration and languishing, again, because of congressional opposition. a lot of questions, a lot of territory to cover. the president will, again, as you said try to highlight the positive but this issue of terrorism is going to be a big concern. just recently he spoke to the nation if the oval office saying essentially he'll stick to his strategy of taking on isis, primarily through air attacks, air strikes with the coalition of some 65 nations, a strategy that's been criticized as not being strong enough, bold enough, effective enough. the president saying that he said this will take sometime and
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given the attacks in paris and san bernardino, i think public patience is getting much shorter for a long-scale, long-term attack against this terrorist group. the president said this is something that will not be completed on his watch. and, yes, the issue of what's the president thinking, on his mind, feeling now. we look forward to hearing that if someone can ask a question to generate that answer from him. brian? >> that's right. depends on whether it's teed up and he is in the right mood. the president going on a 16-daybreak over the christmas and new yore's holiday to his home state of hawaii, the annual obama family vacation which has sometimes been interrupted by and shortened by the war on terrorism. let's go to nbc's andrea mitchell who has been listening in and following the story in the hour that precedes this news
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conference and technically supposed to begin two minutes ago. the white house is running late. andr andrea, if someone just landed in the united states and wanted a primer on this story they missed, what is this story for those joining with the sanders and clinton campaigns and dnc and data? >> it's very complicated but basically this unwritten truce between the campaigns notably polite to each other in sharp contrast to the republican rivals broken wide open and what happened was there was a data breach of key information, voter files, profiles, that were proprietary to the clinton campaign and provided to all democratic candidates by the national national committee but each campaign has their own computer access and can't importantly see each other's secret information about where
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their supporters are and who might be vulnerable to appeals from the other side. well, what happened was there was a data breach on wednesday and for about half an hour the clinton information was viz to believe the sanders people. and at least one sanders person up in burlington, vermont, did look at key information from the clinton campaign and most likely others, as well. which is acknowledged by the sanders people. the democratic national committee as punishment cut off the sanders campaign to their own voter lists, they own profiles and can't go out and survey and try to get theme to the polls or talk to their own people that have been reached and identified by their own volunteers so jeff weaver the manager for the sanders campaign has a news conference in the last hour and he said that debbie wasserman-schultz can
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support hillary clinton as much as she wants and can't sabotage their cam pin and if she doesn't give their voter lists back to them by the end of the day, they're going to court. there's been documents leaked to reporters all over town showing that there was more than one person in the sanders headquarters that got some of this information. and jeff weaver, the sanders campaign manager, acknowledged that they're gong to take disciplinary action. frozen the e-mails accounts of everybody in that headquarters staff and basically saying that this is crippling them and they have such a huge following online. and other organizations that the dnc is hammered now by e-mails and social media by all of these sanders supporters saying that, you know, the establishment democrats, the democratic party and hillary clinton, trying to
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sabota sabotage bernie sanders' campaign. >> a complicated story that's kind of bubbled up in the news in the past hour. thank you for that. to chris matthews in washington. number one, what do you make of this issue? number two, about the event of the hour, the president's news conference, could you argue that he has been less of the lame duck president as some had predicted because of his use of executive orders and the bully pulpit, among other things? >> to the first one, i find it interesting the democrats fighting over data they use to try to find out what people want to talk about, hear their leaders talk about almost in the way of bill murray in "groundhogs day." trying to talk to the girl by learning what she wants so all of the democrats and republicans do now is spend their time trying to find out what voters
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want to hear and squawk it back to them. that's not very likable if you think of yourself as a citizen. oh, great, figuring me out to tell how to win me. trump, the other part of the story today, trump as we say in politics listens with his tongue. he is out there every day talking to people constantly going to crowds and tell in the crowd if it's working generally and specifically which people in the crowd like what he's saying or not and if you watch his presentations he is in a constant conversation with the voters he is trying to arouse. not just get. you see one man, you know, almost like tom henry going out there going up one on one and others using data and fighting over that. so it's a complicated thing as andrea said. secondly, i think the president has three problems. 60 days of golfing coming and golfing pictures at a time of a terrorist threat. that's not good for him.
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secondly, i think he wants to show that he's got something going against terrorism where it doesn't seem to be that he does right now. we don't really understand our strategy. but the global thing with this president is he's moved on. if you look at his agenda this year, as you said, he's it by executive order or the supreme court. global issues, that's where he's facing attention. placing his soul, if you will. he wants climate change that looks like a big win for him. he wanted open relations with cuba there and wants a trade agreement and got the initialling to the agreements. everything is to become a world leader over 20, 30 years, to be a man like mandela, a leader in the world who touches base of new york occasionally, comes home and basically a world figure. at this very time, what's the major appeal of donald trump and truz and t cruz and the others?
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nationalism. we. who's looking out for us as americans on immigration, trade, war, on everything? so the president is out of step with the basic appeal of the right, right now. which is nationalism. he's playing the role of international figure which is delightful in europe, the rest of the world as we can see. not selling at home. >> chris, do you think he'll engage on politics if they ask him which i'm sure they will about the gop race and certain characters in the race many. >> he has to decide to laugh at trump or ignore him. i don't think he can ignore him. i think somebody should ask does the bother you the front-runner in a contest potentially with hillary clinton for the general, he doesn't recognize your legitimacy as president, he thinks you're a usurper. you stole someone's identity and became president somehow. what do you think of that? that i don't might be standing there on the west front of the
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capitol and seceded that someone says you're not legitimate. it is something i think reporters telling them how to do their job but how can you have a candidate to fill the office of a president he's openly said is illegitimately without saying what he's selling. >> yet as you raised in your interview with trump the other night i believe calling the birther issue, donald trump's original sin. >> but it does track. whatever your personal feelings are saying to you, ire talking to people that don't want to accept the first black president. put pictures together. he is not really legitimate. he deserves an asterisk next to
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his name because he's not really one of the presidents since back to washington through the great presidents, lincoln and fdr. he is not one of them because he's illegitimate. you're playing to racists. i raised this with him the other night and talking to those people and it's not just a dog whistle. you're right. we never elected him president. he is black. and that game is serious business on the hard right. looking at the people who still believe the president's not legitimate, who think he's a muslim, not from this country, he's a foreigner. he's playing to them still. that's why i said no muslims in the country anymore. >> chris matthews in washington watching with us and provide analysis with when the end of year news conference is concluded. we have bypassed the posted start time for the president's news conferencement we'll let you know when we're within the
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two-minute warning when the president is going to enter. the venue today, the press briefing room in the west wing. and not the east room as has sometimes been the venue for this. our justice correspondent pete williams is with us from washington. pete, for those who haven't caught up with the news on your beat in the last 24 hours, after all, the president will be going to san bernardino for a private event with families of those lost out there, what is the latest, especially on this friend who was arrested yesterday? >> very much he is the center of the plots that were going on in 2011, 2012, 2010, the fbi said. the picture that emerged now is that farook basically turned his next door neighbor to jihad, got him interested in mounting terror attacks. they talked about attacking a junior community college in the area, shooting up a busy
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interstate highway in the area. they actually went, the fbi says that enrique marquez, the next door neighbor, went and bought the rifles that ended up being used in the san bernardino shooting for the purpose of being involved in the attacks, bought the components of pipe bombs found assembled in faro farook's garage but got cold feet with arrests in an unrelated terror case and drifted apart in terms of talking about jihad and remained friends and marquez did a favor for farook marrying a distant relative so she could stay in the country and never lived with her and she was paying him $200 a month. the president will be talking about terrorism, isis. one interesting thing about the complaint thing unsealed yesterday, the mention of something we heard about before, after the shooting, either farook or his wife tashfeen
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malik posted something to a facebook of an alias and pledge of support of isis but what role if any isis played in the san bernardino shooting is unclear. the fbi director said he doesn't know. it's clear that farook was a follower of al qaeda. by 2010, he was radicalized. he was a huge consumer of the propaganda from the al qaeda in yemen prop gandist and it's around the al qaeda thing that he starts to develop all these ideas for terror attacks. so we don't yet know whether isis played any role. it certainly doesn't an i peer to be the typical isis homegrown extremist attack that the united states is so concerned about, people in their homes being basically turned by this huge outpouring of isis propaganda that's going on for the past year and a half. make no mistake, the u.s., the fbi, homeland security still consider isis to be an exactly
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that sort of radicalization, a huge threat and whether it played a role in san bernardino, nobody knows. >> pete, as a veteran in this area, you get to have occasional briefings, some off the record, some on. officials. let's say fbi director and above and below and i see we're two minutes to the white house press conference now. we'll keep this short. they must express such exasperation on trying to read minds as to who is getting information, who is becoming in effect weaponized among americans in private homes across this country. >> this is the big concern. they say farook and marquez never talked with anybody and if they don't do that, the fbi says how are we supposed to know? >> let's change our focus now to the briefing room in the west wing.
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we have a two mf minute warning. we have been at this for years there's a blue door aegdjacent the podium and usually there's a holding area until an aide opens the door, several aides file in with the president, take their seats along the wall while he takes questions from the lectern. we expect an opening statement and has been as times a recitation of the way the white house sees them, the accomplishments of calendar year 2015. as chris matthews mentioned, 16 days the planned break for the first family in the president's home state of hawaii. though, if past activity is any prologue here, the president's past vacations have been interrupted by, shortened by
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portions of them canceled by world events and that has more often than not meant terrorism. with us and watching and among the folks talking to when the president wraps up, andrea mitchell, chris matthews, pete williams on the areas of terrorism that are expected to dominate the president's remarks. ron allen at the white house. kristen welker will be in the rook for us. chris jansing in the briefing room for us. all of them hoping to have their questions answered by the president. the president leaves after this event from andrews air force base with his family. they will fly west. they will stop in san bernardino, california. and an event not designed for press onch. instead, designed as a private event with families of those who lost loved ones in the terrorist attack there. now the president entering the briefing room. >> good afternoon, everybody.
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clearly, this is not the most important event that's taking place in the white house today. there is a screening of "star wars" for gold star families and children coming up so i'll try to be relatively succinct. let me say a few words about the year behind us and the year ahead and then i'll take a few questions. as i look back on this year, one thing i see is that so much of our steady, persistent work over the years is paying off for the american people in very tangible ways. our early actions to rescue the economy set the stage for the longest streak of private sector job growth on record with 13.6 million new jobs in that time. the unemployment rate has been cut in half. down to 5%. and most importantly, wages grew faster than at any time since the recovery began. so over the course of this year,
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a lot of decisions we made early on have paid off. years of steady implementation of the affordable care act drove the rate of uninsured in america below 10% for the first time since records were kept on that. health care prices have grown at the lowest level in five decades. 17 million more americans have gained coverage and we now know that 6 million people have signed up through for coverage beginning january 1st. 600,000 on tuesday alone. new customers are up one third over last year and the more who sign up, the stronger the system becomes and good news for every american that no longer has to worry about being an illness or accident away from financial hardship. on climate, early investment in clean energy ignited a clean energy industry boom. our actions that help reduce our carbon emissions brought china
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to the table and last week in paris nearly 200 nations forged a historic agreement that was only possible because of american leadership. around the world, from reaching the deal to prevent iran from developing a nuclear weapon to re-establishing diplomatic relations with cuba to concluding a landmark trade agreement that ensures that american workers and businesses are operating on a level playing field and we rather than china or other countries setting the rule for global trade, we have shown what's possible when america leads. and after decades of dedicated advocacy, marriage equality became a reality in all 50 states. so, i just want to point out i said at the beginning of this year that interesting stuff happens in the fourth quarter and we are only halfway through. i do want to thank congress for ending the year on a high note. i got to sign the education bill
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that is going to fix some of the challenges that we had with no child left behind and promises to invest more in high quality early childhood education. we signed a transportation bill that although not as robust as i think we need still allows states and local governments to plan and actually get moving, getting people back to work rebuilding the roads and the bridges. we have xm bank back to business supporting american exports and today passed a budget deal. i'm not wild about everything in it. i'm sure that's true for everybody but it's a budget as i insisted invests in the military and middle class without provisions to weaken wall street reform or rules on big polluters.
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part of an agreement that will permanently extend tax credits to 24 million working families. it includes some long sought wins like strengthening america's leadership at the imf and because it eliminates the possibility of a shutdown for the first time or for the first nine months of next year, congress and i have a long runway to get important things done on behalf of the american people. now, there's still a lot of work to do. for example, there's stale lot more the congress can do to promote job growth and increase wages in this country. i still want to work with congress both democrats and republicans to reform the criminal justice system and today i commuted the sentences of 95 men and women who served their debt to society, another step forward in upholding our fundame fundamental ideals of justice and fairness and the most important job is to keep americans safe.
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i've had a lot to say about that this week. let me reiterate. the united states has led. isil lost about 40% of the areas controlled in iraq and losing territory in syria. as we keep up the pressure, our air campaign will continue to hit isil harder than ever. taking out their leaders, hair commanders and their forces. we're stepping up the support for partners on the ground as they push isil back. our men and women in uniform are carrying out their mission with a trademark professionalism and courage and this holiday season all of us are united in our gratitude and thankful for their famililies serving alongside those who are actually deployed. squeezing isil's heart, its core in syria and iraq will make it aheader for them to pump their terror and propaganda to the rest of the world.
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same time as we know from san bernardino, where i'll visit with families later today, we have to remain vigilant here at home. our counter terrorism, intelligence, homeland security and law enforcement communities are working 24/7 to protect our homeland and all of us can do our part by staying vigilant, by saying something if we see something that is suspicious, by refusing to be terrorized and by staying united as one american family. in short, for all the very real progress america has made in seven years, we have unfinished business and i plan on doing everything i can with every minute of every day that i have left as president to deliver on behalf of the american people. since taking this office, i have never been more optimistic about a year ahead than i am right now and in 2016 i'm going to leave out all on the field. so, with that, let me take some questions. i'll start with roberta of
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reuters. >> mr. president, you're going to california today. as you said earlier this week, you told the nation there's no specific or credible threat of a similar attack. but how's it really possible to know, i mean, aren't similar plots going to be just as hard to detect beforehand? and, some lawmakers are saying that your government should review the social media of all people applying for visas to come to this country. when do you think of that idea? should that be mandatory? >> well, roberta, you're absolutely right that it is very difficult for us to detect lone wolf plots or plots involving a husband and wife in this case because despite the incredible vigilance and professionalism of all our law enforcement, homeland security, et cetera, it's not that different from us trying to detect the next mass
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shooter. you don't always see it. they're not always communicating publicly. if you're not catching what they say publicly, then it becomes a challenge. we are continuing to work at every level to make sure that there's no slip between information sharing among agencies. we're continuing to strengthen our information sharing with foreign countries and because in part of the tragedy in paris, i think you're seeing much greater cooperation from our european partners on these issues. but this is a different kind of challenge than the sort that we had with organization like al qaeda that involved highly trained operatives who are working as cells or as a
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network. here essentially you have isil trying to encourage or induce somebody who, you know, may be prey to this kind of propaganda. and it becomes more difficult to see. it does mean that they're less likely to be able to carry out large, complex attacks, but as we saw in san bernardino, obviously, you can still do enormous damage. the issue of reviewing social media for those who are obtaining visas i think may have gotten garbled a little bit because it's important to distinguish between posts that are public, social media on a facebook page, versus private communications through various social media or apps.
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and our law enforcement and intelligence professionals are constantly monitoring public posts and that is part of the visa review process that people are investigating what individuals have said publicly and questioned about any statements that maybe made. but if you have a private communications between two individuals, that's harder to discern by definition. and one of the things we'll be doing is engaging with the high-tech community to find out how we can in an appropriate way do a better job if we have a lead to be able to track a suspected terrorist but we're going to have to recognize that
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no government is going to have a ka pass the toy read every single person's texts or e-mails or social media. if it's not posted publicly, then they're going to be feasibility issues that are probably insurmountable at some level and raises questions about our values. keep in mind, it was only a couple of years ago where we were having a major debate about whether the government was becoming too much like big brother. and overall, i think we have struck the right balance in protecting civil liberties and making sure that u.s. citizens' privacy is preserved, that we are making sure that there's oversight to what our intelligence agencies do. but, you know, we're going to have to continue to balance our needs for security with people's
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legitimate concerns about privacy. and because the internet is global and communications systems are global, you know, the values that we apply here oftentimes are ones that, you know, folk who is are trying to come into the country are also benefiting from because they're using the same technologies. but this is precisely why we're working very hard to bring law enforcement, intelligence and high-tech companies together because we're going to have to really review what we can do both technically as well as consistent with our laws and our values in order to try to discern more rapidly some of the potential threats that may be out there. okay. david jackson? >> thank you, mr. president. a game of questions. congress made it pretty clear they won't let you transfer prisoners to the united states for trial but some people think you have the executive authority
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to transfer the prisoners and close gitmo itself next year. do you believe you have that authority and are you willing to exercise it and close that place? >> first of all, we have been working systematically. another example of persistence. in reducing the population. we have a review process. those who are eligible for transfer we locate in countries that have accepted some of these detainees. they monitor them. and it's been determined that they can be transferred. and my expectation is by the early -- by early next year we should have reduced that population below 100. and we will continue to steadily chip away at the numbers in guantanamo. there's going to come to a point where we have a ir reducible population. people who pose a significant
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threat but for various reasons it's difficult for us to try them in article iii court. some of them are going through a military commission process, but there's going to be a challenge there. now, at that stage, i'm presenting a plan to congress about how we can close guantanamo. i'll not going to automatically assume that congress says no. i'm not being coy, david. i think it's fair to say there's going to be significant resistance from some quarters to that but i think we can make a very strong argument it doesn't make sense for us to be sending an extra hundred, 200, 300, $500 million, a billion dollars, to have a secure setting for 50, 60, 70 people. and we will wait until congress
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has definitively said no to a well thought out plan with numbers attached to it before we say anything definitive about my executive authority here. i think it's far preferable if i can get stuff done with congress. >>. [ inaudible ] >> i think you have seen me on a bunch of issues like immigration, i'm not going to -- i'm not going to be forward leaning on what i can do without congress before i've tested what i can do with congress. every once in a while they'll surprise you. and -- and this may be one of those places because i think we can make a really strong argument. guantanamo continues to be one of the key magnets for jihadi recruit
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recruitme recruitment. you know? to the question of how do they convince somebody here in the united states who may not have a criminal record or a history of terrorist activity to start shooting, this is part of what they feed. this notion of a gross injustice, that america's not living up to its professed ideals. we know that. we see the internet traffic. we see how guantanamo has been used to create this mythology that america is at war with islam. for us to close it is part of our counterterrorism strategy that is supported by our military, our diplomatic and intelligence teams. so, when you combine that with the fact that it's really expensive, that we are, you know, essentially at this point detaining a handful of people
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and each person is costing several million dollars to detain when there are more efficient ways of doing it, you know, i think we can make a strong argument. i'm -- but i'll take -- you know, i'll take your point that it will be an uphill battle. every battle i have had with congress over the last five years has been uphill and we keep on surprising you by actually getting some stuff done. sometimes that proves necessary. we try not to get out ahead of ourselves on this. >> julie pace? >> thank you, mr. president. broader terms, the republican core running for president argue the mideast and united states is safer without regime change of iraq, libya and the arab spring and the aftermath, i wonder what you see the role of the united states in the middle east trying
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to push dictators out of power. would you call for them to step down an specifically on syria, at this point, is it your expectation that bashar al assad's presidency will outlast yours? >> you know, there's been a lot of revisionist history, sometimes by the same people, making different arguments depending on the situation, so maybe it's a useful just for us to go back over some of these issues. we did not depose hosni mubarak, millions of egyptians did because of their dissatisfaction with the authoritarianism. the notion that the u.s. was in a position to pull the strings on a country that is the largest in the arab world i think is
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a -- is mistaken. what is true is that at the point at which the choice becomes mowing down millions of people or trying to find some transition, we believed and i would still argue that it was more sensible for us to find a peaceful transition to the egyptian situation. with respect to libya, libya is sort of an alternative version of syria in some ways because by the time the international coalition interceded in syria, chaos had already broken out. you already had the makings of a civil war. you had a dictator who was threatening and was in a position to carry out the wholesale slaughter of large numbers of people.
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and we worked under u.n. mandate with a coalition of folks in order to try to avert a big humanitarian catastrophe that would not have been good for us. those that argue that we should have left gadhafi in there seem to forget he lost legitimacy and control of his country and we could have had syria in libya now. the problem with libya was the fact there was a failure on the part of the entire international community and i think the united states has some accountability for not moving swiftly enough and underestimating the need to rebuild government there quickly. and as a consequence, you now
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have a very bad situation. and as far as syria goes, i think it is entirely right and proper for the united states of america to speak out on behalf of its values and when you have an authoritarian leader that is killing hundreds of thousands of his own people, the notion that we would just stand by and say nothing is contrary to who we are. and that does not serve our interests because at that point us being in collusion with that kind of governance would make us even more of a target for terrorist activity. >> does that -- try to stop -- >> the reason that assad has been a problem in syria is
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because that is a majority sunni country and he had lost the space that he had early on to execute an inclusive transition, peaceful transition. he chose, instead, to slaughter people and once that happened the idea that a minority population there could somehow crush tens of millions of people who oppose him is not feasible. it is not plausible. even if you were being cold eyed and hard hearted about the human toll there, it just wouldn't happen. and as a consequence, our view has been that you cannot bring peace to syria. you cannot get an end to the
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civil war unless you have a government that is recognized as legitimate by a majority of that country. it will not happen. and this is the argument that i have had repeatedly with mr. putin. dating five years ago. at which time the -- his suggestion as i gather some republicans are now suggesting was, you know, assad's not so bad. let him just be as brutal and oppressive as he can but he'll keep order. i said, look. the problem is that the history of trying to keep order when a large majority of the country has turned against you is not good. and five years later, i was right. so, we now have an opportunity and john kerry is meeting as we speak with syria and turkey and iran, and the gulf countries and other party who is are
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interested. we now have an opportunity not to turn back the clock. it's going to be very difficult to completely overcome the devastation that's happened in syria already. but to find a political transition that maintains the syrian state, that recognizes they're a bunch of stakeholders inside of syria, and hopefully to initiate a cease fire that won't be perfect but allows all the parties to turn on what should be our number one focus and that's destroying daesh and its allies in the region. and that is going to be a difficult process. it's going to be a painstaking process but there is no shortcut to that. and that's not based on some idealism on my part. that's a hard-headed calculation of what oes required to get the job done.
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>> do you think assad, though, potentially could remain in power a year from now? >> i think assad is going to have to leave in order for the country to stop the blood letting and for all of the parties involved to be able to move forward in a nonsectarian way. i have -- he has lost legitimacy in the eyes of a large majority of the country. now, is there a way of us constructing a bridge creating a political transition that allows those who are allied with assad right now, allow it is russians, the iranians to ensure that their equities are respected, that minorities like the aluwides are not crushed or retribution is not the order of the day? i think that's going to be very important, as well.
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that's what makes this so difficult. you know, sadly, had assad made a decision earlier that he was not more important personally than his entire country, that kind of political transition would have been much easier. it is a lot harder now. but john kerry's been doing some excellent work in moving that process forward and i do think that you've seen from the russians a recognition that after a couple of months they're not really moving the needle that much despite a sizable deployment inside of syria. of course, suggested would happen because there's only so much bombing you can do when an entire country is outraged and believes that its ruler doesn't represent them. sheryl bowl?
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>> thank you, mr. president. i would like to ask you about the surprising congress. specifically, what are your top legislative priorities for next year? how has the new speaker paul ryan changed the dynamic with you and capitol hill? and can you be more ambitious next year doing things like maybe completing the transatlantic trade paper or tax reform? >> well, first of all, it's important to give some credit where credit is due. john boehner did a favor to all of us including now speaker ryan by working with us to agree on a top-line budget framework. that was the basis for subsequent negotiations. he was able to do that because he was going out the door and it was then given i think a little more room to maneuver than he
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previously had. having said that, i also want to give speaker ryan credit. i called both he and mitch mcconnell as well as nancy pelosi and harry reid for the orderly way in which they actually negotiated a budget, the way congress is historically and typically supposed to work. i mean, we have gotten kind of used to last-minute crises and shutdown threats and so forth and this is a messy process that doesn't satisfy everybody completely but it's more typical of american democracy. and i think that speaker ryan deserves a role in that. i will say in his interactions with me, he has been professional. he has reached out to tell me what he can do and what he cannot do. i think it's a good working relationship. we recognize that we disagree on
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a whole bunch of other stuff. and have fundamentally different visions for where we want to move the country but perhaps because even before he was elected he had worked on capitol hill, i think he is respectful of the process and respectful of how legislation works. so, kudos to him as well as all the leadersppropriators involved this process. i want to repeat because sometimes we take for granted when's happened. i said early on in this process i wasn't going to sign a budget that did not relieve sequester. this artificial austerity making it difficult for us to invest in things like education and our military. and i said i would not accept a lot of ideological riders that
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were attached to a big budget deal. and we met our goals. and because of some terrific negotiations by the democrats up on capitol hill and i think some pretty good work by our legislative staffs here, we are going to be able to fund environmental protection, we're going to be able to make sure that we're investing in things like early childhood education and making college more affordable. we're going to be able to implement the clean power plant rule. we're going to be able to continue to invest in clean energy that spurs on innovation. we're going to be able to make sure that our military gets the equipment and the training that it needs in order to be effective in fighting isil and other threats around the world. so, it was a good win.
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and there's some things in there i don't like but that's the nature of legislation and compromise. and i think the system worked. that gives me some optimism that next year on a narrow set of issues we can get some more work done. now, as david said, it's an election year and obviously a lot of the legislative process is going to be skewed by people looking over their shoulders worried about primaries, trying to position themselves relative to the presidential candidates so that makes it harder. but i think there are going to be a handful of areas where we can make real progress. one of them you already mentioned. transpacific partnership. which now has been out. congress has had a chance to review and it meets the bar that i set. it's consistent with what i
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promised which is the most pro-labor, pro-environment progressive trade deal in history, that eliminates just about every tariff on american manufacturing goods in countries that up until this point have charged a tax essentially on anything that american workers and businesses sell in these areas and brings the taxes down to zero on basically all of american manufactured products. a huge win for agriculture because now, you know, the people of japan are going to be in a better position to enjoy american beef and american pork which up until this point even though we're much more efficient producers has been tagged with a tax that makes, you know, our products uncompetitive in japanese markets so this is a big deal and i think speaker
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lili ryan would like to get it done. there's opponents and proponents in both parties and an interesting situation to stitch around the same kind of bipartisan effort in order for us to get it done. a second area that i think is possible is criminal justice reform. there has been sincere, serious negotiations and efforts by democrats and republicans to create a criminal justice system that is more fair, more even handed, more proportionate and is smarter about how we reduce crime. and i've really been impressed by the dedication of a core group of democrats and republicans, some of them the most liberal democrats and the most conservative republicans coming together saying this is the right thing to do.
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we have got a good bill in the senate that passed with bipartisan support out of committee. my hope is that gets to the floor and that we can pair it up with a good bill out of the house and this is an area where you potentially can see, save money, reduce resid vizzism. and they have to pay the price on violent crime, pay the time and released in a reasonable fashion, that they have more support and less likely to go back into the criminal system subsequently. and that's an area where i think we may be able to make a big difference. those are just two examples. we'll keep on looking for a number of examples like that. and wherever there's an opportunity i'm going to take it. okay.
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phil crumb? >> thank you, mr. president. you mentioned climate change already and you said at the time of the designing of the agreement in paris, a turning point for the world and not legally binding document and bypass congress pretty much completely. are you worried at this point a republican president who might take over the white house could stop the deal in the tracks entirely? and considering that possibility, are you more interested in campaigning for a democratic nominee considering that doinger? >> i think it's fair i was going to be campaigning for a democratic nominee even without that danger. and i am very confident that we're going to have a terrific democratic nominee and whose phone is that, guys? come on now. you recommends your ring. don't be embarrassed. just turn it off. huh? there you go. okay. can i still hear it?
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all right. i think it's off now. i think we will have a strong democratic nominee. i think that democratic nominee will win and i will have a democratic successor and i'll campaign to make that happen for a variety of reasons. they're more likely to share my vision of where america should go. but having said that, what i think people should also feel good about is that the agreement struck in paris, although not legally binding when it comes to the targets that have been set, does create this architecture in which all around the world countries are saying, this is where we're going. we're going to be chasing after this clean energy future. this is how we're going to meet
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our goals. we are going to double down on solar power, wind power. we are going to invest more heavily in bio fuels. we are going to figure out battery technologies. and, what you saw in this budget which i think was really significant, was an extension of the solar tax credits and wind tax credits that we had helped to really boost early on in my administration and resulted in wind power increasing threefold. solar power increasing by 20 fold. those tax credits are now going to be extended for five to seven years and as a consequence that combination of market signals means that the private sector is going to start investing much more heavily. they know this is coming and it's not just coming here. it's coming around the world. so you now have a global
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marketplace for clean energy that is stable and accelerating over the course of the next decade. that then creates a different dynamic that is independent of what congress does, but also, helps to shape what congress does. because the more people that are now getting jobs in solar installation and production, the more that you have companies who are seeing how american innovation can sell products in clean energy all across the asia pacific and in europe and in africa. suddenly, there's a big monetary incentive to getting this right. and that's been the history of environmental progress in this country and now we have exported it around the world. every time we have made a decision, you know what? we'll have clean air.
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the predictions were everything would fall apart. and lo and behold, turns out that american innovation makes getting clean air less expensive than people expected and happens faster than people expected. when we made a decision to double fuel efficiency standards on cars, everybody said it will ruin the american auto industry. the industry is booming over the last couple of years. asid rain. when george h.w. bush instituted a system to charge for the emissions that were causing acid rain, everybody said you can't do that. it was smoother, faster, quicker, better and acid rain folks born, i don't know, some of you reporters are getting younger or i'm getting older, may not remember it but that was a big deal. most folks don't even remember
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it anymore. because it got solved. the's no reason why the same won't happen here. now, do i think there's a lot of noise and campaigning next year about how we're going to stop, you know, paris in its tracks? there will probably be a lot of noise like that? do i actually think that two years from now, three years from now, even republican members of congress say that's a smart thing to do? i don't think they will. keep in mind that right now the americans republican party is the only major party that i can think of in the advanced world that effectively denies climate change. i mean, it's an outlier. many of the key signatories to this deal, the architects of this deal, come from center right governments.
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even the far right parties in many of these countries, may not like immigrants, for example, but they admit, yeah, the science tells us we have to do something about climate change. so my sense is that -- of, you know, this is something that may be an advantage in terms of short-term politics in the republican primary. it is not something that's a winner for winners long term. >> you mentioned the leadership, is it embarrassing to you that the other party denies climate change? >> no. because, first of all, first of all, i'm not a member of that party. second of all, it didn't stop us from being the key leader in getting this done. i mean, this is something i've been working on now for five, six years. when i went to copenhagen, i essentially engaged in 24 hours
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of diplomacy to salvage from a pretty chaotic process, the basic principle that all countries whatted to participate. we couldn't have a division of developed and developing countries when it came to solving this problem. this was the initial foundation for us then working with other countries, culminating in the joint announcement with china, bringing in india, brazil and the other big, emerging countries, working with the europeans and getting this done. this would not have happened without american leadership. and by the way, the same is true for the iran nuclear deal. the same is true for the transpacific partnership. the same is true for stamping out ebola. something you guys may recall from last year. which was the potential end of the world. you know, at each juncture what
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we have said is that american strength and american exceptionalism is not just a matter of us bombing somebody. more often, it's a matter of us convening, setting the agenda, pointing other nations in a direction that's good for everybody, and good for u.s. interests. engaging in painstaking diplomacy. leading by example. and, you know, sometimes the results don't come overnight. they don't come the following day. but they come. and this year, what you really saw was that steady, persistent leadership on many initiatives that i began when i first came into office. all right. >> mr. president? >> i've got april ryan.
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>> mr. president, i want to ask you something, criminal justice. something you said and also from your campaign. how your administration contends the united states is 5% of the world population, 25% of the global jail population. what legislation are you supporting that significantly cuts mass incarceration in this country? going back to the assad issue, does assad have to go to defeat is isis? >> well, we are going to defeat isis. and quer goiwe're going to do s cutting off the supply lines, financing, taking out the leadership, the forces. taking out their infrastructure. we're going to do so in partnership with forces on the ground but sometimes that are spotty, sometimes need capacity building, need our assistance and training. but we're seeing steadily progress in many of these areas.
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so they'll continue to be dangerous because whenever i say that we have made progress in squeezing the territory that they control or made real inroads against them, what people will say, well, if something happens around the world, then, obviously, that must not be true. but in any battle, in any fight, even as you make progress, there's still dangers involved. isil's capacity both to infiltrate western countries with people who travel to syria or travel to iraq and the savviness of their social media, their ability to recruit disaffected individuals who may
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be french or british or even u.s. citizens will continue to make them dangerous for quite sometime. but we will systematically go after them. now, in order for us to stamp them out thoroughly, we have to eliminate lawless areas in which they cannot still roam. so we can disable them. we can dismantle much of their infrastructure. greatly reduce the threat that they pose to the united states, our allies and our neighbors. but in the same way that al qaeda is pinned down and has much more difficulty carrying out any significant attacks because of how we have dismantled them, they still pose a threat. there are still operatives interested in carrying out
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terrorist attacks because they still operate in areas between pakistan and afghanistan or more predominantly right now in yemen that are hard to reach. our long-term goal has to be able to stabilize the areas so they don't have any safe haven and to do that in syria there has to be an end to the civil war and an actual government that has a police capacity and a structure in these areas that currently aren't governed. and it is my firm belief and the belief of the experts in this administration that so long as assad is there, we cannot achieve that kind of stability inside of syria. and, you know, i think the history over the last several
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years indicates as much. so that's going to continue to be a top priority for moving aggressively on the military path and not allowing isis to take a breath and pounding away at them with our special forces and our airstrikes and the training and advising of partners who can go after them. but we also are to keep very aggressive on this diplomatic track to bring countries together. all right? everybody -- >> criminal justice reform? >> i'm hopeful. >> the nation -- >> well -- right. and, april, what i said was is that i strongly support the senate legislation that's already been put forward. i'm hopeful that the house can come up with legislation that follows the same principles, which is to make sure that we're doing sentencing reform but we're also doing a better job in
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terms of, you know, reducing recidivism and providing support for ex-offenders and getting together in a bill in a conference i'm optimistic to make a difference. keep in mind, april, when you use the term mass incarceration, statistically, the overwhelming majority of people who are incarcerated are in state prisons and state facilities for state crimes. we can only focus on federal law. and federal crimes. and so, there's still going to be a large population of individuals who are incarcerated even for nonviolent drug crimes because this is a trend that started in the late '80s and '90s and accelerated at the state levels but if we can show
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at the federal level that we can be smart on crime, most cost effective, more just, more proportionate, then we can set a trend for other states to follow, as well. and that's our hope. this is not going to be something that's reversed overnight. so, just to go back to my general principle, april. it took 20 years for us to get to the point we are now. and it will be 20 years probably before we reverse some of these major trends. okay, everybody? i got to get to "star wars." thank you. thank you, guys. appreciate you. thank you. >> listen to that din. and with a wave, that's the last we are expected to see -- >> merry christmas.
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everybody be with your families. >> merry christmas. have fun with your families. last expected to see an official capacity for the president. 16-day vacation expected. taking all of six questions before leaving on his vacation and announcing something to go to, specifically a screening of "star wars" in the residence theater there at the white house for gold star military families and their children. interestingly, it's already been noted all of the questions went to non television outlets, print and radio. none of the television networks or cable networks were called upon. just like in major league baseball, they talk about hitters that scatter around. and that's what they sense. to chris matthews we go to start us off. chris, anything about content,
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tone or tenor? >> content. i thought it was substantive. i thought he was trying to fight the hour to hour political news coverage we're used to covering with a longer stretch, a longer meaning. it was a tale of two cities tonight. both involving paris. paris of the terrorist attack still i think had penetrating power in this country. people are scared of it happening here. i thought he wasn't so great on that. he said there's not much we can do to stop the lone wolves, the people that, the couple that went after the people at the workplace in san bernardino. he also said our values hamper the abilities to get media information and people coming from troubled areas, apply for visas. wasn't very helpful there. i thought that was very tricky. i thals -- wasn't very strong language and in terms of isis or isil, islam state, it was slow and study, we have a good air
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campaign. he said pounding a lot. saying that the ground efforts by our allies over there, the kurds and the rest and the iraqi army, was spotty. that was his term for the ground campaign. not a strong campaign. i thought his heart showed as i thought it would on the climate change talks in paris. other paris story. i thought he wants to talk about the long run and the grown-up nations led by the united states, the advanced nations, are really doing a job protecting the planet. but then again, he talks about the long-term. the sweep of history. his role in that sweep of history in terms of the planet, trade, human rights, cuba, relations with iran and cuba and yet he didn't really go at the current media tenor as you asked about. he didn't address the cable news debates going on here and fox and cnn every night and every day. he didn't try to engage. i think he


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