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tv   Andrea Mitchell Reports  MSNBC  January 6, 2016 9:00am-10:01am PST

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"hardball." chris matthews asks about donald trump's low energy charge. >> the leading republican candidate is out saying you don't have the stamina, the strength, is this sexism? is it what it is? >> well, you know, i have a new year's resolution -- >> i know. >> he can say whatever he wants to say. i'm going to keep talking to people what people keep talking to me about. and good day, everyone. i'm andrea mitchell in washington. the united nations security council is in a crisis meeting at this hour. they are talking about options after north korea claimed it tested a miniatureized hydrogen bomb earlier today. if true, it would be a first and a major escalation of pyongyang's nuclear capability far beyond the low yield plutonium weapons that the north
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previously tested. [ applause ] north korean state television showed these pictures, crowds in pyongyang reacting to the news. north korea's main allie china says it had no warning of the test. the president of south korea called it an act that threatens our lives and our future. u.s. officials also surprised said that it could take days to verify north korea's claim. the republican candidates are also sounding off about the latest developments in north korea. take a look. >> well, i think it's, you know, something i've been talking about for a long time. you have this madman over there who probably would use it and nobody talks to him other than dennis rodham. >> he's a lunatic and dangerous and this administration has done nothing about it. >> and this underscores the gravity of the threats we are
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facing right now and also the sheer folly of the obama/clinton foreign policy. we're facing a maniac who may potentially have a hydrogen bomb. >> this is obviously an issue in the political campaign as well. we've got republican reaction already. here on the set is ben ginsburg, leading republican figure behind the scenes. and as we see this campaign, we're seeing foreign policy now coming to the forward in a lot of levels, potentially not just ricocheting off the obama administration but also potentially for the former secretary of state, something she thought would be a plus. here the obama administration acknowledging to me overnight they had no idea if and when this was coming. our allies were surprised. and we are lacking in diplomatic and military options, ben. >> yes, mrs. clinton's strength is almost a weakness due to the
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administration in which she served and the way the events of the world have unfolded. it's going to -- it's going to take some scrambling by her. it's an advantage for the republican candidates. i think it remains to be seen what her opponents in the democratic primary can do. >> let's talk about the republican candidates, because what we have is, frankly, a mess that the establishment of the republican party never anticipated. and i don't want to -- i don't want to lay it autoyot your feet you helped reorganize the schedule. the whole idea was the proportional voting and figuring out how outsider candidates could not, as readily establish, challenge the establishment candidates like mitt romney in the past. how has this worked for you? >> well, actually, the changes came after the 2008 election. >> right. >> and they were designed to sort of counter act what mitt romney had to go through.
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the law of unintended consequences sort of took over. and that's why you've got a primary now with the establishment lane, in particular, having some problems coalescing around a candidate and potentially a third lane opened up with mr. trump. >> you've got trump, you've got cruz and you've got the others who are all firing at each other now, increasingly firing at each other, trying one or another to break through in new hampshire, which is really their best option. but if they don't, if they kill each other off and nobody emerges from the field other than donald trump in new hampshire, if ted cruz wins iowa, then they're heading south where trump and potentially cruz are a lot stronger than chris christie or some of the other john kasich, some of the other quote establishment options. trump keeps on going and gaining strength. >> well, i think one of the interesting phenomenons of the proportional voting is that even
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if somebody does really well in the first four states and on march 1st and march 8th when there's proportional voting, they win 40% of the delegates, they are still only a third of the way to where they need to be to have a majority of delegates at the convention. >> and then you have march 15th and june 7th. lay out that scenario. >> you have march 15th with winner-take-all states and winner-take-all contests in florida and ohio. and three other states, north carolina, illinois and missouri that actually have more delegates than the winner-take-all states. so any candidate who survives to march 15th will actually have a path to keep on picking up delegates. there's then a winner-take-all primary in arizona on march 22nd, but not much else happens until the middle of april. and in the middle of april, it's the midatlantic states and new york who go, which is -- >> pennsylvania. >> which is pennsylvania. you have much more moderate states going later in the
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calendar. so if it's not put away early, then you have the chances for not a clear winner going into the convention. >> and what is that other rule that you have to have at least a majority of delegates in eight states to still qualify for the nomination? >> the famous rule 40. rule 40 is actually done by each convention for that convention. and so there is no -- >> the rules committee has to meet. >> yeah. for the number of states you have to have to win at this point. >> ben ginsburg, have you ever imagined that it could get this crazy with donald trump marching towards the nomination? i mean, in the latest poll he was at 40%. >> he's continually strong. people have continually underestimated what he's been able to do. a candidate from outside. the two normal lanes are conservative and an establishment figure. elements of donald trump are in both lanes and outside of those
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two lanes. so that is a different phenomenon. >> ben ginsberg, you wrote the book and now we are seeing the results. thank you very much. great to see you again. and now our other major story, north korea. joining me now, victor chah and author of "the impossible state: north korea past and future." thank you for joining us. we'll talk about the north korean claim that could be bluffing. what if they are not bluffing and what if this really were a hydrogen bomb? >> well, if it really were a hydrogen bomb, that would be north korea advancing their capabilities to a second generation of nuclear weapons. moving from a fission to a fusion device, which could mean an exponentially more powerful weapon. but we just don't know at this point whether that's the case. there's a lot of speculation that the richter scale readings are not large enough for it to
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have been a full thermal nuclear test. >> how could we and the rest of the world have been so surprised by this, if it were true, we knew they were doing research, but from all reports, we had no advance warning that this was taking place last night. >> yeah. you know, it's a great question, andrea. i think we have had a tendency always to underestimate north korean capabilities in part because previous tests, whether they have been missile tests or nuclear tests have failed, sometimes failed quite dramatically. and so there's a tendency to always downplay what they do, what technology they have. and then they suddenly surprise us with a major -- what looks like a major advancement in terms of their nuclear program or a couple of years ago the ability to put a satellite into orbit, which again we thought they couldn't do. so i think the main thing here is that they are, they are not sitting still. they are trying constantly to build the most modern survivable
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and lethal nuclear weapons for us that they can. and so even if this were not a w hydrogen device, that's their intention and nothing is stopping them right now. >> and china is their backstop. it's their front door and back door for, you know, for all kinds of things, food, energy, all the supplies that they need. why would they do this and confront china this way? >> yeah, i mean, part of the answer, i think, quite frankly, is that the new young leader just doesn't care. his father, his grandfather, the first and second leaders of north korea had very deep relationships with china. but this young fellow does not seem to care. the chinese foreign ministry released a statement today saying they were not informed in advance of a test. and so as you said, andrea, this is north korea's closest allie in the region, and if you have allies like this, you really don't need enemies.
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the problem for china is that they are afraid to really put the clamp on north korea in terms of stopping all those things you mentioned going through the back door and the front door because they are afraid of destabilizing the regime. so they have been quite lackadaisical in terms of enforcing the sanctions that have been in place for the past three nuclear tests. >> now let's talk about options. let's say, worse case scenario, this turns out to be true. and we're testing in the air as we speak to see if we can find evidence to verify the claim. if it is true, first of all, what is the diplomatic option? we talk about sanctions, what realistically can the united nations do? >> yeah, so i think we will probably, most certainly see a harsh statement of the u.n. security council, probably another resolution calling for more sanctions. the obama administration has an executive order that was implemented after the hack of sony last year, which calls for more financial sanctions.
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we'll probably see more of that. i think there should be more cooperation between the united states and its key allies, japan and korea in the region in terms of missile defense cooperation and intelligence sharing. and then, i think, the united states really has to have a sit-down with china and make this a priority in the u.s./china relationship. there are so many other things in the u.s./china relationship, climate change, currency,i issu, but this has to be at the top of the bilateral agenda. because you are more likely to get china to respond at the high levels if the united states makes this a top issue in their bilateral relationship with beijing. >> what about military options? we have 38,000 troops there in the dmz. a fleet and a lot of other equipment, obviously, in the area, we are well deployed, but we are not going to take military action, are we? unless the north were to march across the dmz? >> i don't think -- i don't think we're going to see military action. i mean, i think the thing that
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we have to watch is that how the north koreans respond to the u.n. security council resolution. in the past, they have responded negatively by doing other provocations. and then we'll see whether the state and military readiness on the korean peninsula needs to be scaled up. but right now i don't think there's going to be any military action whatsoever. and it's largely going to be, this is largely going to be played out in the diplomatic arena and then following that, the sort of implementing of more of these financial sanctions. >> victor cha, thank you so much. appreciate you're being with us today. and coming up next, cruz control. the texas senator responding to questions on his citizen ship. >> as a legal matter, the child of a u.s. citizen born abroad is a natural born citizen. people will continue to make political noise about it, but as a legal matter it's quite straightforward. rove to you that aleve is the better choice
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when someone views you as a threat, they're going to attack you. that's what people do in this campaign sometimes. >> the best way to respond to this kind of attack is to laugh it off and to move on to the issues that matter. >> i'm the best messenger in this field. and i think that's why they are concerned. a lot of these guys have never been in a tough race. this is just another day at the ranch for me. >> well, with donald trump so far ahead of the pack, the other republicans are in a circular firing squad, which aught to suit the front-runner just fine. political correspondent kasie hunt is in manchester, new hampshire. we'll talk about what the field looks like in new hampshire and how chris christie is doing and
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how much time he's devoting to what basically is his best shot at salvaging his campaign. >> reporter: it is, andrea. although there are other establishment republicans who could call him a spoiler. you are starting to see the establishment really take out their knives and potentially cut each other to pieces while trump and cruz potentially sail through the pack. but i think the story on the ground here in new hampshire this week is definitely christie. all of that time that he's taken and put into this state is really paying off. he's done now 47 of these town hall meetings. and i've been to town halls with him, with john kasich, with jeb bush to a certain extent, they are running a similar strategy. christie has spent the most time here, but christie is connecting with voters. and you heard him say it there, he has a lot of belief in his raw political talent. and the reality is it is making a pretty big difference here on the ground. the question, of course, is whether he can take doing well here and move into other states,
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other republicans will privately say they don't believe he has a pass to the nomination beyond here in new hampshire and that the reality is if he continues to do well and ultimately takes away a chance for someone like jeb bush, a rubio or maybe a john kasich, to win, he's ultimately derailing all of the establishment's hopes of resting this back from trump, from cruz, from the insurgent wing of the party. >> and he's also been taking his shots using words like slime. this was chris christie being asked about this by mika on "morning joe" today. >> what did you mean by that? slime? >> is there something you don't understand about that? listen, i just think it's kind of funny that the guy who very righteously stood up on the stage and lectured jeb bush saying, someone must have told you that attacking me would help you. apparently the same person now must be talking to marco and telling him that attacking me will help him.
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>> this was his reference to marco rubio saying you can't slime your way to the white house. kasie, that's -- that's a very interesting instruction. that's to your point of them all going after each other with long knifes. >> reporter: it's almost trumpian, though. christie is really the only person who has been able to be seen as someone who is capable of punching back in that really aggressive way, right? we saw jeb bush try to take on marco rubio late last year and it was one of his toughest moments on the campaign trail. it's pretty clear that christie has decided that his blustery style he can use to his advantage here. and that they feel they really need to punch back whenever this happens. we should also point out that christie's campaign is on the air today with a new ad talking about how the republicans are all going after each other, referencing rubio and basically saying, hey, we should all stand down for the good of the party. >> now you say.
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okay. halle jackson in iowa with ted cruz, his event just finished, i think you're right in the middle of it there. let's talk about this trump/cruz issue. >> reporter: i will just apologize -- yeah, listen, if people walk through the shot, just so you know, it's a tight squeeze at this restaurant in rock rapids. that's the back of ted cruz here wrapping up his stump speech. he spoke to the crowd, took a few questions on top of the iran nuclear deal. now he's doing the selfies and the pictures candidates do after these kind of things. i'm going to let my cameraman get a picture while we talk about ted cruz and the birther issue. it's something people are aware of and something people have heard of as you see more seal f selfie taking here. but it doesn't seem to be resonating among supporters. this feels like a desperate move from donald trump to go after ted cruz. ted cruz talked about this and
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you played that a couple minutes ago. they believe his eligibility is a settled legal matter even though some want to make political noise about it. but i tell you what, he has not hit trump on any types of personal attacks at this point as they clear folks out of the way. that's okay, we are live on television, but he has hit trump on policy distinctions. he tried to draw those in particular areas like immigration. we'll watch for that at the next couple of debates. but you won't see ted cruz going after donald trump on a personal level. and it is something that he's -- he doesn't necessarily need to do strategically. look what happened to other candidates who have attacked donald trump and depended themselves against donald trump's attacks. they haven't done well in the polls. they have either sank or stagnated. we'll talk to you more if you have questions for us. the senator is right over my shoulder. it's a tight squeeze at this union jack restaurant in rock rapids. >> hallie, i don't know if you'll get a question to him
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there and have been talking to him all along on this bus tour, but when he says it's a settled issue, it is a settled issue. he's born of a natural born american woman who happened to be in alberta because that's where they lived at the time. so the fact that he was born, you know, on canadian soil of an american mother means that he's an american. am i missing something here? >> reporter: and here's the thing, he talked about this, too. i mean, you talk about harvard scholars, constitutional scholars, there was a big piece in the harvard review to talk about this issue appearing it settled. of course, donald trump is raising questions to it. when you talk to the experts, they say it is. ted cruz brought up people in the past and questions have been raised about it. this is not new to politics. john mccain was brought up. chester arthur going back. barry goldwater, this is something senator cruz addressed today. so there is precedent for people asking questions about the eligibility of candidates, but
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it's not necessarily something that could potentially be a problem for senator cruz, at least not from a legal perspective from what we understand from constitutional scholars, andrea. >> we have yet to see how the cruz supporters among the conservative talk radio hosts handle this. because up until now, they have been firmly in his corner with these issues raised. you referenced john mccain, john mccain's father was on active duty in panama, so that issue was put to rest. i don't know if you'll get a chance to answer a question, but we would love to listen in if you go after him taking the selfies. if there's a chance to do that -- >> reporter: let me try that. i'm not sure microphonewise if this will work for us. >> not so easy. >> reporter: we'll try to sneak over there. >> you are right in the middle of the action as you have been all along. >> reporter: i'll battle through the crowd. we'll do our best for sure.
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let me see if i can sneak in there and come back. >> okay. and up next, as we talk about iowa as trump hits hillary clinton with questions about her stamina, could that hurt her with iowa voting only 26 days away. you're watching "andrea mitchell reports" on msnbc. so i signed up for experian. they have real, live credit experts i can talk to. they helped educate me on how debt affected my fico score. so i could finally start managing my credit. now my credit and i - are both healing nicely. get serious about your credit. get experian. go to experian.com and start your credit tracker trial membership today. ...are taking charge of their acrotype 2 diabetes......
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scarborough and mika his bottom line going after hillary clinton. >> so hillary clinton attacks you on economics and foreign policy. then bill clinton is not fair game in that round. only if she accuses you as sexist. >> it would be fair game if he did or say something with foreign policy and other things that i would have disagreed with. >> but you wouldn't attack him. >> no, i wouldn't need to. there are so many things i can attack them on. >> and joining me now for our daily fix, chris solisa, founder of "the washington post" fix blog. and editorial columnist ruth marcus. welcome to both. chris, where do you start with the when and where does donald trump go after bill clinton's past? and whether this is now mutually a sure destruction with the clintons on the trail, whether they have to make sure they don't go after him because otherwise he is going to go back to the whole lewinsky issue. >> remember, andrea, that if you
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believe polling, and i do, donald trump is the weakest general election opponent of hillary clinton's. so do you really want to -- even if they could do him damage, not sure they could, but even if they could, do you want to weaken his position in the republican primary? the answer is probably not. for the clintons there's not a huge amgt ount to gain here. attacking the clintons is actually relatively smart positioning in a republican primary. these are people who are broadly disliked by the republican base. and of the things donald trump has said, attacking the clintons is one of the smarter strategically. >> we have seen bill clinton be very careful and cautious, at least he certainly was, but he's campaigning again tomorrow. in his debut, his solo debut on
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monday, he was certainly very restrained, not rising to the bait. >> and i think has chris said that that's smart. and i think both sides in the sense are being smart for trump attacking bill and hillary clinton is like loving mom and apple pie in a republican primary. and there's nothing to be gained as chris said from the clintons to seriously respond at this stage. i think that the calculus for both sides changes in a general election. however, the open question is the one that you've suggested, which is can bill clinton -- we have watched him for years, andrea, you and i, and when he plans to restrain himself, it works really well until the moment when somebody says something that really gets under his skin. and like other people i know, he can lose it and that is -- that can be a dangerous moment when that happens. >> and then we've got the whole issue of marco rubio's boots, the boots he wore in new hampshire. i don't know if you call this
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the -- to paraphrase the segment, kinky boot statement. but mark barboro tweeted out this picture of his boots roughly costing $100. but it's been an issue. kasie hunt asked jeb bush about this. >> reporter: governor, you changed your shoes. >> i did. they are low heels, just for the record. >> and rand paul on camera from the green room, i guess, at "the view" today with his take on the boots. >> hey, guys. i'll be on "the view" in a few minutes. i'm here in whoopie goldberg's office trying to choose shoes. i see rubio has the cute little boots and i don't want to be outdone. >> just for a little comic relief here on the campaign trial, chris cillizza.
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>> one thing i will say is these are minor and forgotten in a minute by everybody except us. but marco rubio is a young guy from florida trying to relate to people in iowa and new hampshire, although i will say this, relating and being as real a person as you can, you would not think a billionaire from new york city celebrity would be the sort of populist choice of voters in iowa. but donald trump is, so maybe that relating to people calculation goes out the window. >> i just have to get in on the boots. i think our problem is that we have too many fluffy men running and all they do care about is what they're wearing. so much for my hope for more substance in the campaign. >> but getting back to the whole issue of trump v. hillary, what about the low energy thing? it stuck with jeb bush and was potential will i fatally damage
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ing to his campaign. is he going to repeat it again against hillary clinton? >> i guess if you say it enough it can stick. but as we know from watching her, there are a lot of criticisms you can level at hillary clinton. but not having stamina and not having energy doesn't seem to be one of them. but it is clearly not so subtle dig at her age, less than donald trump's, but when has that mattered. >> or gender. >> the combo plant is really effective. >> ruth marcus and chris cillizza, thank you. preparing to question david petraeus for the first time this afternoon. mike pompeo is joining me next. you're watching "andrea mitchell reports" only on msnbc. tweet your small business questions to @msnbcyourbiz. for small business advice, watch
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former cia director david petraeus has arrived on capitol hill for his first testimony to the benghazi committee. joining me for a preview of republican congressman mike pompeo of kansas, a member of the intelligence committee as well. congressman, great to have you with us. >> great to be with you, andrea. >> what do you want to hear from david petraeus? you have seen so many documents in the past couple of years in this investigation of benghazi. so what do you think he can provide? >> well, thanks for the question. we want to hear what we want to hear from all of the now 65 witnesses that the committee has interviewed. we are looking for the truth about what were the actions taken by each of the officials that surrounded the events that resulted in the death of four americans on september 11, 2012. i hope general petraeus can share what he was doing that
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day, the intelligence that was provided to both u.s. government at large and the state department, in particular, about what was potentially a threat there in benghazi in the run-up to the events. and that he was also involveded in the aftermath and how the briefings were conducted and how congress was briefed on the attacks after the events as well. >> there's been some suggestion that the cia which largely was responsible for the writing of the so-called talking points at a time when the state department and others were under wraps because they were trying to not disclose what was classified information, that there was a very large intelligence operation there. they were trying to collect weapons that had been released to various malitias during the civil war. is that part of the issue, the aftermath, the way things were described? >> most certainly, yes. we're going to ask questioning before the events, the events of that afternoon and evening here in washington and the aftermath, the talking points and all the things that the intelligence community had provided to the
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secretary of state. right, she testified about what she knew and didn't know. she talked about this video. she told her family one thing and told governments around the world another and apparently families something else as well. we're looking for the truth. we want to make sure that the things that all the witnesses including secretary clinton told this committee were truthful. >> how much of this could be fog of war? legitimate confusion? >> there's always a risk of confusion. but it was by everything i have seen, pretty clear, within hours, that this was a terrorist attack. and yet we had u.s. government officials go out after that and tell stories that were a great variant to the truth. and we want to understand that because it's important not only for the events of that night, but we still have folks out in harm's way and dangerous places around the world. we want to make sure they understand that the u.s. government is going to tell the truth about what they are doing as well. >> this investigation has lasted a long time, more than 600 days, longer than the 9/11 commission. critics and democrats on the committee are saying that it is
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being stretched out, dragged out to try to undermine secretary clinton. >> no, ma'am, that couldn't be further from the truth. in fact, just recently as new year's eve we received an additional 2500 documents. remember, general petraeus has been interviewed by the house intelligence committee, but when that interview took place the committee had no access to any of secretary clinton's e-mails. they didn't have access for a reason. she had them on a private server to which no one had knowledge. and certainly access. so it has not been this committee that has delayed this activity. it was the state department and then secretary clinton's private e-mail server that has caused enormous delays and our ability to complete our investigation. >> congressman pompeo, thank you very much. >> thank you, andrea. have a great day. >> you, too. and joining me now, top democrat on the house intelligence committee, congressman adam
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schiff, thank you for joining me. your testimony and more coming later in the week. >> the real answer is cover. they have been attempting this through additional interviews to make it look like the committee is something other than secretary clinton. but there was no reason they couldn't have brought the general in a year ago or six months ago and a year and a half ago. the general has been in front of congress three times on this issue saying there's no politicalization in these events. and it began spontaneously. those facts were wrong but it was the best estimate at the time. so i guess we'll hear the general say the same things all over again today, just as a way of, i think, going through the motions, giving the respectability to a committee that really has none left. >> but congressman, his point, congressman pompeo's point is when they questioned general petraeus before, they did not
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have access to all of those e-mails. thousands and thousands of pages of what hillary clinton was saying to family, friends, aides, colleagues, other colleagues, contemporaneously. >> sure, they didn't have access to these documents, but what he failed to tell you is what is the significance of anything in those i mae-mails? how do they affect general petraeus's on ovations bservatie days? he testified what he was told at the time. and there's no the clinton e-mails that effects that or contradicts that. the republicans can say we didn't have the documents at the time, but you have to be very suspicious when they use the metric in their investigation as to how many documents they receive, how many witnesses they have talked to without telling you anything of significance taken from those documents or witnesses.
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>> i want to ask you about north korea. as a member of the intelligence committee, you have to share concerns about their claims of a hydrogen test. how credible is this claim? do you think they're bluffing? >> well, i'm not sure how credible it is. we have seen them make boastful claims that didn't pan out in the past. you know, i think it's certainly very probable that there was a nuclear explosion. we'll know soon whether it was a hydrogen or fusion explosion or whether it was something else. but regardless, it's a provocative act. it's an effort, i think, by the regime, not only to bolster this leader in a country with a series of purnges. i think they are trying to get the attention of the world. and i think we need to respond forcefully to stiffen sanctions and need to let the chinese know if they are not prepared to crackdown, we are going to increase our military presence in the region as a result.
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and that's not something they want to see happen. >> at the same time, we were surprised. there's no question from my reporting and my colleagues at the pentagon, we did not know this was about to happen. >> andrea, i can't go into the particulars of the indications we may or may not have seen. obviously, this is something we have a constant focus on in terms of north korea's nuclear activity, their missile activity. and we have, very good intelligence on north korea. so i can't get into particulars, but i can tell you it's a very high priority. and we will be looking in the next few days to ascertain just what type of an explosion this was. >> but if it were, as they claim, the hydrogen explosion, do you think we had warning of that? the chinese say they didn't know. we say we didn't know. you're indicating, i know you can't discuss classified briefings, but you are indicating we were not taken by surprise? >> i think we aught to wait and see whether this was a fusion explosion, whether this really was a they armal nuclear device
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some kind before we assess any deficiencies within the intelligence gathering process. we'll know soon enough. if it was the principle consequences, their ability to miniaturize and the ability to put a nuclear warhead on a missile that might reach the united states, and if they have reached that milestone, again, that's a very big "if," that's of dark consequence to us in terms of our national security. >> clearly so. thank you very much, congressman schiff. i know you have to go into that hearing, the briefing with general petraeus. and we appreciate you're being with us today. >> you bet. and on friday, the benghazi committee is going to interview former defense secretary and cia director leon panetta. and tomorrow secretary panetta will be here joining me exclusively right here on "andrea mitchell reports." coming up, the et are rick heating up between saudi arabia and iran. you're watching "andrea mitchell reports" only on msnbc. power,t.
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saudi arabia suggests that the syrian peace talks could be the real loser in the dispute between the two countries. i'm joined by author of "the shia revival." this is all over the saudi execution of a prominent shiite cleric. where do you see this going? >> well, i think we already are in a bad situation, which means sectarianism has escalated. saudi arabia has put a big gauntlet on the table. they have taken an action they don't know what comes next. and now as the iranians have appropriately pointed out, the fight against isis and their conclusion of the syria conflict is in jeopardy because it's very difficult to see how you're going to bring the region back together again and even get
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popular support for solving these big problems. >> and we have been showing some pictures just now of what happened over the weekend when iran retaliated against the execution of the shiite cleric by permitting, really, protesters to go and torch the saudi embassy, saudi arabia broke diplomatic relations, so did others following suit. >> well, i think what we saw in iran, we have seen in iran, there are more than one fraction at play. initially, there are hard-liners trying to take advantage of the execution to rally their base, to also embarrass president rahani because elections are coming up in a month's time. and the iranians realize that the saudis had damaged themselves. and now it's much better for them to stand back and let the saudis absorb the full blow of what they have done. then president rahani came back
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and they arrested the protesters but the saudis decided not to take that into account. and now iran is basically saying things like, well, we didn't wreck the syria talks. the saudis wrecked the syria talks. well, we are not doing this. they are the ones who have created this problem. they didn't have to execute this person. and they didn't have to break diplomatic relations. so very cleverly iran is positioning itself as the more reasonable regional actor and is putting the saudis in line of fire. >> has it also backfired on iran. because permitting the protests, the hard-liners have lost diplomatic relations with the uae, a major trading partner. and other gulf countries are siding with saudi arabia. and iran doing this to get out of nuclear sanctions and to welcome them back into the community of nations is also now potentially ostracized. >> and that's one of the ways
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the president rahadi is trying to go down the path avoiding confrontation. but there is a political fight in iran. you have a president that is trying to reach out to the u.s., normalize iran's behavior, moderate things and you have hard-liners trying to resist this trend. and the saudis played right into the middle of this. i think the only good news we have is that after the initial hard-line reaction, president rahani now has control of iran's respon response. this could be a rhetorical attack but potentially something much bigger continuing on. >> good luck for the syrian peace talks that require saudi arabia and iran sitting together at the table. >> absolutely. >> thank you very much.
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and more ahead when we come back on "andrea mitt cchell reports."
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that does it for this edition of "andrea mitchell reports." and former defense secretary leon pa nnetta will be joining tomorrow. "msnbc live" with thomas roberts is next.
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and about all your medical conditions. insulins, including toujeo®, in combination with tzds (thiazolidinediones) may cause serious side effects like heart failure that can lead to death, even if you've never had heart failure before. don't dilute or mix toujeo® with other insulins or solutions as it may not work as intended and you may lose blood sugar control, which could be serious. ask your doctor about toujeo®. hi, everybody. i'm thomas roberts. good to have you with me. there are new claims that north korea has tested a hydrogen bomb. we have u.s. officials now saying they are concerned about the claims but might not have sufficient evidence for days to see if these are true. last hour the united nations security council met with an emergency session. and moments ago we learned that u.s. defense secretary ash
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carter called his south korean counterpart. this will be the fourth nuclear test north korea launched since 2006. well, this is something we have been talking about for a long time. nobody talks to him other than dennis rodham. >> it is not confirmed but what is confirmed is he's a lunatic and he's dangerous and this administration has done nothing about it. >> this underscores the gravity of the threats we are facing right now and also the sheer folly of the obama/clinton foreign policy. we are facing a maniac who may potentially have a hydrogen bomb. >> so again we're waiting to hear from the white house briefing. but there we have the presidential candidates out on the campaign trail for the gop talking about what this means. i want to begin, though, with nbc chief pentagon correspondent jim miklaszewski. what are you hearing from defense officials about thisnd

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