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tv   Andrea Mitchell Reports  MSNBC  January 19, 2016 9:00am-10:01am PST

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right now on "andrea mitchell reports" all about iowa. 13 days until the first votes of 2016. who's got the momentum? >> when i began the campaign people said well, you're running against an inevitable candidate. today, the inevitable candidate does not look quite so inevitable as she did eight and a half months ago. >> could hillary lose iowa again? >> so please, come out and caucus two weeks from tonight.
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thank you all. chapter and verse. ted cruz and donald trump competing for the evangelical vote. but trump might have to go back to sunday school. >> we're going to protect christianity and i can say that. i don't have to be politically correct. i hear this is a major theme right here, but 2 corinthians 3:17. that's the whole ball game. and missing man. as four american families are reunited with returned prisoners, the family of a man missing since 2007 says u.s. negotiators have let them down. >> i was shocked. i was disappointed. i was extremely angry. and i felt betrayed. >> and my dad was the only one over there serving our country at the time of his capture, and what does that say about how the u.s. government's going to treat its citizens who are over there
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serving overseas? good day. i'm andrea mitchell in washington. two candidates, two states, two celebrity endorsements for donald trump today, in iowa first at the john wayne museum with the famed actor's daughter and tonight, possibly with another celebrity. is it sarah palin? while ted cruz is campaigning in new hampshire today. joining me, nbc's kerry sanders in iowa and hallie jackson in new hampshire. kerry, first to you. we just saw donald trump at the john wayne museum. he was asked whether it is sarah palin who is coming out with some great fanfare tonight and let's ask you what he had to say. >> reporter: well, he would not say whether it was sarah palin or not. he said there would be a tremendous announcement and it
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would be a surprise to everybody, but if the rumors are correct it's not going to be a surprise, because everybody's been talking about sarah palin. there have been flights tracked, a specific flight from anchorage to des moines. the route suggests it may be sarah palin. while donald trump would not specifically answer that question, i did ask him whether he feels endorsements themselves actually bring in votes, whether it's really that significant, and he said that he's seen endorsements that are valuable and some that aren't so it's not as if he was selling the idea that an endorsement in general can help you win or can cause you to lose. but clearly, any support that he gets and they are going to do it at 5:00 local time, 6:00 eastern time, we will see how much momentum this creates.
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he's in a state here where his campaign just said that most of those who will be going to caucuses for donald trump are the type of people who normally wouldn't be caught dead in a caucus. so there's a lot of people who will be first-time goers, people who didn't like the idea of being involved in politics and now he believes will show up and provide the support that he needs to leave iowa with victory. of course, we are 13 days away. a lot of things can happen. it's freezing out here. for iowans it's a normal zero degree day but come the day of the caucus you never know whether people will be motivated or not to literally leave their homes, go to the caucus sites and actually get involved or not, especially when it's new to so many, according to the trump campaign. >> of course, this is what donald trump had to say when asked whether or not it was sarah palin tonight. >> we have a tremendous event
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planned in a little while that. will be a very big event. i think you will be very impressed. i am a big fan of sarah palin but i'm not saying who it is. >> hallie jackson, sarah palin has been friendly with ted cruz and complimentary to donald trump. palin was somewhat discredited in the last campaign cycle but she is popular with tea party supporters and popular in iowa. what would the impact of ted cruz be if palin is coming out for trump? >> reporter: it's not something that you would think the cruz campaign would have hoped for. remember, sarah palin endorsed ted cruz during his senate run in 2012 and helped galvanize the tea party support around him. i spoke with a communications director for the cruz campaign this morning who tells me he himself would be, if this endorsement were to happen, deeply disappointed in palin because she is a champion for conservative causes and in his view, donald trump is simply not conservative enough. that said, here's the impact to the trump campaign if in fact, and as we have been stressing, we haven't confirmed it, but if
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sarah palin does endorse donald trump. number one, it helps him continue to drive earned media, something trump has been very good at this campaign cycle. two, it could help trump shore up his bona fides among that conservative grassroots community. palin might not have the same influence she had when she was vice presidential pick but she is still a major part of the republican establishment and still has a voice in some of those communities, particularly the south meaning it could help trump in places like south carolina and the s.e.c. primary states. cruz, meanwhile, this news of a potential endorsement threatening to overshadow cruz's bus tour here. you can see we are already filling up. we are quite awhile away from ted cruz actually appearing, at least an hour and change or so. we are inside because the wind chill outside is about five below zero, according to the weather channel, so we have cozied up in this restaurant here, where we expect to see ted cruz in just a little bit. folks already turning out. not all of them cruz supporters, by the way.
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i spoke with one undecided voter who saw donald trump yesterday in concord and is here to see ted cruz today. he says he will make his decision about who to vote for on february 9th. >> that's the new hampshire way, of course. sarah palin of course, the tea party favorite, someone who gives the establishment fits but she could be shaking things up again. thanks very much to both of you. now to breaking news at the supreme court. the supreme court will hear a challenge to president obama's right to use executive authority on immigration. the policy would allow adults here illegally to remain in the u.s. if they have children who are u.s. citizens or lawful permanent residents. nbc's justice correspondent pete williams outside the supreme court. pete, this is potentially one of the biggest cases they would be deciding this year. >> reporter: absolutely. by granting the case now, it comes in just under the wire, the cut-off to get in this term, so that means the case will be argued in april with a decision by june if the administration wins, then the government can start enforcing the law in the
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closing months of the obama presidency but if the government loses, it will be back in court for another couple of years. the court added a question today about lawyers for both sides have to answer whether this violates the constitution's requirement that a president take care that the law be faithfully executed. one of the things that the 26 states challenging the administration say that the government does violate the law. does it mean, is it a good or bad sign that they added this question? >> if you are the obama administration i think it's a bad sign. the lower courts didn't decide this question and supreme court frequently will not want to weigh in on an issue for the first time. so if they didn't want to decide this question, that gives them an out, basically, and there were four justice ths that deci not to rule on this question. you need five justices to decide the policy is unconstitutional but it's a bad sign overall. >> reporter: okay, decision by late june just in time to get it
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into the presidential campaign once again. >> pete williams, thank you so much from scotus blog. that's a very big deal indeed. joining me for our daily fix, robert costa and karen tumulty. you heard it there. the politics of immigration front and center for the general election campaign. robert, first to you. no matter what the court does, it puts both parties on notice. >> you have both republican front-runners, ted cruz and donald trump, seizing on the immigration issue as they try to rise in the republican primary. they will only tell their base likely that this is going to be an issue in a general election should they be the nominee. >> karen, what this looks like is at least from amy's interpretation, and she's the expert with pete williams, that five of the nine justices are asking them to rule on something that had not been ruled on by the lower courts and it's something that would potentially be very negative for the
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president's ability to use his executive authority here. >> and certainly, you know, the immigration executive order is sort of exhibit a in the republicans' argument that barack obama has taken the powers of the presidency further than the constitution allows. it seems like no matter how this case goes, it's going to inflame the bases of both parties, and you know, that is probably not a great thing to have landing in the middle of a presidential contest like this. >> to both of you, donald trump was at liberty university in lynchburg with the reverend falwell's son and quoting from scripture, he's reaching out to the evangelicals and quite a performance. robert, what was your assessment about that appearance yesterday? >> donald trump is not a natural fit with the evangelical audience and that of course came across at liberty university.
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at the same time he has been wooing them for months. he has a relationship with franklin graham, he's close with jerry falwell jr. at liberty university. his aides have been working behind the scenes for months just to sustain that relationship. so trump may not be someone who is your front-runner in a place like iowa but remained in contention in the top tier because he knows how to build relationships in spite of his limitations. >> and karen, let's play a little bit of trump talking about the bible after he's tried to quote from verse, he talked about the old testament. >> i wrote many bestsellers like "the art of the deal." who has read "the art of the deal" in this room? everybody. i always say, a deep, deep second to the bible, the bible is the best. the bible. the bible blows it away. there's nothing like the bible. >> the bible blows it away. what can i say, karen?
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>> well, again, as has been noted quite a few places, he mistook second corinthians and said 2 corinthians so you don't get the sense that donald trump is, in fact, a deep biblical scholar but the fact is that, you know, you talk to a lot of evangelicals, they are attracted to him. they don't expect him to necessarily be one of them but they feel like they understand what his beliefs are and they are comfortable with them. >> in fact, jerry falwell gave him a pass on his lifestyle and divorces and all. he was very embracing of donald trump. you might even have an endorsement coming up there soon. >> that's very likely, actually, speaking of sources close to the trump campaign. they think jerry falwell, jr. could perhaps at some point come into the campaign's ranks. what you are seeing now is ted cruz running a traditional campaign in terms of evangelical outreach and trump is untraditional, non-traditional,
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but at the same time, you see evangelicals when i'm on the campaign trail, they want strength, they want someone who seems to be a boss, rather than someone who hits every litmus test on their side. >> karen, just very briefly, we are going to wrap it up here because we are going to go to langua landstuhl, germany. amir hekmati. let's listen. >> -- and very humbled at everybody's support from the president to congress to my fellow marines and especially my family, who have really gone through so much throughout this time. i hope to give more details in the future. we are still -- this is all still surreal and we are just soaking it all in right now. but there is a lot that i have to say about the experience and what happened and i hope to bring that to the american people and the world. but i'm very thankful and god
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bless you all. really, i appreciate all your help. >> how does it feel to be back, amir? >> it feels great. i feel very lucky. like i said, i feel alive for the first time. it's like being born again and i just really feel proud to be an american. >> how bad was it in there? >> well, it wasn't good. i spoke to that before. i was luckily able to get some of my stances on my treatment from prison and i do want to talk about that in more detail and i will. >> what was your biggest surprise once you got out? >> you know, i was at a point where i had just sort of accepted the fact that i was going to be spending ten years in prison, so this was a surprise and i just feel extremely blessed to see my government do so much for me and the other americans. >> how much warning did you get that you were going to be -- >> nothing, really. they just came one morning and said pack your things. >> did you believe them? >> no.
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absolutely not. i did not relax until we were outside of iranian air space. but it's finally starting to become a reality for me. >> when do you hope to get home and what's the first thing you are going to do? >> that's a good question. i hope to get home soon. i really want to see my family and be back in the land of the free, back home. >> what did you say to your family when you saw them for the first time? >> i have only seen my brother-in-law and my sisters so far, and we were speechless for awhile. but i have said a lot and we still have a lot to talk about. >> hugs and tears? >> absolutely. very emotional moment. >> -- how many people were campaigning for you and how did you feel when you found out how big the movement was to get you back out and people keeping it in the public light? >> i don't know, and i still don't know. i just know that everyone from the president, the congress, even the iranian officials who
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are our captors senessentially e amazed and asked us why is it they're working so hard for you. i said well, that's america and they love their citizens. even the other iranian prisoners were really moved by all the support. but there's still a lot that i don't know and it's all coming to me slowly. our communications obviously for the first -- almost two and a half years, i had very little communication, if any, and when i did finally get access to a telephone, i wasn't able to get all the details because of the sensitive situation that i was in, but i just know that so many people had supported us and i'm extremely humbled and grateful. >> what was it like when you guys were waiting for that plane? because there was a big delay from when you were supposed to leave from when that flight actually took off, right? >> it was very nervewracking. i was worried that maybe the
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iranian side was going to make new demands in the last minute or that the deal wasn't going to work out so up until the last second, we were all worried and concerned. we were just put in a very small room and we had no telephone or access to any information. we kept being told that we are going to be taking off in two hours and two became six became ten, so a total of two and a half days was really nervewracking. when we finally got to see the swiss ambassador who really did a lot for us, and the swiss government, we just felt an immense pressure come off our shoulders and when we finally got on the plane, that's when we knew. >> did your marine training kick in during any of this time? >> i think so. i didn't want to let my fellow marines down and the reputation of the marine corps, so i tried my best to keep my head up and withstand all the pressures that were put upon me, some of which were very inhumane and unjust
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and then hearing about some of my fellow marines supporting me really gave me the strength to put up with over four years of some very difficult times that me and my family went through. i'm grateful. s ek semper fi to all the marines out there. >> how do you feel? >> right now i feel great. i have so much energy. like i said, i feel alive for the first time. all the people out there who have been in prison, especially those in prison unnjustly, i'm sure the other americans feel the same way. it takes such a toll on you. so to be out now with congressman kildee who has done so much and my family, it's just amazing. can't describe the feeling. >> how are your fellow americans who were on board? >> ecstatic. happy. anxious to get home. >> that moment -- >> nobody really believed it. everybody was just sort of in a state of disbelief.
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we still are. >> apparently there were tears as the flight left iranian air space. >> as soon as we got out of iranian air space, the champagne bottles were popped and the swiss are amazing, their hospitality, chocolates, veal was served and we were on a private jet that usually the foreign minister of switzerland or ambassadors use, so they really did an excellent job and we thank them for the hospitality. >> you seem so well, people will be stunned and delighted. >> i am well. and i'm only going to get better, i hope. this has really been an exceptional time for me. >> we are going to get some rest now. thank you. >> thank you, everybody. >> thank you for everything. thank you. >> joining me now is nbc's keir simmons. you heard him asking questions there. he's right next to amir hekmati. this is very emotional for the hekmati family, the marines, all the friends and supporters and even those of us who covered
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this story for four and a half years. >> reporter: that's right. he looked so well. what you have to remember about amir hekmati is that back in 2012, he was in prison in iran as far back as then, he was sentenced to death. so this is a man who has gone through an extraordinary trauma. he was put in solitary confinement. he was subjected to sleep deprivation. he hasn't even begun in that statement to talk about what he suffered from. i think we will hear more detail of that. he said himself that his marine training helped him to deal with that, but everyone watching is going to think how do you deal with that and wow. how well he looks. >> he looks healthy. he looks strong. he said it's -- he's beginning to process it. i see his brother-in-law with him. they worked tirelessly, they came to vienna when john kerry
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was negotiating the nuclear deal. they made sure that it was front and center and that the media, all of us covered the story of this man who was missing for four and a half years. do you know when he's going to be coming back to the states or do they have more treatment there in landstuhl or is it really a decision yet to be made by their family? >> reporter: it's up to him. that's the honest truth. he isn't in the military anymore. he's a civilian. he's allowed to leave here at any time. being here, though, i think has given him a chance to take a breath because you know, he's just come out here and appeared on television. there will be a lot of attention, you can bet, when he heads back there to the states. i suspect looking at how he is, it may not be too long before he does that. but just a chance to breathe, to see his family here i think will have been incredibly useful.
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there are two others inside the base here, too, by the way. jason rezaian, who i'm told last night over dinner was asking about sports, asking about baseball, and his favorite basketball team. so you know, this is pretty impressive when you think that these are men who have left iranian prison, a notorious iranian prison just this past weekend and now they seem to be both physically and spiritually in pretty good shape. that said, let's be honest, trying to recover from this is a process that goes beyond just a few days. it's going to take months. it's going to even take years. one of the congressmen who has been here to talk to these guys said to me today america needs to be ready to welcome these guys home and to help them with the recovery that they are going
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to face as they kind of reintegrate, if you like, into their ordinary lives. >> that's dan kildee of course from flint, michigan, his congressman who has been on this case every step of the way. you have to also thank the swiss, as he did, not justify for the chocolate and the veal and the champagne when they cleared air space on that foreign minister's jet, but the swiss government has represented american interests with all these prisoners going back to 1979 because we have no representation, no diplomatic relations, and they are invaluable sources of support to these prisoners. many people we know here who have been released from the prison whose only contact was that swiss ambassador. thank you so much for your reporting there. appreciate it. of course, there is the man left behind. former fbi agent robert levinson went missing on an iranian island in march of 2007. he was not one of the americans released from iran and his family is left wondering.
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i'm joined by robert levinson's son, daniel. daniel, we didn't plan it this way for amir hekmati to be coming out at that moment. that was not expected and i didn't mean to cause you any more pain. this must make it all the more difficult not to know where your father is. >> don't get me wrong. we are very happy for these families. but we wish we were among them right now. we wish we were there with them celebrating and we're not. my dad's been held over there for almost nine years. all these nice words, it's the celebration that's really nice to hear and we are so happy. i sat next to amir's sister testifying before congress last summer, pushing for this very moment, and we're not part of it. we're the ones left behind. i'm here today to remind everybody that through all these celebrations and the next few days, you are going to see these people happy and we are happy for them, but we are devastated because he's not there. he's not there with us. we're not in germany right now welcoming him home.
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we are not celebrating with swiss chocolate and veal and things like that. we are just devastated. we are not getting any answers, we are not hearing from our government. we have been abandoned. it's just the worst feeling in the world. i wouldn't wish this upon anyone. my father is over there suffering. he's continued to suffer for over four years longer than amir. he was there for four and a half years and we were talking about how difficult this must have been. my dad has been there for almost nine years. he was over there serving his country. he has given over 30 years of his life to this country. he's been abandoned, left behind on the battlefield, and this is just -- should be unacceptable to the american people. >> dan, we have talked about this before. tell me what to the best of your knowledge your father was doing. he worked for the fbi before. was he a private citizen? was he working for the government for some part of the u.s. government? what do you think he was doing on kish island? >> he had been tasked with
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writing reports and he had been providing information and he was meeting with a man on the iranian island of kish where you don't need a visa. there is supposed to be a 24-hour trip to meet with this guy. all signs point to he was -- he checked out of his hotel and was approached by iranian security forces who brought him in for questioning and never released him. iranian state tv even reported that in april 2007. they said he was in the hands of iranian security forces and they said he would be released in a matter of days. thousands and thousands of days later, he has not been released and our government is not doing enough to get him released. it's not enough to say what president obama and secretary kerry have been saying that they are going to be cooperating with iran to help locate him, because they know, iran knows exactly where he is. the u.s. government knows that iran knows exactly where he is because they were the ones who picked him up. just talking about cooperation,
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yes, we need them to cooperate. we need both sides to come together and resolve this. but we need maximum effort and my family is providing maximum effort, we are not going to go away, we are not going to stop. we can only hope the u.s. government is going to do the same. we haven't had those reassurances in days now. we barely hear from the government these days. we haven't heard from them since the news broke. that took hours for them to call us and they only called us to apologize we hadn't heard first. we haven't heard anything since. we were requesting a meeting with president obama. we are requesting a meeting with secretary kerry and other administration officials because we need to find out what's next. what are they going to do next? how are we going to be the ones to celebrate next? we need to be over there with our father in germany to help him recuperate, help get him home and bring him back to his normal life. >> dan, how did you find out that the others were being released? >> well, my mom woke up, my sister called her to let her know that the others had been released. we found out on tv just like
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everybody else. i actually had my phone off. i had been sleeping. i found out later than everybody else. that was just a devastating moment. my heart sunk. i was shaking for days. i couldn't -- i have been numb since. >> your mother found out from television news reports? no one from the u.s. government gave you any kind of advance notice? >> she had to reach out to them to hear from them. she is very brief with her e-mails and i can tell in just the tone of her e-mails saying you left him behind again with exclamation points. again, the fact she had to say again that he was left behind, that is what's been devastating. on top of the fact that he wasn't there. the treatment we have gotten from the government, we have gotten nothing. we had to find out fofor oursel. they apologized because apparently the iranian government leaked it before it was supposed to be out there in the press. that's unacceptable to us. >> the administration set up a new coordinator to work with
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families of hostages after complaints from james foley's family and other families of the isis hostages as well. have you ever had your mom, christine levinson, has she ever had contact with that coordinator? >> no. no. we have been in touch with the fbi. i want to say that we are very appreciative, there are people working on this day to day and they are dedicating, losing sleep, they are working a lot on it and we appreciate that. but the highest levels is where this is going to get resolved and we just don't have those assurances. we can't be guaranteed they are doing the same thing. we are not getting -- that same thing that this committee, the project they were talking about to work with hostages, are the same reasons they made this is the same -- we are still experiencing the same problems that led to this -- them to create this group. >> and after that video, the proof of life video, have you any further information as to where your father might be?
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any information from other prisoners? any intelligence? >> no. we got pictures six months after this video but that was almost five years ago now. the officials we speak with have told us that they have no evidence to suggest that he is not alive. the iranian government has every interest to keep him alive. but we haven't heard anything since and we are desperate for any kind of proof of life. >> dan, again, i'm so sorry for what you are going through. we have met and talked over the years and your mom as well, and we just wish you all the best. >> thank you for keeping this in the news. we just don't want america and the rest of the world to forget about my dad with all these celebrations. he's still out there. >> thank you. >> thank you. joining me now, state department spokesman john kirby. what can you tell us about efforts on behalf of robert levinson and why he was not part of these negotiations? >> well, first, let me just
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express our deepest sympathies for the levinson family. they are very much foremost in our minds as they have been for so very long. we know that this was incredibly painful and difficult for them and it obviously still is. you can't listen to mr. levinson there without getting thick in the throat. a son just wanting to be back with his father. we understand that. and we are going to continue to work just as hard going forward to try to ascertain the whereabouts of mr. levinson and bring him home where he belongs. that's a conversation that secretary kerry has had with his counterparts in iran every single opportunity that they have discussed anything. on the sidelines, they always managed to talk about it, always made the effort to talk about our american citizens in iran and in particular, the whereabouts of mr. levinson. we don't have a lot of clarity right now on his whereabouts or his condition, but i can assure you and i can assure the levinson family that we are
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going to continue to work at it very, very hard. now that we have this channel opened up, we don't have as you pointed out in a previous segment, we don't have diplomatic relations with iran but we do now have a channel for dialogue. that opened up because of the iran deal. we use that channel to get those ten sailors home very very quickly. we used that channel to work the release of these american citizens that are now at landstuhl. we will continue to use that channel. it's good that we have it now, because we can maybe get a little bit more traction here on trying to find out what happened to mr. levinson and to bring him home. >> when brett mcgurke, the negotiator in this back secret channel, when he handed a list to the iranians and there was a series of back and forth over which iranians were going to be released, was robert levinson on that list? >> mr. levinson has always been on the list of american citizens that we wanted to see returned home to their families and
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again, there hasn't been a conversation that we have had that didn't include trying to get more information about mr. levinson. now, the iranians have said repeatedly that they don't know. it doesn't mean we are not going to keep pressing for more information or keep pushing on that to get more information so that we can get the kind of clarity that we need. >> why did christine levinson find out about this from television news reports, about the release of the others? >> unfortunately, so many other people found out about it through press reports because the iranians leaked the information early, too early for us to have made the phone calls and notifications that we wanted to make. believe me, nobody is happy about the way that went down. that's not the way that we wanted it to happen. we certainly had every intention of making that notification so that none of the families had to find out what was going on through media reporting. but the leaks happened and it got ahead of us and again, it's regrettable but it certainly wasn't our intention and
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certainly wasn't any part of the plan. >> i know you have a commitment to any american citizen held unjustly but is there a special commitment that the government should have to robert levinson, who was there on behalf of the u.s. government? >> all americans that are unjustly detained overseas matter to us. all of them matter equally. but yes, look, he was under contract to a government agency. we know that, and certainly we are going to continue to press for information about him, but all americans that are unjustly detained matter to us, no matter who they are working for and no matter what occupation they might have. we want to get information about him. we are going to continue to press it. i can assure you that going forward, every conversation that secretary kerry will have with foreign minister zarif and i know there will be more as we try to work through a political process in syria, every
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conversation, he will raise the issue and the case of mr. levinson. we will not, we will not stop. we will not slow down. we will not at all curtail an effort to try to bring him home to his family. >> amir hekmati, the former marine who came out and spoke on camera for the first time just within the last half hour, let me play a little of that for you. >> i feel very lucky. like i said, i feel alive for the first time. it's like being born again and i just really feel proud to be an american. i just know that everyone from the president, the congress, even the iranian officials who were our captors essentially were amazed and had asked us why is it that they are working so hard for you, and i just said well, that's america and they love their citizens. >> do you know when amir hekmati and jason rezaian and the others
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are going to be coming home? >> no, i don't. frankly, those are decisions they have to make, them and their families. when they're ready in consultations i'm sure with the medical professionals there at landstuhl, they will come home. but those are decisions that all of them have to make and they have to make them individually. as we know, the reintegration process, we learned certainly through other cases in the past, it's individual and it can go as fast or as slow as the individual is ready to make it. >> are they likely to meet with secretary kerry or the president or other officials? >> i don't want to get ahead of schedule right now. i think our focus, secretary kerry's focus is making sure they get the care that they need, that they get time to reunite with their families and to work through this release and their ordeal individually, and we will see when they get home. i don't want to get ahead of any schedule items. but again, our focus right now is on their health and their well-being and their eventual return to the united states. >> john kirby, thank you very
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much. thanks for coming on today. >> thank you. coming up, more on politics. after the break, the front-runners of both parties crisscross iowa and new hampshire today. when my doctor told me i have age-related macular degeneration, amd we came up with a plan to help reduce my risk of progression. and everywhere i look... i'm reminded to stick to my plan. including preservision areds 2. my doctor said preservision areds 2 has the exact nutrient formula that the national eye institute recommends to help reduce the risk of progression of moderate to advanced amd... after 15 years of clinical studies. preservision areds 2. because my eyes are everything.
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stuffy or runny nose, sore throat, and headache. for help lowering your blood sugar talk to your doctor about januvia. some in the republican establishment are not happy with the two front-runners that's detailed in the "washington post" this morning by former george w. bush speech writer michael gerson saying in part for republicans the only good outcome of trump versus cruz is for both to lose. the future of the party as the carrier of a humane, inclusive conservetism now includes on some viable choice beyond them. meanwhile, bernie sanders is barnstorming through iowa, hoping to deal a significant blow to the clinton campaign on february 1st. >> anyone who tells you well, i have read this, well, i like bernie's ideas, seems like a nice guy, he can't win. that really is not true.
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if you want somebody who is going to beat donald trump, who is going to beat the other republicans, i think bernie sanders is that candidate. >> joining me is michael gerson, "the washington post" editorial columnist, former speech writer for george w. bush and msnbc political reporter alex seitz-wald. welcome, both. michael, why not cruz or trump? other people are going through stages of grief to acceptance because they think that actually trump could be a value jabl crossover candidate in a general election picking up support from democrats and independents. >> there are some people making that calculation but the reality here as i write today is that trump would represent a fundamental redefinition of the republican party, being an anti-immigrant party, blowing up the global trade order to putting an ethno-nationalist
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message at the center of the republican party. there are people who cannot accept that. people are writing they could not vote for trump that are in the republican coalition. he represents something different, an aberration, a serious aberration. i think a lot of people are wondering whether, if this happens, what's the effect. >> what's your feeling about all the buzz today about the possibility that sarah palin is going to be endorsing, we don't know that, he refused to confirm it, but sarah palin endorsing trump over cruz. she's been friendly and admiring of both. >> it would be the triumph of reality television. it would be a huge event. but neither are a serious, you know, intellectual force when it comes to republican ideology. i don't think that it would mean that much except in that realm of reality television. >> alex, we have been on the road together quite a bit. how seriously concerned is the clinton campaign about the
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possibility that this will be a longer than anticipated primary because of bernie sanders' strength, as he puts it, that inevitable candidate ain't so inevitable any longer. >> i think this is definitely a new reality, a new concern that they are having. they are no longer talking about when they win iowa or when they do well or win new hampshire. they are talking about yeah, we could lose those states but we will win in march, we will win in april. if it comes to that. i still think we are talking about a question of when, not if hillary clinton wins the democratic nomination. it all comes down to iowa. if he wins there, the repeat of 2008, he has bought himself a ticket deeper into march, possibly into april. that territory, much better for clinton. sanders, just the new monmouth poll, he's down 50 points among black and latino voters. once you get beyond the overwhelmingly white states of iowa and new hampshire, much tougher for him to actually compete. she has the larger organization, she can run more advertising, but i think they are right to be
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prepared that this could go longer than they thought. >> well, for one thing, he had a huge crowd in mobile, alabama last night. heavily minority crowd, a southern crowd, a state that no one would have expected him to attract thousands and thousands of people to. very energetic. and let me show you part of my interview with the south carolina democratic chair who was pointing out that he has a better fledgeling organization, not what she has on the ground in south carolina, but that he has made some inroads. >> if he has a blowout in iowa, won't that impact south carolina votes? >> the polls in south carolina in december of 2008 had secretary clinton, then senator clinton, leading barack obama by significant margins but what happened was iowa. i think the secretary has a built-in advantage. long history between her and her husband of the african-american community and loyalty to barack
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obama which pays tremendous dividends here in this state. >> that said, he also told me that his top assistant has been hired away by bernie sanders, jim clyburn, who mentioned this party chair, both from orangeburg, south carolina, says he was quite surprised when he returned after the state of the union to find just how well organized bernie sanders is in south carolina. >> i think bernie sanders' campaign has been spending a lot of money in south carolina. they are very smart to aggressively make inroads into the african-american community. huge difference between 2008 and 2016. when barack obama proved he could win whites in iowa it was a signal that was okay to support him, he could win the national election. you saw a massive realignment. talking about one in five voters in the democratic party. for bernie sanders, yes, he might get a second look, yes, he might pick off a few voters or make a bit of a change but you won't see, we don't have any evidence to believe, that kind of big realignment among
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minorities the same way you saw in 2008. >> but she does have some concerns among millenial voters, younger voters, if you look at the polls, including millenial women voters which trifts iis interesting. one of these polls has her 19 points behind sanders. she also has an ethics concern over her head. the director of the fbi may announce something and there are unknowns, things she doesn't control in this race that could have an important role. >> what about some renewed strength on the part of jeb bush? people have not been paying attention to him. he's had a devastating run partly because of the way trump has trivialized him and patronized him and effectively undercut him, but he's now beginning to inch up in new hampshire, a stronger third. >> good numbers in south carolina today. so this is the problem. donald trump has solidified a blue collar populist vote. ted cruz solidified sort of a hard tea party vote. but then this third lane of the
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republican establishment or mainstream or whatever you want to call it has four good candidates running. they are actually pretty strong candidates. you look at them on the stump, they are doing really well. that has to resolve in order to challenge the other two lanes. you know, rubio i think has a real shot at that. and bush does and christie has a good shot in new hampshire. so there's a traffic jam in that lane and it's not to the benefit of the mainstream republican. >> in fact, what you see when you look at chris christie, if chris christie comes out of new hampshire, then they head south and are still dividing up a narrow pie. >> i think christie could play a spoiler role. i think a lot of people would h hope that maybe rubio, maybe jeb would show real strength in new hampshire and begin to solidify things early. i'm not sure that's going to happen given the way the states
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play out. >> thank you both so much. coming up, the crisis in flint, michigan. governor rick snyder will deliver his state of the state speech tonight amidst calls for his resignation. we will have a live report next. >> when the children of majority black flint, michigan have been drinking and bathing in lead poisoned water for more than a year, making sure all americans have clean air and water isn't just a health issue. it's a civil rights issue. ♪ ♪ why fit in when you were born to stand out. the 2016 nissan altima has arrived.
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i'm optimistic but i'm also terrified that i had to pay a high rate of -- for my water to poison my children. it's just a nightmare. we're concerned constantly. it's a constant battle, seems like the baby wants to run straight for the water. >> michigan governor rick snyder
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will deliver his state of the state address tonight, where he's going to have to focus on 100,000 people in flint, michigan still without water because of a poisonous lead contamination. flint residents and activists are expected to protest outside the state capitol. in a national journal interview, the governor was asked if it was unfair to call flint crisis his katrina. his answer, no. it's a disaster. joining me now from lancing, michigan, where the governor will make that speech, msnbc's tony dicopola. tony, it's inconceivable that this was done by the government to save some money. what about their responsibility for the water that poisoned those children and that is damage that is not -- that cannot be remediated. >> reporter: that's exactly the question protesters are going to look to have answered tonight. the national journal interview was very, very interesting because of that katrina moment that you brought up. katrina of course, major
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hurricane in new orleans. president bush faced criticism for not responding sooner to the crisis there and it was alleged that he didn't respond sooner because it's an african-american town, it's a poorer town and flint, same sort of demographics. strong african-american community and 40% of those 100,000 people there are in poverty. when hillary clinton at the nbc debate on sunday was given the opportunity to comment on that, she made that point very strongly. she said i don't believe that this would have happened in a rich white suburb of detroit. so that is what governor snyder will somehow have to address and reassure people tonight that he's a governor not just of detroit people or ann arbor people but of all people regardless of color and how much cash they have in their bank account. >> there were plenty of warnings certainly from whistleblowers from the doctor who sent warnings about the water. this was all partly because flint was under bankruptcy management, local officials did not have control of the budget?
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>> reporter: that's right. flint has faced tremendous financial woes, it lost about half its population in recent years so the tax base has gone down. they have to pay their bills but clearly, you don't want to save money by sacrificing people's health. so the question here is almost two years have gone by since the residents of flint began to complain about the color and taste and smell of the water, yet only last week, only in early january, did the governor finally declare a state of emergency and it's been three months since it was confirmed that lead was in the water and that children in flint showed elevated levels three months before state of emergency. people want to understand what took so long. what did you know, mr. governor and when did you know it. that's the question on everybody's mind. >> another factor here is that lake huron is right nearby with wonderful water that is clear and untapped and they have a water source there. it's not that they are without water. do you know what the mayor who is here for the conference of mayors here in washington, do
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you know what the mayor is trying to get? is she trying to get help from the epa? >> reporter: she is meeting with what her staff describes as top white house officials, and we can presume that they are going to discuss how flint is going to come up with the money necessary to replace the pipes. the pipes have lead in them, because of the corrosive water in the flint river that passed through it this past year, that lead has leached out. so even when clean water comes through it, even if the lake huron water comes through it, the water still has lead in it. that's why it's not drinkable today. but it will cost as much as $1.5 billion to replace all that piping and those are funds that flint does not have at the moment. >> tony, finally, with the governor, i know there have been calls, bernie sanders calling in our debate for him to resign. he's not going to resign. there's no sign of that. what do you expect in his speech tonight? >> reporter: well, you say there's no sign that he's going to resign. i don't think he's going to resign tonight. he's going to make promises that the mistakes of the past will
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not be repeated and he's the guy who is going to be responsible for solving the problem that his administration helped create. that's going to be the pitch. but i don't know that he's going to necessarily survive this long term. we have to remember there are multiple investigations going on simultaneous to this political theater we are going to see tonight. there is an attorney general investigation, there's a state attorney general investigation. so whatever he says is going to be checked against those results. >> tony, thank you very much. that does it for this edition of "andrea mitchell reports." follow us online on facebook and on twitter. "msnbc live" with thomas roberts is next. i think it landed last tuesday. one second it's there. then, woosh, it's gone. i swear i saw it swallow seven people. seven. i just wish one of those people could have been mrs. johnson. [dog bark] trust me, we're dealing with a higher intelligence here. ♪ the all-new audi q7 is here.
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like i said, i feel alive for the first time. it's like being born again and i just really feel proud to be an american. >> amazing to hear from him and you will hear much more from amir hekmati in just a few minutes. we see his brother-in-law standing by his side there. they never gave up on getting him out of iran's clutches. i'm thomas roberts. good to have you with me today. first up on this super tuesday, the race for 2016 and iowa, iowa, iowa. all about location, right? we are now less than two weeks out of the caucuses in the hawkeye state this hour. we have senator bernie sanders who will campaign in carroll at any minute and he's looking to gain more ground in the fight for the democratic nomination. the senator making his case earlier today. >> from the bottom of my heart, above and beyond ideas, if you want somebody who is going to beat donald trump, who is going to beat the other republicans, i think bernie sanders is that candidate. >> speaking of which, donald trump, he knows a thing or

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