tv MSNBC Live MSNBC July 15, 2016 1:00pm-2:01pm PDT
fbi, thanks for your perspective. that's going to do it from me this hour from cheefleveland. i'm kate snow. steve kornacki picks things up now. >> good afternoon. i'm steve kornacki live here in new york. france still reeling at this hour. less than 24 hours since that deadly terror attack that killed scores of people. >> doesn't seem safe anymore in france. nice is not a big city and it does not attract that much attention. so if this can be target, anywhere can be a target. >> we're learning a lot more today. nbc's lester holt is on the ground in nice, france. he's going to join us with the latest in a second. also, president obama just wrapping up remarks on what happened in france, sending a message of solidarity. >> today our hearts are with the
people of france and with all the innocent men, women and so many children who were hurt or killed in this sickening attack. >> more from the president's remarks coming up. and also donald trump, he canceled what had been an 11:00 a.m. scheduled announcement of his vice presidential pick today but then turned around and he unveiled it on twitter anyway. >> my family and i couldn't be more honored. the opportunity to run with and serve with the next president of the united states. >> mike pence of indiana is the pick. but nbc news reporting that trump tried to backtrack from that choice late last night. very unusual situation. we'll have all the details on that ahead. but we begin with our top story, terror in nice. the death toll continuing to climb in france's third terror attack in just the last 19 months. at least 84 now confirmed dead
in this one. that includes two americans. also more than 200 injured. 52 of them critically. we are starting to learn details about the suspect, muhammad lahouaiej bouhlel. he was a delivery man of tunisian descent. he has no known ties to any terrorist organizations. french media is reporting he started to become depressed and aggressive following the break down of his marriage. french officials say he was even set to serve 16 months in prison for a violent outburst in january. his ex-wife being questioned by police. nbc's lester holt is standing by in nice. what is the latest on the ground there? >> well, steve, the french government, french government has called up about 26,000 reservists, or will be, to backfill the police and military
here who have been on a heightened state of alert for months. this is the third major terror attack against france in the last 18 months. and it has been under a state of emergency. the country will observe three days of mourning beginning tomorrow, although that's an official period of mourning. that mourning is in all practicality happening right now. hard to comprehend what happened here on this promenade. if you move this direction, a wide sidewalk area. the promenade itself, and then a beach overlooking the mediterranean. all this filled with people watching fireworks last night. that's when it happened. that truck barrelled down this highway and up on the sidewalk about a mile or so. purposely -- video shows purposely picking out groups of people and leaving this area, just a scene of utter carnage. even today, people are still trying to connect with loved ones and find the fate of those who were here. a mass panic. people running down the streets
in all direction to escape. in some cases what they didn't even know what was taking place. one american doctor was checking his e-mail here at the end of the fireworks display. the crowd started running toward him. he ran with them. the back of his mind, he recalled thinking earlier when he came here. would this be a likely target for terror? he thought, no. proven wrong. the truck that did all this damage stopped just a short distance from where we are and where he was. so close. that's where the vehicle was met by police who opened fire, killing mr. bouhlel. the search is to find out what his motivation may have been. those if his tunisian hometown say he showed no signs of being radicalized. they're trying to piece together his movements, what drove him to this. this city, like many other major cities has over 1,000 security cameras. they'll be going through those to try and trace his path here.
and how he somehow ended up in this area with so many people crowded and so many people that's could have been hit and, in fact, were. >> you mentioned the third attack in france over the last 18 months. the fourth in europe in that same time period. you've been covering the aftermaths of all of these. i wonder if you can talk about your own experiences being there, seeing this scene on the ground and the aftermath of an attack like this. what do you see? what do you experience there that doesn't necessarily come through in the pictures we're seeing? >> well, let me tell you this and acknowledge, i understand we have a horrible satellite delay. a moment ago, i walked just 20 yards from where we are, and there is what i've come to expect to see. a sea of flowers and candles. people taking pictures and leaving memorials and tributes. and i just shook my head
thinking, how many times have i seen this over the last 18 months. i was in paris for the charlie hebdo attack and the supermarket attack and the bataclan and theater attacks and the train station and airport and now this. this is a country that is hurting. they've been in this perpetual state of emergency. their borders have been tightened. they know and have long known they are a target. there's this sense of, do we accept this as the new normal or stand tall and say there's nothing normal about this. but no one, of course, seems to have answers. it's very sad. very familiar. you come to these things and you almost know, exactly. where are the flowers? where are the candles? and there they are, steve. >> lester holt in nice. you can catch more from lester holt and the team tonight reporting from nice on "nbc nightly news." meanwhile, president obama we showed you a clip of this a minute ago. he spoke earlier this afternoon and addressed the situation in
france. reiterating a message of global unity as he reflected on what has been a bloody year for nations across the world. >> a lot of nations represented here today have been impacted this year and in previous years. in recent weeks we've seen heinous attacks inspired or directed by isil here in the united states, in turkey in iraq, bangladesh and saudi arabia. these terrorists are targeting and killing innocent people of all backgrounds and all faiths, including muslims. i know i speak for all of us when i say that these individuals and these networks are an affront to all of our humanity. >> president obama earlier today. nbc's ron allen standing by now at the white house. we heard the words from the president there. what are we learning now about the response from the white house to this? what do we know so far? >> well, what we know is that in
the past 24 hours, since this attack happened, there's been a lot of activity between the secretary of defense, secretary of homeland security, the counterterrorism director here and law enforcement in the united states and their counterparts in france. these are well-established relationships that have been deepening and deepening with each attack that's gone on during the past 18 months or so since the first attack in paris. the charlie hebdo attack some time ago. so they are trying to share information. the tip of the sphere of fighting terrorism to some extent is intelligence, sharing information. the united states is also offering the french expertise in policing matters and border control. those kinds of things that can help them stop the flow of foreign fighters into france, into isis-controlled territories which is a big factor in all of this. of course, in this case, we don't yet know if this individual had any ties to any bigger group or whether he was just inspired by that kind of ideology or just what the cause
of this is. nonetheless, here's some of what president obama had to say about defeating terrorism in the world. >> in contrast to these terrorists who only know how to kill and destroy, we're going to win this fight by building. by never giving up on diplomacy to end the syrian civil war. by working with partners around the world, including muslim communities to push back against hateful ideologies that twist and distort islam. a religion that teaches peace and justice and compassion. we will defeat these ideologies by offering a better vision of development and economic progress. so people, especially young people, have more hope and opportunity and are less susceptible to extremism and violence in the first place. and we will continue to promote political opportunity and democracy so citizens have a say in their future. >> the president continuing to emphasize this is a war, a fight
against terrorism on many fronts. he also noted islam and talked a lot about the muslim community and took exception to the remarks made by newt gunning ri -- gingrich and suggesting there should be a test of the faith of some and deporting those who believe in sharia law. the president calling that repugnant and upset by that rhetoric that he and others suggest plays into the terrorists' hands. >> ron allen at the white house. thanks for that. for more now, going to turn to malcolm nance. thanks for joining us. i'm curious just what you make of this when you look at what's out there right now. no group. isis, nobody else claiming credit at this point. people back in tunisia where this guy is from originally saying they saw no signs of radicalization. apparently he'd gotten into some issues in the last few months of his life. might have been awaiting a jail term. what are some of the possibilities in your mind?
>> one, that this individual in the most likely one at this point, unless french intelligence comes up with a link to a group, is this was a self-inspired individual. this person was radicalized either through the internet or communicating with somebody who has gotten him to the point where he has disenfranchised himself from his family, estranged from his wife. also mental illness issues. those are the type of people that isis looks for and they radicalize them either watching videos or just making small contact with them and that person decides on the type of attack that they do. which, in this case, was driving a vehicle. a type of vehicle he was comfortable in driving. >> the key in terms of figure, out motivation. it will be the digital search. what was on the guy's computer, phone. >> what was his internet searching in life? who are the type of people he was in contact with? he had a basic petty criminal
background. there are actually absence of radicalization signs which indicate radicalization if that sounds route. that's because when you detach from your family, that's what the isis people call going on -- mentally emigrating away from the land of the unbelievers. if he was socially active, working with -- having contact with his wife, his family and suddenly disappeared off the set, right there, that's an example of where those people have self-radicalized. on the other hand, he could have been enabled. and that means he wasn't a member of an isis sell. he was given the resources and given a map or given help with planning to carry out an attack. that would make him -- >> would you expect if that were the case, if he'd been given some kind of help, would you expect someone would be claiming credit? >> as we've learned that isis doesn't necessarily, or an al qaeda don't necessarily take claim right away. what they like to do is to let
the fear sink in for a period of time. and then they'll come out with an official video. now it's quite possible that you may see a video or statement of loyalty coming from him to either al qaeda the arannian peninsula or to isis itself. and french intelligence will be the first to find out. believe me. >> any room for the possibility that, as we say, the guy was having problems in his personal life. might have been face something kind of jail term. it's not somebody with any kind of bigger motivation, it's just somebody whose life was out of control and took it out on everybody? >> but we've seen examples of that. san bernardino may have been a hybrid act of terrorism/workplace violence. this orlando attacker, there are indicators he has psycho sexual problem going on in his mind and acted out and then claimed it was isis. we don't know yet. we'll have to wait for the evidence to come in. >> sometimes it's not as neat and simple as it was this or it
was not that. malcolm nance, thanks for the time. we're going to continue to follow this breaking news story throughout the hour, throughout the day on msnbc, including much more about the victims of this latest attack. and among them, a father from texas and his son. they were in france on a family vacation. plus, in the wake of nice, donald trump delays the big appearance, the grand debut of his vice presidential pick. instead, he puts a tweet out and says mike pence is his choice for the number two slot. ahead, new reports that as late as last night, trump was still having second thoughts about this pick. (friend) wish we could start it from the beginning. (jon bon jovi) with directv, you can. you see, we've got the power to turn back time let's start over, let's rewind and let's go back and not quit the gym and have a chance to say goodbye to grampy tim oh, that's the power to turn back time.
(vo) get the ultimate all-included bundle. call 1-800-directv. staying in rhythm, it's how i try to live, how i stay active. and to keep up this pace, i need the right nutrition. so i drink boost®. boost® complete nutritional drink has 26 essential vitamins and minerals, including calcium and vitamin d to support strong bones, and 10 grams of protein to help maintain muscle. in three delicious flavors. i'm not about to swim in the slow lane. stay strong. stay active with boost®.
the search for relief often leads... here... here... or here. today, there's a new option. introducing drug-free aleve direct therapy. a tens device with high intensity power that uses technology once only available in doctors' offices. its wireless remote lets you control the intensity. and helps you get back to things like... this... this... or this. and back to being yourself. introducing new aleve
direct therapy. find yours in the pain relief aisle.
how do you feel today? >> very excited. very humbled. and very grateful. >> what's your message now that you've withdrawn from the governor's race? >> we love indiana. we love our country, and my family and i couldn't be more honored to have the opportunity to run with and serve with the next president of the united states. >> there you have it. the first public comments just hours ago from mike pence after donald trump announced on twitter that pence will be his running mate this year. trump canceling a morning press conference where he had been scheduled to announce that pick due to the tragedy in nice. instead, he took to twitter. the reason for the urgency to make an announcement anyway, pence was up against a strict deadline at noon today to withdraw from his re-election campaign for governor in indiana. he needed some kind of official public word from trump to feel safe in doing that apparently.
if trump was nervous, there may have been good reason for that. get this. pence's selection as trump's vp was apparently in jeopardy all the way through last night into the early hours of this morning with trump himself having second thoughts about picking him. this is what sources are telling nbc news. katy tur will have details just ahead. also other news today in politics, democratic national convention planners unveiling the speakers schedule for their convention. that's going to come up in two weeks in philadelphia. not surprisingly, president obama, vice president biden, former president bill clinton. also chelsea clinton. they will be some of the headline speakers at the philadelphia convention that will nominate hillary clinton for president. after taking the stage with virginia senator tim kaine yesterday, clinton sitting down with another rumored vp pick today, massachusetts senator elizabeth warren talk with hillary clinton today.
sources telling nbc news the two met for an hour. clinton was having meetings all day today regarding her search for a running mate. lots of veepstakes news. today the time running out for hillary clinton as it just did for donald trump. katy tur at trump tower following what will be the trump/pence ticket. i understand you just talked to paul manafort, one of trump's top aides there. what is he telling you? >> all this source information that donald trump was making decisions at the very last minute trying to change his mind up until midnight last night. paul manafort came outside and officially tried to tamp down on those rumors. tamp down the idea that there was drama behind the scenes of this pick. telling me that he and governor pence -- that donald trump and governor pence get along quite well. they're excited to move forward and this was the plan all along. out of respect for the victims of the terror attack in france, that's the reason it was officially delayed.
no other reason. not because of doubt. take a listen to how paul manafort tried to push back on those rumors. >> the only cause yesterday were rescheduling things that were scheduled. >> when did he decide to governor pence? >> that's for him to say but in the last couple of days. >> when governor pence got on a plane and came to new york, he knew he was going to be the nominee? >> i don't think he was here for shopping. >> and donald trump knew that he was going to officially pick him? >> yes, i think that's it. >> so why did he say last night he was down to three still. >> that's because of the process. that's where he was going. n he wasn't ready to announce in advance of today that he had made a decision. >> all the news was leaking. was he frustrated by it? >> people were making educated guesses, but nobody knew. the pick was governor pence. >> yeah, but a lot of people, who they were sourcing were just
wrong. it's the where they were coming from. they were making educated guesses and those who said pence were correct. >> the sources were guessing? >> nobody knew who he was going to select other than him, the governor and one or two people. i being one of them, i wasn't one of them. >> when was it official? >> it was official today when he announced it. >> paul manafort refusing to say when he made that decision but that mike pence didn't come out here just for shopping but to be donald trump's running mate. i can tell you that the final day of this felt like the final episode of "the apprentice" all drama and chaos and worry behind the scenes that donald trump would change his mind at the last second. every source i spoke to close to the candidate and also within the campaign and outside of the campaign working with the campaign, told me that donald trump is unpredictable. that he can change his mind. even though they knew governor
pence was the decision, they all worried, or at least gave the caution that donald trump could do anything. don't trust it until the words physically come out of his mouth. still we have not heard those words come out of his mouth. we've only gotten a tweet. but tomorrow, donald trump and his presumed running mate, governor mike pence, will be taking a podium here in midtown man hhattan and talking to reporters about the path forward. >> katy tur outside trump tower. you say it looks and sounds like a reality show. that's probably what trump wants all along. thanks for that. also now just coming in, some breaking news to tell you about out of turkey. reuters is reporting military activity on the streets of istanbul. nbc's matt bradley is following the latest from our london newsroom. what are we hearing right now? >> this is a very evolving situation, steve. as i'm sure you can tell. it's not just in istanbul we're
seeing military activity. also reports that there's planes, military planes flying low over the turkish capital of ankara. also hearing that there have been ambulanced deployed outside of the military headquarters in ankara in that capital city. and just now the prime minister has made a speech to the people in turkey. there was a failed military coup against his rule and tayyep erdogan. he called it madness. said it was illegal, anti-democratic and that it already failed and he threatened massive sweeping repercussions against any of those who tried to undermine the rule of the ruling akp, which is the islamist party that rules over turkey. >> matt bradley in london. this is a developing situation. reports coming in to us right now. they're going to continue coming in. we'll keep you updated with everything we learn as we learn it. that situation in turkey. still to come, security at
the republican convention. it's already heightened. last night's attack in france, will it spark any additional precautions? we'll talk to the man in charge of keeping cleveland safe. >> right now there's no specific, credible intelligence where people want to come and do harm. tion, amd tion, 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. or if you're young or old.are if you run everyday, no matter who you are a heart attack can happen without warning. if you've had a heart attack, a bayer aspirin regimen can help prevent another one. be sure to talk to your doctor before you begin an aspirin regimen. bayer aspirin.
the earth needed to find a new waytury, to keep up with the data from over 30 billion connected devices. just 30 billion? a bold group of researchers and computer scientists in silicon valley, had a breakthrough they called... the machine. it changed computing forever. and it's been part of every new technology for the last 250 years. everything? everything! this year, hewlett packard enterprise will preview the machine and accelerate the future. see star trek beyond. i have an orc-o-gram we for an "owen."e. that's me. ♪ you should hire stacy drew. ♪ ♪ she wants to change the world with you. ♪ ♪ she can program jet engines to talk and such. ♪ ♪ her biggest weakness is she cares too much. ♪ thank you.
we're back with the latest on the bastille day terror attack in nice, france. here's what's we know at this hour. the attacker has been identified by police as a 31-year-old father of three. born in tunisia living in nice at the time of the attack. he was known to police and had a violent past but was not being investigated by french intelligence and was not listed on any terror watch list. at least 84 people were killed in the attack including 10 children. 202 people confirmed injured. 52 of them now in critical condition. and two of those killed are sean
copeland and his 11-year-old son brody. they are from austin, texas. vigils are taking place around the world from sydney, australia to berlin, germany, and many other places in between. in the u.s., flags are at half staff. tonight the eiffel tower will be lit up in red, white and blue honoring the victims of the attack in nice. coming just three days before the start of the republican national convention in cleveland. concerns over security there were already a concern. authorities haven't yet announced any updates to convention security plans but have already been preparing for the possibility of violence at demonstrations and other events related to the convention. joining me with more on preparations out there is the cleveland deputy police chief. ed, thanks for joining us. give us a sense. i'm curious. what kind of conversations you're having. what kind of conversations law enforcement in cleveland is having today in the wake of what happened in france yesterday. >> well, i can tell you, early
this morning, we had a briefing with all of our law enforcement agencies that are going to be working the convention. and obviously the tragic events last night in france gave us cause to re-evaluate some of our operational plans that we had in place. so we've -- today is a day where we make some adjustments and really start our operations and put everything that we've worked on into place. >> i was just looking at some of the plans here. i saw 5,000 police officers expected to be on hand for the convention next week. there's a security zone around the rnc site. are there plans? is there talk now, i should say, talk of adding more officers? >> well, no, we have a full complement of officers and local agents, local law enforcement, state officers here already on the ground in cleveland. like i said, we did do some
enhancements over the last few days, and we will continue to monitor the situation. but the u.s. secret service has taken the lead and we have been a full partner with them. and we're very, very confident in the plan that we have in place at this time. >> ed tomba, the deputy police chief in cleveland. thank you for that and good luck with the security. we're following, and we gave you the news we knew. we're continuing to follow this breaking news out of turkey. reports of military activity on the streets of istanbul. matt bradley is following the latest from london. what more do we know now? >> steve, the turkish military has just released a statement. according to reuters saying that they have taken over control of the state. they are restoring democratic order and that human rights will remain in place. this is a very, very fast-moving situation. this is -- the turkish military has a long history of acting to protect what it considering to be the sanctified sort of the
non-religious attributes of the state. turkish president erdogan has moved decisively against the military in the past. that's not diminished this tradition. since the 1960s of successive military coups against elected presidents of turkey. this is not without tradition or without precedent in turkey. ataturk, last century, endowed the military with the right to move decisively against elected presidents of turkey to protect what he considered to be the nonreligious elements of this muslim majority country. now it's unclear in this very, very fast-moving situation whether turkey -- whether the turkish military has succeeded in taking control from prime minister begnali utron aor whether or not they're going to
lead to some sort of bloody confrontation between the two. right now there's one indication, state television is showing a documentary with some very beautiful pictures about the nation of azerbaijan. it's very clear the turkish state broadcaster has probably been taken over by the military and seems to be acting autonomously just like the military is. this is a very, very fast-moving situation. no clear indication as to whether or not any side has won out in particular and the airport seems to be closed. so the information is very limited from our end. nbc news is looking into this. we'll get you more information as it comes to us, steve. >> i want to make sure we're clear in the headline. this is a fast-moving situation. we have reports from a variety of sources. just to be clear what you said at the top. according to reuters, the military in turkey claims it is now in control of the state. is that what they are claiming? >> that's right. and this is according to reuters. and again, state television has been essentially taken off the
air. so information is coming in parcels right now. we don't have anything straight. but as i mentioned, there's a long tradition of military coups against elected governments in turkey dating back half a century. this is not without precedent. however, this is a fast-moving situation. we want to be able to be sure of information before we bring it to you. but we're going to be trying our best to hash out, you know, what we can verify and what we can't we believe the military has taken control. they said in a statement they have, according to reuters. the prime minister still seems to be able to address the public. it seems there's something of a tit-for-tat here that we're trying to see how this is resolved. >> okay. matt bradley, thanks for that. i'm sure we'll be going back to you in london as we learn more about this. going to turn to richard engel. he joins us on the phone. we have a report that the military in turkey is claiming to have pulled off a coup. what do you know?
>> well, it is, as you were saying, a fluid situation. but it is developing quickly. the prime minister earlier today on local television saying this was a coup against democracy. vowed to fight to the last drop of blood against the -- a very turkish word meaning effectively the criminals. the witness reports are that the soldiers had taken over one lane of a bridge to asia. they've taken over the presidential offices. unconfirmed reports that army agents have taken over army barracks. jets have been seen flying low over ankara. the prime minister confirmed that a coup was in place. an attempted coup is under way. now it appears that the people staging this coup are claiming some sort of victory, but it is not clear that they have
succeeded to accomplish that end. >> matt was alluding to this. maybe you can give us more context. in terms of the political situation over the last decade in turkey, you had tension with the government that was moving the country away from its sort of secular tradition. at least in terms of governance and the military, which favored a more secular approach. is that the basic tension that might be behind this? >> i just spoke to a senior form er nato official. this has been a long time coming. at least four years that when president erdogan came to power, he immediately started to consolidate his grip on power. and by doing that, he was putting military officials on trial and sending generals to jail. this process began about four years ago. and then has intensified ever since and was at its peak two
and three years ago. it was a move by the president, then prime minister erdogan, to solidify his grip on power. since then, the military has been acquiescing to his will. afraid perhaps of being imprisoned themselves but always harbored this deep resistance. things changed recently. the istanbul attack that we all remember at the airport. that shook the economy. shook the confidence of the people. the president erdogan is trying to change the constitution in order to make himself not just a figure head president, which he isn't -- doesn't act that way. only supposed to be a figure head president, but an effective leader of the country. he wants to rearrange the constitution in his favor. and he has brought the country back into a violent war with kurdish separatists that many in
turkey believe was designed for political gains. when you have these things combined, the consistent jailing of military officers, the new war against the kurds which turkish soldiers are paying for with their lives, and an attempt by president erdogan to change the constitution, that seems to be the timing here. >> richard engel, stand by. appreciate all the insight. going to turn to washington. nbc chief foreign affairs correspondent andrea mitchell joins us from there. indications ab attempt of a coup and may be more under way in turkey. what do you know? >> the intelligence officials, the national security council and state department all monitoring this. they were taken very much by surprise. they're not sure whether the situation has stabilized. but, richard engel has given you the context here. the context is erdogan trying to consolidate his power. the attempts three years ago to
go against the military to lock some up, to remove some senior officers. it had begun to trend down this military the antipathy from the military against erdogan had been dialed down but recently as richard had said, a sense the government has been weakened by these terror attacks and erdogan is on vacation. if there were going to be a coup attempt, this certainly might be the right time. so all of this is, obviously, of great concern to the u.s. this is a key nato ally on the crossroads into syria and iraq and the other neighbors where isis has been so strong, so dominant. turkey has been increasingly shutting that frontier trying to, under tremendous pressure from the u.s., close down those border crossings. but turkey's cooperation in the
war against isis is critical. >> andrea mitchell in washington, thanks for that. matt bradley has been standing by in london. he's monitoring the situation there. matt, what more do we know now? >> >> sounds like we're having trouble getting matt. do we still have andrea with us? >> yes, you do. >> if we could talk more about the context of this. people hearing the name of erdogan for the first time. this is somebody who has had a rapid rise in politics in turkey. his appeal is very populist. he's really brought to the fore the tension between, as i understand it at least, the more sort of religious, i guess masses in turkey and the traditional elite which is much more secular. >> absolutely. he's gone against the tradition that comes, you know, from turkey's founder as a nation
state to be more secular. he has gone in the other direction. he's also very recently repaired his damaged relationship that goes back six years with israel. turkey and israel were fairly closely allied not very publicly allied but closely allied and shared military and intelligence. and then there was that terrible incident where israel, during one of the gaza uprisings went against a flotilla, a humanitarian aid flotilla and, you know, attacked a turkish flotilla. they broke relations then. but most recently, erdogan n netanyahu did repair that relationship and that was a very recent resumption of diplomatic relations with israel. and it was only just after that that there was the terrible attack in the istanbul airport. so turkey has been under fire from a lot of directions. erdogan has been a thorn in the side to the u.s. it has not been an easy relationship at all.
but more recently under a lot of pressure and with increased military aid, erdogan has been cooperating with our counterterror and counter-isis agenda with the intelligence community as well as the military. >> and i think we still have richard engel on the phone. maybe you can pick that thought up. andrea talking about the relationship between the united states, between the government over here and turkey. it has been strained. how would you look at that relationship right now? >> well, i think the relationship is right now, there's a question mark over that relationship because, although erdogan has been a problematic ally for the united states, he is in repeated elections been the democratic leader of the country. it seems very likely that the united states will come down in his favor, even though it's in their hearts, perhaps there are some who would preforecome down with the more secularly minded
military. the u.s. is going to have to make a decision. if this coup plays out, if the military has succeeded in taking over. will it accept this new status quo or will it go with the democratically elected leader of the country even though he's had numerous flaws and complications over the last several years. going back to what you were saying earlearlier, the turkish republic founded after world war i was founded by the military. founded by kamal ataturk that it would be secular, western focused, a shining light that brings turkey into the modern light after the defeat in world war i. that had been challenged by erdogan who was opening relations more with the islamic world, turning the country, what he hoped to be a beacon of moderate islam. there has always been this tension between his policies and the military which saw itself as
this guardian of secular tradition. what we're seeing now is not just a small problem, or a small issue between the u.s. and turkey. it is a fight to the very nature of the turkish society. >> richard engel. joining me on the phone, mark ginsburg. former ambassador to morocco. maybe you can pick up the thought richar was just talking about. erdogan and over the last decade, when he came to office, came to power, i think in 2007, he talked about and believed in this idea of a moderate sort of political force. islam is a moderate political force. how has he changed? how has he evolved in the nine years since then? >> i'd like to pick up on the fact the president of the united states traveled in 2009 on his way to cairo on his initiative
to repair damages with the muslim world. he stopped and toured istanbul where erdogan had been there and had become prime minister. and had i, in effect, become on of the darling of the obama administration's hope that he'd constitute the first re-emergence of a democratic islamist government in the middle east. erdogan had reached out and developed expensive relations with assad under his then foreign minister davutoglu. at the same time he was also marching towards a re-election and ultimately a second election as president, he wanted to change the constitution to transfer many of the prime minister's authority to the office of the president. he almost was stealing a page, steve, out of vladimir putin's playbook. trying to seek the powers that were denied him under the
constitution. he lost that election, the constitutional parliamentary election. his party, the akp lost, but then orchestrated a second election by not having the government be able to form under his party an effective government. here he is once again as a president who is closed down the media, shut down most of the independent media in the region, had broken, some respects, the cease-fire with the kurdish radical pkk. and the attack in the istanbul airport a few weeks ago cannot be underestimated in the wake of over 12 other terrorist attacks throughout the country that the people and the military were saying enough is enough. >> the question, too, mark, is what the people of turkey in general would think of this. if their government is replaced by a coup here. we talked about how in his rise to power, erdogan was the
populist candidate. he went head-to-head with the traditional elite, the traditional ruling military class there. and he won with his populist appeal. you're talking about some of the stumbling blocks he's had in recent years. right now, if you had to assess his standing, how popular he is with the people in turkey, what would you say that is? >> i would say and still say that his party, the akp, is extraordinarily popular in the interior, more conservative elements of turkish society. it's in the major cities among the opinion elites in the military where he's been the most unpopular. when he took power after his first term, he really attempted to decapitate the military and the media by, in -- for all intents and purposes, staging kangaroo court showdowns and removing many of the people who are senior military officials
and installing his favorites. but you cannot underestimate how much antagonism has developed among the more urban, turkish elites and the society in the major cities against his government. because of his repression, his sens censorship, his dilly dallying with ispips he never really clamped down on isis until in effect the european union and the united states came down on him. he was letting it to be the transit center for years. >> the question then, mark, if there's a successful coup here, that's how this ends. the possibility of a backlash. this country didn't want this leader to go. and not accepting this. >> well, indeed. i agree, steve. the history of turkey, there's a history of governments being overthrown by the military. and the military more or less installing puppet governments to
be in effect a front for them. but i don't underestimate how much support he still enjoys in turkey which constitute ultimately the massive part of turkey's electoral society. >> what do you think in terms of leaders here in the united states, having to deal with either what this country dealt with for decades, for generations, and that was the military control of turkey versus continuing to deal with erdogan. would there be a preference from leaders of this country? >> i guarantee you that the people in the pentagon are opening up the champagne right now to celebrate if, indeed, this coup occurred. they've been struggling ever since erdogan has resisted having the united states play a central role in the battle against isis. think about it, steve. the united states has been trying to get syrian kurds to support efforts to in effect be the front of the american spearhead against isis in syria. and erdogan has been doing
everything possible to make it impossible for the united states to galvanize the syrian kurds in the battle against assad and isis because erdogan has been afraid this would result in the syrian kurds declaring their own independent state with the support of the united states. >> ambassador mark ginsburg joining us. appreciate the time. obviously, a lot developing as we speak. we're learning more by the second over there in turkey. reports this coup now, military coup, well under way. i'm going to hand off the coverage now here to brian williams. >> thanks to steve kornacki. we're here with you in new york. here we go again. live coverage of another developing issue of global importance. and that is reports of a coup against the erdogan government in turkey. andrea mitchell, our chief foreign affairs correspondent is standing by in washington.
you've been on the phones, what can you add. >> the way they are assessing this is muddled. they don't understand fully but the guidance would be from experts within the u.s. government and within the agencies is that when the military says they are in charge, which they are now saying, they are usually right. this is a slowback to a previous era as richard engel has been reporting. and this has been a waning -- we've seen a waning military influence as erdogan has consolidated his power and has, in fact, within the last three years gone against the military, locking up some of the senior officers who were ousting them. but this now seems to be the attempt by the military to fight back against erdogan. perhaps because of a perception that he is less powerful, less popular because of the recent
terror attacks that have plagued turkey, most recently the istanbul airport attack. so this may, indeed, be a military coup. whether or not the people, this younger generation in turkey will follow the secular lead of the military, if, indeed, this is a successful military coup, remains to be seen. but the early warnings from u.s. officials are that this may, indeed, be a military coup, although the situation is not at all clear. and we have yet to hear from the u.s. embassy. >> where do we know about -- what do we know about where erdogan is physically? >> physically at -- on vacation at a black sea resort. a resort that is within the country. but out of touch on vacation. social media has been shut down. you know that there have been a lot of arrests. journalists have been under fire for years and years under erdogan. terrible arrests and not just
the imprisonment of journalists but threats against journalists there. a lot of reporting has not been very clear. we're now seeing on the agency, reuters and associated press. reuters reporting that flights into ataturk airport in istanbul have been canceled. that the plot is apparently one of the reasons for that. the chief reason for that. we had seen earlier on reuters reports that several bridges into istanbul had been closed down and guarded by soldiers. there were soldiers on the streets. this apparently is a statement by the turkish military now on the wires saying they fully seized control of the country. at the same time, the prime minister was on television saying they have thwarted an attempted coup. >> we have, as is often the case in military coups, we have two almost perfectly conflicting reports. there's actually a lot that we can learn from these ntv pictures coming in.
the instantly recognizable entrance to the airport. clearly there are military vehicles on the streets. there was one at the entrance on the on ramp to a major bridge. you can see this for yourself. tanks and jeeps. not much visible there beyond a police vehicle. this is istanbul. and we see traffic going only in one direction on the bosphorus bridge. >> one other point if i may. >> go ahead, andrea. >> the state department has been posting on social media that they are confirming media reports at least of gunshots and possible attempted uprising in turkey. telling u.s. citizens there to remain vigilant. also that social media is blocked. use e-mail, phone, sms to
contact. so they are using the their @travel/gov account to warn people to be careful and to warn american citizens. they have always said that americans in the area, residents and travelers should be in touch with the embassy and with consulates to let them know to register and let them know where they are. >> the website of the telegraph in london had a very ominous report. people who were out enjoying the evening in a cafe saw locals on their phones and quite agitated and quite worried. and i went on to an aviation website and saw all the icons of the aircraft kind of locked on the ground at the airport. nothing in the air over turkey. let's go to our pentagon correspondent jim miklaszewski.
>> i imagine there's a lot of activity there. >> they are scrambling to figure out what happened. if tlus was any hint of a possible military coup against the turkish government there and i can tell you senior military officials had no clue. in the last 10 to 15 minutes, they still have been relying, according to officials we're talking to, on the public reporting. much as what we've heard from the state department. they are only confirming media reports. and that appears to be the situation here. now it's clear that senior military officials are attempting some kind of military to military communication. but if it is a full-blown coup, it's clear the turkish military leadership wouldn't be the least interested in talking to the u.s. this is a very critical issue, obviously, for the u.s. because turkey is a vital part of the
u.s. and world war coalition war against isis both in syria and iraq. there's no indication of any kind of military activity at the incirlik air base which is about an hour away from ankara by air where the u.s. military has many of its fighter aircraft and surveillance aircraft stationed for bombing strikes against isis in syria and in parts, actually, of iraq. at this point again, u.s. military trying to confirm but no confirmation according to military officials we talked a moment ago. it would seem to me that in fairly short order, the u.s. military would be getting some kind of confirmation if not assurance from the turkish military that everything is under control as chaotic as it may seem. another issue, questions already
being raised as a member of nato, what, if the erdogan government asked nato to step in. in that case, what's would nato do about it. all of that is unclear speculation at this point. but u.s. military dod officials attempting to get some kind of confirmation and information contact with the turkish military there in ankara. >> jim, tell our viewers about incirlik air base. >> incirlik air base is fairly near the border. it was used for years when the u.s. was flying their fno-fly zones over northern and southern iraq while saddam hussein was sd still in power. the u.s. was flying refueling missions and combat missions actually, patrol missions, over parts of iraq while -- following the end of the first u.s. war
against iraq driving saddam hussein and the iraqi military out of kuwait. but it's now peculiarbecome a c part of that air war as i mentioned against isis, and particularly in syria. and it took some time to convince the erdogan government to permit u.s. military aircraft to station their aircraft at incirlik to launch those strikes because of the delicate, if not complicated, situation between the turks and peshmerga forces there in both syria and iraq, which are often supported by the u.s. military. that was resolved, and those planes have been flying. and again, so far, no word from any u.s. military that whatever is going on in the capital ankara has not affected the operations or the situation apparently of the u.s. military there at incirlik.
there's no indication that the u.s. military there is in any kind of danger. >> jim miklaszewski, thanks. while we've been reporting, social media has been shut down in turkey. it has not been shut down here. and we're monitoring the same reports others are of sporadic gunfire and clashes. but at the top of the 5:00 hour here on a friday night in the united states, the story is reports conflicting on both sides of an attempted military coup in turkey. andrea mitchell has been part of our coverage and has been gathering as much as she can in washington. andrea, this appears to be a surprise to a lot of folks from turkey to the beltway. >> it is shockingly surprising to u.s. defense intelligence, the white house. secretary kerry in moscow says only that he is monitoring reports. they've seen the reports. they don't he