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tv   All In With Chris Hayes  MSNBC  December 21, 2016 5:00pm-6:01pm PST

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if trump cares about the vets, he should do something. >> that's hardball for now. "all in with chris hayes" starts right now. >> tonight on "all in" -- >> everything good? >> yes. >> how do you like it? everything fine? >> president-elect briefly meets the press. >> what's going on is terrible right now. we have intelligence. >> 74 seconds with the press corps. and what trump learned about the attacks on christians. >> who said that? when was that said? >> plus -- >> he now says it was cute but he doesn't want to use it anymore. >> how the drain the swamp era just ended before it ever began. why donald trump cannot move on from losing the popular vote. and as the plot to dismantle obamacare unfolds, a certain doctor returns with his prescription. >> his laboratory tests are
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astonishingly excellent. >> when "all in" starts right now. good evening from new york. i'm chris hayes. we are now 30 days from donald trump becoming president of the united states and 146 days from the day he last held a press conference. back on july 27th when trump opened his remarks attacking hillary clinton for -- you guessed it -- not holding press conferences. >> for you as the reporters who give her the glowing reports should ask yourselves why. and i'll tell you why. because despite the nice platitudes, she's been a mess. >> trump did speak briefly twice to reporters today, though it certainly wasn't a press conference. it was closure of the conversation you would have as a hotel manager if you're checking in and you quickly wanted to get his slviews on the issue of the day. he was at mar-a-lago where he
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met with michael flynn. earlier this afternoon trump emerged to speak to reporters for all of 74 seconds. even though we didn't learn much it was in its own way illuminating. >> everything good? >> yes. mr. president-elect --
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>> okay. so let's break that down. trump kicks things off by asking reporters if they're enjoying his fancy club as they tried to ask him substantive questions.
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>> so the news there, trump appears to be suggesting the attacks in europe prove that his call for muslim registry and/or a full-out ban on all muslim immigration are 100% correct which presumably means his administration plans to ban muslim immigration but yesterday on this network a trump adviser said that we walked back from the muslim ban. i guess the question of whether the incoming president plans to ban members of a religion remains open. we have to find out. the man looking over trump's shoulder, michael flynn, has repeatedly attacked muslims and
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tweeted that fear of muslims is rational. recently met with a leader of a far right austrian party founded by exnazis. trump seems to not be familiar with his own statement from monday on the berlin attack. >> have you talked to president obama, sir? >> i have not. two days ago but not recently. not since. >> your comments about the truck attack in berlin being against christians, do you think that this might -- >> say it again. what? >> your -- the attack in berlin being against -- being an attack against christians. >> when was that said? >> i believe you said it in a press release. >> the reporter is right. trump did in fact say that. here's his press release on the berlin attack. attributed to president-elect donald trump innocent civilians were murdered in the streets as they prepared to celebrate christmas holiday.
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isis and other islamist terrorists continually slaughter christians in their communities and places of worship. here's trump's response. >> so i'm wondering how this might affect relations with -- >> that's an attack on humanity. that's what it is. an attack on humanity. and it's got to be stopped. thank you. appreciate it. >> and that nonanswer was it. he was done. trump did emerge a couple hours later for a minute and a half photo op where he did answer a few questions about today's meeting and then asked if everyone was comfortable. yet in just one month he'll be the most powerful person in the world. joining me now, msnbc political analyst joan walsh, and contributor josh barro. first of all, aside from the fact that i think a press conference would be good and it has been a break with tradition not to have one and there's a lot of questions and ambiguity.
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this summed up that this remains a black box -- i think it's a black box -- >> to him. you heard in that 74 seconds. we know nothing. and he doesn't know anything either. he doesn't know that a press release was sent out saying this was an attack on christians. he doesn't know what his muslim policy is. he can't restate it. they've walked it back, walked it forward. there was a softening during the campaign, then there was a hardening. i mean, we don't know. this guy should be leaving mints on people's pillows not leading the world. >> this is what's so maddening about the transition period is this stuff can't remain a black box forever. he'll soon be president. >> and he'll do things. >> he'll do things and we'll know in most cases about the things that he's doing. >> although -- >> in many cases. >> aside from the lack of press conferences is learning about all these things from the
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foreign press. well, his national security adviser met with a party of neo-nazis. so there's some things we won't even know. >> there will be some stuff. but if there's a muslim registry, we'll find out about it. the u.s. sort of did have a muslim registry during the presidency. it was for male immigrants of a certain age, mostly for muslim majority countries. >> visa holders. >> yes. i think it's likely they'll bring that policy back. >> we know kris kobach who is handling the transition will do that. >> we can surmise what it means. he'll unlikely round up muslims in the united states and require them to sign up, but if he does that, we'll know about it. >> but this sort of black box. this is someone who -- i don't think this is being uncharitable. clear by both what he says himself and the people around him, he's not that interested in the details s of policy. this is not what he does.
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we're putting the campaign in the past, right? so here's newt gingrich talking about the drain the swamp mantra. which i respect the fact they're being so transparent about the fact that they view the campaign as a con. they just want everyone to know that. take a look. >> you say you've been working on these issues, others might say you've been working in the swamp, to use donald trump's language. >> i'm told he now disclaims that. he said it was cute but he doesn't want to use it anymore. >> that really was a moment in the campaign where there was a little bit of coherence, there was a slogan. he was starting to read from the teleprompter. he was calming down. this was a unified, you know, applause line. what does it mean to say it doesn't matter anymore? we just said it because it was cute. but obviously we're filling the swamp. all of my cabinet picks are swamp creatures. that was then, this is now. >> this is the hoallmark of his
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career for four decades. i'll build the biggest, tallest, most fabulous building and he wouldn't do it and no consequence. he writes that in "the art of the deal" the power of truthful exaggeration is the word he uses. will he then get away with this as president? it depends on whether members of the public are satisfied overall that donald trump is making them better off. i don't think that just the fact that he put all these people from goldman sachs in the cabinet, that won't hurt him on day one. but 18 months from now, unemployment's up, wages aren't going well -- >> yes. >> again this is a maddening thing we're watching him get away with these things. only some circumstances under which he'll get away with them as president. >> there's a question about this very important piece of policy. you called for this thing that was really quite abhorrent, to editorialize for a moment, banning an entire religion. i say that as someone who shared a view of a person across a
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spectrum, you can't do that. you say that with someone looking over your shoulder michael flynn. if it doesn't matter to you, there will be someone somewhere down the chain to whom it does matter. they have a stake in it ideologically or institutionally. so today we have pete navarro named to head the national trade council, which is the hardest of china hawks. it will matter to that guy. >> that's why they're taking these jobs. >> exactly. because they know -- >> they'll have plebt of latitude. he's not interested, someone is making these picks. they're based on past performance. i think it also can matter -- maybe i'm too much of an optimist, but democrats do and republicans do have a chance in the confirmation hearings to grill these people and get out what they intend to do and hold up conflicts with what he said and what he's now promising. goldman sachs people can be made
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to look like the members of the elite that he was railing against. i think there are going to be opportunities to hold that up. whether it ultimately matters to people, we don't know. i guess what i worry about from a holdover from the campaign is that, well, none of this mattered to his voters, so why care? i know you're not saying that but i hear that in the media. this is really going to matter. no, i promise you it will matter and they should start now. >> people -- from my perspective people should make a difference between substantive objections and political ones. i don't think calling to ban muslims wasn't del he ter yus to him. that was quite popular. it's still wrong. you have to be clear about that distinction. >> yeah. and i think, you know, in terms of they spoke about the confirmation hearings except for mike flynn who won't have to have a confirmation hearing which is why he ended up with that job -- >> because he's clearly unconfirmable. >> he's considered wacky. >> like steve bannon.
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>> on the other hand, in several of these areas we have different people being put in the administration that disagree about all sorts of things. james madden you have those that are free traders and you have hard liners and people like the new commerce secretary who has been very pro immigration reform. in a lot of these -- >> and part of the team of rivals is donald trump holding a casting call. he's seeking the look. he's sizing people up. again, this is not like being uncharitable. there are people on the record saying this. this is him sizing up john bolton, who is -- you know, is an iraq war hawk, from a school of foreign policy that would seem at odds -- >> donald was not going to like that mustache said one associate who spoke on the condition of anonymity. i can't think of anyone who is close to donald that has a beard that he likes. jason miller, his press person has a goatee, i don't know what that says about that
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relationship. but weird what does this administration believe in. maybe this is what's been guiding the choices. >> i'm sure it is one thing that's been guiding the choices, but it made me wonder why he didn't hire mitt romney. >> that's why he interviewed him. people said at the time he likes the look. if bolden shows up at trump tower with a mustache -- joan walsh and josh barro. the lengths president obama is going to to protect the planet from his successor. but the impressive contortions from those seeking to spin the minority victory by claiming he did win the popular vote if you ignore the results from two of the most populous states in the union.
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it's official the election results were formally certified yesterday. donald trump won the electoral college and hillary clinton won the popular vote by a healthy margin of 2.1% finishing with a vote total only 70,000 shy of
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president obama's 2012 total. we have held 56 presidential leeksz and this marks only the fourth time of those 56 that the winner of the electoral college lost the popular vote. the deficit hasn't been this big in 140 years, since 1876. now, these are all true facts about the outcome of the 2016 election, but it seems to make conservatives just crazy whenever you bring them up. cutting california and new york out of the united states altogether. trump's margin would indeed be huge if you threw out all the votes in our two most populist states. the mismatch has gotten under the skin of the man who lost the popular vote. campaigning to win the electoral college is much more difficult and sophisticated than the popular vote. hillary focused on the wrong states. i would have done even better if the win was based on popular vote but would campaign differently. i have in the heard any of the
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pundits discussing the fact that i spent far less money on the win than hillary on the loss. descriptively he's not wrong. but what this shows on a deeper level is his core characteristics during the campaign that keeping the score, the petty vendettas, the inability to let stuff go, those aren't going anywhere. you have seen it in his consideration of mitt romney which was only meant to torture and toy with romney who had blasted him during the campaign. there were trump's tweets to his 17 million followers slamming chuck jones, the president of the local steel workers union in indiana. he had criticized the president-elect for inflating the number of jobs saved by the carrier deal. then there was paul ryan at a rally in wisconsin, the first stage the two of them shared after being repeatedly at odds during the campaign. >> speaker paul ryan, i've really come to -- oh, no, i've come to appreciate him. he's like a fine wine.
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every day goes by i get to appreciate his genius more and more. now, if he ever goes against me, i'm not going to say that, okay? >> as far as trump is concerned, this is it. it will be his defining characteristic for the four years of his presidency. now we're seeing the first signs of how that can affect politics and policy making in washington. texas congressman bill flores made innocuous comments about trump's relationship with house republicans. >> i think we'd all agree that some of president trump's proposed policies won't line up very well with our conservative policies. what i would do is i would try to say what are those areas that we have good alignment with where president trump wants to go and where we want to go and tell him, hey, we'll take the lead on this. >> that prompted an onslaught of harassment on twitter,
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misleading headlines. indignant name check by trump's staufrmgest ally, sean hannity. >> i was a little surprised at comments by congressman flores. i'll get to that in a minute. he recently gave a speech, let's go for the issues that the house republicans agree with and donald trump agree with and then we'll deal with the other issues later. >> i'm joined by republican charlie dent from pennsylvania. can you hear me? >> i can hear you loud and clear, chris. how are you? >> excellent. i'm good. good to have you on. are you going to allow donald trump to dominate you? >> oh, my goodness, we'll work with the president when he's on the right track, support him when he's on the right track. but if he goes in a direction where we disagree, we might have to check him from time to time. i think that's pretty basic. we have a separation of powers system. congress, you know, we're not a bunch of potted plants.
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we will work in partnership with the administration when they're on the right track and there might be times where we disagree and there might be times that we can help fashion policy and make it better. >> here's an interesting place where this comes to a head. there's been discussion about a possible infrastructure/stimulus bill. trillion dollars over ten years. a lot of money. your colleagues in the house sort of famously threaten both default on the u.s. government's debt and also a shutdown over the national debt and its size. that was the put attive reason. we're hearing that several members are saying if there was such a big, it would only be 50% paid for. it would expand the deficit quite sizably. is that something you would go along with or would you object out of principle and consistency? >> i do paurt the need for an infrastructure bill. i think it's important. but i think we should pay for it
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substantially. the president-elect donald trump has talked about tax credits which i think are valuable. but i don't think that would be the entire bill. i think we'll have to pay for a substantial part of this bill, yes. >> substantial part but not all of it? >> well, we'll see. we're talking about a tax reform as well. talking about using some repatriated funds, perhaps revenues from drilling offshore and perhaps, you know, i think even the user fee can be on the table. so there are a lot of things that can be on the table. >> you're talking about different revenue streams, repatriated taxes, user fees. how central do you for yourself is making sure this debt doesn't grow going to be? because i think it's fair to say the central, defining feature of the how about republican congress, the fight over the budget control act. it was the central ideological plank. there's too much debt, we can't let there be more debt. will that continue with donald
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trump as president and republicans in the congress? >> i think that's a fair question, chris, because if you lookt at president-elect trump's agenda he's talking about obviously the infrastructure bill. he's talking about a defense buildup, a tax reform that could bring in less revenue. that's all true. and so this could obviously add to the deficit. i think we'll have a serious conversation between the administration and congress about seeing how we can reconcile all these issues. nick mulvaney, a friend of mine, has been nominated to be the head of omb and he was a real hawk. >> i know. let me give you my prediction and you tell me whether i'm wrong or not. when you and i have a conversation like this a year from now and we're getting ready to celebrate the holidays in 2017, the debt will be significantly larger and there will be several pieces of legislation passed by you and your colleagues that will have expanded the deficit.
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is that a fair prediction? >> i think it's quite possible. but before we do anything in congress, chris, we have to focus on one issue. there's an assumption that somehow congress will function better. we have to get the basics right. we have to make sure we can fund the government, not lurch from crisis to crisis and make sure the country doesn't default on its obligations. if we wind up in the usual navel gazing episodes that lead to a circular firing squad, that will make it difficult for us to deal with issues like an infrastructure bill, tax reform or whatever the issue of the moment is. i think that's something we have to have a conversation about and also, you know, president-elect trump has said that he hasn't wanted to move forward on, say, entitlement changes, medicare and social security, and we might have to have that conversation, too, if we're going to have the spending discussion that's already been discussed on -- >> how important are medicare and social security to you? in terms of reforming them?
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>> they're very important. first, i'll tell you that the federal health care problems are the driver of our debt in this country. far and away more than anything else. social security has challenges, to be sure, but i think they're smaller in comparison than the health care program. at some point we'll have to address medicare so we can protect it for those who are currently on the program and those who are nearly on the program, but we know that changes are going to be made for the next generation. that's a given. i think at some point we need to have that conversation particularly if we're talking about defense buildups and infrastructure bills and tax reform. we have to establish some kind of a simpson bowles commission again. i thought that was a good start, by the way. president trump may have to move in that direction at some point. >> i would know the projections for the federal trust insol ensy a number of decades the biggest growth driver is the cost of medical coverage broadly
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although that's come down a bit post-obamacare. final question to you just a yes or no. are you intimidated by president-elect trump? >> no, i'm not intimidated. i intend to work with him when he's right. and if he's on the wrong track, we might have to check him. no, i'm not intimidated. >> congressman charlie dent. >> thank you, chris. he once said that trump would be the healthiest person ever elected to the presidency. ya sleepin'? come on! what time is it? it's go time. come on. let's go, let's go, let's go. woooo hoooo!! yeah!! i feel like i went to bed an hour ago. i'll make the cocoa. get a great offer on the car of your grown-up dreams at the mercedes-benz winter event. it's the look on their faces that make it all worthwhile. thank you santa!!! now lease the 2017 c300 for $389 a month at your local mercedes-benz dealer.
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i thought about it all day, and in the end, i get rushed and
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i get anxious when i get rushed. so i try to get four or five lines done as far as possible so they would be happy. i sat right at this deck and wrote that letter while the driver waited for me. >> one of the short lived side shows perhaps the most absurd was the back and forth over the candidate's health records after hillary clinton came down with pneumonia. dr. harold bornstein where a letter about donald trump. this was it, a brief letter with a typo or two written in a hurry while trump's team was waiting in a black car outside the office. it contains trumpian language describing the patient's blood pressure and lab tests as astonishingly excellent and trump will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency, a tough claim to back up. trump released a bit more medical information, still not complete records, but that letter was the last we heard of dr. bornstein until now.
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in an interview in stat, the good doctor reflected on his famous patient's new role noting, it never occurred to me that he was the oldest president, not for a second. there's nothing to share on a regular basis about the president's health. ronald reagan had presenile dementia. did they share that with you or did nancy just cover it up? if something happens to him, then it happens to him. it's like all the rest of us, no? he went on, that's why we have a vice president and a speaker of the house and a whole lot of other people. they can just keep dying. you think that's sound medical analysis you'll love the advice from one future republican who has a hand in -- when your pain reliever stops working, your whole day stops. try this. but just one aleve has the strength to stop pain for 12 hours.
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a question after trump's election is still what will happen to obamacare. there are already indications of a division in the republican ranks over what repeal and replace really means. meanwhile another 6.4 million people have signed up for obamacare since november 1st according to government data through federally run health care changes in 39 states outpacing last year. 20 million people have gained health insurance coverage because of the affordable care act. it might be useful to know what the republicans vision is for the world. governor huizenga describes how we the consumer can take more responsibility to we don't keep squeezing health care providers.
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>> there's definitely going to be changes in the health care delivery system. we can't just continue to squeeze providers to say, okay, well, this is how we're going to save money. at some point or another, we have to be responsible or have a part of the responsibility of what's going on. i just had it. my youngest son went racing out the front door on his way to go to jump on the trampoline. i thought he would get injured on the trampoline. he got injured on the drivetram arm. we weren't sure what was going on. it was in the evening, and so i splinted it up and we wrapped it up and the decision was, okay, do we go to the er? we thought it was a sprain. but weren't sure. took every precaution. and decided to go in the next morning. the cost difference, you know,
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certainly if he had been more seriously injured, we would have taken him in. if you don't have any cost difference, you know, you will make different decisions. >> joining me now sara cliff, a senior editor at fox who writes about health care. i thought this was an admirably honest look at what happens if you sort of take the idea of consumers having, quote, skin in the game in a litteral sense, te skin that might be wounded when your son breaks his arm as the way to squeeze costs out of the system. is this going to be a strcentra part of how republicans envision the health care system? >> i think it will be. you already heard leading up to this fight republicans talking a lot about consumers having more skin in the game, about deciding when to use health care, being responsible. i think you've already heard from paul ryan that his focus, he is less concern with universal coverage. he's more concerned with the idea of universal access.
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as long as everyone has a chance to buy a plan, the republicans at this point seem less concerned with keeping up with the coverage numbers we've seen under the affordable care act. >> part of the problem here, right, and it's a problem for the affordable care act as well that it's just not a normal market good. the whole point when your son breaks his arm is that you don't know how bad it is because you're not a doctor. and that's true of a whole lot of things about whether you're going to get the best cancer treatment or anything that's happening in that doctor's office. it just seems like what is the evidence that treating it like a normal market good is actually going to get us to where we need to be? >> yeah, and most countries they don't treat health care like a normal market good. they treat it like a regulated good. like something everyone needs so you regulate the prices. if you look at other countries and how they use emergency care, the governments typically set the prices for what emergency rooms can charge so, you know, i recently wrote about a girl who
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went to the emergency room because her finger was cut. her family ends up with a $780 charge. in most other countries that can't happen. the government says health care is important enough that we'll regulate the price of it so people don't get those surprise bills, but here in the united states we've made the conscious decision not to regulate prices and that leads to some of the really high prices you see in emergency rooms. >> so you did amazing reporter where you went down and talked to folks in kentucky, people who are essentially trump supporters, voted for trump and also in some ways benefit ris of the -- of obamacare. and they're a tough constituency for republicans because changes are going to maybe hurt those people. what have you learned from talking to them? >> i learned that a lot of these people didn't really expect obamacare to be repealed. they heard the rhetoric, they listened to the debates, they knew what donald trump thought, but they thought at the end of the day, you don't take away
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someone's health insurance. health insurance is so important, why would you take it away. even one of the workers i was shadowing had supported trump. when i asked her about it, she would say there are problems with obamacare. some of the plans are unaffordable. trump promised change. i don't think he'll repeal it. i think he'll just make it better. >> now we're going to have some sort of rubber hitting the road moment. people are either going to continue to have health coverage or not. and one of the things that seems possible to me is the gop, if they're smart in some ways just call something repeal to make sure that those people still have health insurance. >> i think this will be a big question that i have covering the health care fight is are these people in kentucky going to be proved right? is it the case that republicans just get too skittish because there are too many people like this? one of the people i talked to who uses obamacare, her husband is waiting for a liver transplant. they really need health insurance. it's still an open question if
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they just take away small parts of it and call it repeal because they might be worried about the backlash like those i met in kentucky. >> who don't get the liver transplant they're waiting for? >> who don't get the liver transplant who find they're out of coverage when they didn't expect that's what this election would lead to. >> sarah kliff, thank you very much. >> thank you. >> the push to protect immigrants from soon-to-be president trump. but jeff sessions. once i heard i was going to
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be a park ranger, i got really excited. gabe's obviously really sick. and there's a lot that he isn't able to do, and make-a-wish stepped in. we had to climb up the mountain to get the injured hiker. he fell from, like, a rock. he's been the one that has been rescued so many times. he said to me, "today, i got to be the hero." (avo) the subaru share the love event has helped grant the wishes of over twelve hundred kids so far. get a new subaru, and we'll donate two hundred and fifty dollars more to help those in need. ♪put a little love in your heart.♪
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before starting you should be checked for tuberculosis. taltz may increase your risk of infections and lower your ability to fight them. tell your doctor if you are being treated for an infection or have symptoms. or if you have received a vaccine or plan to. inflammatory bowel disease can happen with taltz. including worsening of symptoms. serious allergic reactions can occur. now's your chance at completely clear skin. just ask your doctor about taltz. thing 1 tonight, we return to alabama to the mayor's office of mobile to hack down an old growth cedar tree from a public park to use as a backdrop for donald trump's rally. we're looking at a decision the governor is preparing to make if donald trump's pick for attorney
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general jeff sessions is confirmed governor robert bentley would get to appoint a senator to that seat. this weekend he met with a handful of candidates to appoint. we learned about one on the short list, the chief justice of alabama supreme court who was suspended for the remainder of his term for bringing the judicial office into disrepute. the disgraced chief justice who could now be u.s. senator is thing 2. afoot and light-hearted i take to the open road.
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healthy, free, the world before me, the long brown path before me leading wherever i choose. the east and the west are mine. the north and the south are mine. all seems beautiful to me. governor robert bentley is going to appoint a senator to sessions' seat if sessions is confirmed as attorney general. one candidate is roy moore who until recently served as chief justice of the alabama supreme court. governor bentley interviewed moore for the potential senate seat this week. roy moore has quite the resume. part judge, part right wing crusader. he violated the court order to
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stop opening court sessions with christian prayer. in 2003 he was removed as chief justice for refusing to remove a 5300 pound statue of the ten commandments he installed in the state judicial building. it's very heavy. you can see it. after winning re-election moore defied a federal order and refused to allow same-sex marriages in his state eventually arguing the supreme court's decision was immoral and tier rannical. he was removed from the bench and paid for the remainder of his term. they found he failed to uphold the integrity of the court and failed to perform the duties. and his conduct brings the judicial office into disrepute. now that guy disgraced judge who brought his judicial office into disrepute could be a u.s. senator.
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president obama has banned
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off shore drilling in huge swaths of the antarctic. the move affects 98% of federally owned arctic waters or about 115 million acres of pristine region home to endangered species as well as 3.8 million acres stretching from norfolk, virginia, to the canadian border. president obama did this through a power given to the president through a 1953 law which has been used by many presidents of both parties yet legal challenges are expected. the actions should keep these waters safe from drilling for years to come producing headlines like this one, how barack obama threw a wrench into donald trump's energy plans. it highlights the fact that that gentleman you see there is president of the united states and will be until january 20th and there are still things he can do. for instance, 100 advocacy groups are calling on president obama to use his pardon power to shield up to 200,000 legal
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immigrants with minor criminal records from deportation. this would be squarely within his legal and constitutional authority to give them a kind of pardon and take that away. though it would also be pretty unprecedented. but if there's one thing we've learned from donald trump is don't allow yourself to be too penned in by what has or hasn't been done before. ♪ music playing
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officials have confirmed that they've opened up a man hunt for the man they believe was at the wheel when a truck drove through berlin's christmas market leaving 12 dead and 48 injured. isis was quick to claim responsibility. so far this year isis has claimed responsible for at least 42 attacks outside of syria and iraq according to "the new york times." these attacks come amid reports that isis continues to lose territory and that seems to indicate despite being squeezed out of places it once controlled isis will find ways to continue to terrorize signaling a real dilemma for counterterrorism officials in the west. my next guest spent years interviewing isis members has a new book called "the way of the strangers." graeme wood joins me now. let's talk about the truck attack. part of what's so horrifying about it to me is the simplicity here. explosives can go wrong.
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acquiring them is relatively easy for counterterrorism officials to monitor. a truck's just a truck. and this just seems like a very difficult dilemma for counterterrorism officials. >> it's impossible. and this has two purposes. one is that it tells isis supporters to use the tools at their disposal, just what you have at hand. you can't stop people from hijacking trucks. it's just impossible to do that. then psychologically it tells their victims that every truck is a potential terrorist vehicle, a potential weapon that could kill dozens of people. they really do want to sow the fear of every little thing around you including, you know, vehicles, stones, knives that you would get at a kitchen store, all these things can be used and will be. >> part of what i think everyone has a hard time getting their head around is when you see such sociopathic evil of driving a truck into people. how could a person get to a place where they can do that and in some ways that's part of the project about what this book has
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been. what have you learned about that? >> yeah, so the people urging others to do this are people you've been eating pizza with, playing soccer with, going to study groups and talking with. you find they have a very intense process of indoctrination. they have to be taught to twist their morals into a way that is just -- it's just not consistent with the way they've been taught growing up in, say, australia -- >> no one is taught it's okay to drive a truck -- >> you have to learn that. it is a period of brainwashing that isis has really perfected. the propaganda apparatus, it exists both to get people to do things that already believe it and people who are already on the fence, just to slowly turn them into moral zombies who are willing to do things that just, you know, in some cases weekses before they first encounter this propaganda they would have thought disgusting. >> that's part of what's given this organization the sort of potency it has, they don't have
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to do anything operational, if they can indoctrinate from afar and create these moral zombies who take it upon themselves to do these things, they don't have to go through the much riskier set of transactions to pull off some sort of operational attack. >> they even tell their soldiers don't even try doing the complicated things. you'll get caught along the way. they have these horrible ghastly manuals of killing. they talk about how much clearance you want to get so that you get the right amount of bodies that will pile up underneath and the right ways of crushing enough people and not having the truck actually stop because of the number of dead. >> there's a profile you have of someone who has become a top official in isis who is an american, and you sort of -- you unmasked him, i think it's fair to say. son of a republican dallas based affluent west point graduate dad. >> yes. that's right.
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and this guy is -- it's a good example of how a lot of these isis recruits, they are not from backgrounds of poverty. they have all sorts of options available to them. this is a kid who, frankly, he had some daddy issues. his father was a distinguished soldier for some time. and a high school quarterback. then this kid shows up. he never really was able to succeed in his dad's eyes. and now -- >> sickly as a kid, pot smoking ne'er-do-well drug adeled dropout kind of. >> he's the typical kind of basement dwelling neck bearded computer geek who would never succeed in the eyes of his teachers or his family, but he's achieved a certain kind of leadership role in the islamic state now. >> he is now, in this bizarre way, right, he has become a soldier and sort of revere
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soldier in this death cult. what do you know about how this organization can be dismantled or fought or countered? >> there's some bad news, first of all, it can't be fully countered from an ideological perspective. they have people working overtime to explain what isis is all about and to plant that kind of mental virus in people everywhere. that includes americans, british, australians, japanese even i found. so that is not going to be, by itself, successful. what seems to have some success, though, is to demonstrate to these potential recruits that even if they believe these things, the likelihood of their actually achieving the kind of alternate glory that they think they might be able to get in the islamic state itself, that might be a far-fetched dream. that isis is just losing. it is not a cool thing to do. it's not something that's going to succeed. you're going to die and everybody will forget you. they won't remember you as a hero or a martyr.
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>> this is interesting. rather than saying it's not okay to murder a bunch of people in a christmas market. rather to focus on this is actually a group that's not potent, it's not impotent, it's not shrinking, it's on the losing side. that's actually more powerful. >> in a way loss begets loss. these are people coming from a background where things haven't worked out well for them in their lives. maybe not because they're poor but because they haven't achieved recognition. if you say by going to isis you will be an embarrassment even further, then that will be much more meaningful thing to say than you will be doing something that's immoral. that's a message that they've received and have rejected, but the idea that the prestige won't be there, that's a much more potent kind of deradicalization. >> graeme wood's feature is in the "atlantic." his book is called "the way of
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the strangers," graeme wood. appreciate it. >> thank you. the rachel maddow show starts right now. good evening. >> good evening, chris. thanks my friend. thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. happy wednesday. we have a big show tonight. the director of homeland security jeh johnson is here for an interview. i'm very much looking forward to that. you know greta van susteren from fox news? she's actually not at fox anymore, which i think is too bad. i miss greta. i miss her being on tv. i'm not being sarcastic. i know everybody thinks we have a terrible rivalry with fox. i really do miss greta. and i ended up thinking about her in today's news, because this was one of my all-time favorite greta moments from when shes wi s wits with on fox. >> i know that at least ten isis fighters have been caught coming across the mexican border in texas. >> how do you know that? >> because i've asked -- because i've asked the border patrol, greta. >> and the border patrol

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