tv Morning Joe MSNBC December 26, 2016 5:00am-6:01am PST
conversation with mark shriver. that does it for this hour. msnbc live picks up your news coverage right now. good morning to you. i'm craig melvin. we start with the shocking loss. pop icon george michael dead at the age of 53. fans around the world paying tribute to the english singer/songwriter who ros to prominence as the frontman of the groupham and then went on to sell more than 100 million albums in his solo career. >> also, trump transition. his pick for communications director suddenly says no to the job. the president-elect making news on two fronts himself. his clash with the white house over israel, and announcing some big changes to his charity as well. and while many kids were dreaming of a white christmas, parents now bearing the brunt of that wish coming true.
fierce winter conditions wreaking havoc as millions of people prepare to travel after a long holiday weekend. we'll get to that in a moment, but we start here. the world mourning the death of '80s superstar george michael who died on christmas at the age of 53. ♪ should have been with you instead wake me up before you go go ♪ >> the singer/songwriter and music producer became one of the world's -- one of the world's biggest stars. his manager said he died of heart failure peacefully at his home in england, but his publicist said he had not been ill. steve patterson with more now on michael's legendary career. >> hey, craig. good morning to you. the 53-year-old died at his home in england on sunday. police were called to the ski around 2:00, saying they were treating this as unexplained but
gnaw suspicious. meanwhile, his longtime manager has come out to tell the hollywood reporter that he passed away from heart failure. all while tributes from all over the world are now pouring in for a music icon. ♪ freedom freedom >> it's music that made an entire generation move. ♪ baby >> those catchy melodies mixed with a little social commentary. all tied together by glossy, unforgettable hooks, became mega hits. ♪ i don't need your freedom >> and turned george michael from teen pop singer into an international icon. a career spanning four decades, spawning ten number one singles, selling more than 20 million albums in the u.s. alone. ♪ i will be your father figure >> michael rose to fame in the
early '80s as one half of the british pop group wham, with songs like freedom, careless whisper. and wake me up before you go go. ♪ wake me up before you go go >> the group became one of music's biggest acts in the world. before they split in 1986. ♪ i gotta have faith >> the following year, michael's debut solo album won critical acclaim and generated four number one hits. michael, who wrote and produced nearly every element, also became a world famous sex symbol. inate like the sun going down on meinates ♪ >> in the '90s, he had even more chart success, including a smash hit live duet with elton john. but in 1998, the singer made headlines after being arrested for exposing himself to an undercover police officer in an l.a. public restroom. after the incident, michael came out as gay and became an advocate for aids prevention and
gay rights. but the song writer who achieved so much success in his mid-20s said the attention was too much. he told matt in 2004 he wanted his private life back. >> so free to the amount of attention that was being pointed directly at me. >> more recently, he suffered a series of health scares including a near fatal bout of pneumonia in 2011. >> the hospital in australia that they rushed me to was absolutely thebust place in the world i could have been. >> tributes on social media from friends and famous fans began pouring in almost immediately sunday night. including his wham partner, who tweeted heartbroken at the loss of my beloved friend. forever loved. the last christmas for a man who will forever be remembered as a music legend. ♪ last christmas i gave you my heart ♪ ♪ the very next day you gave it away ♪ ♪ this year
>> officials say there was no sign of foul play and that an autopsy will be conducted in due time. meanwhile, michael announced earlier this year that a documentary about his life was set to be released in 2017. craig. >> steve patterson for us this morning. thank you. it has been a busy holiday weekend for the trump transition team. the incoming administration will have to deal with fallout over the obama administration's abstention from a u.n. security council vote friday. that allowed the council to pass a resolution condemning israeli settlements and construction on the west bank and east jerusalem. hallie jackson covering the trump transition from palm beach for us this morning. good morning to you, first of all, how is the president-elect reacting to the u.n. reaction and the condemnation from israel? >> hey, there, craig. he's coming out, no surprise, for forcefully on the size of benjamin netanyahu, tweeting over the weekend, in fact, that
the u.n. security council resolution was, quote, a big loss that could hurt chances for peace to be negotiated. but he pledged that he will be the one to do it, craig. so the president-elect weighing in. when you talk to presidential historians and folks like that, really an unusual move, right? for a president-elect to get involved in this matter and to this degree in matters of foreign relations, international diplomacy, when there is still a current president who has three weeks or so left in his presidency, but as we know, donald trump has never been shy about getting involved in affairs of the united states, and this is no different. >> the president-elect's comments on nuclear weapons and other tweets he posted, i believe this was on friday. united states must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes. this was seen by a number of folks as perhaps a first step in
a new arms race. what's the transition team doing to tamp down that speculation, if anything? >> well, you saw the spokesperson for the president-elect's transition team, one of them, jason miller, trying to, i would say, walk this back a little bit. releases a statement saying president-elect trump was not talking about nuclear proliferation, and i'm paraphrasing here, but the bottom line is what we know from the president-elect himself is what he tweeted, that exact tweet you just read, which nuclear experts were rather shocked by, boss it goes against long-standing u.s. policy. so the question becomes, once donald trump takes office, whether this tweet will end up becoming stated policy for the united states. or not, craig. >> there's been some drama within the transition team itself. you just mentioned jason miller, of course, he was named white house communications director friday. basically stepped down saturday. what's happening here? >> so this was, craig, frankly,
a staff shake-up even before the staff entered the west wing. you saw, for example, the communications team named late last week. sean spicer, jason miller, well, we learned over the weekend that miller is essentially backing out. pulling out, saying he wants to spend more time with his family, and so he would be stepping away from the white house job. sean spicer, who i know you know well, will take over the role as communicationed director and as press secretary, so dual responsibilities for spicer, at least come january, and it's not unusual for someone to decline a white house job in order to spend more time with family. what is unusual is you have a very public acceptance of that role, a public announcement of that role, and then to withdraw one's self from that role. miller will no longer be a part of the team after inauguration. he will still be, our understanding, part of the team through the transition. >> very interesting.
hallie jackson in sunny palm beach, florida, this morning. thank you. >> let's bring in robert, an msnbc contributocontributor, al bush/cheney senior adviser. happy holidays. >> good morning. >> president-elect trump reacti reacting strongly to the abstention on the israeli u.n. security council vote. how unusual is it to criticize the action? >> it's very unusual. typically, president-elects keep their mouth shut and wait until they assume authority on nun of january 20th of that year. back in 1933 when franklin roosevelt was the president-elect, there was actually four months of a transition between november and march. that's when inaugurations were back in march. we were in the throws of the nation depression. president-elect roosevelt was often asked, what are you going to do about x, y, or z?
what are you going to do about unemployment. he would not comment because he wanted to give credit to the president, president hoover. my point is even during drastic economic circumstances, there was only one president at a time, and typically, that president is given the leeway, if you will, to be president until january 20th. >> yet another norm that this president-elect has decided he's going to eschew. this is what he tweeted after the security council vote. here it is. as to the u.n., the united nations, things will be different after january 20th. january 20th, of course, inauguration. there are fewer than a dozen words in that tweet, but it has led to a great deal of speculation. what do you surmise we can take away from that? what might our role in the united nations look like in a trump presidency? >> well, i think based on that tweet, what president-elect trump is saying is we're going to not speak in nuance.
we're not going to speak in vague sentences. we're going to be very declarative about what our positions are, not just in israel, but all across the world. that's very, very different from previous administrations because foreign policy is all about nuance. foreign policy is all about shades of gray. foreign policy is all about body language and making sure you don't offend anyone and making sure you leave yourself a lot of wiggle room. ronald reagan used to always say, you don't ever want to negotiate against yourself. by being so declarativdeclarati sending a signal that things will be different and he's going to run foreign policy much more different. the question is whether or not he's going to be successful. >> nuance, complexity, adjectives to describe foreign policy, if that is the case, why does this president continue to insist on discussing these things in 140 characters or less? >> to be clear, i'm not the president-elect's spokesperson, nor do i work for the administration. i don't know. >> how many times have you said
that? >> i can only surmise. during the presidential campaign, the president-elect was very clear that of two things. one, he could shape news through twitter, and here we are talking about it, so he is shaping news. and secondly, he's always said, and rightfully so, he could directly go to the american people, 25 million subscribers the last time i checked for the president-elect, and he doesn't have to go through the media. one thing you have to say about donald trump all throughout his business life, he knows how to get his message out there. he's pretty much a master at it. >> all right, robert traynham, former republican senior adviser to bush/cheney. good to see you. thank you. happening right now, some 3500 people are searching the waters of the black sea near sochi. they are looking for victims of the military plane crash. that plane went down christmas day. aviation experts at this point say they fear there may have been foul play involved in that crash. the flight was carrying journalists, also carrying
russia's world-famous military choir. in all, some 92 people were onboard. they're all thought to be dead. nbc's lucy cafnauv has been following the latest develops from london. what's the latest on the investigation? >> craig, good morning. christmas day tragedy, and now the authorities are pulling fragments out from the sea, including what appears to be two pieces of the plane's control mechanism. that's according to the russian defense ministry spokesman this morning. no expense spares in the search as russian authorities scramble. helicopters, ships. drones to scour the sea, but it is a search rescue. no rescue. all 92 people onboard presumed dead. now, the tu-154 plane, which took off from moscow, it stopped at sochi to refuel on sunday. then it departed the resort city at about 5:40 a.m. local time. it was bound for syria, but just minutes, craig, minutes after taking off, it disappeared from radar, plunging into the sea in
what authorities describe as good weather conditions. a lot of questions as to why it plunged into the water body. this is very much a christmas day tragedy onboard, where a few soldiers. nine russian journalists. many very young, and more than 60 members of the world-famous ensemb ensemble. this is the official choir of the armed forces. there were singers onboard, dancers, performers, heading to the russian military base in syria in order to perform in a new year's celebration. instead, their stunned families have funerals to plan. there was one couple who was planning their wedding next month. another married couple left behind a three-year-old boy. there was also a famous russian human rights worker onboard, bringing medical supplies to a hospital in syria, and putin declaring today a day of mourning as the search effort continues.
>> lucy kafanov in london, thank you. >> president-elect donald trump again more on this tweet that seems to be announcing the start of a new nuclear arms race. one congressman claims that trump simply tried to distract us from russia's interference in our election. that congressman will join me next. >> also, many of you are waking up preparing to travel home after the holiday. with winter weather slamming much of our country, how bad might that trip me? we'll tell you what to expect as you pack up and head out. save s of dollars on my car insurance with geico. i should take a closer look at geico... geico has a long history of great savings and great service. over seventy-five years. wait. seventy-five years? that is great. speaking of great, check out these hot riffs. you like smash mouth? uh, yeah i have an early day tomorrow so... wait. almost there. goodnight, bruce. gotta tune the "a." (humming) take a closer look at geico. great savings. and a whole lot more.
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president-elect donald trump's biggest supporter speaking out on his behalf today. this after he received some criticism for saying, quote, let it be an arms race. that was a clarification to one of his earlier tweets that america should build up its nuclear capabilities. >> this is the same donald trump that liberals were terrified was going to sell out to putin, who is now pivoted and saided, look, to joet general mattis, we can be your best friend or your worst enemy. you want to make threatening speeches, let me show you what it looks like. he does it in 140 characters. >> some people calling trump's recent tweets a distraction from the real issues. one of those folks is california democratic congressman eric swalwell. thanks for your time on this monday holiday morning. so after trump tweeted that the u.s. should build up its nuclear
capabilities, you then tweeted that trump is trying to distract. trying to distract from the russian hacking with bizarre tweets. you want to clarify that or -- there's your tweet, keep trying to distract. this is to make you forget about russia hacking our democracy. you believe this is part of a coordinated campaign of sorts? >> thanks for having me on. good morning. i'm alarmed like most of the men and women in armed services who serve our country so bravely that donald trump wants to increase the nuclear weapons that the country has when we already have more than any other country. i also see this as a pattern. where when the heat gets hot, he wants to move the pot to a different burner. and we saw this a couple weeks ago when we were all talking about his conflicts of interesting and he puts out a bizarre flag burning tweet and tries to divert us. i'm concerned about his thoughts on nuclear weapons, but i also believe that a real issue that needs to be addressed and donald
trump is uncomfortable talking about it, is russia's role in interfering with our election. that's 17 intelligence agencies have concluded that russia did in fact do that, and despite the overwhelming evidence, donald trump dismisses it and insults the intelligence communities and says they're politicizing it. >> a few weeks ago, you and elijah cummings called for this bipartisan commission, introduced legislation to investigate russia's role in our election. at the time, you said you hoped some republicans would join that effort. has that happened? >> we have seen in the senate that senators graham and mccain have called for a select committee. i think there's a number of ways to go at this, but i believe the best way for the american people to know once and for all who was responsible, how we were so vulnerable, and what we'll do to make sure that no other country does this to us again is to have an independent commission that fully dedicates itself to this that released a declassified report and makes public
recommendations. i'm looking forward to go to washington, d.c. to make sure that gets moving. >> let's turn to your recent trip to south korea and japan. why did you decide to join the house intelligence committee on that trip? >> well, i led that trip, and i went there because recently, their president in south korea was impeached and she's awaiting a constitutional court to rule on that. i also value the friendship that we have with the south koreans, and we have,000offs u.s. troops there to protect south korea from north korea's nuclear weapons ambitions and also to protect the united states from north korea's nuclear ambitions. i found myself assuring the south koreans that we'll do everything we can in congress to not let donald trump have what he wants, which is to make the south koreans go nuclear. he has suggested that they should have a nuclear weapon. i think increasing the number of nuclear weapons in this world is a dangerous thing. the south koreans don't want to do it. they're our friends, but they're
very worried about what a trump administration will bring. >> i want to go back to something you said a few moments ago, this idea that the president-elect has mastered the art of distracting, period, just mastered the art of distracting. is that something that you think once he takes office, that's it, we see the end of that? or is this probably what we are going to have to become accustomed to through the next four years? shiny object over here? >> we'll have to become more agile, but i believe what's going to happen is this may have worked in a presidential campaign, but over a four-year administration, the overwhelming evidence of broken promises and not being able to deliver on what he says will only work for so long. pretty soon, the american people will see through that and see that we have a president-elect who has no core set of values and will pander to anyone who is in front of him. that's going to catch up to him. >> congressman, thank you so much for discussing the important matters.
we did not get a chance to get to your sports teams. it's a shame that the warriors can't seem the beat the cavs. your raiders also seem like they may be in trouble. i'm a big derek carr fan. >> great guy. >> anyway, good to have you. thank you. >> yep, thank you, craig. >> coming up, the holiday weekend coming to a close, but with snow and freezing rain wreaking havoc across the plains, how bad will things be on one of the biggest travel days of the year? >> also, later, with all the gift giving, there's bound to be a few misses in the bunch. what you need to know before you head out to exchange that god awful gift you got. hey, searching for a great used yeah!
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let's take a quick look at some of the top stories this morning. the world mourning the passing of pop icon george michael. he launched his career with '80s duo wham. he died on christmas day at the age of 53. his manager said he died of heart failure. >> a bad cold forced queen elizabeth to miss a traditional church service on christmas morning. in a statement, they say the 90-year-old monarch will continue to, quote, stay indoors to assist with her recovery. and president obama visited u.s. troops at a marine corps base in hawaii, taking part in an annual christmas tradition one last time as president. he thanked the troops, saying it's been a, quote, privilege of my life to serve as commander in chief. >> the holiday storm is paralyzing parts of the midwest and great plains. it was a white christmas in north dakota. check this out. but the weather downright
frightful. freezing rain, ice, howling winds shut down highways. there were pow outages in parts of the dakotas, nebraska, iowa as well. sure to cause chaos for many travelers returning from the weekend. we have you covered on weather, on travel, and how things will look for post-holiday shoppers. let's start with my man, ron mott, who is live for us in chicago. the good news there, though, at least, it would seem, last time we saw you in chicago, it was maybe 1, 2, 3 degrees. at least it's warmer. >> right. exactly, craig. good morning to you. about ten days ago, some of us here were rethinking the meaning of life after that polar vortex came through. windchills 15 to 20 below zero. this morning, the day after christmas, it's 50 degrees. we have light rain falling. we expect the temperatures to start falling after noon and will fall the rest of the day back to the 30 by the end of the day, but take a look just a few states to our west. you mentioned the upper plains got walloped over the weekend.
hundreds of miles of interstate highways closed in north dakota. some still seeing snow today. there may be white-out conditions, for folks drivic back home today, be careful. it will be windy and the snow will be blowing, reducing visibility. back here in chicago, we're expecting a pretty good travel day. checked a while ago with midway. they have about 25 to 30 flights canceled so far. a little trouble there, but o'hare, which is obviously much, much busier, just a handful of flights canceled. it's always a good idea to go online and check before you head to the airport so you don't get out there and get disappointed. a pretty good travel day. we expect once people start to wake up, they'll hit the stores on michigan avenue, bringing back the holiday gifts, getting a good start on the after christmas sales, and other than the lissal bit of rain falling, you can't complain about 50 degrees in chicago, illinois, on december 26th. >> ron mott for us in the windy city. we'll check in with you in a bit. thank you, sir.
in spite of the weather, holiday travel expected to hit record numbers this year. aaa estimating more than 100 million americans will have aveled 50 miles or more by january 2nd. many making their way back home after spending christmas with their loved ones. gabe gutierrez joins me from the world's busiest airport, hartsfield jackson international. how is it looking so far there, good sir? >> hey, there. good morning. yes, aaa expected a 2.5% increase in holiday air travel this year. this is scene right now in atlanta-hartsfield jackson. we're starting to see more volume picking up. at this point, however, no major delays or cancellations to speak of so far. this is some of the larger crowds we have seen all morning, but as you can see there, from that check point sign right there, the wait time is here less 15 minutes. here in atlanta, the world's busiest airport, we desee the ripple effect from if there's bad weather in other parts of the country, it extends to here.
more than 4 million travelers are expected this holiday season. thankfully, though, everything moving smoothly so far. they have bulked up on tsa agents here as well as airport staff. also some of those automated tsa screeners. they have a few here as well, trying to make things go a little more smoothly. as ron mentioned, there are expected to be problems in other parts of the country, the pacific northwest as well as the northeast today, expecting some rough weather. some rain in the northeast. here in atlanta, though, thankfully, temperatures have been mild so far today. we started the day in the 60s, but delays and cancellations can pick up here very quickly as the ripple effects starts to happen. again, lines moving smoothly so far. >> gabe gutierrez, we'll come back to you in a bit as well. thank you. >> there is a blizzard warning in effect in parts of the west. meteorologist bonnie schneider tracking that storm for us.
what are we seeing >> luckily, the blizzard warning in the northern plains will subside by noon today. that's good news. but we're still getting the blowing and drifting snow where travel is just not advised across much of north dakota. parts of the interstates there were shut down last night due to no visibility. as the blizzard conditions end today, we're going to watch for another weather maker. ice and potentially some strong winds across the mid-atlantic into the northeast and new england where we're seeing a little snow develop, maybe an inch to three inches. as we look to the northwest, rain and snow is returning to the region, so it's going to be unsettled for seattle and portland. this will also bring about quite a bit of snow to the cascades. we could see three feet in some of the higher elevations there with the storm. talking about all the wintry weather, i want to make sure you're aware, it's mild with high temperatures in places like tampa and louisville, unseasonably warm conditions. dallas climbing all the way to
near 70. 78 in san antoni it is much colder across the west, where temperatures for highs are in the 20s in salt lake and billings. when you look at the south, boy, 62 in atlanta. these numbers are well above normal for this time of year, and in the northeast, where high temperatures will stay in the 40s, we're watching for the threat later on tonight, especially into pennsylvania, like the hershey area. we could see light freezing drizzle. just be careful. a lot of people driving tonight. want to give them a heads-up. we may have problems, a busy week. even though we're seeing warm weather here across much of the east and south, that will be changing. a lot of this cold air will be pushing further to the east as we go through a good portion of the end of january, really. so we're going to see a flip-flop in terms of the pattern and what we can expect. big changes ahead. >> bonnie schneider, we'll check back in with you in a bit. >> benjamin netanyahu lashing
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jerusalem as well, telling his cabinet, quote, according to our information, we have no doult the obama administration initiated it, the resolution, stoond behind it, coordinated it, coordinated the wording and demanding it be passed. the white house, for its part, has denied that allegation. i'm joined by molly hooper, congressional reporter at the hill, and ozzy, senior writer at politico, new york. thank you for being with me. molly, let me start with you down there in washington. the u.s. abstaining from friday's vote on the resolution. donald trump taking the oath of office less than a month from now. what do we know about how the vote on friday may impact united states diplomacy with israel? >> well, it's interesting because it's not just the united states diplomacy with israel. keep in mind, donald trump talked about netanyahu before the vote came about and took to twitter and basically condemned it, saying that the united
states should veto it. but it's about the u.s. relationship with the u.n., and there's quite a few republican congressmen and senators, including ted cruz, who basically said, you know what, if the u.n. moves a resolution like this, one that hurts israel, maybe the u.s. should stop giving money to the u.n., and that's something that we could see in the early days of congress, and something that donald trump being critical of what's going on at the u.n., could possibly get in favor of, get behind. >> ozzy, the leading democrat on capitol hill, incoming minority leader chuck schumer, strongly critical of the obama administration on this particular issue, staying in a statement, i'm strongly opposed to the u.n. putting pressure on israel through one-sided resolutions, an abstention is not good enough. the administration must veto this resolution. presumably, chuck schumer carrying a fair amount of sway with the white house.
presumably he talked to them and the white house decided we don't care. what happened here? was what the political calculation for the obama administration? >> whenever you have an outgoing president, who is being succeeded from someone from the opposing party, you don't have a lot left on the table and you can do what you want. chuck schumer did have a public fight with the white house over the iran nuclear deal, and they very publicly attacked him for it and said he has no credibility on some of these issues. i don't think an outgoing president really has too much concern about chuck schumer on this particular issue. and remember, obama's relationship with netanyahu, not very good. and ambassador powers had in her statement, had positioned this resolution as something, as in line with u.s. policy going back several administrations. she quoted ronald reagan in the beginning of her remarks and she said this is very consistent with u.s. policy. this was basically obama's way to sort of stick it to
netanyahu. >> the administration all along, as many folks have said, if we are to achieve a two-state solution at any point in our lifetime, this is an essential precondition for that. >> right, and that is -- for some people, a very controversial idea. you know, you have settlements in disputed areas and bricks to build houses, and then opponents who say critics are using bricks to start fights and wars and instigation. they see it as a false equivalence, to compare what's happening in the area with the attempt to build peace. now, obama sort of going forward with this or allowing this to happen says something about where the relationship is with israel and what he was trying to do. donald trump stepping in before he takes office to say i would have done differently, this is a breach of protocol, what you see with transition of power. >> molly, let's pivot and talk
russia. what are you hearing from your sources down there about the specifics of the president-elect's relationship moving forward with that country, with that country's leadership? >> well, what i do know is during the election, a conservative republican said that he had to talk to then vice president nominee mike pence about the concern among republicans for the, quote, putin love that donald trump was showing. it was not doing very well with them at home. they didn't like it. they don't like it. you know, this is one of those situations where there are senators, high-ranking senators including john mccain, who is going to be the chairman of the armed services committee, who have a big disagreement with donald trump on donald trump's purported feelings about dealing with russia, because we really don't know what his policy is because he's nevereld an elecd office. on the one hand, he'll say one day, you know, let's build up our nuclear arms, and on the other hand, he'll say i really
agree with what vladimir putin sent in a christmas letter, wishing good cheer. so it's unclear what his policy position is, but it's very clear what republicans, key republicans on capitol hill think. and they think that russia is not this warm, cozy relationship that trump has sort of made it out to be. in fact, lindsey graham told reporters recently before going home for the break that congress would be a, quote, real hard ass, end quote, on moscow. so that may be one area where we see tensions between the white house and congress, but again, it's unclear because trump will say one thing and he'll do another. >> and that could be applied not just to russia, not just to israel, but a host of other foreign policy -- >> he has been consistent about flip-flopping. >> consistent about his inconsistency. with regards to russia, though, what do you think a year from now, two years from now, we might be talking about with
regards to our relationship with that country and vladimir putin more specifically? >> i think the one unifying thing that can come out of all this is the idea that putin has made russia a bigger country in the psyche of american foreign policy. by having trump, you know, sort of say, let's have an arms race, on twitter of all places, that actually is sort of in line with what donald trump has been saying about let's have a better relationship with russia, in the respect that before donald trump, before this election cycle, russia had not been at the center of american foreign policy to the degree that putin would want it to be. putin was sort of off of the center stage, if you will, when president obama was talking about his foreign policy. and now, the only country that people are talking about with respect to what is america doing on the world stage is russia. so whether or not you're talking about having a bromance between trump and putin or whether
you're having an arms race between them, you're having their relationship be the center of the universe. >> molly, you're shaking your head. why? >> i'm laughing because it's true. if you think about what president obama said at his final press conference of the year, he basically said, russia, they're insignificant. they don't mean anything. they don't produce anything we want. maybe they have oil, but really they don't matter. i think that that's one of the reasons why we have seen the russian government, led by vladimir putin, assert itself, and you know, it's unclear whether, if and when, how they affected our elections, but it's something we're talking about now, and congress is going to investigate, it looks like. i agree. ruia has definitely, you know, reasserted its presence on the national psyche, which is interesting because meanwhile, you have china kind of coming up over here on the side, so it will see which one takes pres
dnls. >> a big thanks to both of you. enjoyed our conversation. >> me, too. >> russia's latest attempts to break up the eu reportedly now involve using far right extremist groups to create chaos. and speaking of chaos, the holidays wrapping up but the shopping sure isn't. let the gift returning season begin. if you're told you have cancer,
mad dash today, similar to the days leading up to christmas, but this time, it has to do with returns. returns costing retailers big bucks. last year, americans returned more than $260 billion in merchandise. that's a lot of ugly sweaters. nbc's morgan radford outside of walmart in new jersey. what's the situation where you are? i don't see a lot of folks behind you, or maybe it's the angle. >> the holiday numbers are up big. the headline estimate, $1 trillion. that's lots of people out there, spending money, boosting the economy. it's up about 4% since last year. november sales alone were up 5%. a lot were bulk online shoppers. they had about a billion in spending. that's up 16%, frankly, more than any of us expected to see, and they had the benefit of being online procrastinators. they were able to get free shipping, last-minute deals. today, of course, the day after
christmas, is the day that a lot of people are returning those items that grandma got that they we weren't really feeling this year. make sure to call the individual retailers because each store has its own return policy. and especially when it comes to those specialty items like drones or television sets. they can have a different return policy than even the rest of the items inside the store. secondly, make sure you bring your id as well as your receipt, and adjust your expectations. be clear that you may not actually get your cash back for that item, but you might get a gift card or store credit. last but not least, even if you were a last-minute shopper, do not be a last-minute return person. we do expect to see the lines to pick up later in the day all across the country. back to you. >> morgan radford for us there in new jersey, thank you. >> i'm joined by retail analyst, author of black market billions, as well. let's start with the good news on a macro level. sales are up. more people, whether it's brick
and mortar, whether it's online. people are buying more stuff. we surpassed, according to morgan there, the trillion dollar mark this year. what's driving this? >> i think people are feeling better about the economy. therefore, when you see this increase in consumer sentiment, people want to go out there and start spending. call it the trump bump. call it, you know, just years of pent-up demand. people are going up and wanting to spend their money. it's also easier to go shopping now. back in the day, you had to go to the mall, get in the car, pay a lot of money for gasoline. now, you can shop from your computer, your foenl, your ipad. it's a lot easier. up until the 11th hour, even, amazon was delivering items, you know, by 10:00 p.m., all the way -- i think the last delivery was at 12:00 a.m. christmas eve night for amazon. >> you mentioned online sales specifically, those sales up 16%, year over year, beating expectations. why do you think that is? is it just because it's easier,
or is it because you can find more deals as well online versus ten yooerears ago? >> a lot of retailers had an aha moments over the last ten years. they realized so much consumer spending is done online. what they have done is beefed up the ability to make it easier to shop online. so walmart, for example, spent almost a billion dollars beefing up their infrastructure online, same thing with nordstrom. because it's so easy, people tend to go online more. we're talking about returns. what's really going to be the crux here is when people start returning those items, and to see if u.p.s., usps, fedex is able to handle the volume. this is a data point from a couple years ago, but usps, united states postal service, saw almost 3 million items returned in the last two weeks after christmas. >> wow. >> so people are really -- this was two years ago, so now it's going to be that much more.
>> when those items get returned, forgive my ignorance, that's a hit on the bottom line for the businesses, right? >> it is. a lot of retailers calculate that into their bottom line numbers, but yes. retailers clearly want people to hold on to those items. but they understand that people are going to return that. the most important thing is that they clear those items off the shelf. that's why when you go into a store, sure, they might give you store credit, but it's always good to negotiate. we don't really do that in this country, but if they're saying we won't give you full price, they might give you a discount if you buy something else. >> haggle. >> go for it. >> thank you so much. thank you for coming by. >> president-elect donald trump says he will shut down his charitable foundation before taking office to avoid conflicts of interest. why is new york's attorney general saying he can't? that's ahead next hour here on msnbc. ♪ if you're going to wish, wish big at the lexus december to remember sales event
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a good monday morning to you. i'm craig melvin. 9:00 a.m. in new york, 6:00 on the best coast. here's what's happening. stunning loss. '80s pop star george michael dies unexpectedly. he was just 53. leaving the music world and a generation of fans in mourning this christmas weekend. alsoer this morning, rising tensions. israel's prime minister accusing president obama of a complete contradiction of u.s. policy, threatening to bypass the
current white house and deal directly with president-elect trump. >> and treacherous travel. a nasty winter storm sweeping across the upper midwest, churning out blizzard conditions with winds up to 60 miles per hour. we'll get to all of that in just a moment, but we start with the world mourning the sudden passing of '80s pop star george michael, who died on christmas day at the age of 53. ♪ got a body like you, but i got to think twice ♪ ♪ before i give my heart away >> michael, the british pop icon, was a teen sensation as part of the group wham, before he went solo, he sold well over 100 million albums worldwide. also won numerous grammys. he made headlines in a career that was at times controversial, but it spanned some four decades. nbc's steve patterson is co