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tv   Morning Joe  MSNBC  June 14, 2017 3:00am-6:01am PDT

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or election in the united states, and the suggestion that i participated in any collusion, that i was aware of any collusion with the russian government to hurt this country or to undermine the integrity of our democratic process is an appalling and detestable lie. >> there was a lot he could not recall, joe, but a defiant jeff sessions insists he had nothing to do with russia's role in the presidential election. still the attorney general chose not to answer key questions particularly over the firing of james comey. today we have kamala harris, chris coons, richard blumenthal, claire mccaskill, jack reid. our hotlines remain open to any republican senator -- >> any republican at all. >> who would like to join the conversation. >> if you feel the spirit -- if the spirit moves in you and you
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want to pick up that phone right now, call into the hour of power, you can do that. we have talked to you, i've talked to you, so many of you. it's kind of like somebody that doesn't want to make their dedication of faith. you want to do it, want to step out but you're not ready. >> i will assure you you'll be treated with love and respect you do that. actually, mika, the republicans in a terrible position. they have a president with a 36% approval rating, 60% disapproval rating. >> that's incredible. >> right now they just don't want to be seen defending donald trump because unfortunately they can't talk about what they want to talk about which is they want to cut taxes. way want to cut corporate taxes. they want to do things they think will stimulate job growth, get it over 3%. they want to pass a health care
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reform bill. none of this can happen because, as we see, center stage in washington, d.c., you continue to have administration officials in the lime line, and yesterday it really didn't clear anything up. remember at the beginning of the day we were talking about how jeff sessions had to answer was this secret third meeting. we said, it's sort of ambiguous, someone is telling the truth, somebody is lying. he told three different stories at the beginning, that's strong and defiant. halfway through the hearing it seemed like he was saying he forgot. at the end of the hearing he was saying, well, even if i did meet with him, i don't remember. so if this administration, and more importantly, the republicans on the hill want this to get behind them, the administration is going to have to do a better job in helping them get to the things that they want to do, like reform the tax
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code. >> seemed to be three answers for a lot of questions. we'll get into that. joining us onset, veteran columnist and msnbc contributor mike barnicle, former fbi special agent clint watts, nbc news capitol hill correspondent kasie hunt and columnist and associate editor for "the washington post" david ignatius who got an interesting book plug by jeff sessions himself in yesterday's hearing -- it was tom cotton -- interaction with tom cotton. >> whatever else you say about jeff sessions, he's a discriminating reader. >> he did mention your book as well. one of the big questions looming over the hearing, how many times did jeff sessions meet with the russian ambassador and why did they meet? . over the first hour of testimony, the attorney genuine ched towards acknowledging he may have met with the kremlin official at the washington hotel in april of 2016, an encounter he had not previously disclosed.
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>> i did not have any private meetings nor do i recall any conversations with any russian officials at the mayflower hotel. i recall several conversations during the pre speech reception. i don't have any recollection of meeting or talking with the russian ambassador or any other ruks officials. if any brief interaction occurred in passing with the russian ambassador during that reception, i don't remember it. i understand he was there, so i don't doubt that he was. i believe that representations are correct. in fact, i recently saw a video of him coming into the room. >> but you never remember having a conversation or meeting with ambassador kislyak? >> i do not. >> i don't recall it, senator warner. certainly i can assure you nothing improper, if i had a conversation with him, and it's conceivable that that occurred. i just don't remember it.
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>> mika, you've been to a lot of places where you're in the center of a place and you have a crush of people coming around you and they're passing you cards, and somebody is grabbing you and talking to you. by the way, at that point jeff sessions, people know he's going to be something in the trump administration if trump wins because he was the first senator on. it's not as if people are wearing russian flags and french flags and bulgarian tags, say we're coming here to influence you. i think that's plausible. there are a lot of people trying to get close to trump, close to sessions and the inner team. who knows, maybe he had a brief passing -- that doesn't seem implausible. >> if they did, why would they talk about anything amidst all these people. the bigger question is wooi did he meet at all with the russian
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ambassador during the campaign. here is what he said they discussed, the invasion of y ukrai ukraine. but to the best of his memory, little else was mentioned about policy in their meeting. >> did you raise concerns about the president's support of bashar al assad and the use of chemical weapons? >> i don't recall whether that was discussed or not. >> did you raise concerns about russia's interference in our electoral process or interference in the electoral processes of our allies? >> i don't recall that being discussed. >> at those meetings, if you spoke with ambassador kislyak in your capacity as member of the armed services committee, you presumably talked with limb about russia-related security issues that you have demonstrated as important to you as a member of the committee? >> did i discuss issues -- >> i don't recall you as being particularly vocal on such issues. what russia-related security issues did you hold hearings on or otherwise demonstrate a keen
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interest in? >> we may have discussed that. i just don't have a real recall of the meeting. >> david ignatius, i'm not circling the wagons for jeff sessions. i know, as you know, there are thousands of different types of meeting in washington, d.c. if it's a get-to-know-somebody meeting -- i don't know what this is, we've hammered him for that. as far as the actual substance of the meeting, i met with jerry adams back in like 1997, 1998, a guy whose policies in ireland i detested for 20 years. but jerry adams was in the united states to reach out. they were trying to make a peace deal and sat there and talked to him. again, it was sort of a
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getting-to-know-you meeting. this does happen in washiton, d.c. where you go in and you're trying to meet somebody so you can negotiate and build a relationship. you don't come out guns blazing, unless you're john mccain, which we love him for that as well. >> i thought it was believable, certainly about this mayflower how tell meeting, that he didn't have a recollection of it. what's harder to defend is his initial statement that there had been no meetings at all. that the kind of thing that good staff work should have protected him from. i thought it was inappropriate to blame al franken for asking the question. he said it was a rambling question and hard to answer. i think the harder part for jeff sessions was his refusal to talk about conversations with president trump, not to assert privilege in doing so, but just to say he wasn't going to answer the questions. i think that's going to stick
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here. also, his tone was so indignant, so angry. detestable lies he said. there was more angry really than substance in the response. i think it was a day where we just had a sense of the way in which this is deadlocked on dlil and the way the administration has hunkered down as in his testimony. >> who knows? maybe he was talking to an audience of one. but as we move past the contents of that meeting, i want to go, david, to what you just talked about as far as him not revealing any conversations with the president of the united states. either he's going to assert presidential privilege or he's not. and the trump team have been dancing around this now for the past several days. it seems that they're going to have to make a decision one way or the other or things are just going to get worse for him. >> i had exactly the same feeling, joe, in the questions
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from ron wyden, senator angus king. you had a sense of real anger. this question of whether privilege is being asserted by the white house is going to now come center stage, and it may be litigated. i think the white house probably does not want to litigate this, but this will be one of the highlights of this period of the investigation will be the test of executive privilege, and if they lose on this, we're going to have to hear from sessions about the discussions that led to comey's firing. clearly, he talked with the president about it. >> mika, another interesting thing that happened, and i have a feeling that you may want to talk about this because you talked about it before, but the junior senator from california, senator harris, once again called out by men on the committee because they thought
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that she was too assertive. last night on a network she was called hysterical when, of course, ron wyden was very aggressive. nobody called him hysterical. >> jeff sessions was quite colorful. >> jeff sessions was colorful and indignant. how dare you, sir? beauregard doesn't answer questions like that. nobody called him hysterical. that called kamala harris hysterical for the second week in a row. >> a secondary story given the nature of the questions being asked, but an important story. the differences between what is expected and what is allowed between men and women even on the national stage when the cameras are on them and there should be at least an attempt at equality is pathetic. kamala harris will be our guest this morning and i can't wait to talk to her about that, and also about the questions she's trying
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to ask in the middle of being told that she's rude but a lot of rude, white older men. having said that, kasie hunt, what is the reaction on capitol hill? are you hearing from republicans, and what are you hearing behind the scenes? >> first, to your point of what you were talking about with kamala harris, one thing i think that is happening is she's being elevated, she's having a moment i think as democrats are searching around for who their next leader is going to be, it has been something that has caught a lot of attention, the fact she's now stepping out, coming on this show. she hadn't done things like that before this kind of started to happen. she's getting her feet under her on the national stage. i think it's honestly going to backfire on republicans if they keep it up. as for your other question, look, i think one acknowledgment -- yesterday i spoke to marco rubio after the hearing and he acknowledged that
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jim comey and jeff sessions recounted events differently under oath. which means that somebody is misrepresenting these conversations. i think that goes to what david ignatius was talking about, a key piece of this puzzle is what did the president talk to jeff sessions about as it related to the comey firing and jeff sessions' recusal -- or i think there are some democrats who believe he wasn't completely recused and he did speak to the president about this investigation. if that comes out, that's what democrats are going to focus on. >> very good point. the white house has given three different reasons for why the president fired james. was it because of his mismanagement of the fbi? was it because of his mishandling of the clinton e-mail investigation? or was it because of the russia investigation as the president himself stated. in yesterday's hearing attorney general jeff sessions pointed to all three at different times.
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>> i presented to the president my concerns and those of deputy attorney general rod rosenstein about the on going leadership issues at the fbi as stated in my letter recommending the removal of mr. comey. >> one of the comments you made in your testimony was that you had reached this conclusion about the performance of then director comey's ability to lead the fbi, that you agreed with deputy attorney general rosenstein's memo. the fact that you worked with director comey for some time, did you ever have a conversation as a superior of director comey with his failure to perform or some of these accusations that he wasn't running the fbi in a good way or somehow the fbi was in turmoil? did you have any conversations with director comey about those subjects? >> i did not. >> so you were his superior and
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there were some fairly harsh things said about director comey. you never thought it was appropriate to raise those concerns before he was actually terminated by the president? >> i did not do so. >> this was based on mr. comey's handling of the investigation involving hillary clinton in which you said that he usurped the authority of prosecutors at the department of justice? >> yes, that was part of it. and the commenting of the investigation in ways that go beyond the proper policies. >> on "nbc nightly news" the president stated he was going to fire comey regardless of the recommendation. i'm puzzled about the recommendation because the
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decision had been made. what was the need for you to write a recommendation? >> well, we were asked our opinion, and when we expressed it, which was consistent with the memorandum and letter we wrote, i felt comfortable, and i guess the deputy attorney general did, too, in providing that information in writing. >> so do you concur with the president that he was going to fire comey regardless of recommendation because the problem was the russian investigation? >> senator feinstein, i guess i'll have to let his words speak for himself. >> mike barnicle. >> clint, it was interesting watching the attorney general of the united states stonewall a senate investigation into russian interference in the basics of our american democracy, our electoral system. it was also interesting to hear the attorney general say he had
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never once been briefed on russian interventions, that he reads about it in the papers, that's where he gets his news. sort of like what the president has said about a couple of things. the split between he and the former fbi director jim comey was truly interesting, he had not spoken to him, but signed off on a letter essentially indicting mr. comey for mismanagement of the fbi. >> what we learned from yesterday is trump and sessions both went to the same school for bad leadership and poor judgment. how can you praise the fbi director consistently in the lead-up to the election and immediately turn around and fire him without talking to him whatsoever. they never went to comey and said you're doing a bad job. they instead did the reverse. we know trump called comey on several occasions, but when it came time to fire him, he sent a letter via courier to fbi headquarters. that's inconsistent. the other thing we found out
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was, yes, comey did go to sessions and say this should not happen. what did attorney general sessions do? he did nothing. when you look at the nagts's chief prosecutor, sessions and you watch him not answer questions and you ask if in a court of law he was going after criminals and they would not answer questions, what would he do as a chief prosecutor? he would go crazy in that scenario. >> joe, you being a lawyer and listening to that yesterday, probably, as i was,tunned that despite my intrica study of thomas jefferson and john adams, i never realized there was an inappropriateness clause apparently in the constitution. jeff sessions said it would be inappropriate or not ab yacht for me to answer that question. how does he get away with the senate not whacking him for contempt of congress. >> i would have -- if i had been a republican or democrat, i
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would have spend my entire time saying, are you saying the president is claiming executive privilege or not, attorney general sessions? he tried to have it both ways. he said, well, no, he hasn't claimed executive privilege, but he may in the future, so i'm not going to tell you today. that's not how it works. the president has either claimed it or he has not claimed it. if he has not claimed it, then jeff sessions needs to answer. there are other inconsistencies, mike, that some people pounded on. i think this is a hearing, the further you get away from it, the more questions it's going to raise. he sat there claiming that he supported the firing of comey, if you looked at the letter, because of all the missteps that had taken place during the clinton investigation. the clinton investigation that both he and donald trump praised during the campaign. the fbi director that both he and donald trump praised during
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the campaign. they were talking about how brave he was, what a great american he was. jeff sessions did and then donald trump did. these people that think we have the short of attention spans as the president of the united states don't understand it's all on tape. mika, even the president of the united states himself the day after comey was fired, he blew their cover to lester holt. his spokesperson blew his cover to the press corps when they said they fired comey because he wanted to end the russia investigation. president trump blew that cover when he went before the russians and said i fired him to get pressure off of me in this russia investigation. clearly that aspect of his testimony just wasn't true, and again, raises more questions than answers. >> and questions that will be answered. this is just the beginning. and the farther you do get away
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from the sessions testimony, the more questions you're left with. as kasie hunt pointed out, somebody is lying. we've already got conflicts between him and comey. we kind of have to wait and there are more hearings ahead and more questions to be answered and they will be answered. we'll talk about this more coming up. we want to get to the breaking news this morning out of london. a massive fire tore through a large apartment building in the middle of the night when many of the building's residents were sleeping. officials confirm at least six dead, more than 50 others taken to area hospitals. nbc news chief global correspondent bill neely is live on the secene. what the st? >> reporter: this is clearly a catastrophic incident. you can see the tower block behind me, 24 stories high, still smoking and still flames coming out of the top floors whereas stoppishingly, firefighters are trying to clear the floors, trying to figure out
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exactly how many people have died. within the last few minutes, the metropolitan police in london said six people are confirmed dead, more than 50 have been taken to half a dozen london hospitals. it started around ten hours ago. still smoking. we don't know how it started, but it spread very, very rapidly. one resident said to me that it just went up like a flash. some of the residents and people living nearby telling me really quite distressing stories of people screaming for help from windows. one woman told nbc news that she saw another woman throw a baby out of a ninth floor window which was caught by a neighbor. other people right up at the top there using their cell phones as flashlights and trying to get help. fires, hundreds of them desperately trying to get them that help. we don't know how it started, but this building has been renovated for the last year at a cost of $11 million.
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residents are angry because they say they had said for years that this building was a fire safety hazard. the building was supposed to be upgraded to include things like smoke alarms and a central alarm system, but it seems from people we've been talking to that no central fire alarm went off. people only got out because of their individual smoke alarms. a lot of questions to be answered, and this -- well, the fire still on going and the firefighters still there. mika, joe. >> nbc's bill neely, thank you very much. still ahead on "morning joe," one of the senators who questioned jeff sessions, california democrat kamala harris from the judiciary committee, senator chris coons, the top democrat on homeland security, missouri's claire mccaskill and the ranking member of armed service, senator jack reed joins us. we'll be right back with much more "morning joe." ♪
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this is a great plan. i actually think it will get even better. it's a great plan and ultimately that's what it's all about. what we have is something very, very incredibly well crafted. as much as we've come up with a really incredible health care plan, this has brought the republican party together. this is a real plan. this is a great plan. >> well, there you go. >> if you're keeping score at home, this is a great plan, this is an incredibly well drafted plan, mika. >> oh, great. >> this is an incredible health care plan. the president announcing that from the white house beer gardens -- actually no beer. but announcing it and i feel really badly about that. >> why? >> because i tweeted and said on the air several times before the
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vote that republicans should not vote for that health care bill because they were going to get stuck with it in the future and that the president would just throw them under the bus. anybody with that fulsome of praise for the health care bill, the president proved me wrong. he decided, i'm going to stick by this bill because this is a great plan, it's an incredibly well drafted plan, and we're usually pretty good at that stuff. i said he was a day trader, wanted a ribbon cutting event, don't bet your future. i guess i need to apologize because he loves this house health care bill. >> two senate aides now tell nbc news that president trump described the house legislation as, quote, mean. >> mean? >> mean, like not nice. >> mika, hold on. he said it was a great plan.
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he said it was an incredibly well drafted plan. >> i know. the associated press was first to report -- >> how can he say it's mean now? >> because it is, number one. least he's telling the truth. in response the white house issued a statement saying we aren't going to comment on rumors about private conversations that may or may not have happened. senators say the president discussed the idea of a more generous health care bill. the language here is incredible, by the way -- would not deny or confirm whether he called the house legislation mean. take a look. >> his message was that there's a sense of urgency about this, we can't afford to fail, we've got to get it done and he's certainly fine with the senate taking a different direction than what the house did. he talked about making sure that we have a bill that protects people with pre-existing conditions and helps people. we talked a little bit about the
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tax credit and how we make that work for lower income, elderly people and design it differently than what they did in the house. >> i think he was favorable towards a -- towards a more generous package. >> did he use the word mean? >> did he say the house health care bill was mean? >> i'm not going to comment on that. >> yikes. >> kasie, the real danger here and for those of us who have been around long enough -- not you, kasie, but certainly mike barnicle and i. we've seen this happen time and time again. bill clinton in 1993 desperately wanted to pass a tax package through the house of representatives, so he put a btu tax, a tax on energy to pass through the house. those democratic house members jumped over the cliff. the second it goss to the senators, the senators said, oh, that's just too tough on working class americans. guess what?
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all those house members went up in flames in the next year election in part because they voted for the btu tax. there are a lot of house members now hearing that what donald trump was shoving them over the hill for he's now calling mean and senators get to ride into the rescue being the nice guys. >> it's too bad jon meacham is not around, i'll make a reference to the teacup and the saucer from way back in the founding times. that's exactly what's going on here. the reality is we knew this was never going to pass the senate the way it came out of the house. they had to push it so far to the right to make the freedom caucus members happy. if they are able to get a version through the senate, it's unclear how they then turn around and get that version passed through the house again without any democratic support. i think these senators are rightly concerned about their own potential problems at home if they vote in favor of this bill. the reality is mitch mcconnell
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in the senate is never going to do anything that will hurt the electoral prospects of his senators. if he has any number priority, it's rin taning control for republicans, adding seats if he can. he knows putting the house bill on the floor of the senate is something that would ultimately be bad in republicans that are in places where, say, they expanded medicaid or something along those lines. it's just not a tenable situation to move forward. we'll see about the timeline, mcconnell saying privately they want to do it by july fourth. i think it's clear there's enough opposition that the president has to bring these people up for lunch. i think that's a little fast. >> mike barnicle, at the end of the day, if you remember the house didn't want to vote on this bill, but you were pressured by the president do vote for this bill, said my presidency depends on it. is my bill. i'm behind it. i'm going to back you up. now he's calling your vote a vote for a mean piece of legislation that hurts people. well, you've got to be failing
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in the mortal words of grateful dead that you've been set up like a bowling pin. >> yeah, joe. what probably happened is the president was at one of his golf clubs this past weekend and maybe his caddie complained about the health care bill. that's the way this thing works. the other way this works and kasie put her finger on it, mitch mcconnell's top priority is making sure he maintains control of the senate. his top priority is not helping to come up with a health bill that is best for everyone, for more people than not in this country. health care is hard. it was hard for bill clinton and his administration. hard for george w. bush and his administration, certainly hard for barack obama. now you have donald trump and his administration seemingly trying to come to grips with items like portability, pre-existing condition, things that people have now and don't want removed from their health care proposal -- health care plans. >> mika, i think it's telling
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that mitch mcconnell comes from a state that has some of the poorest counties in america, and he knows as well as anybody what is going to happen if that house bill were to pass which, of course, nobody ever thought it was going to pass and understands that you can't pass a bill that even the congressional budget office says takes 24, 25 million people off of health care roles. however you want to define that, even if you want to take issue with that sort of language, understand that's how this debate has been framed. that would hurt all republicans and hurt working class americans. >> absolutely. coming up, senator richard blumenthal is heading to court and bringing president trump with him. the connecticut democrat is filing a federal lawsuit against the president for allegedly violating the constitution. nearly 200 other democrats are joining the case. the former prosecutor is among the many senators who will join us this morning.
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the attorney general dodged
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most interesting question he was asked. we decided to spice it up. we took audio from sessions' testimony and paired it with looney tunes cartoon. the result is testimony the whole family can enjoy. >> general sessions, respectfully, you're not answering -- >> what is the question? >> the question is, mr. comey said that there were matters with respect to the recusal that were problematic and he couldn't talk about them. what are they? >> why don't you tell me. there are none, senator wyden, there are none, i can tell you that for absolute certain. >> do you remember those cartoons? i loved looney tunes. that's how old i am. joining ut from capitol hill, democratic senator chris coons of delaware and david ignatius, i defer the first question to you. you can see if the good senator
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has read your book or not. >> i'm eager for bipartisan plugs, but senator, let me ask you about the other big event yesterday, the questioning of the deputy attorney general rod rosenstein before your committee. were you satisfied with the answers he gave on the big question the people have been discussing this week which is whether the president might have authority to fire special counsel robert mueller? >> david, i was encouraged by the number of senators, republicans and democrats who pressed rod rosenstein about bob mueller, about whether he would fire him, about what he thinks is the scope of the president's authority through him to direct his firing. he made it very clear that he would only fire him for cause and he understood the statute to require that he have cause and give details in writing and said he saw no reason for bob mueller to be fired. i was not satisfied with the
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absence of the attorney general, and my questioning of rod rosenstein really focused on what i think is the reasons the attorney general violated the scope of his recusal from any matters involving the investigations into the presidential campaigns. i got a very unsatisfying answer from rod rosenstein. this was just another moment when attorney general sessions had initially committed to appear in front of our subcommittee, and at the last moment changed and appeared in front of a different committee. >> do you, senator, have any sense about what former fbi director james comey was referring to when he said there were problematic issues involving attorney general sessions that would lead to his recu recusal? the attorney general refused absolutely to deal with that question when it was put to him by ron wyden. do you have any insight into
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that? >> i don't have any insight into that. that was referred to a closed door session. there were press reports about what that might have been about. that's exactly why i think the attorney general and the fbi director would appear before the judiciary committee. we have jurisdiction over the phish, the department of justice. we have not had the attorney general in front of us and have not had the opportunity to question attorney general sessions either about the on going operations of the department of justice under his leadership which is supposed to appear before us every year or about this specific issue relating to the firing of jim comey. >> senator, i guess you could view, if you're charitable enough, you could view yesterday's senate hearing as a portrait of patience among the united states senators. here we had the attorney general of the united states sitting before a senate panel trying to get to the bottom of an act of war against us by russia. you had the attorney general consistently refusing to answer
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questions or being intentionally evasive in answering questions. and i'm wondering why no one has raised the issue of citing the attorney general for contempt. >> that's a great question, mike. i'll tell you, it was deeply troubling to see someone as aggressive in his patriotism as a senator bobbing and weaving as attorney general, and clearly from the record disinterested in the details of russia's attack on our democracy in our last election. former fbi director comey was very clear last week in his testimony to the intelligence committee that russia engaged in a broad-sweeping, thorough and aggressive interference in our 2016 election, and if we don't do more to push back, put costs on them and prepare for the next elections, we will suffer severe consequences because they're just going to keep coming. >> senator, there was a little discrepancy between what jim comey said in his testimony about his conversation with the
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attorney general where he essentially made this plea, don't leave me alone with the president. jim comey said, the attorney general said nothing. the attorney general testified to basically the opposite. he said he did respond. i'm wondering who you believe. >> frankly, i found the fbi director to be a very credible witness. there are a number of ways how the testimony corroborated core aspects of the fbi's story. there were a few differences as you referenced. that's why i'm encouraged we have bob mueller as special counsel continuing to va investigate the possibility of obstruction by the president and senior members of his team. i'm optimistic that the scope of recusal question that i've been pressing, it is being taken up by special counsel mueller. >> senator chris coons, thank you so much. joe, i have to say i think mueller is really what this whole situation needs after yesterday. >> really interesting that "the
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new york times" reporting that melania trump who is now in washington along with their son, i think that is good news for america, actually advised her husband that he should look at mueller as a positive development and that he will get through it quickly and she believed the appointment of mueller would speed the resolution of the russia scandal, expressing her view that he would be exonerated. so there you go. mika, as you know, i grew up in the southern baptist church, and one of the things i learned is when you do tinvitation at the end, sometimes you can't do four verses at the end. you figured at some point somebody was going to have to go to the front, the invitation or we would never get out and get
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to go to morrison's. i learned that. we kept inviting people to come on this show from my party, and somebody answered our call. somebody answered the invitation. tom cotton will be with us. >> wondering where you were going with this. >> good old southern boy. i bet he's a southern baptist, too. he understands the importance of invitations. tom cotton coming up on "morning joe." excuse me, are you aware of what's happening right now? we're facing 20 billion security events every day. ddos campaigns, ransomware, malware attacks...
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president trump was talking with a group of senators about health care when he slipped in a pretty important day. take a look at this. >> i've been talking about repealing and replacing obamacare now for almost two years. don't forget on june 16th -- june 14th was my birthday but june 16th was the day i announced i was running. >> i don't want anyone to do anything special, but i love
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surprise parties. june 14th, not the 16th. >> wow. >> how about that. so today is the president's birthday. happy birthday, mr. president. he's 71 today. and about as energetic, more energetic would wish. but happy birthday, mr. president. 71. let's go do -- mika, wish the president happy pert day. i called him donald to somebody. they said, call him mr. president. we knew him for ten years as donald. there's an adjustment. do you want to say happy birthday. >> mike was going to sing happy birthday, mr. president. >> right. i attempted to. >> he was going to do it in a sultry voice. >> i attempted to during the break but she told me not to. >> he was trying his breathy, happy birthday, but i didn't want to see it. >> i think mike barnicle not doing it for him is probably the best birthday present mike could
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give him. let's go to kasie hunt. let me ask you about something that happened yesterday. we heard there was doing to be a ban on reporters doing in hallways following around senators filming them, doing certain interviews. obviously deeply concerning. it eventually got adjusted, but whose idea was it and why do they even consider breaking a tradition that, my gosh, i would guess has been around since the place opened up. >> joe, you remember. you were chased through office hallways i'm sure plenty of times when you were a member of the house. look, this is long-standing decades of precedent that reporters with cameras hang out in the senate office buildings and ask questions. you see us do it all the time. the capital building itself has different rules. essentially what happened yesterday was all of us were going about the normal course of business. staff from radio senate gallery that works with us every day
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came to us and said, a verbal directive, you are now no longer allowed to strapped here, not allowed to film. if you want to film a senator you have to have permission from the senator and senate rules committee, given a specific number, to try to call in advance. >> kasie, whose idea was this? whose idea was that? >> well, it's funny, joe. nobody really wants to take credit for it. senator shelby runs the rules committee. that is his staff that came out with this, which would suggest he was on board. the statement he put out said, no, no. this was just a suggestion. we never intended to change any of this, to change the way things are run. they say they were citing a rule on the pooks from 1993 that they said prohibits what we do every day. but obviously this is, you know, essentially a precedent that has
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been there for quite sometime. it did not take very long to be reversed, senator klobuchar said she had not been consulted and we were soon told to operate as we did yesterday. >> david ignatius, that sounds like amateur hour there. you would think at a time when a senate investigation is on a lot of americans' minds whether they are going to be transparent or not, breaking hundreds of years of rules of reporters having access to their leaders seems like an extraordinary clumsy thing to do. >> it's clumsy. congress is the people's house. it's a place where still reporters can interact with members of congress. they are too cut off as it is. we used to joke that the most dangerous place in washington was to be between the member of congress and a tv camera because they were eager to be filmed and photographed. i think that's still true.
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i'm not surprised this silly idea was withdrawn so quickly. >> kasie, thank you so much. still ahead not long ago house intel committee was in disarray, which may be exactly where president trump wanted it. we're going to talk to one of the members about where the russia investigation stands today. plus two members of the senate intel committee, ckam la harris and republican tom cotton. "morning joe" back in a moment. yeah, liberty mutual 24-hour roadside assistance helped him to fix his flat so he could get home safely. my dad says our insurance doesn't have that. don't worry - i know what a lug wrench is, dad. is this a lug wrench? maybe? you can leave worry behind when liberty stands with you™. liberty stands with you™. liberty mutual insurance. explore your treatment options
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i did not have any private meetings nor do i recall any conversations with any russian officials at the mayflower hotel. i do not have any recollection -- i do not remember -- i did not remember that. if i had remembered it, or if it actually occurred, whichior that -- which i don't remember it did. i don't remember it. i still do not recall it. not to my recollection. i don't have any recollection. i don't know. i don't know. i'd have to rack my brain but i don't recall it. i don't think i had any direct involvement. so i don't recall that. i cannot say with certainty i did not. have no recollection of a discussion. i don't recall any such meeting. i don't recall any such conversation. i don't recall it. i have racked my brain, and i do not believe so. i don't recall any. i don't recall it. i don't recall.
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i don't recall. i don't not recall. no. i'm not sure. i don't recall. i don't know. i don't recall it. i don't recall that. >> and are you aware -- >> at this moment, i don't believe so. i don't recall whether that was discussed or not. i don't recall that being discussed. i just adopt have a real recall of the meeting. i don't recall. >> every minute. did you see the time stamp? >> that's amazing. this is obviously not a guy you'd want as a partner on jeopardy. he doesn't remember anything. >> he remembers absolutely nothing. >> let alone you wouldn't want him to be your attorney in court. >> how about the attorney general. >> attorney general for the united states. for those answers you wouldn't want him to do a house closing for you. >> you wouldn't want a house closing. you certainly wouldn't want to be the guy you're going to take up on appeal with you that has to recall case law because he
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recalls absolutely nothing. >> nothing. >> jeffrey goldberg is with us. >> he is. >> from the atlantic. >> i've got someone scowling at me from the right. >> i'm smiling. >> that's a smile? >> mr. happy. my god, mika, stop. you're being a misogynist again just because he's a man. >> don't put it on her. >> i started that. so jeffrey, we were joking about attorney general sessions total lack of recall, but there's another disturbing trend we talked about last hour. that is how incurious both attorney general and president of the united states are when it comes to the russians hacking into our election process and trying to hack into election machines and the warnings they have received they are coming back in 2018, 2020. they are doing to keep trying to disrupt our democracy. jeff sessions yesterday said he
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had never been briefed on russian hacking since he'd be attorney general. donald trump, of course, saying that in his nine meetings with comey -- in the nine meetings with comey, not once did comey and trump talk about russia. >> right. right. so this is the scandal, right? this might be the actual scandal. the incuriosity or purported incuriosity of the attorney general of the united states. if i were the attorney general of the united states and say, by the way, i think russia is trying to steal our election, i might say do i have any mechanisms within my vast justice department to look at this. i would think this would be probably item number one on my agenda, maybe number two after counter-terrorism. but this seems to be it. it's not credible. either it's a sign of it's not credible, or it's cause for removal because it's too important not to be curious
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about. >> as with -- >> the tape really quickly just to show everybody. this is jeff sessions yesterday saying he did not ask any questions about the russian hacking and he's not been briefed. >> do you believe the russians interfered with 2016 elections? >> it appears so. the committee seems to be united in that. i have to tell you, senator king, i know nothing other than what i've read in the paper. >> you never asked for a briefing or attended a briefing or read the intelligence reports. >> you might have been very critical of me if i as an active part of the campaign with us seeking intelligence relating to something that might be relevant to the campaign. i'm not sure -- >> i'm not talking about the campaign, i'm talking about what the russians did. you received no briefing on the russian active measures in connection with the 2016 election? >> no. i don't believe i ever did. >> did the president in any of
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those interactions that you've shared with us today ask you what you should be doing or what our government should be doing or the intelligence community to protect america against russian interference in our election system? >> i don't recall a conversation like that. >> never? >> no. >> do you find it odd -- >> not with president trump. attended a fair number of meetings on that with president obama. >> so there you have it, david ignatius. david, you have jeff sessions saying he doesn't believe he's ever been briefed on the russians trying to undermine american democracy. i'm not exactly sure how you don't recall if you've been briefed on the russians trying to undermine your country's democracy and its democratic processes but that's what jeff sessions said. you have james comey, nine meetings with donald trump. donald trump never once asked about the russians trying to
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undermine our democratic process. what do you make of all of this? >> i think sessions lack of knowledge is partly explicable because of the fact he recused him from the russian investigation. had he asked questions after that or immediately before we might well have said that was improper. the thing that is absolutely mystify here is the president's utter lack of interest in what mike partner kell correctly described earlier as an assault on the united states and our system of democracy. the president wasn't asked about it, dismissed it as a hoax, fake news, something he didn't believe was serious. and so for months this has been allowed to fester. we thank goodness finally have, in robert mueller, a special counsel who is going to dig to the bottom of this and answer
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questions about which the president and attorney general are incurious. that's going to give the country some absences. >> along with jeffrey goldberg we have fbi special agent clint watts and msnbc contributor. also on capitol hill we have national security and legal reporter at the "new york times" charlie savidge and also the finance anchor at yahoo!. from your perspective, you had some choice thoughts about not only sessions testimony but the president's lovely cabinet meeting as it pertains to your parents. i'd love that to be shared with the table a little bit. >> i just said that is one of the main reasons as to why my parents brought me to this country from the former soviet union because the lauding of praise on leaders, whether it was heartfelt or not was something that was mandatory in the soviet union. here these cabinet members seem to have options and they chose not to go with their dignity and
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instead wanted to, as we heard, put the president in a better mood. >> as you heard from jeff sessions, at times when you could actually engage a russian ambassador or the rest of the president, no discussion about russia tampering with the election, no questions, no briefings, nothing? this not an issue. >> he seemed to speak in hypotheticals. yes, it would be a bad thing if russia tried to tamper in our elections. yes, this is something i may distance myself from the campaign if this were proven true. you compare that with what you heard from james comey last week where if there was one thing he wanted to get across on a bipartisan level was that the russians hacked into our elections and they continue to do so. >> mike barnicle. >> charlie, is there anything in your background in terms of covering this story over a long period of time that would lead you to believe that the attorney general by recusing himself from
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the investigation of jim comey, recusing himself of that, of one aspect of this, would prevent him from receiving a briefing on an act of war against us by russia? >> in fairness to attorney generals sessions, i think the answer to that is yes. it's not like there are two different investigations, one about russia and its active measures focused on what moscow was doing and a separate one about whether the trump campaign or people associated with it might have coordinated with russia in that effort. there's one investigation as described in late march by jim comey in that famous bit of testimony where he confirmed that there was, indeed, an fbi investigation into russia's interference, including any trump campaign associate coordination with it. because attorney general sessions recused himself from any investigation that touched in any way upon either of the
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2016 presidential campaigns, i think, at least from where i'm sitting, it does look like he just can't do anything with russia's interference with russia's interference in 2016 because that would open him up to criticism violating his rekufl and going where he said he would not. >> clint watts, what questions do you have taking in the entirety of jeff sessions testimony, which seems as you get farther away leaves us scratching our head. >> i want to know who deals with the involvement in the government. mueller, he's going to do a fantastic job. we learned 39 states had voter database tampered with and some sort of hacking by the russians. there's not been a russia policy put out by the white house since taking office. we have no stance about it. when questioned last week, trump asked what about russian meddling in the middle east, he wouldn't answer the question.
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director comey said this is a major issue. americans are panicked about the authenticity. >> don't forget the president is expected to meet with vladimir putin next month as well. >> given that, joe, and given the emptiness, the sort of hollow answers that sessions put out at the hearing yesterday, just wonder, isn't he one of the sort of few that are always in president trump -- in the oval office with president trump? he has this sort of group. it's jared, it's steve bannon. there's always three or four in there, never one, except for apparently the former fbi director. he likes his little audience. isn't jeff sessions a part of that? how does he have nothing to offer? >> he was one of those people. obviously there were problems that became public last week in part because the president still hasn't forgiven the attorney general for recusing himself and
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believes robert mueller's very existence is jeff sessions fault. perhaps yesterday was jeff sessions way of trying to get back spot good graces of the president of the united states by doing what can only be charitably called stonewalling for several hours. anybody watching that testimony that was a supporter of donald trump had to be pleased by how jeff sessions stonewalling frustrated the democrats time and time again. since we live in a tribal culture politically, there is no doubt that one tribe was very pleased by what happened yesterday, and one tribe was very frustrated. jeffrey, i would be fascinated since we have you today to talk about something that we spoke of a great deal yesterday, and i think it's something that merits a second day of discussion especially coming off of an immigrant from the soviet union. i am curious, and obviously want
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to avoid hyperbole, i am curious what you thought of the president's cabinet meeting that we showed and talked about yesterday. i said it was un-american. it seemed un-american to me. it certainly seemed to break every tradition of that office, if not outright un-american. it just did not feel right for a constitutional republic. >> actually, i mentioned to mika before i think we should actually do that here at 7:00 a.m. on the set, ten minutes of praise of the host. i actually want that in my own organization, my editorial. >> actually we joke, but it's the last thing we want. >> it's terrible, right? >> that's bad luck. don't compliment me. >> the only thing worse than praise is criticism. >> to sit there and listen to that, that's just icky.
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>> joe, what was shocking about it was how uncomfortable it made me feel. you can't believe this is going on. >> didn't feel like america. >> i covered two previous presidents fairly closely. george w. bush would have laughed and mocked anybody who did that. he would have thought less of them. obama would have just back of the hand to that kind of thing. it was odd. i'm comfortable calling it un-american. i'm perfectly comfortable. it's dear leader stuff, great leader. it's false and it's hollow. >> and he needed it. you saw him listening to this. >> something empty -- >> he started out with a a monologue about himself being a great success. >> great legislative achievements. >> as if it were true. let's say what this is, it's worse than dear leader. there's a lot of bad stuff in there going on including lies, misinformation. the president likes to talk
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about fake news. he makes fake news by saying things like that, by lying about his accomplishments. >> it's going to get really bad when he's walking with a baseball bat. >> is that over the top, or is that the truth? >> you know, david ignatius, i think part of the problem is, and i think this has been part of the problem with the trump administration and the people that are certainly around him in the west wing that have no experience in government, maybe they believe this is just the way things are supposed to run. i thought it was quite telling that the man who has served many presidents and served many americans in wartime and peace time, general mattis did the american thing, which was he thanked the men and women who serve this country. general mattis understands that he doesn't deserve praise. he gets his paycheck every day from the american people, and
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it's his job to praise the american people who serve this country so proudly. >> a sacrifice. >> it is telling that the guy who had experience in government understood what proper response to that was. >> joe, i had exactly the same feeling. those images made me squirm. it was a table full of yes men and yes women. it was an embarrassment. then it go the to general mattis, and general mattis in the most precise way said who he serves and what his job is about, that he serves the men and women of the united states. he talked about their sacrifices. if you looked in the background as general mattis was talking, you saw a very uncomfortable h.r. mcmaster, the national security adviser, a lieutenant general who i'm sure felt just the same way as general mattis at that kind of parade of sycopha
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sycopha sycopha sycophantcy. not what people want to say. >> everybody around that table you're looking at now, they do not serve donald trump. they serve the people of the united states of america. they do not take an oath to donald trump, they take an oath to uphold the constitution of the united states of america. if they don't understand that, they need to leave. >> well, and if the president seems delusional about his accomplishments, you can point to no further than that room that is helping confirm this sort of sense of totally exaggerated self that he has. >> mika, i think it's very telling the first week we went in there, we went in nine, ten days into it, and it was very obvious when he asked how i thought the first week went, and i said not well. he kept repeating that for an hour and a half to anybody who
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would listen, how shocked he was. it was very obvious at that time, we said it on the air, that nobody in the white house had told him that the first executive order had been a calamity. no one told him the missteps about crowd size. nobody told him that lying about 3 million votes. nobody inside that white house tells him the truth. >> talk about the lack of diversity in the white house, let me just say there are no real men in the inner circle of the white house, none atall. joining us now a mber of the house permanent select committee on intelligence, swalwell. >> there's your headline today. >> this is true. congressman, what were some of the questions that you found out of sessions testimony yesterday. >> good morning, joe, mika, and gang. jeff sessions corroborated some of what james comey said as far as what he was willing to say. so now you have two people under oath who have corroborated james
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comey's side of the story, which i think goes to the believability of james comey as a witness. but also what i think is more telling is what jeff sessions would not say. if he were to write a memoir, i think it would be called "i don't recall." that's very disturbing because what he would not recall was not protected by any privilege, at least a legal privilege, it was a privilege he thought he owed to protect the president. he even said and used those words, i'm protecting the president. when criminal conduct is alleged to have occurred in the white house, he could have been a lot more forthcoming. instead it looks like he's just covering up for the person he serves. >> charlie. >> congressman, picking up on what you'ring saying. after attorney general sessions refused to answer questions, not because the president asserted executive privilege but because
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he might in the future, what was surprising, it's the same thing that happened with coats, and nsa director not answering. not because there was any assertion of privilege. so we're seeing an emergence of systematic pattern of quasi executive privilege. i was talking, said previous officials have dunk this in previous 5d manages, more disturbing. the mechanism if congress wants to push back, they can't just invite witnesses to come and testify, they have to subpoena them. they are in a position to hold them in contempt if they say i'm not going to talk even though there's no privilege assertion.
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do you think among republican colleagues, systematically subpoena witnesses preempt i havely. >> what it sounds like when you're sitting at the bar, at home watching nba finals, these guys are asked questions they could say yes or no to and want to hide behind privilege. they could say no and dismiss the questions. what we could do is seek their testimony under threat of contempt. whether that courage exists among my republican colleagues i'm not seeing it what i think is interesting he told the world friday he would 100% testify under oath yet his own attorney general isn't doing that. why would the attorney general use a made up privilege as a shield. >> of course what we heard from the attorney general yesterday
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was his defense of firing of james comey, back to the hillary clinton investigation where he said he believed he usurped power, authority. is that something you agreed with at the time. >> we know the real defense because the president told us what it was, which was the russia investigation. as james comey said, we should take the president at his word. he asked james comey to make the russia investigation go away, he wanted his friend, mike flynn, to be let off the hook and he wanted loyalty. he gave him none of that. to no one's surprise he was fired. >> thanks very much. >> revved up this morning. >> thank you very much. jeffrey goldberg, thank you as well. very good to see you. still ahead on "morning joe," kamala harris, tom cotton, jack
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reed, but first to the white house for the administration's reaction to jeff sessions testimony on capitol hill. you're watching "morning joe." we'll be right back. he came to the world justin the usual way ♪
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introducing america's largest, most reliable 4g lte combined with the most wifi hotspots. it's a new kind of network. xfinity mobile. joining us now from the white house -- >> hold had on a second. mika, hold on. we have jeffrey goldberg on, and he's on for like five minutes and he's got to go. he gets his cape and twirls it around and ran offset. >> ran across studio. he's superman. >> okay. i guess if you run the atlantic you're a pretty important guy. >> he's very important. nbc news national correspondent peter alexander is also very important. >> very important. he also wears a cape, mika. >> he does. >> he also has a cape that he
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wears. >> al sentenlison sterling like. a few times jeff sessions contradicted what james comey said last week, one had to do with the rekufl of the russia investigation. peter, what can you tell us? >> reporter: let's be clear we're hearing from white house aides. the president didn't see a lot of the testimony, he was traveling to wisconsin. he was strong on denying collusion between trump campaign operatives and russians. i heard from one of sessions aides yesterday he wanted to come out, very eager to take on this innuendo and anonymous sourcing they believe has been fueling, in their words, the nonsense out there right now. but specifically on this issue of recusal of jeff sessions, a lot of questions why he played any role in the firing, recommending of firing of james comey after recusing himself from the russia investigation. he described it as absurder couldn't play a part in that given the fact one specific investigation being recused from
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didn't prevent h from doing other things. here is part ofis conversation, push bag on the issue of rekucusrecusal. >> i recused myself from the campaign, but did not recuse myself from defending my honor against scurrilous and false accusations. at all times throughout the course of the campaign, confirmation process, and since becoming attorney general, i have dedicated myself to the highest standards. i've earned a reputation for that, at home and in this body, i believe, over decades. i basically recused myself the day -- the first day i got into the office, because i never accessed files, i never learned the names of investigators. i never met with them. i never asked for any documentation. >> general sessions, respectfully you're not answering the question. >> what is the question? >> the question is, mr. comey
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said that there were matters with respect to the recusal that were problematic and he couldn't talk about them. what are they? >> why don't you tell me? there are none, senator wyden. there are none. i can tell you that for absolute certainty. this is a secret innuendo being leaked out there about me, and i don't appreciate it. >> reporter: i think what was most striking was that jeff sessions was really best on this issue of russian collusion, pushing back against that narrative. where he's weakest, so many holes as we go forward, specifically on those fire storms created by the president. their handling of the investigation, private conversations with james comey here. it's worth noting to you, joe and mika, we've been hearing from a white house source early this morning about the president, specifically about something that was a focus of
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conversations on "morning joe." sycophantish pord room meeting, first full cabinet meeting around the horn as we say hi to the zamboni at the white house. the president, we're told, was thrilled by that cabinet meeting and particularly infuriated by the mockery of it. >> that is incredible. nbc's peter alexander, thank you. i just -- >> no. >> that's sick. >> mika, it goes back to what i was saying before. >> kooky. >> it's not like these guys have been examining what autocratic companies do. donald trump doesn't have a working knowledge of america's history. it's just like i don't understand how to build a 90-story building, right? he doesn't understand that that's not what is done around a cabinet table, so i don't know that it's malicious as much as -- >> the emperor has no clothes.
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i mean it. >> i just think it may be that they are new to the city. they are new to politics. they just don't know that you don't do that. there were some people around that table that did know better and should have known better. >> not many. >> and general mattis was one of them. >> i don't know of any others, do you? >> that's why general mattis said what he did. but you know, most of the others had not been in government service before. >> who do we have now, joe? >> tom cotton. >> yes, we do. from capitol hill, intelligence committee, tom cotton from arkansas. thanks for being with us this morning. >> tom cotton. we thank you for being with us, tom. we were looking for a republican, and i told them that it only took the 14th verse of "just as i am" to get you to come on. my singing. so i appreciate that. >> before we get going, joe,
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mika, i haven't been on the air since your dad died. i want to express my condolences. great scholar, statesman, did a lot for this country. a true icon of the democratic cold war era and was really someone that we could all learn a lot from. i know that it's always sad when your father passes away. i hope you can celebrate that as a life well lived. >> we do, and thank you so much. i greatly appreciate it. i know we saw you shortly before he passed away. we were hoping things would turn for the better, but you are right about his legacy. thank you very much. joe. >> so senator, we heard a lot from senator sessions yesterday, a lot of i don't recall, i don't remember. what was your biggest concern or what was your biggest takeaway from that hearing? >> joe, the biggest takeaway i had was we started six months ago on the intelligence committee that the fbi started 11 months ago investigating
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serious allegations of collusion between donald trump and his campaign associates and russian spn intelligence services and hacking into those e-mails and releasing them. now jim comey has confirmed on the record that donald trump is not a target of investigation. two senior democrats on the intelligence committee have confirmed that we've seen no evidence of that collusion. i just think we need to focus on those underlying claims. the investigations are not over. bob mueller i assume is looking into these and the intelligence committee as well and we'll follow the facts where they take us, but that's what's at the heart of these investigations and that's where they stand right now. >> all right. one of your favorite authors is with us, david ignatius and has he a question for you. david. >> senator, on the question of russian activities, you have been from the beginning convinced that we're looking at a serious russian effort to meddle in our election process. i want to ask you to focus on
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the thing, as we've been hearing the attorney general and president trump not focus on so much, that's what the russians did and what we can do about it. this is something i know you take seriously. where are you on that part of the investigation now? >> well, david, russia is not our friend. they never have been. hacking into those e-mails and releasing them is of a piece of subversion efforts they have run for decades as soviet union and russia as well. consistent with what they did in 1983 to try to prevent nato from deploying intermediate range to nato, assume what they are doing now not just through western elections but western military buildups, nuclear modernization and so forth. so we should take these threats seriously. i would suggest we focus on those serious threats russia poses to the united states and to our allies. i didn't see that committee hearing yesterday doing those things. >> senator, doesn't that require the committee to look very
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carefully at any possibility of contact, collusion, those issues which you were saying, enough already, isn't that a central issue that needs to be resolved by special counsel mueller? >> of course, david. as i said, our investigation is not complete. we have many more interviews to conduct. i assume pob mueller is doing the same thing. it's simply a fact that jim comey has confirmed donald trump has never been a target of these investigations and that two senior democrats on the intelligence committee have said we have so far seen no evidence of this kind of conclusion between donald trump or his senior campaign associates. again, we'll follow the facts where they take us, to the end of this investigation, but that's where things stand now. >> clint watts. >> senator cotton, one of the things that did come up yesterday, attorney general sessions is one of the most experienced senators before he came on board. he oftentimes cited doj policy or doj tradition for not answering questions.
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but one donlgz. doj, deputy attorney general will always brief the president of the united states on ongoing investigations yet sessions said yesterday he did not see a major problem with fbi director comey being left in the oval office alone with president trump. i wonder what you thought about that? do you see that as a problem? >> first, clint, let me address the point about attorney general sessions and mike ronle errogern coats not characterizing their eggs conversation with the president. i don't think you have to spill the beans or invoke executive privilege particularly when you're appearing voluntary as these witnesses do. part of the normal give-and-take of powers, it happened under obama administration, under bush administration. monday night in an extraordinary setting late in the evening mike rogers came in to testify in a classified setting. >> i think the question, though, senator, not to cut you off, what about leaving fbi director
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in with the president when the attorney general is the fbi director's boss. that's standard policy and doj policy. >> i understand that jim comey expressed his misgivings about being in that meeting alone, but jim comey testified he was the person that first requested a private meeting with the president on january 6th. donald trump didn't request that meeting as president-elect, jim comey did. i have to wonder if he set a precedent in the president's mind that it was appropriate to meet with the fbi director one-on-one, since jim comey is the one that asked for the first meeting. >> okay. >> i understand your line of questioning when you were talking about conspiracy theories and science fiction, but couldn't you also understand why people a few years ago would have seen sort of the details as they have come out now be something out of a jason bourne movie as well or book. you have russian diplomats in the oval office. the photos we received only
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because russian media was allowed in. the president is telling him he just fired the fbi director, calling him a nutjob, russia infiltrating our election system. we're learning more and more details about how in-depth that operation really is. were you undermining the actual issue and crisis as i would describe it at hand? >> we had that hearing because jim comey insinuated there's nefarious intelligence about what may have happened at the mayflower hotel between jeff sessions and the russian ambassador. jeff sessions flatly refuted that. david ignatius would never get a manuscript accepted, never being "new york times" best seller if plot line was sitting united states senator and russian ambassador are colluding in front of hundreds of people at a hotel, including the media, to pull off the greatest caper in the history of espionage. now, we have looked at a lot of other aspects of this matter and we're going to continue to look at it and follow the facts where they take us but that is just a preposterous theory that is being spun out in some of the
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far corners of the left. >> i would argue everything we've seen is preposterous thus far, too, senator. >> senator cotton. >> well, mika, you can have your opinion about these things. i won't share all those opinions. my point is we need to focus on underlying allegations at hand and get to the bottom of those. that's what we've been doing for six months and that's what we'll continue to do. ultimately if the facts are what they appear to be right now, our focus needs to be on the problems the american people sent us here to solve. >> i understand and appreciate your being on. >> yeah. tom, by the way, that was biana that was talking before. >> i apologize. >> a lot of things going on. that's okay. we greatly appreciate you being with us. always love having you on. >> very much. >> we're especially thankful this morning that the beard is off and hope it will stay off.
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>> too hot for a beard. but please, no more singing in the morning for joe. >> well, it worked this morning. all right. thank you so much tom cotton. greatly appreciate it. mika, what do we have up next. >> blumenthal, kamala harris, "morning joe" coming back. garfunkel (instrumental) [ snoring ] [ deep sleep snoring ] the all-new volkswagen atlas. seats seven, sleeps six. life's as big as you make it. new neutrogena® rapid wrinkle repair wrinkles? your time is up! with the proven power of retinol.
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up next president trump says he's willing to testify on capitol hill and many democrats would love to see that happen. senator jack reed is not one of them. he explains why straight ahead on "morning joe."
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live-streat the airport.e sport, binge dvr'd shows, while painting your toes. on demand laughs, during long bubble baths. tv on every screen is awesome. the all-new xfinity stream app. all your tv at home. the most on demand, your entire dvr, top networks, and live sports on the go. included with xfinity tv. xfinity the future of awesome. joining us from capitol hill ranking member of the armed services hearing, jack reed of rhode island, he took part in the questioning of jeff sessions yesterday before the intel committee. joe. >> hey, senator, wanted to ask you about the president's offer to testify before the senate.
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you think that would ab bad idea. some of your colleagues would actually like that to happen. why do you think it would be a bad idea? >> i think what you see is what we saw yesterday going to answe question, i have some policy reason, i'll claim executive privilege. then the sort of practical basis with five-minute rounds, there's no opportunity to develop i think a series of questions. but more practically, and more substantively to this investigation, he has to be deposed by -- or testify before the special prosecutor, mr. mueller. that's the individual who will have all the information and he will have the legal authority to compel testimony unless there is some type of privilege and have the ability to follow up with questions. that's what was -- should be done. i hope it will be done. >> tom cotton was just talking about mika's father and the passing of mika's father. i know he had a great deal of respect for you. but i know all the way back in
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2013, his first tweet was a link to an article he wrote on cyber war. here we are four years later and we have the president of the united states who knows america's been attacked, the cyber war by russia, and yet there seems to be incredible lack of curiosity on the part of not only the president, but also the attorney general and people in his cabinet on russia's attack on us and their ability to attack again. how dangerous is this situation? >> it's very dangerous. i think as zbig pointed out -- he was one of the great public servants of my generation, a real inspiration indeed. not enough can be said about his contribution to the country. but you've put your finger on something that's very disturbing. attorney general sessions yesterday seemed to be kind of oblivious to it. the president tried to denigrate
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it, say it was a witch hunt, et cetera. it is probably the most democratic threat we face to our democracy. that's what mr. comey said and what every intelligence office said. the president seems to be in a position of rejecting facts for reasons that are hard to define. there is no counter argument by him. you showed yesterday when suggestions was asked, has he ever had a real serious meeting on this issue? he said, no. it is the most fundamental threat to the united states, yet the president is not only ignoring it, he is playing it down as some kind of political hi-jinks. >> mike barnicle. >> senator, on another topic, although still a warfront topic, apparently the president of the united states has ceded policy control of afghanistan to secretary mattis. everyone has great respect for secretary mattis, but apparently there will be an increase in the troop levels -- united states troop level sent to afghanistan.
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my question to you is, what do you figure the objective is at this stage of a 16-year long war, and do you agree with the idea of the president basically sitting on the sidelines as far as afghan policy goes? >> the president can't be removed from the policy because it embraces much more than the troop levels in afghanistan. it embraces building governmental capacity. our state department. and one of the ironies here, he's sort of turning it over to general mattis, secretary mattis, where at the same time he's cutting out -- or proposed to cut out from the state department millions and millions of dollars that they'll need to conduct a whole of government approach. the other interesting issue here is the relationship with pakistan and the relationship with india and with many other countries. so the notion that this is just a one-dimensional military problem the president can handle is not right. the president has to be involved in this in a detailed way. again, it just shows his failure
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to understand the complexity of these problems and the need for intervention and constant supervision. >> clint watts? >> senator reed, good morning. and beat navy. >> beat navy. >> that's right. one quick question -- >> just once a year on saturday. the rest of the time i want them to win. >> quick question regarding the russia investigation. the armed services committee -- the intel committee, just from the senate in general. what do you want or what would you expect from the executive branch? we're only 18 months from another election. we know that -- sounds like 39 different states got hacked into. and russian active measures, we've got the german election coming up, one of our allies. i kind of want your perspective from the senate on what you are looking for the executive branch to do. >> well, what we are looking for the executive branch to take a leadership position on this starting with the president, going to the american people instead of sort of jokingly
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king around with the russian foreign minister in the oval office about how he fired comey so he would get the pressure off. and letting the people know. only the president has that kind of bully pulpit that this is a serious threat, that we're going to have to take steps, for example, think seriously about at least a federal elections having an alternate paper ballot available in case there is electronic disruption. we're going to have to help the states. we're going to have to provide coordination. that's going to require some legislation but it begins with presidential leadership and we haven't seen that. >> okay. thank you very much. >> thank you. >> senator jack reed. we're following some breaking news here. we're trying to get some information together here. this is a shooting in the washington area. reports of shots fired near a softball field and park where members of congress were. local police are saying that they believe they have a suspect
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in custody. we have spoken to an eyewitness moments ago who said he heard 14 shots near the field and took cover. he said he saw two members of congress who were okay. we're getting more information on this, joe. we're also following other reports and we're being quite careful with them right now. but this story is clearly still developing. a shooting in washington, d.c. near a baseball park where members of congress were. joe? so -- yeah. we are nofollowing. a lot of information out right now that we are not going to conif i'm until we get sources that can independently confirm it for us at nbc news. this is -- if you're wondering why members of congress would be at a baseball field this early in the morning, every year republicans and democrats will play against each other in a game. >> we've been to one of those.
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>> yeah. and also, i've played in those games. you go there in the early mornings and practice before your work day starts. and it is an effort to get republicans and democrats together. mika, do you have more news that you're ready to report? >> we've got word coming in. is this washington or alexandria, alex? okay. this is alexandria, virginia, which makes our graphic correct. we're being told that victims are being transported to a local hospital so there is sites and sounds. 14 shots fired, according to one witness. and now word of victims being transported in ambulances to local hospitals. we know this is at a baseball park, or baseball diamond where members of congress were. it might be one of those games that you were talking about, joe. >> well, no. it is, mika. again, every year republicans and democrats play together in a baseball game. the idea is to get everybody together, to get along better.
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and so what would happen is in the morning you would leave early, you'd go out before -- so just to set this up for everybody. everybody was out there practicing for this charity game, and obviously there was a gunman. again, we don't have a lot of details, but supposedly with a rifle and some news breaking across but nothing as far as specifics that we can confirm yet other than, mika, what you just reported. >> yeah. lot of different unconfirmed reports right now that i'm reading which are ominous. but again, a shooting in alexandr alexandria, virginia, just outside of washington, d.c. at a baseball park where members of congress were located at this point for one of these bipartisan baseball games that joe was talking about. we have reports of people, multiple, being taken by ambulance to a local hospital. we have reports from a witness that at least 14 shots, or up to
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14 shots, were fired. again, a shooting in the washington, d.c. area. this is alexandria, virginia, which is, in essence, the washington area. members of congress were located near where this shooting happened and we have reports that people are being taken to the hospital. so we're fooling this breaking story right now. the congressional baseball game is actually tomorrow at nationals park. there is a possibility that this might have been a practice, an early morning practice. we're just being really careful with the next level of news that we have here because we want to get it triple confirmed. but it is deeply disturbing. >> the bbc is reporting, and other news outlets are reporting, that a member was among those who was shot, as well as an aide. david ignatius, obviously you've been around washington long enough to know that this is part of the summer ritual where
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republicans and democrats have come together. they practice together, at times, and then they play the game. the game was going to be played tomorrow night. it is one of the few times that the people that you're going after on committees come up to you and you spend time and slapping them -- it's the very thing that you and i would think actually we need more of. apparently this effort ending in tragedy this morning. >> that makes these reports especially upsetting, like you and mika, i'm watching unconfirmed news come across twitter and waiting to see what's real and what isn't. but this was one of the bipartisan things that congress does, like going together to the house or senate gym and working out together or playing basketball. these members of congress work under a lot of pressure. they're constantly trying to raise money, and there are few moments when they get together and have a little fun.
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this was going to be one of them. >> we've got multiple reports now. go ahead, joe. >> i was just going to say, multiple reports. on cnn, adam schiff just said what several others have been saying that were around the facility while the practice was going on, that steve scalise was one of the members there who may have been shot, as well as -- the reports are that he was shot, as well as an aide. that's all we want to say right now because we don't have more details in that. there are other reports, of course, early on that multiple gunfire. one congressman is reporting that there was up to 50 shots fired. but of course, we won't know the
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accuracy of many of these reports this early on because obviously there still is a good bit of confusion around there, mika. >> i'm seeing also triple sourcing, the reports coming in that this was a baseball practice, gop whip steve scalise and also an aide shot. we're hearing reports from witnesses that they saw people being brought to the hospital. we know one person did tell nbc that they heard up to 14 shots fired. so it's really unclear how many shots. but we know multiple. >> there are also what we may want to adhere, multiple reports that steve scalise was shot in the hit in alexandria, virginia. >> sean spicer tweeting that the president and the vice president are both aware of the situation.
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>> we will continue with this information and the reporting of this information as news comes in. again, summarizing this, members of -- republicans who had gotten together early in the morning to practice for an annual congressional baseball game that was to happen tomorrow night were practicing this morning. and we have reports of anywhere from 15 to 50 shots being fired by someone with a rifle and one congressman, steve scalise, shot in the hip. we are also hoonk reporearing rt an aide was shot as well. one congressman saying that he perhaps had spoken with the gunman beforehand. >> we are just three minutes past the top of the hour and we are in full breaking news mode now here on msnbc. we are following a shooting in the washington, d.c. suburb of alexandria, virginia, where
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there was a baseball practice under way for members of congress getting ready for a big game, bipartisanship being the point of the game, tomorrow. a shooting at this park where this baseball bra was taking place. we are hearing reports of 14 to 50 shots fired, possibly near the second base area of this park where congressman, gop leader, steve scalise was. and apparently congressman steve scalise was shot, along with an aide. we are also hearing reports that many were trying to come to his rescue even using a tourniquet trying to help him. we have reports from witnesses of ambulances taking people to the hospital and that at this point there is word that a suspect is in custody. joe? >> congressman mo brooks, who was there at the practice, said he saw a man with a rifle and said he saw the man with the rifle shoot majority whip steve
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scalise. he said he saw a rifle, heard scalise screaming, and it became apparent at that point that he was shot. obviously ambulances rushed to the scene and are rushing him to the hospital right now. >> we have jake sherman joins us on the phone, covers capitol hill. jake, what can you add? >> well, the backdrop here is this is a weekly practice. they've been practicing on the same field in del ray section of alexandria, virginia for many years. the stunning thing here is that i just spoke to a member who left a couple minutes before this incident. capitol police blocked the entrance to this park, to this baseball field for every single practice. there is a dog park that's adjacent that is not blocked. but these are armed police officers who protect steve scalise, the house majority whip. so this is a situation in which you have police officers armed on the scene and a guy just walked up, allegedly, with a rifle and started shooting. we don't have any confirmed reports at this point about how many people were shot.
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republican leadership aides are being very cautious at the moment. but the congressional baseball game is kind of a legendary thing in washington. it's been going on for years. a bipartisan thing. they practice every morning in the spring. a very stunning moment for us here in washington. >> we have david wood rouruff oe phone. he was there. saw everything that happened, an eyewitness. david, am i correct that you saw everything that happened? >> almost. i was out for a morning run going past the field as i happen to notice out of the corner of my eye there were people playing baseball at this early hour. didn't think much of it. literally just a few seconds later heard 12 to 14 shots. clearly they were gunshots. they were echoing off the buildings that are around here. i kept running about another 20 yards and then heard four more shots. at that point ducked into a garage, called 911, and here we sit. after five or six minutes of being inside the parking garage, came back out. saw two members of congress who i recognized and who i know.
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they looked very shaken up. it was at that point i put two and two together and realized it was the congressional baseball game practice ahead of the game tomorrow morning. >> you say you know members of congress. did you talk with anybody? what did you hear? >> so i talked very briefly. they look very shooken up, look very distraught. asked if they needed anything. i can see right now they are over there talking to investigators. obviously a massive police presence here with alexandria p. 2k police. the u.s. park department helicopter has departed twice with victims. we've seen at least one ambulance leave under police escort. situation seems under control at this point. again, everyone is saying that the assailant's been taken down. it is not an active situation but clearly folks were pretty significantly concerned. i can see members right now
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still talking to investigators. >> david woodruff, thank you. we have word from our producer on capitol hill, two different senior level gop aides confirm to nbc news that steve scalise was shot at the congressional baseball practice this morning and we're getting word from this producer that he is in stable condition. one source specifically referenced him being shot in the hip. two sources also say one to two capitol police officers were also shot. more to come. joe? >> i was going to actually take that question to jake sherman. if you can, describe the security detail that is around steve scalise wherever he goes, even at a baseball game. >> yeah. i mean two suburbans, several police officers at all times. even in the capitol, which you know, joe, is heavily fortified with people with everything from pistols to rifles and machine guns. this is somebody, he is in the top three leaders of congress which all got security details
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after the september 11th attack. doesn't travel anywhere without police officers. i've been to a lot of these baseball games and baseball practices in the past. congressional softball games which steve is a big fund-raiser. a lot of people participate in. they're always very heavily protected. but it is shocking because a lot of members of congress are in one place at one time. the member i spoke to said every single time they have these practices they're protected with heavy police presence. so it's quite stunning. i could see how this is kind of a very, very, very strange moment in congressional history. >> clint watts, capitol hill has changed so much over the past 20, 30 years. perhaps some of that has to do with what happened on 9/11, but also there was a shooting of police officer back in the 1990s, and after that they started to reassess security there. it is frustrating sometimes for
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tourists because there's such great security there. now as we are seeing scenes from actually the park in alexandria. but this just shows why there is such heightened security around members of congress and how scenes like this, they're trying to a i vovoid scenes like this. how in the world do you lock down a place like this or lock down congressmen or senators who are always going to be going out in the public and being exposed. >> this has been a big problem. if you remember back to congressman giffords, the public is supposed to have access to them and they have access to the public. in the last couple years people have tried to bring weapons on to capitol hill and now you see a shooting like this.
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how do you secure 535 congressmen and senators everywhere they go and keep their freedom of movement so they can engage with the public. this is a real challenge. this is an event that we have with congress where we bring the two sides together, as you mentioned, joe, and how you secure a baseball field and the manpower that's required to do that. you can quickly become overwhelmed. and we even had a presence here, it sounds like, and that doesn't stop bad incidents from happening. just to continue on with life in this modern era with weapons freely available and people free to approach these congressmen, it is a danger every day. >> and then what's additionally intriguing here, joe, is the fact that steve scalise has a pretty hefty security detail. apparently there were other security officials, officers, capitol police officers in the vicinity of the field, so it would lead you to believe that the shooter was using a rifle,
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probably from some distance, perhaps with a scope. and clearly the shooter had knowledge of who was on the field at the specific time early this morning, members of congress. so the intent is truly, truly dangerous as well as malicious. and hopefully not fatal to anybody who was shot. >> mika, why don't you get us up to date with exactly what's going on right now on breaking news that just hit at the top of the hour regarding steve scalise and the congressional baseball game? >> so we're following this developing story. horrific story, quite frankly, in alexandria, virginia, which is a suburb of washington, d.c., essentially it is a part of washington, d.c. members of congress were practicing for a baseball game that was going to take place tomorrow. early morning practice. and shots rang out.
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we are hearing anything from 14 to 50 to 100 shots, depending on the conflicting reports that we are getting in. but multiple shots rang out near second base at this baseball park. we have word now from nbc capitol hill producer that congressman, gop whip, steve scalise was shot in the hip. we are hearing two reports he was shot in the hip. also an aide was shot. we are also hearing reports that two capitol police officers were shot as well. also reports that perhaps the security detail fired back. we do hear the suspect is either down or in custody. again, congressman steve scalise in stable condition, shot at a baseball park in alexandria, virginia, where members of congress were preparing for a bipartisan baseball game to take place tomorrow. this was a practice. the perpetrator shot at least four people, possibly more. there are eyewitness accounts. people being rushed to the hospital in ambulances and of
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multiple shots ringing out near second base at this baseball park. joe? >> and, mika, yeah. the alexandria, virginia police spokesperson said that the initial report is right now that the suspect is in custody. there is some conflicting -- there are conflicting reports on that. but we have heard from multiple people that there are anywhere from 15 to 50 shots that rang out. of course, we don't know exactly how many it was, and we had a report from an eyewitness earlier this morning who suggested it was closer to 15 to 20, but also said that the shots were ringing and reverberating around. so obviously a great sense of confusion for those that were on the field. our thoughts obviously, and prayers, are with steve scalise and others who have been shot
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this morning. mika, you can't help but go back and think about gabby giffords and what happened so many years ago. this is just something that i remember when that news broke, it was just something that sent a chill down everybody's spine, just because this is not supposed to happen in this country. it is not supposed to happen to members of congress, whether they are -- whether they're holding a town hall meeting in arizona or whether they're getting ready to play in a bipartisan baseball game. >> joe, we have senator rand paul on the phone. he was in the battle cage when this happened. senator, thank you for being on with us. can you tell us what you heard and saw? >> well, i was in the batting cage at the time. the first shot was sort of an isolated shot. i grew up in the south and i just thought someone had discharged a shotgun which isn't that unusual in the south. but then i thought, well, we are in the city, we're not in the country here. then after the first shot, then
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there was a rapid succession of shots, you know, five or ten shots. so i'm outside the perimeter, i'm on the right field line and the batting cage is outside the field. there is about a ten-foot fence between me and the field. and in the field i see representative scalise is shot but moving and he's trying to drag himself through the dirt out into the outfield. there are two staffers in right field only about ten feet from me. there is about a 20-foot fence separating me from them. they were laying down. but then i'm seeing the shots hitting the dirt around them. and they're trying to make a difficult decision, do we lay here, stay low and hope he doesn't hit us -- and this is a difficult decision -- or does the shooter just advance and come closer and shoot you. so you have to make a decision at some point whether to stay or run. so one of the staffers scrambled up over the fence. it was probably, like i say, 15, 20-foot tall fence. he did it in about two seconds.
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i don't think i could have done that. so i'm on the outside of the fencend a and he and i were hi behind a tree. shots were landing in the dirt around us. it takes a minute, you're not sure where they were coming from. my instinct was they were coming from the third baseline. as more shots were fired we were pretty sure that was but you're kind of not sure which side of the tree to stand on because you aren't sure where the shots are coming from. . but everybody seemed to be congregating away from the third baseline behind small buildings and the dugout. people on the field, unfortunately, didn't have much of a chance because nobody could get to them and they couldn't get to us and it was a wide-open field and just no way to get to scalise until the firing would stop. so at one point it appeared the gunman was -- i think he continued to reload. i probably heard 50, 60 shots. and then finally we heard a response from the capitol hill police. we're actually very lucky they
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were there. they do a great job. these are brave men and women and we really are lucky they were there. >> did you see anything happen between the capitol hill police or the security detail and the perpetrator? did you see the perpetrator at all? >> i could see way in the distance -- everybody was saying he has a blue shirt on. but i could not see. gun sounded like an ar-15 to most of us. we couldn't see the gun but it was a rifle. one of the things that is really fortunate, and probably why not -- everybody probably would have died except for the fact that the capitol hill police were there. the only reason they were there is because we had a member of leadership on our team. if scalise wouldn't have been on the team, unfortunately, he was h hit. but by him being there, he also probably saved everybody else's life. because if you don't have a leadership person there, there would have been no security there. >> wow. >> senator, how public is this practice, this congressional baseball practice in terms of
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someone being there with a specific intent, a motive, to shoot at people on a field? the indication would be that he would know that there were members of congress there. how public is this practice? is this announced? you had practiced there earlier this week or before? >> we've been practicing there for two months. so people walk by all the time. people are friendly. we live in a free and open country and a lot of people think when i travel i've got security. we're just like normal people. i go to the grocery store like a normal person. i buy my groceries. i go to the gas station. so we practice out there, and we just live in a country where we hope there's not such hatred or craziness. i don't know. disappointing. sad. >> what do you know about what happened with the -- sorry, go ahead, joe. that's right. go ahead, joe. >> senator, we have breaking news -- breaking news continues and we're trying to piece it all
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together from the different sources. but it says that steve scalise and two capitol police officers have been hurt. we had heard earlier that aides had been hurt. you talked about the two aides lying down in the outfield. did you see whether either one of those aides who were lying down, the one who stayed or the one who jumped over the fence, whether either one of those two aides were shot? >> the one that made it over the fence with me got out. we were picked up by a car driving by that had a congressional staffer who they knew. we jumped in the car and left the scene at that point. the capitol hill police, my understanding is, like i say, incredibly brave and probably saved the lives of everybody there. had they not been there, it would have been a massacre. because there is no escaping a guy with -- if he's got several hundred bullets and we had no weapons and no place to hide. so if he would have advanced on the rest of us, there would have
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been no chance. the only chance we had was that the shots were returned by the capitol hill police. what i understand, they both were shot. i hope they are okay. but from what i understand, one was still protecting the scene after being shot. >> no word on the other staff member though in the -- that was lying down in the outfield, whether he was shot or not? >> i think there's going to be at least several other people that were shot. i just hope none of them are life threatening. the danger is the closer the people were to the shooter. if he's shooting all the way into the outfield from third base, unless he is a marksman, hopefully he's not hitting people in a vital area if he did. i hope that -- i've heard -- i can't -- i don't know. so i don't want to say who's been hit and where they were hit. i have heard that -- and looked like scalise was hit in the leg or the hip. i wish him the best. i hope they got him quickly to
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the hospital and -- he was moving, so that's a good first sign, anyway. >> senator, what are we hearing from your rec exwill aollection you are hearing from the scene, just one perpetrator, and do we know his fate? >> i think he was taken down by the capitol hill police. like i say, i can't say enough about the capitol hill police or really the bravery of these two. >> how many members of congress -- how many of you all were there? two teams, at least. >> well, it is just -- we practice separately. it was just republicans there. the democrats practice separately and. but like i say, we do it every day. people walk their dogs. there is a dog walking park there. people are generally friendly. people say hello and ask what we're doing. it's not lots of people because it is pretty early. we start about 6:15 in the
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morning and go until about 8:00. it is just so early in the morning that there's not -- it is usually the people up early walking their dogs and stuff. but whoever this person is, they may just have known we were there. they could have been in the neighborhood. they could have been mentally ill. who knows what the cause is for why this happened or who they were. but i assume we'll find out more as the day wears on. >> give us a sense who was there among the republicans. like for example, who was in the batting cage with you when this all went down? >> that's hard to remember. it was all going so fast. >> i know. >> it's mostly congressmen. the only senators that were out there today and usually is jeff flake and i from the senate. kevin brady, chairman of ways and means was out there this morning. he and i share the same bat and we had been up at the plate earlier. just sort of a fluke of where the gunman turned out. because i was at home plate batting three minutes before then and i was getting ready to
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leave and sometimes i give senator flake a ride home. and so we were getting ready to leave. i think he may have been in the dugout. i haven't heard anything bad so i am assuming he is okay. he said you ready to go? i said, well, i'm going to go one more time to the batting cage. i guess my zeal for one more turn at bat actually helped me because i was about the farthest point from the shooter and i was able to get outside the fence. you know, the fence is pretty tall so there is not that many exits to the fence. so you have got one place you can run through. but i was already outside the fence in the batting cage. really, i was probably at about the farthest point and still be in the ballpark from where the shooter was. it was just -- it was -- i guess i was in a lucky spot and i hope everybody does okay and just -- i guess mostly sad that this kind of stuff happens. >> very. joe? >> mika, some details that we are hearing. senator paul.
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reports that the shooter was wearing running clothes. he actually spoke with congressman duncan from tennessee. congressman duncan left practice early and had a conversation with the shooter. obviously not knowing he was the shooter beforehand. then congressman duncan left and reports from mo brooks, the congressman from alabama, that the shots came from behind the dugout. and after steve scalise was shot, a physician who is also a member of congress, brad winstrup, provided aid to him as they were waiting for him to be evacuated by a hospital to take him to the hospital. >> we are looking at pictures from alexandria, virginia, where a shooting occurred at a baseball park where republican members of congress and a few senators were practicing for a
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bipartisan baseball game tomorrow. we are talking with senator rand paul who has just given us really a harrowing review of what happened, including staffers lying down as shots were hitting the ground and creating dust around them. one staffer scrambling over a 15-foot fence in a matter of seconds trying to make that fateful choice as to whether to move and jump over the fence or stay still. sounds absolutely horrific. we know that congressman, gop whip, steve scalise, was shot, possibly in the leg or hip. an aide was shot, and two capitol cops who were there because leader scalise was there, who jumped in to take action and take down the perpetrator. two capitol hill police officers were also shot. we don't know their conditions. senator paul also noting, given the number of shots and what he saw, that it appears, joe, that possibly others were shot as well. >> mika, nbc news is now reporting that the two capitol
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hill police officers who were shot and representative scalise are believed to be in stable condition right now. >> thank god. >> believed to be in stable condition. senator, i've seen some reports of members who were there. it looked like it was limited. was this -- we just lost senator paul. i was going to ask whether this was actually a limited baseball practice where there were just five, six, seven, eight people going out having batting practice or whether the entire squad was there. kasie hunt, you obviously spend a lot of time on capitol hill. we are talking about the security precautions that are obviously around on capitol hill. it is hard to get in and out of that facility after a shooting of a police officer and the killing of a capitol hill police officer in the late 1990s, i believe it was.
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they actually decided to secure the entire building. they now have a visitor's entrance. it cost millions and millions of dollars. but the idea was to keep the membersf coness and tse who were visiting safe. again, the security perimer has gone way out. but here we are reminded again, as we were after the gabby giffords shooting, that when they move beyond that perimeter, there are no guarantees. and unless you are steve scalise with your own capitol hill detail, you really are exposed. >> joe, in many ways it probably was initially the only protection that these members may have had. of course, i just actually walked in to the capitol complex just a few minutes ago. i actually was at softball practice after coming on with you all because there is a women's version of this game as well. the women play members of congress women members of the press. as i was coming in here, i spoke
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to several capitol police officers, many of whom i see every day when i come to work. it is very clear that everyone here is very aware of what has gone on. one told me that one of their colleagues had been injured, although he was no the at the point where he had heard or it had been confirmed that somebody may have been killed or anything along those lines. but they clearly are under a new set of alerts and are potentially facing a very difficult time as a force. it is clear as well that they are kind of scrambling to expand their security perimeter here on capitol hill. you can hear the reports going out over the radios. there apparently was another practice going on, potentially with democratic members over in washington, d.c. capitol police are scrambling to make sure any members over there are seeing increased levels of protection. i saw far more cars coming in. there are now officers stationed
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right behind me outside of speaker paul ryan's office that aren't normally on guard there. joe. >> thank you so much, kasie. a disturbing element to this story, congressman desantis who was at the baseball practice reported, and we had been seeing this earlier this morning over the past 20, 25 minutes and did not want to report it until we were sure. but congressman desantis says that the shooter at the baseball practice walked up to us and asked whether it was republicans or democrats who were practicing out there. so if that is the case, it was targeted -- politically targeted. mika, though, the alexandria police, you have a report about the suspect and where he is right now. >> in custody. we're hearing the suspect is in custody. it is half past the hour. we want to recap what we know of these fast-moving breaking developments. congressman steve scalise, the
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house majority whip, has been shot by a gunman who opened fire at a baseball practice in alexandria, virginia, just outside washington, d.c. he is said to be in stable condition. congressman mo brooks, who was there, said several other people were also hit, including two law enforcement officers. congressional aides, some of whom went scrambling over a fence for cover, are reportedly injured as well. we just spoke with senator rand paul who was in the batting cage at the time. he says he heard a rapid succession of shots, perhaps as many as 60. really, let me just say what he said to us because it is as harrowing as it gets, and it really crystallizes what happened because he was there. he says he saw scalise shot lying on the ground, trying to drag himself away. he saw gunshots hitting the ground and couldn't tell where they were coming from. he saw staffers lying on the ground trying to figure out whether to stay still to avoid the gunshots, or to take off to try to get away from them, but
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they were surrounded by a fence. he saw one staffer scramble over a 15-foot fence in less than two seconds. he saw gunshots hitting the dirt creating dust and he couldn't tell where they were coming from as scalise tried to drag himself away. senator paul credits the capitol police for saving lives saying it would have been a, quote, massacre if they hadn't been there. the gunman is in custody but schools are still in lockdown at this hour. members of congress had been practicing at the ball field for a month. it was republican members that were practicing. just republicans. the democrats practice separately. white house press secretary sean spicer says both the vice president and the president are aware of this developing situation in virginia. here is more of what senator rand paul just told us. >> the first shot was sort of an isolated shot. i grew up in the south and i just thought someone had
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discharged a shotgun, which isn't that unusual in the south. then i thought, well, we are in the city, we're not in the country here. after the first shot, then there was a rapid succession of shots, five or ten shots. so i'm outside the perimeter, i'm on the right field line and the batting cage is outside the field. there is about a ten-foot fence between me and the field. in the field i see representative scalise is shot but moving and he's trying to drag himself through the dirt out into the outfield. there are two staffers in right field. only about ten feet from me, but there is about a 20-foot fence separating me from them. they were laying down. but then i'm seeing the shots hitting the dirt around them and they're trying to make a difficult decision, do we lay here, stay low and hope he doesn't hit us -- and this is a difficult decision -- or does the shooter just advance and come closer and shoot you. so you have to make a decision at some point. i'm on the outside of the fence. he and i are hiding behind a
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tree. but the gunshots are landing in the dirt in the outfield and around us. but it takes a few minutes to determine, you're not sure where they were coming from. my instinct was they were coming from the third baseline. as more shots were fired we were pretty sure it was but you're kind of not sure which side of the tree to stand on because you aren't sure where the shots are coming from. but everybody seemed to be congregating away from the third baseline, behind small buildings and the dugout. people on the field, unfortunately, didn't have much of a chance because nobody could get to them and they couldn't get to us and it was a wide-open field and just no way to get to people like scalise until the firing would stop. >> and we had senator rand paul recounting the shooting and trying to figure out where the shooter actually was positioned. congressman mo brooks reports that he was hiding behind the dugout and stayed behind the dugout for protection during the
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shooting. also reports that congressman brooks used his belt as a tourniquet on scalise. mika, along with mo brooks, others saying that as many as 50 shots were fired. rand paul suggesting -- said it sounded like an ar-15. clint, why don't you describe what an ar-15 is and what kind of damage an ar-15 could do. >> yeah. ar-15 is an assault weapon. it is essentially a military weapon that has some modifications that doesn't allow it to be fully automatic, like you might see in the military. but it is basically the same rifle i carried when i was in the 101st airborne division many years ago. it allows you to -- if that was the weapon that was used, it allows you to fire many shots at long distances with great accuracy. >> this is a still image of the local ymca.
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so you see it kind of matches what you are talking about, clint, in terms of potentially the type of weapon used. we don't know how close it is. and also, senator rand paul also said he felt he could hear the shooter reloading. we have a statement from president donald trump. the vice president and i are aware of the shooting incident in virginia and are monitoring developments closely. we are deeply saddened by this tragedy. our thoughts and prayers are with the members of congress, their staffs, capitol police, first responders and all others affected. and again, we are waiting for more word on the congress of congressman steve scalise who was shot. it is confirmed. at this baseball park, simpson field, where republicans were practicing for a big bipartisan baseball game tomorrow in washington, d.c. there are mostly members of congress there and several senators, including rand paul who was in the batting cage, and gave his description of what he saw happening.
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clint, given rand paul's description, it seems like the shooter was reloading. seeing the shots hitting the ground, not knowing where they were coming from. what else can you glean from this without going too far? >> i think the things that are most remarkable to me is that this is very premeditated and obviously there is a lot of reconnaissance done. traditionally with attempts against congressman, somebody with mental health issues assaulting the capitol or trying to get in through security or trying to target people right around those premises. this serl morninis early mornin off-site of capitol hill. it appears to be collected as one partisan issue or another. what would be interesting to know right away, was the shooter actually going after specific members of the senate. what i'll also be curious to learn about is have we seen this sort of activity before, reconnaissance before, around these events.
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luckily, sounds like these capitol hill policemen did an amazing job this morning, really saved the day. when you see this much ammunition loaded up, 50 to 60 shots is quite remarkable. you are talking about several reloads. usually you can get off 10 to 12 shots in a magazine in a civilian or commercial sort of purchased weapon like this. you could fire those off in a matter of seconds. this really speaks to other violent incidents like we saw in orlando where if you're equipped with one of these weapons, it is very difficult, even for police. they are outmatched against these weapons. you're talking about capitol police are probably there with pistols and shotguns who are now taking on somebody who's got a military-grade weapon basically. >> joe, of course rand paul was saying -- senator rand paul -- that the reason the capitol cops are there is because leader scalise was there. had they not been there, could have been much worse. if that's possible. >> it could have been a tragedy, had he not been there. for those just tuning in,
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alexandria police have reported the suspect is in custody and is not a threat, and that their public information officer will be on scene shortly to share updates. what we have right now, nbc news can report that representative steve scalise, the majority whip, as well as two capitol hill police officers were shot at a congressional baseball practice. it is a bipartisan event where the two sides come together every year and were going to be coming together tomorrow night for a game between the republicans and the democrats. but nbc news reporting that the two capitol hill police officers and also steve scalise are being treated and are not in critical condition. are in stable condition. we have not heard much more about the aide. we initially heard that several aides were shot.
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right now it appears that one aide was shot. the only information, mika, that we have on that are reports that the aide may have been shot in the chest. but we have no reports outside of the police officers and the majority whip being sent to the hospital. >> as it senator rand paul who told us he felt -- wouldn't be surprised if there were others who were hit. it just seemed that way with all the gunshots flying around. let's go now live to the scene. nbc's tom costello is standing by. tom, what can you tell us? >> hi, mika. at the risk of repeating something you've already said, we are on monroe street and let me just tell you where the shooting scene is. down that block about a block or so to the left is where the baseball field is. you can see we have a lot of police and ems and fire rescue equipment on the scene. i talked to a woman who witnessed all of this and she says that she was walking her dogs across the baseball field
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when suddenly shots rang out. immediately she hit the ground and she says there was a gunman who was opening fire and she saw one person go down. she describes that person as, she believed, a security officer who was returning fire against the gunman, and that that officer went down. she thought that that officer was a female officer, but she wasn't sure. she could not see the gunman. she couldn't tell if it was a man or a woman because she says she was hugging the ground. she had her face to the ground and she had her dog she was trying to protect as well. but she said there was a lot of screaming, a lot of chaos, a lot of concern about what was happening on the field. then very quickly, police arrived on the scene. she didn't know how many people were hit. she herself wasn't sure if that gunman was hit or not but she says the police did take him into custody and now we know alexandria police confirming that he was taken into custody as well. also, we talked to an employee of a ymca right across the street, right nearby.
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and they report that they had some of their windows shot out during this exchange this morning. so this all happened in a hail of gunfire right about 7:00 or little bit after 7:00, we believe. and suddenly all hell broke loose here in alexandria. at the moment, we have no reports of fatalities but we do have reports of individuals who have been hit and, as you know, one of them being the gop whip. guys, back to you. >> tom, just a couple of quick updates. both nbc news and abc reporting that the majority whip's injuries, scalise's injuries, are not life threatening. and claire mccaskill just spoke with the capitol hill police, and they indicate that the officers are going to be okay. >> thank god. >> but that said, we aren't sure. there were reports of an aide or possibly two being hit. we don't know that all the members have been accounted for. what can you tell us from what
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you are leenk arouhearing aroun facilities? any information on how many people were shot? >> there is just talk here among folks in the crowd. we have nothing official from the police. but among the people here in the crowd, talk that five people were hit. but we don't have that officially confirmed and the alexandria police department pio has not yet briefed us. just to give you a sense of where we are, you guys know alexandria very well. but if you're not from the d.c. area, if you were to head down that street, again the ballpark is on your left. if you were to keep going you would eventually hit the potomac river. right across the river is in fact washington, d.c. and this is a neighborhood where, as you know, members of congress and members of the media and people who work on capitol hill, they all live, and many of them live and work in the alexandria and arlington area of the greater washington, d.c. area. i would also tell you guys, it is extraordinarily hot here today and we've already got -- i think we're around 90 degrees.
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we saw kids walking to school a block or so away as all of this was happening. so kids wearing t-shirts and shorts and their backpacks all walking off to school in the midst of this emergency playing out just a block or so away with shots fired. the schools in the area we are told are now on lockdown but they believe that they have the seoul sho sole shooter in custody. >> while you were answering the question, tom, reports from congressmen on the scene that steve scalise, the two police officers, one staffer, and the shooter were the five people at this time that they know were sh shot. obviously, from what we understand, scalise and the two police officers are well. steve scalise -- at least are stable. no word on the staffer. the only thing we know about the shooter is that the shooter is in custody and not a danger.
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>> once again, if you are just joining us, congressman steve scalise, the house majority whip, has been shot by a gunman who opened fire at a baseball practice in alexandria, virginia just outside washington, d.c. steve scalise is said to be in stable condition. there are witnesses on the scene who told us of multiple shots fired. 50 to 100. congressman mo brooks was there. he said several other people were hit. we are hearing now it was an aide, two capitol police officers and possibly the suspect himself. congressional aides, some of whom went scrambling over a fence for cover, are reportedly injured as well. we heard reports by witnesses of ambulances taking people to the hospital. senator rand paul was in the batting cage at the time and joined us earlier for a half rowing description of what happened. he says he heard a rapid succession of shots, perhaps as many as 60. he says the capitol police of course were there for steve
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scalise who is a leader. otherwise, would not have been there. it saved lives and it would have been a massacre had they not been there. alexandria police confirming the suspect is in custody and is no longer a threat to the community. >> tom, there are reports that this incident spanned over some ten-minute time frame. that would be an eternity. are you getting confirming reports as well as to how long this played out until they were able to capture the shooter? >> i don't have a good feel for that. i believe, however, that the capitol police or the security detail returned fire very quickly. in other words, engaging that suspect very, very rapidly. as for how long it took for alexandria police to respond, i don't have a good feel for that or how long it took for fire or ems to respond. i don't have a good feel for that, either. although i would say, as mika knows very well, alexandria has an incredibly robust and well equipped fire department, ems
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program and police department as well. and they are all through this area. not only because of proximity to washington, d.c., but just because this is a very congested, if you will, or populated area of greater washington, d.c. >> clint, this has happened before. it will happen again. sadly. unfortunately. an incident like this. we don't know motive. we could take a pretty educated guess at intent after of your observation that a planned shooting, collection of congress people gathered there, knowledge of them gathering there before. but we should really focus i think for the viewers, for people just tuning in, on the fact. you would know this better than anyone here at this table. the initial unreliability of eyewitness testimony, 50, 60 shots. some people saying 10 to 12, 14 shots. ten minutes, length of time of the shooting. others saying it was over within
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three to four minutes. but if you could speak to that. >> yeah. the problems with these sorts of incidents is, unless you as the witness have experienced something like this before, the accuracy of your reports are going to be very flimsy. if you're someone that's engaged in warfare, deployed overseas and been in firefights, you'll have a more accurate understanding of this. more most citizens of the united states, thankfully, this is the only time they'll ever experience something like that. things tend to get magnified or distorted in ways when you're excited or panicked. initial reports are always highly inaccurate, it turns out later. i think we notice with rand paul's description, he was there for a considerable amount of time. he basically gave the most accurate description which is 50 to 60 shots. i was there. i witnessed people moving. i think that's going to go a lot further. >> tom costello, senator rand paul was in the batting cage. i think he was with senator jeff flake who echoes what senator paul said, which is they
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couldn't tell if they were surrounded or not when the shots rang out, that they could see the bullets -- >> mika, one second, if you don't mind. the alexandria police chief is on his way here. chief brown will give an update live from this location we're told in just a few minutes. so stand by for that. i may have missed your question. i'm sorry. can you repeat that, mika? >> absolutely. i was just talking about the accounts we were getting from senator rand paul. also, he says he was in the batting cage with senator jeff flake and they couldn't tell where the shots were coming from because they could just see the bullets hitting the ground and dust flying as people hit the ground. at are you hearing from eyewitness accounts? at one point theyouldn't tell if they were surrounded or not. >> reporter: yeah. i think that's right. i think there was a lot of concern right at first that this situation -- we didn't know how many gunmen were involved or if there might be other gunmen who were in fact hiding. they didn't flow that at that moment. i would just reiterate.
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i did talk to -- i think at the moment the most credible witness i've talked to yet who was very measured, very concerned, but also very precise in her descriptions of what happened. this is the young woman who was walking who was walking her dogs in which she said as she was walking across the field, there was a baseball game going on so she was walking on the field but obviously on the perimeter and suddenly she heard and saw shots ringing out. she did not describe 50 shots or 20, she just said it was a lot of shots, and then she saw a police officer or a security officer, i presume that that was somebody who was not in uniform, returning fire. she believed that that officer was struck and was down and that they brought in the ems medical evac chopper to get that particular officer off the field. she did not know who the gunman was, had no description of the gunman, didn't know if it was a man or woman or even what kind of a weapon he or she might have been using but believed it was probably a rifle simply based on how quickly the shots were
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fired. but she is not in any way a munitions expert. >> tom costello, thank you very much. we'll check back in with you. of course when the police chief speaks, we'll be going to that live. joe, you know, listening to tom, hearing eyewitness accounts and also from senator paul, it's still unclear the number of injured and that scene that he described of steve scalise lying on the ground trying to move across the field on the ground injured, saying he was shot, and then other aides potentially shot as well as people were running for cover is really just as horrific as it gets when you try and get a sense of what went down at simpson field in alexandria. >> and what is important to report, and why don't we for people just tuning in again, there were members of the house republicanaucus tt re practicing on a baseball field in alexandria. there was an annual charity baseball game. it's an annual event that is a
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summer tradition. certainly something that i went to every year i was there and actually played in. and you go early in the morning, you go to a field around the area and you practice. you take batting practice. and this obviously turned into a nightmare. it is important for us to underline right now that it is very early. we haven't heard from the alexandria police. we don't know how many people were actually shot. right now the reports have that number at at least five. there are other reports coming in that more may have been shot. we are not going with that information until we have it confirmed. i will tell you jeff flake, though, has spoken. he said, quote, he had a lot of ammo and was secured behind the third base dugout. senator flake also said that female capitol police officer was airlifted off the field, and again nbc news reporting that the capitol hill police officers
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are in stable condition. and senator flake says that he actually took steve scalise's phone and called his wife to let her know what happened. >> all right. let's go to is it the white house briefing room where nbc's kristen welker is standing by. kristen? >> reporter: mika and joe, we're getting a little bit more reaction from the president who tweeted just moments ago. representative steve scalise of louisiana, a true friend and patriot, was badly injured but will fully recover. our thoughts and prayers are with him. and of course that tweet comes on top of a statement that the president released moments ago in which he said that he, the vice president, the staff here at the white house is closely monitoring the developments this morning. let me just set the scene here inside and outside the white house for you. i can tell you a number of staffers are huddled in sean spicer's office right now. that is not unusual. they do have a morning meeting, but they are undoubtedly
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discussing this developing situation. outside of his office, all of the tvs monitoring the cable news networks to watch developments, to watch all of this unfold in realtime. in terms of what's happening outside the white house, i can tell you that lafayette park has been closed down. there is yellow tape around pennsylvania avenue, around the white house, to keep out people, particularly those who do not have the highest level of security to get into and on the grounds here at the white house. now, in terms of what we expect to hear from the president, he was scheduled to speak later this afternoon. he's going to be speaking at the labor department. no word yet if we will hear from him earlier or if he will address these developments when he does speak. obviously this is an administration that has monitored tragedies before, but this one hitting very close to home. mika, joe. >> kristen welker, thank you very much. again, we're following breaking news here at 54 past the hour.
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republican congressman steve scalise, gop whip, shot, stable condition, suspect in custody. two capitol hill police officers shot as well. we are hearing they are stable. at least one aide shot as well. we are not hearing any reports of any fatalities at this point, but reports from the scene from specifically senator rand paul and senator jeff flake, who were among the few senators, if the only ones who were there at this republican baseball practice, mostly republican congressmen in alexandria, virginia, this morning say it's impossible to think that there aren't more injuries here given what they saw. what you're looking at here is the other team, the democrats at their practice this morning praying for those who were affected, hurt, injured, shot this morning. david ignatius, your thoughts as we try and pull together and get
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into perspective what went down this morning in alexandria. >> mika and joe, that last picture of the congressional democrats praying for their congressional republican colleagues says it all, i think. this is a week when we've had some important and divisive news developments, but they dissolve the minute that we hear of a tragedy like this. our attention shifts to the victims, the brave law enforcement people who may have gotten caught up in this. and the second thought i have is when you can't practice baseball without fearing for your safety, these days we can't go to an airport without thinking about it, we really struggle as an open society where we're used to moving about freely to deal with the reality of security issues. >> we are awaiting to hear from the chief of police in alexandria, virginia, who will be addressing the cameras in a matter of moments with the very latest on what happened there.
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schools are in lockdown, but the suspect they say is in custody and also we're hearing the suspect may have been shot during all of this, possibly by the capitol hill police. we're hoping this is at least the public information officer in alexandria. let's just dip in and see -- >> here comes the chief. >> the chief is stepping up, apparently. >> i am chief michael brown of the alexandria police department. i'm joined here by a number of officials that are working with us on the particular scene and event. what i'd like to do is give you an overview of what took place. we received a call of an active shooter, shots fired at 0709, nine minutes after 7:00 this morning here at the park on monroe, simpson park. at that time there was a
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practice team event with a baseball team of folks that were representing some folks on the hill. we were there within three minutes. we do know that officers from the capitol police as well as three officers that we had on scene arrived. two of our officers engaged in gunfire, returned fire. beyond that we're not going to make any other statements until such time as we know exactly what's taken place here. it's an active scene. we have a lot of witnesses that we're having to interview. we are collaborating with the capitol police, with the alexandria sheriff's department, with the fire department here in alexandria. we also are working with the federal bureau of investigation in collecting evidence and doing statements and the things you normally do in these kinds of situations. we will try to keep you posted as we get more information. right now we're going to try and schedule a press conference probably about an hour and a half from now and give you an update. but right now that's all we
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have. i will add one other thing. we know that five people were transported medically from the scene. we do not and will not give out their names or their locations at this point or know the condition of their injuries. so i'm not going to take any questions at this point largely because you've got everything that i'm going to release at this juncture. what i will do now is i would like to ask the chief from the capitol hill police to come up and make a brief statement. >> good morning. i'm chief of the united states capitol police. >> speak just a little louder, please. >> this morning we received a call via our communications of shots fired at this location. officers who were on scene responded and engaged a suspect in gunfire. very shortly thereafter the alexandria city police and other units responded to assist. at that point we were able to
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calm the situation, victims were transported to the hospital. we're not going to get into any details in terms of the investigation. this is very early on. we will -- i want to thank the alexandria police, the sheriff's office and the alexandria fire department for their rapid response to the request for assistance and the 911 calls. i appreciate their rapid response and certainly it saves lives. >> was there one shooter? >> at this point we're going to gather the investigators together and look at what we have and put this incident together. again, it's very early on and there's a lot of witnesses to be interviewed. once we have more information, we will certainly pass on whatever information we can to make sure that you have the information you need for your work. thank you very much. i'm going to turn it -- i'm


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