tv Meet the Press MSNBC August 13, 2017 4:00pm-5:00pm PDT
this sunday, violence in virginia. >> if you do not disburse immediately, you will be arrested. >> white nationalists clash with counterprotesters in charlottesville. one person is killed when a car plows into a crowd. a report from the scene this morning. i will talk to the mayor michael signer. president trump denounces the disturbance but not the neo-nazis nor the klan participants. >> we condemn this egregious display of hatred, bigotry on many sides. >> did the president fail his first test at healer in chief? the president's tough talk on north korea.
it started here. >> they will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen. >> went to here. >> if anything, maybe that statement wasn't tough enough. >> and landed here. >> if he utters one threat, he will truly regret it. and he will regret it fast. >> is it all bluster? or a necessary warning to a rogue nation with nuclear weapons. i will ask national security master h.r. mcmaster and admiral mike mullen. joining me with joy reid, richard lowry, amy walter, and helene cooper, pentagon correspondent for the new york times. welcome to sunday, it's "meet the press." >> announcer: celebrating its 70th year, this is "meet the press" with chuck todd.
>> good sunday morning. in the opening months of his presidency, many of us wondered how president trump would respond to the crisis when the nation looks to its president. could he lead? could he inspire? could he heal? he didn't have one test this week, he has had two. we will get to the north korea situation later. yesterday, we received another reminder how volatile extremism can be in america. clashes broke out in charlottesville, virginia, between white nationalist protesting the removal of a robert e. lee statue and counterprotesters. after the governor declared a state of emergency, a car plowed into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing one person and injuring 19 others. the fbi has opened a civil rights investigation into the incident, adding to a tragic day, a chopper carrying two virginia state police officers who were hovering over the air
monitoring the violence crashed a few miles outside of the city. both officers were killed. here is how charlottesville city manager reacted to the violence. >> hate came to our town today. in a way that we feared but we had never really let ourselves imagine would. >> tom costello is on the ground in charlottesville this morning. tom, i take it a lot more calm this morning than there has been the last 48 hours. >> reporter: yeah. good morning. that's the statue of robert e. lee. it's emancipation park, no longer lee park. this is where the white sue supremacists came yesterday. we have the identity of the woman killed, 32-year-old heather heyer was killed. we have a name of the suspect who has been arrested, 20-year-old alex fields of ohio, charged with second degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding, one count of hit and run.
he will be in court tomorrow. three more people arrested as well, charged with disorderly conduct, misdemeanor assault, battery, carrying a concealed weapon. this got out of hand very, very quickly. this morning, peace in charlottesville and a very heavy police presence. >> i will talk to the mayor in a minute here. there's been some folks there questioning the police response yesterday. did they stand back too much? there was -- there were times when you were watching the video that we saw a lot of armed people but those weren't police. who were they? >> reporter: what's interesting is that some of the white nationalists and neo-nazis and kkk members apparently came here armed and prepared for battle. they were dressed in this almost paramilitary garb, if you will. they had body armor on. some veterans of the military say that -- some of that looks like it came out of the military. also, they were wearing helmets. they had shields, clubs. some of them were actually carrying weapons. keep in mind, this is an open carry state.
so they came into this in a very intimidating fashion. they were met with counterprotesters who were determined not to allow those white nationalists to gain any momentum in the town. as a result, we had the clash literately where i'm standing. the street is covered in dye and paint. they have had broken battles and cans all over the streets. they have been picking that up today. it does appear that those individuals, those white supremacists left town yesterday. they seem to have scattered. we don't know where they went. we presume they went back to their homes, wherever that might be. the locals here say that they didn't recognize any of those white supremacists as locals. they believe they all came from out of state or many of them from out of state. >> tom costello on the ground for us, thanks very much. shortly after the violence in charlottesville broke out, president trump tweeted, we all must be united and condemn all that hate stands for. there's no place for this kind of violence in america. let's come together as one. it was what the president said
later in the day or more to the point what he didn't say or even tweet that is getting by far the most attention. the president's comments and the sharp reaction to them put a political coda on the day for the violence we saw unfold yesterday. >> the pedestrians, it's the most horrific thing. >> tragedy and violence, a 32-year-old woman killed and 19 injured. a car accelerated into a crowd of counter demonstrators. police arrested james alex fields of ohio and charged him with one count of second degree murder. hours later, two state police officers assisting with public safety died whether their helicopter crashed. the deaths were painful end to a violent day. white nationalists, many carrying weapons, holding nazi symbols clashed with
counterprotesters. over the past several weeks, mr. trump condemned his party's leader in the senate, mitch mcconnell, members of congress and his own attorney general. the president's response to white supremacists was tepid by comparison. >> we condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides. >> asked to clarify an unnamed white house official told nbc news, the president was condemning hatred, bigotry between all. >> do you want the support of the white nationalist groups who say they support you, mr. president? have you denounced them strongly enough? >> as some of the white nationalists cited trump's victory for their belief. >> we will fulfill the promises of donald trump. that's what we believed in.
that's what we voted for. >> mr. trump chose not to condemn them. many elected republicans seem to agree the president did not go far enough. colorado senator cory gardner, who is in charge of getting senate republicans elected in 2018 tweeted, mr. president, we must call evil by its name. these were white supremacists and this was domestic terrorism. floor's marco rubio quote, very important for the nation to hear potus describe events in charlottesville for what they are, a terror attack by white supremacists. hatch tweeted, my brother didn't give his life fighting hitler for nazi ideas to go unchallenged here at home. and texas senator ted cruz, quote, the nazis, kkk and white supremacists are repulsive and evil and all of us have a moral obligation to speak out. joining me now is the mayor of charlottesville, michael signer. mr. mayor, i know it's been a tough 48 hours for you and your job. let me ask you this right now.
24 hours later, do you look back and think, are you prepared to say what you could have done better, what you could have done to prepare for this? is this something that just no city can prepare for? >> well, thanks, chuck. first thing i have to start by saying is that our thoughts and prayers are with the two virginia state police troopers who lost their lives yesterday and the civilian who was killed in that. i think it's clear a terrorist attack with a car used as a weapon. our hearts are grieving right now. three people died who didn't need to die. charlottesville is one of the great cities in the world. we're very progressive and tolerant. we made a decision to start telling deliberately the full story of race in our city, in our past. to tell the truth. that put us on the map for a whole bunch of folks in this country who oppose everything about that.
so what we saw this weekend was a deluge of outsiders trying to intimidate us away from that work. to your question, we had the largest assembly of law enforcement personnel in virginia since 9/11. they were charged with one mission, which was setting the conditions for people to peaceably express themselves and assemble. they didn't do that starting right at the beginning. so an unlawful assembly was properly called. events unfolded from there. we're going to move past this. the healing has just begun here. we have important work to do in our democracy and we're going to get going on that now. >> on one hand, you thanked the president for condemning the violence. but you said, i hope he looks in the mirror himself and thinks deeply about who he concerted con sorted with during the campaign.
what are you referring to there? >> old saying, when you dance with the devil, the devil doesn't change -- the devil changes you. i think they made a choice in that campaign, a very regrettable one, to really go to people's prejudices, to go to the gutter. these influences around the country, these anti-semites, nazis, kkk, they were always in the shadows. they have really given -- they have been given a key and a reason to come in the light. that's exactly what happened last week. if you look to the chatter online, they said this will be a shot heard around the world in charlottesville. this is the time has come for this to stop. this should be a turning point. this movement jumped the shark and it happened yesterday. people are dieing and i do think that it's now on the president and on all of us to say, enough is enough. this movement has run its course. >> mr. mayor, i know it's been tough. i know you got students coming in, uva is about to begin freshmen.
i will pass on to them and i know you will, charlottesville is a great city and a safe city. >> it is. >> it's a bunch of outsiders can't mess it up. thank you. >> if anything, we're going to get better. thank you. let's jump to the panel. rich lowry, helene cooper, amy walter and joy reid. rich, i will read from your publication today. david french wrote this. if there ever was a time in recent american political history for an american president to make a clear, unequivocal statement against the alt right it was today. instead, we got a vague condemnation of hatred, bigotry on other sides. >> you had people in charlottesville who are marching in the president's name. had you david duke name checking the president of the united
states, which you would have thought made it the more important for the president to be specific denouncing these white supremacists. this was a moment obviously where the president could have elevated himself. instead, he came up small. that's one of the reasons you have seen a premium on the statements from other republicans on moral clarity given the president's ambiguity. >> it was amazing to see that. it was almost as if the republican party was waiting to see what he would do and then it was a rush to say, whoa, he's on an island right now in his party. >> he is. donald trump failed the fundamental test of leadership. this was and easy test for any president of the united states to clear. this is the country that heroically swooped in during world war ii, the idea that a president of the united states cannot unambiguously denounce naziism is extraordinary. donald trump has placed himself in a history. there's no way that i think the american people could have contemplated that their president could not unequivocally condemn david duke and nazis.
he couldn't and he didn't. >> you know, the president's been clear, you can't defeat terrorism if you can't call it islamic terrorism. you can't unify the country without calling out hatred and bigotry. there's no unity, there's no way you can say there are both sides to this or equal sides to this bigotry. there was one group that was bigoted and hateful and racist and then there was the anti group. what's curious is to see where we go from here. is the president going to choose after -- he is getting as you pointed out, denounced by all sides. will he choose tomorrow to come out and make a stronger statement? >> he hasn't tweeted this morning. i think -- there hasn't been the clarify case. there hasn't been any of that. i want to throw in what michael gerson wrote. if great words can heal and inspire, base words can corrupt.
in charlottesville, the effect became effort. going farther saying, this was not just a choice but a strategy almost. >> i think that's a really interesting point to make. i think president trump has had probably his worst week this past week. that's because in the two instances that you alluded to earlier in the program, he has sort of fulfilled every fear that his critics and a lot of people had about him when he became president. and that is one, because of his campaign and because of the side of america that he brought out in his campaign, that he would not be able to detach himself from these white supremacists who got him elected and who he has put in his government and in the white house. that's one. that's always -- that's been a big fear. the other two is that he would
be -- the other great fear that people had before he became president was that he would be too loose and this is not somebody you necessarily might want in charge of a button that can launch a nuclear weapon. this is not somebody you want receiving a 3:00 a.m. phone call. with the way he handled north korea this past week and then shockingly, shockingly what he did yesterday and what he failed to do yesterday just feeds that. people think that this is what they expected. >> i do think he should have specifically denounced the white nationalists. there are two sides to this. this country has a violence fringe on the right and on the left, both of whom white nationalists and anti fascists who like violence, who thrill to violence, like the attention that comes with it. this is going to get worse before it gets better. >> can i say -- helene made an important point.
this is an unambiguous evil plaguing the country. one of the reasons that donald trump cannot properly respond to what was an obvious proper response from an american president is the people in his government. who is writing the talking points he was looking down and reading from? he has people like steven miller claimed as a mentee and steve bannon who has been allowed to meld into the normalcy of a governmental employee but who ran breitbart.com which i reread the post that still is on their website where they self-describe as the home of the alt right. what is the alt right? it's addressed up term for white nationalism. they call themselves white identitarianism. that is who is in his government. gorka who more the medal of a nazi organization, being paid by the taxpayer, in the government of donald trump, the former blogger michael anton in the government. he is surrounded by these people.
it isn't both sides. he is in the white house -- they are in the white house with him. >> you have so-called anti fascists who dress in black, wear masks -- >> were they beating clergy yesterday? were they attacking -- >> there was violence on both sides. >> they were not. i spoke with clergy being beaten with brass knuckled by neonazis. >> anti fascists beat people up, break things and burn things. they both should be condemned. i'm someone -- i want the alt right to be as limited as possible. i want it to go away and die. you are not doing folks on my side by defining it so widely that it includes steven miller and mike anton. that's what they want. you are helping them -- >> you have read what they -- you have read the blog posts? have you read -- >> i don't think mike anton is a white nationalists. >> i'm going to pause it here. we will take a break and we will have the -- keep having this conversation, i promise. change it a little bit. but you will have a chance to
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welcome back. in 2017, are we seeing some of the hate groups become mainstream, part of the conversation we were having? there are 917 active hate groups in the united states. between 2015 and 2016, we saw a 197% increase in anti muslim hate groups. that was a tripling of its number and a 23% increase in the neo-confederate groups. here is the map of all the active hate groups around the country. amy walter, look, it is not new to have this fringe and this -- the republican party for a long time has fought very hard to keep these people out. democratic party pushed them out. republican party pushed them out. until this 2015, there has been this sense that there was a permission slip.
>> i think to take it away from partisanship, there's a country divided there so many different ways. the fact that we can't just have this conversation about a country that is diverse and continuing to diversify and how we have to grapple with these issues. we need leaders helping take us there. this debate starts over something that's going to continue in other cities across this country which is how do we deal with the legacy of slavery? how do we deal with the legacy of the confederacy? this has been building and building and building. what we don't have are people that are bringing us back together. instead, we're having a debate over who is responsible for this fringe, that fringe. >> jennifer rubin of the "washington post" wrote on this issue of the shrines. we have erased the fictions that these monuments are about southern heritage.
no. they are giant, concrete shrines to white nationalism. a lot of people will hear that and get angry on this. >> let them get angry. >> a lot are going to say it's about. >> this is about time. >> that's right. >> it's very hard for me to have this conversation with you as a black woman and not personalize it. but we have talked about this before. we talked about this on the show, about the confederate flag and what black people think when they see that. you talk -- it's impossible given the legacy of slavery there this country and given the -- what black people went through during the civil rights movement, given all of -- these are descendents of the people who were standing outside that public school in new orleans throwing oranges at that little girl as she was being taken in. these are the -- these are the same people. this is the same fight that has been going on in this country for more than 200 years. the idea that we're going to anger a few white nationalists
because we're taking down a statue of robert e. lee, fine, get mad. >> i've been skeptical of the rush to tear all these things down. there's a distension between robert e. lee and nathan bedford forest. if these monuments are going to be rallying points for neo-nazis, maybe they have to go. >> why would you erect a monument -- the confederacy waged war on the united states. so the idea of putting up those monuments didn't happen right after the civil war. it happened during the 1960s. it happened over the fight for desegregating schools. these monuments immediately -- in the immediate aftermath of the civil war, no one would have thought of putting up the flag of the confederacy because they were treasonists. in the 1960s, the idea was to make a statement. the statement was being made to black people. it was being made to civil rights advocates that we're going to put up these statues for a reason. that's why those statues are there. that's when they went there. >> let me throw this challenge at all four of you.
nobody here thinks president trump handled it well. what can he do tomorrow? what can he do tomorrow to at least begin the scabbing process, i guess, to -- >> one possible analogy is when he came out a couple weeks ago after the trip to europe saying there's going to be a u.s. russia cyber security agreement and you had every republican denouncing it and mocking it. then he backed off. maybe he will take a second bite of the apple, sit down somewhere, maybe in the oval office, give a ten minute speech written appropriately and says the right things. it's not hard to do. >> richard painter has given donald trump the way out. he has been tweeting about it repeatedly. he needs to rid his government of the alt right. if there was ever an opportunity to do so, this would be the chance. the bannonites are the problem. they are who are writing the talking points, they are whose words he is reading on the podiums. they are the source of the ideological rot inside the white
house. >> what i really worry about is that we are going to move from this conversation very quickly because something else is going to be -- some shiny object will get thrown in front of us. we will miss the opportunity to have this conversation. there are few people who are leading this conversation beyond just the violent piece of this. i just fear that by monday, we're going to be moving on to something else. >> when we come back, i'm going to talk to the president's national security adviser h.r. mcmaster about north korea. he has had his own run-ins with the alt right. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪
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welcome back. with the nuclear threat and the provocations from north korea growing by the day, much of the world was focused on president trump's somewhat incendiary rhetoric from fire and fury to lock and loaded to how much and how fast kim jong-un will regret attacking or even threatening the united states. the tough talk unnerved some. even as it heartened many of the president's supporters. still, many were asking whether mr. trump's words were bluster or it's possible we are edging towards a military confrontation with north korea. joining me now is h.r. mcmaster. general, welcome to "meet the press." >> good morning. >> before i get started, i gotta ask about charlottesville and perhaps you have had a chance to talk with the president this morning or last night. why didn't he single out the neo-nazis and white supremacists. >> when he condemned bigotry and hatred on all sides, that includes them.
it's clear -- i know it's clear in his mind. it ought to be clear to all americans, we cannot tolerate obviously that bigotry, that hatred, that's rooted in ignorance of what america stands for. >> should we expect to hear from you, from him some of those words? >> i'm sure you will hear from the president more about this. this is important to the president to bring all americans together. he said what we have to be is all of us have to be americans first. that's our common identity as americans. grounded in our commitment to liberty, to human rights, to equal rights and to tolerance. tolerance over this kind of hatred and bigotry. >> what was your reaction? >> it's heartbreaking. what you see is men and women from all walks of life, all different backgrounds come together, come together in their common commitment to their country and to each other. then you see them in combat fighting for our nation and our values.
everybody bleeds the same color. we're bound together as soldiers. we ought to be as a nation, bound together by mutual respect and common commitment to our values. >> was that domestic terrorism yesterday? >> what terrorism is is the use of violence to ensite terror and fear. of course, it was terrorism. >> you classify that as terrorism in. >> from a legal sense, there will be a full investigation. but i think we can call it a form of terrorism. >> you have had your own run-ins with the alt right. one of the self-described leaders, tweeted this yesterday about you, mcmaster's media allies are trying to frame bannon for charlottesville. what is going on inside this white house with you and mr. bannon? >> there's a lot of noise, from my perspective. everybody sees the president assembled a tremendous national
security team. it's a great privilege to be able to support and enable people like secretary of state tillerson, secretary of defense mattis, director pompeo, ambassador haley at the united nations. we're getting quite a bit done in terms of developing and advancing strategies to prioritize the safety and security of the american people and promote american prosperity. >> i asked about a couple of people individually. first, sebastian gorka. >> the scheduling people for the media and spokes people, it's not my area of responsibility. we focus on coordinating and integrating efforts across the government. with our multinational partners and allies to present the president with options about some of the very serious national security challenges we face today.
also options to take advantage of opportunities to secure the american people and protect the american people and promote american prosperity. >> should his word be taken on national security policy or not? >> i have not seen anything he said lately. i've been folk -- >> he said rex tillerson -- when he said everybody can sleep well at night, he said to the bbc, we should not take him at his word. military matters aren't his lane. >> we should always take secretary of state tillerson at his word. he is a talented leader and diplomat. what's different i think about president trump's approach in this administration is we have been able to achieve a very high integration of military efforts but really military efforts to support diplomatic efforts and economic efforts. i think what you are seeing with the problems associated with north korea but others as well is a tight integration of all elements of national power done so in an effort to move forward with our allies and partners. >> you have -- this was this memo written by a gentleman you have fired, richard higgins.
it was frankly some conspiratorial stuff, he put everybody in there, global i have and islamics, recognize it must be destroyed. hence the means. i guess i understand why you got rid of him. is it important to the president that this world view be represented? >> what's important is we have real work to do. and so we have to have people in place who are going to advance that work. what you will see in the national security council is a team of extremely talented and dedicated, unsung heros who work very, very hard to advance the president's agenda, to provide the president with options and then once the president makes decisions to drive -- >> i understand that. is that something you have gotten rid of? >> i'm not aware of any world view at all except to serve our
nation and to serve the president within the national security council. if there are those who come in with their own narrow agendas that aren't there to enable the president, who aren't there to serve the nation, then there shouldn't be a spot for them. >> the president was asked are we going to war. he said, i think you know the answer to that, we don't. what's the answer? >> the answer to that is the most effective way to prevent war is to be prepared for it. to make sure that there is a viable military option that if necessary you could execute to protect the american people knowing this is the gravest decision that any leader has to make. what we're endeavoring to do is resolve this north korean crisis, a crisis that has grown over the years. as dr. kissinger said in the wall street journal this
weekend, the approach to north korea has been characterized by provocation and procrastination. we can't procrastinate anymore. the effort is to combine what we are doing diplomatically, economically and with key allies and partners and others including china to resolve this short of any military conflict. >> there's been confusion. has the president drawn a red line? is it a threat from kim jong-un? is it a missile test to guam? can you explain how his words should be interpreted? he said even a threat was going to get a response. what's the red line? >> the president doesn't draw red lines. he asks us to make sure we have viable options for him. options that combine diplomatic, economic and military capabilities. that's what we have done. what's critical here is the president through his engagement with world leaders, with our allies, also with china, has recognize three fundamental things. the first is, this isn't just a u.s. problem. this is a world problem.
china has influence to cope with this. the third -- this is what's most important -- the goal -- the common goal that we have to pursue is denuclearization of the korean peninsula. >> i know tomorrow there's potential -- the president will sign a memo that begins the process of potentially punishing china on some trade practices. are you concerned that that then pushes china away from being part of the solution here in north korea? >> not at all. china recognizes we have to compete. america has to engage with the world. >> this will not be conflated? >> certainly. the operative word is not punished. the operative word is to compete with not just china but with all countries. what the president is doing is everything he can to ensure a fair playing field, to make sure that american workers, american businesses are not disadvantaged by the theft of intellectual property.
>> you can and steve bannon work together in this white house or not? >> i get to work with a broad range of talented people. it's a privilege to enable the national security team. >> you didn't answer. >> i am ready to work with anybody who will help advance the president's agenda and advance the security, prosperity of the american people. >> do you believe steve bannon does that? >> i believe that everyone who works in the white house, who has the privilege, the great privilege every day of serving their nation, should be motivated by that goal. >> general mcmaster, thanks for coming in. appreciate it. when we come back, the former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff about whether it's time to accept north korea as a nuclear power. north korea as a
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welcome back. last night i caught up with mike mullen about the threat north korea poses and how we can keep the warfare from turning into a shooting war no one wants. i began by asking what he is telling his family and friends about the apparent escalating tensions with north korea. >> i'm really concerned because i don't know where this goes in terms of a peaceful resolution. it's an incredibly difficult, complex problem. and we have rhetoric -- very strong rhetoric coming from north korea as well as from the united states.
and that rhetoric, it seems to me, has taken away options or it's reduced maneuver space, if you will, for leaders to make decisions. so i'm extremely concerned. and i have heard from family and i have heard from friends about what's going on, who are extremely concerned with where we are and what the outlook is. it seems to be one of forming critical mass. and if this results in a military strike, the unintended consequences of that, the possibility that there are disproportional responses, miscalculations, it just -- it can really get out of control fast. >> the president's rhetoric, let's get to that on north korea. there's been a whole lot of it. is it effective or is it making things worse? >> i think this actually has to be resolved through beijing.
whether or not our president's rhetoric has moved -- i know they talked recently. whether china actually is able to prioritize this resolution as a high interest to them, a national interest to them is -- will be a big indicator as to whether or not what's going on is in any way moving in the right direction. i think it's got to be resolved politically, diplomatically, through negotiations to ensure that we don't have a military conflict that could get out of control. >> you said you are concerned the rhetoric has limited options. what options are you concerned that the president has eliminated with his rhetoric?
>> i think it eliminates maneuver space for him, because it looks like brinkmanship to me. it looks like clearly he is verbally focused very specifically on the military options with the rhetoric that's out there. it's almost a fire and brimstone don't make another move or else. the comment that military options are locked and loaded, we have always had military options. and they are very complex, but they can be executed. it almost seems as if we're leading with those, which makes an awful -- it unsettled a lot of people. >> jim clapper says essentially it's the notion of north koreans denuclearizing -- he called it a non-starter. he says it's time to accept the notion that they're going to be a nuclear regime. we kind of have to move on from that. do you accept that? >> i don't accept that yet. i recognize that as an option or an outcome. certainly, there is one option
is to accept that and then contain him. obviously, the concern you would have with that is somehow he has this weapon. he is still somewhat of an unknown to us. unpredictable and someone that's -- >> do you think he is rational? >> no, i don't think he is rational. i don't think he's a rational actor. he has -- i don't think he is a rational actor. he has a rich history in his family, the legacy to uphold. he is on a race to gain this capability. much different from his father or his grandfather in terms of developing capability. he is on a flat out sprint to develop this capability and then see what happens. i just can't bring myself to the point where we say, it's okay if this leader has these devastating weapons.
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welcome back. i would like to talk a little north korea. before we get there, general mcmaster, steve bannon is that a relationship that will last the week? >> it does seem if steve bannon was ever in jeopardy, this would be the time when he would be in the maximum jeopardy. you have stories donald trump is concerned he is a leaker
combined with the fact that his wing of the party is in the glare of the spotlight because of charlottesville. i think it's a question of whether the kelly mcmaster access can get control of this white house, which i think the majority of americans would like for them to do. >> it was an extraordinary moment. obviously, h.m. mcmaster, he knows washington speak, but he used washington speak three times to answer your question no, i cannot work with steve bannon. >> that's an important point. where are we on north korea? where is jim mattis on north korea? we have been asked this question, how serious is this. >> the last thing that jim mattis or the pentagon or the defense or general mcmaster want or america's top military leaders is any kind of military option on north korea. you heard general mcmaster right now saying, we want to say that there's a viable middle military option. it's very hard to imagine one that does not end up with retaliation, not against the
united states, not even against guam necessarily, but seoul. is about south korea. this is about south korea, 45 minutes from the demilitarized zone. 130,000 americans in seoul. you have more than 3 million foreigners there. you have 25,000 american troops in south korea. there is no way -- any military leader will tell you this. there is no way to strike north korea without putting one of america's biggest allies in jeopardy. that is at the end of the day, that underlies this reluctance to use military option. >> do we need to be more patient with north korea? eventually, this will collapse. i think the chinese think we can be more patient. >> that's an excellent question. the president's rhetoric doesn't suggest we can be. this is really what -- the point of the mcmaster/bannon question
was about is, there's a good cop bad cop going on publically between mcmaster and mattis and tillerson about we can wait, we will do diplomacy. what we don't know going on internally. that really is the bigger question. is this battle that is coming out in the public also happening -- who is making the decisions? who is going to decide whether we can wait or not? we don't have -- we don't have an answer to that. >> that's why what admiral mullen in that interview is so important. he talked about president trump limiting his own options, limiting his own maneuverability by saying, if you even make a threat, if you -- north korea said they were going do missile tests near to guam. he turned that into a threat. he raised the ante to you end up limiting your ability to strike a deal. if north korea goes and does some sort of missile test in the ma civic, we have now set it up as if -- he will look as if he is backing down.
>> isn't the problem that the north koreans and chinese don't believe the united states will act militarily? they have basically called the bluff? >> i see this as more rhetoric around the same old strategy of detaching china from north korea and having negotiations to as tillerson says denuclearize the peninsula. it's not going to stop them. we should adopt a longer term strategy of regime change that in the short-term would be robust policy of deterrence and containment. >> that's the new debate. do we let them have it or not? >> they have it. all that presupposes is a president who can exercise self-control. i don't see evidence he can do that. >> you don't take everything at his word at first. back with end game and what's the outbreak of the cross fire between the president and mitch mcconnell.
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♪ ♪ award winning interface. award winning design. award winning engine. the volvo xc90. the most awarded luxury suv of the century. this august visit your local volvo dealer to receive sommar savings of up to $4,500. back now with end game. back now with end game. it feels small now. this week, with the north korean rhetoric, before the tragedy in charlottesville, we had a president this week targeting -- it seem like every week he is targeting a supposed ally,
political ally. he is done jeff sessions. mitch mcconnell. what's this about? >> donald trump is protecting his brand. it's the anti establishment brand. he is going -- it doesn't matter it's somebody on your side. he defined by who his enemies are, not who his allies are. the short-term affect could be he is hoping, of course, to shame the party into getting the work done they need to get done. however, it could backfire not just legislatively but politically. the most toxic brew for republicans right now in 2018 is a disengagement by the party, a party that feels like they're not getting anything done, we're not accomplishing the trump agenda. they're going to blame republicans in congress for not doing it. the president's helping make that case. >> the timing was awkward because mitch mcconnell orchestrated the president's endorsement in the alabama special senate race. it's quite a wild ride over there. tuesday is the first round of
that voting. it seems that this could cause primary fights all over the united states senate battleground next year. that's a problem. >> i think trump intuits he has running room. the hierarchy of blame for his base if things continue not to go well, media first to be blamed, then congressional leadership, we're in that stage. then his staff. and then the last one is president trump himself. this is foolhardy for a lot of reasons. he needs the party for the scandal defense and he may need mitch mcconnell to run his defense at an impeachment trial in 2019. i would not alienate him. >> you could argue the alienation, that's why thom tillis feels comfortable sponsoring a bill. >> isn't it possible that donald trump is simply being donald trump and lashing out at anyone that he perceives as an enemy? he employed mitch mcconnell's wife. if he is angry, he lashes out. i don't think he does it for strategic reasons. i think he can't control
himself. >> we got an example during the health care debate what happens, how the chickens come home to roost when you had lisa murkowski. >> one important -- it's interesting. all senators seem to be taking mcconnell's side over trump. the voters may take trump's side. >> they are taking trump's side. when you talk to voters as i have been, look at the data, when they say why are things not happening in congress, why is trump agenda not going forward, it's republicans in congress. he wins in the short-term. the president's brand wins in short-term. in longer term, it's his party. >> wow. what a week. what a show. thank you all. i appreciate it. that's all we have for today. back next week because if it's sunday, it's "meet the press." back next week because if it's sunday, it's "meet the press."
go to the middle east and tell me what the real problem is. go to manchester. >> that was wednesday. instead of manchester, white house aid sebastian gore ka could have gone to charlottesville, virginia, three days later violence erupted during a planned unite the right rally. with white nationalist protests using clubs and brass knuckles, including members of the clergy.