tv MSNBC Live MSNBC September 3, 2017 1:00pm-2:00pm PDT
what's critical thinking like? a basketball costs $14. what's team spirit worth? (cheers) what's it worth to talk to your mom? what's the value of a walk in the woods? the value of capital is to create, not just wealth, but things that matter. morgan stanley hello, i'm phillip mena in msnbc headquarters. north korea saying they have successfully tested a hydrogen bomb, one intended for use on a long range missile, and the united states is responding. moments ago, some of the toughest words to date on north korea from the trump administration delivered by defense secretary james mattis. >> good afternoon, ladies and
gentlemen. we had a small group national security meeting today with the president and the vice president about the latest provocation on the korean peninsula. we have many military options, and the president wanted to be briefed on each one of them. we made clear that we have the ability to defend ourselves and our allies, south korea and japan, from any attack and our commitments among the allies are ironclad. any threat to the united states or these territories, including guam or our allies will be met with a massive military response, a response both effective and overwhelming. kim jong-un should take heed of the united nation's security council's unified voice. all members unanimously greed on the threat north korea proposes
and remain committed on the denuclearization of the korean peninsula. because we are not looking to the total annihilation of a country, namely north korea, but as i said, we have many options to do so. thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen. >> msnbc's garrett haake is covering this story from the white house and janis mackey frayer is in beijing. let's begin with garrett. strong words from the secretary of defense today. >> very strong words from the secretary and i think it's important to look at this in the context of everything we've heard from the trump administration today. if we set aside the tweets, you start the day with the treasury secretary, steven mnuchin with a message i think largely aimed at china. here he was on fox news this morning. >> i did speak with the president, and it's clear that this behavior is completely unacceptable. we've already started with sanctions against north korea, but i'm going to draft a sanctions package to send to the president for his strong consideration that anybody that
wants to do trade or business with them would be prevented from doing trade or business with us. >> so north korea's most important business partner is china, so file that away for a second. then later in the day you had the president asked whether he planned to attack north korea come out with a statement that said we'll see, not taking it off the table. that statement clearly aimed at the north koreans themselves, making it clear the president hasn't ruled out military force. then you pick up with mattis, who laid this out in more clear terms talking, obviously, to the north koreans and america's allies, saying our commitment is ironclad, the security council backs us and any attempt will be met with massive retaliation but also gave the north koreans an off ramp, saying we're not looking at regime change, the united states is committed to seeing the denuclearization of the korean peninsula, not the elimination of the north korean regime. so taken altogether you start to get a little bit of a picture of
how the trump administration plans to try to confront this latest escalation from north korea in something of a wholistic way. it remains to be scene kind of which of these options or which combination of options is going to win out in the days ahead. we'll probably get a better idea after this security council meeting tomorrow morning. phillip? >> clarification much needed. garrett haake at the white house, thank you, garrett. let's go to janis mackey frayer in beijing. what are we learning about the north korean nuclear test? >> china has come out firmly against the test, condemning it, along with the international community. japan has been vowing more pressure and south korea president calling it utterly disappointing and infuriating and it is for south korea. the president there has been urging kim jong-un to return to the negotiating table. this effort has been dismissed to this point by president trump, saying that talk is not the answer, and the president tweeting today that appeasement
just won't work. the test was seen to be the biggest yet, and what was key about that statement that was read on north korean state media earlier was the fact that all of the components were homemade. they are wanting to undermine the fact that sanctions to this point have been ineffective and that progress can continue without import. so it underscoring how little room there is for the trump administration to maneuver or for china to maneuver for that matter. relations between beijing and pyongyang have deteriorated. there's no relationship between xi jinping and kim jong-un. some saying the test today was directed as much at xi jinping as it was donald trump, so it's unclear what steps can be taken. officials have said in the past that for china there is a red line. it's just unclear whether this
nuclear test is that line, and what china will do in response. it is the pivotal player, energy exports or energy sanctions could be seen as the most powerful tool to use against the regime. pyongyang dependent almost entirely on china for oil imports, also depending on russia, but to this point china and russia have shown very little willingness to exert that heavy of pressure on pyongyang because they, of course, fear regime change. president trump eluding in a tweet to the fact that anyone that was doing business with north korea would no longer do business with the united states. effectively cutting off trade. again, another message directed at china, though it's unlikely that he's going to want to trigger a trade war at a time of nuclear showdown. trade with china accounts for over 4% of gdp in the united states. so it's unlikely that this is
going to become policy. phillip? >> janis mackey frayer in beijing for us, thank you. i want to bring in now former foreign policy adviser to the clinton campaign, laura rosenburger. laura, a goal of north korea that begun with kim jong-un's grandfather was the reunification of the korean peninsula under the leadership of the north and some experts say that kim jong-un has maintained this goal of his grandfather's. do you believe that reunifying the south under the north's control is his ultimate goal? >> i think his own personal survival is his goal. certainly, reunification of the korean peninsula remains a professed goal of the north, certainly a professed goal of the south and certainly something in the backdrop, but i
don't think that is what is guiding his motivations and his pursuit of this deterrent. kim jong-un believes in one thing and that's kim jong-un's survival. >> u.s. geological survey recorded a 6.3-magnitude earthquake at the site of north korea's latest nuclear tests and experts say a quake of that magnitude seems to signal the testing of an advanced nuclear weapon. given north korea has had sanctions over the years that cut it off from certain nations and doing business, where is it finding the money to fund its continued nuclear weapons research and development, especially at such a fast pace? >> yeah, you know, it's really important that we remember, first of all, that the evidence and the analysis of the nuclear test is still coming in. i think there's very good reason to believe that this test was quite significant in a new and very dangerous way, building on and going beyond its previous
tests, but i think it's important to bear in mind the analysis continues to be under way, but to your question about how north korea continues to get the money and the materials to be able to pursue this program and to build this program, the sanctions that have been in place have been important. they have not gone far enough. we've seen the trump administration impose some secondary sanctions on china and on russia, but it's also considering doing more. i think that is very important, both in terms of cutting off the money, but frankly also the flow of materials that help the nuclear program and ballistic missile program, but i think to do that requires a coordinator strategy and while i was listening to garrett's report earlier from the white house and heard him attempting to piece together something along the lines of a coherent strategy, he said putting aside the president's tweets. the problem is you can't do that. the president in his statements on twitter, and we must consider these to be statements from the
president, he continues to undermine and undercut everything everyone else is trying to do. throwing our allies over the side, creating fissures into north korea's hand. if this administration is actually going to impose the kind of pressure that north korea needs to face in order to halt this capability, it's going to require a real coordinated strategy and discipline, which so far this president seems uncapable of doing. >> complex issue with many consequences among them. some experts have said it would create a refugee crisis and a power vacuum in the region. in that senario, what would the u.s. need to do to ensure the stability for the citizens of north korea? >> well, i think we need to back up just a little bit there. as you noted, that is a very, very challenging option, very, very problematic option that requires a lot of very careful consideration. it's not just the challenge of a
refugee crisis and the people in north korea, you're talking about the potential of millions of dead in seoul, that's south korean citizens, americans, many americans live in seoul. the united states continues to have tens of thousands of troops based in south korea, so there are massive implications to discussions of regime change in the north and i think that's the kind of thing that should not be thrown around lightly by anybody proposing any ideas. >> certainly a frightening thought. laura, thank you very much. with concerns growing over the potential threat from a north korean regime that could be in possession of advanced nuclear weapons, which could also be capable of reaching parts of the u.s. mainland, the question that comes to mind is what the trump administration should do to stop this behavior from north korea. let's bring in congressional reporter shaun sullivan and political reporter for the los angeles times seema mayta. while leaving church earlier the
president was asked if they plan to use force against north korea. take a listen. >> mr. president, will you attack north korea? >> we'll see. >> all right, shaun, you cover congress, how is language like that sitting with members? >> well, you know, it is a pretty striking use of language that we're hearing from the president, essentially not taking a military option off the table, but when you listen to what he said and what, you know, secretary mattis has said earlier today, i think the goal that the trump administration has and image is one of strength. look, we are not going to be intimidated by this. the united states is going to be prepared in case there is some sort of hostility or attack that affects us. but the question is, how, where, and when. what would those military options be. so i think that is the question that i think a lot of members of congress, including republicans, are going to have in the coming days and weeks as they look at how it is that this
administration is actually going to respond to this administration. >> seema, to you now, the president tweeted this morning the united states is considering in addition to other options stopping all trade with any country doing business with north korea. of course, that means china. that's not going anywhere, is it? >> no, of course not. the united states and china, i think we do hundreds of billions in trade every year. if we were to cut off trade with china, our economy would be in turmoil, the global economy would be in turmoil. i think the comments from steve mnuchin later in partnering with china to use trade as a way to put pressure on north korea, that, i think, is the direction they'll end up going in. >> shaun, back to you. during an interview yesterday with republican senator lindsey graham, he commented on what he sees happening if diplomatic efforts with north korea fail. these comments coming before the north conducted that most recent test. take a listen. >> i am 100% certain that if kim
jong-un continues to develop missile technology that can hit america, if diplomacy fails to stop him, there will be an attack by the united states against his weapons systems. i'm assuming the worst. let me tell you how the war ends, it ends with his utter destruction. >> shaun, what do you make of the senator's comments? >> well, one thing to keep in mind is that lindsey graham is, you know, comes from the more hawkish traditional republican sort of school of thinking. he is somebody who tends to want to be more aggressive militarily, so i don't think what lindsey graham is saying necessarily reflects what all of congress things or even what all of the republicans in congress thing. i think there are still many republicans and democrats who want to be cautious and careful when they even talk about a military option, when they even talk about a provocation, escalation, any sort of conflict with north korea, because i think they realize, look, here
is a regime and here is a leader that is very, very unpredictable and we need to be very careful when we go into this. you're going to hear, i think, from the lindsey grahams of the world in the coming days and weeks, but that's not representative of where all of congress is and i think it's going to be more of a debate that happens in the coming weeks more than a consensus that suddenly develops. >> seema, even if they wanted to, could anyone disarm north korea even if they wanted to? >> i mean, the leader is a very unstable, unpredictable leader. i think it's going to take a really concerted effort between the united states, south korea, china, japan, russia. but the fact you have the secretary of defense making a statement he made today, which basically says we don't want to annihilate you, but didn't rule it out, that shows this could turn into a military measure if things don't get resolved. >> seema, shaun, thank you very much for joining us today. >> thank you.
harvey hazards and concerns growing over explosions at a chemical plant and the flooding of toxic waste sites across the houston area. plus, difficult deadlines. congress returns from the summer break with pressure to approve disaster relief funding. will lawmakers be able to move past partisan politics to tackle their time sensitive to do lists? is,... ...isn't it time to let the real you shine through? maybe it's time for otezla (apremilast). otezla is not an injection or a cream. it's a pill that treats plaque psoriasis differently. with otezla, 75% clearer skin is achievable after just 4 months,... ...with reduced redness,... ...thickness, and scaliness of plaques. and the otezla prescribing information has... ...no requirement for routine lab monitoring. don't use if you're allergic to otezla. otezla may cause severe diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting. tell your doctor if these occur. otezla is associated with an increased... ...risk of depression. tell your doctor if you have... ...a history of depression... ...or suicidal thoughts,... ...or if these feelings develop. some people taking otezla...
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today is the day designated national day of prayer for people impacted by hurricane harvey. the president and first lady melania attended services this morning in washington after visiting asked areas in texas and louisiana yesterday. 43 people are confirmed dead from harvey, at least 43,000 are living in shelters and 4 pope francis
436,000 have requested assistance. let's go to houston where maya rodriguez is outside of a houston food bank right now. how are folks there helping out? >> reporter: yeah, phillip, we moved inside the food bank. right now we're in the carousel room. these are carousels going around this entire warehouse basically being used for sorting items that have been donated. we're talking about nonperishable food, toiletries, all kinds of items. hundreds of volunteers have been out here today and they've been sorting these items so far since wednesday alone they've gotten about 2.4 million pounds of items donated here at the food bank. about 1.2 million have been distributed at this point, but another million is expected to go out every single day. a lot of the people here tell us they did not actually lose their homes in the flooding, however, they felt the need to come out and help out. take a listen to what one of
them had to say. >> it's amazing to see people from all different walks of life having fun, helping, and people like myself, i've never volunteered before, that this is now my fourth day, you know, i've stayed every shift. it's just a feeling like you're doing something. >> reporter: and aside from their time, what people here are asking for at the food bank is a donation of money. that money really can make a difference in a situation like this. they say the recovery is not going to be measured in days or weeks or months, but rather in years. phillip? >> absolutely, i was there all last week, as well, and saw the outpouring of donations and volunteers and many people as soon as they found out their homes were not flooded out rushed back to help. wonderful to see that. again, maya rodriguez in houston, maya, thank you. explosions at the chemical plant northeast of houston, a population worried about the water they drink and air they drink as the long hurricane
cleanup begins. black smoke billowed from the chemical plant in crosby, texas, after a number of explosions occurred there related to a power outage affecting the refrigeration units that normally regulate the temperature of these volatile compounds. residents have been evacuated within a mile radius with the fema director brock long calling the smoke incredibly dangerous. now an investigation into the plant's chemicals after the company refuses to release details on the amount and location stored on site. joining us now from houston, matt dempsey, reporter with the houston chronicle investigative team. what do we know about the dangers from the chemicals? >> so what we know right now is that the organic po roeroxides smoke from that shouldn't pose a serious threat to people outside of the mile and a half evacuation zone, but there is still a lot of questions about the status of the other containers holding chemicals at
arkema and i was getting questions yesterday about what the materials were inside the freezer trucks itself, like the materials that make up the freezer trucks exploding, what's in those. that's some questions i still need to answer. >> there's a petition going around, nearly 17,000 people have signed it calling on arkema to release details on the chemical storage. how much are houston officials mop tori monitoring this? >> there is monitoring going on by the epa and the company, as well, though i don't believe we've gotten access from the air monitoring data from the epa. they are telling us things are all right, but we have not gotten access to that particular information. then i today sent out -- put out on my twitter feed and shared to the public the chemical inventory i got from 2015 when we did an investigation about chemical facilities in houston, but that's two years out of date
at this point. >> the epa slammed inaccurate reporting on the toxic super fund impacted by harvey, but the statement also says 13 sites were damaged and 11 are so flooded teams can't even get close enough to investigate. this morning on "meet the press," mayor sylvester turner said he'd like the epa to be on the ground to investigate the sites. what's going on here, is the epa just mia? >> it's hard to say. for example, ap reporters made efforts to get access to super fund sites and found they could get to most of them by foot, boat, et cetera, getting access to those facilities, so it's a little bit confusing epa says we can't get access to them, but reporters can get access to them. there's a big super fund site called the waste pits that has been a controversy in houston for a number of years at this point. they put a cap on it and reassured everybody a cap would be the best way to take care of
the waste instead of trying to move the waste and one of the things an activist said, what happens if a hurricane hits and major flooding hits again and the epa and army corps of ed engineers say don't worry about it, it's fine, it's fine. before harvey it was leaking and the epa said they were going to start working on removing that material. they are still -- there's -- you have to assume, sorry, you have to assume there is leaking at that super fund site already. >> definitely seeing the consequence of that. matt dempsey, thank you very much for joining us today. summer is over for lawmakers. headed back to washington this week and we will delve into their packed agenda and what could derail swift decisions. plus, just one week after harvey made landfall, another storm brewing offshore that could threaten the u.s. we're tracking hurricane irma. my checkups go well, but i want awesome!
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let's get to work. you've had a nice long break here, and we've got a lot of things to do. >> lawmakers return to the capital tuesday to a full plate and familiar position, difficult deadlines that if missed would result in a government shutdown and the country to default on its debts. the house has until october 1st to keep the federal government's lights on. president trump had threatened to shut down the government over the border wall, but he's backed away from that fight, at least for now. add to that a request for nearly a billion dollars in hurricane harvey relief, tax reform, and giving health care another shot. all that will not be easy, given trump's contentious relationship with members of his own party. in a "the washington post" op-ed senator john mccain had harsh words for trump, calling him, quote, poorly informed and impulsive, adding we must cooperate with him, but we are not his subordinates. joining me now, rick tyler and
democratic strategic. rick, i want to start with you. steve mnuchin revealed today he wants congress to attach aid for victims of hurricane harvey to a bill that would increase the debt limit, but some lawmakers warned to not connect the two. >> that would be the smart thing to do. they have to get this funding to texas and the people of texas more importantly need it. remember, raising the debt ceiling is bills we've already spent. the way to get rid of raising the debt ceiling is to have congress do its job and cut spending so we don't face this every year now. >> and emily, i wanted to ask you, congress returns to a packed fall agenda. do you think lawmakers will leave business unfinished like before recess? >> well, they have to make some headway if they are going to keep the government open and now would not be the time. there's a lot of public appetite to see a government shutdown,
particularly as fema and other groups are stepping in with hurricane harvey relief. getting the votes on the republic side on raising the debt ceiling was never going to be easy. mnuchin asking to attach the relief package to the debt ceiling is the easiest way for the white house to avoid a fight altogether and not have to have another public food fight within the republican party. >> president trump backed away from his threat to shut down the government over border wall funding. will this issue be revisited come december? how do you see this playing out? >> i think the president was impetuous threatening a shutdown over wall spending, because reality hit the reality star. when you have kim jong-un who claims now he has a hydrogen bomb that's attachable to an intercontinental ballistic missile, that's going to get people's attention and when you have a hurricane and another one on the way hitting the coast of the united states and we need the government to be functioning, i mean look the --
you would to have juxtapose the volunteers down there who are doing amazing work, helping people get back on their feet and the government is so dysfunctional with the republicans in charge of everything, i don't think that would be a great optic to have. >> rick, let me ask you again, trump found himself increasingly isolated after waging these twitter feuds with a number of top republicans. how will this hinder his efforts on getting legislation passed? >> well, it's just not how you do it. trump needs to learn a whole new skill set in terms of how legislation is passed. his tactics may work in the real estate world, but as senator mccain did point out in his op-ed, that's not the way it works in the legislative world. you have to build alliances and you have to convince the country that your agenda is where they want to go and they've done neither. >> emily, back to you. i'd like to ask you, by tuesday trump is expected to announce his decision on daca. what's expected to fall out if trump scraps daca?
>> it could actually have huge impact, not just for the 800,000 young people that will be impacted that will have total uncertainty as to whether they are going to be deported, whether they'll be able to stay. it will have huge economic impact to the community they are in. i think it also may impact the legislative agenda. there's a lot of gop and business support for having certainty and being able to protect the dreamers who are currently protected under daca. what they've said is they don't like the administration went about doing it administratively that congress is the place terror immigration. well, the ball's in your court just as recently as the end of last week paul ryan was saying he did not think ending the daca program was the right thing to do. he can actually bring a bill forward and should. i think if trump does end the program administratively, we could see things moving through congress very quickly to try to protect those 800,000 dreamers. >> rick, what do you think congress will do about, if anything, about daca?
>> look, there's too many competing interests, but i actually agree with emily. i think it belongs in the congress and when obama did move on daca, he did it in a unilateral way which another president can undo. that's unfair. we need a rational immigration program, but i think it's very unfair for the united states in the sense to promise one thing and pull it out with a subsequent administration. congress, it's incumbent upon congress, who hasn't acted on this in decades, to fix this and make it right and begin the process of immigration reform. >> i think it would be hugely unfortunate is if president trump removes the program administratively and then says congress, it's on you to fix it, but give me a wall. that would be hugely problematic. that's not the right place to have an immigration debate. protect the young people in the country now and have a separate conversation about whether the congress should be spending money for a political win for the president that it does nothing to help the country. >> so many waiting to see how this will all play out.
rick tyler and emily tisch sussman, appreciate your insight today. thank you very much. >> thank you. we continue to follow breaking news, north korea's nuclear test sending shock waves around the world. we'll discuss the strategies the white house could be considering. ♪ when heartburn hits fight back fast with tums chewy bites. fast relief in every bite. crunchy outside. chewy inside. tum tum tum tum tums chewy bites.
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to identify hazard trees. my hope is that the work we're performing allows that these forests can be sustained and enjoyed by the community in the future. together, we're building a better california. welcome back. i'm phillip mena. here's a look at what we're watching. a week after harvey touched down in texas, hurricane irma is now a category 3 storm but is expected to strengthen in the coming days. it's unclear whether it will make landfall in the u.s. plus, the power has been cut in the flooded area of west houston under a mandatory evacuation to get the residents out of the evacuation zone. some of the homes may remain flooded for the next two weeks. and moments ago outside of the white house, defense secretary mattis vowed a massive
military response to any attack from pyongyang after north korea conducted its sixth nuclear test, its strongest to date. what they've seen so far is consistent with north korea's claims it was a hydrogen bomb. north korea also claims that bomb can be mounted on an intercontinental ballistic missile and president trump was asked by a reporter today if he would attack north korea. he replied, "we'll see," and in a tweet he called north korea's actions hostile and dangerous to the united states. nbc's hans nichols is at the pentagon and joins me now. hans, the president suggested pyongyang was starting to respect the united states, but the latest test seems to suggest otherwise. what do you think trump will be discussing with his advisers at this point? >> he seems to have had a briefing from his adviser, getting briefed by joe dunford and secretary mattis, a small group laying out military options to the president of the united states. from secretary mattis we heard
some bellicose language. yes, he couched it saying that's not their preferred outcome, but he talked about the total annihilation of north korea. that's a message as much to north korea, china, the u.s. is really focused on diplomacy and trying to have a whole of government approach and bringing other countries aboard and pressuring north korea. it seems to me the rhetoric today is one step higher. in the past secretary mattis usually talked about his reference for diplomacy. this time he was heavy on the military options and said they are looking at them. one other quick note is the importance of alliances and he stressed that, as well as the important of bringing the united nations along. it doesn't appear as though some sort of a response is entirely imminent, but does look like they are considering options and seems closer today than before this nuclear test. guys? >> this is purely a military meeting. what do you read into that? >> i don't know if everyone could get here, get to
washington in time for this meeting, so they could have been joined by video conversation. secretary tillerson tends to go back to texas. the way mattis described it to me as tillerson was not there, this was just a small group and the chief of staff, john kelly, was also there. so you have if kelly, mattis, and joe dunford, were there, those are three people in the marine corps, one is still active. dunford is till active in the marine corps. the other two were in the marines and are no longer there. it is a military focus, but i wouldn't read too much into that, in part because through the pentagon, throughout this entire back and forth from north korea, we've always heard the premium on diplomacy and sometimes they say don't check with us, check with the state department. guys? >> all right, nbc's hans nichols. hans, thank you so much. coming up next, new developments in the russian investigation. a letter that could shed light on the white house's thinking behind the firing of former fbi director james comey. ♪
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with president trump under more scrutiny in the russia investigation this weekend, one of his lawyers is firing back. on friday reports surfaced that the president wrote a draft memo spelling out his reasons for wanting to fire fbi director james comey. that letter is now with special counsel robert mueller. the reasons included mr. trump's displeasure comey wouldn't publicly confirm he was not a focus of the probe. business insider "yesterday" quoted a former federal prosecutor who said mueller may have gotten the most important evidence in a possible obstruction case. but trump lawyer and white house special counsel ty cobb says the letter is exonerating and shows that the president was on the same page as the justice department. business insider says that cobb then e-mailed this question to its reporter, are you on drugs? have you read anything else on this? well, that former federal prosecutor quoted in the
business insider story joins us now. renato, you're the one who called it the most important evidence. why is that? >> well, what was in "the new york times" and "the washington post" stories was not only the existence of this letter and the fact that mueller was looking at it, but they also said that the white house counsel had put a stop to the letter, had said that the letter could not go out. he expressed concerns. it didn't specify in those articles what the concerns were. and the point that i made to the business insider journalist and i think originally on twitter, she was quoting my twitter account where i laid this out, is that whichever way that went, whatever his advice was, it was either going to be very damning for the president or very helpful to the president. if the white house counsel said what your reasons in this letter for firing comey are illegal and
the president went ahead, you know, and did not follow the advice of the white house counsel and did something that the white house counsel told him was illegal, that would be very damning evidence. similarly on the other side if the white house counsel said, hey, this is totally okay, my only concerns are how you worded it or it was harshly worded, then that is something that the president could use to help himself. but one way or another the words of the white house counsel are going to be extremely important in the obstruction investigation. >> why would the president's lawyers say that letter shows the opposite of what you claim? >> you know, honestly, i don't know, because they haven't released the letter, and if it's so exonerating, it makes you wonder why this letter and its existence is being kept under wraps. he also had told the business insider journalist that this letter, which was described by "the washington post" as a rant and "the new york times" as a
screed was entirely consistent with the analysis, careful analysis, that rod rosenstein made, which was later proven by the president's own words to not be the analysis that he followed in firing comey. so i don't know what to make of the comments or insults to the journalist at 1:30 in the morning, but it seems it's achieving the opposite effect of what he would want, which is drawing more attentions to the questions she's asking and this potential evidence, which i think will be extremely important in the obstruction investigation. >> and now mueller is reportedly working with the irs and the new york attorney general. what's that tell you about where this probe could be going? >> well, the fact that mueller has enlisted irs criminal investigations tells me he's investigating potential tax charges, so we don't know who he's investigating into those tax charges, but the reason for a federal prosecutor to get irs
criminal investigations involved to a complex white collar investigation like this one is to investigate tax charges. and, in fact, you cannot as a federal prosecutor bring tax charges without having them involved. as to getting the new york a.g. involved, what that tells me is he's looking at potential state crimes and that could be important, because the president cannot pardon people for state crimes. so there's been a lot of discussion and debate how pardons could be used to derail mueller's investigation if state crimes are charged, ultimately the pardon analysis goes out the window. >> that is a very important point to make. thank you so much for joining us today. tomorrow join ari melber for a special edition of "the beat." robert mueller has experience in foreign battles and domestic crimes and now he's running the russia investigation, which could define the trump presidency.
we're following north korea's latest threat. the regime claiming it detonated its most powerful nuclear bomb yet and has the capability to put it on a long-range missile. this morning roy blount on msnbc's "meet the press" weighed in on the situation. >> for 20 years the diplomacy has not worked very well. i think the president putting everything on the table is not a bad thing right now both for north korea, but maybe more importantly for china. >> joining me now is jeffrey lewis director of the east asia non-proliferation program and a columnist for foreign policy. thanks for joining us today. what makes this particular test so alarming? >> well, it's big.
it's probably ten times larger than the bomb dropped on nag sack pep this is the largest nuclear weapons the north koreans have ever tested and it has enormous destructive power. >> your column referenced that mountains in north korea may have been hiding the actual size of the nuclear test. what does the latest deployment tell you about the arsenal today and the raid that is growing? >> yeah, north korea tests its nuclear weapons under these giant mountains which makes it very hard to know, and it's hard to know if it's 100 kilotons or more. what you should take away from this is north korea is committed to having a nuclear arsenal and it has icbms that have the united states and thermonuclear weapons that have a large yield so they're not kidding around. the president sent out a tweet this morning and says the united states is considering to other
options, stopping all trade with any country doing business with north korea. so how effective do you think this strategy is? >> i think you'd be better off holding his breath until the chinese come to his rescue. there's no chance that that's going to work. the north koreans are committed to having nuclear weapons and i don't think there's anything that will talk them out of this. this is just basically the equivalent of throwing a temperaturer tantrum and hoping someone else will fix the problem. >> what about china? they're clearly the lynchpin here. what sort of reaction do we expect out of them? >> i really don't think the chinese have an enormous role to play. the chinese can put some pressure on the north korean, but the reality is the north koreans wanted nuclear weapons and the reason they want nuclear weapons is they don't trust the chinese. they have some ability to encourage the chinese to put pressure on the north koreans, but all of that pressure leads to talks and then you have to decide what it is you're going to talk about. i don't think the north koreans will talk about giving up weapons and so this will be
about a change in u.s. policy and us changing our goals and shifting a situation where we're deterring the north koreans. >> north korea and china is its biggest trade partner so it has to have some effect on their decisions. >> well, you know, i don't think so. i mean, i think what we've seen is the north koreans don't trust the chinese. at the end of the day the north koreans feel like being dependent on the chinese means they get ordered around and we've seen the north koreans take a number of steps such as launching missiles when chinese leaders are giving high-profile speeches and other kinds of direct insults to the chinese. after all, kim jong-nam, the leader of north korea's half brother was living under chinese protection. so i think if the chinese had that much power as the president was hoping kim jong-nam would still be alive. >> thank you so much for joining us today. and that does it for us this hour on msnbc. i'm philip mena, richard lui has
more on north korea and the u.s.'s response. have a great afternoon. or this john smith. or any of the other hundreds of john smiths that are humana medicare advantage members. no, it's this john smith. who we paired with a humana team member to help address his own specific health needs. at humana, we take a personal approach to your health, to provide care that's just as unique as you are. no matter what your name is.
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nuclear showdown. north korea stuns the world with a test of what appears to be a more powerful bomb than they've ever tested before. it leaves president trump with a difficult decision. bringing the fire and fury that he's promised or find another way to keep the rogue nation in check? the president's defense secretary just an hour ago delivering a strong message about the military option with a stark warning to north korea and rising price tag, the number for how much aid it will take for houston to recover from hurricane harvey. they're reaching estimates now of up to $200 billion. we'll have the latest from the still flood-ravaged city. i'm richard lui from the msnbc headquarters. thanks for jane aoining us on t sunday. north korea putting the rest of the world on high alert saying they've