tv Morning Joe MSNBC October 11, 2017 3:00am-6:00am PDT
nuclear weapons. three times he asked at one point if he had them, why can't we use them? that's one of the reasons why he has, he just doesn't have foreign policy experts around him. >> trump asked three times? >> three times in an hour briefing, why can't we use nuclear weapons? >> all right. that was joe's reporting from august of last year and now there is new exclusive reporting from nbc news following similar lines. it surrounds a tense meeting with president trump last summer that left top officials quote rattled about his understanding of national security. the president called for a huge increase in nuclear weapons, shortly after rex tillerson called the president a moron. we'll reveal the details first here on "morning joe." good morning, everyone, it is wednesday, october 11th. with us, we have veteran columnist and msnbc contributor
mark barnacle. analyst and professor of public policy congressman harold ford, jr. >> good morning. >> the washington bureau chief for the associated press julie pace and carol lee, a part of the nbc news team behind this morning's new reporting on what happened inside the president's meeting with top pentagon officials. joe, we talked about this story in the campaign. >> that conversation was so -- it was so disturbing on so many levels. >> it was chilling and, of course, right after that, that's when you delivered your warning to the republicans first and to americans who would vote for him, saying if you vote for him, this was right i think during the republican national convention or right after, at that time he was a candidate and a lot of people weren't giving him a chance to win. but you still issued your warning and i can tell you the foreign policy expert i spoke
with afterwards was rattled and the impression was, my god, the conclusion was, my god, could you ever imagine this guy getting his hands on the nuclear arsenal? and this, actually, here we are over a year later and he does have his hands on the nuclear arsenal and he is still, instead of state your nameing disturbing top foreign experts, it's now the secretary of state and everybody else around him that leave badly shaken calling him a moron an worse for not understanding -- for not understanding defense policy and the consequences of nuclear war. so, you know, here we are, over a year later and this is what we have. now i think it's up for congress to figure out a way to actually slow down the process and anyway
possible to put checks on this man's ability to launch a nuclear war that could end up destroying a good part of this earth. >> it's like bob corker mentioned i believe on sunday saying every day is an effort to contain him. now, we're getting a sense of just what that seems like. why don't we begin now then with that nbc news exclusive on a tense national security meeting last summer that led rex tillerson to call president trump a moron. it cites three officials in the room and says the president called for a dramatic nearly ten-fold increase in america's nuclear arsenal, leaving its own top officials caught off guard. it came after the president saw a slide that illustrated the nation's nuclear stockpile, which has already seen a steady reduction since the 1960s. officials were forced to explain the liam and practical challenges to a nuclear buildup.
the president's position raised immediate questions about his understanding of america's nuclear posture, unless some national security -- and left some national security issues rattled. shortly after the meeting concluded, secretary of state rex tillerson was heard calling the president a moron. we don't know why he said that about the president. but carol lee, we certainly can guess at this point. tell us more about this explosive story and other details around that meeting. >> sure, well, mika, this was a meeting that came a day after the president had a meeting at the white house in the situation room, where he equally stunned his advisers when they were discussing afghanistan policy by comparing that process to the renovation of a new york restaurant and so he followed that up. and they're now moving over to the pentagon. it's a smaller group of officials. they're giving him a briefing of u.s. military capabilities and
assets around the world, they're going all the way around the globe, saying this is what we have here, here and here. at one point they show him this slide that shows u.s. and russian nuclear arsenals from the 1950s until now. it goes, you know, like this. for the u.s., the president looks at it and said, you know, i want that i want more, the moon. why don't we have that many? which at its peak in the late 1960s was around 32,000 compared to the current arsenal which is around 4,000. so the advisers were stunned and explained to him that that was, the u.s. had these treaties, that that was not feasible and that there were a lot of budgetary restraints and also that given, compared to the 1960s until now, u.s. military capabilities haved a advanced so much that you don't need a nuclear arsenal in that same way. and so you know then the
advisers have told us that people whomp in the room told us it wasn't just that, as they went around the globe, the president looked at everything and said i want more of that, we need more troops there. why don't we have more military equipment here? so they had this two-hour long meeting, times that ten they had to explain how all of this went. as we know, that meeting breaks up, some officials lingerred t. secretary of state was overheard calling him a moron. we don't know exactly why. we will say there are officials that no one took the president literally that he wanted to, that he was demanding the u.s. expand its arsenal. it was more that the lack of an understanding of why that wasn't not just feasible, but also just unnecessary. >> carol, as you point out and research and reported this story, donald trump has something of an obsession with nuclear weapons. he talked about in the "new york
times" in '84 reported by my dad in the "new york" magazine, he tweeted last year the united states must greatly, pand its nuclear capability. obviously the u.s. is rattled only by russia in terms of the vast number of warheads it has. were the people in the room concerned not that he wanted the most, superlatives the most nuclear warheads, but he was intent on using them? did they take that next step that he wanted to use them somewhere? >> you know, that wasn't necessarily, when you talked to people it was more he just wanted more of everything, let's just be the biggest and the best. it wasn't necessarily drawing that link that we will use all these weapons, but it was a very -- we are starting to see this pittsburgh emerge of this president. he thinks in these dimensions, let's be the biggest and the best and have the most and outgun everybody, not necessarily to use it per se but just to show that the u.s. has all of this strength.
we see this not when he talks about defense issue but really any issue. >> and mike barnical, if you are sitting in the room with a new president who says, i want ten times as many nuclear weapons, it shows a complete ignorance of what preceding you over the past 50 years, alt salt treaty, all the stark treaty, all the treaties that actually ronald reagan at the end, where the presidents preceded him, all of those hard fought victories and all of those summits that presidents had. again, across the decades, to get our nuclear arsenal at a certain stage and just to say, hey, i want to proceed it up, goes back to the overlying problem and i think the ignorance of this administration
and, well, i'm end it at ignorant that they believe -- and i said this to them in realtime, you guys believe the world began on january the 20th, 2017. you don't just wander into the middle east and create peace. you don't just wander into russia and reset the relationship. you don't just wander into nuclear treaties andtary them up. but that's what these people have always believed. because and i say this, you can say this objectively, they are ignorant of history and if you listen to what they have said in public speeches, they are contempttuous of history and they are contemptuous of those of us who actually read history books to get a better understanding of history. >> well, joe, there is certainly a lack of understanding of history among this group of people now running the country and there is certainly on donald
trump's part a lack of capacity to understand tell hole of the president of the united states, both in in countries and as leader of the free world, carol, around that table that day you had the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, general dunford, secretary of defense mattis. you had the staffs, professional military people in a building populated more by doves, people who know what happens within war than anything else, but also at that table i'm wondering, do you get any reporting about the reaction to others at the table with president trump, like steve mnuchin there at the table? like jar id cush nesh there at the table. sean spicer and keith schiller, basically a friend, a body man to the president of the united states out there at the table in the pentagon? any reaction among the
professionals? >> reporter: we have not. this story to put it in a little bit of context, it was such a small group and it was so, it's so tightly held that we don't know exactly, you know, we are efforting to learn little bit more about that. but we do know that at least the, as you mentioned, this is a gathering of the senior-most military advisers in the pentagon and they were taken aback by what the president said. i set the scene of the officials you mentioned, this july period is turning out to appear like a real inflexion point even more so if you knew, if you added everything up, you had this meeting that came after this afghanistan meeting that raised concerns among the president's advisers, at the same time, this is all happening when anthony scaramucci came in, when sean spicer was on his way out. when he gave the speech to the
boyscouts widely criticized for being too political. he re-certified the iran deal after many arguments where his aides. so there was just a lot going on in this particular time frame and so you know we don't know exactly what was going on in terms of his advisers, those advisers you mentioned in this meeting, but there was definitely a lot of tension at that time. >> wow, staggering and unnerving. can you read the full exclusive report at nbcnews.com. next hour, we will bring in national security and military reporter and white house correspondent kristen welker who were a part of the reporting team on this story also nbc news white house correspondent halle jackson contributed to the report. she will be joining us. savannah guthrie shares a by line and also developments continue throughout the day and tonight on "nightly news." >> meanwhile, president trump continued his feud with bob
corker of tennessee tweeting with the foreign relations chairman at the end of our show. he wrote, quote the failing "new york times" set liddle bob corker up by recording his conversation. was made to sound a fool, and that's what i'm dealing with. the "new york times" reporter then posted the audio of corker saying his staff was reporting the conversation and quote i hope you are too and without correspondent peter baker writes, if labeling mr. remarker liddle, the president was evidently returning to a emthat. he considered mr. corker after last year's election reportedlied to associates mr. corker at 5' 7" was too short to be the nation's top diplomat. yesterday they brushed off corker's comments that trump's aggressive rhetoric could lead to world war iii. >> mr. president, is senator corker right to claiming you are on the path to world war iii? >> we were on the wrong path before.
all you have to do is look f. you look at the past 25 years through numerous organizations, we were on a path to a very big problem a. problem like this world has never seen. we're on the right path right now, believe me. >> senator corker is certainly entitled to his own opinion, but he's not entitled to his own facts. the fact is this president has been an incredibly strong leader on foreign policy and national security and he's been a leader on this front and i think that's been seen and demonstrated time and time again sense he took office. >> joe, there is this other weird narrative happening where steve bannon called for bob corker to resign. corker is an elected senator and yesterday sarah huckaby sanders was asked whether or not he should resign. she said i'll leave that to the people of tennessee as if he should step aside for criticizing the president of the occupation. >> my god! >> it is so bizarre, these people that occupy the white
house and steve bannon who used to be the president's top strategist actually would fit more comfortably and feel more comfortably working for a regime in turkey or russia. they believe in loyalty tests. they don't understand the separation of powers. they don't understand the constitution of the united states drafted by a man by the way who was 5' 4," 5' 5." they don't understand that bob corker is doing honorable thing by actually doing his job. sarah huckaby sanders, how rich to say that bob corker is entitled to his opinion but not entitled to his own facts. when the white house is, of course, under this president the institution that lives in its own alternate reality and it misses much. and harold ford, speaking of alternate realities, and speaking of being disconnected from reality, this president
actually believes he's going to get bob corker's support on legislation like, for instance, tax reform bills while he's insulting him, thinking somehow bob corker is going to give him the benefit of the doubt for a tax bill that bob corker has already said doesn't make sense and doesn't add up and would blow a hole in the deficit. >> you know, you look at the vote totals on some of these important bills that have come to the congress and your point can't be amplified enough. they can't hold all of their roof together all alone stand to lose anymore. the only part of that story, joe, the picture that really encouraged me was watching the president sit withing is kiss g kissinger. the fact that the president is on his way to asia at the beginning of november is probably not a bigger thinker and one with better relationships across the continent of the new secretary kissinger. hopefully the president listens, hopefully, his team is taking
counsel from him. the back to senator corker for a moment t. world war iii comments, probably the most alarming and damaging things senator corker said. you would wondering, if, indeed the majority of the senate are of the same opinion that the president marching down a dangerous path, that that alone would give rise to conversation in the senate and maybe the congress about the fitness of the president for this officer and whether or not he should continue serving in this officer, especially on the brinker, right on the heels of a trip to asia. you would have to wonder, are they going to have some of this resolve with north korea prior to the trip? remember in early february to mid-february the winter olympics are taking place in south cre why. no responsible head of state can send a delegation or sanction a delegation traveling to south cre 82 if this dispute between us and north korea festers or continues at the rate that it is. so i know we all hope they find some resolution here. again, i take only solace and
encouragement from what we saw from the fact that secretary kissinger, he shook hands, perhaps that means some kind of progress and civil progress is being made with north korea. >> well, let us hope. julie pace, bob corker, again, we have to underline this again, several days ago saying that donald trump's erratic actions, his erratic words, his erratic deeds could actually lead us down the path to world war iii. i called foreign policy, top foreign policy advisers yesterday and their impression was that we in the news media were missing the bigger story in talking about this being and forth and they say we're much closer to a cataclysmic military event than even the media is reporting, that actually it's more dangerous and it's more
serious than anybody is reporting that bob corker actually is right and, julie, did you get any pushback from republicans on the hill yesterday from what bob corker said? because we still haven't heard anybody rebuke bob corker in the united states senate publicly and say, no, no, no, what he's saying about the president leading us towards world war iii was correct. >> i don't think bob corker was talking in hyperbole, i think he was raising a red flag he knows is shared by a lot of his fellow senators. we reached out to a.p. colleagues, to every republican senator to ask, do you share corker's concerns and do you think that the president is fit for office? we only got responses from a very small handful. there's pretty much silence and avoidance from other republican office holders this week, even though we know and they know that this is the kind of conversation that happens behind
the scenes ain't links back to carole's reporting, it's about the uncertainty. it's about the question when the president throws out something in a meeting like should we increase our nuclear capacity tenfold? is he saying that serious will i? is that actually what he wants the pentagon to be focusing on? is that a throw away line from him? people don't know. they don't know who in the administration speaks on foreign policy when tillerson or mattis goes overseas and offers reassurances? s is that what foreign leaders should be holding on to, or is it the tweets and the provocative lines from the presidents. when you add that together, a lot of people on the hill, a lot of people among our allies, in particular, are quite nervous that the president could lead us, perhaps, accidentally into some type of military conflict. >> well, mika, every republican senator on capitol hill has the record before them. what we've said on our show last
august, what willie was talking about from i think 1984, what donald trump said on "hardball" during the heat of the campaign, again he said, if we have these nuclear when importance, why can't we use them? calling for a tenfold increase in nuclear weapons, having is most powerful republican on capitol hill saying donald trump's erratic words and actions are leading us towards world war iii. could lead us towards world war iii. they are not pushing back to that reality. so my question is, at what pointed do you step forward as a delegation and do what barry goldwater did at the white house in 1974 and told richard nixon it was over. they don't have to go over until donald trump that it is over. but a delegation of republicans need to go over the white house and tell the president either
you assure us that the chairman of the foreign affairs committee in the united states senate is wrong or we are going to take immediate action to limit your ability to launch nuclear weapons? and it won't be what general hayden said last year, it will no longer be a system built more for speed than for rationality. these republicans senators in the middle of october 2017 have that responsibility for millions and millions of americans and others across the globe. and if they can't do that, then there's something called the 25th amendment that they're going to have to start looking at. this is not acceptable as the status quo. we have the most powerful republican on capitol hill saying the president of the united states could be leading us towards nuclear war. and republican as far as remain
silent. >> let's break for some courage. because they certainly have been warned, very clearly still ahead on "morning joe," more women speak out about harvey weinstein, including several who accuse the producer of rape. and hillary clinton and the obamas finally go on the record what took so long? you are watching "morning joe." we'll be right back. it's not just a donation.
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. >> oh, please, i'm not afraid of anyone in show business. i turned down intercourse with harvey weinstein on no less than three occasion, on five. i know how lovers can have a hold over you in some ways i'm still pinned under a passed out harvey weinstein and its harvey weinstein. >> you know longer have to pretend to be attracted to harvey weinstein. >> there you go. it appears to be hollywood's worst kept secret as the jokes on "30 rock" and during the 2013
oscar tom nations. the number of hollywood actresses coming forward now with accusations of sexual misconduct against harvey weinstein continues to grow. some now claiming the former film executive sexually assaulted them. the new allegations emerged yesterday in back-to-back reports in the "new york times" and "new yorker" magazine. the "times" follow-up, gwynnth paltrow and angelina jolie reveal weinstein harassed them. paltrow says his alleged attempt to lure her when she was 22-years-old to giving him a massage in a hotel room. jolie meanwhile told the "times" she had a quote bad experience with harvey weinstein in my youth, as a result, chose never to work with him again and warned others within they did. meanwhile, in a report for the "new yorker," nbc news contributing correspondent ronan pharaoh revealed he was told by
13 women that weinstein either harassed or sexually assaulted them between the 1990s and 2015, three women told pharaoh weinstein had forced himself on them. the magazine also released the following audio recording. it says it's of weinstein trying to persuade a model to come into his hotel room in 2015.
. >> don't ruin your friendship with me for 5 minutes. 5 minutes of what, exactly? that was reported in the nypd sting. weinstein was not criminally charged. amid all the new allegations against harvey weinstein, the board of directors at his former company released a statement that red, in part, these allegation are anti-thettical to human decency, these allegationles come to an utter surprise to the board. any suggestion that the board had knowledge of this conduct is false. meanwhile from a walt disney company michael eisner, tweeted out yesterday, fired weinsteins because they were irresponsible and harvey was an incore ijible bully. had no idea he was capable of these horrible actions. and former president obama and former secretary of state hillary clinton both denounced weinstein yesterday after facing mounting criticism for remaining
non-conse non-consentual sex, he did not retaliate against women that rejected his advances, his wife of a decade has announced she is separating from him. really? >> i think as the flood gates have opened here, we have to stop and give credit to the first ones. >> absolutely. >> that's the hardest to do, be the first one. frankly you, mika, were one of the first person that said i will not be in business with this company, your book deal on hold. that's hard to do. it's hard to come in after someone has broken through the gates. i applaud people that came out first. gwyneth paltrow wasn't a big star when it allegedly happened, but she was dating brad pitt. her father was a high profile producer/director. her godfather was steven
spielberg. she had access to power in hollywood, she, even she felt i can't cross this man because i'm worried about my career. so i'm imagine what less powerful women felt. >> and that tape. my god. i mean, he is clearly in that tape, joe, overwhelming. and pushy and boorish. >> and the nypd, this again has gotten so far that the nypd was trying to do a sting on this guy and i'm sorry, but if you are on the weinstein board, if you are close friends with harvey weinstein and "30 rock" is. >> making jokes. >> -- is making jokes about him sexually pushing himself on women. they're making jokes at the academy awards, i'm sorry, how could you work alongside this
guy for so many years and not know what's going on? jessica chastain saying the other day, the second she got into the business, shelves warned about it. everyone, this was such an open secret in show business that, willie, i want to go back to the point you made, it's shocking and it's shocking that all of these people in hollywood knew for so long and, yet, willie, it was ashley judd and rows mcgowan that came out and i'm sorry the longer you waited to come out, the less -- i -- the more disappointed the people should be in you. it took, you will remember, you are right, mika spoke out immediately on saturday and said, i will lose a ton of money and this book deal because i'm not going to be associated with him. but you had all of these stars that have made tens of millions
of dollars with harvey weinstein that refused to come out, some of them waiting until yesterday after as you said the flood gates had opened up, which showed they were still afraid of harvey weinstein. >> they wanted to see how this will play out. what if harvey survives, they have to work with harvey again. again, i think it's the case. it's very difficult to come out and be the first one to talk about this thing, to admit that something like this that can feel shameful to women happened to you. then maybe you didn't say something about it earlier as ashley judd said. so i want to applaud the courage of those women. i hope it gives courage to other women in other fields facing this kind of thing, found it difficult to speak up, to know when they speak up, they will have the support of other women and other men in their work place, their home, wherever it is they are experiencing this. >> it's also, joe, an age old story about the issues of status, power, clout, and money
in america, that can separate you from consequences. the nypd, the new york police department had enough to go forward with a case on harvey weinstein, they had tape, they had motive. they had repetitive behavior and somehow that bought the shut down on the way to the manhattan district attorney's officer. i'm not clear exactly what has happened, but harvey weinstein use and abused the status he had, the clout that he had as a result of his status and the status that he had with regard to the fact that he had a lot of money. >> and by the way, i don't know the manhattan d. a. certainly, cy vance, i don't know him that well. i saw yet again we had a contribution from weinstein's lawyer by cy vance. the case went away, which is what we were reporting on the ivanka and don jr. case a couple weeks ago, where trump's lawyer
gave money to cy vance. the case went away. they refunded the money and then turned around after the charges against don jr. and ivanka were not pursue d, not pursued, despite other prosecutors thought thoi they should be pursued. then they wrote a check to cy vance. i want to know, where is the reporting on these stories? i can't believe -- and by the way, mika, i can't believe i'm this naive. i can't believe that in 2017 this is how justice is actually performed in manhattan. i want to know, i want to know, i want to know of these contribution toss this d. a. and charge and things and charges not being pursued against har vie weinstein. is it really that easy 2017 to
write a check to delaware an to? it's a joke. >> it is, there's a lot of questions of why it took so long. this is the kind of story with the kind of evidence and even the kind of admission president harvey, himself, that demands, requires, obviously, calls for an immediate reaction on the part of politicians, former candidates, and people in hollywood and they all left ashley judd and rows mcgowan hanging for a week. it's beyond me. but to the point that you two were making, the manhattan district attorney's office said it would have attempted to prosecute weinstein if the nypd had coordinated the matter with them. they say if we could have prosecuted harvey weinstein for the conduct that occurred in 2015, we would have.
where's the "new york times" story on that? where is the "wall street journal" story on that? where is the story on this? why did we read about the trumps a couple of weeks ago and that exchange for checks to cy vance, his face needs to be on the front page of the "new york times" on the trump case and the weinstein case. and who knows, maybe he's innocent. but it does not look good. >> yeah and by the way. >> -- in both of these cases. >> you couldn't catch this predator on tape? you got to be kidding me. keystone cops, you got to be kidding me. you couldn't get any more from him? are you kidding me? you have to close this. >> tell me, barnacle, tell me, what were we reading between the lines of that nypd statement? >> oh, please. >> well, there is a two tiered justice system here, that your average citizen knows it, harvey
weinstein knew it. he's on tape that we just played saying, quote, i won't do it again to one of his victims. please come on in, unquote. if it was a building superintendent named joe harvey instead of harvey weinstein, he would have had the cuffs put on him that afternoon. >> coming up, in july of last year, the president told reporters he had a quote absolutely great meeting with national security advisers. we now know those advisers had a very different take on it. i think they thought he was moronic is the word that was used. we have much more on this nbc news exclusive that takes us inside the pentagon meeting in which the president called to dramatically increase america's stockpile of nuclear weapons, more on that when we return. building a website in under an hour is easy with gocentral...
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does the secretary of state expect to be effective when he's questioning his intelligence? >> again, he wasn't questioning the secretary of state's intelligence. >> he was questioning his iq. >> he made a joke. maybe you should get a sense of humor and try it some time. he simply made a joke. >> since the white house says the president was merely joking -- >> wow. >> -- about being smarter than
rex tillerson -- >> do they get paid for being c contempuous? she just looks stupt when she does that. everybody knows what the truth is. everybody knows what the reality is. why can't she just play it straight? >> i don't know. >> why can't she just -- >> i can't watch the briefings. >> why is it so hard for people behind that podium working for donald trump to be professional? do they not understand right now that sean spicer and washington professionally is a dead man walking? do they not understand there is not an act two after this contemptuous display where you don't tell the truth from behind the podium and then you mock people who are just trying to get answers from you? >> yeah. it's -- >> by the way, if the press is tough to them, guess what, the press is tough to every president. just read marlon fitzwater's bio
about working for george w. bush. if you can't stand the heat get out of the kitchen. if you can't answer straight without being snide every day go home t ends badly for you. >> for so many reasons i don't know how she does what she does. we took her invitation to, though, quote, try it some time to heart. with some of the other president's boasts about his intellect. >> they say is donald trump an intellectual? trust me. i'm like a smart person. >> i can handle things. i'm smart! >> iq wise not even a contest. >> unlike everybody says. >> we agree he's leading in the polls but it can't go much longer because he doesn't put policy papers out, you know. i guarantee my iq is much higher than any of these people. >> when einstein came up with the atomic bomb did they ask him to prove it worked? >> they so-called eggheads and i
guarantee you, my iq is much higher than theirs, all right? >> whoo-hoo, i'm a college man. i won't need my high school diploma anymore. >> i'm very highly educated. i know words. i have the best words. >> i am too smart. i am too smart. s-a-r-t. i mean s-m-a-r-t. >> check out the big brain on brad. >> i'll match my iq with all of them. >> he's a genius. >> right. >> he's a genius. >> what's intellectual? i'm smarter than they are. >> i am the smartest man alive! >> perhaps the smartest person ever to run for the presidency. how good is that? trump, trump! >> see, i'm trying humor and i just -- i can't laugh. julia pace, what are you looking at this morning? >> i'm glad you played those clips.
we were having this conversation. trump doesn't really joke. he knifes you and calls it a joke later. that's what you saw happened yesterday with tillerson. as far as today goes, look, you might be forgiven for having forgotten this, but trump and republicans are trying to push tax reform. this is driving republicans crazy, the fact that they have a republican president in the white house and they can't seem to get their agenda going and get their president fully focused on what they're trying to do. they'll give it another shot, tax reform today. >> carol lee, what's on your radar? >> i was reminded watching those clips that the president said he knows more than the generals during the campaign. and what's become clear in reporting out how he has conducted behind the scenes in the last nine months is that the generals are actually really schooling him on a lot of things. and that's the dynamic that is there as we head into these debates about north korea and iran. >> yeah.
coming up, much more on the reporting that carol was part of, that president trump told top national security leaders that he wants to increase the nation's nuclear arsenal nearly tenfold. the nbc team that broke this story will join us. we'll be right back. hi, i'm the internet! you know what's difficult? armless bowling. ahhhhhhhh! you know what's easy? building your website with godaddy. get your domain today and get a free trial of gocentral. build a better website in under an hour.
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associate editor of commentary magazine, noah rothman. good to have you all this hour. president trump and secretary of state rex tillerson had a face-to-face sitdown at the white house yesterday. it was their second meeting since the president learned through nbc reporting that his top diplomat called him a moron in a meeting with officials last july. this morning, we have a stunning new nbc news exclusive on that tense national security meeting last summer. the bombshell report cites three officials who were in the room and said the president called for a dramatic nearly tenfold increase in america's nuclear arsenal, leaving his own top officials caught off guard. it came after the president saw a slide that illustrated the nation's nuclear stockpile, which has seen a steady reduction since the 1960s. officials were forced to explain the legal and practical challenges to a nuclear buildup.
the president's position raised immediate questions about his understanding of american nuclear posture and left some national security officials rattled about his grasp of other national security issues. it was shortly after the meeting concluded that secretary of state rex tillerson was heard calling the president a moron. we don't exactly know why tillerson said that about the president. get a gander, though. nbc news national security and military reporter, courtney kube. you can take the first question, joe. >> the flashy headline has to do with the tenfold increase in nuclear weapons, and our nuclear stockpile which couldn't be done for so many reasons. but there also seemed to be an unease among all of these military leaders and diplomatic leaders that donald trump was
asking for more of everything. and basically asked for everything this side of dr. evil's idea of having sharks with lasers on them. is that what was so unsettling to them? >> yeah. i have to admit, i never asked anyone whether there was any talk of shark notice tank that day but he did. you know, numerous people, numerous sources who were familiar with the meeting, who were in the meeting told my colleagues and i that there was -- so this meeting was a look at the world. they went through the entire world, did what the military calls a force posture review. they looked at the layout of troops all around the world, u.s. troops, assets, ships, aircraft, everything all over the world. and this included a slide, a briefing slide that showed the nuclear arsenal for the u.s. and it showed an historical look at it. so from the more than 70 years ago when the nuclear program first began to today. and, of course, that peaked during the cold war. and then started to come down in
the late '60s, early '70s. and sources we spoke with said the president looked at that and said well, you know, why don't i have that many? why don't i have more? then there was a conversation about what you mentioned, joe, just that it's not really feasible to increase it, for numerous reasons. because of treaty obligations, because of budget. the u.s. doesn't have the budget to increase it right now. but i think it left some people -- we're told it left some people in the room a little surprised. one of the other vignettes we were told about, huge security concern north korea and the buildup there and that the president looked at the number of troops and the assets that are there and said well, i don't understand. why isn't south korea happy that we have this big defensive posture there? why aren't they happy that we have so many troops and assets?
they had to explain the history of it and why there are so many troops, why there are so many americans there and what they do and how it benefits not only south korea, but it benefits the united states to have a presence there. >> courtney, it's willie. this comes to the surprise of not many people, a man who puts great stock in superlatives, whether it's hisarsenal. i'm curious how he reacted when he was told that we have nuclear disarmament treaties. that's why the numbers have come down over the years. how did he react? did he push back against that? >> one of the sources said he wants more nukes. so, there was a discussion afterwards where they explained to him, you know, like you said, the treaties. and one of the big things you have to consider here is, you know, there's not a budget to increase the number of nukes in the u.s.
and that would be an enormous -- that's not something that could just quickly be turned. that there would suddenly be a budget to increase the number of nuclear wpens in the united states. also there is this importance of the balance between the conventional force and the nuclear force. there is a very delicate balance that military leaders understand. they understand the utility of the fact that the conventional force is what the united states uses. look at syria. look at iraq. look at afghanistan. look at libya. the nuclear force is much more of a deterrent value. it provides a deterrent value against the united states' enemies. they look at this very strong nuclear program that the united states has, and the hope is that -- and the reason that the u.s. hasn't use aid nuclear weapon in 70 years is that this deterrence keeps enemies from
doing anything that would provoke a nuclear response. we are told by numerous sources this was explained to president trump. you know, some people that we spoke with says this is part of his way anyway meeting, asking these provocative questions. he wants his cabinet leader, military leaders, his people to think outside the box. he was asking a number of questions throughout this entire, you know, briefing that, at times, was described to us as somewhat tense. he asked a number of questions that raised some eyebrows. >> yeah. he certainly did raise some eyebrows. and actually the president is tweeting this morning, trying to deflect from the concern inside his actual cabinet that he's a moron. courtney, thank you very much. you can read the full exclusive report at nbcnews.com. and nbc news' hallie jackson and kristen welker will join us just
a bit later on in the show. joe? you know, it was said of fdr he had a second-rate intellect but had a first-rate temperament. here with donald trump, if you look at his approach with this issue, what we reported on a year ago, of why can't we use our nuclear weapons, it appears that donald trump has a third-rate intellect and fourth-rate temperament when it comes to nuclear weapons because these reports show that he is completely ignorant of military and budgetary and in all the negotiations that have happened with nuclear weapons since the 1960s. on the temperament side of things he asked repeatedly during the campaign, privately and publicly on tv, why can't we use our nuclear weapons? we have them. >> yeah. i think probably the most disturbing thing is what you outlined there.
he doesn't seem very curious about any of these things. we recall during the campaign how he was flummoxed of what the nuclear triad was, forcing his way through it, demonstrating he didn't really know. it's one thing not to understand america's nuclear posture. it's another thing to have to be educated on it seven months into your presidency. the notion that we need -- we have about 70,000 warheads right now. not all are deplorable. it was 30,000 in 1967. we do have a decaying nuclear arsenal. president barack obama ordered a revamp of the arsenal late in his presidency. he was ideologically blinkered there as well. we need life extension programs for weapons that are decaying. life extension doesn't work forever. life extension facilities like y-12 and pantex are literally crumbling. we need a revamp policy and that needs to be a budgetary concern. but the president's idea that we just need more, bigger, better,
is simplistic and it's grimly satisfying to know that his administration didn't just ignore him. >> yeah. >> and, harold, again, everybody has the right, i suppose, to be ignorant at some point about things. not when you're president of the united states. but the fact that donald trump has never attempted to grasp policy, didn't do it during the campaign, he's not doing it as president of the united states. i'm just the smartest guy in the room. of course, it's not even close to being true. but he remains ignorant. and, again, you know, there's a speech from jared kushner talking about middle east peace, mocking anybody that is aware of diplomatic history, of anything that happened before january 20th, 2017. this is a real crisis, as bob
corker says, this president is taking us toward world war iii. >> you covered all the points. noah's points amplify if not echo all of these. when he visited nato and went before our friends there and was highly critical of leaders and friends there right on the heels of what had just happened in england. there had been a terrorist attack at a concert there. his indifference, we saw all of this during the campaign. and the american people, in a lot of ways, wanted someone with kind of a blank slate on many of these things. at least the votes suggest that. he's now there, asking these questions. i give him a small amount of credit at least for raising these questions. it appears he has stepped back from some of these things. from courtney and carol lee's standpoint, apparently we're going to get some national nuclear review posture report at the end of the year.
i'll be curious to know what we're expected to hear in that report and what kind of things the president specifically asked for to be reported on. but this is typical. we found ourselves at a strange moment. the other thing i would ask kristen, it appears that he was given some options about north korea in a national security briefing. it would be curious to know what the reporting may reveal about that. as we head into, again, this november 2nd trip, what is the president looking to get accomplished prior to the trip or during this trip as it relates to north decree camera? >> knowing his personality, mike, it appears that he's spinning. someone needs to turn off the television in the white house. go ahead. >> joe raised this earlier. particularly salient point off of what bob corker said to "the new york times" over the weekend. it has to do with the conduct of behavior of the other senate republicans. this is a uniquely depressing moment in our history. everyone knows the world is a truly dangerous place.
and everyone knows that we are surrounded with these marvelous communicative tools, instagram, tweeting. as a result, our attention span has been minimized. it shouldn't be minimized to the point where we forget and senate republicans seemingly have forgotten that we have a president of the united states who is uniquely ill equipped and unprepared to lead this country as well as the free world. >> we talked about the president's fascination with nuclear weapons both as president and as a candidate. we played joe's reporting from two augusts ago about the questioning he asked, if we have all these nuclear weapons, why don't we just use them? the second part that have segment we have somewhere is former cia chief and general, michael hayden, when joe asked him what is a process like when a commander in chief wants to launch a nuclear weapon. i want to read the quote again from august 2016 from general hayden. quote, the system is designed
for speed and decisiveness. it's not designed to debate the decision. soet the president of the united states is now donald trump in a chair where he has very quick and decisive power if he decides he wants to use a nuclear weapon. >> there's this nbc news report. there's all these different stories we're looking at in silos. we're isolating them and trying to see how -- at some point, joe, people have to look at all of this together, including his erratic, unpredictable and some would say extremely concerning behavio behavior. >> and that's why i said what i said this morning. republicans on capitol hill have a leader in the senate foreign affairs committee. and that leader, bob corker, has said that donald trump and his erratic behavior could be leading the united states
towards world war iii, could be leading america towards a nuclear war. this is -- this statement is unprecedented in modern american history, from a leader on the hill whose president is in the same party with them. it's never happened before. republicans on the hill have not pushed back publicly against what bob corker has said about donald trump's erratic statements possibly leading us toward world war iii. there is a reason for that. the reason for that, mika, is that they've all said similar things behind closed doors. they are all concerned by how erratic he is, by how issue rational his behavior is, by how he darts around left and right. foreign policy leaders that have been attached to the republican establishment for decades concerns about his provoking
north korea, by provoking an irrational leader in north korea, who will feel compelled to react. foreign policy people yesterday telling me off the record, of course, that the media is getting it wrong on north korea. and the media is getting it wrong on donald trump. that actually we are far closer to a cataclysmic event than even the media is talking about. we're sitting here talking about harvey weinstein, tax reform. we're sitting here, talking about just about everything else, which we should talk about. and yet i don't know what -- you know, we had the nuclear clock when we were all growing up. it's probably closer to midnight, mike barnicle, than any time it's been since the cuban missile crisis. i had one foreign policy leader alive during the cuban missile
crisis saying he believed the moment we are in today, while we're all sitting down, staring at our so-called smart phones and being oblivious to everything going on that we are actually closer to nuclear war today, given what he knows behind the scenes, than we were during that long week -- what was it -- in october of 1962? >> in october 1962, america and the world teetered on the verge of nuclear war. both in moscow and in washington, d.c. in 1962 you had rational actors and i don't think you can say comfortably with any assurance that today in washington, d.c. that we have a rational actor. >> no, we don't. >> willie geist, where are the republicans in mika, where are the republicans? anybody? where are the republican senators who have to understand -- i've been saying this for six months now.
they are going to be judged in history by how they respond to this moment. and their leader in foreign policy is saying donald trump is moving us toward world war iii. willie, should republicans not get together and go down to the white house and be able to come out and give americans assurance that general hayden's warnings and concerns are not concerns we should have in the fall of 2017? general hayden told us, willie, this is a system designed for speed. >> you need strong voices coming out and illuminating how important it is and not just to us behind the scenes saying, yeah, we think this guy is dangerous. if you believe it, you ought to let the american people know and you ought to do something about it.
still ahead on "morning joe," last time nbc broke news about donald trump and rex tillerson, he ended up challenging the secretary of state to an iq contest. what can we expect today? live to the white house next on "morning joe." in its economy, in medicine, in science and in national security. one company designs and builds more supercomputers than any other. an american company. hewlett packard enterprise. leading the way to discover... to innovate... and to protect. hewlett packard enterprise. a national asset in supercomputing. looking for clear answers for your retirement plan? start here. or here. even here. and definitely here. at fidelity, we're available 24/7 to make retirement planning simpler. we let you know where you stand,
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so how is everyone? find your awesome with xfinity xfi and change the way you wifi. kristen welker joins us. >> reporter: we know the president is speaking to his allies, including british prime minister theresa may, part of the president's broader strategy toward iran. of course, he campaigned on a promise to scrap the iran nuclear deal. we know he's leaning toward not recertifying it, which basically means he will be able to walk a fine line, kicking it to congress for 60 days. it's a bigger strategy in which the president plans to get
tougher on the iranian regime support of terrorists as well. critics argue the iran deal is the united states' best chance at monitoring iran's nuclear program. that is amid the backdrop of our reporting, willie. you've been talking about this throughout the morning, new details about the meeting at the pentagon that preceded secretary of state rex tillerson calling the president a moron. that included the defense secretary, vice president and top military advisers. one key moment came when the president told the national security team he wanted to expand the united states nuclear arsenal to what amounted ten times its current level. some work going on at the white house as i give this report. it's approximately 4,000. according to sources in the room, the president was shown a chart of the arsenal that peaked in the 1960s. the president told his team he wanted the u.s. to have about that many.
the briefers explained to the president why expanding america's nuclear stockpile just isn't feasible. it would break with decades of u.s. doctrine but would violate treaties. there are no plans to expand the nuclear arsenal. the trump administration is modernizing the nuclear arsenal, set in motion under the former obama administration. the president continues to monitor not only iran but the crisis in north korea, trying to put his focus on domestic policy as he heads to harrisburg to talk about taxes. willie? >> powering through the delivery trucks and sanitation as well. >> reporter: thanks, willie. member of the house foreign affairs committee, republican congressman dan donovan of new york. good morning. good to see you. i just want to get your reaction, first of all, as someone who sits in the house foreign affairs committee to this nbc news reporting that donald trump wanted to know why we couldn't increase our nuclear stockpile. >> joe, i think, you know, your
reporter hit it on the head. the president has said we have an aging military. he feels the military hasn't been supported by previous administration. he wants to rebuild it. he was at a meeting at the pentagon, as you've reported all morning, july 20th. and he saw a chart that showed how our capacity was in the late '60s and what our capacity now is. he said why aren't we building it up to that? he listened to his military leaders and never ordered them to build up the nuclear capacity. i think that's what part of being the president is. you surround yourself with very smart people. he has great trust in our military leaders like john kelly, general mattis and never ordered a buildup of the nuclear arsenal. >> you don't believe that he will push this to build up the nuclear arsenal, just inquiring about it? >> he listens to his military leaders. i think he would have ordered it if they said yes, we should increase t he has surrounded
himself with people who have gone through our academies, and he is being advised by them and listened to that advice. >> congress mman, like all of u here you have great respect for the american military. >> yes, sir. >> and president trump appears to have great respect for the american military. president trump is also great at tweeting things. i wonder if you have any explanation at all for the fact that since four green berets were killed in niger, president trump hasn't tweeted a sngle thing about the loss of these four special people. >> i think that's unfair. i think he has a special place in his heart for women and men who risk their lives for our freedoms, including those four green berets. he tweets when he wants unfiltered messages coming out because he has a distrust. but you can't knock down the president for what happened with
those four -- >> i'm just curious. he has time to tweet about espn hosts and the media in general and not tweeting about the loss of four special forces. >> i just think that because he believes his communications directors and his messages for something as serious as that gets delivered to the public the way he wants to and other messages don't. he delivers those messages himself. >> all right. by the way, congressman, that was willie geist asking that first question. >> oh, i'm sorry. >> that's okay. and mike barnicle. so what we would also like to ask you about is senator corker's comments about the president potentially bringing us toward the brink of world war iii that he's concerning. and also it's not a question of trust in the generals. it's, i think, at this point a question about his intellectual and emotional capacity to lead. so, what is your response to bob corker's comments? >> you know, i don't know where
that comes from. i think we're pointing a finger, the real devil, the real villain in this is the leader of north korea, launching rockets over japan, some of them landing in the sea of japan. you know, in the past administration, we had this patient waiting strategy, which certainly emboldened him. and i think the president has taken a stance, making sure that america is a world leader here that. evil person in north korea is not just a threat to the united states. he's a threat to china, the korean peninsula, european allies and a threat to the entire globe. the president had president xi from china down at mar-a-lago speaking to him about needing the help of the chinese to put this to rest and to stop the violence and the threats that are coming out of north korea. so, i think he has taken a leadership role in this. and he's looking at allies and looking at -- >> congressman, with all due respect, my question was about
senator corker. >> right. >> are you saying that his comments are not credible? >> no, i don't know where senator corker's comments are coming from. >> he's head of the foreign relations committee sbl and i'm on the foreign affairs committee in the house. and that hasn't come from our leader. so, i don't know what senator corker's basing that on. i'm not saying it's invalid. i just don't know what he's basing this on. >> noah rothman with commentary magazine. you might be aware that the president's former chief strategist steve bannon has targeted just about every member of congress with primary challenges from the right, from the populous right, your district is among them. former congressman mike grimm, who pled guilty to a charge in court and resigned from congress is trying to make a comeback. do you fear a primary challenge? do you think that this is a viable threat to your incouple bens
-- incumbency? and do you think that others should fear that? >> i supported the president 90% of the time on my votes, funding for the wall. i supported travel ban. i supported immigration reform. i certainly am in favor of tax reform, the thing that the president is trying to do now. rather than listening to rhetoric of a convicted felon, i think mr. bannon would probably examine our records and see that i supported the president 90% of the time. people of staten island, brooklyn, have a choice, a person who was a prosecutor for 20 years and a choice between that and a person who went to prison. the people of staten island and brooklyn will look at my record and i'm very confident in the primary. >> thank you for being on the show this morning. >> thank you for having me. president trump toys with the idea of breaking decades of u.s. nuclear doctrine.
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capability to hit america with a nuclear weapon. after 18 holes of golf, i can tell you this without any hesitation. the president is committed to denying north korea the ability to hit america with a nuclear weapon. he has made that decision. does that mean we go to war? no. does that mean that war is possible? yes. the decision whether or not there will be a war lies in the hands of the north koreans and the chinese. >> all right. joining us now, "new york times" columnist and pulitzer prize winning author, tom friedman. very good to have you with us. joe? >> well, i was just -- i mean, we've got to look at everything, tom, that was reported out yesterday, from lindsey graham, because it's hard to believe anything he says when he says that the president shot a 73 in rainy and windy conditions yesterday, unless he was talking about being on the front nine. anyway, guarantees from lindsey
graham about donald trump a little less assuring after you hear what donald trump has been asking rex tillerson and james mattis, his military leaders, for some time, coupled with what he was asking people last year during the campaign about the use of nuclear weapons. >> well, you know, joe, my friend, former secretary of state, former marine, george once told me a story that his first marine commander, drill sergeant when he gave him his gun, his rifle the first day he said son never point this gun at someone unless you plan to shoot it. and what does worry me a little bit -- i should say, i do not mind the president, you know, raising the military threat to the north koreans. even acting a little crazy if it is partnered with some kind of diplomatic initiative that might bring them around. but what does worry me are these
sort of very general threats of war that somehow presume the north koreans will unilaterally -- oh, god, we're afraid. stand down, unconnected to any diplomatic process. i do worry that he can back himself into a corner where he either has to back down himself in the end, and that would be tremendously embarrassing, or, in fact, do something that could have vast and unpredictable consequences. >> so, tom, from where you sit what else should the united states be doing? putting pressure on banks and try to get to north korea that way. we've droi tri-ed diplomacy and sanctions to no avail, according to the president, the only thing they understand is military force. what else could we be doing? >> some problems are unsolvable. and sometimes you get a country like north korea who has, after successive failures of american diplomacy, bipartisan, by the way, and chinese diplomacy, they reach a level of nuclear
capability that we may have to live with. we lived with being under russian nuclear threat and chinese nuclear threat. let's remember when mao got nuclear weapons, we thought that was the end of the world. in a choice between living with that threat and going to war, a war that we're pretty certain would cause the deaths of up to 10 million people and completely disrupt the global economy, frankly, i'm for lvg with it. there's one thing we know about the north korean regime. they've been around three generations. how many dynasties in the world can say they've survived three generations? what does that tell us? one big fact. they are not suicidal. they are homicidal, okay? and so i wouldn't -- you can t put, you know -- bet the farm on but at the same time in a world of uncertainty, i would rather live with that uncertainty than the uncertainty of unleashing a nuclear weapon. >> the question is, is president trump willing to live with a
nuclear north korea the way you are? that's the question. >> part of the diplomacy here is for him to say he isn't. at the end of the day i do believe he is surrounded by people who are not ready to pull that trigger. >> go ahead. >> let's assume that north korea is deterrable, even though they did execute a terrorist strike on foreign soil using weapons of mass destruction within the last 12 months. let's assume. the risk then there is nuclear proliferation in asia. is that containable? is that a threat that we should just be ignoring and dismissing as something we have to live with? >> again it's a terrible choice. i take that threat very, very seriously. but the only way to contain that threat is, obviously, working closer with china. i don't dismiss any of this. i think our options are really awful and really terrible. >> does south korea and japan nuclearize? >> personally, i think that's the road i would be going down, saying to the chinese, look, you guys clearly don't understand
the meaning of no. and so maybe one of the things we will do to get your attention is, let's nuclearize -- what do you fear most, china, a nuclear korea and nuclear japan? then we're going to tee that up. i do agree that the chinese are the key element here. but it is not clear to me how much influence they have anymore. what's the ideal solution? the ideal solution is regime change there that changes the leader but doesn't dissolve the whole country. that's what everyone is afraid of. and the people that have the best capability to do that are the chinese and kim jong-un figured that out. that's why he killed the two most pro-chinese people around him, his uncle and his brother. >> what do you make of bob corker's statements? we just highway konlgman on who blew them off as he doesn't know where they're coming from. >> what worries me most, mika, is the complete and utter incoherence of this trump
foreign policy. let's just go down the list, starting with north korea. you know, this is a government that wants to take down that regime, all right? but it has no ability to do that. allies are simply not there. at the same time it's looking for negotiations it's telling the iranians we're going to break that deal. you woo the north koreans into any kind of deal. we know they're not violating it. on china, this say government that said we're going to negotiate with them differently on trade. and the first thing it did was to tear up the transpacific partnership deal that would have put us at the head of a 12-nation building block, built around our values and interest, that would have given us enormous control. we're going to tear up the iran deal and lose all our umpian ala --
european all is. >> after putting the money down. >> they'll continue to trade with them and won't be under the obligations of the iran deal and lastly we're telling the world, my god, we cannot live with iranian influence in yemen. russia hacked our election, a direct attack on the core electoral process of the united states and this president couldn't care less. >> joe? >> i want to go back to bob corker. so, it seems to me if you look at what bob corker has said, tom, and you look at the fact that there's not a single republican in the senate that is contradicted bob corker and said that corker is off base, that donald trump's erratic actions are not leading us to world war iii, you wonder if there's ever going to be a moment like we
saw -- i think it must have been august 7th or 8th back in 1974 when barry goldwater and john rhodes and hugh scott went down to the white house and told richard nixon that it was over. now, we don't need a republican delegation telling donald trump that. but if you have the top-ranking republican of the united states senate on foreign affairs saying the commander in chief is leading us towards world war iii, should republicans not put together a delegation and march down to the white house and make certain demands of this erratic president? and then come out and assure the rest of us that bob corker is wrong, that donald trump is not leading us towards a nuclear showdown and world war iii with north korea. >> so, i'm all for it. i would like to know exactly what he meant and why he made that statement. i look at the whole rex
tillerson affair. i see in tillerson -- i think he's the weakest secretary of state we've had in the post-war area, working for the worst foreign policy president in the post-war era. in fairness to both of them, at the worst time to conduct foreign policy in the post-war era. yet i say of tillerson, god i hope he doesn't leave. we do know he had the courage to call this guy out as a moron and at least he has instincts more in line with a sobriety than who knows the next person the president could bring in. >> right. >> who is going to do that job after tillerson leaves except some nut? i mean really. so, yeah, joe, obviously i would like to know what exactly is behind that corker statement and why. >> after the break we'll talk about your latest column on russia. we'll be right back with much more "morning joe."
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"from russia with poison" in "the new york times," he writes in part, america's democracy is built on two principles, truth and trust. we trust that our elections are fair and that enables our peaceful rotations of power. and we trust that the new weiss get from our mainstream outlets is true and that it is corrected if it is not. and we expect our president to defend both. but today many people are getting news from platforms that are easily polluted by russian or other hackers with fake news. and our president is a liar who refuses to hold russia to account for anything. it's a terrible combination. we can't fix trump right now. but have equifax and these big social networks become so much part of the wiringing of our lives and the impacts of their failures so consequential that they should be regulated in new
ways? i don't know but i know it's time for this discussion. it's already started. >> we now have a sitting president of the united states unused to being president and some would argue ill equipped to being president secretary of state. in your travels around the globe, in riyadh, in tel aviv, what's the feeling about the position of the united states vis-a-vis the world and the possibility that a horrendous mistake might soon be made with regard to north korea? >> i see three things out there. i see on the one hand people who feel that it could be gained. you have a civil war or religious war in the middle east, sunnis versus shiites. it's not something we should be in the middle of, all right. and we have sided with the sunni arabs over the iranians. i have real issues with the iranians but it's not like the
other guys are angels. so you see people who take up trump's obsession with iran and could game that for their own advantage. in europe, there's just utter confusion because, you know, something i heard president obama say once, and i think it's right. if america doesn't lead, nobody leads. there's no other superpower out there going to lead. i think the europeans, they have their own feckless issues but without american leadership, they're really adrift. lastly, i see a sense of depression. people like to make fun of america. we're that naive country. we think every problem has a solution. but deep down around the world, there are a lot of people who envy our optimism. american optimism makes the world go round. and when we go dark and cynical as a country, that affects the mood of a lot of people, not talking about government leaders but people out there to look to us, who depend on us and particularly our defense of freedom. i think there's a lot of people out there who feel a sense of
theft. that their idea of america is being taken away from them and i think that's very depressing to a lot of people. >> on that sense of theft, today you're writing about equifax. they hold everything about our lives, and yet they say they make a mistake, whoops, we made a mistake and there's seemingly nothing we can do about equifax? >> that's really what i was writing about today, which is how can it be that you can amass the social security numbers and personal data of about half of the united states basically, virtually most of the adult population, 146 million people. you let your system get hacked because you don't install simple security patches. then before you announce it to the public, some of your senior executives sell stock, okay, at a profit. and then you say, oops, and then the ceo gets pushed out with a package that could total $90 million. that's a travesty. as i said in my column, i'd be happy if those people were in jail, and their board.
to send a message you do not collect this kind of data on that many americans and mess it up. if you do, there will be vast consequence. i guarantee you if that happened, no other of these companies would miss their next security patch. >> earlier we were talking about north korea and you talked about how trump could stumble into a crisis from which there is no face-saving way out. you also write today that the president refuses to hold russia to account for anything. i too would like to see more pressure applied to russia, but i wonder what the risks are of escalating to a point of a no face-saving way out crisis. we had -- the president has engaged assad militarily to russia's objections, refused to yield sanctions and even kept sanctions on the ukraine with the expectation that they need to remove themselves from crimea, which is never happening. so how do we push russia until they have no face-saving way out. >> one thing is that your
friends can kill you faster than your enemies. if greece and turkey banks go under, we'll all be affected. and your rivals falling becomes more dangerous than your rivals rising. if china loses 6% growth, half the advertisers on this show will be gone. the same with russia. so it's a very legitimate question. my problem with trump on russia, because congress has taken over and imposed sanctions. i think they're adequate to the problem. it's the unwillingness to say, wow, we have been hacked. we need to understand inside how this happened. this is a national emergency. if we had a 911 commission, we surely need a commission on this. we need to understand everything, why and how we were hacked and what we're going to do about it. i'm sort of comfortable where the sanctions are with russia. what i'm uncomfortable with is the unwillingness to look inside at the depth and scope we need to understand exactly what happened and why we won't let it
happen again, because i assume russia and china will try again. >> so, tom, let me ask you, how have we gotten russia wrong so often over the past 17 years, with george bush looking into putin's eyes and seeing his soul, barack obama being warned in early spring about the hacking and not moving forward on it actively enough, of donald trump being aub seek weous to vladimir putin and others in the russian government. how have we gotten russia so wrong so often? >> i was probably the leading opponent of nato expansion at the end of the cold war. i thought our priority before we expanded nato was to try to build a bridge and actually bring russia into the democratic world. that may have been impossible, i don't know, but i do know that once we expanded nato and then people told us at the time in the clinton years, oh, the
russians are cool with it, well, it turns out they weren't cool with it. one of the reasons putin got elected and he stays in power is he plays off that grievance. i think we got off on a bad foot. where we are right now, i think putin is a cynical, bad guy who basically wants to unravel the west, starting with the european union and western europe, to create a world where no russian can say we want what they have got. so he can say, look, they're in a bigger mess than we are, you don't want the kind of troubles the european union had, stick with me. >> thomas friedman, thank you very much. and another paper book in a couple of weeks. >> his book "thank you for being late" coming out in paper book. more ahead on the report that president trump wants more nuclear weapons, was in ten times the current amount. plus "the new york times"
fact checks donald trump. does corker's new nicknamic coreporting of a possible height requirement to serve as secretary of state. we'll explain ahead on "morning joe." what started as a passion... ...has grown into an enterprise. that's why i switched to the spark cash card from capital one. now, i'm earning unlimited 2% cash back on every purchase i make. everything. what's in your wallet?
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nuclear weapons. three times he asked at one point if we have them, why can't we use them? that's -- >> oh, wow. >> -- one of the reasons why he has -- he just doesn't have foreign policy experts around him. >> trump, trump asked three times? >> three times in an hour briefing why can't we use nuclear weapons. >> all right. that was joe's reporting from august of last year, and now there is new exclusive reporting from nbc news following similar lines. it surrounds a tense meeting with president trump last summer that left top officials, quote, rattled about his understanding of national security. the president called for a huge increase in nuclear weapons. shortly after, rex tillerson called the president a moron. we'll reveal the details first here on "morning joe." good morning, everyone. it is wednesday, october 11th. with us we have veteran clum nis and msnbc contributor mike
barnicle, nbc political analyst and professor at the university school of public policy, former democratic congressman, harold ford, jr. washington bureau chief for the associated press julie pace and national political reporter for nbc news, carol lee, who is part of the nbc news team behind this morning's new reporting on what happened inside the president's meeting with top pentagon officials. joe, we talked about this during the campaign, that conversation was so -- it was so disturbing on so many levels. >> it was chilling, and of course right after that is when you delivered your warning to the republicans first and then to americans who would vote for him saying if you vote for him -- i think this was during the republican national convention or right after. at that time he was a candidate, and a lot of people weren't giving him a chance to win. but you still issued your warning. i can tell you, the foreign policy expert that i spoke with
afterwards who was rattled, the impression was, my god, the conclusion was, my god, could you ever imagine this guy getting his hands on the nuclear arsenal. and this, mika, actually here we are over a year later and he does have his hands on the nuclear arsenal and he is still, instead of disturbing top foreign policy experts in america, it's now his secretary of state and everybody else around him that leave badly shaken, calling him a moron and worse for not understanding -- for not understanding our defense policy and the consequences of nuclear war. and so, you know, here we are over a year later. and this is what we have. and now i think it's up for congress to figure out a way to actually slow down the process
in any way possible to put checks on this man's ability to launch a nuclear war that could end up destroying a good part of this earth. >> well, and it's like bob corker mentioned i believe on sunday saying that every day is an effort to contain him, and now we're getting a sense of just what that seems like. why don't we begin now with that nbc news exclusive on a tense national security meeting last summer that led rex tillerson to call president trump a moron. the bombshell report cites three officials who were in the room and says the president called for a dramatic, nearly tenfold increase in america's nuclear arsenal, leaving his own top officials caught off guard. it came after the president saw a slide that illustrated the nation's nuclear stockpile, which has already seen a steady reduction since the 1960s. officials were forced to explain the legal and practical challenges to a nuclear buildup.
the president's position raised immediate questions about his understanding of america's nuclear posture, and left some national security officials rattled about his grasp of other national security issues. shortly after the meeting concluded, secretary of state rex tillerson was heard calling the president a moron. we don't know exactly why tillerson said that about the president, but carol lee, we certainly could guess at this point. tell us more about this explosive story and other details around that meeting. >> sure. well, mika, this was a meeting that came a day after the president had a meeting at the white house in the situation room where he equally stunned his advisers when they were discussing afghanistan policy by comparing that process to the renovation of a new york restaurant. so you follow that up and they're now moving over to the pentagon. it's a smaller group of officials and they're giving him a briefing of u.s. military
capabilities and assets around the world, so going all around the globe and saying this is what we have here and here and here and then at one point they show him this slide that shows u.s. and russian nuclear arsenals from the 1950s until now. and it goes like this for the u.s. and the president looks at it and said i want that. i want more. i want the most. why don't we have that many. which at its peak in the late 1960s was around 32,000, compared to the current arsenal which is around 4,000. and so the advisers were stunned and explained to him that that was -- the u.s. had these treaties and that that was not feasible and that there were a lot of budgetary restraints and also that given -- compared to the 1960s till now, u.s. military capabilities have advanced so much that you don't need a nuclear arsenal in that same way. and so, you know, then the
advisers have told us that people who were in the room told us it wasn't just that. as they went around the globe the president looked at everything and said i want more of that, why don't we have more troops there, why don't we have more military equipment here? and they had this two-hour long meeting that sometimes got tense and they had to explain to him how all of this went. and then that meeting breaks up, some officials lingered and the secretary of state was overheard calling him a moron. now, we don't know exactly why. i will say there are officials that said no one took the president literally that he was demanding that the u.s. expand its arsenal, but it was more the lack of an understanding of why that wasn't just not feasible but also un necessanecessary. >> carol, as you pointed out, donald trump has an obsession with nuclear weapons. he talked about it in "the new
york times" in 1984 actually reported by my dad back then. he tweeted in december last year the united states must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability. obviously the u.s. is rivalled only by russia in terms of the vast number of nuclear warheads it has. were the people in the room concerned not just that he wanted the most, he wants superlatives, he wanted the most nuclear warheads but that he was intent on using them? did they take that next step that he wanted to use them somewhere? >> you know, that wasn't necessarily -- when you talked to people, it was more that he just wanted more of everything. let's just be the biggest and the best. it wasn't necessarily drawing that link that we'll then use all these weapons, but it's a very -- we're starting to see this picture emerge of a president who that's how he thinks. he thinks in these dimensions of let's be the biggest and let's be the best and let's have the most and let's outgun everybody. not necessarily to use it per se but just to show that the u.s. has all of this strength.
and we've seen this not just when he talks about defense issues, but really any issue. >> and, mike barnicle, if you're sitting in the room with a new president who says i want ten times as many nuclear weapons, it shows a complete ignorance of what preceded you over the past 50 years, all the treaties, all the treaties that actually ronald reagan at the end along with the presidents that preceded him, all of those hard-fought victories and all of those summits that presidents had, again, across the decades to get our nuclear arsenal at a certain stage. and just to say, hey, i want to blow it up goes back to the overlying problem. and i think the ignorance of
this administration and -- well, i'll just end it at ignorance. that they believe -- and i said this to them in realtime. you guys believe the world began on january the 20th, 2017. you don't just wander into the middle east and create peace. you don't just wander in to russia and reset the relationship. you don't just wander in to nuclear treaties and tear them up. but that's what these people have always believed, because, and i say this, you can say this objectively, they are ignorant of history. and if you listen to what they have said in public speeches, they are contemptuous of history and they are contemptuous of those of us who read history books to get a better understanding of history. >> well, joe, there's certainly a lack of understanding of history among this group of people now running the country,
and there is certainly on donald trump's part a lack of capacity to understand the role of the president of the united states, both leading this country and as leader of the free world. carol, around that table that day, you had the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, general dunford, you had secretary of defense mattis, you had their staffs, professional military building in a building populated more by doves, people who know what happens within war than anything else, but also at that table, i'm wondering did you get any reporting about the reaction to others at the table with president trump, like steve mnuchin there at the table, like jared kushner there at the table, sean spicer there at the table, and keith schiller, basically a friend, a body man to the president of the united states there at the table in the pentagon? any reaction among the
professionals? >> we have not. this story just to put it in a little bit of context, it was such a small group and it was so tightly held that we don't know exactly -- you know, we're efforting to learn a little bit more about that. but we do know that at least the -- as you mentioned, this is a gathering of the senior-most military advisers in the pentagon and that they were taken aback by what the president said. also to set the scene, all of the officials that you just mentioned, this july period is turning out to appear like a real inflection point even more so than we knew. if you added everything up, you had this meeting that came after this afghanistan meeting that raised concerns among the president's advisers. at the same time this is all happening when anthony scaramucci came in, sean spicer was on his way out, john kelly came in, reince priebus was on his way out, the president gave
that speech to the boy scouts that was widely criticized for being too political. he recertified the iran deal after many arguments with his aides, and so there was just a lot going on in this particular time frame. and so, you know, we don't know exactly what was going on in terms of his advisers you mentioned in this meeting, but there was definitely a lot of tension at that time. >> staggering and unnerving. you can read the full exclusive report on nbcnews.com. still ahead on "morning joe," some republicans may be telling bob corker to pull back, but they're not refuting what he actually said about the president. we'll break down the latest on the back and forth between the commander in chief and one of the gop's leading voices on foreign policy. you're watching "morning joe." we'll be right back. ♪ rip coffee drinkers, it's time to wake up to keurig. wakey! wakey! rise and shine! oh my gosh! how are you? well watch this. i pop that in there. press brew. that's it.
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president trump continued his feud with senator bob corker of tennessee tweeting about the foreign relations chairman yesterday morning at the end of our show. he wrote, quote, the failing "new york times" set liddle bob corker up by recording his conversation. was made to sound a fool, and that's what i am dealing with. but "the new york times" reporter then posted the audio of corker saying his staff was recording the conversation and, quote, i hope you are too. peter baker writes in labeling corker liddle the president was evidently returning to a theme. he considered corker for secretary of state during the transition after last year's election but was reported to have told associates that mr. corker at 5'7" was too short to be the nation's top diplomat. yesterday the president and the white house brushed off corker's comment to the "times" that trump's aggressive rhetoric could lead to world war iii. >> mr. president, is senator corker right that you're putting the u.s. on the path to world war iii?
>> we were on the wrong path before. all you have to do is take a look. if you look over the past 25 years through numerous administrations, we were on a path to a very big problem, a problem like this world has never seen. we're on the right path right now, believe me. >> senator corker is certainly entitled to his own opinion, but he's not entitled to his own facts. the fact is this president has been an incredibly strong leader on foreign policy and national security and he's been a leader on this front. i think that's been seen and demonstrated time and time again since he took office. >> joe, there's this other weird narrative where steve bannon called for bob corker to resign. of course corker is not in the cabinet, he's an elected united states senator. yesterday sarah huckabee sanders was asked whether or not bob corker should resign and she agreed with steve bannon. well, i'll leave that to the people of tennessee, as if he should step aside for criticizing the president of the united states. >> my god. >> it is real -- it is so
bizarre. these people that occupy the white house, and steve bannon, who used to be the president's top strategist, actually would fit more comfortably and feel more comfortably working for a regime in turkey or russia. they believe in loyalty tests. they don't understand the separation of powers. they don't understand the constitution of the united states drafted by a man who, by the way, was 5'4", 5'5". they don't understand actually that bob corker is doing the honorable thing by actually doing his job. sarah huckabee sanders, how rich to say that bob corker is entitled to his opinion but not entitled to his own facts, when the white house is, of course, under this president the institution that lives in its own alternate reality and admits as much. harold ford, speaking of alternate realities, and speaking of being disconnected
from reality, this president actually believes that he's going to get bob corker's support on legislation like, for instance, tax reform bills while he's insulting him. thinking somehow that bob corker is going to give him the benefit of the doubt for a tax bill that bob corker has already said doesn't make sense and doesn't add up and would blow a hole in the deficit. >> you know, you look at the vote totals on some of these important bills that have come through the congress and your point can't be amplified enough. they can't hold all of their group together, let alone stand to lose anymore. the only part of that story, joe, the picture that really encouraged me was watching the president sit with secretary kissinger. the fact that the president is on his way to asia at the beginning of november, there's probably not a bigger thinker and one with better relationships across the continent other than secretary kissinger. hopefully the president listened
and hopefully his team is taking counsel from him. back to senator corker for a moment. the world war iii comments, probably the most alarming and damaging things that senator corker said, you would wonder if indeed a majority of the republicans in the senate are of the same opinion that senator corker is, that this president is marching us down a dangerous path, that that alone would give rise to conversation in the senate and maybe the congress about the fitness of the president for this office and whether or not he should continue serving in the office, especially on the brink or right on the heels of a trip to asia. you would have to wonder, are they going to have some of this resolve with north korea prior to the trip? remember, in february, early february to mid-february the winter olympics are taking place in south korea. no responsible head of state can send a delegation or sanction a delegation traveling to south korea if this dispute between us and north korea festers or continues at the rate that it is. so i know we all hope that they
find some resolution here. again, i take only solace and encouragement from what we saw in the last few minutes from the fact that secretary kissinger and he shook hands. perhaps that means that some kind of progress and considerable progress is being made with north korea. >> well, let us hope. julie pace, bob corker again, we have to underline this again, several days ago saying that donald trump's erratic actions, his erratic words, his erratic deeds could actually lead us down the path to world war iii. i called top foreign policy advisers yesterday, and their impression was that we in the news media were missing the bigger story in talking about this back and forth, and they say we're much closer to a cataclysmic military event than even the media is reporting,
that even it's more dangerous and it's more serious than anybody is reporting, that bob corker actually is right. julie, did you get any pushback from republicans on the hill yesterday from what bob corker said? because we still haven't heard anybody rebuke bob corker in the united states senate publicly and say, oh, no, no, no, what he's saying about the president leading us towards world war iii is not correct. >> look, i don't think bob corker was talking in hyperbole. i think he was raising a red flag that he takes very seriously and that he knows is shared by a lot of his fellow senators. but what's really notable, we reached out, my a.p. colleagues, we reached out to every republican senator to ask do you share corker's concerns and do you think that the president is fit for office? we only got responses from a very small handful. there is pretty much silence and avoidance from other republican office holders this week, even though we know and they know
that this is the kind of conversation that happens behind the scenes. it links back to carol's reporting. it's about the uncertainty. it's about the question when the president throws out something in a meeting like should we increase our nuclear capacity tenfold. is he saying that seriously? is that actually what he wants the pentagon to be focusing on? is that just a throwaway line from him? people don't know. people don't know who speaks for the president on foreign policy when tillis or mattis goes overseas and offers reassurances, is that what foreign leaders should be holding onto or is it the tweets and the pretty provocative lines from the president? so when you add that altogether, yeah, a lot of people on the hill and a lot of people among our allies in particular are quite nervous that the president could lead us perhaps accidentally into some type of military conflict. coming up on "morning joe" last july a national security briefing with president trump went so far off the rails officials tried it again the
following day in hopes the president could be more focused. we're going to talk to nbc's hallie jackson, who helped break today's exclusive story straight ahead on "morning joe." a dairy cow that talks to farmers? what kind of sorcery is that? it's not the magic-wand kind. it's the rfid-collar-and- internet of things-kind we created with chitale dairy. so every cow can let farmers know how she feels and what she needs to be healthier- (phone vibrates) all with a simple text. tah-dah. magic can't make digital transformation happen. but we can. that's the power of vmware, part of dell technologies.
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welcome back to "morning joe." more now on this morning's exclusive report from nbc news that a tense meeting with president trump last summer left top officials, quote, rattled about his understanding of national security and where he called for a huge increase in nuclear weapons. nbc news chief white house correspondent hallie jackson contributed to the reporting. she joins us now. hallie, what have you got? >> let's talk a little about this second meeting at the pentagon on july 20th that came on the heels of that situation room meeting on july 19th. that meeting in the white house, in the situation room, was intended to look broadly at afghanistan's strategy based on our reporting, based on what sources are telling us, the expectation was that the president would come to some kind of a decision on strategy. that did not happen. in fact according to a couple of sources talking about nbc news, the president was a little bit all over the map on that.
now, there was this previously scheduled meeting at the pentagon the next day in the tank, that room obviously over at that facility, secure room, smaller room than the situation room. so the decision was made according to what we've been told to say, hey, we're going to go to the pentagon tomorrow anyway, we should continue the discussion there because there are fewer people, it's a smaller room, perhaps the president will be more focused and we'll pull back and connect some of the dots for president trump. one person said, you know, maybe the thinking should be maybe if we slow down and show him the whole world, then we'll be able to move forward on some progress when it comes to these big international issues. that meeting is where this slide, this presentation was shown regarding the nation's nuclear arsenal historically. now, to put this into context, sort of big picture, i think what this does is a couple of things. number one, it puts into clear focus what was going on that week of july. that's when anthony scaramucci had just come in, reince priebus was just about to quit as chief of staff, there were increased
discussions about whether he would leave. the president had just done that interview with "the new york times" where he suggested that perhaps he would fire special counsel bob mueller. there were a lot of distractions, a lot going on in this particular time period. and i think that's an important backdrop to the discussion that we're having about the president's comments on nukes. the other part of it that i just want to briefly mention is the idea that this is giving a bit of a window into the president's thinking, into the president's behaviors and habits and mindset when he's having these discussions with the nation's top national security and military officials. >> all right. nbc's hallie jackson, thank you very much for that. joining us now, professor of international politics at the fletcher school of law and diplomacy at tufts university, daniel dresner. in his latest piece for "the washington post," president trump's temper tantrums are coming at an accelerating pace. dan writes the past week definitively reveals the mirage of a maturing president. joe, i'll let you start things off.
>> dan, always great to have you here. i'd love to talk to you about the red sox and -- >> you really should. >> we really should. but instead we're dealing with the possibility of nuclear war here so i suppose we'll have to wait until next spring to talk about that. but we could talk about donald trump's -- all the disturbing things that he said, bob corker's world war iii comments, but my biggest concern coming out of the nbc reporting today is it shows a complete ignorance of salt 1, salt 2, start 1, start 2, start 3, the negotiations that -- even we're still doing in 2010 that went into effect in 2011. his statements suggested complete ignorance going all the way back to 1969 of what u.s. presidents have been doing in their negotiations on nuclear weapons with the soviets and now
the russians. >> yeah, that's completely correct. there are those of us in the foreign policy community who have been warning for the last two years that donald trump is a foreign policy neophyte. on most issues with respect to foreign affairs he doesn't know what he's talking about. the one piece of good news i think we should draw from this story is not that trump saw a chart and decided he wanted to have the most -- he wanted to increase nuclear weapons tenfold but rather that he was talked out of doing that. similarly with respect to afghanistan when he made that crazy hotel analogy to talk about why the u.s. should pull out of afghanistan. he was also talked out of doing that. which suggests that on hard security matters, even if trump has instincts that are at best problematic and at worst genuinely dangerous, his advisers actually have been able to steer him towards a more proper or responsible course of action. >> so, dan, let me ask you about
some remedies to the current situation that we're in, if there are any legislative remedies. a couple of augusts ago we reported that donald trump had spoken to a top u.s. foreign policy advisor and asked three times about the use of nuclear weapons. general hayden immediately afterwards said what was so disturbing was that there was really for check on that. that nuclear power in the hands of a president is primed for speed instead of a discussion. are there any legislative remedies to that? is there anything that bob corker and the u.s. senate could do to put some checks and balances to that power? >> i mean it's hard to try to legislate a kind of foreign policy situation, a crisis situation where you're talking about minutes -- or hours rather than days or weeks. and so, you know, congress understandably has been relatively reluctant for decades now to tie the hands of the
president when it comes to choices about the use of force. indeed, if anything, the trend has shifted in the opposite direction. now, it is possible that the simple fact of a trump presidency might cause congress to pass something that essentially prevents the united states from, let's say, using nuclear weapons as a first strike option, which would certainly be potentially appropriate. the problem with that, my hunch is, is that that's the opposite of what the u.s. posture was during the cold war and it raises the question of could we be in a situation in the future in a great power situation where you would not want that legislation on the books and then would congress have to pass something else that reverses that, which would ten years down the road send an equally dangerous signal. >> so with donald trump as president, would you support that? with donald trump as president with the reality we're facing right now, is that something, though, that you would support? >> i think it's something i would consider. i actually don't think even
donald trump would necessarily use nuclear weapons. despite all of the talk about this. as i said, one of trump's problems is that he tends to sort of -- he doesn't have any filter in terms of his brain. he just sort of shoots out any instinct that comes to his mind. he has clearly, however, been talked out of things, particularly with respect to security issues, because he defers to his generals there. and so i'm not -- i understand the scariness of the nbc news report and a lot of the stuff with respect to trump's nuclear posture, but it's worth point out, we're not going to increase the nuclear arsenal by tenfold. i'm pretty confident donald trump will not launch a nuclear first strike. >> dan, it's willie geist. there have been a collection of pieces lately point to the fact that it's the generals who have formed a protective cocoon around president trump and been a buffer. as bob corker said last week, against the chaos that president trump brings to the office and perhaps to the country. is that encouraging to you?
is it heartening to you to know that those men are there, those generals are there, or does it just point again to how dysfunctional the presidency itself is right now? >> it's mixed. on the one hand to go back to what joe said, i would be terrified if those generals weren't there to constrain trump given how trump thinks about nuclear weapons. in the short term, having mattis, mcmaster and kelly are a good thing. over the long term, this is not good for the american democracy. we're in a situation where the president of the united states only respects people in foreign policy who apparently used to wear a uniform. the chief diplomatic officer of the united states, rex tillerson, is in this purgatory status where no one in any other country -- if rex tillerson says something to another world leader, if you're that world leader, why would you take rex tillerson seriously? he's been undercut so many times by the president of the united states that there's no point in listening to him.
furthermore it also means that the advice that trump is getting is skewed heavily in a military direction, which is not to say that the secretary of defense or national security advisor don't know what they're talking about, but they are, let's say, less well versed in the areas of soft power or diplomacy that might actually matter in a crisis like north korea. >> all right, professor of international politics at the fletcher school of law and diplomacy at tufts university, dan dresner, thank you so much for your insight this morning. up next, in between his tweets about the nfl and disparaging bob corker, today the president managed to turn his attention back to tax reform. remember that? cnbc's brian sullivan joins us next.
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including a lack of acknowledgement of the stock market's climb and need for tax reform. let's bring in brian sullivan. the president on the road today pushing tax reform against the backdrop of that dispute with senator bob corker who obviously will be a key vote when you only have 52 republicans in the senate. >> yeah, he'll be in harrisburg, pennsylvania, willie, good morning. by the way, with all due respect to the president, he should be watching cnbc. we talk about the stock market's record rally pretty much all the time. the dow is up 24% since the election. we've added nearly $6 trillion in market cap. willie, i've got a question for you. >> yes. >> what would you say if i said that the gop is at risk of becoming the u.s. men's soccer team? >> missing the world cup? >> yeah. i'll tell you why. they had one job, and they did not do that. the gop really has one job, which is to get gop tax reform done. that is looking increasingly at risk. maybe because the corker fight, whatever you want to say.
you know there's only 32 legislative days left in this year. that's it. we're not really any closer to a tax plan. we've heard commentary from ryan, from the president today, from a number of leading senators, but nothing has actually been proposed. so you factor that in with health care repeal and perhaps infrastructure and the gop at least in 2017 with time running out is increasingly looking like, willie, it's not going to make, quote, that world cup of politics by getting anything done. >> and there are already republicans who are not enthusiastic about the details of the tax reform plan so it's going to be a tough vote to begin with. do you think they get there by the end of the year? >> i'm not sure because they also have to get the president on board. he's on board tentatively but he hasn't seen a deal. he hasn't seen the plans of it and hasn't had to answer questions about it that will affect his pocketbook, our pocketbook. he tells anybody who's willing to listen he wants to raise taxes on the rich. what happens if he finds out this doesn't do that?
we don't know whether or not he'll sabotage this like he went after obamacare or the obamacare's replacement for being mean and not having enough heart and not enough money. >> so what's your educated guess? >> i think they have to throw something out. you have to get something on the table, at least put something to a vote because you don't want to have the optics of not being able to get anything done at all. let's go back a year and a half or even a year. when the gop got in and when trump got in, everybody thought it was going to be a sweep. we were going to slide right in. we've got the trifecta, senate, congress, white house. nothing really big or anything has gotten done. the gop will tell you that they have passed more laws this year than any year in history legislatively. that is accurate. but they have been small things. what the public and what the gop base wants are the bigger things like tax reform. here's the dirty secret though, guys, which if you talk to politicians in the hallways off camera, they'll whisper in your ear. it's hard to cut taxes when, i
know it's hard to believe, middle class federal effective tax rates are at 50-year lows. after deductions. there's not a lot left to cut in that middle class. now, you can do whatever research you want on there, so what do you cut? >> brian, on top of that, you actually have the president's own tweet contradicting itself when he's talking about how hot the economy is, how hot the stock market is, and then he's talking about stimulating the economy more with tax cuts. he says unprecedented stock market growth since the election. need tax cuts. that's like saying i am so fat, i can't eat another bite. we need a big mac. it makes absolutely no economic sense. he's contradicting himself, of course, and showing his ignorance of basic fiscal policy. >> well, i guess the debate i would say is how much of that record stock market run is the
expectation and optimism about tax reform. some people will tell you it's a big goose egg, zero percent. i'll leave you with this, $400 million paid by fox sports, $600 million by telemundo for the world cup sports. they had one job. one job. i like soccer, i'm sorry. >> unbelievable. unbelievable, willie. again, this is a low point. we have to get roger bennett on, willie, tomorrow and listen to him in mournful tones talk about the how the u.s. botched it. it's hard to believe. >> it's hard to believe when a country of 323 million people have a good men's soccer team, but we can't. great women's soccer, though. cnbc's brian sullivan, thank you, sir. the epa is investigating its own administrator for taking
private planes on the taxpayer's dime. while everyone is focused on scott pruitt's travel at the moment, the epa is busy killing president obama's clean energy plan. that's next on "morning joe." but if that's not enough, we offer innovative investing tools to prepare you for the future. looks like you hooked it. and if that's not enough, we'll help your kid prepare for the future. don't hook it kid. and if that's still not enough, we'll help your kid's kid prepare for the future. looks like he hooked it. we'll do anything... takes after his grandad. seriously anything, to help you invest for the future. ally. do it right. seriour guests can, to help youearn a free nightuture. when they book at choicehotels.com and stay with us just two times? fall time. badda book. badda boom. pumpkin spice cookie? i'm good. book now at choicehotels.com
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paperwork to begin the process of rolling back the obama-era clean power plan. the repeal is part of president trump's campaign promise to help the u.s. struggling coal industry. pruitt also announced the epa would consider a new rule to curb the increase of greenhouse gas emissions. democratic attorneys general in california, massachusetts, north carolina and oregon are preparing to challenge the rollback in federal court. now a new front line documentary is taking an inside look at the rise of anti-regulatory movement in america. take a look. >> two months after he became president, donald trump arrived at the environmental protection agency for a ceremony unlike anything the agency had ever seen. >> i want to acknowledge the truly amazing people behind me on this stage, our incredible coal miners. >> he was there to fulfill a campaign promise. >> we love our coal miners.
>> to begin undoing one of president obama's signature achievements in the fight against climate change, the clean power plan. >> what it conveyed is this is a hostile takeover. you, the scientists and lawyers and engineers at the agency, are no longer valued. this is a political operation. >> joining us now is the producer of the documentary "war on the epa" which airs tonight on pbs. james jacoby. along with us, joel clement who resi resigned. once a top climate policy official at the department, he said he was reassigned as retaliation by the trump administration for publicly disclosing his work on the dangerous effects of climate change in the arctic. good to see you again. james, first of all, the great undoing that you all are looking at, what's at stake here ultimately? >> what's at stake is basically
that the entire obama environmental legacy is at stake in terms of the obama administration came in, there were a lot of rules out of the gate that affected the fossil fuel industry and other industries, pesticide industry, and now there is a wholesale rollback happening of all of those rules. most notably yesterday the move to repeal the clean power plan. >> and the promise to coal -- i mean to an extent you have to expect that a new administration, a new party in power, there will be changes. >> yeah. >> what's the difference here? >> i mean the difference, i think, as we've been told by people who have worked under pruitt at the epa and others who have watched this for a long time, it's the extent of it. it's the breadth of it. this is kind of an unprecedented effort to roll back. >> so, joel, if you can flesh out just a little bit more about
why you decided to step down, what was it that so offended you that you could no longer serve this administration? >> ultimately it's the very same thing you're talking about. this administration is taking this three-step process in every agency where they reverse everything that the last administration did, they marginalize the scientists and the experts like myself and they disregard the law and hand the keys over to industry by shrinking and disabling the agency. so we're seeing this pattern over and over and at doi of course, secretary ryan zinke e fended all of the staff when he questioned their loyalty. >> why don't you think this administration is taking this tack it's taking. out of loyalty to the coal companies? why have they changed course so dramatically from the obama administration? >> i don't know that they have much loyalty to the coal industry, those jobs aren't coming back. i do think oil and gas is pulling a lot of the strings. i think they're looking to inspire their base and renew the
dollars that are coming in from some of the big industries. >> so the epa under barack obama ran afoul of the courts, not infrequently. attempted to regulate waterways in a way that the courts found unnecessary. scott pruitt led a lawsuit against the regulation of lead in bullets. michigan versus epa said you guys weren't taking into account the costs that you were imposing on people with these regulations. is this sort of a pendulum swing? did the epa bring it on itself? >> you could argue that. the epa -- the argument of overreach, however, has been not entirely settled in the courts when it comes to the clean power plan, for instance. the supreme court put a stay on it, but it didn't rule on the merits of the case. we actually won't probably know because the d.c. circuit court will probably never rule on it now that both scott pruitt who fought against it is now in charge of the case at the epa. >> wow. >> i have to say i don't think it's a pendulum swing at all.
the supreme court has ruled three times that the epa is responsible for regulating co2 and other pollutants. they are required to. they said it over and over, it's the law. that's what the courts are for. this recent cynical ploy to reverse that without any replacement is fragrantly illegal. >> james jacoby, thank you very much. it airs tonight on pbs. before we go this morning, joe, kind of wrap up the bottom line this morning, final thoughts. >> well, still concern obviously. i think the republicans on the hill need to speak out more aggressively following up on what senator corker said, chairman corker said. some positive words from dan dresner that i do think we need to keep in mind, mika, that people around donald trump are doing their best to keep him in check. when they try to keep him in check on big issues at least,
dan reporting that he listens. >> willie. >> when you look at the nbc report we've been talking about this morning, the president wanted to know why we couldn't have more nuclear warheads. why have we gone down since the 1960s and it was explained to him why, because we have treaties and start and salt and all the rest of it and so we will not be raising the number of nuclear warheads. i think dan's reassurance was there are some people who can pu push back and explain why we don't have more than we have. >> noah. >> bob corker used the term "containment." we have to contain the president like he's the soviet union. so i wonder what the tipping point is, what a breakout looks like and who are the people doing the containing. once you identify those people as corker did, does that relationship become frosty and do people start talking to the president in his ear and say they're not letting you be trump. let's let trump be trump. >> i know. i'm worried about the long-term
consequences here and our strategic alliances. joe, we've talked about that and we'll talk much more tomorrow on "morning joe." that does it for us this morning. city stephanie ruhle picks up the coverage right there. >> hi there, i'm stephanie ruhle. 17 dead, nearly 200 injured as the fast-moving california wildfires rage out of control. and people forced to dig through the ashes of their life. >> their whole life, you know, their whole life is gone. exclusive new details this morning about why exactly rex tillerson reportedly called the president a moron. what the president said about nuclear weapons that caused the secretary of state to lash out. and the bombshell allegations against harvey weinstein growing. some of hollywood's biggest stars share their uncomfortable stories and new women come forward alleging sexual assault. plus an nbc news exclusive