tv The 11th Hour With Brian Williams MSNBC October 18, 2017 1:00am-2:00am PDT
>> that is at all in." tonight the president doubles down on something that used to be and should be sacred, gold star families, this time invoking his chief of staff's own sun. plus, trump lashing out at john mccain after mccain spoke out against half baked nationalism. sean spicer the latest big name to appear, tonight what they might have asked, what he might have said, all of it as the 11th hour gets underway. good evening, day 271 of the trump administration. has the president keeping gold star families in the middle of a nasty conversation. and a fight with a senator who
spent five plus years as a prisoner of war, was tortured and injured for life. first off, it was during a radio interview earlier today, president trump was asked again about his false claim that president obama did not call the families of u.s. service members killed in action. >> do you want to clarify anything there? >> there's nothing to clarify, if you look at my -- this was fake news, cnn, they're a bunch of fakers, they asked me that question, and for the most part, to the best of my knowledge, i think i've called every family of somebody that's died. and it's the hardest call to make. the hardest thing for me to do is do that. as far as other representatives, i don't know. you could ask general kelly, did he get a call from obama? >> about general kelly, the washington post is out with a new piece tonight headlined, kelgly tried to keep his son's death out of politics, trump had other ideas. it says this about trump bringing up kelly in that
interview, the remark which was almost immediately derided by democrats and obama allies as politicize a tragedy was unplanned. said two white house officials, who said they were caught off guard by trump's comments. kelly may have mentioned some details surrounding his son's death to the president in private. and the president then repeated them in public. a relatively frequent occurrence with trump. the president also talked about senator john mccain's comments from last night in philadelphia that have generated quite a few headlines, at that event. mccain talked about half baked nationalism, pushed by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems. he called it unpatriotic. here's what trump said about john mccain. >> you heard what he said yesterday? >> yeah, well, i hear it, and people have to be careful, because at some point i fight back. i'm being very nice, i'm being
very very nice, at some point i fight back, and it won't be pretty. >> nothing you do is pretty. >> there's a necessary post script to all of this, the president, the gold star families of the four american special operations troops killed in an ambush in niger. the president has called all four families. tonight when he called the widow of sergeant ladavid johnson, she was in the car near her home, near miami, enroute to the arrival of her husband's body. she was surrounded by family when she talked to the president on speaker phone. also in the car was democrat fredericka wilson. the congresswoman heard the president say to the widow, a mother of two, six months pregnant.
he knew what he signed up for. he went on to say, but when it happens it hurts anyway. >> this is a young, young woman who has two children. who is six months pregnant with a third child. she has just lost her husband, she was just told that he cannot have an open casket funeral, which gives her all kinds of nightmares, how his body must look, how his face must look, and this is what the president of the united states says to her? >> one can only imagine. to our lead off panel tonight, peter baker, chief white house correspondent for the new york times. ashley parker, white house reporter for the washington post who is out tonight with that report ognjen kelly.
and eli stoekels. peter, let's begin with you. least of all, this widow and her family in florida. no one needed this added post script to this nasty day where politics has somehow become intertwined with gold star families in our country. >> well, that's right, i would caution our viewers, we weren't -- we didn't hear what he said, the tone with which he said it. the congresswoman gave a compelling account as you played on cnn. we don't know exactly how the widow took it, it's a very -- it's an unfortunate thing to say, because it is open to misinterpretation at the very least. i think the one thing that president's learn, in these moments of grief, in these moments of great tragedy and heart break, your job is to bring comfort, your job is to hold hands and to wrap your arms figuratively around the people who have lost so much and not to increase the heartache and
increase the politics of the moment, that's some of what's happened in the last 24 hours, what is normally a quiet and private act by presidents like barack obama and george w. bush has now become politicized and out in the public debate. >> peter, your caution is noted, we repeat, there were no journalists in this vehicle, just this member of congress and members of the family. this member of congress along with one other member from the state of florida is calling for an investigation as to just what american special operators were doing in niger, in africa, that led to this attack on them, and the loss of four of these young americans in ung form. ashley parker, i'm going to read
a larger than normal chunk of your work, because it tells the story of john kelly and his family. he did not talk about his son when just four days after his death, in southern afghanistan kelly found himself commemorating two other marines killed in combat in a moving speech in st. louis, in fact, he specifically asked the officer introducing him, not to mention his boy, second lieutenant who was killed instantly when he stepped on a land mine while on patrol. just last month kelly slipped away from the white house to attend a marine core scholarship. on tuesday, kelly's current boss thrust his son into the glare, as part of a continuing attack on former president barack obama. >> ashley, how do you process
this as a journalist covering this story in realtime? >> what's so striking about this is, you know even journalists who have been covering general kelly for a short period, one thing is clear, his own service and certainly the service of actually both of his sons, including his son who lost his life in afghanistan in 2010 weighs on him deeply, and forms all of his thinking on foreign policy decisions, national security decisions. for him, it's not just an intellectual exercise, he knows the costs, as much as this is part of the fabric of who he is and his life, it's not something he talks about. he's very private about it. and he even recoils at the idea that his own son or even just the children of any family would ever be politicized. so again, we don't know specifically how general kelly reacted to the president's off hand comments today, that did thrust his son into the spotlight.
based on everything we know about him, this is not a way he would like his son to be referenced in a political attack on barack obama. >> general kelly who was last scene in in the briefing room complaining in part even well sourced journalism about this president and this white house, i don't imagine we'll have any chance to know how this has made him feel, the kellys, mr. and mrs., general and mrs. having their tragic great loss of their son dragged into this. >> i can't imagine it's going to be something he's eager to weigh-in on, i can tell you from talking to other white house aids they told me they were very caught off guard by the president's comments. they didn't expect them, this wasn't part of a planned white house communications strategy, and one of them said to me,
general kelly is so private about his son, it's not something he mentions. they sort of surmise, this is a theory, that it's not something he's going to be comfortable with either. >> before this was john mccain. the ongoing war of wards this president has waged on john mccain. who by the way, just happens to be in the toughest battle. this old naval warrior, has faced. >> yeah, that's right, just like the comments he made about general kelly's son. there is this pattern, this difficulty that this president has in expressing empathy and identifying with people going through a difficult time. there has been no mention really of john mccain's illness, what there has been from this president going back for a month has been a lot of resentment and grieve ens expressed over
mccain's vote on health care, and mccain stepping up and speaking his mind, unlike most of his colleagues in the senate, about this administration and what he sees as the dangers of this president. that has agitated donald trump, and none of his comments in return have been tempered by any shred of empathy, you hear the president today on the radio, threatening he will fight back and it won't be pretty, it's hard to imagine what that is. a lot of people hear those words and it sounds as hollow as that rhetoric actually is, to donald trump, he needs to say these things to make himself feel good. you talked about -- ashley talked about general kelly as someone who does not express his feelings all that openly and talk about himself, this is a president who really spends most of the day doing that and that alone. >> peter baker, i don't mean this sarcastically, but what part of the trump agenda advanced today? say from the white house to the hill?
>> there is a deal tonight, we hear from senator lamar alexander, and patty murray. comes together to put a two-year fix on the subsidies. this would stabilize the insurance markets if it passes and the president signed it. it sounds like the president embraced it, although he was a little vague in what he said about it. and that would be an important step forward. the question is, would that lead congress toward a broader, deeper, more engaged bipartisan effort to address health care, or whether it would simply patch things over for now, so they can return to the partisan fight that they've had over this for months. >> peter raises an interesting point, there was a part of that press conference today where the president seemed to be wanting to have ownership over this. the actual news of the settlement, of the bipartisan notion broke at the conclusion
of the news conference. but this entire agreement goes at and attempts to fix a part of obama care, the president is trying to kill. >> that's right. i mean, there is sort of a little new answer there, that one of the issues is that these payments need to be appropriated by congress. so what the president was doing is saying that president obama couldn't make this decision, congress has to make this decision. but the truth is, as you point out, the president has stated he wants to repeal and replace obama care, that's what his actions were doing. that's what undoing these payments was part of that effort and so i think it is an interesting question. he may want credit for this deal or this win, that's something the president is always interested in, as he said today, and as the senators said, this is a short term fix, and it remains an open question. what does happen in the long term, there is room to
potentially reach a deal with democrats, but not if, as the president so far has done, he is committed to basically undermining obama care, rather than improving upon it, and fixing. >> and for the folks who couldn't see today's event at the white house, it was a very standard for a visiting dignitary. a couple questions from the u.s. press core, a couple questions from the visiting press core. one of the points the president made that had people scratching their heads. he said, we have the votes to repeal and replace obama care. no one can name the votes to get them a majority, as of right now. another interesting moment came from a member of the greek press corps and we'll play it here, and the president's response. we'll talk about it. >> march of 2016 you said at the potential for a donald trump presidency, i hope we will not face this evil. i'm wondering if after spending
time with the president, you have changed your mind or you're of the same mind? >> i wish i knew that before my speech. >> my error, john roberts is not, nor has he ever been a member of the greek press core, very much an american tonight, as he was when he woke up this morning. so eli, do you -- that response there from the president genuine? >> it seemed to be, revealing that there was nothing about the greek prime minister's comments and criticisms in his briefing documents. if that's true, maybe trump didn't read the briefing documents, you never know. it's more evidence that his staff is trying to shield him from information that might set him off. or it's evidence that he's not fully prepared. and just try to play it for a laugh, and diffuse the moment. we don't know what that was, clearly the prime minister did not want to escalate things, his response was very careful, he tiptoed around this, he said, i
didn't feel threatened in my meeting there was just a lot of platitudes in his response. nothing concrete. a willingness to accept that donald trump is president of the united states. and he has to learn to work with him. >> a dizzying array of topics we take on on a night to night basis, thank you for coming on the broadcast and joining us. >> coming up as we take our first break, sean spicer facing questions from robert mueller. and up next, two political minds react to the president dragging the death of u.s. troops into the open world of politics. that's when we continue on a tuesday night.
i personally as a republican in the past few weeks, is the republic safer if democrats take over the house in 2018. i raised that issue last week, the remarkable thing, he had been thinking the same thing. this is a president that needs a greater check on his power. >> former congressman david jolly, who went on to say, the republic may be safer. we're happy to welcome david jolly back here with us he's joined by jason johnson. and politics editor at the root. welcome both back to this broadcast. i'll give you a little while longer, to explain what must have been a discussion among your republican friends.
>> i'm not a republican who all of a sudden adopted nancy pelosi's politics. the question is, and the newsworthiness is, there are more republicans who agree with this, it's the principle of this, we know there are matters of national security. mcmaster and tillerson have decided when to intervene, should the president act erratically. there are measures from russia, to private travel, we know that there are enroachments on free speech, on free press, on free expression. and so imagine if we have these concerns, what it would look like in a democratic congress who was providing accountability to this president. that is a question that i think somep ares are wrestling with. are we safer, first as a matter of national security, with stronger accountability that
we're not seeing from capitol hill. and i'm certainly not somebody who is embracing the democratic agenda tonight. we know the danger that president trump has created. and did is newsworthy that there are republicans wrestling with whether or not there needs to be a greater check on his power. >> one more, where do you put issues like the president's dragging gold star families into the political realm. it doesn't impact our safety or national security, or the running of the country. >> no. >> it's been an awfully unpleasant news cycle to sit through. >> this is a matter of decency and a president who lacks all decency, but has an abundance of audacity, one of the things we are not looking at right now, with general kelly, we know he's a gold star family who lost a son. this is also a general who had to make those phone calls and understands that these are not political moments. the president himself politicized this, as a member of
congress, i did not bear the weight of a general or soldier lost in battle. i had to make late night phone calls to families of injured soldiers, those are not political moments, there was one that i remember today, because the president has politicized this, there was an injured soldier, i called his father and i said, we're going to get him home. we got him home, we worked with the family, weeks later, the father told me, not only did i not vote for you, but i worked with the labor union to defeat you. and we laughed about it, because those are not the political moments. those are very personal solemn moments, we have a president who does not understand those solemn moments. he is a master at capturing the anger of the american people, but he is not skilled at capturing the hearts and the minds and the souls of the american people. >> jason johnson, what if i had told you a couple years back, that some day a former republican congressman from the
great state of florida and some of his colleagues, named or not would come to this judgment that actually having an opposite party in control of the house of representatives may be a better check or a check period compared to what we have now? >> brian, i wouldn't have believed you until you then told me, what if i told you trump would be president. >> okay. >> then i would have believed you. >> you know, this is -- it's interesting, you can go back not just to this administration, you can go back to the constitution, we don't have a government structured around dealing with this kind of corrosive leadership. the british do, they had kings. the brazilians do. in this instance we don't have a morally corrupt president. it is a very dangerous time to realize that the republican party has been complicit in much of his behavior, the same
general kelly who was unfairly used in his son's death was used by this president, has supported most of trump's policies, he own mg stands against his behavior, while the democrats may save us in the short term, our republic is healthier, when the republicans have integrity as well, and they're losing that battle by allowing trump to behave this way. >> excellent point on a lack of a heck nick in our government. there's no joy in the opposition party if trump's republican party splinters as we've been saying for days into this bannon nationalist wing, that can't do great things in washington, where a working majority is needed. >> i've always said, some of these arguments are between the ku klux and the klan. i come from a family that's voted on every single side of the spectrum, but when the
republican party decides trumpism is a philosophy, that is dangerous. when steve bannon with his white nationalist and white supremacist connections is no longer considered an outside fringe person, but a viable political alternative in the supportive of candidates across the country. that is a dangerous time. i hope the republican party recognizes the integrity and sovereignty of this nation is more important than power, so far, i don't think they'll learn that lessen unless they get wiped out in 2018. >> two smart guys, if we didn't have more smart people right behind you, we would fill the entire hour with this conversation. suffice it to say, thank you for coming on. another break for us, the man known for taking copious notes in the trump white house and all his political meetings. sean spicer facing questions from robert mueller's team. more on that when the 11th hour continues.
not well known outside west wing circles and military circles where he's very well known, and that's general kellogg, why is that? >> i think he could be really -- even more valuable to mueller than sean spicer, even though sean had a front row seat to a lot of the events going on in the white house.
you feel that's a exposure danger for carter page, tell us why? >> carter page has already been interviewed at length by special council mueller, and now the senate intelligence committee wants to talk to him, and get his documents. accidentally purgering yourself by making a misstatement or leaving out a date. confusing who was in the room. i think he could be a crucial player here, and shows the attention that's being paid to flynn. >> speaking of a potential perjury trap, i happen to know
you feel that's a exposure danger for carter page, tell us why? >> carter page has already been interviewed at length by special council mueller, and now the senate intelligence committee wants to talk to him, and get his documents. he's claiming the fifth now, it's a little too late first of all, there's almost never a fifth amendment privilege. there may be a fifth amendment -- the senate intelligence committee can subpoena him and make him talk. >> one more, and i ask this on behalf of the folks watching. we say at least once a week, that mueller runs a tight ship. so rarely will we ever hear leaks from inside this d.c. law firm he has put together. but introducing this segment, i just listed questions and topic s that sean spicer was asked to answer at his mueller session,
where do you imagine those kinds of leaks come from, and you can speak generally. >> well, i never reveal my sources, brian. so -- but it has been interesting. i do agree with you, a lot of people thought this was going to be a black box, like everything in this administration, everything in washington it seems, these days, the information is just flying around fast and loose. i think that surprised a lot of people involved opinion i'm sure it surprised the lawyers, i know they get surprised when they get calls from us sometimes. so i think it just really speaks to the way information gets around in the trump era. >> spoken like a pro, didn't mean to put you in a tough spot, but you navigated superbly. on behalf of the good folks watching our broadcast.
our thanks. appreciate it, we'll have you both back, of course. another break for us, a recipient of the medal of honor will be here with us to talk about how the president should treat the ultimate sacrifice. she's nationally recognized for her compassion and care. he spent decades fighting to give families a second chance. but to help others, they first had to protect themselves. i have afib. even for a nurse, it's complicated... and it puts me at higher risk of stroke. that would be devastating. i had to learn all i could to help protect myself. once i got the facts, my doctor and i chose xarelto®. xarelto®... to help keep me protected. once-daily xarelto®, a latest-generation blood thinner... ...significantly lowers the risk of stroke in people with afib not caused by a heart valve problem. it has similar effectiveness to warfarin. xarelto® works differently. warfarin interferes with at least 6 blood-clotting factors.
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the president's choice of words about the treatment of gold star military famiies comparing himself to other wartime presidents continues to draw reaction and condemnation tonight. let's talk about it with our next guest, we are joined by retired u.s. army general jack jacobs. one of only 72 living recipients of the medal of honor, we're also happy to say he's an msnbc military analyst. i've been wanting to get your reaction to this, at times, ugly political debate that's spilled out into the open. >> well, there's no more difficult nor even onerous task
than having to tell the next of kin that a loved one's been killed. a lot of us have had to do it, and you never forget it. >> but to turn that solemn duty, that job into counting political coup is very distasteful, it's almost obscene, actually, it's kind of perverse, and it's -- no, sir, i don't like it very much. >> that is the word david axelrod used tonight, he called it an obscenity. to the mechanics of what happened here, and there will, i'm quite sure a congressional look into this, what are american troops, say nothing of four of our very best, doing in niger, in africa. >> we have special forces troops just about everywhere. they're in large number of
countries, in africa. we have them in uganda, lots of places in sub saharan africa, in afghanistan, and a multitude of other places, and they're there to train indigenous troops to defend their countries. when you do that, invariably, you're going to be taking them out on training missions. and from time to time, we get engaged with the enemy in the very countries we're training these troops to defend. we're doing that sort of thing all over. >> what if we have to have a public debate and congressional hearings about getting into these smaller operations we have. >> i'm reminded of vietnam when the congress was a congressional leaders were complaining about being in vietnam for so long. we lost tens of thousands of americans in this war, they were against the war and so on. they had the capability of stopping it. all they have to do is stop
funding it. that is the only thing we're doing to defend our interests abroad. we don't have large numbers of american troops engaging the enemy anywhere. i don't think anybody's going to stop that from happening. >> i want to talk to you about senator john mccain, and before we talk about that, i want to play the audience this, and have everyone remember this moment. >> he's not a war hero. >> he's a war hero. >> he's a war hero, because he was captured. i like people that weren't captured, okay? i hate to tell you. >> a lot of people thought that would be a campaign ending moment, it is certainly where the war of words started. from the president directed at john mccain. john mccain in the fight of his life against brain cancer, spoke
in philadelphia last night, and i'll say this, i've had the great privilege of being around you guys, recipients of the medal of honor, served on your board, tried to raise a lot of money a few years back. to a person, the people all of you recipients looked up to were the pow's, we just lost a terrific one, a mutual friend of ours, in the last few months. john mccain occuies that space. he's in that rarefied group. >> not justus, but people we represent, people we fought with, performed well, in difficult circumstances, pow's perform well over five years, seven years. getting tortured every day with a few that they would never ever go home. those are the tough guys and we all look up to them, and look up to them, because they are tougher than anybody. >> why pick a fight with a former pow member of the senate? >> there's an argument that says, if you're an expert,
you're not very good on your feet, and you don't know very much, you'll do exactly that, and i think that's so in this case. it doesn't make any sense to pick a fight with anybody, if you're president of the united states, you're the most powerful person on the face of the earth, and if you have to do that, there's something missioning somewhere, to pick a fight with somebody like john mccain? or anybody in uniform when you yourself have not served, speaks to a certain ignorance that i think is difficult to duplicate in public life. >> colonel, thank you. >> you're very welcome. coming up, how have past presidents handles this sad, but necessary burden of the job? pulitzer prize winning presidential historian, jon meacham will join us when the 11th hour marches on.
as long as presidents have sent americans into battle. they have dealt with the burden of losing american blood and treasure on the battlefield. and consoling those left behind. our friend the historian, reminded us this week, of the special presidential role, he pointed to this letter abraham lincoln wrote to the daughter of a fallen union army soldier in 1862. here with us tonight to talk about the special role of american presidents, pulitzer prize winning author, jon meacham who's also an msnbc contributor. you and i are both obligated to quote once a week, so we're off the hook. >> it's actually in the contract. >> thank you for being here. >> is the polite way to ask this question, is president trump's modern era antithesis bush 41, both in is president trump's modern eera, bush 41, both in years of terms in service in the navy, youngest aifuate r shot
down, rescued, later sent americans into battle, a note writer as you have written, he'll write a thank you note if you hold the door open for him. >> you know, the first time you work for bush, wrote a letter like that, he was 20 years old, lost two crew mates. >> wow. >> saturday september 2nd, 1944, and he wrote letters to their families, and we have the letters that the family sent back, so he's been doing this for 73 years. his son, who was not in combat, intuitively understood the role and by all accounts was a man of great decorum, the president is a place of moral leadership. it's not of social media pinball machine, but it's about leading the nation asking people to
sacrifice, ultimate sacrifice, but honoring that ssacrifice, an it, to my mind, the bushes, president obama, were extremely grateful. if you ask people in the president, you know this, they all say the hardest thing you do is send someone into battle and deal with the consequences. bush 41 talked in an audio diary kept throughout the presidency. sunday night before air war began in iraq in january of 1991, and he's watching cnn up in the treaty room, and he sees a father hugging his son, and he immediately his mind goes back to when his father dropped him off at penn station, and the only time he saw his father cry, who on his 18th birthday, three
things happened. he turned 18, graduated from the academy and joined the united states navy. >> what we have heard and seen from the president this week, his comparing dealings with gold star families to the predecessors, is that a collision of lack of institutional knowledge plus obsession with his predecessor? >> it's a mindless competitiveness. saw that with hillary clinton and president obama. i don't think he knows how to act out of hope. i think he only knows how to act out of fear, and he only knows how to fight, not to lead, and this sounds partisan to some people, but this is a historical observation. i voted for presidents of both parties, and i just -- it's a remarkable incapacity to
sympathize with the people around you and the people broadly put. he ran for the job with very limit understanding, apparently, of that role, and it is does matter. this is about embodying the moral life of the country, and, again, you can disagree all week long with bill clinton and george h.w. bush and barack obama, but you knew at their core, they believed in the country and its promise. i think this president believes in himself and his poll numbers. >> we have a a few seconds left. last question, we have a wealth of riches in terms of being
alive with this many former presidents. should they be more of a resource in times like this? >> you know, they all say no. they think that they shouldn't get back in the arena and scramble things around. bush '41 used to say, i don't want to go to yellow pad conferences, but i think one of the great things about the country is there's a fundamental common sense, and i think that even if people are not explicitly making comparisons, implicitly they know we have not been here before and this is not a good place to be. >> while hiding my yellow pad, thank you for coming. always a pleasure. joe biden says it's not trump's policies that unsettle him the most. we'll show you the exchange when we continue. hi, i'm the internet! you know what's difficult? adulting...
yeah! whoo! yes! get your domain today and get a free trial of gocentral. build a better website in under an hour. there he is. last thing before we go. joe biden shares the stage today in his home state of delaware with republican john casic, the governor of ohio. the topic, bipartisanship, but shares what he heard from heads of state around the world, 14 heads of state around the world. biden called president trump's behavior absolutely bizarre, and he shares one world leader's thoughts, would not identify the leader, on this very moment. this was, remember, back in may, it was in brussels. president trump just brushed aside the leader to get to the front. here is what joe biden had to say about that. >> at one point, this prime minister said, and did you see what he did? sitting on the same side of the
conference table, as close as you and i are. stood up, took the president and shoved him aside and stuck his chest out and chin, and all i could think of was el douche. not a joke. not a joke. that's what people are thinking. that's what people are thinking. violating the norms of personal conduct generates more anxiety and fear than any policy prescription that this president has annunciated. >> tough stuff from joe biden, a democratic two-term vice president in a critical time for our current president, and with that, our thanks for being here with us. that's our broadcast on a tuesday night. good night from nbc news headquarters here in new york.
. fall out after president trump falsely claims president obama didn't contact families of fallen soldiers. and this morning one congresswoman is accusing trump of making an insensitive remark to a slain soldier's wid yo. plus president trump and john mccain's feud erupts once again with the president this time warning he'll fight back. and u.s. backed forces seize complete control of raqqah, the de facto capital of isis. while the terrorist group is still dangerous, they no longer have that safe