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tv   MSNBC Live With Katy Tur  MSNBC  October 19, 2017 11:00am-12:00pm PDT

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and that will wrap up this hour of msnbc live. chris jansing picking up our coverage from new york. >> craig, we miss you here in new york. come home. >> i'll be back. i'll be back tomorrow. >> okay. it is 11:00 a.m. out west. 2:00 p.m. in washington, d.c. where president trump is still facing fallout over the deaths of four u.s. soldiers in niger. he was silent for 12 days, now a new report from politico reveals a statement from the president one day after the ambush, why
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wasn't it released? on capitol hill, the growing number of lawmakers who say they have more questions than answers at this point about what exactly happened on the ground on october 4th. >> do you think that you know enough about the deaths of the four soldiers in niger? >> of course not. >> why not? >> ask the pentagon. >> we're hearing from more families. one grieving father says he was promised a check from mr. trump that never came. other families saying the president didn't do what he's claimed. they have yet to hear from their commander in chief. >> we haven't heard anything from the president. >> if that letter or that phone call could bring my son back, i would run from here on foot to washington, d.c. to get that letter. >> remember this all started to unfold after president trump falsely claimed on monday that his predecessors never called the families of fallen soldiers. well, today we're hearing from two of them.
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one of them with this warning for the country. >> the great democracies face new and serious threats, yet seem to be losing confidence in their own calling and competence. economic, political and national security challenges proliferate and they're made worse by the tendency to turn inward. >> we have a phenomenal team of reporters with the latest. nbc's peter alexander at the white house, kaci hunt on capitol hill. also phil rucker, and glenn thrush, white house correspondent for the "new york times." both of them msnbc political analysts. peter, let me start. all this began with 12 days of silence from the president. the white house has been pointing the finger at everybody else, now there are questions about if a statement was written why didn't it go out. what are you hearing today? >> reporter: i'm certain these are going to be topics raised again in the briefing with sarah
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huckabee sanders scheduled to take place less than an hour from now. among the questions today very simple one, why did four american service members die in niger? did president trump authorize the mission that was taking place at that time the night of october 4th, now more than two weeks ago? has he been briefed since by military leaders, by leaders of the joint chiefs of staff? all of these are the details that we're going to try to work on from this side over the course of this afternoon right now. obviously it was on monday where president trump was pressed during that impromptu news conference in the rose garden about why he had been silent. a man who tweets so frequently and so publicly about a variety of different topics but on this one he had said nothing over the course of 12 days though sarah huckabee sanders had made note of the administration's gratefulness for the service of the four americans who were killed during some of the briefings in the past. what more is he doing about it right now? which is what we'll be focusing on over the course of the next hour, chris. >> kaci, as peter pointed out,
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we don't know what happened on the ground in niger, but former cia director john brennan talked about it this morning. take a listen. >> the wrong question is about why they were so far forward with the niger military, because going into those places it really makes it difficult to help the group if they are ambushed. and it seems like they were ambushed by a larger group. >> i know we've been hearing from senators on both sides of the aisle, kaci, what are they saying? >> chris, basically they're saying right along with the american public they have more questions than they have answers. and that there has been some back and forth between the administration and the hill about just what went on here. and a lot of them are not satisfied with what they've heard so far. we've been trying to catch up with many of these members over the course of today. take a look at what some of them had to say and then we'll talk about it. >> what steps will you take in the committee? >> every that i can.
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i had a good conversation with general mcmaster and they said they would be briefing us. long friendship, hopefully get all the details. >> has the administration -- do you feel the administration's been forthcoming up to this point about what happened there? >> of course not. >> given information but not what we should. >> the way as much as the nondisclosure is a cause for very grave concern. >> so clearly the members of congress do not feel as though the communication has been very good. now, john mccain, you know, he referenced speaking to general mcmaster, mccain has a lot of direct relationships with people who work at the pentagon. he is somebody who talks to the defense secretary jim mattis with some regularity. and so i think that's what you were seeing reflected in those comments there. but clearly he's not happy with what he's getting from the white house on this. some of it i spoke at some length with bob corker, the chairman of the foreign relations committee, he
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referenced a group going over to niger to try and figure out what was going on. he seemed to be referring to the pentagon's probe into exactly what happened. so, again, i think that there's a level of dissatisfaction with how readily the administration seems to be willing to communicate with members up here on capitol hill, but also simply a lack of information across the board about what happened that's also problematic, chris. >> so do you have any sense of when we might get some of this information or that the white house will feel pressured by what we're hearing from folks on the hill? what are you hearing? >> i think we are going to start seeing some information. again, it's sort of a black box here of why it is they waited so long. i think one of the issues they're concerned with is they think some of these reports are unfair, that there was a lack of communication internally particularly with regard to the president's promise to draft a $25,000 check. by the way, that begs the question why is the president promising to write a check for one soldier and not for another? will he write a check for every
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u.s. service member killed in action from hence forward? but, again, i think what we're seeing here is this lack of internal communication and opacity, frankly, on issues ranging from defense to the content of what's in the budget. i just don't think this is administration's been particularly forward facing. again, just to raise this point, we have a white house now that is dominated by military officials, both in civilian positions and obviously positions in the brass. and as we know the pentagon plays by a different set of rules in terms of disclosure. i think we're seeing those rules now being superimposed on the white house so that military ethos is reaching into the civilian realm. >> i have to say, phil, when i heard about the $25,000 check i thought, wow, what's going through all the minds of the generals there at the white house? but glenn rightfully points out then what do you send a $25,000 check to every family of someone who has lost their lives in service to their country,
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putting even that aside, what do we know for sure about this delay about the check? because the white house is trying to make it sound as though it just had to go through a vetting process. the father who was promised the check said he never heard anything. >> that's right. the father was promised the check, i believe, a few months ago or at least many weeks ago. and it wasn't until my colleagues at "the washington post" started reporting this story that the white house announced that a check was in the mail. so we don't know exactly when that check went in the mail, but you can sort of put two and two together and figure it out. that the media attention is what spurred this all into action. and it speaks to a broader issue here which is that this is a president who doesn't have any experience in the military. he's not had years of experience dealing with military families. he's not been in public service until now. he had these draft deferments in vietnam. he just doesn't seem very comfortable dealing with these issues. and we saw it on the campaign and he got into the fight with the gold star family the khans
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and making fun of john mccain's war heroics. and he just does not seem comfortable in this environment right now. >> and your paper is on top of another big story that's part of all this which is the fallout surrounding the president's call to the widow of one of the four fallen soldiers. >> right. >> he claims the congresswoman, congresswoman wilson is lying. i mean, by extension he's saying johnson's family is lying since his aunt who raised him confirmed the account to "the washington post." so does the white house get, phil, that what is going on? as sarah sanders tries to put the blame on the press and the president says he has proof the call didn't happen that way. >> yeah, look, i mean, if he has proof, he hasn't shown it. you know, if there's some sort of recording, i think people would love to hear how that conversation went. i interviewed congresswoman wilson who was in the car and heard this conversation and she actually made an interesting point. she said it was clear to her that the president was not reading from a script.
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none of his staff had prepared him with this sort of language and compassion that he might want to convey on the phone call that he was sort of repeating a lot of the same points and talking in circles and not really letting the widow or the family rather speak to him and just wanted them to listen to him. it sounds like a tough call, at least that's how the family interpreted it and how they received it. she was in tears. >> glenn, the white house word of choice seems to be, frankly, as i've been listening to them over the last couple days is disgust. john kelly is disgusted that this has become politicized. the media asking about the check for the father is disgusting. and of course this all started with the deaths of four u.s. service members and the president's silence. but at the same time and i'm seeing kacie walking over who's coming toward kacie, i'm guessing it's somebody important, in the meantime -- should we listen in?
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hold on. okay. it's off topic. so, glenn, i mean, i was thinking about all of this as i saw the poll yesterday that according to political morning consult 46% of voters believe 46% believe media make up news stories about trump. 37% say they don't. you say what is the motivation then for this white house not to blame everything on the media? >> oh, it is classic trump. remember, trump won the election. you know, there's a lot of unanswered questions as to why 2016 happened, why the president won. but one is not unclear and that is donald trump has sky high negatives, always has, always will. and the only way that he can win is by raising his opponent's negatives up to his. and with nobody else on the stage, mitch mcconnell and him had their rose garden -- you have to throw this back on the
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media. that is default when you have nothing else. we've been hammered month after month after month extremely consistent messaging, by the way about the only consistent messaging we've seen out of the white house in the first ten months is whacking us. and it's working. you keep saying negative things about people eventually a substantial amount of the public starts to believe you whether it's true or not. >> thank you. it's going to be a fascinating briefing coming up at the top of the hour. joining me now dante zapala. first of all, thank you very much for being here. we honor your brother's service and what your family has given up for all of us so that we can be free. tell me first about your brother. >> oh, he was a great guy. big. loud. he made a lot of people upset sometimes, but he was somebody who stuck up for, you know, for
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the little guy. definitely as his little brother i benefitted. he fought a lot of my fights for me. and he's missed. he was a good one. >> you have a grieving widow and a grieving mother who were upset by the phone call that they got from the president of the united states. when your brother lost his life, your brother's wife received a letter from president bush, i understand. your mother spoke with president obama before he became president. tell us what those interactions were like. >> well, i think that symbolism is important to us. when you lose somebody under these circumstances, having those things to fall back on, it means something. i mean, i'll never forget, you know, watching the flag fold, off my brother's casket and that being handed over at the service. but at the same time, you know, 14 years, 13 years on now we were there a couple weeks ago to visit, you know, for his birthday, and it's just us. and it's lonely. and we had to deal with all that
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space in between. so i think the symbolism is important. but this is the grief of families and for the most part it's private and it's lonely. i think that what's really important here though is that we as a nation are starting to, you know, talk about this again. that we recognize what that grief is and begin to ask ourselves is it worth it. in is a question asked, is it worth it. at the time we were minority, nobody gave us attention. and now we have a republican president basically elected partly on that platform, so how can we push this dialogue forward? how can we make this not about president trump but about our policies and why we still have -- why do we have soldiers in niger dying? why do we have soldiers in afghanistan and iraq still? these are really important questions. and recognizing the sacrifice of
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our bravest, our nation's treasure is being spent both our money and our blood. and we need to really be serious now as a country asking these questions about why we're doing this still. >> and the white house said yesterday that the president has the highest level of respect for men and women in uniform. do you think that it's possible that when he told the widow of a fallen soldier he knew what he signed up for that it was just a poor choice of words? >> in fact i do. i've heard that before in my times of grief and talking to people. and people that were all over the political spectrum, you know, express their empathy. and i think that's important. i understand the intent. i would hope for better words from a president, but i'm beyond at this point hoping for something better from the president. i don't think we're going to wake up tomorrow and he'll be acting presidential all of a sudden. so i think that's unfortunately how he chose to express himself. and ms. johnson is certainly entitled to be outraged about it.
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and generally if a gold star parent, gold star mother is grieving and has something to say, we should listen. and i think that's where the president went wrong is in following up beyond that and trying to make it about himself. it's not about him. it's about myesha johnson, it's about her children, her unborn child and the lifetime that they'll have now to have to deal with this. >> a child who will never know his or her father. gold star brother dante zapalla, thank you so much. hope you honor your brother's memory by coming here. we appreciate your time. >> thank you so much for having me. >> for the most part former president george w. bush has stayed on the political sidelines since leaving the white house, but not today. he stood up to take a stand against hate and bigotry calling on americans to remember what makes us americans, unity. >> bigotry or white supremacy in any form is blasphemy against the american creed. we've seen our discourse
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begraded by casual cruelty. at times it can seem like the forces pulling us apart are stronger than the forces binding us together. too often we judge other groups by their worst examples while judging ourselves by our best intentions.
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our identity as a nation unlike many other nations is not determined by geography or ethnicity, by soil or blood.
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being an american involves the embrace of high ideals and civic responsibility. this means that people of every race, religion, ethnicity can be fully and equally american. it means that bigotry or white supremacy in any form is blasphemy against the american creed. [ applause ] >> just days after president trump questioned the way former presidents handled the deaths of american service members, george w. bush made his position on the state of politics very clear without ever mentioning trump's name. in an unusually pointed speech, which has long been on bush's schedule, we should say, he condemned the state of u.s. politics, slamming policies of isolationism and spoke out against the rise of bigotry. the address highlighting a divide between the establishment and anti-establishment factions of the republican party. robert trainer worked for bush-cheney's campaign as senior advisor, rick tyler is
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republican strategist and former gingrich spokesman. both are msnbc political analysts. good to see you, gentlemen. robert, let me start with you because you know him well. and freddie ford, a spokesman for bush, says the speech wasn't about trump. a lot of people heard echoes of the politics of donald trump in this. what did you hear? >> i heard a president that is -- a former president that is crying out for us to be americans and to stand up. i heard a president that says please lead americans. >> please lead americans or please lead mr. president? >> i think combination of both. the president and current president is an american too. let me be very specific. i heard the president meaning president bush say americans lead, stand up, this is not who we are. let's talk about our best ideals and continue to strive for them. but when we highlight the worst in all of us, that brings all of us down and so we all have to look in the mirror here and rise up. and what does that look like? it looks like the anonymous quotes on facebook and other
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social media denigrating people. it means on talk radio, you know, people trashing bipartisanship. it means the people out there that are applauding -- or applauded rather what happened when it came to charlottesville. it means the people out there that think what the president said, meaning donald trump, when it came to charlottesville in both sides of the blame applauded that. it means that americans that talk about fake news and that we don't have a shared sense of history and a shared sense of facts and questions that, i think what president bush is saying we are better than that, americans, we are better than that, mr. president. let's look in the mirror, let's stand up and let's remind ourselves about who we are and what we're fighting for here. and what we're fighting for is a true democratic system. and a lot said, said it so clear, freedom is only one generation away from extinction. we always have to remind ourselves as americans to placate to our best ideals, not our worst fears. >> and i also heard him say, if i may extrapolate to just two
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words, words matter. let me play a little bit more on what he said. >> we've seen our discourse degraded by casual cruelty. at times it can seem like the forces pulling us apart are stronger than the forces binding us together. argument turns too easily into animosity. disagreement escalates into dehumanization. too often we judge other groups by their worst examples while judging ourselves by our best intentions. forgetting the image of god we should see in each other. >> rick, casual cruelty, animosity, dehumanization, are those the words of someone who you think is speaking very broadly or maybe broadly and very specifically to somebody who's in the office that he used to hold? >> i think it's both. i think he's being very pointed. i agree with everything robert said. i think president bush is
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calling us to to be better angels of our nature much the way lincoln did during the civil war. and, you know, the country is tearing itself apart. we're getting a lot of help too because we saw that the russians were not only involved in the election, they are actually attempting to drive americans apart. we see that in catalonia in spain, the russians are very active there driving division in western europe. they're driving division in the united states. and we need to recognize this. and i agree also with what robert said, what the president said is we need to recognize the truth. and when the truth is the truth, just say what the truth is. if it makes our team look bad, that's okay. but it's much better than being a hypocrite. >> a lot of what former president bush today said seemed to echo what we heard three days ago from john mccain when he attacked spurious nationalism and made a call to rediscover american ideals. there were echoes of each other in those speeches. i covered the 2000 campaign,
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they were primary adversaries as you know, robert, and when mccain was diagnosed with brain cancer i remember vividly president bush said he called him and mccain ended up encouraging him instead. he called him to encourage john mccain and he said he felt as though mccain was encouraging him. have those days left us in current political life? is it a contrast to too much of what we see today? >> i think so. let me go back a little bit more. chris, you mentioned the 2000 campaign when george w. bush won the primary and obviously won -- or won the convention stuff and obviously won the presidency. john mccain and george w. bush sat down together and worked on mccain -- and john mccain said, you know, i was never promised a rose garden ceremony, but the reality is that two republican foes came together obviously on bipartisan campaign finance reform. and that wasn't a dirty word. i mean, they applauded each other on the back and democrats obviously came to that as well.
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and the problem now is and it's so destructive, not only for us republicans but also for democrats and all americans is when you can't even be seen in the same coffee store together as a republican and democrat. you know, often people will always chastise, robert, you're not pure enough. what is that supposed to mean? i'm pro life, pro gun, i'm for lower taxes, for limited government. how dare you suggest i'm not more republican than you are? and why are we even having this conversation? let's talk about what guides us as americans and how we can figure this stuff out together. but this is really complicated stuff here. instead of tearing each other apart, that's what george w. bush and john mccain and others really represent. and the question becomes is can we -- and this is not a romantic bygone era type of thing but the question is that's how the country functions at least from a democratic standpoint, how can we get back to the basics? >> robert, well said. rick tyler, wish we had more time. so much to talk about and so much to take away from both of those speeches.
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thank you, gentlemen. >> thank you. >> let's take a live look at the white house. that's where sarah sanders will take questions at the top of the hour. no doubt questions about today's oval office meeting between the president and puerto rico's governor where trump said the federal response is a ten. we'll take you to san juan for reaction next. our recent online sales success seems a little... strange?nk na. ever since we switched to fedex ground business has been great. they're affordable and fast... maybe "too affordable and fast." what if... "people" aren't buying these books online, but "they" are buying them to protect their secrets?!?! hi bill. if that is your real name. it's william actually. hmph! affordable, fast fedex ground.
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puerto rico's governor is making his first visit to washington nearly a month after hurricane maria devastated the island. ricardo rosello met with members of congress on capitol hill before going to the white house to meet with president trump. the leaders talked about the relief effort and what comes next. >> i think we've done a really great job. and we've had tremendous cooperation from the governor. and we are getting there. and people are really seeing the effort that's been put into puerto rico. been a very, very difficult situation for many people. >> i want to thank you on behalf of the people of puerto rico for your leadership, for your team's leadership and for having a commitment to stay with the people of puerto rico, the u.s. citizens of puerto rico here for the long haul. to not just put things back together again, but to rebuild them as it should be. >> there's a lot of rebuilding
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to do. puerto rico's still struggling with just basic services. about 80% of homes and businesses are without power. 29% don't have drinking water. tens of thousands of puerto ricans have left the island. a lot of them going to florida. the governor's office there says more than 60,000 people have arrived in the sunshine state just in the past two weeks. nbc's gabe gutierrez is on the ground in puerto rico. and i'm wondering if you're getting any reaction yet to the fact that the president called the federal storm response a ten, gabe? >> reporter: hi there, chris, good afternoon. well, the president has been saying for a while since his visit here that he was very proud of the federal response. and certainly there would be several people on the ground that we've spoken with that agree with him that think there has been a fema and first responder presence here in some parts of the island. but, chris, in many remote parts of puerto rico they still have not seen any federal response. fema just hasn't been able to make it to some of these areas. and even in san juan we spoke
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with a business owner this morning who runs a bed and breakfast that says the main problem right now is the power. as you mentioned, about 80% of this island is still without power. and, chris, just think of how krn credible that is. four weeks after the storm the economic engine of puerto rico, the tourism industry, is at a virtual standstill. many hotels have closed, those that are open are running on backup generators. we had another hotel we were staying at that had one of its backup generators fail. so it's not taking any new reservations. now, yesterday i was able to tour one of the power plants, the aging power plants outside of san juan, and that is where two massive turbines have arrived. ge built from the united states and they're being installed by epr energy, that's a florida based company. and the governor says they will bring power to much of san juan within the next two weeks. governor ricardo rosello also saying that he plans to have power restored to the entire
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island or to most of the island, 95% of it by mid-december. but many residents here are very skeptical that that will happen. again, president trump today rating the federal response a ten. certainly not many people here in puerto rico -- not -- some people here in puerto rico do not agree with that assessment, back to you. >> thank you, gabe. secretary mattis speaking about niger. let's take a listen. >> -- have our troops killed whether it be in training accidents or combat, i don't care if it's in a car accident in d.o.d. we investigate the circumstances surrounding to see how we can address the very questions you brought up, what can we do in the future. at the same time war is war and these terrorists are conducting war on innocent people of all religions. they're conducting on more innocent people that have no way to defend themselves. and i will just tell you that in
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this civic case contact was considered unlikely. but there's a reason we have u.s. army soldiers there and not the peace corps, because we carry guns. and so it's a reality. it's part of a danger that our troops face in these counterterrorist campaigns. but remember we do these kinds of missions by, with and through allies. it is often dangerous. we recognize that. we have been unapologetic about standing by our allies and certainly the french with 4,000 troops have been engaged down there for years and have lost many, many more troops. this is an example of how seriously we take this mission that we put our troops in that position. and any time we commit our troops anywhere, it's based on answering a simple first question and that is the well being of the american people sufficiently enhanced by putting our troops there that we put our troops in position to die. that is the number one question
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when i make the recommendation to the president. one point i would make having seen some of the news reports, the u.s. military does not leave its troops behind. and i would just ask that you not question the actions of the troops that were caught in the fire fight and question whether or not they did everything they could in order to bring everyone out at once. and i would also ask you don't confuse your need for accurate information with our ability to provide it immediately in a situation like this. the french response included fighter aircraft -- armed fighter aircraft, armed helicopter gunships, medevac helo that lifted out our wounded. we did have a contract aircraft that lifted out our killed in action and staff sergeant -- excuse me, sergeant johnson's body was found later by local nationals and said something
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they would then endeavor to get the body back to us, which shows the relationship we have in this area. but a full investigation is under way. this sort of investigation we always conduct and will certainly update you as we have information -- accurate information, not speculation. and i just close by saying we need to stand together united in this country when these heart wrenching times. thank you. >> is it possible that. [ inaudible ] isis affiliated. is the department changing its footprint in africa or adding additional protections? and more broadly, you yourself [ inaudible ] in the last year or so been brought into this larger fray. does that anger you to see that
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[ inaudible ] >> as far as the stance we take, the tactical efforts we take and the force detection efforts and the capabilities, i don't telegraph that. i don't want to tell the enemy what we're doing. so i prefer not to answer that. and we honor our fallen in america. and that's all the more i'll say about the gold star thing. thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen. >> and that's the defense secretary james mattis answering some of the tough questions that are still lingering out there. what exactly happened in niger that led to the death of four americans? what are we exactly know about what went wrong with that mission? and about the recovery operation. joining me from the pentagon correspondent hans nichols from washington. you heard the top of that, we did not, did we learn something new there? >> well, i think we learned the extent of the full investigation is taking place and the fact the secretary of defense is fully behind that and they want to gather all the facts and then have findings and then make recommendations. we also learned a little bit
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more about the evacuations. secretary mattis saying that the french helicopters, these are the super pumas, that they were the ones that picked up the american troops, the wounded. but it was the american military contractor that then picked up the dead. that conflicts slightly with the timeline that we had heard up to this point. we thought that all the americans were evacuated at the same time. this seems to indicate that there was two different evacuations of americans. and of course secretary mattis confirming that it was nigerian nationals who found la david johnson. he was the fourth who was killed found 48 hours after, chris. >> yeah, we also heard him and you know him better than i do he sounded perhaps a little bit emotional and he said we do not leave our troops behind. >> you know, one thing that really invigorates secretary mattis is talking to young troops, sailors, airmen, marines, he takes that part of his job very seriously. frankly, he would rather be talking to those troops and talking to the press as he just did there. i think you feel that throughout his public engagements.
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and he seemed as i think you suggest and picked up on, he did seem to betray a little bit of emotion there, chris. >> in the meantime, carol lee, we're about to go to a briefing maybe 20 minutes from now if it's on time and these questions are going to be asked of sarah sanders who's not had frankly many answers. and he says we don't right now have the accurate information. how much pressure is on the white house right now from people you're talking to, how much pushback is there about the questions in the first place? >> we've seen growing pressure on capitol hill especially from lawmakers who feel like they haven't gotten enough information, that there hasn't been enough dwrooutreach from t white house. we saw the national security advis adviser h.r. mcmaster reaching out from the hill, we've now heard from secretary mattis. they seem to be getting it a little bit they need to engage more on this. but it's not clear that they have the answers that are going
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to be satisfactory, at least at this point in time for a lot of these lawmakers who are saying that they feel like there's just not been enough communication about what happened here. >> well, and there's also the question of communication, hans, and i know you have talked about this and others on our air have talked about this, but it came as a surprise to a lot of americans not just that there was a dangerous situation for u.s. troops in niger, but then later as we learned just how remote the location is where they were, how difficult it is and situations like that when things go very wrong that they can get the kind of support that they need. it struck me that the secretary said the question that they ask before they ever go into a situation like that is the well being of the american people served here. and what's the answer that they have been giving back? >> well, throughout the pentagon you hear that this is a reminder that there are a lot of dangerous parts of the world with some unsavory actors that wish evil upon the united states. and so the fact that we really only focus on these regions when
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something bad happens, they throw that back at us and say, look, we were there constantly. you know, six months ago i was with secretary mattis, we were in jabuti, they have a big task force in somalia, all through africa, in the chad basin they have about 1,000 u.s. troops. a lot of those forces at least in niger are building a drone base. what do you need the drones for? you need for surveillance, you need to follow folks all the way from central africa up to the northern coast where they could potentially go into europe and cause even bigger problems. so the term they use for that is watching these rat lines. sometimes it's people that are being smuggled, sometimes it's goods that are being smuggled. sometimes it's used by either al qaeda or isis affiliated groups. they've got a lot of eyes and ears over these places. and this has to do with what we call here isr, which is basically surveillance, drones, they're constantly watching this trying to disrupt this flow of goods and people.
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and sometimes as they work with their partner forces as mattis said they weren't expecting contact. i think his term was contact was deemed unlikely. chris, that's what we keep hearing about this specific mission. they thought it was a quiet environment, they were not expecting contact with the enemy. they had done 29 such patrols in the last six months. this one they had contact, they weren't prepared. they were ambushed and now comes the after action review trying to figure out what went wrong but more importantly how to prevent future incidents like this from happening, chris. >> hans, thanks to you. carol lee, you're going to stay with us. if anyone can get the democrats back in the game, some people might argue it's this man. former president obama returning to the trail today not once but twice. where he'll be and who and what he's stumping for, next.
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about 20 minutes from now barack obama will break his political silence. nine months after leaving office, he's set to make a return to the campaign trail to help two democratic candidates for governor. next hour, obama will take the stage in new jersey with candidate phil murphy. and then tonight he'll help ralph rally voters in the battleground state of virginia where the race is incredibly
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close. earlier today my colleague hallie jackson spoke about the role he hopes obama will play in his election. >> we've got less than 20 days left until the election, and our job between now and november 7th is really to energize our voters to make sure they're enthusiastic and they get to the polls on november 7th. and barack obama coming into virginia tonight is just very exciting. and he's going to energize our voters and just kind of close that loop for us. >> nbc's ron allen is live in newark where the phil murphy rally will be. what's happening there? looks like a big crowd. >> reporter: it's a huge crowd, chris. and it feels a little bit like 2008 or 2012. a lot of nostalgia here, a lot of people lining up very early to hear president obama. he's coming to new jersey because this is a place he's won, he has a strong base here in newark and people are excited to see him. the race here is not that close according to the polls phil murphy is some 15, 16 points ahead, but like in virginia they
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want to be sure the vote gets out and leave nothing for granted. so let me introduce you to a couple people who are here, phil and burnadette pettitte. i feel like i've been here before, do you? why did you want to come today? >> because i feel that we reall government as much as we can. we need to make a change. the government, the whole country is more divided that it's ever been. >> reporter: do you think mr. obama should be out more? >> i can't find words. we're ready to elect the next governor. >> reporter: i've heard that before -- >> i'm sorry? yes. donald trump is tearing this country apart. we need change and it's going to start with the next governor. i think the whole country's looking to see what new jersey does. >> reporter: thank you. sorry to interrupt you. back to you. speakers are going.
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president obama is here about 11:30 or so. this is a warm-up for 2018, midterms and to see how directly he takes on president trump. he tends not to. he said that he wants to give him space, but, of course, we know president trump is dismantling the very essence of everything, just about everything president obama tried to break while in office and word is he's not very happy about it. big issues, health care, immigration. i'm sure he'll get into the issues somewhat. we'll see how directly he takes on president trump. the folks here certainly want him to. >> the big question in newark. thank you for that. director of the uva center for politics and author of "the kennedy house century" and covered obama during and after his term as president. and races in virginia in particular looked at as a referendum on trump policies. what are your sayses telling you
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to the point ron was just making? will obama, whose legacy is threatened at every turn by trump policies be at aggressive today as we heard him be when stumpi ining for hillary clinto? >> reporter: not exactly, chris. you'll see a much lighter touch from the president, president obama today. i spoke with someone who has seen his speech and said not to expect a big anti-trump speech. there might be some illusions in there to draw conclusions leerchszi i talking about trump a broader sense but not necessarily calling him out by name and really going after him like we saw in the 2016 campaign. you know, the president, according to this person, is expected to kind of outline how he sees this choice, and, in november, and draw a bit of a contrast between democrats and republicans, and i think that's where you'll see some of these differences come up. whether he's talking about health care, or immigration
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reform, or other issues such as tax reform. but broadly speaking, it's not necessarily going to be a big anti-trump speech. it's more, here's how he sees things and why you need to get out there and vote. >> and then goes to virginia after new jersey. polls, larry, a little contradictory, you could say. the latest have. up in two, northam and gillespie up in one. what's your sense of what's happening on the ground? >> reporter: i think northam is the front run aernd assuming democrats can get out their vote and why obama is coming and the vote includes minorities and millennials two groups that don't vote often and in similar races. >> that's what he brings to the table? when you look at the history of barack obama, during his time in office, 12 governors lost their seats, but if he can energize the groups you talk about it could make the difference in this race? >> reporter: absolutely it could.
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you're right to point out during his two terms as president, he wasn't very good at transferring popularity. he was great in winning himself but actually, his party lost an enormous number of other positions. but it's different now. people are going to compare him, haven't seen him a while. compare him with trump, and i think that could make the difference in a state like virginia that voted for obama twice and voted for hillary clinton last year. >> sort of an interesting thing. the whole contrast, carol, because you hear even republicans who are not big fans of barack obama talking longingly about, for example, some of his oratorical skills and even have nancy pelosi seemingly only half joking in l.a. last night saying she kind of wishes mitt romney was president. is this the start of something nor president obama? i think we can safely predict he'll get a raucous response in both of these places? will we see him a lot more
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coming into 2018? >> reporter: well, the people i've talked to have said, not so much. that he wants to be helpful where he can, and obviously, he's hugely still popular among democrats. he's very much considered still the leader of the party. a huge draw. can turn out votes, although larry makes a really good point. he is not always transferred -- had very bad track record transferring his own popularity on to other candidates. so that's been the history there in terms of him campaigning, but people close to him say that he's not looking to get deeply involved in this way. he wants to be helpful where he can but doesn't want to overshadow the next generation of democrat democrats. that he and other party leaders hope who comes up behind barack obama and joe biden and others, and nancy pelosi. so someone said to me, he's acutely aware of the fact when he's out there he soaks um all the political oxygen and doesn't
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allow the other younger folk, democrats, to basically get a lot of exposure. >> carol lee, always good to talk to you. larry, thank you, my friend. appreciate it. >> sure. a check of the white house briefing room. everybody's getting settled in. sarah huckabee will take questioned scheduled top of the hour. we'll have it for you right here on msnbc's. business is in my blood. i'm the daughter of two entrepreneurs and had a front row seat to excitement and demands of owning a company. as a business owner myself i know the chamgs are ever-changing. on "your business" we'll learn from decision-makers whose experience can help your company grow and prosper. weekend mornings at 7:30 on msnbc or connect with us anytime on all your devices. hate to play devil's advocate but... i kind of feel like it's a game changer. i wouldn't go that far. are you there? he's probably on mute. yeah... gary won't like it. why? because he's gary.
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and that's going to wrap things up for this hour. i'm chris jansing.
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ali velshi picks things up now. >> good afternoon everybody. i'm ali velshi. all eyes on the white house awaiting white house press secretary sarah huckabee sanders to start today's briefing. the big questions likely about the latest details on the u.s. soldiers killed in niger and this eye-opening exchange between president trump and puerto rico governor ricardo row say rocello. pleading for equal treatment for all the ravaged u.s. territories including puerto rico and the u.s. virgin islands. >> with your commitment, and team support, mr. president, we will be able to come out of this together in the long haul together with puerto rico, give the citizens of puerto rico the adequate resources same as citizens in florida, texas and elsewhere and come out of this stronger. >> and a request, lisn t

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