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tv   The 11th Hour With Brian Williams  MSNBC  October 19, 2017 11:00pm-12:00am PDT

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that to me, lawrence, is the most -- john kelly wants to be shocked about something, be shocked about that. >> with that ron klain gets tonight's last word. thank you, ron. >> thank you, lawrence. >> "the 11th hour" with brian williams starts now. most inexplicable -- if john kelly wants to be shocked about something, be shocked about that. >> and with the last word. the 11th hour with brian williams starts now. tonight a gold star father who happens to be the white house chief of staff tells his own personal story about the death of his son in an effort to contain a political crisis entirely of the president's making. plus bush and obama 43 and 44 take the stage at different events and both men take on trump without saying his name. and for his part, our 45th president today unleashed against obama, hillary clinton and his own fbi. the subject was russia. the 11th hour gets under way
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now. well, good evening once again from our nbc news headquarters here in new york. this was day 273 of the trump administration. and on this one day the president's chief of staff, retired marine four star general john kelly did something he an horse. he talked publicly about his dead son as a gold star father. and so did a service to donald trump. also on this day former president george w. bush 43 did something he an horse. he criticized a sitting president, not by name, mind you, but the association was crystal clear. this is now the fourth day in a row that we have spoken on this broadcast about the most sacred of presidential tasks, communicating with gold star families after the death of a member of our armed forces. it was a sacred topic and should be and will again, but it's been publicly cheap end to an obscene degree these past few days because of the president's own comparison initially to his
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predecessors and now he is alleged to have spoken with a military widow. more on that in a moment. that's what brought general kelly into the briefing room today, a man who looked like he'd rather be a hundred other places. he went there to talk about something intensely private to him, the death of his son, first lieutenant robert michael kelly. died in 2010 in afghanistan after stepping on a land mine. he was 29 years old. kelly said he wants americans to know what it means to be a gold star parent, and he started in a dark and clinical place. he started by talking about what happens when a member of the military is killed. >> their bud i didn't see wrap them up in whatever passes as a shroud. puts them on a helicopter as a routine and sends him home. their first stop along the way is when they're packed in ice.
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typically at the air head and then they're flown to usually europe where they're then packed in ice again and flown to dover air force base. where dover takes care of the remains, elm baums them me particular houseel dresses them in their uniform with the meddle z that they've earned, the emblems of their service and then puts them on another airplane linked up with the casualty officer escort that takes them home. >> the general continued, again hoping to put an end to political conversations involving gold star families. their conversations the president started earlier this week. he was asked tuesday why he hadn't heard from -- we hadn't heard from him yet about these four u.s. soldiers killed in niger in africa, and he answered by questioning whether or not his predecessors called the families of the men and women killed in action during their
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time. today kelly continued to talk about his son. he tried to protect something our nation has always held sacred. the sacrifice made on the battlefield. >> if you elect to call a family like this, it is about the most difficult thing you could imagine. there's no perfect way to make that phone call. when i took this job and talked to president trump about how to do it, my first recommendation was he not do it because it's not the phone call that parents, family members are looking forward to. it's nice to do in my opinion, in any event. he asked me about previous presidents, and i said i can tell you that barak obama, who was my commander in chief when i was on active duty, did not call my family. that was not a criticism. that was just to simply say i don't believe president obama called. that's not a negative thing.
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let me tell you what my best friend joe dunce ford told me because he was my casualty officer, he said kel, he was doing exactly what he wanted to do when he was killed. he knew what he was getting into by joining that 1%. he knew what the possibilities were because we're at war. and when he died in the four cases we're talking about, niger, my son's case in afghanistan, when he died he was surrounded by the best men on this earth, his friends. that's what the president tried to say to four families the other day. i was stunned when i came to work yesterday morning and brokenhearted at what i saw a member of congress doing. a member of congress who
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listened in on a phone call from the president of the united states to a young wife and in his way tried to express that opinion that he's a brave man, a fallen hero. it stuns me that a member of congress would have listened in on that conversation. absolutely stuns me. and i thought at least that was sacred. the only thing i could do to collect my thoughts was to go ask walk among the finest men and women on this earth, and you can always find them because they're in arlington national cemetery. i went over there for an hour and a half, walked among the stones, some of whom i put there because they were doing what i told them to do when they were killed. and i appealed to america that let's not let this maybe last thing that's held sacred in our society, a young man, young woman going out and giving his or her life for our country,
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let's try to somehow keep that sacred. >> our lead off panel tonight, robert costa, jeremy peters, and eugene robinson here with us in new york. eugene, i watched your coverage in the moment with nicolle wallace this afternoon, and i stillment to ask you, what was that that we witnessed? was that -- was that one event? was it five different concurrent events? >> it was a man coming out to speak in three different roles at the same time. he spoke as the white house chief of staff. he spoke as a four star general and he spoke as a grieving father. the vividness of his description of what happens when a member of the u.s. armed forces is killed
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in action with shipping the body home packed in ice, packed in ice, it's unforgettable, searing and deeply moving. you know, with the remove of a few hours which i guess these days is like a few months, right, because as long as we got to rum enate on the news cycle, i am struck by a couple of things that general kelly actually didn't say. he actually didn't say, for example, that any of the reports of what the president trump said in that conversation were wrong. he seemed to indicate they were right. and second, he didn't indicate that he really had much of an understanding of why congresswoman frederica wilson was there at the time of the phone call. she had known this family for decades. she was principal of the school where la david johnson's father attended. he was in amen torg program that
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she ran. she was a very close friend of the family, which had called on her in a time of grief, and she was there to be supportive. as was the woman who had raised la david johnson, sergeant johnson as his mother, raised him like a son. they were there. the phone call, as i understand, was on speaker, which sounded appropriate if the president of the united states called. it's an occasion. it's a moment. and they were appalled at what they heard. now, rightly or wrongly, they were. and it wasn't intended to deepen mrs. johnson's grief, the widow, but clearly it did. and he didn't -- general kelly didn't seem to quite understand that entire story. >> by the way, mrs. johnson, we should repotty, 24 years old, now the mother of two little children. three months away from having their third child. robert costa, i want to put something up on the screen.
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the president has been back on twitter in just the last few minutes. the fake news is going crazy with whaek congresswoman wilson, who was secretly on a very personal call and gave a total lie on content. robert, it was speculated today that part of general kelly's message was aimed through the door back around the hall, turn left to the oval office, but clearly from this it was not the end of the topic. >> that's right, brian. i think gene said it well in the sense that general kelly did not contest the actual exchange between the president and the family that was heard by the congresswoman. he railed against in a broadway the plit iization of these kind of experiences and interactions, and that was the critique that general kelly made rather than something about the content of
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that conversation. >> jeremy, does anything change as a result of today? >> i think, brian, general kelly did -- made the best of a really unfortunate situation in that he left americans with this indelible image of what happens when an american makes the ultimate sacrifice, and in that sense tried to remove this from politics. i think that where this gets more complicated for the general and for the president is that he inevitably had to bring it back to politics by defending a president who turned this into the blow up that it became, by attacking the congresswoman, by saying that he had proof that she was lying about the conversation. general kelly found himself in the position that so many of donald trump's aides have found themselves in the past, and that is defending the indefensible.
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and unfortunately, it mired what would have otherwise been a solemn, sober occasion in politics. >> we mentioned this at the top. i wanted to share some of this with our audience tonight. we heard from two former presidents today who used strong words to speak out against division and anger in our politics. president obama campaigned for the first time since leaving the white house for democratic candidates for governor today in new jersey and then tonight in virginia. >> at a time when our politics just seem so divided and so angry and so nasty, whether we can recapture that spirit, whether we support and embrace somebody who wants to bring people together. yes, we can. you know i've been commenting a
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lot on politics lately, but here is one thing i know. if you have to win a campaign by dividing people, you're not going to be able to govern them. >> president bush spoke out forcefully in new york. his spokesman says donald trump was not the intended target, but a source close to bush acknowledged to our colleague in his own communications, director nicolle wallace, he was aware of how his remarks would be received, and in the current political climate and confirmed that the president drafted the speak himself with the assistance of a couple of trusted aides. . >> bigotry seems emboldened, our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and out right fabrication. 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. we've seen nationalism distorted
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into nativism. forgotten the dine michl that immigration has always brought to america. bullying and prejudice in our public life sets a national tone, provides permission for cruelty and bigotry and compromises the moral education of children. the only way to pass along civic values is to first live up to them. >> eugene, talk about the power of our former presidents, most exclusive club in the world. >> it really is. what an extraordinary day when you hear barak obama, a liberal democrat and george w. bush, a conservative republican speaking as one. >> yes. just -- >> two parts of the same speech. that really tells us all, i think, what a departure the trump administration and trumpism at large really is from the american tradition, at least from recent american political tradition going back many
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decades. this is unlike anything we've seen. this is unlike the normal back and forth between republican and democratic administrations, between liberal and conservative policies. this is something new and something quite different. >> robert costa, our club of former presidents, as we always call it, the most exclusive in the world, there's no clubhouse certainly, but there have been de facto rules. and one of them is you let the new guy and so far they've all been guys get their administration started. you lay back no matter how fierce your differences. that's another way of saying it took a lot, it takes a lot for these men to speak the way they did today. >> is it does, brian. and we're also watching in real time the outage of the political establishment in this country that abides by those norms that we've seen in this country for decades, seeing them unravel in front of their eyes when it comes to foreign policy and domestic policy. not only by president trump but by the people around him, and
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that's why senator mccain and president george w. bush are coming out and speaking to vis really about these norms and what they believe are institutions and values that embodied america because steve bannon and president trump and that whole wing of the republican party are trying to tear it down. >> jeremy, you're the guy who gets to hit with the basis loaded. since it's baseball season, you get the tough one. to what end? >> to what end? i wish that i could say that this would be an awakening for republicans. there are a lot of republicans i hear saying that privately. but it's not happening. there is no floodgate that's opened, brian, from which republicans are all of a sudden saying, you know what? we are going to speak out against the conspiracy theory mong erg and the bigotry that we fear has taken over our party.
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so until they realize, these republicans, that there is no more political power to be derived from not speaking out against that, they won't do it. and you will be left with people like george w. bush, john mccain and a handful of others like bob corker, who is retiring, you know, people who are no longer in politics, no longer standing for re-election, to be the moral voice within the party. >> that was a really depressing answer, but so well told. and i thank you. thank you and sorry about the tone of the questions tonight, gang. our thanks to robert costa, jeremy peters, eugene robinson for being our lead off panel on this busy day in politics. still ahead after we fit in our first break, we'll look into the investigation as to why u.s. forces are on the ground in niger. up next, two heavily decorated combat vet answer of the vietnam war. retired four star army general
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barry mccaffrey and jack jacobs on what happened today in that white house briefing room when the 11th hour continues. i love you, basement guest bathroom. your privacy makes you my number 1 place to go number 2. i love you, but sometimes you stink. febreze air effects doesn't just mask, it cleans away odors. because the things you love the most can stink. and try febreze small spaces to clean away odors for up to 30 days. breathe happy with febreze.
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alright, looks like we've got chips, ppretzels!retzels? plain, sourdough, spicy, sesame, chocolate covered, peanut butter filled, plain. great. so what are we gonna watch? oh! show me fall tv. only xfinity x1 brings you the best hand selected picks this fall. we're back and about that appearance today in the briefing room, politico describes it this way, quote, kelly long ret sent of talking about his son's 2010 death was not thrilled that trump made his personal devastation a political football, said several people who know him. but his boss was in a jam and he decided to come into the briefing room after telling others trump was being treated unfairly and that he hated seeing dead soldiers become a
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political guj el. here with us to talk about this tonight retired four star u.s. army general barry mccaffrey. wounded multiple times in vietnam. heavily decorated for his combat actions. he went on to be a battlefield commander in the pergs gulf. and jack jacobs, one of only 72 living recipients of the medal of honor for his combat action in vietnamment both gentlemen msnbc military analysts. jack, we'll start with you. you know general kelly. what did you make of today? >> i think he did as you reported, something he didn't want to do. i would have been happier had he not brought up the subject of ms. wilson and then it would have been an absolutely clean delivery. >> the president has doubled down on the congresswoman. >> that's what happens when you make add home nem arguments that doesn't take it off the table
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and recycles it and makes it much more difficult to get rid of. >> was a good representative for your beloved armed services. >> yeah. he said a couple of really interesting things and they revolve around the wide gulf that exists between the people who are serching and the people who are being served. he asked whether or not anybody knew a gold star family. >> yeah. >> we'll go deeper than that. i think the statistics prove that most americans do not know anybody in uniform. i think that's a dangerous thing, and i was glad that general kelly brought it up. >> you used to say to me you could go door to door and go to 250 houses in this modern era before you found a family on average in this united states connected to the military. >> i grew up in a neighborhood in new york city where every household made a contribution to defending the republic. you can't find that these days. >> general mccaffrey, same question to you, sir. >> let me just start by saying i think john kelly is one of the
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finest leaders and people i've ever met in my life. and i think -- i agree with jack. i'm sorry he brought the congresswoman into it, but look, i just went to the dedication of a memorial at fort beening, georgia, the museum to the nearly 7,000 killed in action fighting the global war on terror. 60,000 killed and bund wounded. a,000 women killed and wounded. this has been an ongoing, pretty intense combat action for a small number of people, as jack points out. some of them are 10, 15 deploy wants. i think this entire notification process, the letters from the secretary of defense, whether handwritten or hand signed or auto signed has gotten turned into a political zbras disgrace. i'd rather see the sergeant major of the army or marine corps welcome these fallen angels home to dover. the president shouldn't be
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calling these people, for gods sakes. so president trump is an inartful guy. you know, he's not good at this sort of thing. i think he called out of a sense of obligation, tried to do the right thing. it didn't come off the right way. they ought to stay out of it and let the armed forces take care of our people. >> do you feel that, that the president should avoid these phone calls with all presidents or just this president? >> all of them. i mean, again, 7,000 killed in action, vietnam 59,000 killed in action, world war ii, 440,000 killed in action. of course we don't need the chief of state to call each individual family. you know, my brother-in-law was killed in action. jack and i, dozens of people who were important to us that were killed in action fighting in one of these wars. my students out of west point in the ongoing war. i think this has turned into a political charade. the cameras, who looked appropriately pie i don't say at
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the event. and by the way, these families are devastated, are vulnerable. fort beening, we had a gold star brother and a gold star mother talk, and it was really very difficult to listen to the sense of loss. but they're bu wid up when they lose these tremendous young men and women by the love and support of the armed forces and their family. that's what's important, not a political one ups man ship going on at dover and then in other events. the president ought to have an annual breakfast. he ought to write letters, clearly, but we've got to get the politics out of this process. it's disgraceful. >> jack, was today about the chain of command? >> well, i think it was. i mean, he is the chief of staff and he is representing the president of the united states at a time the president of the united states probably shouldn't be talking about any of this. so it is about the chain of command. but at the end of the day, i think what really came through general kelly's remarks is a
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verification of something i can't remember who said it, said that the united states isn't at war. these young people who are in uniform are at war. and we shouldn't forget it. >> general, i'll let you speak for members of your own family in military service, but were you surprised to hear general kelly say that his son was on a fifth deployment, usually unusual when the son or daughter of a notable person stateside is serving, it's usually kept fairly quiet. >> i think he's angry. you know, i think he's fed up with a lot of things that are happening and having -- you know, he's very protective of the armed forces, starting with his own son, of course. but this is a very sensitive issue to every not just to the families who have lost their loved ones, but everybody in the armed forces. you know, they're still engaged. there's no healing that goes on.
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people just finally get it in context. i think john kelly was angry. he didn't like the way the thing was being played out. i'm sure that, you know, the president's words were inadequate or triggered some reaction, but this shouldn't turn into a long discourse about, you know, who said what to whom. we ought to stay out of this thing, for god's sakes and let the military bring them home and turn them over to their family. >> you know, if we had 20 million people in uniform, it might be different. it might be able to argue persuasively otherwise, but we've outsourced the defense of the republic to a very small number of men and women who are willing to do that. and i think he's right. just stay out of it. >> powerful words from two friends of ours. thank you both. another break for us. coming up, what are u.s. military forces doing in niger, in africa? what's the mission? will it now change at all after
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losing four of our very best there? what we're learning about all of it when the 11th hour continues. sensing your every move and automatically adjusting to help you stay effortlessly comfortable. there. i can also help with this. does your bed do that? oh. i don't actually talk. though i'm smart enough to. i'm the new sleep number 360 smart bed. let's meet at a sleep number store.
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senator, on the niger mission, what does the committee need to know in terms of details. >> everything. everything. >> be more specific. >> everything. >> what steps will you take, senator, to get to the bottom of this. >> subpoena, but i did have a good conversation with general mcmaster and they said that they
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would be briefing us. we have a long friendship, and we'll hopefully get all the details. >> do you think the administration has been forthcoming up to this point about what happened there? >> of course not. >> in plain english that's a former pow in the middle of key mow and it doesn't seem like he has a lot of time for delays. senator john mccain is not satisfied with the white house explanation about what led to the deaths of four u.s. service members in niger on october 4th. sergeant la david johnson's body was not recovered until two days later, and now two weeks later it's still unclear how the events unfolded, exactly who was involved. in a rare public statement today defense secretary james mattis cautioned the pentagon isn't intentionally withholding anything. >> we and the department of defense like to know what we're talking about before we talk, and so we do not have all the accurate information yet. we will release it as rapidly as we get it. >> let's talk about this tonight
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with an expert who we should caution you was not shooting a commercial for scotch tonight of the he was at a uso benefit in washington. as executive editor of defense one and of course an msnbc national security analyst. kevin, what's the mission in niger as you understand it? >> well, the mission in nieier is similar to the same mission in dozens of countries around the world. it's security force assistance. it's simply americans training local forces, local militaries to be better. it's something that goes on so much in so many places that most americans don't have a clue or they take it for granted perhaps that they don't need to know. and niger was one of these places where small groups of americans with local forces you happen all the time and so an ambush like this is really something out of the ordinary. >> well, name some of the other
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nigers around the world, he is special r for those of us who don't have a parent, a son or a daughter in the fight but those of us who are concerned about americans who do. >> indonesia and malaysia, thailand, mali throughout the middle east. most americans might know the example of what went on in iraq and afghanistan and what still goes on there. the idea of not having to send thousands of americans to fight and instead using special operations forces and conventional forces mixed in to do this job. it's really the traditional job of green berets from vietnam. that's most people have any reference historically to go train local fosz to do the fighting for themselves. >> there's another prong here and that is private contractors. we have seen their role in the carrying out of our wars rise over the years. and i want to hear you out on this because civilians who haven't dialed into this topic
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may have been surprised to hear secretary mattis today talk about contract air carrier to get evacuees out of there. that was the deal. french had hee lows and we had a contractor with an aircraft. isn't this a coming fight about contracting out more and more of our military tasks to private contractors? >> well, i don't know if it's a coming fight but it's definitely a moment to pause and ask that question again and examine. for the reason the u.s. military and the united states government uses contractors is because that way they don't have to use as many forces. contractors are specialized. most of them are veteran troops themselves. if they're not military, they're intelligence, cia. a lot of these operations are mixed and contractors are working side by side. most people think a little differently than measures naers which may have a negative tone. these are usually, you know -- they're basically troops just out of uniform who fight with the same or they serve with the
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same sort of sense of duty and mission and purpose and regulation alongside american forces in the military and in the intelligence community. so that's no surprise to those of us who know these operations. >> because of that dome behind you, because you're in washington, this has already been politicized and we are hearing people in the media. we have for the last couple of days, say that what happened in niger when we know everything after the investigation is going to, quote, turn out to be another benghazi. your opinion on that? >> yeah. i really cringe at another benghazi. i mean, we don't have time to talk about how apples and oranges these are. this wasn't, again, the ambassador going into a hospital situation, maybe un-- these are troops that are there specifically to do jobs that they know are risky. even if it's supposed to be a benign thing as training with local forces. they are in areas that are contested and there's a risk.
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i'm stunned at how much this has become a political football especially sergeant johnson himself. >> our thoughts, of course, belong with these four souls. kevin, you've explained it so well for us. thank you so much for coming in to talk to us. we appreciate it. coming this evening, the president back on twitter. back on the attack earlier today on all things russia. that and nor when the 11th hour continues on a thursday night.
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big subject. the mainstream media would cover the uranium scandal and that russia has 20% of our you're rain yum for whatever reason and a lot of people understand what those reasons may be, i think that's your russia story. that's your real russia story. not a story where they talk about collusion and there was
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none. it was a hoax. >> president trump today in the oval office, by the way, seated next to the governor of puerto rico picking up on this thread he started this morning on twitter. uranium deal with russia with clinton help and obama administration knowledge is biggest story that fake media doesn't want to follow. workers with the discredited and fake dossier take the fifth. who paid for it? russia? the fbi or the denim or all? then quoting fox and friends, russia sent millions to clinton family. for more, please help us. i'm joined by anita could you march. all right, anita, you get the tough job tonight. explain to our viewers why they're going to hear mr on this uranium scandal. that's the quote from the president, how it is we know anything about it and how big a deal this is. >> well, i have to say that he is wrong about one thing. we covered a lot about uranium during the campaign. this is a deal that took place
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during the obama administration when secretary chin was secretary of state and the administration approved of it. but what he has forgotten is that we wrote tons of stories about this when she was a candidate tore president. she is not president. so things -- they're not being covered as heavily anymore. but we are going to hear about it because chuck grassley, the dharm of the senate judiciary committee says he wants to look into this issue because the newspaper, the hill wrote about issues with that deal many years ago. they wrote about how they were all sorts of kick backs and bribery. there will be an investigation and people will be hearing more about it. >> anita, i'm not being flip here, but how is it he starts his day on this subject of uranium and russia? does his twitter use continue to mirror the programming in the morning on fox and friends? >> i think it does. i think he's obviously watching tv and he's tweeting. but i had swub tell me last week that's very close to the president that you always think that he's watching tv, but
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sometimes it's just that someone has walked into the room, obviously proebt not that early, but walked into the room of and reminded him of something. so it might have been something that happened weeks or months ago and somebody walks in and says remember that thing about hing months ago and he's off on a tangent on twitter again. >> do you think he realized that the fbi that came in for an allegation on twitter this morning is the very same fbi that's under his command now as president? >> i know. this reminds me what happened at the beginning of his administration when he kept talking about bad fegs and he was really demeaning to the intelligence community, that he was now in charge of. here we are. it's sort of easy to sort of dismiss these tweets by president obama because there's so many of them. but that truly that one today was extraordinary. these are the people that work for him that are protecting americans, protecting the country and it's so demoralizing to them to basically saying
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they're colluding, they're colluding with democrats to be against him. >> and anita, finally, his tweet tonight, i'm not communications director in the white house ask have no interest, but it sure seemed to us that the kelly event, no matter what you want to say about it, no matter what your take away was was intended to be the period at the end of the sentence. perhaps an taelt at the end of that topic and the president has now doubled down going against the florida woman secretly on a very personal call gave a total lie on content. >> right. it's really hard for him to have the period at the end of the sentence. we often think at the white house that this is it, this is their response and then we'll come back with another tweet the next day or -- we're all back to where we were for. >> our lightning round with our friend. thanks so much for coming on with us. another break coming up.
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we'll talk about this president on the solemn duty of comforting gold star families. that's when the 11th hour continues.
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we are so fortunate to be joined here tonight by our friend the celebrated author michael besh has who once again got our attention on his twitter feed this week by quoting lincoln's second inaugural address in the wake of our conversation about the role of commander in chief and those who lost their lives serving our countries and their families. to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow. michael, did you ever believe that this part of the job of president of the united states would become to politicized so toxic, as david axelrod called it and jack jacobs called it this week, so obscene and that we would see an event like that
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in the white house briefing room today. >> i never thought i would ever see anything like this because, you know, to use a word that was used today, it really has been sacred. some of the moments in presidential history that show us the most about the souls of our presidents have been when a president deals with those who have fallen. you know, for instance, brian, you and i knew lady bird johnson and she once wrote in other diary, i'm not sure if lynn done should really be commander in chief because he gets so torn up over the deaths of americans under his command and having to talk to the families. nixon was never known as mr. emotion, but they said the only time they ever really saw him crying was after he met with gold star families in the oval office. but one of my favorite stories is a couple days after pearl harbor, the beginning of world war ii, there was an army bomber pilot who died in action in the philippines. his name was colin kelly. and fdr had sort of a novel way
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of approaching this. he obviously wanted to console the family, and one of the ways he did this was he wrote a letter to, as he said, whoever is president of the united states in 1956, 15 years later. and he asked whoever that would be to nominate colin kelly's at that period one-year-old son to west point, give him an appointment to west point. and roosevelt released the letter and he said i'm making this request as an act of faith in the destiny of our country, essentially i'm saying i think there will be a united states and a west point in 1956. >> michael, are you looking for our former presidents and as we talk about all the time we are so fortunate to be alive at a time with so many presidents still alive, are you looking at them to do more of what we saw a bit of today? >> i guess they will. and here is another case, you know, brian, i think you and i
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never thought we'd live to see the day where just nine months into a presidency two living former presidents would feel so out lajd about a lot of the things that are happening at the time of president trump and as a result of president trump that both of them would break that rule. it's been sort of an iron clad rule for modern former presidents and without mentioning his name come out and speak against him as we saw president bush 43 and president obama today? for his fans and detractors, i was listening to general kelly today. crew up i think in the brie ton neighborhood in boston. he said all the men he knew growing up were veterans. and then he went on this things used to be sacred and on his list women used to be sacred,ologic used to be sacred. life he said used to be sacred and dpoeld star families. so my question to you, let's say we agree with all if not notify that list.
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how do we go about making things sacred again? >> well, i think maybe the place to begin is gold star families and the relationship between a president and the families of someone who has fallen because, you know, the most -- again, to use the word sacred thing that an american president do is send an american into harm's way and if that american dies as a result of a decision that the president makes, one of the most pornts things the president does is just as you were saying at the beginning of the segment, brian, as lincoln put it to comfort the widow and comfort the or fan. and i think one of the ways that we have to judge a prosecuted in real time is how well he does that. >> do you worry that just 1% of our population in society fights the wars for all of us? >> i sure do, for a lot of reasons. one is that if we make different decisions when we know that the people who have to fight these wars are such a small
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percentage. and the other thing is that the military tends -- i was so struck by what you and jack jacobs were talking about. >> yeah. >> one result of this is if you and i walk down let's say kt avenue in waushtd in the year let's just pick a year 1949, you know, we were after world war ii, you would have seen a lot of people in uniform walking down the street from every branch. you know, how often would you see that nowadays? >> that's a great point to end. michael besh has. michael, thank you as always. >> thank you, brian. >> a final break for us and coming up, the president gives himself a grade on his government's relief efforts thus far in puerto rico. that when we come back.
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last thing before we go tonight, it's been a month and a day since puerto rico was demolished by a hurricane. today the president hosted the governor of puerto rico, a man who represents the 3.5 million american citizens on the island. it was one of those oval office photo ops, and when asked, the president told the governor how great the federal response has been. >> mr. president, between one and ten how would you grade the
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white house response so far to the hurricane? >> i'd say it was a ten. we have provided so much so fast. helicopters that weren't even meant for this purpose all of a sudden they're delivering food and services. i would give a ten. >> the president could not talk today about the effort to reopen roads on puerto rico without pointing out some of them were in bad shape before the hurricane. the reality in puerto rico, of course, is something else entirely compared to the message we heard in the oval office. a doctor volunteering there said this week, quote, reality here is post apocalyptic of the today a business owner in the beautiful section of town in old san juan told nbc news it's a ghost town. it's dying little by little. some especially i am pofr i should towns on the island have yet to be reached by fema, the military, they have yet toe receive aid. many reporters who are able to reap these towns in their own vehicles are often greeted by people desperately running toward them asking are you fema.
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the work goes on tonight as it does in sapt john where they're still waiting for power to be restored there. four weeks and now two days since that storm. that is our broadcast on a thursday night of the thank you so very much for being here with us and tonight on "all in." >> if you look at president obama and other presidents, most of them didn't make calls -- >> the president hands off his political firestorm to the generals. >> my generals are going to keep us so safe. >> tonight, how the white house chief of staff tried to contain the president's controversy. and what we're learning about what happened in niger. >> do you think that you know enough about the deaths of the four soldiers in niger? >> of course not. >> then -- a then like that should have never been written. >> why the president is blaming the finn for the steel dossier. plus -- >> i'd say it was a 10. i give ourselves a 10. >> the scene in the oval office when puerto rico's governor

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