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tv   All In With Chris Hayes  MSNBC  October 20, 2017 12:00am-1:00am PDT

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toward them asking are you fema. 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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wouldn't echo the president's perfect self-assessment. >> did we do a great job? >> what it looked like when president obama returned to the campaign trail today. >> when "all in" starts right now. good evening from new york. i'm chris hayes. two weeks after four american soldiers died while serving in the west african nation of niger, a lot of questions remain about the circumstances of their deaths. in fact, it was a question to the president about why he had not yet talked to the public about those deaths that prompted him earlier this week to mischaracterize how his predecessors handled similar situations. >> we haven't heard anything from you so far about the soldiers who were killed in niger -- >> -- at some point during the before the called the parents and the families.
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the traditional way if you look at president obama and other presidents, most of them didn't make calls. a lot of them didn't make calls. >> those comments by the president kicked off an entire news cycle focussed who how he treats the families of fallen service members known as gold star families, compounded by reports close relatives of one of the soldiers killed in niger, sergeant la david johnson, felt the president had disrespected their fallen loved one. in the meantime we've learned few details about the the ambush that took place that took four american lives, including how it was that sergeant johnson ended up missing for almost two days before his body was recovered. today the chairman of the senate armed services committee, senator john mccain, threatened to subpoena the trump administration for answers. >> what does the committee need to know in terms of details -- >> everything. everything. >> can you be more specific? >> everything. >> what steps will you take to get to the bottom of this?
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>> it may require a subpoena. >> do you feel the administration's been forthcoming up to this point about what happened there? >> of course not. >> under fire for his conduct as commander in chief, today the president sent out three generals to run interference. national security adviser h.r. mcmaster, army general defense secretary mattis, retired marine general, john kelly, all hold some of the highest positions in this country's leadership. mcmaster said a probe will eventually provide answers, mattis seemed to down play the significance of the investigation. >> we investigate any time we 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 and see how we can address the very questions you brought up about what can we do in the future.
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at the same time, war is war. >> later in the white house press room, chief of staff john kelly, whose only son was killed in afghanistan, gave an emotionally wrought and at times aggressive defense of the president's conduct this week, including what the president said to the family of sergeant la david johnson. >> you know 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, and 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 a -- to four families the other day. >> that actually, we should note, confirms an account of the president's call of the johnson family given by congresswoman fredericka wilson, who was with the family listening on the speakerphone when the president called. the president, by contrast, had called wilson a liar tweeting, democrat congresswoman totally fabricated what i said to the wife of a soldier who died in account, and i have proof, sad.
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but despite backing up the basics of her account, kelly went on to attack the congresswoman, who first met sergeant johnson when he took part in a minute forring program she had founded. >> it stuns me that a member of congress would have listened in on that conversation. absolutely stuns me. let's not let this be the last thing that's held sacred in our society. a young man, young woman, going out and giving his or cher life for our country. let's try to somehow keep that sacred. it eroded a great deal yesterday by the selfish behavior of a member of congress. >> kelly made no mention of sergeant johnson's wife or his mother, who told "the washington post" president trump did disrespect my son and my daughter and also me and my husband." for the latest on what we know about what happened in niger, let's go to nbc pentagon correspondent hans nichols.
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hans, how much of a timeline of what exactly happened, where they were, and how they were killed have we been able to construct? >> chris, we've been piecing together bit by bit. we're doing this at the same time today there's a formal investigation that's taking place. what we know is that on the 4th around dusk you had eight to 12 u.s. forces, special forces, green berets, but also some drivers, some mechanics in there. they left their vehicles to go into a village. about eight of them went into this village what is we basically think. and that when they were coming out of that village, they may have been delayed in that village, coming out they were ambushed by a much larger force that was hiding in the brush there. rpgs they had, machine guns, small arms fire as well. they returned fire. now here's where things get a little fuzzy. about 30 minutes into it, we know that french mirages were overhead, that's a pretty fast time, 30 minutes in, they provide what's called close air support. they were armed. they didn't end up dropping their munitions. we don't know if they just flew over and scattered these islamic
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extremists that a tacking the americans. somewhere in the chaos of battle, the term you keep hearing in the pentagon is separated. la david johnson was separated from the other troops. the other forces there. there's an evacuation at first, some french helicopters come in, they evacuate the wounded. and then the dead -- remember, there are three american dead. they are evacuated by an american contractor. we don't know the timing of either the medevac, which usually they try to do that in the first hour, or the evacuation of the deceased as well. and then 48 hours later, the nigerian partner forces find la david johnson. she note immediately they realize he was missing, a massive, massive military operation, special op operators coming in from across the globe flying in there. it ended up being the nigerians finding johnson, not a special forces team from the states or somalia or elsewhere. that's where we're at now. that's as far as i know what i can report.
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>> hans nichols covering this for us, thanks for that report. senator jack reed is a democrat from rhode island and the ranking member of the senate armed services committee. senator, do you feel like you in your role as ranking member on that committee have a good sense of what actually happened in niger? >> no, i don't think there has been a good presentation by the department of defense or others with respect to what happened. i think that's a feeling that's shared by chairman john mccain also. and we are pursuing the issue and we will find what happened and what steps the department is taking to ensure or minimize the possibility of it happening again. >> secretary of defense jim mattis today seemed to sort of express some frustration that people weren't being patient, kind of we're going to look into it, we're investigating, hold your horses. the chair of your committee, john mccain, has expressed his frustration that d.o.d. has not
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been more forthcoming. do you share that? >> i do share that. we understand that this is a very complicated situation. all the facts and all the details. but i think they should be aware of much more than they've officially communicated to us. and we're going to ask for them very quickly and very soon to come here and tell us what they think happened and more importantly what they're doing to prevent a further occurrence. >> there's a broader question, there's 1,500 american troops in the sahel in that region of west africa, if i'm not mistaken. we have folks in training missions around the world where they may be exposed to coming under fire. do you feel like this administration has, a, a parens of strategy it's pursuing, and b, it's been communicated to the american people where american men and women are fighting and risking death around the world? >> i don't think so.
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i think part of that is a long-time interaction between our special forces, particularly green berets, and other militaries training them, et cetera. and what has happened is that now, because of the expansion of isis, particularly in different countries, there are threats that didn't exist even months ago. and the administration has to be aware of that, has to take steps, not only to protect our servicemen and women, but also to inform the american public where our forces are in general and what we're doing to protect them. >> you remember during some of the years of the insurgency in iraq and counter insurgency doctrine there was this fear of whack a mole, that you would blow up one cell, raid one house, and then people would scatter and you'd constantly be chasing them. and i wonder if you think that's a threat right now, as raqqah is liberated, as isis is on the run from the sort of territorial
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ground it had, if we see a scattering that ends up being even more difficult to combat. >> i think you're exactly right. i think what's going to happen is that isis will modify its behavior, they'll go back to a more guerilla force. they will try to strike wherever they have an opportunity to strike. and they will concentrate on very volatile situations where they get maximum publicity. and that's now going to be their mode of operation. and that opens up the possibility, as we've seen in niger, where what we consider to be a benign environment, training local forces, turns into something where we're the subject of a very well-coordinated attack by isis. >> the president has three generals, retired generals, serving in civilian -- very high civilian positions.
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and we've seen them today sort of speaking for the president on matters of military doctrine and protocol. do you worry at all that the principal civilian control is being eroded? >> what i would like to see is more individual civilians being confirmed for the department of defense, that is taking place. we just had a confirmation this week. but we have to do more. that will help the situation with respect to civilian control. my sense, though, is knowing all these individuals, general mattis, general kelly, general mcmaster, they're military officers but they have a firm dedication to the constitution. they understand there are limits. they respect those limits. but again, i think getting people in place would be very helpful. >> all right, senator jack reed, thank you for joining me. >> thank you. >> malcolm nance, national security analyst. former senior chief petty officer in the u.s. navy.
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congressman ted lieu, democrat, holds the rank of colonel in the air force reserves. congressman, do you have reaction to the chief of staff for the president saying essentially that a democratic colleague of yours had violated the kind of sacredness of the grief of gold star families? >> thank you, chris, for your question. let me first say that in addition to la david johnson, three other service members gave their lives. staff sergeant bryan black. salve sergeant jeremiah johnson. staff sergeant dustin wright. i don't know what the president did or didn't say to their families, but i think one of the best ways to honor their sacrifice is to have the trump administration explain what happened in niger, how can we make sure this doesn't happen again, and why do we have 800 u.s. troops in that country? and that's why i wrote a letter today to the chair of the house foreign affairs committee asking for a hearing.
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and personally, i don't have any problem if a member of congress wants to be with a gold star family when the president calls. >> malcolm, to the congressman's question, you know, john kelly said today, we're at war. and jim mattis said, war is war. i don't think anyone knew we were at war in niger. and the fact of the matter is, isis has now splintered -- isis groups or hqim have splintered in no, ma'am groups in so many places you can imagine a scenario where u.s. forces are actively fighting and being shot at in 60, 100 countries around the globe. >> i believe the number is 146 countries around the globe, we're carrying out military training missions or special operations assistance missions. what you're looking at in the sahel region, between the saharan desert and the transsahara is, is a training operation that's been going on for years called flint lock. the french have been carrying out combat operations as part of "operation burkani."
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what we've done is put assistance forces, special forces odas, a drone base in niger has been there for some time, a $100 million expansion of a base, and we have been assisting these nations to stop the formulation of al qaeda in the islamic maghreb and some of these fledgling groups that are splintering off from boko haram and isis coming out of libya. these missions have been going on for some time. what you've usually seen was attacks on hotels and terrorist attacks with u.s. forces generally responding with their sister forces in these local areas. what you've seen now is someone has gotten intelligence, saw our operations, ambushed us, and this is going to be the future. everybody's going to be emboldened to come find us now. >> congressman, are you confident about this administration's stewardship of the -- what is this now-sprawling global war on
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terror, it's not something they started, it's something they've inherited, but they've expanded in many cases. and they're talking about the possibility of military action in other theaters as well. >> not at all, chris. look, this administration can't even deliver safe drinking water to puerto rico, a territory we control and no one's shooting at us. so no, i don't have confidence. and keep in mind, senator john mccain said this administration is not being up front about what happened in niger. it's been over two weeks since those attacks. i find it disturbing that the president doesn't have all the information he needs to know what actually happened. >> what do you make of the president having what he calls "my generals" in the midst of what i have to say has been one of the most depressing and awful news cycles i can remember in a long time? >> it's awful principally because we're at the two-week point since this ambush happened. there was, as "washington post" was reporting, there was a letter of sympathy that was drafted up by the executive office within 24 hours that the
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white house would not put out. for someone -- i've been on the battlefield, as american senior nco, i've been out in that area where you've had to respond and get out and get your casualty assistance officers out in the field and back to the united states and repatriate remains. what i don't understand is why did they feel this incident, which they would have known about within five minutes of the information reaching central forces -- sorry, africa command or the local command out there through the critical communications structure that goes right to the president -- why did they feel that this was just nothing special? >> malcolm nance and congressman ted lieu, thank you both for joining me tonight. next, democrats begin ringing the alarm after politico breaks the news president trump is apparently taking the highly unusual step of personally interviewing u.s. attorney candidates that would have jurisdiction over trump tower. that story in two minutes. hi, i'm the internet!
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breaking news, in a radical depart tour from precedent, the president of the united states is personally interviewing two people for u.s. attorney jobs here in new york, including one who as politico points out would have jurisdiction over trump tower and be in a position to investigate the trump administration. that would be the same job once held by now-former prosecutor precede laura who said he was fired by the president after refusing to quit when donald trump ordered 46 u.s. prosecutors, holdovers from the obama administration, to immediately resign. at the time of his firing bharara was reportedly investigation donald trump's pick for the department of health and human services, tom price. bharara also said the president kept trying to cultivate a relationship with him. >> so he called me in december, ostensibly to shoot the breeze, asked me how i was doing, wanted to make sure i was okay. i didn't say anything at the time to him, it was a little bit uncomfortable. he was not the president, he was only the president-elect. he called me two days before the
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inauguration, seem leg to check in and shoot the breeze. he called me a third time after he became president and i refused to return the call. >> natasha bear trand who's written on the trump administration, matt miller, former justice department spokesperson, msnbc justice and security, joining me now. did barack obama personally interview candidates to be u.s. attorney? >> no, never. he never did in the time i was at the justice department and i checked before coming on tonight with my former colleagues who handled those appointments after i left. and they confirm that he never did. the president has a lot of things to do, he doesn't have time to interview 93 u.s. attorneys or at least most presidents don't. i think that's why it's notable that donald trump has chosen to interview these two u.s. attorneys in new york, over the summer interviewed the candidate for the u.s. attorney in columbia. those are the attorneys in new york who would have jurisdiction over wrongdoing that might have occurred at trump tower or his businesses there. the u.s. attorney for the
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district of columbia would have jurisdiction over anything that happens at the white house. why is it significant? bob mueller has the entire russia probe. anything that is russia related these u.s. attorneys wouldn't handle. but anything else that many companies up, any other crimes that donald trump might have committed in the past or that he might commit in office, these u.s. attorneys would have jurisdiction. the fact that he's taking a personal interest in who gets those jobs tells you he might be a little worried about that, which is unusual and somewhat surprising. >> there's also this history of bharara here. where natasha, he said he was going to keep him on. you know, the president can do whatever he wants with u.s. attorneys, fire them or keep them on. he said he was going to keep them on. and then he didn't. >> it was very abrupt. chuck schumer actually made a request to president donald trump, apparently, asking him to bharara could stay on apparently donald trump said yes. >> they met during the transition, they came out of trump tower, i'm staying on, it's all good.
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>> right. the day before he was fired, he received a phone call from donald trump. he did not answer it because he said it would have been inappropriate. then the next day he was abruptly fired by jeff sessions. >> along with everyone. so there's always been a lingering question whether the firing of all of the u.s. attorneys was essentially cover for wanting to get rid of bharara, hot the president had agreed was going to stay on. >> we've never gotten an answer to that. jeff sessions couldn't even remember if he was personally involved, which was very strange for something as high profile as this. look, there's this disturbing pattern from the president. the contacts with precede bharara that he outlined in that interview. these interviews with u.s. attorney candidates. the behavior of jim comey where he was asking for a loyalty pledge. he has privately asked the attorney general to drop a case and to sheriff joe arpaio. he's publicly called for the attorney general to investigate some things, not investigate others. there's supposed to be a wall between the justice department
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and the white house, especially with respect to investigations that involve the white house. and the president has shown repeatedly he wants to breach that wall. he wants the justice department to be subordinate to him, not independent. >> meanwhile, as the investigation continues, you have this sort of interesting effort that runs from fox news to members, republican members of congress, to the president, who dvrs "fox and friends" then tweets it, apparently, where they're attempting to sort of say, stop talking about all this russia stuff and the president, look over there at uranium purchase of the clinton foundation, which was broken by the new york times in 2015. look over there to who funded the alleged dossier. the president this morning even tweeting that maybe the fbi was behind paying for workers of firm involved with the discredited and fake dossier take the fifth, who paid for it, russia, the fbi, dems or all? >> this is a russian tactic, throw anything at the wall and see what sticks. so with regard to the dossier,
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he is kind of just saying it was was it the dems, was it the fbi, casting doubt on the entire legitimacy of the whole firm that produces the dossier, of christopher steel who wrote it. what he may be referring to is this report in the "washington post" that the fbi did apparently offer to pay christopher steele to continue his work. because the fbi was so alarmed by the things christopher steele was finding. they wanted him to continue it, to see what else he could dig up, they essentially wanted to make sure that nothing incredibly serious was happening. >> now this sort of aversion that's happening thanks to devin nunes, who is supposed to be recused from the house intelligence committee, chuck grassley in the senate, essentially trying to pursue a kind of counter conspiracy theory that this was all a setup by this gps firm. >> yeah, that's right. look, it's unfortunate that the president watches fox, mainlines "fox and friends" and their conspiracy theories go into his
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ears and out on his twitter feeds. you expect more from chuck grassley, who in his past life has been an aggressive overseer of democratic and republican administrations. both he and devin nunes have been aggressively trying to undermine the fbi investigation, undermine the dossier. instead of asking the fundamental question, are the allegations in this dossier true? they've repeatedly tried to go after the fbi and undermine the work they're doing. it's not really an appropriate exercise of congressional oversight. >> and there's a sort of counter -- it extends, if people are not watching conservative media, there are programs that are leading with stories about whether it's fusion or the clintons in russia. there's this very invested effort to build a counter story. >> it's very concerted. and i would also point out that this started really with devin nunes in march when he went to the white house and was apparently briefed on this classified information that he wouldn't tell anyone else about. none of his colleagues on the
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house intel committee knew what he was talking about. it had to do with this unmasking narrative. >> which the unmasking scandal, that was the old counter scandal. >> right. >> one of the first things they tried was, oh, there's an unmasking. which you never hear about, because there wasn't. but that was the initial intent was devin nunes creating an unmasking scandal. >> right. once these documents were reviewed by his colleagues on the house intelligence committee, they determined that nothing improper was done. >> right. now here we are with playing the 2015 uranium angle. next, when it comes to the handling of the crisis in puerto rico, the president today gave himself a perfect score. 10 of 10. we'll show you what he said and how the governor seemed to not quite agree, after this quick break.
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at some point fema has to leave, people have to take over. at a certain point we have to leave the various locations that we're in. >> it has been a month since hurricane maria devastated puerto rico and the situation remains dire. nearly 30% of the island's residents, almost 1 million american citizens, lack access to reliable, safe drinking water. 4 in 5 homes have no access to power, leaving 2.7 million americans in the dark every night when the sun goes down. many forced to sleep in homes still decimated by the storm. some lacking roofs or even shield from the frequent rain. it is against that backdrop that president trump appeared today with puerto rico's governor, ricardo rocelo, in the oval
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office for what proved to be an excruciating 35 minutes in which the president was laser focused once again on perceptions of his own. >> between 1 and 10 how would you grade the white house response so far to the hurricane? >> i'd say it was a 10. i'd give ourselves a 10. we have provided so much, so fast. we were actually there before the storm hit. i would give a 10. i think we did a fantastic job and we're being given credit. we've done a great job. i think our response is better than anyone has ever seen. >> asked if he also gave it a 10, the governor pointedly did not answer directly. >> governor, between 1 and 10, how do you grade the white house response? >> as i said, the president has answered all of our petitions. and this is still ongoing. so we expect that that will continue. >> later the president took it on himself to play journalist and again the governor declined to directly offer a positive assessment.
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>> did the united states, did our government, when we came in, did we do a great job? military, first responders, fema? did we do a great job? >> you responded immediately, sir. and you did so, tom and brock, they have been on the phone with me every day since the disaster. the response is there. do we need to do a lot more? of course. >> congressman luis gutierrez is in san juan and will be with us next.
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about four weeks after hurricane maria, it is still a desperate situation for many people here in puerto rico. the vast majority of the island, more than 80%, is still without power. >> we are not considered in equal terms to florida, texas, virgin islands and so forth, then you talk to -- you stand to be looking at a potential humanitarian crisis. >> i think we did a fantastic job and i think our response was better than anyone has ever seen. >> joining me, democratic representative luis gutierrez of illinois whose family hails from puerto rico and joins me from swan juan. congressman, what is the situation like there right now? >> desperation. i met with people all day today. i would say there's a general sense of almost mourning. when it comes to the sadness that is felt.
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the kind of mourning because you've lost your home, you've lost your way of life, you don't see it coming back into the picture any time soon. the kind of mourning that comes like you can't feed your children and that, yeah, there's water. but you've got to go in a hose outside to bathe. and there's no electricity. and the food is just really not there. people are thirsty and want more water. i want to thank the people of chicago. we went -- i'm going to say it, we went to sam's club, we bought all the great stuff we could buy, the juices and the -- just everything we could buy, and we took it to louisa, one town, tens of thousands of food straight from the counter to the people there. now they have juices and fruits and hopefully it will bring them a little bit of hope as we evaluate. but i've just got to say to you, think about it. i didn't walk into a home, and i walked into dozens of homes,
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there are no mattresses. i saw a quadriplegic young man on a wet mattress. that is unacceptable. you would not find that in houston. you would not find that in chicago. you would not find that in jacksonville one month after. but that is the situation people live in here. i saw people with -- why aren't the tarps out there so that at least people could protect themselves a little bit better? i mean, look, i went to louisa, just so that you understand, 498 homes were flattened. i saw many of them. 3,000 homes are uninhabitable. where are those people going? they're with a neighbor, they're with a friend, they're in a shelter. that's unacceptable after four weeks. it's really, really, really sad. i saw a lot of sadness and despair. >> do you feel like you have an understanding -- it seems the two biggest obstacles to anything like normalcy is power restoration and clean water.
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and those really, if you look at the numbers that have been provided by the federal government or the puerto rican government, it's kind of flat lined the last two weeks. it's not getting better. do you feel like you have an understanding of what the obstacles are to getting power back, to getting everyone clean water, and how that can be overcome? >> yeah, taking the greatest, most powerful, richest nation in the world and acting like it. and bringing the resources to bear on this island. look, we can do this. you're telling me we can't set up the tents, we can't set up the mobile homes? even just a cot. why do people have to sleep on the floor, cement floors? in all of these homes that i visited today? there are no mattresses. all you have to do is take a ride in your car. don't even enter the home, just look at the debris that is outside. and that's where you see the sofas, that's where you see the couches, that's where you see all of the other things that make up a home.
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i saw -- look, we can do this. we just don't want to do it, for some reason. we just haven't found ourselves capable of bringing to bear all of the riches that we have as a nation. it's just something that shouldn't be happening. let's not treat puerto rico the way we're treating it. let's not treat the people of puerto rico, especially when we have so much. so everybody tonight that's got electricity, everybody that's got running water, and you know your kids are going to school tomorrow and your car's going to start and there's gasoline and there's normalcy to your life, remember, there are literally hundreds of thousands of people that don't have that stuff here in puerto rico. and i would say, lastly, i want to say, why aren't we taking people out of harm's way? tens of thousands of puerto ricans have been flown off this island to go to vietnam, afghanistan, iraq, world war i, korea, tens of thousands. why can't we fly tens of
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thousands of them to safe places until we can put them back on this island? there's electricity. i don't know why we're doing that. >> that is a very good question that remains unanswered. congressman gutierrez, thank you for being with me tonight. russian twitter bots so believable they were retweeted by members of the trump campaign and an unnamed cable news host. and next, president obama returns to the campaign stage in "thing 1, thing 2." have you liked our page on facebook? do it now, we are live streaming behind the scenes at this very moment.
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"thing 1" tonight, president trump's sole mission it often seems is to do anything that will undo the work of president obama. there's a long list of things president trump has blamed on the former president and donald trump september happy with what he inherited.
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>> to be honest, i inherited a mess. it's a mess. at home and abroad. a mess. i just want to let you know, i inherited a mess. this is the situation that i inherited. i inherited a mess, believe me. and i have to just say that the world is a mess. i inherited a mess. i inherited a mess. >> well, just so happens today the former president made his first campaign appearances since leaving office. how the audience assessed the eight years of the obama presidency? that's "thing 2" in 60 seconds.
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former president barack obama making his first campaign appearances since leaving office, and while stumping for new jersey gubernatorial candidate phil murphy in newark, the crowd had a clear message about how they viewed the eight years of the obama presidency. >> four more years! four more years! >> no, for him. >> four more years! four more years!
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>> come on! i will refer you both to the constitution as well as to michelle obama. to explain why that will not happen. >> less than an hour ago, while praising virginia gubernatorial candidate ralph northham, the president gave his thoughts on the current state of american leadership. >> you notice i haven't been commenting a lot on politics lately. but here's one thing i know. if you have to win a campaign by dividing people, you're not going to be able to govern them. you won't be able to unite them later. if that's how you start.
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yesterday i learned about one more american who helped sell russian propaganda on social media, me. in april i retweeted an account,
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10 gop, which described itself as the unofficial twitter of tennessee republicans. i doubt i visited the account's profile page at the time, my bad. i might have wondered why they chose a dreary-looking photo for their image. is that tennessee? it had a seal of the state at its profile picture and over 100,000 followers. i vaguely recall this twitter handle as one of the wackier state gop accounts. not unlike, for example, the virginia republican party, a real account, which once wrote and then deleted "ralph northham has turned his back on his own family's heritage in demanding monument removal." it was not at all surprising, perhaps more than a little bit perfect, to see the supposed twitter account of the tennessee republicans tweeting something like this on earth day. a photo of overflowing garbage cans with "nothing says more about environmental activism march for science than piles of trash they left behind." i retweeted and added, this is the best hash tag earth day tweet so far.
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now in the genre of state republican parties trolling rib lals, this was as well executed a tweet as you could expect. which is impressive considering it wasn't actually tennessee republicans, it was russian trolls. they were savvy enough to build up a huge following and get retweeted by people like me, but also former national security adviser michael flynn, campaign manager kellyanne conway, and donald trump jr. the amazing full story is after this short break.
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me, in april, i retweeted an account called 10 gop that described itself as the unofficial twitter of tennessee. i might have wondered why they chose such a dreary photo for their header image. but it has over 100,000 followers. i called this twitter handle one of the most -- which once wrote and then deleted, quote so it was not at all surprising, perhaps more than a little bit perfect to see the supposed twitter account of the tennessee republicans tweeting something like this on earth day, a photo i called this twitter handle one of the most -- which once wrote and then deleted, quote so it was not at all surprising, perhaps more than a little bit
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perfect to see the supposed twitter account of the tennessee republicans tweeting something like this on earth day, a photo of overflowing garbage cans. i retweeted and added, this is the best #earthday tweet so far. this is about as well executed a tweet as you can expect, which is impressive, considering it wasn't actually tennessee republicans, it was russian trolls. they were building up a huge following to be retweeted by people like me, and also campaign manager michael flynn, kellyanne conway and donald trump jr. . the 10 gop twitter account bills itself as the unofficial twitter account for the republican party. the real tennessee party flagged the site. but it wasn't until august of this year until twitter finally suspended the account. messages slamming the media, democrats, immigrants and even some republicans. it was created by a russian troll farm in st. petersberg. there's evidence twitter may have been used even more extensively than facebook in the russian influence campaign last year. ben holmes, cnn news editor of the daily beast. so what do we know. >> yeah, a bunch of low level people probably, wi place, that they were in fact at the end of the but you said you got du it. i'm sure i did. i have no idea, i'm sure it happened. >> it was a pretty well executed troll. this part of the story i find to be the weirdest part of the story. whoever was calculated the effort reward ratio on this, like, well, yes, we'll have someone make troll accounts on twitter. but that's what they did. they did this, they had people showing up at rallies, not a lot, but like, events. what was the thinking here? i can't quite get it. >> this was actually, "daily beast" you guys did an excellent job on this, in trying to blow the top off of the white house, and look at the russian operation and see how they did
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it. there was a great investigative report that came out in a russian business daily, rbc, that dove tails perfectly with this "dily beast" story, and it's what the obama administration has been telling us, people have been getting into the zone, you try 1,000 things, and if three get through, good enough. the thing about twitter, what is fascinating, from "the daily beast" story, the whittle blowing troll, what's fascinating is, so think about this, the troll factory is staffed by college students at the number two university in russia. they are students in the number
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two city in russia, so they're urban, college students, they are students in journalism, in ling kwis ticks, it's what we in the west fantasize as this anti pugh on the contingent that could overthrow him. they're taking dpos, and it's a method to mask your geo locations, and these are the same dpos that they're using to watch american shows. all my russian friends have watched all the "house of cards" episodes before i even open netflix. the netflix shows, the twitter, the facebook, that they're using, their window into western american culture, they're now weaponizing against us. this to me makes the most sense of anything we have seen so far.
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>> it also seems like this is still going on, so one example of this is after roy moore became the nominee. this is kind of like an odd organization. >> if it ain't broke don't fix it. this stuff that we're uncovering here, as it pertains to what happens, what the russians did to the u.s. electoral process, these are just can domestic russian efforts that have been honed for years, at home and russia, that are just being exported, russian trolls have been doing this for years to the russian opposition at home. we're just finally getting a taste of it.
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>> it doesn't cost a lot of money, this is why it's working, this is in the low millions of dollars to destabilize the west. >> that's my question, on one level, there just seems like such a big difference between a tennessee gop account and, oh, we hacked every email of the campaign manager. >> but chris, this was a campaign that was basically happening on twitter. you had donald trump tweeting crazy things and every time he tweeted, all of the entire media, the main stream media, for lack of a better term, would just be like,let all talk about what he tweeted. everything was happening on twitter. and the other thing that you said about the cost, this is super low cost in our terms and for russians, but that's because russians are cheaper. these kids, these college students, who they were making at the troll factory is 2 1/2 times than the average job in
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russia. >> that's all in for this evening. >> 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 underway now. 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


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