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tv   Deadline White House  MSNBC  October 20, 2017 1:00pm-2:00pm PDT

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the united states and what military response to come up with to meet that threat. it's up to congress to have oversight of these operations. and if we don't like what they're doing, we can cut off funding. as you expand the places we go, as you give more authority to designate terrorist groups and more authority outside the white house, into the field, it's important to keep the congress more informed because, if we don't like what you're doing, we can cut off the funding. for us to make that decision, we have to know. so here's the balance. i'm never going to participate in an exercise where the authorization to use military force is a micromanagement of the commander in chief's responsibilities by the congress. i will insist as the war expands and as the rules change to be more aggressive that congress is informed more often and more detail so we can exercise our constitutional authority,
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whether or not we want to authorize this operation in the appropriations process. >> does that mean [ inaudible ] -- >> so there's going to be a debate to come out of this because some people are going to say, wait a minute. you candescignate anybody you want to designate. the congress is not set up to be military commanders. 535 members of congress don't sit down and designate what threats the nation faces. these groups morph weekly. they pledge allegiance to isil and other groups by the day. so it's just impractical, and i think unconstitutional, for the congress to make that decision. having said that, when you designate somebody an individual or a group, you need to inform us because then we have the ability to say, we don't agree and we'll not fund that operation. so the intel community has a
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collaborative process with the leaders of the intel committee. what senator mccain is trying to do here, as the war expands, as the military has more authority that congress is going to require more information. >> -- probably who never heard of niger until they found out four americans -- hi, everyone. i'm nicolle wallace. you were listening to gop senator lindsey graham making comments that i'm sure are very significant to folks who watch that careful balance between loosening the restrictions on the military and the intelligence community when it comes to going after terrorism and the terrorist threat in far away places, while maintaining the senate and the oversight committee's authority over said operations. it's a story we'll get to later in the hour. first, the white house press secretary today put on a defiant, threatening and exasperated space on the white house response to a five-day public relations debacle over
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the tragic deaths of four american service members in niger earlier this month. sarah huckabee sanders deflected questions about the operation that resulted in those four deaths and complained bitterly about ongoing questions from the media about the president's response, seemingly unaware that the president himself is keeping the story alive by tweeting this last night around 11:00 p.m., after his chief of staff had attempted to quiet the storm. quote, the fake news media is going crazy with wacky congresswoman wilson who secretly on a very personal call, secretly listened on a very personal call and gave a total lie on content. that tweet came as kelly was facing criticism over these comments about the congresswoman who he called an empty barrel. >> the congresswoman stood up and in the long tradition of empty barrels making the most noise, stood up there in all of that and talked about how she
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was instrumental in getting the funding for that building. now she took care of her constituents because she got the money and she just called up president obama and on that phone call, he gave the money, the $20 million to build the building. and she sat down. and we were stunned. stunned that she had done it. even for someone that is that empty a barrel, we were stunned. >> but it doesn't end there. when the congresswoman responded today that she believed the term empty barrel was racist, the white house doubled down. >> general kelly said he was stunned that representative wilson made comments at a building dedication honoring slain fbi agents about her own actions in congress, including lobbying former president obama on legislation. as general kelly pointed out if you are able to make a sacred act like honoring american heroes all about yourself, you are an empty barrel. if you don't understand that reference i'll put it more
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simply. as we say in the south, all hat, no cattle. >> i'm not familiar with that expression but i know this one. when you are in a hole, stop digging. let's get to our reporters. covering the latest developments on a story the president cannot let go. kelly o'donnell joins us from the white house. and chief white house correspondent peter baker. peter, let me start with you. what i felt like was a very hostile tone set by the white house press secretary today. and this almost surreal capacity to blame the five-day treatment of this story on the people covering it, not the people creating events with their comments and responses. the president and the chief of staff. >> well, that's the usual script. it's always the media's fault. it's never the president's fault. it's not the chief of staff's fault. it's not even appropriate to ask questions of a four-star general she said today. it's highly inappropriate to question a four-star general.
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this is not, obviously, a story that has gone away, but it hasn't gone away because of the actions of the president and his chief of staff and the congresswoman pressing back. the media simply covering what's -- this back and forth and they are important issues here. for one thing, the issue of describing things accurately. general kelly did not describe accurately this ceremony he was talking about with the congresswoman. he misremembered it, but rather than say that today when the videos show it was inaccurate, as you say, they doubled down. this is a white house that doesn't apologize. doesn't take things back. that's a tone set by the president of the united states. the only time i remember him apologizing or taking something back was during the "access hollywood" tape. otherwise all the different i thinks he's said as president, many of which have been shown to be inaccurate or not fully contextualized or what have you, never takes them back or
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apologizes. >> kelly, you were in the room today. let me ask you to pick up on this. i covered the "access hollywood" tape release and the then candidate trump's response to that. didn't want to apologize for that either but let's do what they don't do. let's give everyone the benefit of the doubt for a moment. give him the benefit of the doubt and say he misremembered what congresswoman wilson had done at a ceremony a few years back y not just walk out and say, he apologized if he misrepresents the details of the meeting and we should have stayed focused on the issue at hand. the president did his best in obviously an effort that came up short to console a young widow and for that we're sorry. why can't they be sorry for the original sin, which was that as a result of the president's call to a young widow, she felt disrespected. she felt worse. >> and a question kind of along those lines was asked of sarah huckabee sanders today trying to
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take out the issue of the congresswoman and what she might have said or what general kelly might have advised the president. if the president's attempt to reach out and offer the nation's condolences and gratitude for the service of sergeant johnson, that it somehow didn't quite -- it was not received in a way that had that comforting tone. and that's just not something that sara sanders wants to take on. you have an opportunity for the white house to have put this to bed with john kelly who, in his stature as a gold star father coming out to try to explain through the media to the public the process of notification and how these phone calls or letters are sometimes handled, that's where he had a lot of credibility to offer. he ran into trouble when he expanded his comments to criticize the congresswoman. apparently he was unaware that she's a longtime family friend and had a reason for being with the johnson family that was not about her standing as a member of congress. and then today when it was
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demonstrably clear that she did not talk about funding. she did talk about herself. she talked about other members of congress and the role they played. i have been to many, many congressional events, especially in a home district. that is standard playbook. she also talked about the reason they were gathered there in 2015, which was the deaths of fbi agents for whom the building was being named. this is a simple fact change. and they could have acknowledged that they got it wrong. instead they are no longer asserting that it's about the fund bug thing but it's about t larger mood of what the congresswoman's comments were beyond the videotape. we have no way to check those. sarah sanders offered, well, there was other things she says that day. well, what are those? it would have been fixable to say he misremembered it. deb didn't have that fact right. but the point he was trying to make was this. all of it adds more time to this story that they criticize and all of it really gets away from the loss of these american lives
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and the attempt by the president originally to offer some comfort as commander in chief to those who paid the ultimate price. whether he graut on himself by asserting that past presidents hadn't always called, there is an opportunity to sort of get back to what this is about and yet they don't take that opportunity. they keep it going. the president did that with his tweets as well. >> let me take the opportunity you just gave us. the white house accusing the media of not letting this go is a serious charge but at every turn, we want to show you how it was the president and the white house keeping this issue alive. here's a reminder of how we got here. >> if you look at president obama and other presidents, most of them didn't make calls. a lot of them didn't make calls. >> you said president obama never called the families of -- >> i don't know if he didn't. i was told that he didn't often and a lot of presidents don't.
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they write letters. i do a combination of both. sometimes it's a very difficult thing to do, but i do a combination of both. president obama, i think, probably did sometimes and maybe sometimes he didn't. i don't know. that's what i was told. >> you can ask general kelly. did he get a call from obama? >> i had a very nice conversation with the woman, with the wife who sounded like a lovely woman. did not say what the congresswoman said, and most people aren't too surprised to hear that. >> [ inaudible ], mr. president? >> let her make her statement again. >> i was stunned when i came to work yesterday morning and broken hearted at what i saw a member of congress doing. a member of congress who listened in on a phone call from the president of the united states to a young wife. and in his way tried to express
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that opinion. >> we're going to bring our panel in to help us chew on this. evan mcmullan, former cia analyst and mark moriel, president and ceo of the national urban league and former mayor of new orleans. bloomberg businesssweek editor megan murphy, the rev al sharpton and president of the national action network. joining us from washington, d.c., robert trainam. peter and kelly are still here, too. i want to get to the congresswoman and the attacks on her because i think the fact that they will not simply correct -- i'm going to give general kelly the benefit of the doubt. he was talking about the way his deceased son's body came home. that's a devastating head space to be in. i'm guessing he misspoke or misremembered. why can't the white house come out today and say we have our political differences with the congresswoman but let's return the focus to these four families
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now without husbands, fathers, sons. >> no, this is way beyond the pale. this young man is being buried tomorrow. the funeral is tomorrow. anyone -- >> sergeant johnson? >> yes, sergeant johnson. anyone can understand if the general had misremembered -- >> sure. >> or cited what happened. particularly when he's talking about his son. but shouldn't he have the same decency for this widow who is dealing with preparing to go and see for the first time the coffin that her husband in in. that's where the car was going with the congresswoman and her mother-in-law. and trying to get in her mind four people were killed. her husband was not brought in by the others with the evacuation. there two days. all of this in her mind and
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they're going to talk about who was in the car and what was overheard? whatever was heard, the widow and the family wanted it heard. are they accusing this woman and the parents that raised this young man on their way to the coffin of just fabricating a lie to embarrass or be partisan against donald trump? these people are and were grieving. they had no motive at all to make up a lie on president trump. so let's take fredricka wilson, the congresswoman -- >> let's ask our journalists. the family said he said this. >> can i ask you to weigh in. i just want to be exquisitely careful. this is the fact pattern that i understand to be true. that the congresswoman knew sergeant johnson for many, many years. that in this young widow's grief, she asked the congresswoman to take the ride. they were going to see the coffin. she'd just learned moments
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before she couldn't have an open casket service. do we have all these facts right? is anyone at the white house disputing any of this so far? >> as far as i know, they are not. they didn't know about her relationship with the family. to them, obviously, it seemed suspicious in some way. you saw the president's tweet last night. he used the word secretly and capitalized it. it wasn't like she was somehow eavesdropping. the family put it on speaker phone so everybody could hear. the facts are not really disputed. and the truth is because we don't have a tape recording we don't know what was said and the tone it was said poll clearly the president didn't intend to leave a bad taste, but he did. so why is any normal white house, any democratic or republican white house that we've seen in our lifetime would be trying to clean up that point. not fighting over what was said at an fbi ceremony and dragging this on for days instead of talking about tax cuts and other
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issues they'd like to talk about. they've spent days talking about this, not because the media has kept it going but because they've helped keep it going. >> let's put the humanity of causing more stress for a widow aside and ask you about this description of congresswoman wilson as an empty barrel. what does that -- she said today that had a racial undertone. >> i spoke less than an hour ago with congresswoman wilson. and one thing people need to remember is that this young man, sergeant johnson, participated in the 5,000 role models of excellence program. so her relationship with him goes back to his formative years. and she -- >> she headed that program. that's her program. >> she has every reason to be with the widow at the time she was with the widow. now who is she? she's a longtime florida elected official. someone that served in the florida house, the florida senate. held a leadership position there and has been a member of congress for the last several
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years. the other misstatement of fact, there's been all this talk about the fbi building. the fbi approached congresswoman wilson just shared this with me, approached her in 2015 and asked her to pick up the legislation to rename the new fbi building in miramar, florida. this building had begun before she became a member of congress. the fbi asked her to sponsor and push through the legislation, coming to her at the last minute because they wanted the naming to be done before the ribbon cutting took place. the two fbi agents for whom the building was ultimately named died almost 30 years ago in a shootout in miami. so her interest and her involvement in this was at the request of james comey and the fbi and was limited to the renaming of the building. so one of the things, let's get -- and i spoke to her at length. let's get the facts out, but let
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the public understand this is a woman of integrity. this is a woman of public service. this is a woman who was a school principal. this is a woman who was with friends at a time of need, not a politician just riding because she was with someone dealing with a tragedy. so we need to understand that, the human element of this. >> i agree. i want to give the white house the benefit of the doubt. they've been very aggressive and hostile in that briefing room this week. kelly, i want to ask if you are aware of any of this information known by the white house when they doubled down today on their attacks against the congresswoman that was simply riding in the car on the way to the airport with a young widow to greet the casket of her slain husband. >> my understanding is the white house was more upset the handling of it was criticized. >> let me read the president's tweet. he called her wacky, crazy and
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said she was secretly listening in. the only person that accused of doing anything secret was him and wiretapping, but we'll leave that for another segment. on these facts we know now about the congresswoman's longstanding relationship with the soldier who lost his life, his young pregnant wife. i think she was pregnant. she had two other children. >> two other children. >> had they known yesterday, do any of these facts give them pause as somehow describing her as eefsdropping and doing something inappropriate? >> that hasn't been explicitly acknowledged. sara sanders reviewed the tape of the event which seemed to be john kelly reaching for a difference example outside of the confines of the sergeant johnson matter to talk about congresswoman wilson. at the same time, you know, we remember back in the beginning of the iraq war, sometimes when families of the fallen meet the president in person or have conversations, these can be very
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contentious, difficult, painful -- >> i know that better than most, but i've never seen a president attack anyone that participates on the other end of that meeting. >> exactly. but the expectation they were going to be difficult encounters is there. you are right. what is different here is that the white house is critiquing the reaction, whereas in the past, tipcally that has not taken place because a commander in chief absorbs some of the pain of the families for making those decisions and putting loved ones in harm's way. that just goes with the role of being commander in chief. and so i think the thing that really stands out is that john kelly, as the chief of staff, not as a gold star father, made this accusation about congresswoman wilson where some of the facts are just wrong and that's not the thing they're talking about now. >> kelly o'donnell and peter baker, thanks for staying with us and keeping us honest through that whole first block. we appreciate your time. a standoff in the making.
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john mccain's rebuke of h.r. mcmaster over the lack of information about the ambush in niger being shared with the u.s. senate. we'll bring you the latest on the investigation and their talks with the senate. also, two former presidents take center stage and remind america that we were already pretty darn great. maybe even better before the politics of fear and the casual cruelty of today's political climate took over. today the white house forced to respond to its previous occupants. and the cia director goes off message claiming that russian meddling did not affect the outcome of the election. the problem? that's not the assessment of the intelligence community. we'll show you the cleanup effort under way. stay with us. i don't want to sound paranoid, but d'ya think our recent online sales success seems a little... strange? 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,
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the best hand selected picks this fall. nobody -- folks don't feel good right now about what they see. they don't feel as if our public life reflects our best. instead of our politics reflecting our values, we've got politics infecting our community s. instead of looking for ways to work together and get things done in a practical way, we've got folks who are deliberately trying to make folks angry. to demonize people who have
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different ideas. to get the base all riled up because it provides a short-term tactical advantage. and so sometimes that can feel frustrating. >> frustrating? i wish i only felt frustrated. yesterday two former presidents, one republican and one democrat, lamented the decay of civility in the united states. now axios describes where we are today. sexual abuse in hollywood. social media abuse in silicon valley. political abuse in the white house. dive into twitter for a few minutes, and these can feel like the worst of times. so everyone in the gop establishment in particular seems hungry for moral clarity. the panel still with us. let me ask you about the two presidents and whether it is my own personal problem that i felt like i crawled -- that i crawled through the sand toward
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leadership. but they were the real deal. i was so happy to hear from them both yesterday. >> absolutely. i think the whole country is hungry for that kind of leadership. and i think this is a moment after several months of president trump in office in which our statesmen, stateswomen do need to step up. we need them now because there's a leadership vacuum in the united states. and it -- >> why is that? what's wrong with mitch mcconnell and paul ryan and -- like what's wrong with them? >> they can't replace the leadership that the president can offer. they just don't have the same bully pulpit. they can do more and should do more. i've spoken many times about it. at the presidential level you need somebody who is committed to the fundamental ideals and principles upon which this nation was founded. i'll say this about president bush's speech. he said something very critical. we're not a nation about -- our nation isn't based on blood and soil. it's not about whether you were
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born here or, you know, what your race is. it's not about that. it's about the ideas that we hold hear. quality and liberty. because this is a country about ideas, it's especially critical those ideas be passed on to the next generation. in this leadership vacuum, they're not. that's what was troubling president bush and troubles me, too. >> i wish we were in an administration of ideals. i think if there's anything this week has shown, it's that this is all they've got. and if you are sitting around wondering why they traffic in personal insults, why a four-star general would call someone an empty barrel, why the president continually lobs these balloons, it's because this is what he is comfortable doing. fighting culture wars. half race baiting with the nfl. staying in the muck. staying in the mire. god, i wish we were talking about tax reform or puerto rico. i wish we were talking about
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people fighting to get access to affordable health care. and the rest of the people who may have his ear do need to start telling him about what's important to the american people and this country and it isn't this debate. >> your point is made. a similar point is made in politico who writes, unlike his predecessors, this president sees policy as a diversion from the larger cultural battle. this is what he wants to be doing. >> these two presidents kind of broke the code. the code of never criticizing your successor openly. but in this environment, we need to hear, and i hope to hear more from president obama and president bush and corporate leaders and civil society leaders. we all need to speak up and fill the moral vacuum in this country. and the presidents, i think, in doing it, did us a great service. i'd like to hear more from them. >> i'm going to do that just for you. let's watch george w. bush's comments on bigotry.
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>> bigotry seems emboldened. our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright 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. argument turns too easily into animosity. disagreement escalates into dehumanization. >> the president's spokesman made clear he wasn't personally targeting this president, but i talked to another source who said they were well aware of how the comments would be received in this political climate and acknowledged the president worked on those remarks. but i want you to speak to this idea that bigotry has been emboldened. we've seen the fruits of that. i think we've all been on the air together in the wake of charlottesville and the president's equivocation over who was bad and who was worse. >> yeah, i mean, listen to
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presidents bush 43 and also president obama, 44, was almost like going up into the attic and pulling out that old sweater and just feeling comforted by that and just knowing that everything is going to be okay. and it goes beyond just charlottesville, although that's obviously very important. it speaks to the birtherism issue that president trump stoked a couple of years ago. i want to go back to something someone said. this is a president that enjoys being in the gutter, if you will, and talking about and highlighting the worst of us. and what we saw with president bush and also to a certain degree with president obama on the campaign trail is they want to go back to the best of us and highlighting that. it's almost like these two former presidents, ironically, a republican and a democrat, ir ironically someone who is african-american and someone who is white is saying, no, no, no, this is not who we are. let's remind ourselves about who we are and what we're about and
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kind of push aside who's currently in the white house now because this is very turbulent right now, but we'll get through this. we'll lan this plane safely but fasten your seat belt. it's going to be bumpy. >> i'm going to reveal you as having admired what you heard from george w. bush. >> i will say this in terms of the setup for me saying what i said. i was one that led many marches against george bush. i marched on his inauguration, katrina, any number of issues. but he never got in the gutter with us. one of the first times i saw him was at national urban league's convention. he spoke. he left the lectern and came down and shook our hands, people that had been marching on him. he never got in the gutter. not only do i admire what he said. i admire the fact that he had the capacity as president, even
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though many of us very passionately disagreed with him, to still say i'm still the president. i'm going to hear you have the right to disagree. and i think what he said yesterday was important, and i think it was great. he and president obama on the same day because not only did they appeal to our better angels using president obama's statement, it brought the level of what we should expect from presidents back up to the standard that we can disagree without being disagreeable and in the case of what they're doing with congresswoman wilson, despicable. george bush never did that. now katrina and other things, i'm going to always warn him about, but he never did that. never made it personal. >> you and i have young children. i'm raising a son. i was happy to see a man acting like a man. i was happy to see men who admitted it when they were wrong. i was happy to see men that
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didn't talk about the size of their hands in a creepy, horrific way. i was happy to see men that didn't use strength as attacking every critic. when you are the president, you are more powerful than everybody. >> i have a 2 1/2-year-old girl. i can think of plenty of women, hillary clinton, madeleine albright, susan collins who also are leading that example and speaking out and speaking up for what they believe in and continuing to carry that forward. this is not male nor female, not black nor white. this is america and what we stand for is what those two gentlemen, those two former presidents said and said with a pretty unified voice. for the media's perspective, i am so sick of being blamed for being the media and continuing this discussion for the past five days. i don't care who you are. when you stand up there in front of the american people if you are the chief of staff of the white house and you say something that's wrong, we're going to call you out on it and look into it and investigate it, and you are responsible for what you say. this is not our fault.
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we are doing our jobs. we will continue to do it. you can call me a hat the big as texas or whatever the sayings are. we're going to be out there fighting for truth, what the american people should know every day of the week. >> and what they don't know about working mothers, you can put all the russian bots on us. we don't have time to read your hate. the issues that touched off the back and forth over gold star families. senator mccain is demanding answers from the administration. will he get them? who are not in school today. girls are not in school because of economic issues and they have to work. there's early child marriage, there's war and conflict. at the malala fund we help girls stay in school. there are some really amazing people around the world doing incredible work. the malala fund invests in education champions who work in the community and do advocacy and pave the way so that girls can actually go to school. to have the expertise of our financial partner,
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the fact that citi is in countries where girls are vulnerable ensures that we are able to get funds to the people that we're working with and expand with great confidence. when girls go to school we're going to maximize their talents. we could have a solution for climate change in that girl. that girl could be the next nobel peace prize winner.
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i'm never going to participate in an exercise where an authorization to use military force is a micromanagement of the commander in chief's responsibilities by the congress. i will insist as the war expands and as the rules change to be more aggressive that congress is informed more often and more detail so we can exercise our
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constitutional authority of whether or not we want to authorize this operation through the appropriations process. >> senator lindsey graham addressing the need for oversight committees. before that, secretary mattis briefed senate armed services committee chairman john mccain on what we know and presumably all the things we still dont know about the ambush in niger. there are still gaps in the story and the white house refuses to fill them in until the story is complete. mattis' visit is the culmination of several frustrating days on the part of the senator who has been vocal about the lack of communication from the pentagon and white house. a short time ago, he and mattis addressed that on camera. >> let me just close by saying, the secretary and i have had a 20-year relationship. we have had our problems and issues. i'm proud to work with him and i'm proud of the work that he's doing, and we will continue these regular meetings so that
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we can work together in these very difficult and challenging times. >> let's bring in nbc's pentagon correspondent hans nichols and kevin barron. thank you for being with us. hans, let me read something that i -- john mccain said in "the washington post." there's a mind-set that there are unicameral government, accusing the trump administration of intentionally trying to keep congress in the dark about the military's foreign engagements and noting it was easier under obama. we're co-equal branches of government and should be informed at all timss. we're just not getting the information in a timely fashion. he had a better working relationship as far as information back and forth with ash carter than with his old friend of 20 years. can you talk about how that relationship broke down so completely? was it a bandwidth issue for mattis or a deliberate effort to cut congress out? >> it wasn't deliberate. the bandwidth issue here is real
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because they do not have their political appointees filled up. he's sometimes calling desk officers trying to get information, doing the job that normal under secretaries and assistant secretaries would do. today we had two significant developments. it looked like mccain and mattis are trying to play nice in front of the cameras. matt sis is being clear they ne to do a better job on communication. and senator graham talked about potentially another authorization for use for military force. we had some remarkable comments talking about how isis has morphed, they want to go to more threat-based targeting. this will involve potential new authorization from congress. that's what i heard from senator graham as well as chairman mccain. more information on this specific mission in niger but also a broader, more expansive conversation about what the authorities are going to be, especially since president trump has delegated a lot more authority down to the ground commander level. >> and, kevin, the folks like
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lindsey graham and john mccain are typically, ideologically supportive. dod having these kinds of authorities. they just want to maintain their congressional oversight role. >> yeah, so let's separate those out. and it's important because what senator graham said today is new. the rules of engagement have not changed since trump came into office. that's different than lowering authorities to different levels so that commanders in the field can call in an air strike without having to call the white house to put it bluntly. the idea of an actual change of engage; lindsey graham was right to make a point of that. that sets up a whole new argument and something congress will have to go through and it does play to the importance of the new terrorism going forward and these missions and training missions and security systems force missions all around the world. that's a lot different than what we've heard in the past. >> hans, it seems like nobody in the administration was able to explain to the public, and i
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know how difficult this is. i worked for a president who took the country to war. they both became very unpopular wars. nobody was ready to explain to the public what we are doing militarily or on an intelligence front in niger. what is their explanation now to the american public? >> you haven't heard a broad articulation, an expansive one on just what the mission there is. more specifically, when they talk about it, they say this is a train, advise and assist. i have to say, when we look at any hot spot across the globe, it's likely that we don't really know a whole lot about what's going on there until something bad happens. that's when we start looking into it. i didn't know we had 1,000 troops in niger. over 300 in cameroon. most of those troops, their main task, their main mission is building up drone bases because there is this intelligence gap. the term you hear here all the time, isr, intelligence surveillance and reconstance. general walthowzer has about a
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20% to 30% coverage. that's a 70% to 80% coverage gap. they need more drones and that's why they're building these bases. to get to kevin's broader point. whether it's in syria or central or western africa are based on 2001 authorization from congress. they have continued to stretch the legal bounds of that and so far, congress has been willing to give them that leeway. what we're seeing today from the president's own party is a reluctance to extend that leeway and to have more checks on just where u.s. forces are engaging and what the rules of engagement are. >> kevin, what's kind of mission would these four service members have been on. what kinds of things -- i understand the investigation is under way and i don't want to ask you to speculate, but what kinds of missions do we do, and do we do them in assistance and support of other governments or what kind of mission could they have been on when they lost their lives?
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>> security force stuftan ancss just training other militaries to fight for themselves. and it can range from really basic training to defense department organization up to very specific skills like sniper training. and specifically in niger, just this year, was flint lock. a big exercise that's a special operations forces exercise to train indigenous special operation forces. so this is the thing that goes on all over the world. and just a couple weeks ago, general milly said americans should expect mor. the army is changing itself to match this threat. they are creating security force assistance brigades. six of them. a new way to fight between the conventional army and elite special forces. but the pentagon has to do a better job telling people what's going on or this is going to happen every time there's some bad news to be told. but americans don't understand it's not going to be easy to get through these political, you know, dust-ups that happen because of it. >> it widens the gap between those serving and those of us who are not.
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hans nichols and kevin barron. what do you make of sort of the failure -- this is not a democratic or republican party. the american public, by and large doesn't understand that men and women are spread all over the globe fighting terrorism and training local milita militaries. what are we missing and whose fail are that people don't understand that people are still putting their lives on the line? >> a lot of this information is out there. we typically as americans don't go out there searching for it. it doesn't come up in the regular news. it would be a good thing for us to be, when we can, when it doesn't compromise national security, more aware of where our men and women are, where they are serving and risking their lives. we just heard about a new approach in part of the white house where they are pushing down authorities to the field commanders. >> is that good or bad? >> i think that's good having served in an operational role with the central intelligence agency. it's very challenging when you have targets to move on and you
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can't without a laboruous process back in washington. those processes can be good. can keep people in check. so they're not all bad. but my point is when you push that authority into the field, more of it, what happens is washington is less aware of the minute-to-minute decision-making. and so when something goes wrong, then you face a situation where people are caught a little flat-footed. and i think that's in part what happened here. >> all right. when we come back, the cia is correcting what its own director had to say about russian meddling in the presidential election. stay with us.
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yes. the intelligence community's assessment is that the russian meddling that took place did not affect the outcome of the election. >> maybe it did. back in january when intelligence agencies looked into russia's involvement they made clear they did not make an assessment of russia's impact on the election outcome.
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only that russia had worked to influence it. the cia had to quickly play cleanup clarifying its own director's comments with a statement -- the intelligence assessment with regard to russian election meddling hasn't changed but the director will not to suggest it had. ken delainian joins us now. let me read you something a former senior intelligence official said about this story today. a very dangerous road to go down for pompeo. contradicting to bolster the president's false narrative. what say you? >> exactly the issue. saying this was not intentional, a slipup but he was answering a direct question by nbc news, by the way, about the impact of facebook and fake news. he said something that was flatly wrong. not supported by the intelligence assessment or any of the many senior officials we've talked to who said, look, there's no way to figure out and assess whether this affected the outcome of the election and
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underscores there's almost two mike pompeos. confident charismatic guy popular at the cia particularly among operators and a deeply partisan former house member from kansas who said really extreme things about benghazi and hillary clinton and who democrats are worried about this mike pompeo, sees donald trump every day, gives intelligence briefings and they worry, what happens if there's new intelligence about russia, goes to the russia issue? is he an honest broker, will pass it on to the president? did he willfully distort this stuff? because it's what trump wants to hear. it's the questions i'm hearing from democrats, nicolle. >> answers to those? >> a mystery. we have to watch this as a unfolds, and new intelligence on russia and this whole meddling issue is going to be the test.
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see that, and how does he handle it. >> right. the slipups on behalf of the president are never about france -- just russia. ken delainian, thank you. sneak in one more break and the panel will be back. she's nationally recognized for her compassion and care. he spent decades fighting to give families a second chance. but to help others, they first had to protect themselves.
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i've assemblealed the only panel to take us from south florida to niger. mark. >> the point that has to be made, attempted theft is just as bad as theft. so attempting to steal the american election even if you didn't succeed is, in fact, a crime. so the wrong narrative or the wrong setup is being postulated i think by the white house's
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alibi defense on steroids, "it didn't affect the outcome of the election." the only thing that matters to us, did a foreignen element try? >> and if the russians were unsuccessful at actually changing vote counts, therefore it doesn't matter. let's just back up on that. that's the end part of the election. the rest of the election, the months, the years before it is all about candidates and their surrogates having influence about the way we voters think about issues. that's the bulk of the elections. the russians intervened in that part of the election, and it matters a great deal, and to dismiss it because it wasn't about the ballot box, which we don't know for sure. we'll find out. but to dismiss it because it came in the first part of the election, i would argue the most
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important part is misguided. lastly, i have to say, it is critical our directors of cia check their politics at the door. >> amen. >> we need them to check their politics at the door to trust the information they send this president. >> and weigh in on one of john mccain's new priorities, which is to -- seems to regulate or require more transparency from facebook and social media companies. john mccain swinging at social media companies seems like a battle and a standoff i'm looking forward to watching. >> i like forward to it, too. a larger point. we'll be okay. i have faith about core systems, faith in -- >> i want whatever you are having for lunch. are you sure? >> yes. i'm positive. here's why -- we're better than this, i said before. our core values and core issues who we are we can withstand this. it's bumpy but there's a better tomorrow than there is today and it takes all of us collectively coming together saying, no, this
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is not normal. yes, there is such thing as a common set of facts. there is a difference between left versus right. this is really about right versus wrong. >> 30 seconds? >> quickly on this p. you said it. anyone wants to move ranks and move back to what is important to america, media is ready and willing to hear what you have to say, corporate, politicians, executives move it back to the american people and what's really important. next week is another week. >> i agree. we must get to policy. must get to what's important. and i'm encouraged when robert says we'll be all right. as a minister i preach hope. you say a bumpy ride, i've look in theed cockpit and the pilot right now i know well and i'm telling you, you may need more than a seat belt if we don't switch pilots as long as his name is trump, because this pilot loves -- he loves -- >> crashing. >> these kind of crashes. not just -- this is not just
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turbulence we're talking about crashing. when you have a president that every day figures out how he's going to cause trauma, we are in for more than a bumpy ride. we better look at the pilot. >> unfortunately, i agree with you. my thanks to evan, megan, mark, the rev al sharpton, robert, that does it for our hour. "mtp daily" starts right now. hi, chuck. >> hi, nicolle. i hope the weekend can actually -- >> be a weekend? >> for sure. >> have a good one. >> you, too. if it's friday when two presidents took aim at this president, was he listening? good evening. i'm chuck todd here in washington and welcome to "mtp daily." it's been a difficult week for a lot of folks in this country. watching a grieving military family become a political football. pretty

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