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tv   The 11th Hour With Brian Williams  MSNBC  October 20, 2017 8:00pm-9:00pm PDT

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>> as we often say in newsrooms, preach but also we're out of time. christina greer, tim o'brien, thank you both. that is the last word. lawrence is back monday. you can find my 6:00 eastern on the beat. i'll be joined by howard dean as well as motley crew guitarist nicky six. brian williams is next. tonight, trump's white house says it's highly inappropriate to question john kelly because he's a four-star general. we'll get reaction to that from another four-star general. plus, digging in. day five, the story of american gold star family has now been the lead story for an entire week and for all the wrong reasons. where. >> and did a massive intelligence failure play a role in the attack that kills four u.s. soldiers. fbi agents are traveling 5,000 miles to an open field in africa to find out what happened as "the 11th hour" gets under way on a friday night. >> on this friday evening, good
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evening once again from our nbc news headquarters here in new york. as we come to the end of day 274 of the trump administration, tonight, "the washington post" editorial board has taken the rare step of calling on the white house chief of staff to apologize to a member of congress. and now, for five days in a row, the president's handling of the families of fallen american soldiers has been at the center of the news. a continuing story of the president's own making. the president has now spoken for the first time about his comments the chief of staff made in the white house briefing room yesterday. four-star retired marine general john kelly was moved to discuss publicly something that is intensely personal for him. his son's death in afghanistan, just to stress how sacred that topic should be. now, in a new interview, the president is talking about it again. >> he was so offended because he was in the room when i made the
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call. and so were other people. and the call was a very nice call. he was so offended that a woman would be -- that somebody would be listening to that call. he was -- he actually couldn't believe it. actually, he said to me, sir, this is not acceptable. this is really not. i was so nice. look, i have called many people. and i would think that every one of them appreciated it. >> in his briefing room remarks this week, general kelly also criticized florida democratic congresswoman fredricka wilson. kelly said he had seen her speak two years ago at the dedication of a new fbi field office named for two law enforcement officers killed in a firefight. he accused her of self-aggrandizing in the speech, saying she talked about how she called president obama to get funding for the building. kelly said he was stunned by it, called her an empty barrel making noise. a local newspaper shared the
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video of the entire speech. you can find it, watch it all on the internet. she speaks effusively about law enforcement, at one point asking all law enforcement officers present to stand and be saluted. she praises democrats and republicans, she asks the audience to repeat after her the motto of the fbi. fidelity, bravery, and integrity, and she received a standing ovation. in light of the fact that we can now see the whole speech, today, reporters asked white house press secretary sarah huckabee sanders whether kelly stood by his statement. >> 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're able to make a sacred act like honoring american heroes all about yourself, you're an empty barrel. if you don't understand that reference, i'll put it more simply. as we say in the south, all hat,
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no cattle. >> have you seen the speech? >> have where. >> then you know that most of it was her effusively praising these fbi agents, and when she was talking about what she did in congress, she was not talking about getting security of $20 million. she was talking about naming the building for these fbi agents who she then went on to effusively praise. and that was the bulk of the speech. >> she also mentioned that, and she also had quite a few comments that day that weren't part of that speech and weren't part of that video that were also witnessed by many people who were there. what general kelly referenced yesterday. >> tell us specifically, because -- >> exactly what he said, there was a lot of grandstanding. he was stunned she had taken that opportunity to make it about herself. >> can he come out here and talk to us about that at some point? >> i think he's addressed that thoroughly yesterday? >> he was wrong yesterday in talking about getting the money. before she came into congress. >> that's up to you, but i think if you want to get into a debate
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with a four-star marine general, that's something highly inappropriate. >> remember that comment right there. a few hours later, after facing criticism about saying reporters should not debate generals, the white house put out this statement. quote, of course everyone can be questioned, but after witnessing general kelly's heartfelt and somber account, we should all be able to agree that inpuning his credibility on how best to honor fallen heroes is not appropriate. today, the white house also criticized the media for continuing to talk about the story. >> you guys are the ones talking a lot about that story, and he felt it was important to address you and all of america directly. this story has been given an enormous amount of coverage over the last 48 hours. and he thought it was important that people got a full and accurate picture of what took place. it should have ended yesterday after general kelly's comments. but it didn't. it continued. and it is still continuing today. >> it continues in large part because just a few hours after
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kelly finished in the briefing room, the president wrote this on twitter. just before 11:00 at night. the fake news is going crazy with wacky congresswoman wilson, a democrat who was secretly on a very personal call and gave a total lie on content. and tonight, as we mentioned, "the washington post" editorial board is out with this, quote, john kelly owes the congresswoman an apology. let's get to that with our lead-off panel tonight. philip rucker, white house bureau chief for "the washington post," and an msnbc political analyst. eugene scott, political reporter, also with "the washington post." we might add he's been writing nonstop on this story this week. and shannon petty piece, white house correspondent for bloomberg, is here with us in our new york studios. mr. rucker, i'll read from your editorial board tonight, and as we said, this is dramatic. it is unfortunate that the sacrifice of brave people such as the four soldiers killed in niger can get overpowered by the petty name calling of politics.
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that is a point mr. kelly was trying to make thursday. and that he undercut with his misrepresentation of ms. wilson. he needs to set the record straight. philip, how did this go so wrong? >> well, let me just start by pointing out to the viewers that don't know the ins and outs of the newspaper business that i'm a reporter, not part of the editorial board, so that's a second editorial. >> forgive me, a wall between the two, ideally. >> yeah, this all went wrong starting monday afternoon when the president made this an issue and began to politicize this incident in niger, where, you know, four soldiers were killed. the president had been silent for 12 straight days about that. and immediately, you know, began an attack basically on president obama. and this just spiraled out of control for this white house for five straight days. and i think yesterday, chief of staff john kelly wanted to use his credibility as a battlefield commander, as somebody who had lost his own son to war, to come out and try to put an end to
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this story, but he did not get his facts straight. he misrepresented what congresswoman wilson did in florida, and that's just compounded the problems for this administration. >> philip, i have watched this story covered on television. we have been part of it now for five days. i have heard over and over and over that the white house has a tool in its toolbox to stop this and other issues before they become a week-long story, and that is to take the high road and end it. in this case, again, the road not taken? >> that's right. but this is a president who hasn't ever really taken the high road when these controversies come up. he always wants to fight back. he always wants to defend himself, he always wants to pounce on whoever he thinks his enemy of the moment might be. in this case, his enemy is fredricka wilson, the congresswoman of florida, who is not only the representative of the johnson family who lost this young man in africa, but he was a mentor in her program. she was a family friend.
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she knew this family very well, and that's one of the reasons that she felt so compelled to come out and speak up about it. >> hey, eugene, your headline nicely makes up my next question, my first to you. what john kelly got wrong about representative fredricka wilson and the johnson family. can you share with our viewers the short version? >> yeah. absolutely. this is a story about identity and how we view people. i think the general communicated that he was stunned that a member of congress would participate in this phone call. and i think what he left out for people is that representative wilson is not primarily a member of congress to the johnson family. she's known them for decades. she was the principal of sergeant johnson's father's school. sergeant johnson and two of his brothers were in her mentorship program. she very much is like family to them. she referred to him as her son. and so she wasn't listening to the phone call as a lawmaker.
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she was listening to the phone call as a family friend, if not even a family member. i think what it got to, what i tried to get to it, is the idea that for many americans, family is a far broader concept that maybe the nuclear traditional family ideas that we see perhaps championed by general kelly. i think in his attempt, in his effort to discredit her, he ended up telling this story that wasn't even true, and more importantly, had absolutely nothing to do with why these four young men were in niger. >> and here we are on a friday night, and we're still talking about it. shannon, there was general kelly in the briefing room. i think it was nicolle wallace who said this week, he can only do this once. he put the full weight of his emotion as a gold-star father, his moral authority, the stars that used to rest on his shoulders, and yet tonight, here he is kind of the story. >> right. when i imagine he wanted anything but to be the story at the beginning of this week when
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we set off on this week on monday. when you look at companies and how they handle crisis communications in situations like this, and president trump, a businessman, he was going to run the white house. he was going to run the country like a business. i covered companies for a long time before this white house gig. i could not imagine a company handling crisis communication like this. you get your facts straight. if you're going to respond, if you're going to send someone out to respond, know it's going to fan the flames, it's going to drag the story on a day longer, and you have to have that statement sealed air tight. you can't come out and make a tiny -- even the tiniest error because it will fan the flames, it will exacerbate the story. so, you know, sarah sanders has been doing communications, politics, campaigns pretty much her whole life because of the work she did coming up with her father, but from a pr communications standpoint, if you talk to people who do corporate pr, they will tell you they have done everything wrong
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this week to make this story drag out for such a long period of time. >> philip rucker, you're the white house bureau chief for "the washington post," and when you hear from the podium the notion that a retired four-star marine general ought not to be questioned on something like this, what does that do to you? >> it's pretty chilling. i was watching that press conference today and couldn't believe what sarah sanders said. and it's worth noting, by the way, that she did come out with that statement to try to clarify it a little bit, but there are two problems with that statement. one is that even if he were a military official, it is our job as journalists to ask questions of every public official, whether they're in the military or they're in the government as a civilian. but secondly, he was not speaking yesterday in the capacity as a general. he was speaking as the white house chief of staff, as effectively, a political staffer trying to help his boss, the president, get out of a public relations crisis. >> eugene, it strikes me that here we are having the
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discussion all around this issue once again. it's been reduced to this word i keep hearing this week is obscene. this is an obscene turn for a conversation that should be about our brave americans willing to put on the uniform and go all over the world for their country. we have these four returning veterans who didn't make it. tell us a couple more things about sergeant johnson so we can try to make this a little more about him. >> absolutely. i mean, he was married to his high school sweetheart who was pregnant, and unfortunately, was the mother of two other young kids, a 6-year-old and i believe a 2-year-old boy as well. he was really into popping wheelies on bikes when he was a kid, just a very active young man. and just very much involved in trying to figure out how he could serve his country and give back to his community. that's why he got involved in the 5,000 role models program
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that the representative founded, and that's why he got involved in the military. so this whole story is about him and his service and his sacrifice, and this war and this area that so few americans are even aware of, and not just americans. i mean, we even saw senator john mccain communicate that he has been made insufficiently aware of the intelligence as to why sergeant johnson was there. and so i think it's so important to focus on him, this young man who gave his life to fight for freedom in the military, a community that the president says he honors very much. >> and thank you for that, eugene. he's also being laid to rest tomorrow in a military funeral, correct? >> yes, absolutely. >> okay. shannon, one more question. and it is useful that you have covered other disciplines in life prior to this. because this may speak to that. is there a broader lesson here on the people who are drawn in to the center of this administration on what can happen to people who find
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themselves working for this administration? >> well, if you think you're not going to be part of the story, you are going to be part of the story. everyone in this inner circle of this president is under an immense scrutiny, is a huge piece of attention. we just saw the sort of fandom around sean spicer or steve bannon. so much interest and attention on this administration, that those in the inner circle, they have a spotlight on them. and it seems like nine months in, they should have learned this now. but facts matter. the media, we will hold them accountable when the facts aren't right. we will question them on it. we will raise those points. if they don't want the conversation to continue down that path, get the facts straight, and we won't keep asking about them. i guess those would be my lessons at 11:00 on friday after a week like this. >> i get it, and i hope our viewers note along with us just how much these three print
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journalists have added to our discussion and the coverage at 11:00 eastern time on a friday night. philip rucker, eugene scott, shannon pettypiece, i appreciate it. >> as we approach our first break tonight, still ahead. was the ambush that killed these four u.s. soldiers in africa due at least in part to this quote we're hearing about a massive intelligence failure? plus, the white house says it's highly inappropriate, as we have been reporting, to question a retired four-star general. up next, we'll ask a retired four-star general what he thinks about that when "the 11th hour" continues on a friday night. where's gary? 'saved money on motorcycle insurance with geico. goin' up the country. later, gary' i have a motorcycle! wonderful. ♪ ♪ i'm goin' up the country, baby don't you wanna go? ♪ ♪ i'm goin' up the country, baby don't you wanna go? ♪
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if you want to go after general kelly, that's up to you, but i think if you want to get into a debate with a four-star marine general, i think that that's something highly inappropriate. >> white house press secretary sarah huckabee sanders introducing this notion that generals, retired generals, even retired generals working in a political capacity, as a civil servient, as chief of staff in the white house, shouldn't be questioned. that that would somehow be inappropriate, or as eli stokals put it, white house just implied that kelly's rank and military service should deter the media from questioning the chief of staff. let's ask a retired four-star general, shall we? barry mccaffrey, you want credentials. two distinguished service crosses, the decoration on his lapel. u.s. army ranger, numerous purple stars and four gold ones
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on his lapel when he retired from the military. also an msnbc analyst. and also with us, steve schmidt. general, you're always a good support about this. i don't mean to put you on the spot. i know it's a small community of retired and active four-star generals. but are we allowed to disagree with you? do you get any at home? >> i don't encourage it personally, brian, but when it comes to the serious question -- by the way, i was a retired four star working in the clinton administration, in the white house. ran a 200-person agency. took some serious shots out of the political system, so general kelly obviously is subject not just as a white house chief of staff but as a serving military officer to being questioned by the media, by the congress, by the court system. of course. you know, it's a democracy under the rule of law. >> but it sounded there briefly like there was a desire for us to be a country where people
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don't disagree with generals. and i think you've gone to war against a couple of those in your lifetime. >> yeah. no, that was a foolish statement on the part of the white house press secretary. it's a ridiculous way. look, there's been a terrible week for general kelly. he got his facts wrong on this congresswoman. he got angry. i think he's extremely fragile and vulnerable about his son. he doesn't like to talk about it. and so suddenly, the president threw him under the bus, i think, on his own family tragedy. so they're not doing very well. they need to shut up and try and get back to focusing on keeping us out of war with north korea. >> do you think, general, it would help to stop this? i'm guessing the general thought that this would be the period at the end of the sentence, that conjuring up all of that personal hurt and talking about being a gold-star parent as he
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did would end this. do you think he now can end it with an apology to the member of congress? >> well, i wouldn't advise him to do that. i think he ought to shut up and try and move on. you know, again, no good is going to come of this. this suddenly has consumed the nation for five days. a ham fisted call by the president to a widow. i'm assuming it was ham fisted. it got taken the wrong way. i'm sure mr. trump didn't intend to insult this poor woman who had lost her husband in combat. so, you know, i think they need to get off the stage here and let it die. >> steve schmidt, our friend jack jacobs keeps using the word obscene to describe this week. and we know why he's saying that, because at the heart of the story, four of our best dead in a field in central africa. at the heart of the story, what it's like to be a gold-star
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family in this country turned into an obscene distraction. i want to get your take on what's been happening this week and what we witnessed there in the briefing room today. >> well, first off, obscene is exactly the right word for it. it is an obscene display. i can't think of a more disgusting moment in american politics in my lifetime than the one we have fallen into, into the sewer over these issues. the person who did it, of course, is the president of the united states, donald trump. who thought to make himself look good by disparaging his predecessor's commitments to the families of fallen american heroes who gave what lincoln described as the last full measure of devotion to the country. as for the press secretary and her appallingly ignorant statement, perhaps she is unaware of the national security adviser, lieutenant general h.r.
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mcmaster's dissertation, dereliction of duty. she should read it. she should understand the necessity in a free society of questioning four-star generals. hr mcmaster did when he wrote the book focusing on from his perspective, the dare lection of the senior officer corps of the united states military who was seriously dishonest with the leadership and the american people over the conduct of the war, 1966, '67, '68, and it was officers like general mccaffrey who rebuilt the reputation of the united states military and made it today the only institution in this country that has grown in the esteem of the american people while every other institution in the country has collapsed and lost the trust of the american people. so when we think about rebuilding trust, the lessons of the military are fundamental to understanding how to do it.
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lastly, general kelly served in uniform for 46 years. 46 years. a man of unbelievable respect. not a bad word ever said about general kelly. someone known for his rectitude, for his probity. this is what happens when you're in a white house in close proximity to donald trump for under 90 days. this is a sad moment for general kelly. what i would advise him to do is not to apologize publicly but privately and in keeping with the man who we all know he is. pick up the phone of the congresswoman. do the right thing. and order everybody in the white house to stop talking about this forever and ever. but let's also remember that it was donald trump who attacked a gold-star family at the republican convention. it was donald trump who attacked the service of john mccain and his fellow prisoners of war. it was donald trump who desecrated the clandestine
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memorial of fallen cia officers by talking about his crowd sizes and the size of his election victory. it was donald trump who talked about there being some good nazis. it was donald trump over and over and over and over again who has taken us into the sewer, who has taken our discourse in this country and lowered it. and right when we think we can't go any lower, he finds a way to get us into another basement full of sewage. and so general kelly should use his authority in that white house to bring this obscenity to an end before we start another week going down this rabbit hole. >> general mccaffrey, after hearing that from our friend steve, who knows as much about american history as anybody i know, what gives you hope going forward? >> well, i think steve pretty well summed it up. we got a real problem going forward here.
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look, i think the bottom line to all this is we still have strong institutions in the country. congress is still operating. the media is still aggressive. we're still debating issues. we're still the wealthiest society in the history of mankind. the armed forces are still the most powerful institution on the face of the earth. you know, i was just today in orlando, the orange county sheriff's department honoring their killed in action officers, and i'm reminded of the 750,000 law enforcement people we got across the country who are integrity and faithful, as the congresswoman pointed out in her talk, so i'm still pretty upbeat about america. we're going to have to get through the next couple three years. and hopefully not get into trouble. >> we'll dedicate this to all the people in uniform around the world, including all the law enforcement folks in the middle of working the midnight to 8:00 a.m. shift in certain parts of this country. gentlemen, thank you so much. you're the only two guys i
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wanted to hear from on this subject tonight. we appreciate it. coming up for us, another break. some tough questions from lawmakers and a report citing this massive intelligence failure possibly. what really happened in niger? and central africa. some answers when "the 11th hour" continues. patrick woke up with back pain.
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the war is beginning to morph as we suppress the enemy in the middle east, they're going to move. they're not going to quit. i will say this about the operations, and i can't give the details. they died in the defense of america. this war is getting hot in places where it's been cool. and we have to go where the enemy takes us. >> was that scary enough for you? as investigations into this ambush that killed four u.s. soldiers continue, south carolina republican senator lindsey graham today talking about this growing u.s. military presence on the continent of africa, as the battle with the islamic state moves west, telling reporters, quote, you're going to see more actions in africa, not less. now, nbc news is reporting, quote, a senior congressional aide who has been briefed on the deaths of four u.s. servicemen in niger says the ambush from militants stemmed in part from a massive intelligence failure.
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for more, we're joined by hans nichols and elana schor, congressional reporter for politico. welcome to you both. hans, you and courtney cube yeah has been doing a superb job this week. can you clarify for our viewers what was the mission and what have we so far learned about what went wrong? >> well, officially, the mission was something called a key leader engagement, which meant that a small patrol working of u.s. forces, they were green berets, working with nigerian partners were supposed to go out and meet with tribal elders. that's been the official line from the pentagon. what officials were saying is they were likely delayed when they were meeting with the tribal elders, and after that, they were ambushed. there's going to be a top to bottom, hour by hour, almost minute by minute formal investigation into what went wrong, what sort of intelligence planning there might have should have been. what sort of overhead support
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was there. there wasn't direct drone support. the close air support that came from the french came about 30 minutes into the battle. so there are a lot of questions, and more in elawna's territory, understandably why on capitol hill they're asking and demanding more answers. >> that brings us over to capitol hill. i'm wondering if john mccain is driving this, elana, i said last night, this is a guy in the middle of chemo. doesn't have the time or temperament right now to get time or delays thrown in front of him. is it fair to say he is speeding this up and driving the investigation thus far? >> absolutely. and not just because of what he's going through personally but because as a decorated war veteran and chairman of the armed services committee, he takes matters like this extremely seriously. if you listen to lieutenant general mcmaster say he was
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personally hurt by mccain suggesting hoe might have to resort to subpoenas. this is escalating fast. >> and hans, we did some checking. it looks like we have americans, american military in 176 places around the world. >> yeah. >> excluding humanitarian missions and in some postings where there's just one or two members of the u.s. military. but part of what this story has done is awakened some civilians to just how far flung these places are. >> look, in niger, there are 800 u.s. forces, roughly. most of them are building a new drone base. so you look at what the intelligence failure was here, maybe not having good isr, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissan reconnaissance. that stems in part because there's only about a 20% to 30% coverage of africa. this is according to africom, he's been complaining about this for some time. so what is his goal? build more drone bases. in cameroon, they're building
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one. they have some 300 u.s. troops there working on these independent drone bases. hopscotching all across africa to djibouti, they want to have coverage throughout the sahara, in part because this is ungoverned territory, very difficult to traverse by land. right now, the preferred mode of transport, at least in niger because it's very, very muddy, is a motorcross bike. this isn't an easy place to get around. you need more surveillance. that's one of the reasons why we're kind of aware now that all these troops are there. i've got to say, we really only find out about this in crisis. a lot of times, there are raids that take place. they're successful raids. they grab high-value targets, hvts, in military speak. we only find out about them when they go badly and there's a casualty report and a report of a killed in action. otherwise, we're in the dark. >> a critical point, and thank you for making it. elana, where are you looking for the next move? where should we look for where
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this is going next? >> i would mark down october 30th, because that's the date that the senate foreign relations committee is already set to hear from secretary of state tillerson and mattis. and this was going to be on the topic of war authorization in general, but senators are already preparing for this hearing to focus almost exclusively on niger and what happened. >> and hans, what's the fbi doing involved in this? >> forensic support. they're there for forensic support. now, it's not uncommon to have the fbi assist in a dod investigation, when u.s. service members die. basically, they're trying to figure out how did this person, what was the cause of death. now, there will be autopsies, there have been autopsies on these four. and that's sort of determining to be gory about it, the cause of deaths. was this an enemy bullet, was it shrapnel, friendly fire? the fbi has a great deal of expertise. that's what they're focused on. this, the initial assessment on this was that it was isis, then there was an isis affiliated
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group, and then the final intelligence, more conclusive intelligence report concluded that it was indeed an isis-linked group. but all throughout here, you have groups that are loosely affiliated, whether or not it's with al qaeda or isis, and what they're trying to do is get a better assessment on intelligence. that's in part why you need surveillance. >> our thanks to hans nichols and elana schor. we help it for smiening this ongoing story. >> still ahead, trump's cia director says something about russia and then is correcting by the cia. we'll explain it all when "the 11th hour" continues. just like the people who own them, every business is different. but every one of those businesses will need legal help as they age and grow. whether it be with customer contracts, agreements to lease a space or protecting your work. legalzoom's network of attorneys can help you, every step of the way. so you can focus on what you do
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saying u.s. intelligence agencies concluded russia's interference in the 2016 campaign did not affect the outcome. in fact, intelligence agencies last january concluded russia attempted to influence the election but did not make a specific assessment on its impact on the election. the cia itself was quick to issue a statement clarifying the director's comments. it is here. thus, quote, the intelligence assessment with regard to russian election meddling has not changed, and the director did not intend to suggest that it had. let's talk about this with paul butler, former federal prosecutor, veteran of the justice department, and an msnbc legal analyst. teaches law at georgetown, and jonathan allen, nbc news national political reporter. jonathan, mr. pompeo, number one in his class at west point. harvard law school, editor of the law review, is a very smart guy who doesn't get a lot wrong.
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what do you think is going on here? and i encourage rampant speculation. >> well, look, number one, there's certainly the possibility he misspoke, but just a few short months ago, less than a year ago, mike pompeo was a congressman from kansas and a fairly partisan one at that. i think what you have heard as a partisan talking point from republicans and from certainly this white house is that the russians did not have a determinative effect on this election. and i think that's what he was saying. but he is in a different role now, and he's the cia director, and the civilians within the cia and within the intelligence community have not made a judgment about that at all. if you switched around a few words in that statement, it might have been more accurate, but i think you're basically looking at a cia director who got a little out over his skis. it was corrected relatively quickly, and my guess is you
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won't hear him say that again. >> yajonathan, you would agree, this is the last subject area where they can afford missteps, especially at the cabinet agencies. >> right. i mean, there's an ongoing investigation right now into whether the trump campaign colluded with the russians. there are a lot of branches of that investigation in terms of the mueller piece of it and the congressional probes. and right now, you know, i think the intelligence agencies probably want to play it as straight as they possibly can. and look, you know, we still don't have a real feel for what the outcome of this russia investigation is going to be. you know, it is possible that at some point there will be a determination about how much influence the russians actually had. i think what we do know from the intelligence community is they attempted to influence the election. of course, there are a lot of factors that go into the outcome that may or may not be a determinative one. >> paul butler, same question. what do you think is going on
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here? >> why is the director of the cia going out of his way to defend russia? in the speculation category, it's been reported that if rex tillerson, the secretary of state is a dead man walking after calling the president reportedly a moron, that the cia director pompeo might be up for that position. so maybe he feels that since trump likes pledges of loyalty, that this is something that will reassure the president. but it's entirely inappropriate for someone who is the director of an intelligence agency to provide this political cover to the president. it's not reassuring. thank god for robert mueller. thank god for somebody doing an independent investigation of russia. >> counselor, while i have you, a legal story. and this headline, trump personally interviewed u.s. attorney candidates. here's the story. let me read the lead. president donald trump has personally interviewed at least
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two potential candidates for u.s. attorney positions in new york. according to two sources familiar with the matter, a move that critics say raises questions about whether they can be sufficiently independent from the president. paul, is this improper? is this not done? is there anything enjoining a president from doing this kind of thing? >> nothing but a sense of deese aenls and propriety and wanting to create the appearance of justice. if you don't care about those things. it's fine to interview prosecutors who are in charge of trump tower. he's only interviewing the prosecutor in d.c., where obviously, there is the grand jury investigation of collusion and obstruction of justice. and the prosecutor for trump tower. it's not illegal. it's adjust not done. barack obama did not interview one potential candidate to be
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the head prosecutor. in part because the justice department is independent. and that's something that the president just either seems to have a difficult time understanding or seems to want to change that. >> jonathan, these relationships are so interesting. the previous u.s. attorney for new york has become something of a legal celebrity for his dealings with trump, his refusal to deal with trump, then his firing from trump by trump. now my goodness, he's already got a podcast of his own. >> yeah. i think that there are a lot of legal questions raised by the question as paul points out. i think what he's getting at there is not everything that is scandalous is necessarily illegal. preet bharara, the former prosecutor up there, has certainly become a celebrity, not only in legal circles, but definitely somebody that the left and even some centrist republicans who aren't big fans of the trump administration have looked to as a voice to say where the lines of right and
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wrong are. in part because he tried to make that separation that paul was talking about where the justice department has kind of a firewall from the white house. >> he's quite something in the podcast community, evidently. gentlemen, thank you so much for joining us late on a friday night. paul butler, jonathan allen. coming up, a report from north korea during a dicy and threatening time between our two countries, and in that entire region. nbc's keir simmons is there for us when "the 11th hour" continues. listen up, heart disease. you too, unnecessary er visits. and hey, unmanaged depression, don't get too comfortable. we're talking to you, cost inefficiencies, and data without insights. and fragmented care, stop getting in the way of patient recovery and pay attention. every single one of you is on our list. at optum, we're partnering across the health system to tackle its biggest challenges.
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however it will be interpreted, the united states has dispatched its largest aircraft carrier in the region to put on a show of force right next door to north korea. uss ronald reagan conducted patrols east of the korean peninsula on thursday in what north korea dubbed a rehearsal for war. what the u.s. calls
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international waters. reuters is reporting that from that aircraft carrier, they launched almost 90 f-18 flights as they drilled with the south korean navy. this as north korean state news warns of an unimaginable strike on the united states. nbc news correspondent keir simmons filed this report from inside north korea for us. >> good day to you again from inside the democratic people's republic of korea. i'm standing in kim il-sung square. this is where you'll have seen thousands marching, watched by the supreme leader, kim jong-un, who stands on the balcony over there, and the tensions with north korea escalating still further. north korea now threatening an unimaginable strike against the u.s. along the front line between america's ally south korea and the north, there is a permanent sense of danger. they call this the demilitarized
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zone. it's anything but. every day, these north korean troops stare down their american and south korean counterparts. both sides today on a hair trigger. that is the border between north and south. this side, socialism. there is where the capitalist world begins. we're not allowed to stay here for long. north korea's vice foreign minister tells nbc news, quote, president trump's rhetoric is taking them to the brink of war, and in a war, this would be ground zero. and our exchange with a north korean lieutenant colonel reveals why the two sides, so close at this border, are so far apart. >> what do you think of president trump? trump is mentally ill, the guard tells me. if there is a war with america, we will win. in this closed off country, the people are hard to read. some officials we spoke to still hope for peace. all seem braced for war. >> our thanks to nbc's keir
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simmons for that report from pyongyang, north korea. now, a final break. when we come back, one of the questions that emerged this week. it has to do with a shiny object in the news these past few days, when "the 11th hour" continues. e with moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis? do what i did. ask your doctor about humira. it's proven to help relieve pain and protect joints from further irreversible damage in many adults. humira works by targeting and helping to block a specific source of inflammation that contributes to ra symptoms. humira has been clinically studied for over 20 years. humira can lower your ability to fight infections, including tuberculosis. serious, sometimes fatal infections and cancers, including lymphoma, have happened; as have blood, liver, and nervous system problems, serious allergic reactions, and new or worsening heart failure. before treatment, get tested for tb. tell your doctor if you've been to areas where certain fungal infections are common,
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the last thing before we go here tonight, no other way to put it. it's the question people have been asking. hot the deal with the cowboy hat? a week ago, democratic congresswoman frederica wilson was not terribly well known outside her florida congressional district. then came tragedy. the death of a young man she had known for years. then came the call from the president to his widow, the congresswoman was present for it and reported on it. again, with tragedy at the heart of this story, as we have come to know her, in all of her media appearances. one notable characteristic has been wondered about but has gone
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unreferenced. the fact that she is always wearing some version of a sequinned hat. tonight, the florida sun sentinel newspaper is there to help us out as they have written this. the sequins cowboy hat zebra striped fedoras and other dazzling head gear are nothing new. the congresswoman's proclivity for embellished hats has been a constant throughout her political career. when she was elected to congress, she learned the body had a rule banning hats on the floor since the 19th century, and briefly lobbies to get the rule overturned. according to wilson, her love of hats goes back to her grandmother who whom she was named. quote, when i was a little girl, they always wore hats and gloved. i was always a prissy girl who wanted to be like my grandmother, she told the hill newspaper after being named one of d.c.'s most beautiful people by the paper in 2013. as the great paul harvey used to say, now you know the rest of
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the story. that is our broadcast on a friday night, and for this week. thank you so much for having been with us here, and have a good weekend. good night for all of us here at nbc news headquarters in new york. >> as per usual, because it's friday, and this is our life now, there's a lot of news including some late breaking news tonight. tonight a federal appeals court has ordered the trump administration to at least change the way it has been treating a 17-year-old girl who is in federal custody and who wants to have an abortion. the girl is being held under the refugee resettlement office, part of the health and human services agency. the president appointed an official to run that office who didn't seem like a great fit when he was announced. again, this is the office of refugee resettlement. the official that president trump picked to run the office

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