tv Morning Joe MSNBC October 23, 2017 3:00am-6:00am PDT
so, all of us on this stage here tonight could not be prouder of the response of americans when they see their neighbors and they see their friends, they see strangers in need, americans step up. and i want to thank president george w. bush and, most of all, an outstanding american, somebody who has always shown grace and character and courage and served america nobly throughout the years, president george h.w. bush. we are so proud to be with him today. >> all five living former u.s. presidents with a rare appearance together over the weekend. on saturday night in college station, texas, they put aside
politics in order to raise money for victims of recent hurricanes. four of the five former presidents made brief remarks, appealing for national unity. beautiful. >> i tell you what, what a great night. fantastic moments there. and a reminder, richard, that that's how things have been for 240 years, that what we're going through now is an anomaly, a one off. and what people saw on stage there with five presidents representing, you know, americans in the white house from 1976 forward, through january with 2017. that's the rule. that's how we do it as americans. that's how we won the cold war, from harry truman to ronald reagan, unbroken chain of presidents working together. and it is hopeful. >> it's bipartisan. it's also people who defeated
other people coming together. so, they've buried, if you will, the political hatchets. >> yeah. and, mark, you could look at every one of those presidents up there, especially if they replaced one another. presidents don't usually think too much of presidents they replaced, you know, whether -- even going all the way back to ike didn't think -- first of all, harry truman thought very little of ike and vice versa. they had a contentious relationship. moving forward, ike didn't think much of jfk. was there during the cuban missile crisis. every one of these presidents, you know, george w. bush was just absolutely skewered. the obama people said that they didn't run against john mccain. they trashed george bush for a year and a half. they said when we got elected, it spoke to his character that he opened up the white house and
he said it's your white house. you tell us. we serve you. and that's the grace that has been shown. it's not being shown right now, but the grace that has made america succeed. >> my hunch is that when the history of the trump years are written, that night, over the weekend, will be part about it because of the contrast of what you saw that evening as compared to what we've seen over the last several months. and the real linchpin of the relationship is that the clintons and the bushes. although president clinton beat president bush, those families have grown close and they share a lot. and they share a common view of what's going on in america today. >> here is president clinton speaking. watch bush 43 and obama behind him. it's fun. >> there is still work to be done in texas and in florida. and our friends in puerto rico and the american virgin islands have only begun to dig their way out of what could be still a
calamitous disaster, but can be a new beginning if we just do what we ought to do and prove that the heart of america, without regard to race or religion or political party is greater than our problems. >> look at w., harold. i swear the guy is still at yale, whispering, joking while bill clinton is there. obama enjoying it. it's a great night. and jimmy carter, my god, the guy looks like it's 1979 right there. he is a wonder. >> he, in so many ways -- carter represents -- here is a guy, after his presidency, so many of his accomplishments and achievements, some would argue, eclipse what he did as president. some would argue. and president george w. bush, that's why we love him, watching
him there in the light moment. and president obama, much of his campaign was running against george w. bush and the two have such a great relationship now. >> this was about something so much bigger and missing right now that they were stepping in to help fill in. msnbc political analyst and professor at the michigan school of public policy, former congressman, harold ford jr. author of the book, "a world in disarray" richard haas and "morning joe" economic analyst steve ratner. also with us, washington bureau chief of the associated press, julie pace. so good to have you all on board. the white house is refusing to acknowledge a mistake by white house chief of staff john kelly, who attempted to discredit congresswoman frederica wilson's account of a phone call between president trump and the widow of
a soldier killed in action. the white house position culminated on this exchange on friday. >> have you seen the speech? >> i have. >> and 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 the security of $20 million. she was talking about naming the building of the fbi agency. she then went on to effusively praise and that was the bulk of the speech. >> she also mentioned that and 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 that 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 to talk about this at some point? >> i think he addressed that thoroughly yesterday. >> he was wrong yesterday.
>> if you want to go after general kelly, that's up to you f you want to get into debate with a four-star marine general, i think that's something highly inappropriate. >> later, huckabee -- sarah huckabee sanders issued a statement trying to clarify her marks. of course, everybody can be questioned but after witnessing general kelly's heartfelt recount, we should all agree that impugning his credibility on how to best honor fallen heroes is not appropriate. >> we can take it to basics. what the president did, we can impugn him. it's a terrible act. it's sick. go ahead. >> let's go ahead and play -- here is general david petraeus. he found himself criticized, remember, in uniform when there
were people that had general betray us, when he was trying to push the surge? lot of prominent democrats. despite that, this is what he said. >> i think we're all fair game. we, in uniform, protect the rights of others to criticize us. >> i love that, steve ratner. we're in uniform to protect the rights of others to criticize us. there is a theme, though, here. a sort of autocrat in waiting theme at the white house where you have a lot of little autocrats running around there, thinking that donald trump is somehow unchained from checks and balances of james madison and the constitution, and hamilton. we remember back to when steven miller said the president shall not be questioned.
one of the most tyrranical things i ever heard uttered from the white house. she pulled it back but what is disturbing is this is their instinct. how dare you question us. >> their go-to. >> there's no question -- no pun intended, there's no question that they don't believe their actions should be questioned. and they have this sort of autocratic pushback blanket at all costs kind of mentality. i think it is fair game to question what general kelly did or didn't say. that said, i would say as apparent as someone who can't even begin to imagine what it's like to have that casualty of r office to have general kelly show up on your doorstep. we've taken the death of an american soldier. it's become politicized. >> and the pain of his family. >> it's become politicized and perhaps the bulk of the blame
lies on donald trump's doorstep. i think a lot of other people don't have completely clean hands here. it's really sad, what we've come to as a country, that this has become the issue of the day, the death of this poor kid and how it was handled thereafter. >> actually, who else -- who else except for the president of the united states really has any responsibility for what went wrong? >> well, there hasn't been -- >> i can't think of one. >> there hasn't been a grown-up. >> the congress kls womwoman wa friend of the family. she wasn't going around, grandstanding. >> the president has said from the beginning you have to be careful when you're listening in on conversations from the president and then you run out and talk about it in the press. so some people could look to her. some people could look to general kelly who, in all of his eloquent remarks -- i will say again i thank god general kelly is there -- but even he didn't make it about the soldier who has fallen.
he didn't talk about the soldier. >> the family. >> he talked about politics, the congresswoman. enraged him so much, he had to go up to arlington. again, no talk about this young man, this american hero who fell. he had an opportunity as well to be the grown-up. and he still needs to come out and remind everybody it's about this young man who has fallen and then move on. nobody is doing that. there is no grown -up in the house. and, yes, this all began with donald trump. all began with donald trump. and that's unfortunate. but julie pace, this is a great example of -- well, you've got to question -- i guess as a reporter, this is something you're balancing all the time. is this a self inflicted wound or is this this week's version of the nfl and kneeling two weeks ago. is donald trump actually just trying to distract us from the russian investigation? >> or from what really happened
in niger? >> trying to distract us from what happened in niger? is he trying to distract us from the fact that they haven't passed a single piece of legislation? is he trying to distract us from the fact that he has the lowest approval ratings of all time for any first-year president? how do you take these controversies du jour, of the week, that he keeps spitting out? he throws out an insult, he knows it's going to cause -- is he trying to distract us from something bigger or does he just -- >> not have a heart. >> -- completely lost it? >> that is the central question of this presidency. it's a question we grapple with every day, every week. you're right. there tends to always be some kind of controversy that bubbles up. it generalliy comes from the president himself. it generally gets pushed forward from the president himself. i do think there's an element of the president liking the art of
distraction. he does like to have a side show going on. a lot of his advisers don't like that but understand that actually is, in some ways, strategic on his part. he does like the shiny objects. in this case, with this situation, with these four soldiers and everything that came from this controversy over the call to the family, i don't think that this is the same as the nfl. that was a situation that the president, once he latched on to that issue, felt it was a winning issue for him. in this case it's more of an example of the president being really unwilling to admit a mistake, admit that he probably shouldn't have gone after former presidents in the way that they handled calls to families of fallen soldiers. this was more the doubling down aspect of the trump presidency. what you saw -- this was what was so striking about last week. what you saw was general kelly helping trump along in that effort. that's what made this one so unique to me. >> richard? >> you asked the important
question about whether it's the tactic of distraction. i think it raises the question for us, whether we're allowing ourselves to be distracted. there's really big policy questions here. why do we have somewhere between 750 and 1,000 americans in niger? this is not unique. open-ended effort against terrorism. this is the question of congr s congressional authorization and oversight. several leading people in the senate were unaware of what we're doing. as a country we have to ask ourselves, are we signed up for an open-ended war of this sort, literally, that is being waged across several continents? >> this morning we hear of the cia's expanded role in afghanistan, mark. and also i remember, mika, your father years and years ago -- my god, maybe eight years ago, saying it's very important for us to separate al qaeda and the taliban. al qaeda wants to knock down buildings in new york and washington. the taliban wants to run its
country by eighth century rules. we are now launching cia to expand its covert role in afghanistan. it's the lead story in "the new york times." this president, who is talking about retreating militarily, actual ly sending more troops ad more operations out. and we're not talking about it because he's sending out stupid tweets that we would punish our children for sending out. >> public policy, the one that richard raised, the fact that there's ignorance on the leading members of congress, where americans are stationed around the world, what the migs are. "the new york times" story, the niger mission, whatever the facts are. it's essential that both parties avoid the distractions and get their arms around this. president trump talked about coming home to america but he also talked about being tough
and has around him an impressive amount of military people. that is a recipe for if there's a failure of congressional oversight, the executive branch doing whatever it wants in the most profound responsibility it's got to defend america. >> with a republican house, certainly, that will not cross this president, that fear this president, that have basically given up their constitutional mandate to be a check on this president. harold, the biggest question of all on foreign policy, north korea. we should be talking about north korea. >> absent this weekend. >> we should be talking about north korea every day. there is a coming war, most likely. richard haas, i think you would agree. it is more likely than not that there is a conflict, possibly a full-blown war, with an emerging nuclear power. >> the magnitude of the distraction can't be overstated. last weekend, tillerson was on just about every sunday show, defending the fact that he had
not been castrated and making clear that we would continue negotiating right up until the first bomb dropped, which was an amazing thing. one point on sanders. i want to hear richard. president trump, then candidate trump, if you recall, he trashed generals throughout the campaign. he questioned them over and over again. matter of fact, said in several instances that he was smarter than all the generals. >> that he knew more about it than then. >> she needs to go back and understand that. i'm glad chip reid questioned with the aggressiveness that he did but north korea is far more important i think. >> i would like to hear you respond about north korea, but who is running -- who is the lead player on what happens next with north korea, from our perspective? is it the president? >> in all these cases, the president and his senior lieutenants. we were focused on what the two former presidents said and what general kelly was saying. history would look back on what h.r. mcmaster was saying thursday that wasn't really reported friday.
that was big news. he said we are not going to accept and deter on north korea with nuclear weapons and missiles and other than denuclearization, which i would argue is not going to happen. >> they're not going to do that. >> they're not interested in arms control. >> what is the impact of that basically when he says we're not going to engage in containment of this threat. we are not -- just not going to accept it. does that move us a step closer to war? >> absolutely. i don't think there's any way that sanctions can kick in with whatever desire to fix soon enough to get in the way of the time line of north korea's military advance. i listen to the national security adviser and i basically said he is setting us in a direction -- this is out there. we often ignore what's most obvious. i actually thought what happened the other day moved us considerably closer to a war against north korea. >> this is what general mcmaster said on thursday. then we'll get you in, steve. >> we're not running out of time
but we are running out of time. we're running out of time. this is a problem set that we have to take on with a great sense of urgency. the president has been extremely clear on his perspective on north korea. he is not going to accept this regime threatening the united states with a nuclear weapon. he won't accept it. so, there are those who have said, well, you know, what about accept and deter? accept and deter is unacceptable. so this puts us in the situation where we are in a race to resolve this, short of military action. >> steve? >> richard, look, i can't disagree with you, obviously, that the threat of war is real. it seems to me that war there is -- it's just unimaginable. 250,000 americans in south korea, 20 million people in seoul, 60 kilometers or something like that from the dmz. it can't possibly go well. it can't possibly end well. it has to be one of the -- it
has to make vietnam look like a pipsqueak compared to what would happen in the korean peninsula if we did something like that. >> it would be horrific. it's not unimaginable. i can see it happening out of design, which was what was hinted at the other day, or by accident. we've got b-1 bombers in the area, ships in the area. north korea continues to launch missiles. any of those scenarios could lead to action or reaction. no one can sit here around the tably a table and say that donald trump or kim jong-un, given what they've said, could step back from the situation. >> you have to look at the players and you have to figure out what they're going to do. i believe if you step back and take a look from a distance at donald trump, this is a guy who has already told himself and every general around him, i will
not be the person that allows north korea to develop technology, to send a nuclear weapon to the west coast. and i think unlike other presidents, he is not limited by the fears that limited jfk or even ronald reagan. by the way, when i say fears, don't flinch. i mean, you have reason to be scared of a war that could wipe out 500,000 people. >> no. i just think he wants to use nukes. that's what i feel. i totally disagree. >> you totally disagree with what? >> you heard him over the past year. he's excited about the concept. >> you didn't hear me, mika. >> i heard you. >> no, you didn't. i said he is not chained by the same fears that chained jfk and reagan, the fear of nuclear weapons, a fear of war.
and, unfortunately, i think we have to be on guard after that. since he is so contemptuous of the constitution if a war does begin we have to be aware of what steps he takes domestically if he does start that war. >> i totally agree with that. senator john mccain said it was wrong that, to get out of serving in vietnam, quote, the highest income level found a doctor that would say they had a bone spur. must have been a coincidence that donald trump received five deferments from the draft during the vietnam war because he had bone spurs. steve bannon's road show takes another ugly turn with an audience member calling to hang senator john mccain and hear how mitch mcconnell is responding to bannon's push to end the republican establishment. you are watching "morning joe."
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in an interview about the vietnam war that was recorded wednesday and aired last night on c-span, senator john mccain made this comment about vietnam that many see as unmistakably a reference to president trump's draft deferment. >> aone aspect of the conflict, by the way, is that we drafted the lowest income level of america and the highest income level found a doctor that would say that they had a bone spur. that is wrong. that is wrong. >> and as has been reported, donald trump received five deferments from the draft during the vietnam war. >> five. >> due to heel spurs and, of
course -- >> what's a heel spur? >> still played football, golf, tennis. >> i think my daughters had a few of those, but they still had to run in their track meets. their coach must have been wrong. >> earlier in the day, donald trump's former chief strategist took aim at many republicans, attacking john mccain, a war hero, who was in prison for f e five, six years and beaten up so badly that he can't even lift his arms over his head while donald trump was going to college with his bone spurs. and also george w. bush. and he did it in a key note address to the california republican party's fall convention. >> within 24 hours of each other there were three speeches, president xi in china, our beloved president george bush. [ audience boos ]
that's a piece of work, and john mccain. [ audience boos ] >> he embarrassed himself, wrote a high falutin' speech. it was clear he didn't know what he was talking about. he has no earthly idea whether he was come org going, just like it was when he was president of the united states. i want to apologize up front to any of the bush folks outside, in this audience, okay? because there has not been a more destructive presidency than george bush's. john mccain, his service in the united states navy say pride to every naval officer. how he handled himself. and how john mccain has handled himself with this horrible disease he has and the class that his wife and his daughter have shown, the whole family. and his two sons who serve in the marine corps. john mccain deserves our respect. however, as a politician, john mccain is just another senator
from arizona. john mccain the other day -- and "the new york times" and "morning joe," it's the greatest speech in human history. it was paraclese at athens, right? the speech was nothing but happy talk. we live in a dangerous world. it's time we started treating our fellow countrymen like adults and have an adult conversation with them. >> so -- >> that, the great irony of steve bannon and donald trump lying through their teeth for six, seven, eight, nine months, talking in alternative realities, constantly saying things that just aren't true, that guy being a huckster, going on television and going through a crowd, his high falutin' -- like i'm just a country lawyer.
he's a goldman sachs guy. >> acid bathtubs, too. >> he was a hollywood guy in one of the most powerful hollywood firms going, hooked in to hollywood, wall street, made millions and millions of dollars and now the mercers are loading him, loading his wallets and his coats and the five shirts that he wears with millions and millions of dollars. this guy -- it's a scam. the great news is about america -- i love this about america. scammers always get caught. this scam -- this scam is going to blow up in the most spectacular fashion next mid term. because he's lining up behind people that have been kicked off several times, apparently stolen from charities, have been sent to jail. it's all a scam job. mark halperin, hear you have
george w. bush booed, republican president. it's fascinating. these same yokels, these same -- whatever you want to call them -- jackals in the crowd that were boo'ing george w. bush were attacking people like me back when george bush was president of the united states and had power for saying that he had a wilsonian policy, that he was spinning us into debt. they just basically worship power they don't stand for anything. those people boo'ing don't believe in anything. they attacked anybody who attacked george w. bush when he was president. now they're boo'ing him and john mccain -- i have to go a step further. a disturbing detail from this californian republican party convention. l.a. times report ed, seema meha reported the crowd booed george
w. bush and john mccain. one man yelled about mccain "hang him." >> is this where we really want to be, america? >> no, it's not. this is the death cry of the republican party. a party that shouts "hang him" for john mccain, a war hero, and boos past presidents, past presidents that i didn't really care for their policies much but still that is a sick, sick party. >> you saw over the weekend mitch mcconnell stand up aggressively to steve bannon. karl rove did it last week. the establishment of the republican party is not cowering in fear anymore. they're going hard after him at the same time this president has this extraordinary on again, off again, but mostly on again relationship with steve bannon. and i think that the tale will be told, to a large extent, on whether bannon's candidates can win these primaries or not.
>> you mentioned mitch mcconnell. we have that sound bite. let's take a listen. >> they've been out there for a number of years. they cost us five senate seats in 2010 and 2012. we would have gotten the majority sooner but for the fact that they were able to nominate people who could not win in november. in '14, they were defeated everywhere. in '16, they've been defeated everywhere. some of these folks that you've been quoting, as i said, are specialists in nominating people who lose. that's not going to help president trump achieve his agenda. >> julie pace, it's still hard to figure out why mitch mcconnell is even playing games with donald trump, even going to the white house, sitting there, talking to him when it's obvious that donald trump is talking on the phone almost every day to steve bannon about steve bannon destroying mitch mcconnell and the republican majority. >> i know that scene at the
white house was so striking, given everything we know that's happening behind the scenes between trump and mcconnell and a lot of folks in the senate republican caucus. mcconnell still feels like -- this the way a lot of republicans talk about this. if they can get tax reform, they head into 2018 and the landscape looks decent. the map is favorable to them. they look at the democrats and don't see a lot happening there. they feel he has to be on trump's side, push trump in the right direction on tax reform. i think if you see that break apart, you see no progress happen there, for republicans it could be pretty disastrous next year. that's when you could see this real cleev happening between mcconnell and trump. >> steve? >> they've got an immediate problem with this health care bill. mcconnell said he wasn't going to put it forward in the senate. trump keeps going back and forth on that. >> isn't that amazing? a guy who claims to be a leader just can't make up his mind? he waffles around, goes back and
forth, defers everything over to the senate and the house. he can't make up his mind on daca. he throws it there. he can't make up his mind on health care. he tosses it over there. goes back and forth. this guy flip-flops every single day. he's the weakest leader i've ever seen in my life. he flip-flops. he has no courage. he doesn't know what he believes in. >> i don't think he knows what he's talking about. >> that's his problem. he doesn't know. he's flip flopping every day. >> he goes back and forth. we're seeing on tax reform a lot of problems going out. state and local tax deduction, there's a lot of pushback on that. >> thank god. >> not talking personally here. >> not that we're talking personally, but a guy that lives in new york and works in connecticut, thank god. >> well, thank god. there are 30, 40 or more republicans in high tax states in the house that will not necessarily be for this. deficit estimates are very, very high. it's a not -- you've got corker, now a free agent.
you've got rand paul, who is a free agent. it's not 100% clear they're going to get tax reform, as important as it is. >> for all that it tries to do in lowering corporate tax rate it does blow a hole in the deficit. we're sitting here. the deficit has gone up again this year. the national debt is over $20 trillion. this is -- >> even without tax reform, the baseline budget projections are another $10 trillion of debt over the next ten years. >> even without this, you're right, we're up to $30 trillion. and it really starts to weigh on the economy in a negative way. also if you look at where these tax breaks go, we've got a report last week that the rich are getting rich and the poor are getting poorer at an even faster clip than before. income disparity and the national debt are two reasons why this is the wrong time for this tax break. i guess one other thing, too, we're at 4.2% unemployment.
wages are starting to creep up right now. the last thing we need to do right now is fuel the economy even more in a way that could possibly cause inflation to go up. >> the game is not changing in the way the president had promised on the campaign trail. i think certainly people are going to start feeling it. still ahead, new information on what may have happened in niger that resulted in the deaths of four u.s. service men. we are looking into that. plus we bring in the washington post's eugene robinson who writes about the president's, quote, mindless cruelty to the widow of sergeant johnson. we'll be right back.
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i can say this to the families. they were there to defend america. they were there to help allies. they were there to defend another platform. we don't know where we're at in the world militarily or where we're going. john mccain is going to try to create a new system to make sure we can answer the question, why were we there. if somebody gets killed there that we won't find out about it in the paper. and john mccain and, i think, general mattis, are going to
come up with a new process, i hope. i didn't know there were 1,000 troops in niger. john mccain is right to tell the military because this is an endless war without boundaries, no limitation on time and geography, you have to tell us more. is he right to say that. >> as the senate democratic leader, have you been briefed? >> not yet. i hope to be briefed early next week. >> you heard senator graham there. he didn't know we had 1,000 troops in niger. did you? >> no, i did not. >> as for the investigation into that deadly ambush in niger that left four u.s. special forces soldiers dead the pentagon is now looking into whether the troops diverted from their patrol route to undertake an unapproved mission, according to "the new york times," citing unnamed military officials. reports indicate the patrol may have pursued a group of men on motorcycles who lured them into an ambush. and a senior congressional aide brief ond the incident tells nbc news that it all stemmed from a
massive failure. congressman chaffetz tweeted over the weekend, quote, congress investigated benghazi and extort ion 17. congress should also investigate the deadly attack in niger. #truth. i think we need to get to the truth and make sure they don't do the classic pilot's error analysis, saying oh, these were just some troops that wandered into the wrong country. >> it goes beyond the tactical question of whether this was an authorized mission or not. take a step back and ask about the strategy. is this whack a mole? should we be doing training and advising and so forth? do we need to do whatever?
this is what -- we actually need some hearings here, some clear articulation of policy so that senator mccain, senator corker, this is a serious -- >> a bigger stepback. leader of the democrats and chairman of the committee, the armed services committee had no idea we had troops there. you have to take a bigger step back, understand that. the second question is where else do we have troops? >> i go back to what i asked julie pace earlier. are all of these tweets and, julie, are all of the things that we have seen over the past couple of weeks since you all in the press room started pushing him on the ambush and the killing of these four americans, has everything been a distraction against an operation that was not -- that congress wasn't briefed on? >> well, whether it was an intentional distraction or not, it became a distraction. there are really serious questions about why these
americans, 1,000 americans are in niger and what happened to these four americans who were killed there. there has to be some type of investigation. this is how our system of government is supposed to work, that the executive branch is supposed to inform congress about troop deployments. and so again, whether the president intentionally created the distraction or not he succeeded in distracting from these very real questions. the fact that john mccain, lindsey graham, democrats are going to be trying to push forward on this will hopefully mean that the distraction won't succeed. we will get answers and hearings that can provide clarity on these question. >> two quick points. there's a map in one of the papers in front of me that shows we have troops all over the place. this is not that unusual when you look country by country. second point i would make and speaking as a democrat, i don't want this to turn into benghazi. the shoe is on the other foot. a very dispassionate, analytical conversation. we don't want to turn this into
another witch hunt like benghazi. >> we'll be right back with gene robinson. today, innovation in the finger lakes is helping build the new new york. once home to the world's image center, new york state is now a leader in optics, photonics and imaging. fueled by strong university partnerships, providing the world's best talent. and supported with workforce development to create even more opportunities. all across new york state, we're building the new new york. to grow your business with us in new york state, visit esd.ny.gov.
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we may learn more about the kennedy assassination by the end of the week. the national archives is set to release classified documents related to the fatal shooting of president kennedy in 1963. the majority of assassination records were released in the late 90s. the private documents originating from the fbi and cia are set to go public on thursday. only the president has the authority to delay the release. something he indicated he would not do in a tweet over the weekend. still, "the washington post" reports national security officials are requesting the president withhold the documents related to sources and methods. >> this is something congress -- 1992, they said they needed to release 25 years later. this is a trump decision, though it was a good distraction for
him this weekend. >> it would be a decision for him not to release it. he hinted at that in there, but we'll see. >> julie pace, thank you for being on this morning. what are you looking at today? >> this is another week where the white house is trying to push the idea the president is all in on tax reform, that he's singularly focussed on that issue. we haven't seen a lot of tweets this morning. but we'll be on the lookout for whether he can stay on that track or whether there's another distraction ahead. >> he may not be able to tweet. i hear he has a bone spur. j julie, thank you. coming up the president warns house republicans to pass tax form -- when you tweet so much with little hands, you get a bone spur, and then you can't work. >> when you have the bone structure of a bird. >> small hands? >> tine notiny hands.
>> you get a bone spur, and you can't do anything. anyhow, this tease makes no sense. >> we're going to talk about tax reform, and we can also bring in tom brokaw, bob costa, and jeremy peters. gene is still out there somewhere. he'll be back when "morning joe" returns. bp engineered a fleet of 32 brand new ships with advanced technology, so we can make sure oil and gas get where they need to go safely.
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welcome back to "morning joe." it's monday, october 23rd. >> how was your weekend s? >> it was great. in denver, we had so much fun. excited about monday, october 30th. sold out. >> that's in new york city? >> yeah. we're trying to figure out a way to fit more people in. it's going to be fantastic. with us, mark halperin. >> he's going to start it out singing "god bless america". >> i'm going to anchor the overflow room. >> you're hired and you have a role. the punching bag. harold ford junior is with us, richard haas, steve rattner, and joining the conversation, we found him, there's eugene robinson. also with us robert costa.
great to have you all on board. president trump is giving house republicans a blunt warning. pass tax cuts or lose next year. hm. it happened during a conference call between the president and gop -- >> i actually think they're going to lose next year no matter what, because their president -- >> that's not an evasion. >> their president has a 38% approval rating. >> i don't think it's related. that's okay. >> they're going to lose because -- >> maybe he was tweeting and it started to hurt with the bone spur so he trail off and didn't finish his thought. >> they are going to lose, because the president of the united states who is a republican, who they have kowtowed to now shamelessly for nine months and, therefor, are connected to, as harold historically low approval ratings. >> for this long a time. >> and no moral compass. >> he's lost the moral authority. >> eight lies a day.
>> i understand, mark, that the generic ballot test is skewed really in a big direction for the democrats. something like 52 to 38%. >> and democratic fundraising in the house races are going well. >> and there is -- >> and they're not even doing anything right. >> there's funding problems. and the republicans are having trouble -- funding problems, and then i think this weekend i saw that congress has its lowest approval rating in site come time -- quite some time. up to 14 %. i mean, steve, you add all of this together, you look historically even in the best of times, historically this would be a bad year for republicans, but you add donald trump's historically low approval ratings. he's like an albatross for these
poor guys. then you add congress has the lowest approval rating at 14% and the democrats in the house are raising money and republicans aren't. and you have steve bannon going out and getting people that have been convicted and sent to jail to run for congress, and he's trying to get the worst of the worst to run against republicans, it's -- it seems like it might be a grim year for republicans coming up. >> yeah, and there's actually an enormous enthusiasm among the democratic base. energized and feeling like all the points you made are going to resonate. even though there's gerrymandering in the house, if you have the margins the polls indicate, it overcomes it. it's shaping up pretty well for the democrats. tough map in the senate. >> the republicans, there's a tension between worrying about getting primaried and appealing to anybody in a general election. everything the republicans have done up to now has been tilting
in the direction of worrying about primaries and the question is whether they're ever going to make a pivot. >> if they're worried about primaries, then the walking the plank for trump maybe they ought to take the advice of a senator who came on the show recently. when constituents say it feels like the president has lied to us, maybe they should say no, he's speaking in high beyperboh. that will make everything better. >> that's a strategy. i think democrats have two data points coming our way, three, one the virginia and the new jersey race, the governor race there. two, doug jones in alabama is doing a lot better than the national party thought he was going to do. it will be a tough race. it will be interesting to see if democrats play as aggressive i there as they should. and i thought there was an interesting piece yesterday about what democrats need to do talking act how enflamed the
country in about trump, but how we as democrats better figure out a way to speak to the zis faction voters are talking about. if we can compromise a bit, we might find ourselves in the majority. i think taking trump on alone as bad as the numbers are, i'm not convinced they translate into victories yet, but i like the terrain and how it's setting up. we just have to take sure -- >> the terrain is setting up well, but the democrats are still clueless in how to reach a national audience. if you're a democrat, it's got to be very disturbing for you. there are usually off year elections, you're not sure, especially off, off year elections, you're not sure how much of an impact they have, but that virginia governor's race has always been, has been a bellwether many, many times. certainly was in twooi2009. was in 199 3.
if republicans win in virginia, that's a political earthquake. if democrats win in alabama, that obviously is a political earthquake. i don't expect that to happen in alabama. just saying if it does, that's an earthquake. but if ed gillespie wins in virginia, that's a political earthquake, and a huge slap in the face. >> if the republican wins a race, it will be more demoralizing to democrats than the loss of virginia special house race. you've seen president obama going in and lots of support, terry mcauliffe putting his legacy on the line. you're seeing the mind focussed a lot more between the white house and congressional republicans on tax reform than health care, because they believe this is a binary thing. if they do not pass tax reform and tax cuts, they acknowledge
they'll be wiped out in the midterms. >> bob corker talked about how tax reform is going to be harder than health reform even before president trump started attacking him on twitter. and john mccain will be skeptical. susan collins in maine who most likely have been skeptical of it, and i suspect rand paul and lisa murkowski. it's hard to get to 50 in the senate. >> it's always hard to get to 50 with the senate, and i'm sure president trump will play a constructive role, not. he'll probably alienate more senators before we get done. looking at the political situation, the -- until the obama years, basically you could count on the virginia result of the governor's race going against the way the presidential race went the year before. it's after the -- the year after
the presidential race. obama broke that chain with mcauliffe, but generally speaking -- so you would expect the democrat to win there. ral ralph northum. i think what's really -- what's heartening for democrats is what's happening on local levels. they're getting really good candidates to run in the house races. a lot of candidates who you would think might otherwise have gone to the republican side. a lot of veterans. a lot of -- a lot of people who really have roots in their communities. i think that's the real potential story of this election is all politics being local, and democrats getting a lot of really good candidates to run in these house races.
that could change the playing field considerably. >> sure. two sources tell nbc news the president told house republicans that if they succeed with sax cuts, it would be, quote, like skating on ice. he also urged members to say tax cuts instead of tax reform because he feels the average americans don't understand what tax reform means. first daughter and white house adviser, ivanka trump is headed to pennsylvania today for a discussion of the plan. last week she discussed tax reform with democratic senators, and in an interview yesterday, president trump said the party in fligighting and failure in health care reform improves their chances suggesting republicans currently have the votes to pass tax reform and health care. >> do you worry this bickering and feuding gets in the way of your agenda? >> no. sometimes it helps. we'll see what happens in the end. i think sometimes it helps. sometimes et gets people to do
what they're supposed to be doing. i believe we have the vote for health care at the appropriate time, and i think we're going to have the vote for taxes. and i will say the fact that health care is so difficult, i think makes the taxes easier. the republicans want to get it done. >> nobody believes him. i mean, pause he's been saying that for eight months, and nine months, and bob, they never have the votes. and, again, we had bob corker on several weeks ago saying that basically said if you think health care reform is difficult, try passing tax reform. i understand they have to do it. their backs are against the wall. but where's rand paul going to be? where's bob corker going to be? where's john mccain going to be? where's susan collins going to be? where's lisa murkowski going to be? how do they get to 50? >> health care at the moment has been shelved. there's a bipartisan effort at
the moment. many senate democrats say they think it could pass if brought to the floor, but many are saying let's not bring up health care again. we have to get tax cuts done. and the president said that on the call yesterday to house republicans trying to walk them through, talk them through a tax cut. when it comes to getting rid of the deductions and cleaning up the code, that's not a republican priority. look at ivanka trump's efforts on the family tax reduction. that's something that many conservatives have railed against for years, "the wall street journal" editorial page, they're trying to move forward with tax cuts, not simplifying the code. >> how do they get to 50 votes, bob? with bob corker skeptical talking about how this will blow a hole in the deficit, deficit which is going up, national debt over $20 trillion already. how do they get rand paul, bob corker, john mccain, susan collins on board?
>> that's the key question. and you've heard president trump talk about, for example, he wants a 15% corporate tax rate. that level for the corporate rate could be negotiated, i'm told by my sources because so many senators who are concerned about the deficit say they can't sell a 15% or 20% tax cut for corporations. maybe you have to tick it up to sell it in the senate. that's why you haven't seen a specific blue print yet about what the tax bill looks like. it's just a framework. >> already reports surfaced over the weekend about a white house effort to clean up after the president's claims that he had contacted nearly every family that had lost a military service member this year. role call reports in the hours after president trump said that, the white house was hustling to hurricane from the pentagon the identities and contact information for those families. role call reports of a tuesday evening defense department e-mail exchange with the subject
line, con do lens letter where the white house looks for details on how the service members die. a white house spokesman said they ensured the president contacted all the families of soldiers killed in action that were presented to him through existing protocols. and the atlantic reports three of the families of sailors killed on the u.s.s. john mccain in august received rush delivered letters from the white house on friday, days after the controversy began. a fourth family that of a soldier who died in iraq on august 14th also received a letter on friday. >> gene, you write about trump's mindless cruelty to a soldier's widow. what trump reportedly said to
the grief stricken widow spokes to the core issue of trump's character and demonstrates as clearly as indent today his unfitness for the office he holds, and dishonors. offering solace to family members killed in the duty, is a task requiring above all, a sense of humility. unlike true leaders, trump seems to associate humility with weakness. trump is a weak, narcissistic man in a job that requires strength and empathy. i'm not sure empathy is a concept he even understands. he acts as if he believes that feeling someone else's pain is strictly for losers, not winners. no one should expect him to grow in office. he's 71. at that age, you either have compassion, self-knowledge, and a conscience, or you don't, and, gene, this has been a terrible
week on so many levels. over the past week, you just -- you know, you want to get it behind you, but you see this story this morning about how they're now rushing out letters to gold star families. >> i know. yeah. you almost want to say, look, just don't bother. you know? i mean, you -- chances are you'll make it worse. i mean, this is -- look, this is who the american people a minority of them, but elected as president of the united states, and it is a man for whom that sort of deeply felt empathy and sorrow which require a certain amount of introspection, a certain amount of ability to feel what others are feeling, he doesn't have that. he gives no evidence of having
that. and so whatever his intent was when he called mrs. johnson, the widow of la david johnson, i don't think he intended to be cruel, to deepen her pain, but that is what he did. and then i really have a really more of a problem with what general kelly did later which is sort of compounded, compounded the insult that was added to injury. it was a disgraceful week for the white house. the united states of america, we must be able to do better than this. >> richard, general kelly has come under withering criticism. does he deserve it? >> look, i think what he did, the talk he gave in the briefing the other day for me was one of the stark, powerful, important moepts of the american political
discourse. i think since then he's hurt himself. it shows association with this president can be dangerous to your reputation. and i think the white house spokesperson then further hurt him by suggesting that somehow four-star generals are immune from criticism. look, i don't know anyone serving in this administration with the possible exception of the secretary of defense who has emerged with their reputation intact. >> their first impulse is not to think what's the other side's point of view. it's to say we're right, they're wrong, they're out to get us, and we need to attack back. >> yes. >> as strong as they've attacked us. >> is that the way general kelly feels? >> there were elements that were admirable. there were elements that were reflective of that sensibility. >> i think the administration never says we made a mistake. we don't know exactly why
general kelly misspoke on the point. maybe it was an honest mistake. but they never say we made a mistake in fact let's move on. >> bob costa, what is the general balancing right now? what can you tell us about your reporting over the weekend about the middle state he finds himself in? is this a job that he would like to put in the rear-view mirror? >> i'm told that privately he does have some frustrations at times, but he's serving out of what he believes is a sense of duty. he has come to build a repor with president trump. the idea of constant angst on his part, i'm told it's misguided. his real focus is not on securing victories for the president but trying to assist him with making foreign policy decisions. as richard said, the defense secretary, hr mcmaster, and general kelly really as a trio of management inside of this administration.
>> general kelly is running the staff and, it sounds like he's doing -- working along side with general mcmaster as sort of a de facto national security adviser? >> he is. and i think what was revealed by that news conference as well is that as much as he does not have an ideology, people say general kelly isn't really political, he does have certain values and an old school perspective, to say the least on american culture. that has bonded him with the president and also made him far less likely to leave this white house. he has -- he is not someone dieing to step outside of the gates and get out of there. but he actually believes the president in many respects is under siege and on foreign policy, he can be a steady hand. on the domestic front, he's there to be an ally. >> harold, again, this general
coming under withering criticism over the weekend by many for what chip reed was saying on friday in the white house briefing, that he made a misstatement, and he should correct that misstatement. >> i am relieved and comforted that general kelly is there, however, he gave a political speech. and when you give a political speech, you open yourself up for a different kind of scrutiny. and the advice general kelly probably should have given president trump is just to be quiet, and let this family grieve and the congresswoman react. there is no need for you to inject yourself into it and put me out there and give a political speech, and then he finds himself having misstated facts that turned out to be untrue. president bush has a great line. and he said it again over the weekend. george w. bush, he said so often we judge others by their worst actions and judge ourselves by
our best intentions. he gave a speech, but he should come out and correct the record. >> again, unlike what the spokesperson said at the white house, when you're a general, whether you're in the field or whether you're a retired general and you're working inside the white house, you are open to criticism. >> yeah. and i think also you don't want to become like president trump where your credibility is eroded day after day after day. i'm not saying that's happening with general kelly, but if something's not true, that comes out of your mouth, i think the best thing is to just clean it up. but don't let that place infuse your brain with the wrong way of doing business. and what's best for the country. "the washington pos still ahead, you don't question orders in the military,
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say hello to faster downloads with internet speeds up to 250 megabits per second. get fast internet and add phone and tv now for only $34.90 more per month. call today. comcast business. built for business. the powers of the president to protect our country are substantial and will not be questioned. >> if you want to go after general kelly, that's up to you. i think if you want to get into a debate a four star marine general, i think that's something highly inappropriate. >> okay. two top aides at the white house suggesting neither the president for his chief of staff should be questioned by the media or the american public. i just want to make sure, are we in the united states of america? can someone confirm? tom brokaw, are we still in the
usa? >> i'm here to report on the other america. i was in colorado springs, south dakota and chicago. in colorado springs they're heartened by the economy. in south dakota, sioux falls is one of the hottest small cities in america. the unemployment is almost not measurable. at the university of south dakota i appeared with a common friend of ours, great authority on what's going on in russia. the dangers of putin and nuclear proliferation. held a capacity audience for a full hour as he described serious issues. south dakota state with tom dashville talking about the need to get the country back together. to chicago for the iowa northwestern game, the president of northwestern rallied his troops before the game, that is the alums, and then he said as the president of northwestern, university of iowa is an
outstanding educational institution. it's a pleasure to have a game with them. during the game the cheer leaders from both sides got together for a cheer before the audience. i offer that as a kind of an example of what's going on out there. then i come back, and i see unbelievable, unending attention to what happened with this tragedy in niger, and i think only about that family that lost that young man, and the bravery of him, and that's been lost, and everybody involved is guilty. everybody is guilty. beginning with the congresswoman who first went public with it, and then introduced the idea of racism. general kelly, i couldn't believe he said what he said, and president trump, not to have gotten involved in it. but out there the country has a better perspective on what counts in life, frankly. >> well, can i push back and say the congresswoman wouldn't have spoke if a call hadn't been made and if the president hadn't made false -- and that's --
>> but he made the call, and it was a clumsy terrible attempt -- >> a clumsy terrible attempt. >> but right before that, tom, the president was on the record to reporters saying that former presidents never did this. >> i know. that was wrong. >> then he made the call trying to, i think hastily, to cover his tracks. >> but she jumped into it. >> she was there. family friend. >> because everybody wanted to politicize, she's a friend of the family. there's a moment in which he says this is a very unfortunate incident, but let the family grieve. let's rally together around this family and pay tribute to the bravery, but then she wouldn't walk away from it, and general kelly took it to a different level. i think all parties here were participants, and i see my friends over there nodding their heads a little bit as well. the fact is that we've got to step back from everything has to go to dethe political fight of code red.
the political fight is designed to polarize the country, to send everybody to far corners when you have the tragedy of a death in niger, and the fact is they're there because for some time isis and the taliban will be occupied several parts of africa. i was told three years ago that's the next big battle field down there. that's why we're there. they're spreading out. >> tom's list of experiences, we've all experienced it when we travel elsewhere. the challenge now is what it was during the other years is can we take that spirit that exists at civic events, sports events, political events all over the country and em bu washington with the sense that's what a lot of americans want rather than the shouting voices. >> i don't disagree. i'm not sure how we get there. >> i hope we can find that spirit that you see out there. and we see it when you travel the country. i think the president has to be bigger, and there's no doubt --
i mean, i don't think the conversation should have been talked about. the congresswoman, i think was only trying to protect the family. but probably should not have done it. however, the president should leave it alone. he's shown no capacity to do that. i think once both sides kept escalating, i hope general kelly, i think he's a decent man and loves his country. he should come out and correct the record and the president should move on and we should begin to understand what we're doing in niger and understand what's going to happen in iran. are they going to enumerate the issues and get to the issues like this morning, north korea. these are the things the president should be focusing on. >> i'm the first to say he said other presidents didn't make the calls when it was not true. >> it was a lie. >> but once it started, everybody is too eager to escalate it, to jump on and keep it going in some fashion instead of coming back and saying the
president was wrong, we have to come together especially as a young man was killed in a row mote place and his family is grieving. when you see his widow kissing the casket, there's a kind of junior high fight going on elsewhere, that's not worthy of this country. >> it begins to reinforce what's going on. you have a sightly idyllic view of what's going on. this is a truly divided country, and people are deciding where they're going to live. whether it's gerrymandering or a decision to live in like-minded community. we live in a country that is more economically and politically divided than at any time in our lives. washington is reflecting it. we shouldn't kid ourselves. >> isn't the -- it is more of a challenge when the president doesn't appear to have the
capacity to wrap his arms around any of the issues, and name one, if i'm it's always somebody else's fault. and fast and loose with the facts is not an adequate description. whatever comes to mind, he throws it out, and then we spend time chasing it down. it might be helpful to stand back, make it clear how he went i don't think, but at the same time have the discussion about getting beyond the yeah yeah yeah, business, about the kind
of junior high fights and have more discussion about how we go to the next level despite what the president is saying. >> that's where a lot of people, particularly the republicans in congress share a lot of responsibility. >> i agree. >>. >> they're unwilling to take him in on most of the policies, and the american people get it. >> and unwilling to stand up for what's right. when the president is lying, the president is lying. he's not speaking in hyperbole. you can't explain it. he just lying, simple, plain truth. tom brokaw, thank you. good to have you on this morning. >> good to be here. >> still ahead on "morning joe" -- >> the united states senate in particular has done, i think, a terrible job as appointing president trump. and let me say something about president trump. i've had the great honor of being the ceo of the campaign and then being his chief strategist and seeing your counselor in the white house, and now i'm proud to say his
wing man outside. >> oh, my lord. we could soon see a clash between the president and his wing man. the president pledges support for people bannon may try to primary. we have more on the report when we come right back. magic...is pretty amazing. it can transform a frog into a prince. but it can't transform your business. for that you need dell technologies. we are transforming jet engines into turbo powered safety inspectors. dairy cows into living, breathing, data centers. and though it seems like magic, it's not. it's people and technology working together. magic can't make digital transformation happen. but we can.
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let me give a warning, nobody can run and hide on this one. these folks are coming for you. the day of taking a few nice conservative votes and hiding is over. there's a time and season for everything. and right now it's a season of war against a gop establishment. the time magazine is coming out with a new edition this week, and it just posted on its website. it lead story. senate republicans finally got something done. they should thank steve bannon. >> steve bannon enjoying
himself. >> thanking himself. >> doubling down the open war fair he recently launched against republican incumbents in congress. he's targeting senators who he views as close allies of mitch mcconnell. >> let's be -- again, let's take note of what's happened here. >> they're coming for you. >> mark halperin, he's declaring war against the republican establishment which is fine. i started doing that back in 1994 when he was -- was heed a goldman? >> i don't know if that or if he was a hollywood guy. i've been declaring war against the republican establishment since 1994 and have the scars to show it. he's doing this now. let's talk about the war he's declaring. he's speaking in california. you have people from the audience according to l.a. times shouting hang john mccain. the crowd's booing george w. bush.
i've been very critical of george b. buw. bush's policies would never boo him in a republican crowd. this is a party coming apart at its seams. steve bannon wants to destroy this party. mika and i have said for two years ad nauseam, that camera right there. >> right here. right here. >> in the center there. yeah. right there. >> for two years, for two years, donald trump is not a republican. donald trump has never been a republican. i tried to warn republicans in the primary. i said donald trump is not a conservative. he has never been a conservative. he will never be a conservative. right? he's not a republican. steve bannon is not a republican. they want to destroy the
republican party. they want to do exactly what they're doing right now. they want to get you republicans fighting against each other and tearing each other apart. they believe that a cultive personality will lure you to a position where you even call for the hanging of war heros that have given their entire life to this country or to former presidents who did their best, who did their best, who gave their all to their country and to their party. >> who love their country. >> who love their country. george w. bush loves his country. barack obama loves his country. jimmy carter loves his country. george h. wvpt bush loves his country. bill clinton loves his country. these are not people to boo. these are people to raise up and raise. we can disagree with them.
but what did you say that george w. bush quote? >> he said we so often judge -- >> this is really so good for all of us in this business and in the business of politics to remember, because we've got to keep this country together whether you like trump, don't like trump, support trump, don't support trump, we've got to bind this country together and keep it together as one. >> he said we judge others by their worst actions and judge ourselves by our best intentions and we need to merge them to get better. >> when you have a california republican convention and people are shouting out for the hanging of an american hero -- >> who definitely loves this country. >> he was a prisoner of war given the opportunity to come home because his father was a powerful admiral and said i'm not going to do it. i'm not coming home until my band of brothers come home with me.
and that cost him for the rest of his life the ability to lift his arms above his shoulders. that meant every day of his life he experienced excruciating pain that you all in that crowd booing him and calling for his hanging will never ever understand. and yet you treat this like it's a football game. you treat this as sport. it's not a game. it's not a sport. these are not teams that we have chosen. this is a republic that our founders created and decided that our motto would actually talk about how out of many come one. that's what we've got to get back to. but we can't do that if you're actually calling for the hanging of people in your own party.
it's just -- this is -- the republican party has moved to a new position. even since i left it, you know, recently. >> yeah. football game may be the right metaphor or something more gruesome roll or ball. there's a critique from the conservative populist right about trade and immigration. that's not what a lot of this is. this is simply trying to whip people up to play to their anger and personal an mouse toward some personalities in the establishment. i have to say the biggest story in the front over the weekend after bannon spoke was mitch mcconnell yesterday. the symbol of the establishment for a lot of these people fighting back hard and going hard back at bannon. >> with facts. >> and the president is going to have to choose sides, i think pretty soon. privately he's supporting incumbent republicans. >> that war hero who suffered and would have died for this country that they were
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xfinity mobile. a new kind of network designed to save you money. call, visit or go to xfinitymobile.com. come of these folks you've been quoting are specialists at nominating people who lose. that isn't going to help president trump achieve his agenda. >> mika, we saw this so many times. republicans actually would have taken over the senate before they did if there hadn't been all of these very interesting people -- angle in nevada, remember the candidate in delaware, the witch lady. >> the one who said i am not a witch. let me be perfectly clear, i am not a witch. >> in indiana. >> missouri. >> missouri todd aiken. >> those are candidates who said there were things, rape was okay, i think they were --
>> and mccaskill helped get the nominations. >> of course she did. >> those were steve bannon-type candidates, and somebody said you know you're in trouble when you wake up the next morning and somebody says hey, did the rape candidate lose, and you go which one? >> and that's even worse. >> that's not funny, but it is. it's the next part of the subject for people like mitch mcconnell is not to just say they're losers. it's to do what bush did. call out their ideas. it's not just politically unsail i can't believe -- >> jeremy peters is with us. his latest piece walks about mississippi and how the race is shaping up to be like alabama where luther strange lost to roy moore who steve bannon supported. jeremy, tell us what's going on in mississippi. >> reporter: you're right. in mississippi there's a similar
set of circumstances that precipitated the defeat of a mitch mcconnell ally, senator luther strange to this conservative cultural conservative warrior and insurgent roy moore. >> can i stop you for a second? just j so we're exact with the language, you said a cultural conservative. luther strange was culturally conservative. he was pro life. he was pro gun, nra. you go down the line, he voted with trump all the time. so it's something more than just a cultural conservative. what is the difference between, say, a luther strange who was a cultural conservative and toed the party line, and, say, a roy moore? >> well, the fact that roy moore is somebody who would defy higher court orders and refuse to take the ten commandments statue out of his courthouse or refuse to abide by same sex
marriage. it's about an attitude. >> i'll redefine it. you don't have to. this is not a cultural conservative. this is a cultural radical who a cultural radical twice kicked off courts in the state of alabama for defying court orders. so go ahead. you have these cultural radicals that steve bannon is trying to support. >> it's as we talked about before, it's not so much about ideology as it is about attitude and who is the most outrageous and going to be most provacative in their attacks against the establishment. that's why this vacase is a rea test model for the model steve bannon is trying to use all across the country really works. does it really catch on and become a national movement.
there aren't really all that many ideological issue type differences between the candidates. it's really just how much can -- how much can you tether yourself to donald trump and how much can you say you hate mitch mcconnell. and i think in the case of somebody like roger wicker, the senator in mississippi, he voted with trump 96, 97% of the time. that has will be also true inwide where had bannon and his his allies are looking to fliempbl >> 96 k kt pnkt -- dealing with
a person and his wealthy financial backers. and the voters who the angry voters who support him, who really want to see the republican leadership decimated. they want to remove mitch mcconnell as leader. one of the questions i keep posing to them, okay; who do you want to replace him as leader. most interesting answer i get, most common answer is, they don't care. that says a lot. they are really just about the destruction and then whatever happens in the aftermath, so be it. >> jeremy, i read your piece. i thought it was well done. two points you make, local politics in mississippi with mcdaniel feeling he was really mistreated by thad cochran and his team. my take away from your piece is that mitch mcconnell has become the most unpopular person in the
republican primaries. at least that's what they like to make him out to be in mississippi and it looks as if in some of these other states you can listen to bannon's remarks in arizona and nevada. that seems to be a focal paint of what they're trying to get established. >> among subset of activists this whole notion, hashtag, remember mississippi has become a rallying cry. you'll recall three years ago that race to re-elect thad cochran got very ugly. chris mcdaniel, somebody with a lot of racial baggage who was defeated because republicans in the state encouraged democrats and african-americans to vote in that primary. so they say that that meanings the election was stolen. i think you end up in a situation where you relitigate a lot of those hurt feelings. a lot of that pent up racial an mouse. it becomes an ugly situation quickly. >> a couple of quick questions.
the question of ideological differences, things like isolation, debris, america first, on the question of whether you're an establishment probusiness republican or populist anti-business republican, things like that. >> i think so. people like roger wicker, you saw him not exactly backing away from donald trump's travel ban. chris mcdaniel would say let's start building the wall right now and i want to be the one throwing the first piece of cement on the corner stone. so, yes, he's going to be a little probably further to the right, if you can say that, on immigration. i think trade protectionism is going to be a big thing for a lot of candidates, you know, running in these republican versus republican races across the country. i think in the south, which you're going to see is the question of the confederate flag come up. the confederate flag in
mississippi come down off that state flag. chris mcdaniel would say no it shouldn't and roger wicker said yes it should. that's another cultural heritage issue that's going to split the party. >> question. are there any sense of issues the more established republicans can run on that would have some political residence? they seem on the defensive all the time. all the energy, if you will, seems to go to radicals. what can the more traditionalist. >> you're exactly right. you know, it's much easier to run against something than to run for it. right now, that's exactly what's happening. you have these republican challengers who are running against mitch mcconnell. the most important name in the races in 2018 next year may not be donald trump. it may be mitch mcconnell. so i think they've got a really hard time, the establishment, leadership does in not making it about incumbency. they can change that with what
happens the next few weeks and months. can they get tax cuts done. can they get something done to prove they are doing something with the majorities that the voters gave them. right now they don't have that. i can't tell you how deflating that is for voters who say we gave you guys all this, the white house, the senate, the house, and you still haven't done it. >> jeremy pearce, thank you very much. still ahead on morning joe, president trump appears dead set on intentionally driving down certain approval ratings in the polls, not his own, rather on the journalists and the media. what that tactic means for his presidency. and american democracy at large. plus, senator john mccain takes a not so veil swipe at the president for dodging the vietnam war. we'll play the senator's remarks. and later we'll go live to the white house as the president knocks down one of the proposals being floated to pay for his tax cuts. morning joe is coming right back. ow drip coffee drinkers, it's time to wake up to keurig.
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they see their friends, they see strangers in need, americans step up. i want to thank president george w. bush and most of all, an outstanding american somebody who has always shown grace and character and courage and served america nobly throughout the years, president george h.w. bush. we are so proud to be with you today. >> all five living former u.s. former presidents with a rare appearance together over the weekend. saturday night in college station texas, they put aside politics in order to raise money for victims of recent hurricanes. four of the five presidents made brief remarks appealing for national unity. >> what a great night. and just some fantastic moments
there. a reminder, richard, that's how things have been for 240 years. that what we're going through now is an anomaly. a one off. and what people saw on stage there with five presidents representing yoounz americans in the white hou1976 forward throuy 2017. that's the rule. that's how we do it as americans. that's how we won the cold war. an unbroken chain of presidents working together. it is hopeful. >> it's bipartisan. it's also people who defeated other people coming together. so the political hatchet. >>. >> and mark, you could look at every one of those presidents out there, especially if they relaced one another.
presidents don't usually think too much of presidents they replace, whether it was -- even going all the way back to ike. well, first of all. harry truman thought very little of ike and vice versa. moving forward, ike didn't think much of jfk, but was there during the cuban missile crisis. every one of these presidents, you know, george w. bush was just absolutely scoured. the obama people said they didn't run against john mccain. they trashed george bush for a year and a half. they said when we get elected and spoke to his character that opened up the white house, your white house, you tell us, we serve you. and that is the grace that has been shown. it's not being shown right now, but the grace that has made america succeed. >> my hunch is when the history of the trump years are written, that night over the weekend will
be written about. it will be part of it because of the contrast of what you say that evening as compared to what we've seen over the last several months. the real linchpin of the relationship is the clintons and the bushes, although president clinton beat president bush, the families have grown close and share a lot and share common view of what's going on in america today. >> here is president clinton speaking. watch bush 43 and obama behind him. it's fun. >> there is still work to be done in texas and florida and our friends in puerto rico and the american virgin islands have only begun to dig their way out of what could be still a calamitous disaster, but can be a new beginning. if we just do what we ought to do. and prove that the heart of america without regard to race
or religion or political party is greater than our problems. >> look at w, harold. i swear the guy is still -- he's still at yale. just whispering joking about whatever while bill clinton is talking. it's a great night. jimmy carter. guy looks like it's 1979 right there. he is a wonder. >> he is no many ways, carter represents, here's a guy after his presidency, so many of his accompli engli accomplishments and achievement. i can't do anything, but echo your point. preside president obama who you stated well much of his presidency was based on running against and legislatelating against gorge w bush. they have a great relationship now. >> this was about something so much bigger and about something missing right now that they were stepping up to help fill in.
president of the council on foreign relations and author of the book, steve ratter in. also with you are washington bureau chief of the associated press, julia pace. good to have you all on board. the white house is refusing to acknowledge a mistake by white house chief of staff john kelly who attempted to discredit congresswoman federico wilson's account of a phone call between president trump and the widow of a soldier killed in action. the white house position culminated in this exchange on friday. >> have you seen the speech? >> i have. >> and you know that most of it was heard praising the 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 the fbi agents who she then went on to praise. that was the bulk of the speech. >> she also mentioned that and also had quite a few comments that weren't part of the speech and weren't part of the video that were also witnessed by many people that were there. what general kelly referenced yesterday. >> tell us specifically because. >> exactly what he said, there was a lot of grand standing. he was stunned she had taken that opportunity to make it about herself. >> he come out here and talk to us about this at some point. i think he addressed it pretty thoroughly yesterday. >> he was wrong yesterday in talking about getting the money. >> if you want to go after general kelly, that's up to you. i think that if you want to get into a debate with a four star marine general, i think that something highly inappropriate. >> later huckabee issued a statement trying to clarify
remarks. quoted of course everyone can be questioned. after witnesses general kelly's heart felt somber account, we should all be able to agree that reputing his credibility on how to best honor fallen heros is not appropriate. >> we could just take it down to a very base level. and say that tweeting about the congresswoman during the funeral of the soldier is incredibly inappropriate. the president did. >> we can impugn him. that's a terrible act. just sick. >> let's go ahead and play. here's general david. he found himself criticized. remember in uniform when there were people that let general betray us. when he was trying to push the surge. a lot of really prominent democrats and sdidespite that, s is what he said. >> i think we're all fair game.
>> we in uniform protect the rights of others to criticize us. >> i love that steve ratter in. >>s if thinking that donald trump is somehow unchained from checks and balances of james mattis and of the constitution. and hamilton, we remember back when steven miller said the president shall not be questioned. one of the most ta ran cal things i've ever heard uttered at the white house. you take that to four star generals should not be questioned. it's disturbing is this is their instinct.
>> their go to. >> no pun intended. there's no question they don't believe their actions should be questioned. and they have this sort of autocratic pushback blanket at all costs kind of mentality. it's fair game to question what. that's someone who can't begin to imagine what it's like to have that causality office o the general kelly turn up on your doorstep down to tell you something heart breaking. i find this whole thing nauseating to be perfectly honest. that we have taken the death of an american soldier and become politicized. >> and the pain of his family. >> that has become politicized and perhaps the bulk of the blame lies on donald trump's doorstep. a lot of other people don't have completely clean hands here. it's sad what we've come to as a country. this has become the issue of the day.
she wasn't running around grand standing. >> the president was saying from the very beginning that you have to be very careful when you're listening in on conversations from the president. and then you run out and talk about it in the press. some people could look to her. some people could look to general kelly who in all of his eloquent remarks, i would say again i think. >> he talked politics. talked about the congresswoman. again, no talk about this young man, this american hero who fell. he had an opportunity as well toe be the grownup.
and he still needs to come out and remind everybody it's about this young man who has fallen and then move on. nobody is doing that. there is no grownup in the house. and yes, this all began with donald trump. still ahead on morning joe, the great irony of steve bannon. how the exbanker is pushing populism while up with congress. this monday is a little active. had tornados over the weekend in oklahoma too. right now a lot of rain in some of the big airports, atlanta, chicago, nashville just cleared out of the rain. going to send the wet weather to the carolinas during the day today. unfortunately you have enough clearing and warmth and sunshine when the storms get to you they're going to get stronger. slight risk of severe storms. from richard all the way down to
columbia. 13 million people at risk of wind damage and maybe an isolated tornado or two. keep your eye on the forecast as we go throughout the evening as the storms roll through your area. the other big story, we don't want it to be a big story. has the potential. strong winds are going to blow into southern california. what this means is the temperatures are going to sky rocket as the air compresses as it sinks down out of the mountains down towards the coastal plain. 100 degree temperatures in la. and all coastal areas. humidity drops extremely low. if any fires do form, they could have what we call extreme fire behavior where they could spread rapidly. very nervous day for the firefighters and world series game going to happen at dodgers stadium tomorrow afternoon. 5:00 p.m. should be 96 degrees and if that happens, it will be the hottest first pitch ever at world series game. again, our main concern is worrying about any fires today, especially in the heels of what
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trump received five deferments from the draft during vietnam war. >> five. >> due to heel spurs, and, of course, still played football, golf, tennis. >> i think my daughter had a few of those. they still had to run in fratra meets. >> very active life. >> earlier in the day donald trump's former chief took aim at many republicans, attacking john mccain, a war hero in prison for four, five, six years. beaten so badly he can't even lift his arms over his head while donald trump was going to college with his bone spurs and also george w. bush. did it in a keynote address to the california republican party's fall con sglengs within 24 hours of each other, three speeches. president xi in china, our beloved president george w.
bush. that's a piece of work. and john mccain. president bush to me embarrassed himself. speech writer wrote a high speech. clear he didn't understand anything he was talking about. he equates the industrial revolution, he has no earthly idea whether he's coming or going. just like it was when he was president of the united states. i want to apologize up front to my bush folks outside in this audience. there has not been a more destructive presidency than george bush's. john mccain, his service in the united states navy is a pride to ever naval officer. how he handled himself. how he has handled himself with this horrible disease he has and the class that his wife and daughter shown, the whole family. his two sons who serve in the marine corps. john mccain deserves our
respect. however, as a politician, john mccain is just another senator from arizona. john mccain the other day and they're all loud. the "new york times" and "morning joe" is a great speech in human history. if speech was nothing, but happy talk. we live in a dangerous world. time we started treating our countrymen like adults and have an adult conversation with them. >> the great irony of steve bannon and donald trump lying through their teeth for six, seven, eight nine months. talking in alternative realities. constantly saying things that are not true. that guy being a huckster, going on television and then going in front of a crowd, like i'm just
a country lawyer sort of routine. he's a goldman sax guy. >> with acid bathtubs too. goldman sax guy. he was a hollywood guy in one of the most powerful hollywood firms going. looked into hollywood, wall street. made millions and millions of dollars. now loading his wallets and his coats and the five shirts that he wearing. he's lining up from people kicked off the bench several times. apparently stolen from charityings. that have been sent to jail.
it's a scam job, but mark, here you have george w. bush booed. republican president, saying whatever you need to call them. in the crowd, for saying that he had an important policy. spending us into debt. they basically just worship power. they don't stand for anything. when president bush was president, they attacked anybody who attacked president bush. now they're booing him.
the la times reported that as the crowd booed bush and john mccain during bannon's speech, one man yelled about mccain, hang him. >> is this really where we want to be, america? >> no, it's not. and, you know, what, this is the death cry of the republican party. a party that shouts hang him for john mccain, an american war hero and boos past presidents. past presidents i didn't really care for their policies much, but still, that is a sick, sick party. >> you saw over the weekend mitch mcconnell stand up aggressively to steve bannon, karl rogue did it last week. the establishment of the republican party is not youering in fear anymore. they're going hard after him. at the same time the president has this extraordinary on again, off again, but mostly on again relationship with steve bannon.
going to be told to a large extent whether bannon can win primaries or not. coming up on "morning joe," president trump says health care repeal is not a question of if, but when. tell that to mitch mcconnell trying to pass tax reform while fending off president's own allies. that must be fun. we'll go live to the white house next on morning joe. it can detect a threat using ai, and respond 60 times faster. it lets you know where your data lives, down to the very server. it keeps your insights from prying eyes, so they're used by no one else but you. it. is. the cloud. the ibm cloud. the cloud that's designed for your data. ai ready.
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did. facebook was on her side, not mine. trump also went on to down play the significance of the russian backed ads on the site calling the amount spent on them tiny. the tweets came as facebook provided congress with thousands of russian backed ads used in an attempt to influence the 2016 election. the president's tweets seems to cricket one by him in january of last year. applauded support. trump shows complete domination on facebook conversation. trump's feud with facebook comes adds senator lindsey graham told meet the press on sunday that white house is a blind spot when it comes to russia. >> i think the trump administration is slow when it comes to russia. they have a blind spot on russia i still can't figure out. >> joining us now p former aide to the george w. bush white house and state department.
national correspondent for msnbc. pretty obvious at this point. you think lindsey graham was referring to. >> he's referring to the consistency of president trump's response when it comes to anything russia related and putin related. it's ongoing. this has been the entirety of his presidency. nothing is going to change in the foreseeable future. >> the president can't -- i mean, it's obvious he's got a blind spot, but what goes beyond russia. >> still can't believe russia tried to interfere in the election. although every other senior official in his administration and national security room will do so. this is something that president
trump cannot let go of. >> steve? >> clearly, its case after case you've seen the examples of donald trump reacting on this decision. i will say on this one in particular it also seems to be getting tied on the question of russia was putting the ads up here on facebook. did it sway the election. did it sway the election. i think trump has put this in perspective. probably had about 100 grand in ads on facebook. the digital ad budget for the trump campaign alone was $90 million. the amount spent by the two campaigns on behalf of the two candidates easily dwarfed a bill dollars. this election dominated american news media. popular cultier for a year and a half. in that context saying $100,000 is hard for me to see how that would sway the election.
>> we is how targeted it was. if you think about the election being decided in just a handful of states. more money spent in a targeted way may have had an impact. i agree with you. not just the paid advertising, but so much stuff on facebook that was not paid, but simply cleverly sharing stuff made a big difference. >> to mark's point, we really need to see what the ad transactions were and what this content and how how the content -- was it driving at trying to suppress the vote in communities that probably would have swayed wisconsin another 70,000 votes. how targeted with the spy. >> i want to get you take on this nbc news reporting this morning that tony podesta, brother of john podesta and tony's lobbying firm, are now the subjects of a federal investigation being led by
special council robert mueller. whether it violated the registration act grew out of mueller's inquiry into the finances of paul manafort. the po december ta grodesta gro report after the work was completed by the media. the firm is cooperating fully with the special counsel's office and taken every possible step to provide documentation that confirms timely compliance and the firm's conduct, due diligence and consults with the appropriate legal to ensure disclosures at all time. we did so in this case. very complete statement. >> as you said, the facts of this and circumstances isn't
new. what nbc is reporting is that mueller is looking at it. doesn't mean they'll be indicted. one is mueller is not partisan. people can say he is. two, this is a wide ranging inquiry. not just about whether the trump campaign colluded with russia. it's looking at a lot of different things they're coming upon. finally we said it before, watch what happens with both pal manafort and mike flynn. they're under deep investigation. people related to them are under investigation as well. the question of whether they get indicted and what happens next at this point is the next big shoe. >> flynn has been looking for immunity and hasn't received it. >> some from the independent counsel. not had hand forced by congress to move quickly. largely deferred to him. i don't think.
>> i can't believe what i'm hearing in my here. we're going to take a break and when we come back, we're getting more back and forth between the widow of david johnson spoken and the president has responded. we'll be right back with that. the amazing new iphone 8 is at at&t... and we know you'll love it. because we know you want more. more great camera features and more power. and more than just unlimited data, we give you unlimited plans with hbo included for life. because you deserve more entertainment. and more spokespeople. talking like this, saying the word more. at&t. it's time for more.
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mrs. johnson did an interview this morning. she said the president could not remember her late husband's name. she said i heard him stumbling or trying to remember my husband's name. and what hurt me the most, that's what hurt me the most because my husband is out there fighting for our country and he risked his life for our country, why can't you remember his name? that's what made me more upset and cry even more because my husband was an awesome soldier.
and the president just tweeted moments ago, he responded, i had a very rmtful with the widow of sergeant david johnson and spoke his name from beginning, without hesitation. >> so he's refuting the widow in realtime. the issue here is her story. >> which i'll just say. >> what's he doing. i'm getting there. >> i'll just say everything she has described about what he said, you know, sorry. i know donald trump. i've known him for a long time. i've spent time with him. i know how he talks. that sounds like donald trump. >> and regardless, if you have a widow coming out and speaking. >> heartless jerk. >> president actually undercuts a widow like five minutes after she tells her story. >> i can't believe they are mistreating the widow of a fallen soldier in this way.
it is so unseemingly. so distasteful. this is a woman in the greatest grief. i'm sorry. it just. >> i hear you, totally. >> the president's reaction immediately after she is on tv upset. the media feels like he's going to hit back at the grieving widow. >> like he couldn't walk away from attacking the khan family. he's the president of the united states. he should just walk away. >> she had to respond. they turned her husband into a political cal pin yacht ta. she spoke out because she wanted people to remember he was a brave soldier, wonderful husband, not just something to use for political expediency. >> it started with the president lying about former presidents and whether or not they contacted families. it started with the president
delivering misinformation to the american people. it went from there to whether or not a congress woman was correct in speaking out about the ridiculous conversation the president hastily had with the widow in order to cover his tracks for not reaching out to families of fallen soldiers and that congresswoman who is a friend of the family so there was a reason she was in the car, whether or not she should have gone public with what she heard, we can argue, we can debate, we can even criticize. she was describing something that sounds a lot like donald j. trump. he knew what he was getting into. fumbling around looking for his name, because you didn't make the phone call and lied about former presidents not making phone calls. this whole thing is your botched mess which you're making worse by tweeting at a widow. >> and now they're rushing out letters to people, steve, apparently because they haven't done what donald trump said that they had done before.
you look at his history. again, we've talked about last hour about him attacking a pow, a war hero. a man who gave his all. gave his body in service to this country. he attacked gold star family last summer. it's not shocking when you consider this is consistent with donald trump really from the moment he got into the campaign. as you said, he was ridiculing the idea of john mccain being a war hero as a candidate for president. the other thing, you talk about the broader history of this. it occurs to me, it is not uncommon in history for the families of fallen soldiers to attack presidents, to critical size their policies, to express differences on opinion with
them. i imagine a lot of presidents in history have heard attacks and thought they were unfair. none of them have spoken out and attacked families. >> he needed to show compassion. and nod have a big long running fight with her. >> he did show compassion. she had her say continuously over and over again. i remember there were soldiers who died under bill clinton's watch. very critical of president bill clinton. again, bill clinton did not strike back. >> the bottom line is this is disrespectful to gold star families. this is disrespecting a gold star family. they have had to respond to this. that this widow in her time of crushing grief just a few weeks after still so many unanswered questions, and that donald trump and his white house are going out of their way to make this time of suffering for her
husband, a soldier who died on the battlefield for america, to make their time worse. >> what about republicans that have always been so supportive of the military with the yellow ribbons and everything else. >> this is absolutely indefensible for any republican conservative. >> our party has always said support the troops. support the troops. always been in the forefront supporting the troops and criticizing democrats for not supporting the troops. what are these republicans doing now? what are the republicans in 2017 in your home state of mississippi doing now? what about republicans in my home state of florida, northwest florida, alabama, georgia, all the places i've lived across the deep south. are they going to come to the defense of the gold star family or remain locked in the personality cult worshipping donald trump, a man showing no respect to the fallen. >> i don't know. we've seen so many kpachls exa how this president has no character whatsoever.
this is really a flash point of how his respect for the men and women in uniform and what their families go through when they do give the ultimate sacrifice for their country's security. >> john kelly needs to step up today. we'll be right back. you start trading. >>yeah, 5 years already. 5 years, hmm. you ever call your broker for help? >>once, when volatility spiked... and? >>by the time they got me an answer, it was too late. td ameritrade's elite service team can handle your toughest questions right away- with volatility, it's all about your risk distribution. good to know. >>thanks, mike. we got your back kate. >>does he do that all the time? oh yeah, sometimes he pops out of the couch. help from real traders. only with td ameritrade. dad: molly, can you please take out the trash? (sigh) ( ♪ ) dad: molly! trash! ( ♪ )
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and together, we'll help you make decisions for your plan... to keep you on track. ♪ time to think of your future it's your retirement. know where you stand. so our plan is to talk about tax cuts and go to peter alexander. >> we will, we will in a minute. >> i'm sorry we were just looking at some incredible video of george w. bush back in -- >> back in 2005, talking so respectfully of cindy sheehan, saying he understood why she was upset and he heard her. ? defended her right to criticize him. and she came after him significantly harder and more personally than any of those gold star families this president has gone after, and he was criticized for not meeting with her, but he talked on the ranch about respecting her right and saying he strongly considered her point of view. much different than what we're
seeing right now. >> and heard, and actually heard her view. you heard the story about george bush being yellled at at walter reed. >> and dana perino has an incredible excerpt in her book about how she went with president bush to visit the widow of a troop that was very badly wounded. president bush just took her criticism, her anger, listened respectful respectfully. then he looked at dana and said that mom is mighty mad at me and she has every right to be. and she could see how upset he was and i think he start weepding himself. >> which of course trump would see as a weakness. that's called compassion, that's called empathy. >> part of the cindy sheehan story too, before she camped out at his ranch, maybe a year before she had met with the president with a group of partisans and family members of fallen soldiers, and she walked away with a similar criticism of president bush that you hear now
of trump. that he didn't handle the tone of the meeting correctly. she was making -- she had a broader criticism of bush's policy but making the same specific charge sort of that you're hearing about president trump and the handling of the car last week. here's the difference. george w. bush then, never, in public lashed out at her. he gave her space to say that. that's a big difference between what we're seeing here. >> any presidential contender is supposed to be in agreement that the greatest decision a commander in chief will ever make is to send our men and women into combat and to risk the loss of life on behalf of our country. and president trump has shown consistently that he cannot be held accountable for military decisions that he is ultimately the decider. you remember back in february, a navy s.e.a.l. died, and president bush -- president trump said something to the extent of this is the generals, you know, sent him to die.
>> he blamed the generals. >> he blamed the generals. >> in yemen. >> could not take accountability. the contrast could not be more stark to other presidents. you remember especially dwight d. eisenhower before d-day and how he wrote a letter in preparation for the possibility that it went horribly wrong and took all accountability. and this contrast couldn't be starker. >> what about on a global level. what does this look like strategically abroad? what does this look like to our allies? what does this say? seriously, i'm asking you to put it into words. what does it say about the character of the president of the united states? >> well, that it's lacking dramatically. that this is not someone that you can trust, even with the most basic functions of president. and, in fact, the most important function of president in certainly the eyes of military men and women, and that is to provide comfort to those who have lost loved ones.
and they're running around once again proving that he is so far in over his head. he mishandled these meetings. general kelly tries to give him words to give to a grieving widow. he botches those words. he then attacks his predecessor, barack obama, george w. bush. says i sent letters to everybody. then we get reports that they're now calling the pentagon, asking for all the names of people that have died since january the 20th. rushing out mailers. it's just, again, the guy's not ready for prime time. >> i think he's showing the world that the united states is weakening and -- >> he never really was ready to be president of the united states. and people wanted a change. they got a change. the question is how much longer will they accept this kind of change. now, let's go to president trump, spending part of his weekend, offering house republicans a blubd warning.
pass tax cuts or lose in next year's midterm elections. that was according to two sources speaking to nbc news about the call between the president and lawmakers. >> joining now, nbc news national news correspondent peter alexander. the president is also weighing in on a possible plan to pay for those tax cuts. what's he saying? >> yes, mika, that's right, the president this morning, trying to erase questions about whether his administration might seek to limit those pretax contributions to 401k plans down to $2,400. the president tweeting this morning there will be no change to your 401k. this has always been a great and popular middle class tax break that works and it stays. it had been rumored for months as a way to try to offset proposed individual and corporate tax cuts. on the issue of tax cuts. the president trying to give republicans this warning. if they don't pass tax cuts, they will lose next year.
this is a sunday strategy session. he joined a conference call with gop members. those sources telling nbc news if they succeed in his words it will be, quote, like skating on ice. if not it would be really bad for the party of next year's elections. he also urged members to say tax cuts instead of tax reform. because he insists average americans simply don't understand what tax reform means. joe and mika. >> all right, peter alexander, thank you so much, greatly appreciate it. let's go to cnbc's brian sullivan. brian, it looks like now he's taking away a couple of pay force that were going to take care of it. first, the 401k pay for. which was always on the margins. we weren't so sure that was ever going to be included, it was floated. but you never really saw it on paper in the plan. also of course talking about moving away from the state income tax deductions which apparently are moving towards being off the table soon. which means that this thing's not going to be paid for. >> yeah, i mean, pretty much
every group, joe, has got their anger or their frustration with any of the proposals that have come out. well, can't do that. no, can't do that. well, if you're going to raise money, you're going to have to raise it from somewhere. what peter was talking about was this -- i don't want to call it a proposal. a floating of an idea where right now you can contribute $18,000 or $24,000 if you're above the age of 50 to a 401k tax free. most workers take advantage of it. there's some floating out there. they're going to cut that from 18,000 down to $2,400 which would reduce the incentive to save. americans don't save a lot right now as it is. in fact, many americans have less than $1,000 in a savings account. this is the one thing we kind of do well from a savings perspective. your broader point is right. the blue state payback. mortgage deduction, nope, can't touch the housing market. what can you touch? >> where do you go? exactly. brian sullivan, we love having you on. mark, final thoughts? >> i can't wait to see where they go to make up the revenue.
everything as brian suggested is coming off the table. >> yes, there's not a popular way to make up that much revenue. >> i'm also curious, too, even if they do get the tax reform tax cut package through, whatever you want to call it, i'm curious if that really addresses the rest of the republican party base. if it's about so far not getting tax cuts done or something more. >> he's just really put tax cuts on great footing this week by starting out the week the way he did. >> mika, final thoughts. >> i think it's a really sad moment. i think this is a new low for just what happened in the past half hour. for the president of the united states. and i think all indications are that his character is rotten to the core. >> well, i look back to what happened friday night where you had five presidents from two different parties coming together to help the people of this country who have been suffering. when you see it in real time. we saw it in real time in houston. remember what do they call it, the texas navy? you had a lot of people coming
from hundreds and hundreds of miles to rescue people. where you going, sir, they'd stick a camera in somebody's face and the guy said, i'm going to save some lives. i don't know where but i'm going to find them. we saw that there. just like we saw it in florida. just like we saw it in the days after 9/11. and we will see it again. >> we still see it in puerto rico. >> this too, as my grandmother always told me this too, joey, shall pass. >> coming up next hour, the president now has eight beautiful prototypes of his long promised border wall. of course, he's still waiting for mexico to pay for it and a lot of people in puerto rico are waiting for help. jacob soboroff reports this morning from the border in front of those prototype. chris jansing will have that. she picks up the coverage now. >> hello, i am chris jansing in for stephanie ruhle. this morning -- looking for answers. sergeant la david johnson's widow for the first time in her own words