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tv   MSNBC Live With Craig Melvin  MSNBC  October 23, 2017 10:00am-11:00am PDT

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remember to follow the show online and facebook and twitter @mitchellreports. chris jansing is up next here on msnbc. chris? >> you can also follow kasie online. >> thank you. >> i'm chris jansing at msnbc headquarters in new york. widow's outrage. the wid doef a fallen soldier talk bs about the fury. the president disputes the conversation, including the claim he struggled to remember her husband's name. is this the crisis of his own president's making, threatening to complicate his legislative agenda? steve bannon escalating his fight, pushing to oust republicans in the midterm and going after members the president will need to pass his agenda. how much of a threat is he to party establishment? and the growing number of harassment scandals. allegations of sexual harassment
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widen as more accusers come forward. the accusations now not just in hollywood but also in the restaurant, technology, financial industries. did companies cover up the wrongdoing? we've got a lot to get to. we start with the word of the president versus that of a soldier's widow. it's a bad look for the white house today after sergeant la david johnson's wife for the first time spoke about her phone call with president trump, and he responded, appearing to accuse her of not telling the truth. myeshia johnson says she was on the way to dover air force base to receive the body of her husband when the president called. it was a phone call she says that made her cry, upset by both what the president didn't say and what he did say about her late husband. >> the president said that he knew what he signed up for, but it hurts anyways. and i was -- it made me cry because i was very angry at the
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tone of his voice and how he said it. i heard him stumbling on trying to remember my husband's name. and that hurt me the most because if my husband is out here fighting for our country and he risks his life for our country, why can't you remember his name? >> peter alexander is at the white house for us today. tell us more about president trump's reaction. it came pretty quickly after she gave that interview. >> reporter: that's exactly right. less than an hour before we heard from the president in effect disputing, challenging the words of myeshia johnson, the grieving widow of sergeant la david johnson, approaching three weeks since he lost his life in niger. we are hearing from the president on a variety of issues but not this one today, at least not vocally. he was in the oval office just welcoming the prime minister of singapore at the end of some remarks he made, he was pressed by some of our colleagues. here's how that moment played out. >> thank you very much. >>
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. >> reporter: there was that moment just a matter of minutes ago. the president in the oval office, in fact, saying nothing specifically. not elaborating further. beyond the tweet he posted early this morning. here's specifically what he tweeted, chris, this morning. i'll read it for you, if you haven't seen this yet. it said, i had a very respectful conversation with the widow of sergeant la david johnson and spoke his name from the beginning without hesitation. he punctuates it with an exclamation point. i reached out to the white house. there is so far no additional comment from them. we reached out asking specifically if we would hear from the president again, more importantly if the family of la david johnson would hear from him. at this point still no indication from him whether he be be reaching out again to clarify his remarks and express his condolence they may have misunderstood or felt disrespected by anything that he said. >> so, sometimes the schedule
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changes a little bit when the president is with a foreign leader. are we expecting a briefing as well today, peter? >> reporter: no briefing with sarah huckabee sanders scheduled. there will be joint statements with the prime minister of singapore in the rose garden. we are told no questions from the reporter expected. this is to try to put this at rest if he so chooses. >> peter alexander, thank you for that. paul cain is a congressional reporter for "the washington post,". jeremy, let me play just a little more from that heartbreaking interview with myeshia johnson. >> he couldn't remember my husband's name. the only way he remembered my husband's name is because he told me he had my husband rep's report in front of him. that's when he actually said, la david. >> there's a lot of ways the president could have responded
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to what she had to say. but it seems like, was it his choice to imply she lied about that conversation? >> time and time again, chris, he's incapable of letting any type of perceived sleight go. it's -- it really, i think, for him, a matter of looking as if he's losing an argument. he can't stand the thought that somebody would have the final word. so, it's very similar, actually, to what we saw during the charolettesville riots, when he insisted many sides were responsible for the violence and there were some very fine people in the crowd. points -- illogical yet he was incapable of letting it go. i would like to say i'm surprised to see the president tweet after the fact saying that she had, you know, mischaracterized his remarks,
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again that he could have let it go, he could have let her continue to grieve. i think this is what we have to expect from president donald trump. >> you really felt her pain when she said she wasn't told why she couldn't see her late husband's body. that she has no answers why his body wasn't recovered for two days. john mccain is also back out there today saying, we don't have answers as to what happened in niger. congress and the parents of these four fallen service members get any answers any time soon? >> well, john mccain has requested the pentagon give him and his committee -- he's the chairman of the senate armed ssts committee, that he get a full report on what happened. it will probably be something that has to happen in a classified setting. it seems as if the pentagon and intelligence agencies have been kind of resistant so far to all of this. but, you know, this is a week where they're supposed to see republican momentum on tax
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reform. and president trump's coming up to the hill tomorrow to meet with senate republicans. and instead, will be shouting, we'll be in the capitol and probably shouting questions about this, about, you know, what his latest views are on this issue, which has become an amazing distraction for a white house that almost has a little bit of momentum behind itself for the first time on any legislative issue. >> let me bring in garrett haake on that. garrett, the president tweeting about the widow of a fallen soldier when he alone and his party are trying to push this incredibly ambitious tax cut. don't call it reform package. how -- what are you hearing from members of congress? is this complicating thinking? >> reporter: members of congress, republicans in particular, have gotten pretty good at trying to seal off the things that the president tweets from the things that they're trying to do up here. whether it was charolettesville or any back and forths with john mccain or other senators -- >> they're own kind of wall.
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>> reporter: exactly. any one of -- any number of these scandals and dust-ups and fights the president has gotten into on twitter, republicans have gotten a lot of practice saying that doesn't matter. what matters is the agenda. as paul said, they do have a little momentum. they feel like they have a little wind at their back on tax reform, tax cuts as you pointed out. the president told the house republicans that for marketing purposes, it's better to call it tax cuts, so i think that's how we'll hear him referring to it. look, the president's tweets are also potentially getting in the way of that effort. at least he's involving himself with it. the president tweeted about one of the measures under discussion which is the possibility of lowering a cap on how much you could put into your 401(k) without it being taxed. the president tweeting, there will be be no change to your 401(k). this has always been a great and popular middle class tax break that works and it stays. chris, why this matters here is republicans are doing this as a republican-only operation. if you've got the president out here essentially negotiating
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with his own party in public, that's not helpful. the idea negotiating with yourselves in public makes it a little more difficult to come up with all the pay fors and all the changes you're going to have to make in the tax code to get the rate cuts done the president and his party say they want. >> jeremy, you have two parts of this. part is what's going on in the halls of congress. we have heard many times before paul ryan and mitch mcconnell say, you know, i'm just working on policy. i'm not listening to what the president has to tweet. on the other hand, there are a lot of people for whom he is the messenger. we get conflicting things about what is actually in this plan or what he supports. but at the same time, you're into the second week of a story about a debate about his phone call to a widow. and he tweets at a gold star wife. what's your view of this? how at all does this have an impact on congress's ability to get this through?
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>> well, it's not only adding, you know, a problem of optics for republicans to have the leader of their party picking a fight with the widow of a fallen soldier, but the president keeps adding items to their legislative calendar. i mean, he wants them to deal with iran. he wants them to deal with immigration. he wants them to deal with taxes. i mean, it just keeps -- this list keeps growing. and i don't really see how a body that has yet to form any type of consensus on any major issue is able to get through. i mean, tax reform, show me how that gets through the senate, right? i think it's looking a little better in the house right now, but in the senate, you still have a pretty narrow path to getting anything through. while the president is busy waging war with mitch mcconnell, you know, behind the scenes, i'm not so convinced that he is going to be able to really work with any member of the leadership on any given issue.
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i think this show that we had last week where mcconnell and trump came out in the white house and talked about what great buddies they are. you know, we all know from talking to our sources on capitol hill and inside the white house that, i mean, that was all just a show. these two men do not like one another. and they've really not been able to work on much of anything together. >> paul, that brings us to the headline of the new piece you wrote which starts with a question, the great dealmaker, question mark? lawmakers find trump to be an untrustworthy negotiator. when the president sold so much to voters about the art of the deal, how is he doing? >> it's not so good so far. there's just this frustration that he constantly gets distracted. this fight with a gold star widow is a perfect example of what their frustration is. he doesn't stay focused. he doesn't know policy very well. and they're just looking for some level of consistency. in that piece that i wrote with
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my colleague phil rucker, we talked to chuck schumer, the democratic leader, and he suggested republicans essentially have to lead trump. that they have to lead him where he doesn't even know where he wants to go on policy. that's just not the way this usually works. the president is supposed to be the north star on policy, setting the sort of goals. schumer is saying the exact opposite, that this guy just doesn't know enough and they have to sort of guide him to the finish line. >> when you look at the people, at least the public know very well, paul, you spoke with lindsey graham for this article. a lot of people who don't know the inner workings look at what seems to them to be this buddy-buddy relationship with the president, with whom he disagrees on a lot of policy, who has gone after one of his closest friends in the world, john mccain. what's going on with that relationship? >> this is the most bizarre i see in the capitol now.
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about 16 months ago, me and a small group of reporters were talking to lindsey graham as he was near tears describing his agony that donald trump was going to be the republican nominee. later that night he spoke at a dinner with c-span cameras rolling doing a stand-up routine that ended him with, again, near tears describing his agony that trump was taking over. now they've played golf twice, talking on the phone all the time. at the same time, graham's best friend in the senate, mccain, is being just as tough, if not tougher, than ever on trump, especially as it relates to russia. i just don't -- it's a bizarre thing. some people feel like graham is trying to play toward south carolina conservatives in his 2020 primary. i don't think it's that. i think he's just trying to influence and guide him in a way because he doesn't think the president knows fully what he wants to do and graham wants to try to guide him there.
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>> jeremy, i want to end this sort of going back to something that garrett was talking about that i think is important. most of the american people won't sit down and go through the fine details of a tax plan, but when you say 401(k), it gets a lot of people thinking, listening, trying to figure out what's going on. where are we with this, as you see it? and with this tweet where he said he's not going to support these changes? and it raises quet again, what does this plan really look like? >> that's exactly right. to paul's point it shows just how disengaged the president is on finer policy points. he's totally unpredictable. you don't know what he supports and doesn't support. on a whim he tweets this this this morning on the 401(k) issue. so, i think that this is -- it's a bigger problem for republicans in that they are up against such a wall in terms of needing to
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get something done to demonstrate they can govern given the senate and the white house. they've been unable to do that on any major legislative issue. this is their shot. they know that. i just don't know that's the best way to get good policy. when you're doing something solely for political purposes because you know your donors and voters will punish you if you don't get something done. and furthermore, a tax cut is not really something that revs up even trump's base. even if trump comes out and says, this is the most tremendous, beautiful tax cut we've ever seen in the history of the united states, i don't know that all of his -- you know, the populist energy behind him gets that excited about a massive tax cut for corporations and one -- on the individual level, the benefits go primarily to wealthy americans. that doesn't sound very populist to me. >> we're about out of time. garrett, i'll ask you for a quick answer to this. i realize there's an ebb and
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flow, maybe more than we've ever had on capitol hill. what are the chances this will happen this year? >> reporter: something will happen this year. the stakes are too high for the republicans to get out of here at the end of the year having passed nothing. i think they will continue this fight and will pass something they can call a tax cut or tax reform because the options on the other side of that ledger are too terrifying for them to even think about. >> but what will that something be? stay tuned. garrett haake, paul and jeremy, thank you all, appreciate it. >> thanks. the president just might address these topics when he makes a joint statement with the singapore prime minister minutes from now. plus, "the new york times" reporting former fox news anchor bill o'reilly re-signed a huge contract with fox just a month after reaching a $32 million settlement. why? and the deadline for president trump's border wall prototypes rapidly approaching. we'll take you live to tijuana, mexico, for a firsthand look at the designs.
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>> we're going to test it for breachability, for the subterranean aspect, can we dig under it, can we cut through it, can we scale over it. alright, off you go. casual fridays at buckingham palace? surprising. what's not surprising? how much money nathan saved by switching to geico. fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent or more. afi sure had a lot on my mind. my 30-year marriage... ...my 3-month old business...
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new details of a huge sexual harassment settlement involving bill o'reilly and new accusations involving other business figures. fox news host settled sexual harassment claim for $32
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million. despite the settlement, fox began contract negotiations for o'reilly for a four-year, $25 million a year deal. o'reilly dismissed "the times" report as lies and smears. nbc has wanted been able to very fi that report. now the l.a. "times" reports james toback is accused of sexual misconduct by 38 women. let's bring in msnbc legal analyst katie fang and jo walsh, an msnbc political analyst. let's start with bill o'reilly. you have "the new york times" report that says a legal analyst at the network complained for a long time about, quote, repeated harassment, nonconsensual sexual relationship and the sending of gay pornography and other sexually explicit material. o'reil o'reilly's spokesperson said, once again, "the new york times" has maliciously smeared bill o'reilly, this time even failing to print a sworn affidavit from
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his former lawyer, lis wiehl. they ignored that evidence, sworn under oath, and chos to rely on unsunday substantiated allegations of anonymous leaked or stolen documents. why a large settlement, $32 million, if as o'reilly complained, it never happened? >> because it happened. because the affidavit that was executed as a condition of the $32 million settlement, does not state that what the draft complaint alleged against o'reilly is false. and what happens, chris, is that the settlement term sheet -- normally settlements are to remain confidential. that settlement term sheet was leaked anonymously to "the new york times." it clearly sets forth the $32 million. o'reilly says this exonerates him. if you look at the language, it was carefully crafted we lawyers on both sides and it does not
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state she was sexually harassed or intimidated by bill o'reilly when she worked there during that 15-year tenure. >> 21st century fox issued this statement. his new contract which was made at a time typical for renewals of multiyear talent contracts added protections for the company specifically aimed at harassment, including that mr. o'reilly could be dismissed if the company was made aware of other allegations or if additional relevant information was obtained in a company investigation. the company acted based on the terms of this contract. the way this statement reads is that 21st century fox clearly on the side of women and against sexual harassment, wrote a contract that protected these women as opposed to protecting fox. is that how you read it when you read it as a lawyer? >> i read it that they gave an exit clause to protect themselves. they being 21st century fox.
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albeit already knowing as weinstein had in his employment contract, that you could pay them back or reimburse weinstein company for any out-of-pocket costs affiliated with the harassment. it reads, if we're made aware of the more than six settlements made on behalf of o'reilly, it gives us an exit strategy. it begs the question, why in the world would you condone the behavior you're made aware of, that you just realized -- they were given a copy of this complaint, by the way, 21st century fox was given a copy of the complaint, they saw the allegations and gave him a $7 million raise, by the way. that four-year contract extension went from $18 million to $25 million. they almost rewarded him but said, hey, we have an out if we need an out. >> of course, "the new york times" when they were putting this story together over the weekend, they reached out to bill o'reilly. and they just released part of that interview with him in their podcast "the daily" and o'reilly questions the motivation behind
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these allegations, these sexual harassment allegations. take a listen. >> this is horrible. it's horrible what i went through. horrible what my family went through. this is crap. and you know it. it's politically and financially motivated. and we can prove it with shocking information. >> so, joan, are we waiting and then he's going to have the proof that this is all lies? >> no. he will never have proof, chris. if he had proof, he would have come out with it by now. that is -- >> or presumably not paid someone $32 million. >> exactly. >> by the way, someone point out, i think it might have been megyn kelly, that less money was paid to the goldmans for the death of their child in -- anyway. >> right. >> $32 million is an enormous amount of money by any standard. >> sometimes companies or individuals will pay to make an allegation go away.
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they don't want to go to trial. it didn't happen but they'll give someone money. maybe that's $10,000 or $20,000. not $32 million. she says a nonconsensual sexual allegation. that's sexual assault to me. bill o'reilly has once again puffed himself up and put on this deep voice, scary voice, but he's not going to make this go away. i want to add to what katie said. i foregot that he got a $7 million raise. so, these guys knew what had happened. they knew about the six settlements and now they're bragging that they wrote a contract with an exit clause so if it happened a seventh or eighth or ninth time, they would be protected. they're still so clueless about what is happening in this culture with women coming forward. >> one of those fox news anchors who made accusations was juliette huddy. o'reilly's lawyer says those accusations are false. she signed a nondisclosure agreement as part of her settlement but she talked more broadly with megyn kelly this
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morning about why women sometimes sign these agreements. here's part of what she said. >> i think many women go into the settlement agreement because they just don't want to face what could potentially be coming at them. again, you're dealing with a corporation filled with people who will do everything they possibly can to make sure that they win. and you don't. it's difficult -- i think people have regrets. i think people have regrets when they sign nondisclosure agreements. i would imagine they do. i think -- i think it's something that you grapple with when you're going through it and then you think it's the best move to make but it's not necessarily the best move. >> are we at a point of change, joan, where women who are famous, women who are successful, women who at least on some level would seem to the outside to wield some power, can actually go somewhere and be listened to? >> i think we are on the verge of change. when the first weinstein
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allegations came out, chris, i said i didn't think it would change anything. i looked back to the election of donald trump when so many women -- 15 women accused him of sexual assault or sexual harassment. and hundreds, thousands, perhaps, of women told their stories in the wake of that. and this man got elected president. however, you know, the trump effect, i think, really is lasting and has resulted in this. bad men are finding out, women are coming for you. what i worry about is our sisters at the lower -- in lower levels of employment who don't have the security, who maybe don't have the bank accounts of some of these women who can now come forward. i want to make sure, and i don't know how, that this consciousness raising reaches them somehow because they suffer with it every bit as much as television journalists and actresses and, you know, tech industry people. >> it's everywhere. >> it's everywhere. >> and, katie, is there any sort of potential liability for any of these companies?
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if you're putting together a contract where you are essentially suggesting that you know that the person who worked for you, who in many cases is a big earner, and when i say earner, i mean earner for the kch, someone bringing in a lot of money for the company, is a predator and yet you write language in the contract essentially acknowledging that or you have prior knowledge of settlements involving multiple women who are at your company and yet nothing internally changes, could a group of women get together and at the very least say it was a hostile work environment but maybe even something beyond that? is there any liability beyond the perpetrator himself? >> yes. there has to be civil and criminal liability for the perpetrator, for himself or her self, and potential exposure to the company if the company allowed the continuing harassing environment to exist, if not
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facilitated it. now we have some concerns from employees even at the weinstein company that sent out this, you know, open letter that said, we didn't know, so don't loop us in all of is it. fundamentally, i think the culture of silence that you hear about, i think it's being destroyed and broken wide open. it's true what joan said. it's a socioeconomic problem that has no limits. so, i'm glad to hear that the threat of litigation was enough, enough for lis wiehl never even had to file the lawsuit. it was the threat of the lawsuit that cowed him being bill o'reilly and 21st century fox saying, enough is enough. >> i would add quickly, bharara, former u.s. attorney, before he was fired, was looking into whether fox misled their shareholders about the extent and nature of settlements it was paying to women, not only on behalf of bill o'reilly but also founder -- the late roger ailes. there's that potential liability, too.
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i don't know what happened after bharara left. >> unfortunately -- or fortunately because it's an important conversation to be continued. president trump meeting with singapore's prime minister. then the two leaders will make a joint statement in the rose garden. we're expecting that moments from now. we're waiting to see if the president will answer questions. plus, the clock is ticking on the deadline for the completion of prototypes for president trump's border wall with mexico. jacob soboroff is near the site near san diego across the mexican border. >> reporter: only four days from now these border wall prototypes are scheduled to be completed. the border patrol will test them for breachability if people can get under them, through them or over them. the president will pick his favorite, but does that mean we'll have a complete border wall? (avo) when you have type 2 diabetes, you manage your a1c,
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it's why i'm funding this effort to raise our voices together and demand that elected officials take a stand on impeachment. a republican congress once impeached a president for far less. yet, today, people in congress and his own administration know this president is a clear and present danger who is mentally unstable and armed with nuclear weapons. and they do nothing. join us and tell your member of congress that they have a moral responsibility to stop doing what's political and start doing what's right. our country depends on it. we're going to build a real wall. we'll build a wall that will works. we need the wall. it's imperative. i'm going to go out and look at them permanently. we'll pick the right one. >> president trump promised border wall with mexico may be closer to reality than you think. right now in the california desert, eight different border
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wall prototypes are nearing completion. so far the models have cost the government up to $500,000 each, and that's just for mock-ups. these are roughly 30x30 feet. part of the the border remains completely open with no word on who will pay for the actual wall. we sent msnbc's jacob soboroff to tijuana, mexico, across the border from where some of those prototypes are being built. what do you see? >> reporter: you make a really good point. these border wall prototypes are not funded by congress. they are not funded by mexico, despite the power with which -- the strength with which the president of the united states has tried. they're funding from existing money from the department of homeland security and customs and border protection. they're scheduled to be completed this thursday, after which time they'll test them for breachability, whether people can scale over them, dig under them, go through them. the president has said he's going to come out here and pick his favorite. it's a pretty extraordinary thing to see when you take a
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look at it. but when you look at the actual numbers, whether or not this thing is necessary, it tells an entirely different story. this sector of the border patrol and southern border as a whole is about to set a record for all-time low apprehensions ever without president trump's border wall. that means that people are not crossing like they used to. certainly not crossing like the 1980s when there were over a million apprehensions southern border. the number will be more in the 200,000 range. if you look at what's going on behind me right now, it's still an ongoing construction project. there's actually media from around the world, customs and boarder protection has brought in to show them around. that's everyone in the yellow jablgts. can you see heavy machinery and equipment putting the final touches on this project. from the sky is probably the best way that you can see this. what you're looking at right now are pictures from our drone on this side of the border. the reason we've come over here is access, unless you get in with cbp for a brief amount of time is restricted.
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the administration wants to keep people away, in particular protesters away. after the president comes out and picks his favorite, the big challenge will not be can someone get over it, who's going to pay for it? >> you teased it. do you have the drone pictures? can we see what the walls look like? that's it? it looks like someone stood on the ladder. >> reporter: that's it. what you're looking at, chris, right there from our drone, these things are 18 to 30 feet tall. the administration says they're not going to be able to get over or through. when you talk to people on this side of the border, particularly mexicans who live here and see people crossing on a daily basis, 70 people a day are apprehended in this sector, it says they don't matter what they look like, people will find a way to cross. >> we went up higher. jacob soboroff in tijuana, thank you for that. we're keeping our eye on the
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white house rose garden where president trump and the prime minister of singapore are going to face the media. steve bannon looking to clean house. gop lawmakers not supporting the conservative agenda. how bannon is wielding his power outside the white house. t for m. and every year, we split it equally. except for one of us. i write them a poem instead. and one for each of you too. thats actually yours. that one. yeah. regardless, we're stuck with the bill. to many, words are the most valuable currency. last i checked, stores don't take "words." some do. not everyone can be that poetic voice of a generation. i know right? such a burden. the bank of america mobile banking app. the fast, secure and simple way to send money.
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for her compassion and care. he spent decades fighting to give families a second chance. but to help others, they first had to protect themselves. i have afib. even for a nurse, it's complicated... and it puts me at higher risk of stroke. that would be devastating. i had to learn all i could to help protect myself. once i got the facts, my doctor and i chose xarelto®. xarelto®... to help keep me protected. once-daily xarelto®, a latest-generation blood thinner... ...significantly lowers the risk of stroke in people with afib not caused by a heart valve problem. it has similar effectiveness to warfarin. xarelto® works differently. warfarin interferes with at least 6 blood-clotting factors. xarelto® is selective, targeting just one critical factor interacting with less of your body's natural blood-clotting function. for afib patients well-managed on warfarin,
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there is limited information on how xarelto® compares in reducing the risk of stroke. don't stop taking xarelto® without talking to your doctor, as this may increase risk of stroke. while taking, you may bruise more easily, or take longer for bleeding to stop. it may increase your risk of bleeding if you take certain medicines. xarelto® can cause serious, and in rare cases, fatal bleeding. get help right away for unexpected bleeding, unusual bruising, or tingling. if you've had spinal anesthesia, watch for back pain or any nerve or muscle-related signs or symptoms. do not take xarelto® if you have an artificial heart valve or abnormal bleeding. tell your doctor before all planned medical or dental procedures... ...and before starting xarelto®-about any conditions, such as kidney, liver, or bleeding problems. it's important to learn all you can... ...to help protect yourself from a stroke. talk to your doctor about xarelto®. there's more to know™. we're waiting for comments from president trump and the prime minister of singapore. economic issues including a contract for singapore airlines to buy boeing airlines are on
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the official agenda. there, of course, many domestic questions pressing on president trump today. nbc's peter alexander is at the white house for us, we also have michael crowley, senior foreign correspondent at politico, pete, former spokesman for breitbart, jonathan allen, nbc news national political director and "new york times" reporter and msnbc contributor jeremy peters is back. peter, let me start with you. my understanding is a lot of times when you have these foreign leaders and they come, you have what we call a two-two so each president gets two questions from two reporters from their own country. but formally, that's not planned today? >> reporter: to be cleared. this is scheduled as joint statements from president trump and his guest, prime minister lee of singapore. i spoke to a white house official moments ago and asked if the president was prepared to take questions, would he be, you know, going off script, as it were, taking questions today. they say that's not the plan, but as you know well, anything can happen. we'll be prepared with our questions on a variety of
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topics, not the least is this back and forth, reignited by the president's tweet with myeshia johnson, the gold star wife, the gold star widow of sergeant la david johnson who died now approaching three weeks ago in niger. the president was pressed on this on two occasions today in the oval office when he was hosting the prime minister of singapore, again in the roosevelt room. both times he ignored those questions. does he have anything more to say on it? i asked the white house if they plan to reach out any further to the johnson family, perhaps to clarify the president's comments to say we feel terribly sorry that they felt disrespected by anything the president said and to offer his condolences and gratitude on behalf of the american people. at this point, no clarity on whether that will happen. they would not rule that out either. chris? >> michael, we got some -- a bit of a preview from prime minister lee. he did an interview with cnbc. he talked about those boeing planes, obviously, he talked -- he said that he thought that
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the -- that president trump will not change his mind on tpp. but i think maybe the bigger issue, tell me what you think the big issue is between the two of them, and that is north korean tensions and his own concern that south korea and japan, if they continue to feel threatened, will want to nuke up themselves. >> yeah, absolutely. singapore is, obviously, essentially a city state, population of only 5 million but very wealthy, a lot of money. kind of punches above its weight, so to speak. and is highly focused on economics of the region. so, don't gloss over tpp too quickly. i think singapore was very disappointed to see the trump administration pulling out of those trade talks, which they were very supportive of. and the region is trying to find a way to go forward on that. of course, a military conflict on the korean peninsula would be potentially devastating to the regional economy. so, i think we have to assume that one of the messages president trump is going to hear from the prime minister is, you
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know, trying to find some kind of way to avert this becoming a military confrontation and, yes, destabilizing the region potentially through nuclearization of other countries. that's a difficult sell right now because donald trump has given the signal -- he has given mixed signals. primarily the signal that he wants to try diplomacy. he's in the mode of intimidation and making all the countries in the region nervous and singapore isn't the exception. >> even as this domestic political agenda is at a really critical point. jeremy, you wrote about the battle within the republican party, about a faction of conservatives targeting seven states where republicans hold the senate seat. there are republicans who think that this is a suicide strategy. where are we with this right now? >> right now i think it's early stages, chris, but under -- to
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understate the real anxiety and anger within the conservative grassroots at republican leadership in washington would be a dangerous thing. i think -- i was surprised myself on a couple of reporting trips i've taken lately to hear the ire directed specifically at mitch mcconnell. i think that it's very likely, you have a situation in the 2018 midterms where you have mitch mcconnell's name being the most important, not donald trump's. maybe not even the candidate who is on the ballot themselves. if you are incumbent, this could be a very dangerous season for you. and that's what steve bannon and some of the other conservative activists who are looking to really overthrow the republican leadership want to exploit. >> yeah, they're going after mitch mcconnell. you heard steef bannon going after george w. bush and a lot of people in the audience agreeing with him. also, taking another dig at john mccain. take a listen to part of what steve bannon had to say.
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>> the united states senate in particular has done, i think, a terrible job disappointing president trump. john mccain deserves our respect. however, as a politician, john mccain is just another senator from arizona. >> in fact, when he first brought up john mccain, the crowd booed at the mention of his name. where do you see the discontent in this party and where is it going? >> well, i think you saw for the entire campaign, the presidential campaign last year, donald trump and people like steve bannon at breitbart platform campaigned on the idea they were going to get stuff done. trump was the art of the deal, the best dealmaker they were going to have. they were going to be so tired of winning. here we are ten months later and they don't have any accomplishments to speak of. i think the republican base is very frustrated with the idea. they thought by having a unified house, senate and white house for the first time in a very long time they would be able to do the things they promised, the things they campaigned on.
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and to this point, none of those things have materialized. >> you agree with people who say, it's hard to overstate the frustration among many trump voters about the lack of progress on these key issues? >> yeah. the frustration -- it's palpable. that's what propel the donald trump to the republican nomination. not that he was so great, but he was different than the other candidates who ran as they perceived it to be were part of the washington establishment, part of the problem that's left many people behind. they channeled that anger and frustration into propelling donald trump forward. now that we're into the donald trump presidency and nothing has happened and nothing has changed, they are -- the people are so angry and frustrated. they don't know what it's going to take to get washington to do something. >> so, we're seeing leadership on both sides, top senior aides on both sides from singapore and the united states, coming out to the rose garden. jonathan, i would like to get this question in, if we can. mitch mcconnell, in spite of the press conference they had out there at the rose garden where
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they were trying to make nice. obviously, there's been a lot of back and forth. mcconnell has been the object of steve bannon's scorn. now he's firing back. >> some of these folks you've been quoting nominating people that lose. that isn't going to help president trump achieve his agenda. >> do you see jonathan, at any point in the near future where republicans go back to going after democrats instead of each other? >> i think there will be a point. it will be the general election in the 2018 midterms and some states may be too late for republican nominees who have trouble winning, whether they are the establishment nominee or anti-establishment nominee. one thing that's important to remember here, steve bannon and his allies don't have to win 100% or 50% of the races where they are running primaries, they have to win a couple to try to scare incumbents into doing what they want them to do on capitol hill and getting on board with the trump agenda. their aim is not necessarily to win all of those races but it is
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to put a shock of fear into the republicans in congress. >> so we have -- our two-minute warning, i'll get this in really quickly. you have 2018 fast approaching, tax reform, talk of revising health care. is the president and the party's entire agenda in jeopardy right now? >> it absolutely is. getting tax reform done was always going to be more complicated than health care and they couldn't get health care done. so i think that it's -- a tax cut at best and what that tax cut looks like, i don't know how that inspires voters. i really don't know -- >> jeremy, thank you, the president coming out with prime minister lee of singapore. we heard them just announce there officially. let's take a listen. >> thank you very much. >> i'm honored to welcome the prime minister of singapore to the white house today. thank you, mr. president. i want to thank you for visiting
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us and your entire group of very talented people that we're dealing with, our friendship has never been stronger than it is right now. singapore is one of our closest strategic partners in asia. the united states is proud of the deep and enduring partnership we have built since singapore gained its independence more than half a century ago. singapore's rapid development from a poor island nation to an economic power house under the leadership of the prime minis r minister's great father. he was a great man, he really was a great man, has been one of the incredible economic and political achievements of the past 50 years. singapore's strong commitment to the rule of law, to international property protection and to the principles of fair and reciprocal, one of my favorite words when it comes to trade, has made the country a
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magnet for business. today over 4,000 american companies are operating in singapore and we have a very large trading relationship with singapore. earlier today the prime minister and i witnessed a contract signing between singapore airlines, a great airline and boeing, worth more than $13.8 billion. i want to thank the singaporean people for their faith in the american engineering and the american workers and or american workers deliver the best product by far. our robust partnership extends far beyond economic cooperation and trade. mr. prime minister, as your father rightly noted, the development of the economy is very important but equally important is the development of the nature of our society. so true. the united states and singapore share a profound belief in a society built on a foundation of
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law, a nation ruled by law provides the great security for the rights of citizens and the best path to shared and lasting prosperity. both the united states and singapore understand the unmatched power of private enterprise to uplift the human condition. these values have made our society stronger, sustained our partnership through the cold war and laid a critical foundation for a lasting relationship today. our common values and interests have led to a vital security relationship. throughout southeast asia the united states and singapore are currently working to enhance the capacity of law enforcement, fight terrorism, and bolster cyber defenses. our two nations also share an unwaivering commitment to countering the north korean threat and promoting freedom of navigation in the south china
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sea. singapore was the first southeast asian nation to join the coalition to defeat isis. that was very far thinking, you were there before most. more than 1,000 of the military personnel train here in the united states every single year. when hurricane harvey struck our gulf coast in late august, singapore deployed its own helicopters to help transport personnel and critical resources to areas in need and the prime minister told me that and called me and made that request himself. it was a great help and we want to thank you very much, the use of your helicopters. when the american navy destroyed the uss john mccain suffered a collision at the sea, singapore came to our immediate assistance. on behalf of all americans, i want to thank the prime minister and the people of singapore for their support, which has been
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tremendous and their friendship. in a few weeks i will attend the u.s. asean summit in the fill feenz where we'll celebrate the 40th anniversary of u.s./asean relations. i look forward to continuing our discussions at this year's summit and seeing the great things singapore will accomplish as asean chair in 2018, in other words, this great gathering will take place in singapore in 2018. mr. prime minister, thank you for your continuing partnership and lead areship, the u.s. singapore relationship has made both of our people far more prosperous and secure and our values have made us long stastag friends, we're fortunate to have such a wonder fful -- thank you very much. >> thank you, mr. president.
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mr. president, ladies and gentlemen, i'd like to thank president trump for his warm hospitality and very happy to visit him in washington following our first meeting with the g-20 summit with ham burg in july. we had a wide ranging exchange in the oval office and over lunch. we reaffirmed the robust and enduring partnership between singapore and the united states over the last 51 years. it's a deep and wide relationship with substantial cooperation in economic defense and security is fierce. and we also discussed what more we could do to take it forward. on the economic front, the u.s. is an important partner for many countries in asia. just as ai can't is an important economic partner for the united states. singapore is a small country, just 5.5 million but we have sizable investments and trade with the u.s. and these continue to grow. for example, we're the second largest asian investor in the
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u.s. with more than $70 billion in stock investments and our total trade in good and services amounted to more than $68 billion last year. the u.s. has consistently run a substantial trade surplus with singapore. last year it stood at $18 billion. in other words, america exported $43 billion of goods and services to singapore and on a per capita basis, we must be one of the highest buying american customers in the world. $7,500 worth of american goods and services yearly. pharmaceutical products, tires, golf clubs, financial and consultancy services, the sticks not an association. and i discovered looking at my small new balance shoes, very good, made in the u.s., probably in new england. and of course we buy boeing jets. president trump and i just witnessed a signing between
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singapore airlines and boeing to purchase 39 boeing aircraft worth 13.8 billion u.s. dollars. it's a win-win for both sides. it will further modernize the fleet and also support many american jobs. our defense ties are very strong. singapore supports a military presence in asia since 1990 we have hosted u.s. air for navy aircraft and ships on rotational deployments. we thank the u.s. for hosting more than 1,000 singapore military personnel each year in training detachments in the united states. we have forces at luke air force base in phoenix and also in arizona. at mountain home air base in idaho at grand prairie in texas and fort sill oklahoma, where i spent three months many years ago. in fact, our chinooks and
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military personnel in grand prairie will deployed to assist in hurricane harvey disaster relief operations and glad to be of some help to our very gracious hosts. we have a close partnership on security operation, including trans national security and terrorism and cyber security. singapore has lent early and consistent support to the defeat isis coalition. we were one of the first ku countries to participate and only asian country to contribute military assets and personnel. as i told president trump when we met, singapore will extend our existing deployment to the operation into 2018 for an additional year. president trump and i naturally discussed the situation on the korean peninsula. we strongly oppose a nuclearization of the korean peninsula as it affects the peace and stability of the region. and like the u.s., we condemn the

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