tv The 11th Hour With Brian Williams MSNBC October 23, 2017 8:00pm-9:00pm PDT
that that is my husband. i don't know nothing. they won't show me a finger, a hand. i know my husband's body from head to toe, and they won't let me see anything. i don't know what's in that box. it could be empty, for all i know. but i need -- i need to see my husband. i haven't seen him since he came home. >> myeshia johnson gets tonight's last word. the 11th hour with brian williams is next. >> tonight new details from the pentagon on that deadly a take from niger from the chairman of the joint chiefs and the new report that the a.m. bimbush wa possibly a set up. the president's fight with a gold star widow entered its second week today after trump went back at it, commenting yet again on that condolence phone call. and on the issue of military service, john mccain is unsparing in his criticism of president trump. all of it part of the 11th hour getting underway on a monday night.
well, good evening once again from our nbc news headquarters here in new york. on day 277 of the trump administration, and in a squabble that now, as we said, enters its second week, the president today could not resist an ongoing fight with a gold star widow who is pregnant and grieving and going through the darke darkest days of her life. she buried the husband and father of her children on saturday. and today turning back to policy, we heard from the pentagon about the ambush that killed her husband and three other u.s. soldiers. there is also new reporting from nbc news tonight which says, quote, an emerging theory among u.s. military investigators is that the army special forces soldiers ambushed in niger were set up by terrorists who were tipped off in advance about a meeting in a village sympathetic to local isis affiliates, three u.s. officials who have been
briefered on t briefed on the matter told nbc news. today it was the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff who forthrightly took questions from reporters at the pentagon for 43 minutes explaining what he could. he said the task force these four americans were a part of was involved in a fire fight for about an hour before they called for help. from there, he said it took another hour to get air support to them in the form ultimately of french mirage fighter jets. he promised more information as the investigation progressed. >> we owe you more information, more importantly, we owe the families of the fallen more information and that's what the investigation is designed to identify. i can tell you once we found out that sergeant johnson was missing, we brought the full weight of the u.s. government to bear in trying to recover his body. >> this morning, sergeant la david johnson's widow myeshia johnson spoke publicly about her husband for the first time. she said the man she knew from the age of 6 was a great father, called him an awesome soldier.
she also shared this about her phone call with the president. >> what he said was -- >> the president? >> yes, 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 tone of his voice and how he said it. he couldn't remember my husband's name. the only way he remembered my husband's name because he told me he had my husband's report in front of him. and that's when he actually said la david. i heard him stumbling on trying to remember my husband's name. and that's what hurt me the most. if my husband is out here fighting for our country and he risked his life for our country, why can't you remember his name? >> is there anything you'd like to say to the president now? >> no, i don't -- no, i don't have nothing to say to him.
>> myeshia johnson is six months pregnant with the couple's third child. donald trump did have something to say to her today. he wrote on twitter this morning, quote, i had a very respectful conversation with the widow of sergeant la david johnson and spoke his name from beginning without hesitation. but apparently even some of the members of trump's administration are ready for him to let this go. "the new york times" reports, quote, white house officials conceded privately that they had to find a way to move beyond the episode. tonight we also have an update to a promise the president made a different gold star family. this one in north carolina. a reporter from the local abc affiliate in raleigh was the first to report the bal dridge family received a $25,000 check from trump months after he gave them a condolence call. the check is dated october 18, the same date as this washington post article that first brought this promise to light, head lined, trump offered a grieving
military father $25,000 in a phone call. and there is this. further reporting from the atlantic, quote, the trump administration is scrambling to defend the president's characterization of his communications with grieving military families, including rush delivering letters from the president to the families of service members killed months ago. donald trump falsely claimed this week that he had called virtually all fallen service members' families since his time in office. this brings us to our lead-off panel to start the week on a monday night. robert costa, washington post, national political reporter, moderator of washington week on pbs. vivian solama, nbc news national political reporter, and peter baker, chief white house correspondent for "the new york times." vivian, first off and straight away, for folks watching tonight who didn't have the luxury or the ability to see the pentagon news conference today, what do people need to know about what we learned about this ambush
today? >> well, what the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, joseph dunford, came out and wanted to explain that this investigation is ongoing. he wasn't very forthcoming with answers as to how this attack happened on our soldiers in niger. but he did say that the families deserve to get an answer, and the american people deserve to have answers as well. and he took that very seriously. he also somewhat explained the procedures, the protocols in the military for what happens in these cases. you know, he was talking about with regard to myeshia johnson's, you know, comments about not seeing her husband's body, that sometimes they recommend that they shouldn't see the body of the deceased, the victim because sometimes, obviously, they go through a lot of trauma and they're too disfigured. he explained that in a way that really tried to layout the pentagon's case in this in a very sort of distant way from what's going on in the white house and president trump's
comments in the last couple of days especially. >> yeah, we should emphasize he did so with empathy, which has been missing from so much of the conversation of late. robert costa, your colleagues at the washington post have reported, and you know this well, the behavior by the president, the reignition of this as a debate now as we said entering its second week, is part of a pattern. i'll quote from this piece before i get your reaction. trump's actions since then followed a careful formula he long ago devised for winning a skirmish, which has been described by senior white house advisors, make it a fight, use controversy to elevate message and never apologize. the conflict bears all the hallmarks of a typical trump rumble, over board boasts, inconsistent official accounts, tweeted name calling, partisan attacks, aids ensnared in controversy, and a steady effort to pin the blame for the whole hull a ba loo on the news media. robert, that's all correct if passed a prologue.
the only problem is in this case we're talking about a gold star widow and her family. >> brian, there's alarm across the republican party tonight because of the president's conduct, the way he has gone about this entire episode. in particular, getting ahead of the widow and her own statements about the situation, about that phone call, and the white house i'm told by republicans tonight who are in contact with officials there, they really are asking the white house to stop engaging with congresswoman wilson and having this public spat day in, day out as the party tries to move forward on tax reform, and answer some of these questions about what's going on in niger with regard to fighting terrorism. >> robert, i asked not knowing how you're going to take to this question. all the time you've spent in his orbit, around him, covering him, has this surprised even you? >> not the least, brian. this is who president trump is. he is combative, relentless. he does not mind wading into
territories that most politicians would say is not the place they want to go. he embraces incendiary public fights because he believes it fuels his own power and he always wants to assert strength, even in a situation as delicate and tragic as this one. >> peter baker, the question about exposure, all the ancillary damage to the people in his circle, perhaps people on capitol hill far from the white house. and i would argue that we've already seen this past weekend something of a tarnishing of the good name of general kelly who is now known for this episode. oh, oh, peter? >> yeah, i'm here, exactly right. i thought you were going to play a tape. you're exactly right. general kelly had a sterling reputation going into this. he was seen as the grown up who was going to steer the president
toward safer ground politically. instead what happened last week was he came out and seemed to throw more fuel on that incendiary fire bob costa just mentioned rather than trying to calm it down and say, we don't want to have a fight with a widow. we want to support the widow of somebody who gave his life to this country. he came out and disputed her account that was passed through the congresswoman, attacked the congresswoman for an event using false memories at the very least of that incident. it seems surprising to a lot of people who thought general kelly was something different than this. i think what we learned about this is that general kelly, in fact, is a little bit more attuned and aligned with president trump's way of doing business than people had thought, that he, in fact, is not somebody calming the president down, but agreeing and encouraging and even backing him up in the middle of a fight like this. >> vivian, papers from london to dubai to hong kong are carrying stories about the president of the united states. they may not understand every
small move in this story, but he's in a skirmish with a gold star widow in our country. talk about the lasting effects from this now eight-day or so news cycle. >> well, we saw it during the campaign when he would go after the khan family. he was criticized by the mother of this deceased soldier. everybody thought it was one episode, an isolated incident. now what we're seeing is the president reacts very strongly to any kind of criticism, even if it is a gold star family, that he really doesn't hold back the punches. and one thing that is very interesting is that the president really made clear that he wanted to be the president for veterans and he was going to go out for them. but if the veteran families, the families of these veterans or soldiers attack him, that's where he pulls out -- he pulls out all the punches basically. it's really interesting to see how he really cannot take criticism in any form, and this is definitely something that i'm sure even people within his
administration are saying, you know, this is not the way to proceed. and we know that already people are trying to talk him off of this. >> robert? >> brian, when we look at this administration, even critics of the administration of the president have said they are in some ways -- they're lifted by the fact that general mattis is there at the pentagon, general kelly is in the white house. you have a deep and heavy military presence at the upper echelon of this government. this niger episode, what has happened is raising questions about the military leadership in civilian roles in his government. what was the president informed about. what i'm calling lawmakers, they're telling me on the phone, republicans, somewhat irate, they don't feel like they're getting the information they need. that's why senator mccain is threatening subpoenas to bring people up to capitol hill. this is more than just about the widow and the congresswoman. the widow, of course, and the family are at the center of all our thoughts. but politically this is about a broader question of what did this administration do to handle isis and islamic threats,
terrorism threats in africa and how are they going to move forward in the future. >> hey, peter, this time i am going to play you audio of an interview with senator corker, a snippet of what he had to say today that a lot of people found the most depressing development today about -- starting with the president's planned visit to capitol hill tomorrow, but also years in the future. here is senator corker. we'll talk about it on the other side. >> tomorrow is a photo op, nothing more, nothing less, and i think to read anything more into it would be spending a lot of time on something that shouldn't be spending time on. i don't know. it's -- it's going to be up and down for the next three years and, you know, people just -- i mean, that's just the way it's going to be. i don't read anything into tomorrow other than a photo op. you've got to remember, tax reform is our agenda. it's the senate's agenda.
it's the house agenda. this is something that's been on our agenda long before the president ran for president. so, i mean, to act as if it's his agenda, it's our agenda, you understand? so, i mean, that's -- tomorrow is a photo op, okay? >> peter, this to me is unbelievable. this is not herbie the back bench senator. this is the chairman of senate foreign relations. granted, he is on his way out and is not going to stand for reelection, but branding tomorrow a photo op over 12 hours before the motorcade pulls up to the colonnade at the capital, and reminding everybody, hey, tax reform starts up here and not down there on pennsylvania avenue. >> well, look, senator corker obviously has decided that now that he's not running for reelection, he's going to say what he thinks and he's going to say it as bluntly as you just heard him say. is tomorrow a photo op? of course it is.
always when the president comes to capital hill, that's the whole point. photo ops have a place in politics. it is a way of assuring your party you're with them. it is a way of assuring them you stand for the same thing they do, and that is in doubt with this president. at this point you see him last week with senator mcconnell trying to patch over their public differences, trying to move past these fights with senator corker and others, saying we are in this together because he needs every single vote he can get out of the republican caucus in order to win this tax fight. this is very much on the edge. he has almost no -- very little channeling s chance of any significant democratic support. he's trying to be a good republican even as his own former chief strategist steve bannon is vowing to wage war against republican establishment incumbents. >> you guys are great. we are smarter for having had you on tonight. and hearing you out, robert costa, vivian solama, peter baker, 0 you are thanks. as we approach our first break, still ahead, why robert mueller's investigation may matter more now than ever
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the president, a fellow republican. mccain had a lot to say this morning on the view, especially relating to the matter of the ambush in niger. >> we should not be fighting about a brave american who lost his life serving his country. that should not be the topic of discussion in america today. >> yes. [ applause ] >> terrible, terrible. >> it still makes me mad when i think that if we all are asked to serve, wonderful. but if some of us are allowed not to because of our income or our position or our influence, then that is a disgrace. i don't consider him so much a draft dodge eras i fe-- dodger feel the system is so wrong certain americans could evade their responsibility to serve the country. we have to lift the national dialogue. let's stop insulting each other. let's start respecting each other. [ applause ] >> the point is that we need to
have a kinder, more respectful, but vigorous debate and discussion, but based on what we want the country to do, not whether somebody is a jerk or not. >> let's talk about what we just saw with jonathan la mere, white house reporter for the associated press and our friend robert costa, the washington post has agreed to stick around for this discussion. both gentlemen are msnbc analysts. jonathan, here's a guy who said on 60 minutes he was given, what, between 3 and 14% chance of survival. he has an aggressive form of brain cancer. he's in the thick of a fight in the middle of i believe his second round of chemo. doesn't scare easily. he might have had a less survival chance at his worst moments in north vietnam. he's a singular voice and yet he's raising military service at this time right now in the trump administration. >> it's not a coincidence that he's doing so, brian.
this is a moment where john mccain stood there today, and he symbolizes to many americans, a lot about what is great for this country. he served 4 1/2 years as a prisoner of war in vietnam. he conducted his life admirably since. he makes these comments in the midst of an ongoing feud about perhaps the most sacred duty of the commander in chief, right? trying to console grieving families of america's war dead. and john mccain clearly does not think the president is doing a good job of that. he brought up today trump's deferments, the idea that five different times, once for bone spurs, he avoided being sent to vietnam. he has suggested that he wishes things were different in this country, and that president trump conducted himself with more honor and more grace on this particular issue. it goes beyond -- you've heard the quote there that he has no relationship with the president. certainly it's another example of this president not doing the outreach he needs to a member of his own party to get his
legislative agenda through. it's bigger than that. this is someone john mccain, who represents things that donald trump does not, and he does so now also on the eve of the president's asia trip where more than any other time he will wear the hat of commander in chief as he goes over there and talks about the threat posed by north korea, as a lot of our allies nervously wait to see if he orders some sort of military strike. one of his stops during his tour will be vietnam. he will spend time in hanoi. today the white house suggested said they were not sure yet if the president would visit any of the vietnam war sites, including the prison where john mccain was held. >> robert costa, we veer into politics. i'm going to ask you about the role of steve bannon, since all these pieces are moving beneath our feet. this is from the washington post. bannon and trump talk several times per week. headline, the president's wing man absent in the west wing, bannon stays close to trump. quote, bannon and trump are anything but estranged.
they have maintained contact chatting many times a week according to multiple associates of boeing of them. the conversations are dictated by the whims of the president who dials his former chief strategist when something he reads, watches or hears p eaks his interest. >> steve bannon being the so-called whisperer for trump, a friend and confidant, what is more important about bannon at this moment in the country is if you compare him to senator mccain and senator mccain's recent speech, they are at opposite views of where this country should go, especially with regard to foreign policy. senator mccain said in his speech about half-baked spurious nationalism. that was his quote. and he was not referencing, not really president trump's policy in any specific way, but bannon's world view. bannon wants to unravel the american internationalist
approach, embrace of institutions we've seen in the establishment of both parties in recent decades. and for that reason bannon is a threat, not because he's in the president's ear, but because he's going against how we as reporters, as politicians have always considered the norms of american life, american order and foreign policy. >> jonathan, i want to play a snippet of bannon describing his position in the president's life. we'll talk about it after this. >> the united states senate in particular has been done i think a terrible job appointing president trump. [ applause ] >> and let me say something about president trump. i've had the great honor of being the ceo of the campaign, then being his chief strategist and senior counselor in the white house, and now i'm proud to say his wing man outside. >> the wing man outside. what percentage -- and this calls for an abject guess on
your part probably. what percentage of the republican party does that man in that black blazer represent? >> the question is, is it enough in certain states to support primary challenges to establishment republicans? that has mitch mcconnell nervous. i think there are some states where they're not too concerned about insurgent presidents. some they are. perhaps arizona is one. this is someone steve bannon has a real sense of self in his own position here. there is no question he deserves credit for the stretch run of the campaign. he deserves credit for, you know, instituting a lot of the policies, particularly in the early months of this white house. but he also had a very fractured relationship with many key players in the white house, jared kushner for one, and at times the president who grew very irritated at the idea that steve bannon was getting and perhaps seeking credit for a lot of trump's successes, which is perhaps the rule number one in the trump play book, is you can't take credit for something that he believes he did. he still does talk to steve bannon on occasion, but he's also shown he's given mixed
messages how much he wants the support. let's remember a week ago in the oval office, in fact, right before this controversy exploded in the roosegaarse garden aboutr dead and consoling calls, earlier the president sat with members in the east room and suggested that, yes, he was in favor of a lot of what steve bannon had to do. he could support members of his insurgency. a couple hours later in the rose garden standing next to mr. mcconnell, i probably talked steve out of a lot of that. i'm going to align myself with the establishment republicans to get something done. >> if you see a pattern, hop on it. let us know what you found. our thanks to jonathan la mere, robert costa for continuing this conversation. really interesting, and to some troubling stuff. coming up, the next face to appear on capitol hill as part of this russia investigation, two committees on the hill, in fact. the 11th hour back with that right after this.
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some news here on russia tonight. special counsel robert mueller's investigation into russian interference may emerge supreme among all. as the congressional investigations run into trouble, most of it based on partisan ship. "the new york times" reported on a front page piece today, quote, nine months into the trump administration, any notion that capitol hill would provide a comprehensive authoritative and bipartisan accounting of the extraordinary efforts of a
hostile power to disrupt american democracy appears to be dwindling. this comes as nbc news reports mueller has expanded his investigation to include this man, veteran washington lobbyist tony podesta and his firm the podesta group for business conducted in ukraine. podesta is the brother of the clinton campaign manager john podesta who is not a part of this. according to the report, the investigation into tony podesta and his company began as a fact finding mission into a ukrainian nonprofit and paul manafort's role in the campaign. quote, this has now morphed into a criminal inquiry into whether the firm violated the foreign agents registration act. this is just one front of the russia story. and here to talk about all of it tonight, one of the coauthors of that report we just cited, nbc news national security and justice reporter julia anzly, also wall street attorney jill
wine-banks, assistant former watergate counsel, and msnbc legal analyst. so, julia, let's talk about this and that tony podesta has been caught up in this means what about the mueller investigation? >> well, you know, i was just thinking, brian, about this "the new york times" piece how it has become political on the hill. if anyone is concerned mueller's investigation is politically motivated, they need look no further than this probe into tony podesta, a known democrat, as you said, his brother worked as hillary clinton's campaign manager. he's been trumpeting liberal democratic causes for his whole career. but he worked to represent the european center for a modern ukraine, which had ties to a pro-russia political party. and mueller is looking at his releases which he did not disclose until after it was publicly reported last august that he had worked for this organization and their ties. so, as he started to look at
manafort and he wanted to do more fact finding, this came to light and now could lead to criminal charges. >> jill, another story that got our attention over the past few days was this headline. this is from axios. trump pledges to personally pay some legal bills of white house staff and associates. and if you're just a person walking around, you see that, you think, how nice. the boss is going to make people whole after any discomfort they may have suffered by working for him. any problem with that, jill? >> well, it certainly caught my attention, too, brian. and, yes, it is a cause of concern. during watergate, one of the obstruction of justice acts was paying hush money. now, there we had proof that the money was paid for legal defense in exchange for the witnesses remaining silent. they were not to cooperate, and if they didn't, their legal fees would be paid.
so, you have to have more than just the payment of the fees. you have to have some linkage to it being a quid pro quo for silence. if the payment is to maintain his control over them, then donald trump's paying it is wrong. it also could be a way of evading any restrictions on the rnc paying for it. they are paying donald trump's legal fees, and it certainly looks bad to all of those who can't afford to pay their own, whereas donald trump could afford to pay his, to have the rnc paying for him and not for them, but there may be restrictions on the use of campaign money to pay for staff. so, it is a nice gesture, but i'm afraid that it's going to look very politically bad and that most people will view it as trying to keep witnesses from telling the truth about what they know. >> julia, we are also reporting tonight that mr. cohen, donald trump's long-time personal attorney, is going to appear not at a public hearing, but behind the scenes with investigators from both house intel and senate
intel as early as this week. remind us what exposure he might have. >> so, of course, michael cohen is trump's personal lawyer and he's someone who has been with the trump organization for a long time. this goes back, way before a lot of the lawyers that have just come into the fray as part of this russia investigation. he knows trump well and he knows the way he operates. he knows what kind of knowledge he might have had of some of the meetings that his campaign associates had. he holds a lot of the answers. as his partner he's likely to be loyal and a lot of people are frustrated this questioning just like a lot of the people have been questioned by these committees is going to be in a closed session. these are a lot of answers people want in a public forum, but we're just not getting that. >> jill, if you had one at bat as a questioner, one whack at this witness, what would you ask? >> i think julia is right about his general knowledge, but i think the specific thing that is bothering me is his connection
with russia in two ways. one had to do with a meeting possibly in ukraine, but more importantly, his attempts to get help from the kremlin in building a trump tower in moscow. and we have e-mails that show the correspondence where he was asking for help, and this is at a time when donald trump was denying that there was any investment in russia or any interest in investing in russia or any attempt to build in russia. so, there is something that is directly contradicting what the public statements of trump were about investments in russia and it could be the follow the money sign that we know. so, i would certainly be focusing on that for now. >> thank you both for making us smarter on this. julia ainsley with us tonight from washington, jill wine-banks from chicago. thank you both very much. another break for us, and coming up, who was john mccain talking about today when he talked about those who evaded responsibility to serve their
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and this guy is just trying to get through the day. keeping it together. losing it. upgrade your commute. ride with audible. senator john mccain this weekend fired a thinly veiled volley at president trump. he mentioned bone spurs specifically, which happens to be given as the medical reason for donald trump's military deferment which kept him from having to serve in vietnam. >> and one aspect of the conflict, by the way, that i will never, ever countenance 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. if we're going to ask every
american to serve, every american should serve. >> during his appearance today on the view, john mccain said he doesn't consider president trump as a draft dodger, but he blamed the system at the time saying, quote, certain americans could evade responsibility to serve the country. it's an interesting topic, and a puzzling one. and here to talk about it with us tonight, retired u.s. army colonel jack jacobs, one of now 73 living recipients as of today of the medal of honor for his combat actions in vietnam. he's also an msnbc military analyst. john meecham is here as well, including books on presidents jackson, jefferson and bush 41, also an msnbc contributor. jack, i'd like to begin with you. it's a complicated topic. i come from a family, world war ii era captain, two sons, he supported both of their efforts he could to not go to vietnam, which surprised us. when you look to your right and
left when you were in vietnam, did you have ivy leaguers, did you have guys from the old neighborhood? what was it like, and how did you feel about the people who fought and the people who got out? >> well, we had a little bit of both. it's a common misunderstanding, but in fact i think fewer than 50%, i think it was closer to 25 or 30% of the people who served during the vietnam era were actually drafted. everybody else volunteered. now, some of them volunteered because if they didn't volunteer, they'd wind up being in a military occupational especially like infantry armor, didn't want to be in. but i think a lot more people volunteered, and i was one of them, and a lot of my friends were, too, volunteered than actually most people realize. having said that, nevertheless, it was an inequitable system. he didn't get drafted if you were married. you didn't get drafted if you were in college. and until later on in the war, you weren't even subject to the
draft even if you were in college and were graduated until much later in the war. by and large, therefore, the large majority of people who were drafted who couldn't escape the draft by one subterfuge or one reason or another, the way it was structured happened to be people who couldn't otherwise escape. we're not very happy about getting drafted, although now when they're 70 years old, they look back on their service with a great deal of pride. >> john, we hasten to point out that in the civil war you could indeed hire someone to take your place and go fight. >> roosevelt's father. >> i also want to know how our wars have changed over the years. >> well, it's amazing, isn't it? 25 years after the 1992 campaign when this cultural divide became a central part of our politics, it continues. and one of the reasons i think that we're in the 17th year now,
this month, of the war in afghanistan, one of the reasons is not as prominent, it is not as top of mind as it should be, one of the reasons that given our wars in afghanistan and in iraq, imagine thinking that you could be for 17 and 15 years at war and no one could name a general particularly. no one can really think of a battle offhand. the country that had normandie and paton and macarthur, the whole vernacular, shorthand vernacular. >> i shall return. >> i shall return. it's to the 1% of an all-volunteer remarkable force. but i think there is a cultural division. and, you know, i sit here and feel so wildly inadequate. when i went to west .1 day and it took me about a year to overcome just how remarkable those young people were. and so i would think the default position, if i were the commander in chief, would be
absolute honor, absolute deference to those who have worn the uniform. >> thank you both for your honesty. we're going to take a quick break. no one is going to go anywhere. we're going to talk about the president and the war of his own making. we'll talk about the medal of honor recipient here with us when we come 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. if you have moderate to severe ulcerative colitis or crohn's,
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once they landed in the clearing, they rushed to the jungle for much needed cover. soon another man was shot outside their defensive perimeter. mike immediately rushed to his injured comrade, firing at the enemy as he ran. in the middle of the clearing, under the machine gun fire, mike treated the wounded soldier. he shielded the man with his own
body and carried him back to safety. but this was just the beginning. >> president trump today awarding the medal of honor to retired u.s. army captain gary mike "mike" rose for his heroic actions during the vietnam war. it was back in 1970, rose was a medic attached to the 5th special forces group, fighting where u.s. forces weren't supposed to be, in laos. rose was wounded in a firefight, survived a helicopter crash. he ignored his own injuries to pull the chopper crew and members of his unit from the burning crash site. rose now becomes a member of a storied group of veterans, those who've been awarded their nation's highest military honor. this now makes it 73 men alive today to hold that honor. one of them happens to be here, our friend and colleague jack jacobs. he remains here with us, as does historian and author john meacham. jack, i have to threaten you that we have a photo of you and
president nixon the day you were awarded. how has the action of being -- there you are. how has the action of being awarded the medal of honor changed? >> well, our wars have changed. we used to fight continuously, and now we fight in fragmented place at fragmented times with a force that's an all-volunteer force and therefore not necessarily representative of everybody. we -- i think there's a large and i think in certain cases insurmountable gap that's opened up between the people who've served and the people who are serving. that wasn't the case back in the day. >> our friend paul rykoff made this point last week. he's the founter of iraq and afghanistan veterans administration, iava. he's tired of the military used as a shield, hearing people blaming the sthant take a knee protest in the nfl on the troops
somehow vaguely, hearing that we can't question generals. he thinks the last thing our society needs is another impediment between the two classes, those people who are signing up to fight our wars and those of us who enjoy our freedom here. >> yeah, there's already a gulf, and i think we need to bridge it. it's going to be difficult to do when you don't have to serve. when our battles are being fought in disparate places, many of which people don't even know we have troops. >> speaking of niger. >> for example. we have troops in uganda. thousands of troops in djibouti, for example. we have people in the philippines and so on. i think in circumstances in which there is this gap i think it tends to get wider over time. and in a fragmented and polarized society gets wider yet, and i think that's extremely dangerous. >> john, i mention this because it's germane.
the president's in the middle of this fight with a gold star widow and awards the medal today. has this president's lack of military experience been more pronounced to you than others who have lacked military experience? >> i think like so much of this presidency it's -- there's a certain astroturf quality to it. he likes the theatrics of the military. he likes having generals around. he went to military school. but it's almost as though it's a reality show and it's more a show than reality. and i think when confronted with the flesh and the blood and the sacrifice, which is unimaginable to most of us, i think he falls back on a level of insecurity, falls victim i should say to a level of insecurity that leads to this terrible episode with the gold star wife and this
sergeant did a noble and great thing and we're talking about him not because of his nobility but because the president doesn't have the emotional capacity to console a widow, which is a fundamental part of the presidency. >> i think his -- i think that's all exacerbated in his case because he is actually so physically and politically isolated from even his own party. i mean, this is the first trip down the other end of pennsylvania avenue and senator corker says it's just a photo op. i think there's some truth to that. so exactly what you're talking about i think is made even worse by his isolation. >> as one of 73 living guys, accept our thanks. and we're proud to know you. >> it was a great honor to wear the uniform. i can tell you that. >> thank you. jack jacobs, jon meacham. our great thanks. coming up, five former presidents walk into a houston arena having all been in the
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the last thing before we go tonight is something you don't see every day. five former u.s. presidents together in one place. in this case the charity telecast to raise money for hurricane relief. and if you haven't given, please do. it's been called the most exclusive club in the world for good reason, and remember, despite the fact that many of these men ran hard to defeat the other and disagreed diametrically on policy and outlook they all get along and some of them have become close friends. the gathering was not without its moments. praul, la first of all, lady ga was there, that was a moment. but there was also this which has been memorialized on social media. what were bush and obama laughing about when clinton was speaking? that may have to remain one of the exclusive secrets of the exclusive club. 43 did not mention 45, donald trump, in his speech, having delivered a stinging speech days earlier about the dangers of
trumpism, though not by name, and our current times. most americans are, however, comforted by the sight of our former leaders, older, wiser, mashed up together by history and destiny. and we are so fortunate to have five living ex-presidents. it's rare. it's only happened three other times in our history for a total of four years of our existence. after all, this one picture captures 40 years of the american presidency in our still young democracy. two of them are 93. been sr. and jimmy carter. and one of them, carter, has volunteered to go to north korea and do what he can to avert nuclear war. so with a salute to our former presidents, that's our broadcast on a monday night as we start off a new week. thank you so much for being with us. good night from nbc news headquarters here in new york.
we've got a very big live interview tonight. former attorney general eric holder is here with me in studio tonight. this will be his first live tv interview since the election. eric holder obviously has a role in history as the tenure as the nation's first african-american attorney general. one who made very significant changes and very significant decisions in american law enforcement and justice while he was in the obama cabinet. now that he has been succeeded in office by a man who, let's be honest, is the human antonym of eric holder, eric holder has been outspoken in private life about defending his and president obama's legacy on justice issues. he's also been outspoken about