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tv   MSNBC Live With Alex Witt  MSNBC  November 19, 2017 9:00am-10:00am PST

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headquarters in new york. roy moore railing against his accusers while religious leaders are divided. plus -- >> i really was like speechless. i'm rarely speechless. it was like, this is real. >> the friend of a moore accuser backs up her story. he talks about why he's coming out with this now. the russia probe, a man who set up that now infamous meeting in trump tower with donald trump jr. and a russian lawyer tells what happened. he was there. first-strike authority. one of america's top military officials speaks directly about whether he can stop president trump from launching a nuclear attack. reaction ahead. but new details in the alabama senate race scandal. democrat doug jones has picked up the endorsement of the editorial board this over republican roy moore. calls on voters to reject moore, white house officials are declining to say whether they believe the women accuser moore of sexual misconduct with minors. >> nine women have come out, many of them since the president
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came back from asia. he's said not a word and ducked every question. >> the allegations are very serious and should be taken very seriously. ultimately, this is up to the voters in the state. we are here in washington, d.c. >> meanwhile, a former coworker of leigh corfman, one of moore's accusers, is backing up her story. >> she said she despised him. that he tried things with her. he tried to molest her. and she wanted to confront him. she was afraid. >> for the latest on the battle over roy moore, we have nbc's maya rodriguez following the events in birmingham, alabama, and also msnbc's kelly o'donnell is at the white house for us. good day to both of you ladies. to you first, maya. from birmingham, what's the sense you're getting from voters there? >> reporter: listen, alex, this is an electoral that has been divided over this year. you have one camp that believe these women and another camp who
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do not believe these women. same thing with the voters and with the establishment here. i mean, you have national republicans who have basically denounced moore but then you have state and local republicans that say they're continuing to back moore. we've also been talking to some of the religious leaders here. they're also divided. you had faith leaders that have come out in support of moore, those who have not. you mentioned earlier about vinton, he was the coworker of leigh corfman. they worked together more than a decade ago here in alabama. they worked in the sales department and, you know, he basically said, listen, they were talking about roy moore one day organically. it was something he said in the news back then. it came up. corfman basically interrupted the conversation and shared her story. take a listen to what he had to say. >> it matches. it matches. why would she make up a story now when she's told the story a dozen years ago? >> there were no inconsistencies with what she told you? >> no. none. >> tell me about it.
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>> there are no inconsistencies as well. the "washington post," which i quite often disagree with, she got it dead-on. i think they're being honest brokers this time for sure. >> there is no doubt in your mind? >> no doubt in my mind. >> reporter: now, he was referring to the allegations that corfman made in that "washington post" article, basically saying she had inappropriate contact with moore when she was 14 years old. now on the other side of this this weekend, you know, we've seen local republicans come out in support of moore. there was a prayer breakfast yesterday down in madison county here in alabama. take a listen to what they had to say about moore, basically saying they're looking at the bigger picture. >> not going to vote is a half a vote for the democrats, so please vote -- go vote. get your family to vote. vote for roy moore on december the 12th.
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we really need to win this election. the supreme court -- the supreme court could -- could go back the way it was if we're not careful. >> reporter: now, you mentioned earlier, alex, that endorsement on the endorsement for the democrat in this race, for doug jones. this is the front page of the birmingham news. it's heart of that media group. you can see above the nameplate is that editorial. it says stand for decency, reject roy moore. so, again, this race front and center here in alabama this weekend. alex? >> all the way until december 12th. no doubt. thanks so much, maya, for that. let's go to the white house and nbc's kelly o'donnell. kelly, there are some new comments today on roy moore from administration officials but really no clarity on the president's position, right? >> reporter: nothing new from the president himself, except through his spokesperson or other top officials who were
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participating in the sunday shows today who were asked about this and yet it was not really their desire to comment further. so they're in that kind of rock and a hard place, where they may want to speak more freely but they also don't want to say more than the president has publicly, trying to thread a needle of conveying support for the women who have come forward to sort of assign credibility to them without going as far as saying because of that roy moore should step aside or be out of the race. it is one of those things that has placed a very obvious awkwardness we have seen from the president through his spokesperson saying these a serious allegations and the people of alabama should make a decision and at the same time not going further than that. today mark short, who is the director of legislative affairs for the white house, so he's always interfacing with those on capitol hill for the president's agenda. so the agenda, of course, matters very much with the outcome in alabama for the senate race with the delicate
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balance of republicans having not much control, just a narrow margin of control in the senate. here's mark short taking these questions trying to find a way to answer without saying what many people would hope him to say just more plainly. here is mark short. >> if he did not believe that the women's accusations were credible, he would be down campaigning for roy moore. he has not done that. he has concerns about the accusations. we think that the people of alabama will have a lot of wisdom in making the right decision come december 12th. >> that, again, and the right decision is? >> i think that the right decision will be what the people of alabama decide. you should certainly be able to infer by the fact that he has not gone down to support roy moore his discomfort in doing so. >> so he doesn't support roy moore? >> george, i think that the president has spoken on this. the white house has spoken on this. and i think that at this point we think he has been a public figure in alabama for decades and the people of alabama will make the decision.
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>> reporter: so the discomfort and the awkwardness was so evident as marc short tried to answer this without going further than the white house has officially. that's one of the challenges for one of the senior staffers. to say more than the president creates news. to not say enough creates news. it's a rock and a hard place moment politically for them because, of course, alabama is a state that president trump won easily. his voters are there. many of them are roy moore supporters. even though president trump himself had supported luther strange, the appointed interim senator during the primary. so it's been awkward, awkward, awkward. alex. >> yeah, that was awkward. in fact, marc misspoke because the president has not spoken about this, even though he said he has. so -- well, to be continued, no doubt, right? >> reporter: they refer that through the spokesperson. that's one of the interpretations they make here, the president has spoken through his spokesperson, but the president has not in his own words on camera talked about
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this publicly. you're right. >> despite all the questions shouted his way. kelly o'donnell, thanks so much from the white house this sunday. joining me now national security reporter at "the hill" and jeremy peters, "new york times" reporter and an msnbc contributor. always good to have you both. i'm going to start with you here, jeremy, because i'm looking at the article you've written. particularly about the division that moore's candidacy has created within the gop. what are the risks to having republicans remove moore from the race or expel him if he wins? >> because, alex, it looks like another heavy-handed intervention by the republican establishment that the grassroots conservative movement so loathes, that's what this is all about. this has become a proxy fight between mitch mcconnell and republican leadership and the voters. both conservative grassroots voters. now, the reason you're not hearing president trump or marc short or anyone else from the white house come out and say the president doesn't support roy
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moore, he urges him to get out of the race, is precisely because they are afraid of getting on the wrong side of the voters. their voters. roy moore and donald trump are strikingly similar candidates. they both represent kind of a big middle finger to the institutions of power in washington. to the republican party leadership. to the establishment, the political elites. and for trump to come out and say that he doesn't believe in a candidate like that, like roy moore who represents all of that anti-establishment angst, could be very detrimental to his image as an outsider. the president understands that. the president also understands, though, being, you know, the target of accusations of improper conduct with women that these things are deeply personal. and that he himself, who believes that he has done no wrong, isn't about to throw roy moore under the bus because as you heard marc short say, the president clearly doesn't believe roy moore's accusers
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either. >> you know, i find it curious, though, jeremy, because i'm sort of waiting for a tweet where donald trump will say, you know, i didn't support roy moore during the primary, you know? as if to show that he maybe was on the right track with his candidate. but that's not going to be forthcoming. >> no, i don't think it will at all. and for the reasons i was just laying out. because the political cost to getting on the wrong side of the voters who support these outsider insurgent candidates like roy moore, whose philosophy is burn everything down, take a blowtorch to washington, the cost is just too high. >> can i just ask you quickly if you've heard from any republicans who say they prefer to have a democrat take the seat over roy moore? >> yes, i have. the reason is they think they can win it back in 2020. there would be another election in two years and they believe they have a democrat in that seat for two years and that democrat would be conservative enough he would need to go along with some votes on republicans
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on tax reform and things line that. yeah, they exist, but, you know, it just makes an already thin majority for republicans even thinner. >> yeah. all right. katie, let's take a listen to republican senator roy blunt of missouri on this topic. here it is. >> i thought the story -- the women's story was more credible than his response. the alabama voters deserved a better choice. but they're going to have to make that decision. they know roy moore a whole lot better than i do. i've met him once. they watched him in a pretty controversy career 20 years. we'll just have to wait and see what they do. >> is it a sense, katie, that republicans feel cornered here, that there is nothing more they can do at this point? >> senate republicans are basically out of options at this point. they can either hope that the democratic candidate wins and that he will reach across the aisle and they'll be able to work with him, or they can -- they can try to expel roy moore once he arrives. but as mentioned, obviously there is a huge political cost to that and there is some
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question about whether or not it would even be legal. there is a supreme court case that basically suggests that because the voters already knew about this behavior that is considered questionable that would be the basis for expelling him. the senate -- the senate can't then say, okay, well, we're going to kick this guy out anyway. they knew when -- the voters knew when they cast their ballot. now, republicans have tried a number of different ways to try to get somebody else on the ballot. they have tried to get another candidate, possibly jeff sessions, to run as a write-in candidate. sessions has declined that offer. they have tried to get the white house to coax moore to exit the race. the white house has not obviously publicly called down moore yet. and so at this point -- and they've also reached out to the alabama republican party and said, can you guys declare this guy invalid? and basically get him off the ballot. and the alabama republican party is standing behind moore. so at this point the senate
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republicans are just going to have to wait and see what happens in this election. >> okay. i'm hoping to get to the topic of taxes. but before we do that, katie, i want to get your reaction from congressman denny heck, on the house intel committee. making this statement on our program yesterday after a reported seven-hour interview with the co-founder of fusion gps, that's the founder of christopher steele dossier. let's take a listen. >> this thing is moving. it's moving very fast and it's not moving in a good direction for the president. people are going to jail. people are going to go to jail. in fact, when i said that, i came in for some criticism for it. but now, of course, we've seen several indictments. i'm also going to go on record here today and say additional people are going to be indicted. where there is smoke, there is fire. there is so much smoke you can't see the hand in front of your face. >> first to you, katie. how do you read this? >> house intelligence republicans and democrats have been on very different sides of the issue of whether or not they have seen evidence of
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wrongdoing. democrats have been fairly vocal that, yes, we have seen evidence -- we have seen clear evidence of some kind of collusion in between americans and the russian government going into the 2016 election. republicans have sort of said the opposite. they've said -- many of them that are talking to me have said, you know, look, we really haven't seen anything yet. so i think at this point it's going to be a question of what comes out in the public report that this committee is able to put together and how much they are able to say to the american public in a declassified setting. >> and jeremy, look, congressman heck, he's obviously exposed to a lot of information, not to mention seven hours of testimony in this interview that we were talking about there. how do you interpret his comments? >> they were stunning remarks, alex. i couldn't believe it when i heard it. for a member of the intel committee -- that's an entirely separate matter. you have a lot of democrats spouting off saying they think trump should go to jail or his son should go to jail, but
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they're not privy to the kind of information somebody on the intel committee was. i was surprised he went so far in his remarks. but what i think it means politically, actilex, this russ story moves to the front burner at a time that couldn't be worse for president trump or the white house. you talk to voters and russia has been pretty much off their radar. they're not as obsessed with it as we in the media are. they're not following it as closely. that's going to change if you start having indictments, especially multiple indictments and information that is coming out from witnesses who have been turned against the trump campaign. that is going to be a major impediment, an obstacle to president trump as he try dies move on his policy agenda. whether it's tax cuts next year, it's infrastructure, you know, all of these items that the president wants to get done. to have russia simmering in the -- as a major distraction is going to be a big problem. >> yeah. all right. i do want to get to taxes and
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get you guys each a question here. let's take a listen to republican senator susan collins of maine on that topic. >> there are provisions of the bill that i would like to see changed, and keeping that top rate for individuals where it is for people making more than $1 million is one change and i would also like to see the business taxes, which do noot nenoot -- need to be reduced in order to incentivize the creation of good jobs and higher wages in this country, but it does not need to be reduced all the way to 20%. >> so, katie, susan collins sounds like a swing voter there. you're not quite sure based on what she's saying. how confident are republicans about getting this bill passed through the senate? >> mitch mcconnell has a much more narrow majority to work with than speaker paul ryan did in the house to get this bill to move. they're going to have to convince, you know, as many as potential half a dozen republican senators that this bill as written is a good idea
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or be able to address their concerns. susan collins is just one of those. jeff flake from arizona, bob corker from tennessee, john mccain, lisa murkowski, ron johnson has already come out in opposition to the bill as it's currently written. these are the kinds of lawmakers that mcconnell is going to be sort of very carefully watching that the white house is going to be -- is going to be lobbying and trying to get to come on board with this proposal. these are the guys to watch. >> speaking of senator collins, she also took issue with the repeal of the individual mandate, jeremy. but the white house budget director mick mulvaney offered some assurance today. let's listen to what he said. >> if we can repeal part of obamacare as part of a tax bill and have a tax bill that is still a good tax bill that can pass, that's great. if it becomes an impediment to the best tax bill we can get, we're willing to take it out. it's up to the senate and the white house to hammer out those details. >> how significant is this, jeremy? >> it's not going to be in final
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bill. i don't see a way that's possible, alex. on the one hand, it allows senate republicans to have a lot more money to work with as they try to, you know, shove a $1.5 trillion tax cut into a pretty small envelope, but on the other hand, it's dead in the house. there is -- there are not enough members of the house who think this would be a great idea. they're already working with a pretty thin margin over there to begin with. i think, though, if anything, the debate over the individual mandate is indicative of just how many hiccups there can be along the way and there will be as they try to pass this after thanksgiving. ron johnson is another example of that. he said he doesn't like the way this is too heavy -- heavily weighted towards large corporations. that's the thing, selling this bill which is already viewed pretty sceptically by american voters, something like 16% of american voters i saw believe their taxes would actually be cut by this in a poll that appeared last week. i mean, this is just going to be
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really hard to do. that doesn't moean they can't gt it done, but expect to see a lot more people drop off the bill and to come back on and for there to be a lot more drama and long nights on capitol hill in the weeks ahead. >> okay. i look forward to speaking with both of you about it. thank you so much. so what were they thinking? treasury secretary steve mnuchin responding to that very question today about what's happening in this picture. his answer and what a republican congressman thinks about it next. that all money managers are pretty much the same. but while some push high commission investment products, fisher investments avoids them. some advisers have hidden and layered fees. fisher investments never does. and while some advisers are happy to earn commissions from you whether you do well or not, fisher investments fees are structured so we do better when you do better. maybe that's why most of our clients come from other money managers. fisher investments. clearly better money management.
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let's go now to the russia investigation. a new insight into some of the tactics russian spies may have used. a new book makes the case that russia may have collected compromising information on president trump decades ago. here's what luke harding, the author of the new book "collusion: collusion, dirty money and how the russians helped donald trump win told me about his findings. >> in your writes you said research led you to ask whether or not moscow was mailing president trump. what made you suspicious of that? >> i think so much of the story is in plain sight, saying, russia, if you're listening, find the 33,000 e-mails, which are not there. you also have a long history of engagement. trump first visited moscow in the summer of 1987 and who invited him? the soviet government. they don't do that for everybody. who organized his trial?
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a soviet agency that is basically the kgb. we can say without exaggerating that they have a huge file on trump. they're interested in his psychological weaknesses and exploiting that. >> do you have a sense of any kind of information they were able to obtain from bugging, following, tailing, everything? >> what's so fascinating, this is my favorite chapter of the book. a whole series of memos from that period from the head of the kgb to his guys, including in washington and new york, guys, you need to do more to cultivate americans. you are failing. try hard. use material incentive, in other words money. be creative. they were sort of seeking to penetrate the american establishment. politics for sure but also business. >> and the book, again, is "collusion: secret meetings, dirty money and how russia helped donald trump win." coming up, what the treasury
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we fight for what we want. even for the things that were once a given. going to college... buying a home... and not being in debt for it for the rest of our lives. but we're only as strong as our community. who inspires and pushes us to go further than we could ever go alone. sofi. get there sooner. welcome back, everyone. i'm alex witt here at msnbc
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world headquarters here in new york. as we approach the bottom of the hour, he's what we're monitoring for you. special counsel bob mueller's investigation is reportedly moving closer to the west wing. politico says mueller's team is preparing to interview white house communications director hope hicks, she a longtime member of president trump's inner circle and widely referred to as the president's gate keeper. let's bring in former dnc chair and former governor of vermont, howard dean. and also host of hugh hewitt host of the hugh hewitt show on the salem radio network. we got you. gentlemen, i'm glad to have both of you with me today. earlier today, i asked former federal prosecutor samuel beautifbule what he thinks will happen in that investigation. he said, look, the reality is i don't think bob mueller's going on a fishing expedition. he realizes that hope hicks is in the inner circle.
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he wouldn't expect her to be forthcoming with something. he must have something he believes specifically she will need to answer or if she does not properly answer it, she could be breaking the law in a couple of different ways. you're a lawyer, hugh. do you agree with his analysis? >> i agree with the last part. the false statements act. if you make a false statement to special counsel or his representative or an fbi agent, you've committed a felony. i've dealt with hope hicks a long time. she's a straight shooter. even though who don't like the president's policies agree that hope that has been a straight shooter. i believe she'll answer truthful. -- i don't think you'll see 18 usc 1001 against hope hicks. >> when you say you've known her for a long time, in what regards? she's not that old. she's not even 30 years old to my understanding. how long has she been with the
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trump organization and in what caps ki? >> i've been dealing with hope six 2015 trying to successfully schedule 15 different interviews with president trump. since she has moved to the white house and has become the coms person i'll occasionally say can i talk to this person? she's been very professional. everyone thinks that hope executes well her duty in terms of getting the interviews set up that the president wants to have done. i don't think she's within 1,000 miles of russia. i'll be surprised if that turns out to be the case. >> okay. howard, some legal experts a saying since mueller's investigation has moved to trump's inner circle that it may be nearing its conclusion, what do you make of fact that we still don't know of any definitive evidence for collusion? >> well, we're getting pretty close with donald trump's e-mails back and forth with various russian oligarchs who were close to putin and jared
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kushner's denial of that, which falls under lying to the fbi -- in this case congress. you know, i don't know hope hicks at all, but she's going to be in a tough spot for two reasons. the first is that i don't think bob mueller would interview her unless he had some corroborating evidence so he's going to know if she tries to shade the truth. secondly, she knows very well what donald trump does to people who cross him. he has no loyalty whatsoever to people who are in trouble and throw him under the bus. so i think this is going to be a very important interview and i think that's why mueller's doing it. >> okay. we will see certainly what comes from that. guys, i want to switch gears here and ask you both about the support for roy moore or lack thereof. hugh, with regard to your support. alabama's governor kay ivey saying she plans to vote for moore, even though she has no reason to doubt his accusers. the main reason saying that he could add conservative values in the senate. where should the line be drawn
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between political goals and morality here. >> #writeinnicksabin. for 35 years, allegations are made, they're true or false, sometimes they're false and we find that out later. you have to go with the preponderance of the evidence standard as a layman or as a lawyer. i believe the accusers of judge moore. i could not vote for him based upon the "washington post" story and subsequent corroborating narratives between different individuals. it was the leigh story at the very beginning i thought was perfectly reported by "the post." so i believe his accuser and therefore i would not vote for him pause i think sexual assault is a disqualifying charge when you believe there is a preponderance of the evidence for it. for the same reason i want al franken to resign. that's the bottom line. >> okay. you do want him to resign? you think that the two are one in the same? they are comparable, hugh? >> i think they're both sexual assaults. it's an admission of guilt on
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the part of al franken, roy moore denies it, but i believe the evidence is against him. >> howard, what about you? your take? >> well, i don't agree with the sexual assault. i think al franken was behaving like a 13-year-old at a drinking party, but i don't think what he did was sexual assault. i think it was incredible and stupid frat boy, embarrassing, demeaning to women and i don't think that -- i think the senate will decide for itself whether he should resign. think he was right to call for an ethics investigation of himself. what roy moore has been accused of doing is sexual assault. now, here is the interesting thing about this, alabama is a state that has changed fairly significantly in the last 20 years. most people up north don't know that. they have much better jobs than they did. a lot of the car manufacturers, the university of alabama, for example, has now become a very good university, not just because they have a great football team, but because they're also terrific academically. alabama is not the same state it
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was when george wallace was running. this is going to be a really interesting election. doug moore is a son of alabama. two blue collar parents. worked his way up. very smart. very principled. this is one of those cases where i think a lot of republicans who are moderate, thoughtful people in alabama, and there are a lot more than yankees believe, are going to do the right thing and turn the page on alabama's supposed image of a backward blah-blah-blah and all of that stuff. i think this is a great election. i do think we're going to win. i think it's going to be close. but i also think it's a turning point for alabamaens and i think the yankees should stay out of it and let them make up their own mind how they want to do this. >> can i ask you, howard, how you think the reaction to al franken versus that of roy moore should be different? because al franken has admitted to wrongdoing, roy moore has not, despite the preponderance of women coming out more and
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more. hugh saying he believes the story of leigh corfman and the corroboration in the "washington post." is there a different way you should deal with someone who says, i am guilty, versus someone who says, well, i didn't do it? >> i think there is some of that. i'd agree with that. but i also think it's the nature of the offense. al franken did is not the same as groping minors. i mean, what he did was stupid and he's said so. and it was -- it was demeaning and it was terrible, but what roy moore did was a criminal offense. >> alex? >> yeah, hugh, i want you to respond. >> i've got to jump in here. it's not just the picture. there is a narrative with al franken that says he harassed the victim over a period of two weeks on the uso tour, thant colluded an assault on stage in the course of this act rehearsal, bedevilling her for two weeks. the picture is corroborating
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evidence of a narrative. by the way, al franken hasn't admitted to that. al franken denied that part. oh, i think we remember this different. i just think one standard about proof -- they're very different situations. every situation is. but one standard, preponderance of the evidence about the allegation ought to apply and i think it convicts both al franken and roy moore. >> hugh, can i ask you if you think the republican party will be tainted if roy moore's elected? >> not if they write in nick saban. i mean, i saw some college republicans do the right thing and separate themselves from the alabama republican party. howard has said let the alabamans decide and have the yankees stay out of it. it's going to affect the entire country. the evidence just seems overwhelming to me. people can deny it if they want. i can't. it's a preponderance of the evidence standard and it's been met.
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so i don't think it will take the republican party if the senate republicans work with democrats to expel roy moore if he's elected next week. >> okay. gentlemen, i hope you can stay with me. i'm going to take a quick break. i want to come back with you on the other side and speak to you about attorney general jeff sessions, his testimony and whether i do not recall is a good answer or defense. we'll be right back. you too, unnecessary er visits. and hey, unmanaged depression, don't get too comfortable. we're talking to you, cost inefficiencies, and data without insights. and fragmented care, stop getting in the way of patient recovery and pay attention. every single one of you is on our list. at optum, we're partnering across the health system to tackle its biggest challenges. at optum, we're partnering across the health system
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i don't recall it. >> i don't recall it. >> i don't recall that. >> i do not recall such a conversation. >> i don't recall ever being
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made aware of that before. >> that is the attorney general of the united states jeff sessions there. let's bring in msnbc contributor howard dean, former dnc chair, former governor of vermont, also msnbc host hugh hewitt and the host of the hugh hewitt show on the salem radio network. hugh, you're a lawyer. do you think jeff sessions finds himself in legal jeopardy because of this i do not recall, i do not recall, i do not recall? >> not in the least. i watched most of attorney general's testimony. i think it's been consistent with the great public servant he's been. i believe if you ask -- dr. dean the first time we ever debated, i don't know if howard can remember what day and place and the circumstances were, but i wouldn't believe he was lying if he didn't remember it. i believe that was very believable testimony. jeff sessions isn't going anywhere. he was at the federalist society gathering this week, very well-received along with don
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mcgahn, the white house council, justice gorsuch, all the legal stars, scott pruitt of this administration. i don't think it's got any legal weight at all. >> how about you we are howard? do you think it's conceivable he doesn't remember so many details? >> i don't know, but i don't recall is a safe answer because he's the only one that knows if he recalls or not. if jeff sessions gets hung it's going to be back somebody else has corroborated that, in fact, he did do all of these things. so then his -- technically i do not recall is not a lie. he didn't lie. he said i don't recall. nobody's going to be able to prove if he did or not, but if he did meet with the russians and do these things, there are other charges he can go down on. i don't think he's out of clear. i think he may temporarily be out of the clear on whether he recalled or not. let's not forget that this is the defense that john you aehrln
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and homelanderman made during watergate and they went to prison. we'll see where this goes. i'm not a lawyer, but i do not recall, i don't think you can hang somebody for that. >> gentlemen, i want to take a look at a picture that went viral. this of treasurecy secretary steve mnuchin and his new live louise. there they are when his name was first appearing on the dollar bill as secretary of the treasury there. the reaction has been mixed. well, it has erred more on one side than the other. hugh, optically speaking, was this a really bad move? >> well, it's not a good picture and this is the unfortunate age in which we live. every moment is recorded and every moment is photographed and anything can go viral at any time. it's hardly fair, but it's the reality in which we live. so if you want to avoid going viral in a information way, you've got to be very careful about the optics of every single minute of every single moment.
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i just don't understand what's going to happen over the longer period of time how we're going to ask everyone to serve in the government if every minute of every day is going to become gives fgif gifs for the twitter mill. >> welcome to world of social media. i talk to my kids and say i never could have grown up in this era. there's no way. >> i have a slightly different -- >> take? i would expect. >> i have a slightly different take on this. i don't think it's the picture itself that is so bad, i think it's in the context of all of the plane flights and the private plane and all that coined kind of stuff. that's what makes it bad. so the secretary of the treasury holds up a sheet of dollar bills, that's what the secretary of the treasury is supposed to do. the problem is when you connect it to the private plane stories, you know, a gazillion dollars of wealth and the tax cuts that help him and not anybody else.
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this tells the story. it fits into the narrative. the picture itself -- >> all right, gentlemen, hugh hewitt, howard dean, good to see you both. you guys, thanks for joining me. >> thanks, alex. happy thanksgiving. >> thank you. to you both. coming up, what the top u.s. nuclear commander said yesterday that is making pretty big headlines today. join me in the next hour when the democrat who truced articles to impeach trump will be here to argue his case. lden, flaky crust from scratch, tosses in handfuls of fresh fuji apples and sprinkles on just the right amount of brown sugar streusel. ♪ so that you can spend more time making special moments with your family. marie callender's. it's time to savor. afi sure had a lot on my mind. my 30-year marriage... 3-month old business...
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america's top nuclear general says if president trump issued an illegal order to launch nuclear weapons, he retains the right to refuse it. air force general john heighten, commander of u.s. strategic command made his position clear yesterday in canada. his comments come just days after a senate hearing on the president's authority to launch a nuclear strike. when a former general said the military could refuse to carry out an illegal order. >> if you execute an unlawful order, you will go to jail. you could go to jail for the rest of your life. it applies to nuclear weapons. it applies to small arms. it applies to small unit tactics. i'm say, mr. president, it's illegal. he is going to say, what would be legal? >> joining me now is the former
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national security council chief of staff and adviser to former vice president joe biden. brian, with a welcome to you, first question out of the gate, should military generals be left to decide what's an illegal military order? will they, can they stand up to the president? this president, or any president? >> well, the general's in the chain of command couldn't be sitting there by themselves. they would have their own senior advisers including lawyers to decide whether an order was legal or illegal. and in general, the scenario where nuclear weapons use might be contemplated, it wouldn't be the president sitting there alone with just the general. there would be the secretary of defense, there would be the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, the chief of staff to the president. so it's not a decision that any president would make in isolation. >> brian, i just want to reiterate something i went through with an earlier guest. that is this would only be if america was launching the -- a nuclear attack initially.
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not on a defensive posture, correct? if something was coming our way, you hear about that 15-minute window of opportunity to launch something to deter that from hitting anywhere on our shores. that's a totally different scenario, correct? >> in terms of the legal question, yes. definitely. but the system is set up because of during the cold war, a fear of a bolt out of the blue attack from the soviet union, to have nearly instantaneous communications between the president and u.s. strategic command and also with his senior advisers including the secretary of defense and joint chiefs. it's a system that's exercised regularly. >> okay, is it time for america to review the authority for launching a nuclear weapon? to my understanding, it's not been done for four decades. >> well, i think the senate hearing the other day was a very useful conversation. and it was educational for the members of that committee who unlike those on the armed services committee may not be as familiar with the nuclear
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command and control system. and it's certainly a healthy debate for our country to have at any time because of the colossal effects of any use of nuclear weapons if the president chose to use them. so i think in a democracy, it's always useful to have this debate, and obviously, the context is the threat of escalation with north korea at the present time. >> you know, you testified, of course, in that senate hearing let by senator corker. what's the most critical question you were asked? >> well, i think the key question that i was focused on is the fact of if we were to initiate a conflict with north korea or any other state where nuclear weapons might be contemplated, there's no question that war in the constitutional sense, that is the framers' design in the constitution says the congress has to authorize that kind of conflict. in the case where we're being
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attacked, obviously, there's not time to convene the congress and have a vote, and the president has the authority to defend the country. if there is time, like before the iraq war, congress needs to vote and authorize the president to undertake such a conflict. >> brian, you worked under president obama. did anyone question this when he was in office? why is this coming up only since president trump took office? >> i don't recall that anyone questioned this during president obama's tenure. you heard senator murphy, i think, during the foreign relations committee hearing indicating that at least he and some of his colleagues have raised this because of concerns about this president. >> okay. what about the l.a. times editorial board, which is stressing the importance of the deterrent effect of nuclear weapons? can legislative limits on their use undermine this? >> well, that's the question that committee was asking, and
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it's a hard one. and i think it can affect how other countries gauge our deterrent posture with regard to nuclear weapons. there's a saying in the law, i think the supreme court justice who wrote it that hard cases make bad law. and if we were to change the law because of concerns about this president, because it's a hard case in a sense, that would be, i think, an unfortunate precedent for the next president. in some respects, we need to trust the system that is there with the set of senior advisers around the president. i think the other thing to think about, at least with this president, is so far in the foreign policy and military context, he's not one to take responsibility for himself when things have gone wrong, say, for example, in the raid in yemen early in his tenure. he tried to put the blame on the generals. the idea he's going to wake up one morning and try to launch nuclear weapons without bringing
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other senior advisers into the decision, i think that's unlikely. >> you know, brian, i've had some pretty sobering conversations about some people's assessments how close we are to nuclear conflict. where do you stand on that? how far away do you think we are from that prospect? >> yes, i have seen my former colleague john brennan say the possibility of war with north korea is 1 in 5 chance. it's pretty hard to quantify. i'm not sure i would say it's quite that high. but i think the risks of escalation and miscalculation are not minimal. and particularly with the rhetoric the president uses and what he says in his twitter account. the north koreans are studying all that very closely. and they will have to gauge what he means by that. and the possibility that they will decide to strike out first because they think we're about to attack, i think that's not negligible. >> brian mckeon, another
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sobering conversation on the subject. still ahead, the founder of women vote trump will be here to explain why women should still vote moore in alabama. ) i adopty on a fluke. and he totally has a super-power. didn't know i was allergic to ibuprofen. and i had fallen asleep... (scrappy barks) (amanda) he was totally freaked out, digging and pawing at me. and when i woke up i realized that i was in anaphylaxis and went to the emergency room. i don't know what i would do if he wasn't there. he's the best boy. (vo) through the subaru share the love event, we've helped the ascpa save nearly forty thousand animals so far. get a new subaru and we'll donate two hundred fifty dollars more to help those in need. (amanda) ♪ put a little love in your heart. ♪ 40 million americans are waking up to a gillette shave. and at our factory in boston, 1,200 workers are starting their day building on over a hundred years of heritage, craftsmanship and innovation. today we're bringing you america's number one shave at lower prices every day. putting money back in the pockets of millions of americans. as one of those workers,
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i'm alex witt at msnbc headquarters. the divide in the south grows deeper. 23 days before alabama's ballot box verdict on r


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