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tv   Andrea Mitchell Reports  MSNBC  December 27, 2017 9:00am-10:00am PST

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cited to the inspector general the difficulty -- this is a quote -- difficulty of removing an employee even in cases of serious sexual harrassment. and when harry met barry. former president barack obama sits down for his first interview since leaving office with britain's prince harry and offers the world leader advice on using social media. >> all of us in leadership have to find ways in which we can recreate a common space on the internet. the dangers of the internet is that people can have entirely different realities. they can be just cocooned in information that reinforces their current biases. all right, good day, everyone. i'm iman in for andrea mitchell. the trump administration's aggressive rhetoric to north
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korea, rex tillerson telling him the war of words is unacceptable and has heightened tensions on the korean peninsula. it also comes as the same day russia offered to act as a mediator between north korea and the united states to help solve the escalating conflict. joining me now is nbc's pentagon correspondent in msnbc's hans nichols. hans, great to have you with us. what was actually said in the phone conversation between the foreign minister and the secretary of state? >> reporter: we may never know the truth because the readout of the same conversation are so different. you have the russian side saying their rhetoric from tillerson is inadmissible. he's blaming him for heightened tensions on the korean peninsula. then you have the u.s. side of the readout. in their call they said both sides agreed, that they thought the korean peninsula should remain denuclearized. they were on the same page there. they discussed ukraine and
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syria. remember, in syria there's been tensions in the air zones, the different parts of the air zone with the americans traveling close to the side of the euphrates. but it's really this situation about north korea. remember earlier last week they did talk about the russians heed y -- mediating any sort of negotiations between the u.s. and north korea on their nuclear ambitions as well as their intercontinental ballistics program. it seems they are speaking entirely different languages. >> hans, let me ask you if you get a sense from the readouts you mentioned. s does the secretary of state push back against the tone or the charges made by lavrov? >> no. in part because these readouts are so bland and so thin. it's very difficult to report on an official readout alone. the only time you get any sort
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of -- i want to say clarity, but you get close to the truth is when the two sides have radically different readouts like we do in this case. they take most of the life out of the statement. that's what happened on the u.s. side. i can read you portions of it. on syria they talk about achieving a peaceful resolution of conflict is called for and the joint statement made by president putin. you get the news when the statements conflict. that's what we have here. >> indeed we do, and we're lucky to be able to talk about this with a top tier diplomat -- former top tier diplomat. hans nichols, thank you very much for joining us. let's bring in msnbc contributor and ambassador christian hale, special envoy for the nuclear talks. ambassador, let me begin are you. after hans' reference, when you
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look at the statements put out by russia and the united states, the tone of the russian readout of this call certainly seems to be the admonishment of secretary of state rex tillerson. what do you make of the discrepancy in the readout and the tone coming out of the russia statement. >> first of all, the tone of the russia statement with regard to a phone call with the u.s. secretary of state i find pretty much unacceptable. but i think the problem is we have a secretary of state who seems to be on borrowed time, and frankly, no one is particularly afraid of them. so they do with him what they want, and i think what they want is to show that russia is a world leader going around admonishing other countries, and the u.s. included, and the russians also, i think, have a particular policy bent with respect to korea. they would like to see the u.s. have a diminished presence on the peninsula and diminished presence in northeast asia. they intend to carry that out by being the sort of peacekeeper,
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peacemaker who is able to admonish the north koreans from time to time and the u.s. and it's a pretty unacceptable position for the u.s. to put itself in. >> david, are you at all surprised by the -- at least the way that the russians are admonishing the united states, and now that they are taking this mora gree aggressive postu trying to mediate in places like north korea, why are they trying to take on this position at the expense of what the united states is doing? do you think the u.s. is creating a vacuum or do you think they think they can play a positive role? >> when the u.s. has troubles, they seek to take advantage. i wouldn't put too much emphasis on the difference in the language. it's important to note that russia just joined the u.s. in a 50-0 unanimous security
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resolution ending sanctions a north korea. they asked russia if they would play a greater diplomatic role leaning on kim jong-un trying to pull him toward a diplomatic solution. i think the russians were very upset by the tone of the u.s. trump administration national security strategy that was issued a week ago. they thought it took them as an adversary, used in their view unusually sharp language with russia, so maybe they were responding in kind with this readout. the fact both sides are talking about how to work together on these crises, how to deconflict strikes me as being more important than what they decide they're going to say afterwards. >> interestingly enough, david, there was also that decision by the u.s. to send weapons to the ukranian government. that was not going to be something the russians were going to be too happy about, right? >> they're angry about that, they're angry about the national security strategy. the u.s. has just publicly
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disclosed russian navy ventures too close to coastal waters. the u.s. and its allies too close to submerged cables that carry international communications traffic. so we got a lot of this cold war tension. again, i would note the fact that the two sides are meeting, or talking on the phone, probably the most important issue here voted together at the united nations. there is certainly need for that kind of conversation right now. >> ambassador, yesterday the u.s. treasury also announced new sanctions against two top senior north korean officials that they believed were involved in the development of weapons of mass destruction. this is also coming, really, as north korea has been calling the last or latest round of u.n. sanctions that david referred to there as an act of war. are we seeing more agitation towards north korea, and are we expecting the north koreans to respond having been at that
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negotiating table with them when they look at what's happened in the united nations at the treasury department, what might their next steps be? >> first of all, i think we decided to throw the book at the north koreans as much as we can, so the latest sanctions against those individuals are obviously pretty meaningless unless they have u.s. bank accounts, which i rather suspect they don't. but i think the issue is simply to show that we are prepared to do everything we can short of war to really show the north koreans we're furious about all this. and the russians come in and they kind of look at this situation. they don't see us getting a lot of traction. frankly, they're not getting any traction, and i think what they're trying to do is look like they're the elder statesman here. and i think that's the problem right now, because -- >> can russia actually make a difference with its role, or are they just doing this for posturing purposes? >> i think it's for posturing
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purposes, because unless the russians have had serious discussions with the north koreans and explain to them, look, you can't persist in this, the u.s. won't allow it, it's too dangerous, et cetera, but i don't get the sense the russians have that kind of relationship with them, understandably. north korea doesn't have much of a relationship with china right now so the russians may be doing some of this sort of posturing with north korea against china. but i think no one has been able to say, hey, i've had a conversation with the north koreans. i think if you back down on exercises, if you back down on this or that they might be prepared to move toward denuclearization. i don't think there's any sign of that, so i think it's the russians posturing and frankly at our expense. i think it's a real problem around the world right now. >> david, i want to bring in a lighthearted moment here and play this for you. this was a state of south carolina newspaper, because they're reporting that u.n.
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ambassador nikki haley may have been fooled by two pranksters who pretended to be the president of poland. >> do you know binomo? >> yes. yes. >> they declared independence. >> right. >> they had elections and we suppose russians had its intervention. >> yes, of course they did, absolutely. >> and now this binomo land makes the situation in the south china sea even more tense. >> we're aware of that. we've been watching that very closely. and i think we will continue to watch as we deal with the issues that keep coming up about the south china sea. >> so to her credit, there were parts of that conversation where she also seems somewhat skeptical and says, hey, i'll get back to you on the position of the u.s. the duo of the russian pranksters claim to have pranked nikki haley last week, spent 20
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minutes on the phone with her. the u.n. hs. has reached out fo comment. we haven't heard from the mission. but what does this say about foreign affairs at that level that can be conducted? you have the ambassador allegedly going along with this and almost in agreement, not cutting it off and saying, i have no idea what you're talking about? >> be careful answering in too much detail a call or questions from somebody you don't really know who it is. i guess i would rather have russians pranking our u.n. ambassador than conducting military exercises, you know. this does remind me a little bit of the movie "brat" where there are impersonations of people. the russians are opportunestic
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in every way. >> she said she was trying to put the russians in her place, so tough talk from her. i'd like you two to stick around because we'll be talking later in this hour. new year, new trump. what can we afford to see from his twitter feed in 2018? this is "andrea mitchell reports" only on msnbc.
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welcome back, everyone. president trump is keeping a low profile during his working vacation in mar-a-lago, something you would expect one does on holidays, avoiding cameras in one of his favorite pastimes, firing up his twitter feed. garrett haake is in florida and joins us live. garrett, when you're on holiday, it makes sense to be away from noise, politics, work. but the president sold this week
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as "time to get back to work." those are his words, not ours. but it seems we have not seen anything on the president's agenda for the past 48 hours or so. what are you hearing in terms of what he's doing and why his twitter feed is so quiet when it's usually the highest traffic from the president around this time, when it's not much work to be done. >> reporter: yeah, and the president set the bar for himself on christmas night saying the next day would be time to get back to work, time to get on to the agenda. he's had only a handful of tweets since then, one talking about the repeal of the individual mandate and what effect that would have on obamacare and one touting the success of his tax plan. if the president in the white house wants people to think he's hard at work on this working vacation, they're objectively not doing a very good job of it. the only communication that the pool of reporters who are down here, white house reporters that are here, are getting from the white house officially are the comings and goings of the president to and from his golf
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course. there's been no readouts on phone calls with world leaders, meetings with staff, meetings with anybody else who might have come down here to talk to the president. we know yesterday he played golf with georgia's senator peter ladue. one pga player who posted an instagram photo of the president in a golf cart out on the links. but beyond that, we are neither seeing nor hearing from the president. so if there is any truth to this idea that it's now time to get back to work, the white house is keeping it under wraps. as to where that might be the case, i really couldn't say. >> much to your disappointment, that probably means you're not doing a lot of work, right, garrett? >> reporter: i really cannot say. >> msnbc's garrett haake live with us in west palm beach, florida. thank you. let's talk about president trump and some of the critical agencies he'll be overseeing in 2018 with nbc contributors maya
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and charlie sykes. let's talk about the impact of the president's twitter feed in 2017. we sometimes joke around about it, but the white house says this carries significance of a white house statement, and sometimes it's really helped the president mobilize his base, sometimes it's put him directly at odds with allies like attorney general jeff sessions, and sometimes he's put himself in a lot of heat for comments he's made about people like james comey and andrew mccabe, even saying -- you'll remember he made that reference that his offices were tacked by president obama. do you think the president will be able to resist the urge to send out a twitter next year with the name bob mueller on it? >> if history is any guide, this president cannot rtesist any ure to use his twitter feed to communicate with the public. in lawsuits the government is a
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party to, we've seen judges actually point to things he's said on his twitter feed, because as you've said, they really are truly presidential statements that are contrary to arguments that lawyers are making in the court. so i don't think that it works to his benefit, but despite that, he continues to do it, and i don't expect to see any change in that in the new year. >> charlie, let me ask you about the president's legal team, because they have repeatedly said they have confidence that the special counsel's investigation would be over within the next month or so. at one point it was thanksgiving, then it was before christmas, then it was before the new year's. if that doesn't happen, do you anticipate president trump shaking up his legal team, possibly even pushing out somebody like ty cobb? >> it's completely unpredictable. this whole notion they're going to wrap up this investigation is somewhere between extremely unlikely and completely delusional. when the president figures out that he has been misled, your question goes to what is he capable of doing? this drumbeat of criticism
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against the special counsel is either laying the groundwork to firing him, or it is simply messing him up to the point where anything he comes up with will be politically discredited. or perhaps he's trying to actually bully the special prosecutor into going easy on him because of all of this criticism. but none of that is going to change. anyone who thinks this president is going to show any impulse control on twitter just hasn't been paying any attention. >> yeah, i think he actually kind of relishes the fact he keeps everyone on edge with his twitter feed. maya, we've been talking about the issue of sexual harrassment this year and it's kind of been a social awakening how companies and corporations deal with others. but the department of justice, interestingly enough, there is a new report from the "washington post" that is shining an entirely different light on how the department of justice handles this issue. the agency's inspector general reports detailed systematic
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problems within the doj and sexual harrassment cases. some involving senior justice e officia officials. how do you think the attorney general jeff sessions should tackle this issue and what kind of dilemma does it pose for the department? >> i think it's critical they get on top of what has been revealed in the inspector general's report and restore some kind of integrity to their system. i think these continuing revelations that we're seeing daily, it seems, but certainly weekly among many sectors and institutions really illustrate the pervasiveness of sexual harrassment in our society. but what is particularly troubling about what we've been seeing at the federal government level is that these are people who you expect to be leading on these issues who are actually completely lagging, and so we saw with congress people who were supposed to be making laws are potentially breaking the law, and now with the justice department, i mean, this is an institution whose role is to enforce the law, and its whole
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job is to deliver justice. and if people there are not holding people accountable or properly holding people accountable for their behavior, what does that say, you know, when you have lawmakers and you have law enforcement not actually adequately policing their own conduct? i think it undermines the credibility of the whole system, so they really need to get on top of this quickly and make whatever adjustments they need to make in order to have a system with integrity. >> i'm sure it's going to be something the white house watches very carefully, especially with the president's accusers now coming back into the limelight. charlie, i want to end with some raw politics, something we heard from our senior chair mcdaniel about possible gop challenges to the president in 2020. take a listen to this. >> the base of our party is so pleased with the president right now. this year of accomplishments, this year in review. our country is safer, our economy is doing better, jobs are coming back, wages are going up. i just can't imagine anyone running against a record like this, and this is just the first
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year. >> so she's pretty much painting a very rosey picture of the first year of the president's time in office. do you agree with that sentiment, charlie? >> no, i don't agree with it because there's so much baggage there, but that is the sentiment in the republican party right now. to that end, i think she's probably right that it will be very, very difficult to mount any kind of challenge to donald trump in a party that is almost completely c api tulatet to donald trump. this is a completely trumpified republican party and there are a lot of conservatives that go through this and say, look, forget about the tweets, forget about the character, forget about the erratic behavior. these are conservative policy wins and you need to get on board. >> her response was also a response to foreign republicans like rahm paul saying the president could face a big
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welcome back, everyone. in his first interview since leaving office, former president obama is opening up to his good
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friend prince harry from everything to social media to life after the white house. >> when you wake up now, barack obama, former president of the united states, what's different about your mornings? >> i wake up later. you know, it's wonderful to be able to control your day in a way that you just can't as president. the job entailed a wide range of responsibilities and a constantly full in box. now when i wake up, i can make my own decisions about how do i want to spend my time? >> the wide 1/2 ran-ranging int comes after reports that a world wedding invite could lead to a diplomatic fallout if the former president meets the fiancee before the current president does. great to have you with us. of all the media outlets that
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could have possibly gotten this interview, are you at all surprised, a, that prince harry got this or that it was his radio interview. >> absolutely. president obama, we haven't heard from him since he left office, and suddenly he's turning up at the bbc in britain being interviewed by the prince on the radio of all places. >> why do you think he chose prince harry? >> they seem like friends, they seem like they like each other. they struck up a relationship because of prince harry's involvement in the victim games, which is servicemen and women who compete. they made a good friendship there, and you can clearly see that in the interview. >> they've certainly bonded over the years. we really haven't heard from president obama and certainly not his thoughts about the whole transition period, the inauguration period. i want to play this and get your reaction to it afterwards. >> can i take you back to the 20th of january, 2017. you've sat in marine one, the
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presidential helicopter, flying over washington. you've sat through the inauguration with your game face on. you weren't giving much emotion away, as we all saw. what's going through your mind? >> you know, the first thing that went through my mind was sitting across from michelle, how thankful i was that she had been my partner through the whole process. the sense that there was a completion and that we had done the work in a way that preserved our integrity and left us whole, and that we hadn't fundamentally changed, i think, was a satisfying feeling. that was mixed with all the work that was still undone and concerns about how the country moves forward. but overall there was a serenity there more than i would have expected. >> a very telling moment there for the president. what do you think about that?
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>> i'm sure he wasn't only thinking about michelle at the inauguration. i'm sure a million things were going through his mind, one of them trump's twitter account and all the things he says. >> the question i think really has to do with how do we harness this technology in a way that allows a multiplicity of voices, allows a diversity of views but doesn't lead to a balkani zatio of our society, but rather continues to promote ways of finding common ground. and i'm not sure government can legislate that, but what i do
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believe is that all of in leadership have to find ways in we can recreate a common space on the internet. >> they make many references to social media being used for dividing people and how it should be used for bringing people together. i don't think there is any doubt in anybody's mind that they're talking about president trump there without naming him. >> let's talk a little bit about 2018, another royal wedding in the works has obviously created a lot of speculation whether prince harry would invite former president barack obama now a private citizen. he can certainly do that. we know no heads of state attended the previous wedding of his royal brother and future king. how is this playing out in the united kingdom? what are people saying about whether prince harry should invite former president barack obama? >> i think there is a lot of support for him inviting who he wants to his own wedding. there are british tabloid reports saying there is pressure on harry not to have obama at the wedding because it might upset donald trump, and he
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hasn't even had a state visit to the u.k. yet. he's had one to france but he has yet to come to the u.k. there's been a couple stumbling blocks of the british prime minister admonishing president trump for tweeting far right videos. then we have also the jerusalem -- the move to jerusalem, rather, and teresa may saying we're against that, we don't approve of that move. those are two issues they're on a different page on. whether he will end up co cocoming to the wedding remains to be seen. >> a lot of people have talked about withdrawing that state invitation. coming up, a world of trouble. a look at the foreign policy stories that define 2017 and a preview of the stories that could define 2018. this is "angedrea mitchell
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welcome back, everyone. foreign policy has dominated the headlines for president trump's first year in office. looking ahead to 2018, what will be the major foreign policy issues to watch? back with me, "washington post" columnist david ignatius and christian hill.
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the iran nuclear deal once again is going to be in the headlines because he punted the idea to congress back in october. congress had a window of 60 days to try to do something about it. they did not do something about it. now it's going to go back to the president. what do you think he's going to do? >> based on past performance, my guess is he'll kick the can down the road again in some way. i think the white house is reluctant to tear up the deal. neither the united states nor iran has taken any step, really, to viciate the deal, destroy its terms. i think there is a view that it's safer for the u.s. and israel, too, that the terms were made in effect. you can never predict with trump, but iran has gone away. i think by january there is going to be so much tension on north korea, i would just be surprised if the white house launched into another big potential nuclear crisis with iran at the same time. >> and ambassador, before we get to north korea, i want to ask you really quickly about the
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iran issue, because it seems the administration seems to be campaigning against iran. they ratcheted up the rhetoric this month when you had that presentation by the u.n. ambassador standing in front of debris with what the u.s. claimed was an apparent iranian made missile. and the u.s. is accusing iran of those weapons troubles. but there was a lot of criticism about the evidence presented, a lot of questions about whether or not it actually violated the terms of the deal since we don't know when and if that missile was actually given to the rebels before 2014. are you seeing an escalating diplomatic confrontation with iran in 2018, ambassador? >> i think what the u.s. or trump administration is trying to do is somehow figure out how they can use this iran situation to their benefit vis-a-vis saudi arabia and a potential middle east peace process. i think the calculation has been made if they can just say yes to the saudis a few more times, somehow saudi is going to come
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in on the side of somehow jamming fatah and marginalizing hamas and there will be some kind of peace process. i don't think they'll get there, but you have to look at a lot of this rhetoric to somehow ingratiate to saudi arabia that will in turn lead to something in the middle east. i'm with david on this. i think they'll kind of kick the can down the road because this stuff isn't going to work, and secondly, i think what is really going to be a problem in this coming year is what's happening in north korea. >> another subject in the middle east to track, david, in 2018, egypt holds its first election since the president came into power in 2014. he promises a democratic path, so a lot of people will be watching this election very closely. why is this going to be so important? >> it's a chance for egypt to stabilize and become finally the
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democracy that people dreamed of at the time of the protests that removed umbar as president. cici has said a lot of sensible things about subsidies, about a broader more stable egypt, but he doesn't seem to get very far. i think there is a lot of public frustration in egypt. there is an interesting challenge under way from a human rights lawyer named hali whogs t -- who is the new face in political process. hopefully this election will get some momentum. >> going back to the issue of north korea, ambassador, will we see the trump administration focus on north korea in a very kind of aggressive way? are we going to see a change in direction with what we were discussing earlier, a possible
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opportunity for other countries to play the role, or is this going to still be a very u.s.-led effort to try and contain the situation in 2018? >> i think it's going to be u.s.-led. i think it's going to be an effort to try to strengthen those sanctions, and these are as tough as anyone could have imagined. so it is possible that they really can squeeze the north koreans, especially as north korea does not produce gasoline on its own and there are now limitations on refined petroleum products. we'll have to see how that plays out. what is clear, though, is that the north koreans have indicated, as other nuclear wannabes have indicated, they're prepared to have their people, you know, eat dirt if that's what it takes to save the money to develop these weapons. so i think the trump administration has a real tough issue on its hands. it will be, of course, congressional election year. there will be a lot of discussion about whether the trump administration has done something about this. after all, some of the biggest
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north korean efforts, you know, hydrogen weapon, several long-range missile tests have been done on the trump administration's watch, and this president will try to blame all his predecessors, that's what he does, but i'm not sure it's going to wash. so i think this is going to be front and center. they're going to have to figure out whether they can do something with china, and they've got to continue to reassure those allies that are a little nervous by all the talk they hear in the u.s. and somehow we can live with a nuclear north korea. >> before i let you go, in 2018 what are the most interesting stories you want to see not covered by the united states that possibly concerns you? >> that's a great question. we will be preoccupied with north korea. beyond that, i think i look at syria, a country that's been shattered by a catastrophic war, more than half the country's population has been dislocated by the war. will they find their way back
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home? russia basically has come out as the dominant player. can russia, working with the u.s., shape a peace process of geneva that begins a transition? how does the u.s. play its alliance with the syrian kurds who have been the best fighters that took down isis? a big victory for u.s.-led power. not much discussion of it. so i guess i want to look at syria and hope and pray that that poor country just shattered by war gets back on its feet. >> there's still so many other issues as well. you got yemen, you got venezuela, you got the situation in yemen. we'll see what 2018 brings us. great to have both of you with us and your insights. thank you. >> thank you. next the blame game. who president trump is now pointing his finger at over republicans' loss over a senate seat in alabama. this is "andrea mitchell reports" only on msnbc. they can even pay their bill- (beep) bill has joined the call. hey bill, we're just-
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phone: hi guys, bill here. do we have julia on the line too? 'k, well we'll just- phone: hey sorry. i had you muted. well yea let's just- phone: so what i was thinking- ok well we'll- phone: yeah- let's just go ahead- phone: oh alright- the award-winning geico app. download it today.
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welcome back, everyone. with the wounds still fresh from that senate loss in alabama, president trump is once again taking aim at his attorney general jeff sessions. president trump blamed the former alabama senator in part for leaving congress to take the job as the nation's top law enforcement officer, prompting a special election. and we should remind the president here, it was him, the president himself, who nominated sessions for the job, lest he forget. let's get the inside scoop from
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reporter of "the guardian" and sam, msnbc contributor. sam is laughing because he doesn't believe it. it's really true. >> it's laughable that he actually blamed sessions. >> the president is still seemingly trying to find blame for the election loss in alabama, but what are the political implications of his finger pointing even if it's somebody within his own cabinet that he appointed? >> this is a president who, as we know, does not handle loss well, and he frequently has tried to rewrite this script when it comes to alabama. he's held up his endorsement of luther strange who is roy moore's primary opponent and framed himself as some kind of enthusiastic supporter of strange when, in fact, he had reluctantly backed luther strange, publicly wrestled with that endorsement and then supported roy moore after the latter was accused of molesting underage girls. he's the one who chose to back a candidate like roy moore who was
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someone republicans in washington wanted to step aside, but i think that the telling thing from alabama is that trump's own approval rating was fairly split in the polling at 48-47. this is a state he won last year by roughly 30 points. if there are any political implications, it's even in strong republican strongholds, trump is increasingly unpopular and that will be very concerning for republicans moving ahead in midterm elections. >> a lot of republicans are growing concerned about the mueller investigation. we're seeing the rhetoric almost in unison change to start attacking mueller and at least the senior staff at the doj and fbi. i want you to take a listen from a sound bite from hallie jackson. >> i would like to see the director of those agencies purge it and say we have great lawyers, and i want the american people to see and know good work is being done. not the people who are kind of the deep state.
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>> language like that, congressman, purge, purge the department of justice? >> well, i think that mr mr. strozik could be purged. >> i've covered a lot of things, in turkey after the coup that was the language we heard, they would purge the government. they ended up cleaning thousands of people, according to them. when you hear that language, how concerning is it for, a, the republican party and just in general in the u.s.? >> it does strike one as parallel here where if you don't sew ideological similymmetry wi the president, you'll be purged because they are doing russian meddle investigations, vis-a-vis the trump campaign. i find it interesting there's a thread with jeff sessions involved, which trump blames him for taking the job above doj in
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part for costing him alabama. jeff sessions is overseeing the fbi. it's his people accused of being biased, in need of being purged. jeff sessions is the unifying theory, the whipping boy for the president, for republican critics. he seems greatly diminished by the people who employ him and people in his own party. >> he came after jeff sessions strongly when he recused himself -- >> he shouldn't have done it. >> exactly. democrats have made significant gains in state elections across the country. after passing the tax bill, which was one of the most unpopular pieces of legislation in decades, according to various polls, should republicans be hitting the panic button when they see the blue momentum across the u.s.? >> i think republicans have a very significant sales job ahead of them. that's something mitch mcconnell himself conceded after the tax bill was passed, because as you mentioned, it's wildly unpopular, but it is the single
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legislative accomplishment for republicans since they have controlled both chambers of congress and the white house. i think in tandem with the tax bill, they also have to grapple with the fact that trump is at historically low approval ratings one year into his presidency and democrats are obviously going to spend a great deal of midterm elections tying every republican candidate to trump, to a lot of the ways in which his style of governance has been unprecedented to the most controversial aspects of his presidency. republicans have increasingly embraced trump as opposeded to backing away from him. they have to wrestle with how to distance themselves from trump as well as how to sell what is an unpopular bill to the american public. >> this is one of my favorite stories of the day, for many different reasons. one of the largest papers in utah named senator hatch utahan of the year. that's a great catch to it.
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the title was not intended to be a compliment. they asked him to step down and also said hatch had lack of integrity that rises from his unquenchable thirst for power. this comes after hatch was heaping praise on president trump after passing the republican tax cut bill. a lot to break down. first, it's a reminder, don't just read the headline of an article on twitter. open the article and read it, right? >> yes. >> secondly, a retweet is not an endorsement, in hitch's defense. what do you make of the fact that this incident happened but, more importantly, does this open the door for a mitt romney 2018 run in utah? >> yes, always read the article. his office claims he understood it was a scathing editorial. at i should say, there was no indication in his tweet of it
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that they understood or were in on the joke. with respect to hatch's political future, i don't think he'll make a determination based on what the salt lake tribune's editorial page says. i do think he's been reported -- it's reported he's been egged to run for a sixth term by president trump, precisely because trump does not like mitt romney and wants to stick it to the guy. orrin hatch has been a loyal trump foot soldier. not just throughout tax bill but national monuments. he is -- utah is an interesting state. there was for a brief period of time in the 2016 campaign there was talk about the possibility it would not go for trump because of the big mormon electorate there. there's a lot at play here. certainly, it's fun to watch hatch try to dissect it via his twitter account. >> sabrina, i'll give you the last brief commentary on this, the future of orrin hatch, what do you make of it?
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>> there's a lot of republicans who have been waiting to throw their hat into that senate rate but they have declined to do so. one thing this underscore, you're damned if you don't and damfed if don't. jefr flake took heat for stepping away and hatch taking heat for running for re-election. >> good point. >> thanks for joining us. more ahead. this is "andrea mitchell reports" only on msnbc. so that's the idea. what do you think? hate to play devil's advocate but... i kind of feel like it's a game changer. i wouldn't go that far. are you there?
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follow the showon line on facebook and twitte twitter @mitchellreports and keep up with me on twitter and facebook. craig melvin is up next. >> how old is that picture? >> very old. >> that's like you in high school. >> i know. i keep it that way. people think i'm young. >> our college correspondent. >> yeah, i hide the gray hair very well. >> good to see you. coming up, craig melvin, msnbc headquarters, new york. justice under fire. a new government report says not only did the justice department not address sexual misconduct in its own ranks, it rewarded some who were accused. plus, broken system. three of america's biggest cities are now suing the pentagon, saying the department's failures have put guns in the hands of criminals. and turning the tables. prince harry interviewing president obama. harry and barry, the

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