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tv   The Last Word With Lawrence O Donnell  MSNBC  February 20, 2018 7:00pm-8:00pm PST

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the director of national intelligence and the cia but no u.s. officials have admitted to meeting with him. we reached out to the state department to see if they could tell us since that's the aemgen that would issue the visa a spokesman answered by referring us to the russian government. what? the state department here would have to grant a waiver for a sanctioned individual then to the united states. the russian government wouldn't necessarily be able to comment on that since they wouldn't be the ones issuing the waiver? mystery continues. did the head of the gru in fact come to the u.s.? how did he get in? who did he meet with? we'll let you know if the russian government gets back to us on that because that's who the state department referred us to today. seriously. that does it for us tonight. we'll see you tomorrow. >> good evening, rachel. so there seems to be or is there
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really a struggle over the jared kushner security clearance business with john kelly or is john kelly just going along with this whole thing? >> you know, friday is going to arrive which is going to be the date by which john kelly said the new security clearance thing was going to be in effect and either the new security clearance thing isn't going to be in effect and jared kushner is going to still have his gig or there will be nepotism suggestion for jared kushner or we're all going to pretend they didn't say any of the things they said in the past week. i don't know. >> i'm betting on the nepotism exception issued specifically by the president. he has the power to simply grant jared kushner whatever security clearance he decides to grant him. and then we'll see that little white house line that we see at the briefing every time where they say oh, we can never comment on security clearances. and that's the end of it. >> the thing interesting about this is by john kelly's own
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design is this is a fuse that ends in a firecracker. he says this will all be done by friday. he's going to be humiliated or jau jared kushner is going to be humiliated or the white house will have something to explain. but it will happen on a timeline by the end of this week. >> my i told you so moment last night. we talked about the 2:00 briefing schedule for today and i told you do not even look at the tv at 2:00. >> do not worry, it won't start on time. you were very, very right. i got lots of people telling me today, hey, lawrence was right. >> but everybody knew that. that was not a prediction. that was just a subtle fact. >> it was a prediction and you got it right. i think you can rest on those laurels. >> i think i'm going to take that. another day, another guilty plea. special prosecutor robert mueller obtained another guilty plea in the investigation of the president and the president's campaign and the president's family and the president's
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assorted societies around the world. this time robert mueller charged and got a guilty plea from a lawyer involved in the case. no doubt stunning the rest of the criminal defense lawyers representing witnesses and suspects in this investigation. we'll have more details on that guilty plea later. but one of the extraordinary things about that new guilty plea is that it was not even mentioned in today's white house press briefing because the briefing was so short. it was less than 20 minutes long. and that is the white house strategy on briefings. make them so short and so rare that it is impossible to ask all of the questions about all of the chaos and all of the suspected corruption and all of the violations of security clearance protocols and all of the failures of the president of the united states to defend this country against an attack by a foreign power. there has not been a white house
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press briefing in a week. at the last white house press briefing, most of the questions were about what john kelly knew and when he knew it and what john kelly did to protect his favorite staff member rob porter after it was revealed that rob porter was accused of violence against both of his former wives. that is where we left it in the white house press briefing room last week and today there was not one question about rob porter in the briefing. because it worked. the white house strategy worked. just wait out the news cycle. just wait for a subject change. and that's how they'll get away from rob porter and the john kelly problem. and they got that subject change in the form of mass murder in the president's own back yard in florida on wednesday. a tragedy that provoked this question today from john roberts of fox news.
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>> does the president have any ideas, any ideas at all on how to address this or is he starting from scratch? >> i can tell you that the president supports not having the use of bump stocks and that we expect further action on that in the coming days. he ordered the department of justice and the atf to review the regulation of bump stocks. my understanding is that review his been completed and move ment will take place on that shortly. but the president, when it comes to that, is committed to ensuring that those devices are -- again, i'm not going to get ahead of the announcement, but i can tell you the president doesn't support the use of those accessories. >> on the broader problem of deranged individuals getting ahold of weapons and killing people, does he have any ideas on how to deal with this? >> look, again, that's part of a lot of conversations that we're going to have. >> so are you suggesting he starts from scratch?
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if he has to lfb isten to a bun people and doesn't have any ideas of his own. >> any ideas of his own. that's fox news asking does the president of the united states have any ideas of his own? of course he doesn't have any ideas of his own. but apparently he used to have at least one idea. >> the president in 2000 did support an assault weapons ban. what's his position now? is he open to reinstating the band? >> i'm going to spare you the jibberish that followed that question. it was a simple yes or no question and there was nothing in that answer that indicated a yes or no. just the usual nonsense words that comes out of that microphone. the press secretary was asked if the president supports the utterly foolish and dangerous and impossible idea advanced by former house speaker newt gingrich that six to eight
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american teachers in every american school should be carrying guns at all times to fight off mass murderers. it is an idea that would create more armed teachers in america than armed police officers in america. i promise you newt gingrich has not done the math on this. it is the single most ridiculous idea that has been suggested in this arena and the white house press secretary's answer was -- >> i haven't spoken with him about speaker gingrich's plan so i'll have to get back to you on that front. >> so the white house press secretary has no idea whether the president supports a crazy idea. but that is her standard answer for most questions. the white house press secretary standard answer for most questions is i have no idea what the president thinks about that. the white house press secretary offered jibberish and lies when asked about the president's reaction to the indictment on friday of 13 russians for
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interfering in our election. she actually offered the lie that president trump has been much tougher on russia than president obama. now, let's just zoom in on one particular exchange on russian interference. >> is he angered by this or outraged that russia tried to interfere in our system? >> i think he's angered that anybody would try to meddle into our system. >> is he angered that russia interfered and notice that she cannot bring herself to say that the president is angered that russia has interfered in our system. she switches it to he's angered that anyone would interfere with our system. she cannot say the word russia in that sentence. she is not allowed to. she knows it. she knows what the demand is from her audience of one. and then she was asked this about jared kushner.
quote
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>> the staff on friday with security clearances that those with interim security clearances by the end of this week that were outstanding since june of last year would lose their access to classified information. one of those would be jared kushner. can you talk about how he'll be able to do his senior job if he does not have access to classified information. >> again in the interest of time and your sanity i will spare you the nonsense that came out of the microphone in response to that. but you should know that tonight john kelly issued this written statement. i will not comment on anybody's specific secure clearance situation or go beyond the memo released last week. as i told jared days ago, i have full confidence in his ability to continue performing his duties in his foreign policy portfolio including overseeing our israeli palestinian peace effort and serving as an integral part of our relationship with mexico. everyone in the white house is
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grateful for these valuable contributions to furthering the president's agenda. there is no truth to any suggestion otherwise. turning our discussion now, josh earnest, former white house press secretary for president obama. david fromm is with us. he's the author of the "new york times" new best seller "trumpocray". and nor ra. josh, i want to start with you. this was about an 18, 19 minute press briefing. i remember you used to do them that could last over an hour if there were enough questions to fill that space. this clearly looks like the strategy is limit these briefings to the point that they can't possibly ask everything that needs to be discussed approximate. and also have them infrequently
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enough that the way to end the john kelly/rob porter story is to let enough days of silence go by before you speak again. >> lawrence, you have touchdown on what is clearly an element of their strategy. some of this has to do with the impossible situation that sarah huk huckabee sander finds herself in. the graphic you've had up crystallizes the problem she faces which is that president trump doesn't actually have any ideas of his own. it makes it very difficult to put her in a situation where she's supposed to use the white house briefing to go and advocate for ideas that don't apparently exist. when i was the white house press secretary, my responsibility, what i spent my entire morning on leading up to the briefing, was actually gathering my staff and policy experts throughout the white house to discuss what our position, what our ideas, what our record and what results we had on the topics of the day. what are the questions we know
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we're going to get asked about, whether it's foreign policy and the progress we made against isis or domestic policy and the progress we have made on the economy or on a range of other areas. but anybody who stands behind that podium these days doesn't have the benefit of that kind of substance that they can go out and defend or advocate for. and so it's not particularly surprising that they might go for a week without doing a briefing. just for your viewers at home, you need to understand how unusual that is. it would -- there might have been a couple of times over the holidays or when president obama might have been on vacation, over the sumner august with his family where we may not have done a briefing for a week, but typically that was because there wasn't that much controversy in the world. there wasn't that much that the white house had to account for directly. and that clearly is not the case for what's transpired in the last week. and it's put the trump white house in a very uncomfortable
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position. for a white house that is focused on optics and projecting strength, they look to everybody who's watching, scared to answer any questions. it's not a good look for the leader of the free world and his team. >> david fromm is the veteran of a republican white house yourself. i want to get your reaction to what you saw in that briefing room. >> you are right about the power of the change the subject messaging method. but you do run out of rope if your plan is to distract attention from scandals with more scandals because evenly you just have a big bag of a lot of scandals. white houses don't do these things because they are so committed to openness. they say they do. the real reason you do them is in order to asesert a white houe message. otherwise the tv is going to be there. the media are going to be there. they're going to run stories and the question for a white house is do you want to have an impact on those stories.
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when you hunker down and put your pillow over your head, you surrender the ability to do that. look what happened this morning. the president got a little bit late access to a "washington post" story in which another woman came forward to say that president trump had assaulted her. she had contemporaneous e-mails that this happened a decade ago but that day she e-mailed her mother and other people in a short period of time. what was the white house response? the president this morning erupts in a two-part twitter storm about this. well, this is now part of the national agenda. there was no plan. there was no consideration. he insisted this is something i would never have done except we have his voice on record at about the same time as he was assaulting this woman boasting this was his method. >> i'm so glad david mentioned that case because this was a front page story in "the washington post". it's not mention ed in this briefing today partially because of how short it was, deliberately short. scheduled to start at 2:00.
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it doesn't start until 3:30. it goes 20 minutes. it's because the latest front page story of the latest sexual assault by the president and everything that the white house is afraid to talk about. >> absolutely. i would say the problem for them is not that they have dominance or don't have dominance. the headline is they are drowning in scandal. the operative thing they were asked about today that trumped everything else was the fact that russia meddled with our elections and donald trump hasn't said word squat about that really. fundamentally we have a foreign adversaries interfering on our elections to help him and to elect him and he's basically fine with it. they have to in essence, sarah huckabee sanders had to lie and basically say this is obama's fault and everyone knows that donald trump isn't doing the sanctions, hasn't actually lifted a finger in any way to
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impact putin from any tool that he had. so i think the real issue here is that they are mired in one scandal after another. what's so really pathetic about this white house is someone could have asked them about their "washington post" quote in which you have a white house staffer saying the slaughter of 17 children was a reprieve for them, a political reprieve from the porter scandal. that is how rock bottom this white house is. >> but it's also obvious that that's the way they were using it and so that unnamed source in "the washington post" who said that was simply speaking, josh, a quick last word, that was simply a statement of the obvious for this white house. >> yeah, it was. i think we saw more of that over the weekend with the president's tweets on a variety of topics, most of them attempting to obscure the scandal that
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engulfed his white house. i was remembering back to five years ago this weekend. i traveled to florida. i was the deputy press secretary at the white house. i traveled down to florida with president obama who was looking for a long weekend away. the big scandal of that weekend that left the white house press corp enraged at the way that i was managing them was that president obama went golfing with tiger woods without telling the press corp in advance. it's an indication of how far we've come. >> those were the days. thank you all for joining us. i really appreciate it. >> tom issued a code red on donald trump yesterday. it has become tom freedman's most circulated column ever. it is mandatory reading and tom freedman will join us next. and later in the rewrite tonight, above and beyond the call of duty, the new job description for american school teachers who in the words of one
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our democracy is in serious danger. that was the first sentence of a column by tom freedman. it describes the trump presidency in truly threatening terms, threatening to the united states of america. tom freedman was not scheduled
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to post a column, but at the end of a weekend of presidential misbehavior, he felt himself compelled to say something. it is one of the most instructive in the history of new york times columns. he travels the world trying to translate everything that's happening into clear concepts that readers around the world need to know. you might not agree with everything you read in friedman columns, but they are a search for the world's best ideas and that is a search that is usually optimistic. those columns are read closely by leaders around the world, but it is entirely possible that the president of the united states has never read a tom friedman column. he sounds like someone who has never read one.
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but if he reads just one, we should all hope it's this one which ends this way. this is code red. the biggest threat to the integrity of our democracy today is in the oval office. and joining us now, tom friedman. tom, thank you very much for joining us. i really appreciate it. my internal clock told me when i saw this column, this is out of sequence. he's not scheduled to write right now, is he? this isn't his day. tell us why you were moved to do this one. >> well, it was the holiday and i picked up the paper like everybody else and saw that robert mueller had indicted 13 russians and several russian organizations for basically intervening in our last election both to poison our politics and
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to tilt the election toward donald trump. and i waited to see what the president would have to say about this and he had nothing to say about it. and that struck me as not only appalling, but actually frightening. because up to now, donald trump, he's violated the norms that we expect in a president. his tweeting, his incessant lying, his general way he speaks about people, his diminishing of others in different countries. he's violated the norms of the presidency. but when the president of the united states does not react to a clear and present danger, then he's violating his oath of office. then he is not defending, protecting and defending the constitution and the country. that struck me as i said not only appalling but extremely dangerous and it needed to be called out. judging from the reaction of readers, a lot of people felt exactly that. >> i want to read something the president tweeted this morning.
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he said i have been much tougher on russia than obama. just look at the facts. total fake news. what's your reaction to that tweet? >> well, it's probably lie number 2,342. the fact is that the congress has imposed sanctions that he has not imposed. what would actually -- what would it look like? i think we have to step back and say what would a real president do in this situation? he'd do three things. let's remember, this came after a week of our three leading intelligence agencies, the fbi, cia and nsa all testifying to congress that not only did russia intervene in the election, they were still doing it and they plan to continue to do it in the next round of elections. and when asked, the fbi director what had the president instructed him to do, he said nothing. so what would it actually look like if we had a real president, not someone who's running the trump organization and seems to moonlight as president of the
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united states? here's what a really president would do. first he'd give a speech to the country explaining the problem to people in a language and way that would be both compelling and illuminating people so they understand the nature of the threat. secondly, he would call together all the stakeholders, state and local election authorities, all the social networks, all the people who run our federal elections, leaders of the two parties and basically layout a plan of defense for how we're going to prevent this intervention in the future. and the third thing he would do would call in his national security team and layout an offense. why are we sitting here every day reading about russian intervention in our election. how putin is basically using lies to divide us and poisonous democracy. why are we not selling the truth about him, all the money he's stolen, all the people he's basically made disappear from russian politics.
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why are we not using the truth to undermine his autocracy when he is using lies to undermine our democracy. donald trump did none of these and it is appalling. he should be ashamed of himself. >> tom, i always look to friedman columns for something hard to find in my own view of things and that is a glimmer of optimism. i'm very bad at finding that when i look at things. this is the column i would say where i can't find the optimism. i don't think it's in this column. but do you see something here for what we should be optimistic? >> no, i don't, lawrence, because many readers pointed this out and it was for me just a space issue. why am i the one raising this? why are you the one raising this? where's the republican party? where is his own party which
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claimed to for so many years be the daddy party, the national security party, the adults in the room that not a one of them has come out, none of their leadership and basically called the president out on this. that's disgusting. and it's deeply troubling. i wish i could find a glimmer of hope in this. an israeli general once said we know why you're an optimist. it's because you're short. i said what do you mean? he said it's because you can only see the part of the glass that's half full. well, that's usually the case, lawrence, but this time i cannot see any of the glass half full. we have a president who is either compromised by russia or is such a towering fool he actually believes what he told us he believes, that he asked vladimir putin if he did this and putin told him no and he believes him. that is the president who said he's done more than barack
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obama? >> tom friedman, thank you very much for joining us to expand on your column. can't thank you enough. thank you, tom. >> thank you, lawrence. today special prosecutor robert mueller got another guilty plea. that's next.
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special prosecutor robert mueller has secured a fourth guilty plea. alex van der zwaan, a former lawyer at a worldwide law firm that is based in new york. he worked in the london office. he pled guilty in federal court
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to lying to mueller's investigators in november, 2017, about his communications with former trump campaign aide rick gates. gates was indicted along with paul manafort in october for financial crimes. according to court documents, alex van der zwaan concealed conversations he had in september, 2016, with gates and someone called person a who is a long-time business associate of manafort and gates in ukraine. alex van der zwaan's father-in-law has ties to vladimir putin. he is a russian oligarch named german chan. well, i'm going to let someone else try to pronounce that. he owns russia's alpha bank. that bank and german, i can't read this name in the prompter, so i'm going to skip it. and that bank is mentioned in christopher steel's dossier. joining us, jennifer rogers, a former federal prosecutor and the u.s. attorney's office and
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executive director of the senate for advancement of public integrity at columbia law school. your reading of this plea today? >> well, they obviously have another cooperate or on their hands. it was information, not an indictment. so my assumption is they're going to use him to persuade gates finally. apparently he's been in talks about cooperating but it will get him over the line. who they really want is manafort who knows a lot about the trump campaign. my guess is they're continuing to exert pressure in the way of paul manafort. >> the "l.a. times" reported days ago that gates it completed a plea agreement. there was an earlier report saying he was getting close to one. what's unusual about the rhythm of that is usually when one organization gets that kind of leak, the others all get it. nbc news gets it within 24 hours or less of that. no one else has gotten that confirmation that gates has made
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his plea deal. >> he just got new lawyers a couple weeks ago. i suspect new lawyers come on the case. they don't have to start over in the negotiations exactly, but there's a little bit more kind of getting to know one another and then they'll finalize the deal when they can. it's a tough thing for someone like rick gates to plead guilty so sometimes it takes the lawyer a while to get the client there. >> this guilty plea today involves communication with gates so gates and his lawyers are now sitting there, if they didn't know this already. and let me go to that. what are the chances the prosecutors have said to gates attorneys, look, we have this lawyer, we've got him about to plead guilty or we've got everything. would they have have wait until they actually got the guilty plea from the lawyer before they could in any way discuss that with the gates lawyers? >> they usually would. there's no legal obligation to do that, but it can all fall apart until it's done.
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usually they would wait. i'm sure the moment they did they'd say we've got this guy on board, it's time to sign the paper. >> when rick gates wakes up tomorrow, it's a different legal climate he's waking up in? >> i think so. i think he'll finally decide it's time. >> which also makes it a different legal climate for paul manafort and also for donald trump. >> i think so. manafort has held out for a long time the charges against him from last year are quite serious. i'm surprised at how long he's been dragging it out. it just gets worse and worse. you have to assume at some point he's going to do it. >> jennifer, thank you very much for joining us. coming up, the new job description for american school teachers. that is next in tonight's rewrite. hii'm bob harper,
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save 50% on the ultimate limited edition bed with adjustable comfort on both sides. ends sunday. visit sleepnumber.com for a store near you. in tonight's rewrite the job description of the american attach. last night i toll my wife i would take a bullet for the kids. that's what robert parish told "the new york times" today. he said i think about it all the time. he's an elementary school teacher at a school near the marjory stoneman douglas high school. teachers all over the country are now thinking about it all the time, talking about it with their families, talking about it with their kids. stoneman douglas geography teacher scott beagigel talked about it with his fiancee. she told that story at his
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funeral on sunday. he said that he told her promise me if this ever happens to me, you will tell them the truth. tell them what a jerk i am. don't talk about the hero stuff. these are the same public school teachers who are so often condemned by republicans as being the overpaid members of an all-too powerful union. not powerful enough to get them combat pay or get them death benefits like soldiers get for being killed in the line of duty. the families of american soldiers killed in battle get $100,000. teachers just get their names taken off the payroll. zero. republicans eagerly attack teachers unions because the teachers unions often chews to support democrats who are in favor of increased funding for education instead of republicans who are in favor of decreased funding for education.
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president trump's budget proposes a cut in funding for school security. president trump wants to make teachers and students even more vulnerable to gunfire. president trump doesn't know that of course. he doesn't know that's in his budget because he doesn't know anything that's in his budget. so when he meets with some of the people who survived this school shooting tomorrow, he will try to say what he thinks they want to hear. what he needs to hear is what it's like when a mass murderer comes to your school. english teacher daria haas had three of her students killed last week. she told nbc kerry sanders that at first she thought it was just a drill. >> i thought it might be the drill and i went to shut the blinds and then i turned to say turn the lights off. when i turned, my saw my student. i saw him, and he was bleeding. >> 14-year-old alex schachter had been shot. >> and my students, they were so
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brave. >> haas grabbed her cell phone. >> i called 911 and they asked if i could get to my student that was injured. i couldn't get over to him. and then 911 said he's coming back. he already shot in my room twice. wasn't that enough? no. he's coming back. and i figured if i have to go, i'm going to hug my students closer and i kissed my students on their head and tried to comfort them. >> schachter and two more students, 14-year-old alaina petty and 14 alyssa alhadeff were killed in her classroom. >> it's so hard to grasp i lost their sweet little faces. >> one building over, 16th 11th grader jack mccloud trapped in hey hallway with nowhere to hide. >> i could not get into that classroom.
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>> then a math teacher did what she was trained never to do. >> i broke protocol. i opened my door and looked out and here's a group of children with an adult and he goes can we come in and i said everybody come in as fast as you can. >> at 65 mary is a year away from retirement. >> i turned to the kids and i said i want you to know that if anybody comes through that door to harm you, they have to come through me. i will be the first defense. they will have to shoot me to get to you. and maybe that will give you a chance. >> it would be 90 minutes before the s.w.a.t. team finally came to their rescue. english teacher daria haas had given her students an assignment to write a poem. she got alex's po frem from his
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father. >> life is like a roller coaster. it has ups and downs. it eventually comes to a stop when you know it will be time to get off and start new. it's not fair that he had to be taken. >> jim is 58 years old. he's been a teacher for 36 years. he was in math class at stoneman douglas during the shooting. two of the dead had been stu students of his and the shooter was a former student of his. jim guard told "the new york times," if i go through my college transcripts, docket rat courses, all that, i know there are no courses that say shooter on campus 101. this is what life in america has become in the age of the a.r. 15. what should be the most nonviolent profession in america has become one of the front lines of mass murder in this country. and so american teachers and
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their fiancees and their husbands and their wives and their children are worried that they might not come home from work tomorrow or they will come home from work tomorrow drenched in the blood of their students. andrea suarez is a 35-year-old middle school teacher in broward county florida. her own four children at home have been urging her to quit her job of teaching. because it's too dangerous. she says she's been having trouble sleeping because she toll "the new york times" i keep hearing kids screaming and gunshots in my head. no doubt there are thousands of teachers in america tonight who are considering leaving their profession because they don't want to get killed. because they don't want to watch children be killed. because they don't want to be in a classroom where they will see with their own eyes what an assault weapon does to children's bodies. and under these working
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conditions. who would have the audacity to tell an american school teacher to stay in the line of fire with no support from american politicians who continue to follow the national rifle association's mandate to make sure that the american mass murderers have everything they need when they walk into a school. everything they need to kill as many students and teachers as possible. still, jim guard wants to stay. he wants to stay at stoneman douglas high school. he told "the new york times" i want to go back to my kids. i want to go back to my classroom. i want to see the kids, i want to teach the kids and that's the bottom line. that is the voice of true bravery in america today. the bravery to walk into an american classroom and try to continue to teach math with one eye on the classroom door waiting for the next mass murderer to burst in with an
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assault weapon and start firing. every teacher in america that chooses to go to work tomorrow knows that this is going to happen again. there is going to be another mass murderer with an assault weapon in another school. every teacher knows that. but none of them know if their classroom is going to be next. and none of them know which of them will take a bullet for the kids. for american school teachers, the simple act of going to work tomorrow has become an act of pure heroism. tomorrow, it's a day filled with promise and new beginnings, challenges and opportunities. at ameriprise financial, we can't predict what tomorrow will bring. but our comprehensive approach to financial planning can help make sure you're prepared for what's expected and even what's not.
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what's going on in america? >> i don't know, but these children are going to change it. this young man and all of his schoolmates are going to change it. >> joining us the discussion now, ruth marcus, deputy editor and columnist at "the washington post." ruth, i was a public schoolteacher for a few years. i never had to face this question. it was before the age of mass murder in public schools. but the idea that thousands and thousands of teachers all over the country tonight talking to their kids who are worried about whether they come home again just by going to work is a new working condition for the american teacher.
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>> it's a new working condition for the american teacher and it's a new kind of life condition for all of us. every parent who sends a child off to school. everybody who sends a family member to a workplace. we know this can happen in so many places. it can happen in movie theaters, it can happen in parking lots, it can happen at concerts. we are not safe, and the -- i am not taking anything away from the incredibly powerful story of the teachers and the heroism of their actions in florida and elsewhere, but there is a lack of -- there is a new worry for all of us that we're not safe, and it's not about kind of the random risks that we all need to take when you get on the beltway here in d.c. or anything, it's risks that we should not have to
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assume because our politicians aren't willing to do the various things to do that wouldn't ensure our safety, but that might help us a little bit. >> the president apparently is going to meet with -- seems a carefully selected group of people from florida tomorrow who were at the school or parents, kids and also people who were exposed to the violence at columbine as well as sandy hook at the white house. i spoke to one of the students from douglas high school today who has been very active in this and he's been seen a lot on television. he told me he got an invitation from the white house late this afternoon when the white house knew that it was impossible for people like him to get there tomorrow for this because they are all participating in something else in florida, a very public event in florida tomorrow, and so it seems like the white house has done something with the invitations to this to try to protect the
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president from what would be the confrontations that some of these students publicly promised if they got a chance to speak to this president. >> well, what can be said to that? how -- it's not surprising in any way. this is not a president who does very well taking criticism, even not to his face. the notion of him withstanding the sort of in-person criticism from some of these young people who are so brave and so articulate and so forceful in what they say, that is not the kind of thing -- i have to say, if you were the white house communications director, that is not a setup that you would want to facilitate in any way, so pardon my cynicism here, but i can't totally blame the white house for not making that -- making certain that that happens. it's a rare moment of competence on their part. >> and, ruth, one of the stunning moments today in the white house press briefing was
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john roberts of fox news just saying, does the president have any ideas of his own about this gun violence, does he have any ideas at all? >> that was pretty stunning, and, in fact, the one idea that we heard the president put out today which has to do with ordering the justice department and the atf to do something about these bump stocks, it's really i think too little, too ineffective, way too late. these bump stocks, remember, are the things that basically turn semiautomatics into automatics and allowed the carnage in las vegas to be as horrible as it was. so, first of all, if the president cares about this, why didn't this happen after las vegas? why did it take 17 dead high school students? but, second of all, it's not at all clear that actually the -- that this can be accomplished by regulation. his own bureau of alcohol, tobacco and firearms has basically concluded that you
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can't do this by regulation alone, and so if you wanted to get rid of bump stocks, what you would be doing is supporting legislation to do it. >> ruth marcus, thank you very much for doing this tonight on this very sad subject. really appreciate it. >> thank you. >> thank you. tonight's last word is next. ♪ ♪ (vo) you can pass down a subaru forester. but you get to keep the memories. love. it's what makes a subaru, a subaru. (avo) get 0% apr financing on all new 2018 subaru forester models. now through february 28th. this is food made to sit down for. slow down for. put the phone away, and use a knife and fork for. and with panera catering, it's food worth sharing. panera. food as it should be.
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with its historical ance records...test ...you could learn you're from ireland... ...donegal, ireland... ...and your ancestor was a fisherman. with blue eyes. just like you. begin your journey at ancestry.com we have a breaking election news tonight from kentucky, democrat linda belcher won a special election for the kentucky house with 68% of the
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vote, and this is in a district that voted 72% for donald trump in 2016. this is the 37th state legislative seat democrats have picked up since donald trump took office. that is tonight's last word. up next on "the 11th hour," steve kornacki will join brian with a look at poll numbers showing a majority of americans support banning assault weapons. "the 11th hour" with brian williams starts now. tonight, a white house dealing with ongoing crisis. the press secretary today claiming trump was tougher on russia in 2017 than obama's eight years as president. plus, tonight, chief of staff john kelly issuing a statement in support of jared kushner following reports of a clash between the two men over security cleefrarance. that in light of another report tonight that jared and ivanka were in the caribbean a

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