tv Andrea Mitchell Reports MSNBC August 22, 2019 9:00am-10:00am PDT
so you only pay for what you need. it's a different kind of wireless network designed to save you money. save up to $400 a year on your wireless bill. plus get $250 back when you buy a new samsung note. click, call or visit a store today. i'll see you tomorrow morning on today. "andrea mitchell reports" starts right now. thank you very much. the president's playbook, is there a strategy behind donald trump's dizzying days at the white house? changing his position on some key issues, insulting allies overseas and continuing his attacks on jewish democrats. >> you vote for a democrat you're being very disloyal to jewish people and you're being disloyal to israel. i am the chosen one. i thought that the prime minister's statement that it was absurd, it was an absurd idea
was nasty. you don't talk to the united states that way. at least under me. thwarted plot. while the president backs off his support of gun control, california police stop a potential mass shooting by a hotel worker with a massive arsenal. >> suspect montoya had clear plans, intent, and the means to carry out an act of violence that may have resulted in a mass casualty incident. and state of play with less than a week to go before the lineup is set for the next democratic debate, one former presidential contender sets his sights on the senate as another heads home to fight global warming. >> become clear i'm not going to be carrying the ball. i'm not going to be the president so i'm withdrawing tonight from the race, but i have to tell you i've been fighting climate change for 25 years. i've never been so confident of the ability of america to reach critical mass to move the ball.
good day, everyone, as the head spinning array of reversals and new battle lines from president trump are laying the foundation for a scorched earth 2020 reelection strategy. the president's decision to step away from what he called background checks like never before and ramp up those persistent attacks on four congresswomen of color, allies overseas, his hand-picked federal reserve chairman and anyone in the political arena who dares to criticize him all add up to a fight on all fronts to win four more years in the white house. "the washington post's" dan ball is noting in his piece today that the president's tactics are a nightmare for policy makers. that mr. trump is leaving observers no doubt including his own advisors to wonder what and how he thinks about the issues before him. we've got a panel to break it
down. joining me now is peter alexander, charlie sikes, phil rutger, and shannon pettypiece. great to have everyone with us. peter alexander at the white house, let me begin with you. you were at the south lawn yesterday on a dizzying day between the president's tweet, between the news conference he had. he toned down a little bit on gun reform and other pressing issues. it seems for those here in washington and beyond it's a full scale fight against the democrats and the media to try to keep his base on board over the next 15 months before those elections. >> reporter: there isn't a legislative agenda for the course of the next 15 months. a lot is blaming the culture wars and revving up his base, certainly on the topic of guns. that was one of the questions we pressed the president on yesterday. he did sort of echo, even repeat some of the traditional nra talking points, just a day after
having a private conversation with the nra chief. he said it's not guns that pull the triggers, it's people that pull the trigger of guns. he talked about the mental health issue which remains a crisis. he talked about background checks are even strong, even as he left something for everybody, saying they needed to fill in some of the loopholes that already exist right now. what was striking for me from the president was the anxiety that we've seen, at least in private conversations with some of those close to the president as it relates to the state of the economy with new inferring numbers out, suggesting that the manufacturing market has been contracting for the first time in ten years according to those new numbers. the same president who said during this campaign that i alone can fix it, looking to the sky and saying i'm the chosen one for this trade war with china. saying in effect he's the guy based on his past experience who can get it done. earlier this week, we heard him
say that any short-term problems we'd see, long or short-term problems were irrelevant here. the white house and those close to the president do recognize that the economy is his biggest selling point heading into 2020, which means they also recognize that any issues within the economy, signs of weakness could be significantly problematic. >> gut check this for me. i want to pick up on a word that peter alexander used there, which is anxiety. you know washington certainly better than i do. over the course of the week, the president has created tension with our allies in both denmark, germany, he's about to head over to europe for another g7 summit. he's ruffled feathers by saying russia should become part of the g7 once again. i'm curious to get your thoughts in terms of how oftmuch anxiety there? is this erratic behavior compared to what we've seen before and what are the president's allies saying? >> there is fresh educate over the last week or so and for the
reasons peter just stated, which is the economy. the fears of a potential downturn, even a recession. they're not saying that publicly but when we interview white house officials privately, they do acknowledge this anxiety that's feeding some of the president's erratic behavior this week. as he heads to the g7 that's been a difficult venue for him. it was a year ago at the summit in canada where he threw a starburst at angela merkel and got into a feud with the canadian prime minister, trudeau. we'll see what he does in france. this is not his preferred crowd. he doesn't like to be on equal footing with these allies. he would much rather be talking to kim jong-un, vladmir putin or some of the other leaders he feels he has a relationship with. >> let's focus in on the topic of gun control. the president -- you wrote about this a little bit. seemingly evolving if you want
to use that word. some say back pedaling on the issue of background checks. interestingly enough, there seems to be a little bit of a political calculation here that this, as the president has done previously with other mass shootings, is not really about gun control policy. it's about politics for his base. >> right. and i think what we've seen and the people have perceived it as a back pedaling or flip-flopping back and forth. i think it's the president publicly trying to find a stable politically tenable perch to land on on this issue. i don't think he knows where he wants to be. he has staff in the white house who are trying to figure out on background checks what is a piece of legislation they could get through congress. they are still working to try and revive this toomey/manchin bill from 2013. that wouldn't go as far as democrats would like, but that's something they're pushing forward on. the president has to thread this fine political needle that his pr
predecessors haven't been able to do. he's going to have to pull over if he wants to get past that 40% number. so, you know, in the moderates in the suburbs and the female populations they want to see something on gun control. the second amendment crowd has been so conditioned against anything that would limit gun purchases in any way that that's one of the things that, you know, would they abandon the president over it? probably not. would they be less enthusiastic, possibly. >> we're going to talk more about guns later on in the program. i want to get your thoughts about this. the political calculation for the president, shannon was saying it's energizing his base or trying to broaden his base. now the 2020 conversation that's getting more buzz than we were expecting are, in fact, the potential primary opponents that could pester the president for the rest of the year as we head into the election. let's take a listen to mark sanford. >> i think the more the merrier. if jeff flake gets in and john
kasich gets in, at some point you get to a critical mass of people not just saying oh, it's bill weld and mark sanford, two former governors, what are they doing. if all of a sudden you have a number of different voiceswi an saying what does it mean to be republican these days? might we not talk about things that have been cornerstones to what the republican party was about? >> i want to ask you about this. the comparison between intention and impact. so what mark sanford and others, they may have the intention of trying to go after the president, but the reality is they're not going to have quite an impact. >> yeah, no, look there's no way that donald trump is not going to get the republican nomination. he's going to win republican voters are pretty much all in. however, there are polls suggesting that as many as 40% of republicans are open to the idea of somebody other than donald trump. now you have this array of candidates that's emerging.
you have bill weld whool is appealing to moderates. you have joe walsh who is an in your face tea party republican who is to the right of donald trump. together, what if they were able to get 30%, 35%, 36%, 38% of the vote in new hampshire? does that change the game? does that cause a problem? traditionally, incumbent presidents who face strong primary challenges are weakened for the general election. even though it looks like donald trump is in a dominant position, the fact that you're starting to see this churn is a warning sign. you do wonder whether there are republican voters who will vote for somebody other than president trump. >> yeah, interestingly enough, you have the executive committee of the republican party in south carolina contemplating canceling the primaries in that state intiei enti entirely. you spoke to joe walsh earlier this week i believe. i'm curious to get your thoughts
on what does he think realistically is going to happen with his candidacy in terms of who he can draw on more from president trump's base? >> what he wants to start out doing, what he told me he'd doing is basically have a bar fight every day. those are his words. with the president to punch him in the face to campaign on the issue of morality and character and fundamental fitness for office and go at trump and see what happens. the calculation these candidates are making, frankly, is they're hoping there's an economic downturn or some other political calamity that would weaken trump. they realize that they look at the same numbers we're looking at they realize this is nearly impossible to defeat him. they need an kpexternal event. >> trump will be the nominee unless something completely changed. it could bloody him up, take his attention away from the democrats if he has a challenger to fend off.
maybe money away. damage him and distract him and kick him off a little bit. i think there's a threat, even if there's a slim chance anyone else would be the nominee. >> to phil's point about joe, he feels he can go toe to toe with this president. this town is no stranger to rumors. i want to get your thoughts on this rumor that nikki hailey tweeted out weeks after president trump said that mike pence would his vice president. she said she needs to end false rumors about being on the ticket. you know this town better than i do. i didn't realize this rumor had kind of risen to the surface that it requires to be squashed like this. >> clearly as evidenced by the fact we're talking about it, by writing enough of the force rumors, she forced reporters in the town to address some of the rumors we've heard floating out there, most notably that her name, according to private conversations i've had with nose close to the president, has been, we can say in a
preliminary way, discussed in the recent past as a possible replacement for mike pence on the ticket in 2020. to be clear, after that was suggested to me by multiple individuals close to the president, i heard a lot of pushback from some saying that would be a terrible idea. it was demonstrate disloyalty on behalf of the president. what was striking to me is it was first raised, at least in conversations i had, in reaction to kamala harris' excellent performance in the first democratic debate. remember, she was propelled in the polls there. there was some discussions in trump circles that maybe having a woman, a woman of color on the ticket would help them. the desire would be it would help them with suburban women that the president has seen an erosion of his support among right now. it's unclear why having a woman on the ticket would have any different impact than any of the other women who have worked alongside the president, including nikki haley in the past has had to his behavior.
>> let me get your thoughts on a possible replacement for mike pence with nikki haley and the fact she needed tod address thee rumors. what do you make of this? >> yeah, it is extremely unlikely to happen. first of all, she tweeted out criticism of him recently, we know he has a problem with strong women. also, here's the fundamental reason why i don't think donald trump is going to pick nikki haley. let's say they win and she's the vice president. the vice president is dangerous for donald trump. it's the one person he cannot fire. and the moment that she steps in, she becomes an independent center of power. she becomes the heir apparent. he becomes the lame duck. and perhaps most importantly, you put her in and it blocks the way for the rest of the trump dynasty like president ivanka. >> thank you all very much.
coming up, backing off president trump waffles on background check legislation once again as authorities in california thwart another possible mass shooting plot. you're watching "andrea mitchell reports" only on msnbc. g "andrel reports" only on msnbc nds with s than comparable vanguard funds. and the industry's first true zero expense ratio index funds offered directly to investors. plus, we have fidelity mutual funds with zero minimum investment. how many other firms give you this much value? absolutely zero. ♪ why don't they do what they say ♪ ♪ say what they mean ♪ oh, baby, one thing leads to another ♪ it made hered my mom feel proud.esults,
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and if someone trys we'll let you know. xfi advanced security. if it's connected, it's protected. call, click, or visit a store today. as the gun control battle escalates in washington, the threat of another mass shooting is spreading across the country. california, police have arrested a hotel employee who they say
planned to shoot hotel guests and co-workers, uncovering a massive arsenal of guns found inside the employee's home. nbc's pete williams has more on this story. >> reporter: police say a warning from a fellow employee prevented what could have been a workplace shooting at this hotel nearby the long beach airport. a man told a co-worker he planned today shoot everyone at the hotel. when police searched the man's house, police say they found several guns, including an assault rifle and high capacity magazines, both illegal in california. they also found hundreds of rounds of ammunition. >> suspect montoya had clear plans, intent and the means to carry out an act of violence that may have resulted in a mass casualty incident. >> reporter: police swarmed to the hotel monday when they got the warning, but montoya wasn't
there. they got a search warrant and found him at home where he was arrested without incident. >> joining me now is democratic congressman eric swalwell, maybe of the house judiciary committee. great to have you with us. we're talking about the threat of another possible mass shooting in this country. my colleague, shannon pettypiece reports that white house aides are trying to determine the specifics of a policy that president trump could possibly get behind that would actually have a shot at passing congress. white house aides i believe met on tuesday with staffers for democratic members of your committee about purchasing legislation. what is the likelihood, sir, that any kind of legislation would make it through mitch mcconnell and senate republicans? >> i'm afraid we can't count on the president or mitch mcconnell. both who have continued to side with the nra, an organization who continues to arm school shooters with their policies. and so we have to just continue to make progress at the ballot
box and count on the moms and the students and organizations to march on washington and get legislators like cory gardner and susan collins and martha mcsally who are up for reelection to put pressure on their majority leader, otherwise we won't see action. i want to say, credit to law enforcement for what they did in long beach. if we don't do more to limit what kinds of weapons can be put into our communities, we're going to have to just hope through a stroke of luck and somebody doing the right thing we can prevent these shootings. i don't think that's going to stop every person from getting through. >> not to sound pessimistic, but it sounds like what you're seeing we have to do as a country collectively is wait for another election cycle and you and i both know the statistics don't favor those law enforcement officials in preventing every single mass shooting that's going to happen. >> that's right. and actually, we should also i think acknowledge the progress that's been made in that after parkland, you saw this
convergence of all these gun safety groups. they came together, they beat 18 nra endorsed members of congress. we passed background checks in the first 100 days in the new house of representatives. and so we should believe that we can make change at the ballot box. i want to change my colleagues to see an opportunity here. the nra is on the ropes. the public is behind us in a big way. 62% want an assault weapons ban. when they say ban, they don't mean a future ban, meaning banning future manufacturing and sales and leave 15 million weapons in our community. they expect your going to ban and get those weapons off the street now. i think we should lean forward and prevent the next mass shooting by getting rid of assault weapons and don't grandfather in a single one of them. otherwise we won't be any safer. >> let me talk about your colleagues, jerry nadler announced the committee will take up a measure on the red flag law. not everyone in the democratic
party is behind that 100%. the president has been in talks with senators about potential gun control legislation and assisting states with implementing their own red flag laws. what are you hoping the committee actually gets done? >> credit to our chairman. we're going to be having a hearing, marking up legislation on red flag laws, high capacity magazine bans as well limiting more people who can buy firearms if they have a hate crime conviction in their past. my fear though if the president is only going to support red flag laws is this, one that's not enough. if you don't limit what types of weapons are made, you don't know more about who is buying them, you don't give law enforcement more ways to intervene when there are incidents, you're putting a lot on law enforcement. i have two brothers who are police officers. i would hate if we allow these weapons to be in the communities and the only way to protect people is to send law enforcement into dangerous homes and expect that going to put their lives at risk, that's not
a good way to defend the community. coming up, the electability argument. candidates debate whether to support the candidate they like best or the one that could defeat president trump. e one thd defeat president trump liberty mutual customizes your car insurance, so you only pay for what you need. i wish i could shake your hand. granted. only pay for what you need. ♪ liberty. liberty. liberty. liberty. ♪ the business of road trips... ...adventure... ...and reconnecting. modernized comfort inn's and suites have been refreshed because our business is you. get the lowest price guaranteed on all choice hotels when you book direct at choicehotels.com.
i believe we are going to have a candidate to fight this battle. i'm inspired by the people i met across the country. the climate strikers. these people give me confidence we can move ahead. i'm not going to be carrying the ball but we'll make sure somebody is. >> the democratic presidential field is a little less crowded today as jay inslee announced he's dropping out of the race. moments ago, inslee announcing he's running for a third term as governor of the state of washington. this as the party debates the most important quality for its nominee. is it electability or enthusiasm? >> joining me now is joel payne a former director in the 2016 clinton presidential campaign and sam stein, politics editor at the daily beast and msnbc
contributor. let me begin with you and the news involving jay inslee there. he was popular with young voters. he got 130,000 donors, although he wasn't polling nationally above 2%. what are we seeing with single issue candidates in this race? >> i think what's happening right now is not so much to do with jay inslee himself or any of the candidates who haven't gained that much traction. i think you're seeing the democratic voters kind of start to coalesce if not around specific candidates, around buckets of candidates. you've got a whole group of folks, about 30% who are with joe biden. then you've got this divide, the other major camp between the warren and sanders voters. then everybody else is kind of not so sure i think what they're after. there is a main split between the democrats. if you're one of the other candidates, it's difficult to
figure out where you fit in and find your voters. who are you competing for? this is something that kamala harris is struggling with right now. you know, you're not really quite as liberal as bernie sanders and elizabeth warren, so it's hard to compete for those voters. and then you have joe biden, who is really snatched up a lot of the more moderate establishment democrats. now it's getting harder and harder for those candidates who aren't in the top tier to kind of make their case. >> so to that point, let's talk about electability. i want to play this sound bite from the biden camp. it seems like that's their mantra, at least for this week. watch. >> there are a lot of really good people, qualified people. but the things -- i don't know if anybody's negotiated internationally like i have. they may be and they may rise to the occasion. i'm not suggesting they're not. they're really good people. but i think at this moment in time, i'm the most qualified person to do it. >> all right. so is that argument enough?
i feel like the biden camp is playing electability selectively here. they don't seem to be going all in for a big policy or, you know, some kind of position. they're playing it safe with electability which some have said it's a scare tactic. >> seems like they're being ham handed about it. they hit you over the head with this ad they dropped in iowa where they didn't show a farmer or anatything related to iowa a then they talked about how electable he was. then they had his wife talk about how the electability element is what they should focus on. it's working for them now. wea they've started to see cracks in the foundation in terms of how people are thing about biden as the most electability candidate which is his strongest argument. he hasn't demonstrated himself
well at the debates. he appellahasn't put out a poli that's ben received so well. >> what if he loses after iowa? does that change the entire calculus? >> the entire race changes after iowa. at that point, voters in other states start to parrot what they're seeing. we're talking about the electability thing. really, it's what are my neighbors going to do? what are the people who live around me going to decide based on the veavailable pool of candidates? i think other states will follow suit. >> to that point, speaking of iowa, cory booker who has not held back his punches against joe biden saying our next candidate should not be somebody who is a safe bet. he caught up with my colleague garrett haake, take a listen to this. >> most competent to beat donald trump, is that a miss? >> because this far out in every election since before carter we
have never had someone leading in the polls this far out that went on to be the president of the united states. carter, bill clinton, barack obama, all considered underdogs at this point. do you know what they could do? they could speak to the american spirit. they could excite and energize people. get crowds on their feet. we need a candidate that's not the safe bet. woo they need to speak to the heart and the gut. >> is senator cory booker right? is he right that going for it -- because they're going up against a candidate like president trump, probably one that none of those candidates had ever gone up against historically. is he right? do you go with a safe bet or not? >> i have no idea. >> is it a smart strategy? >> i have no idea. we'll find out. there's two schools of thought here. right? one is -- let's go back to hillary clinton. two schools of thought on why she lost. one is she was unable to persuade the suburban voters to ditch their affiliation to the republican party. the other is she was unable to
get the base excited for her candidacy. when you saw the margins in detroit, milwaukee, pennsylvania, did not come in for her the way they should have traditionally. what cory is sdodoing is saying we've got to get people excited. safe bet doesn't get people excited. we tried this in 2016. it didn't work with us. all i'll say is this about electability. what does it actually mean? it's in the eye of the beholder. you can make the case that he brings the best resume, he has not shown he's up to the task. but i do think -- we were talking off set. in the end it disadvantages candidates who are minorities or women. in part because we just never envision them, except for barack obama, as president. so we have difficulty understanding how they could get elected. also in part because polling data shows that democrats blame http: hillary clinton's loss on her gender and they're worried about
nominating another woman to go against donald trump. we have to take that into consideration. >> thank you all very much. coming up, under threat, the trump administration makes it more difficult for migrant families to claim asylum. you're watching "andrea mitchell reports" only on msnbc. ndrea mil reports" only on msnbc so, every day, we put our latest technology and unrivaled network to work. the united states postal service makes more e-commerce deliveries to homes than anyone else in the country.
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the border, one democratic senator is making new claims about those efforts. senator jeff merkley tweeted out that i have learned the trump administration is suspending all asylum claims. there are over 40,000 cases pending in those offices. the acting director of u.s. citizenship and immigration services fired back, calling his claims false, but then added that, indeed, some asylum wo workers are being sent to the border. let's bring in barbara mcquaid and julia ainsley. what more do we know about what senator merkley tweeted out? >> i have the letter that he got that shows that there were immigration lawyers working on asylum cases who got a letter that said everything's on hold. we can't process your request because our officers are off doing other things.
what they're doing is processing credible fear claims, the initial asylum interview at the border. not people who are applying internally. they're like trying to become a refugee while you're inside the united states. meanwhile, the head of the agency has said it's not everybody. but the fact is it's some people. and a lot of people have looked at steven miller's rhetoric in the past and he's wanted to kind of pull apart the system, make it harder to get asylum. so anytime you see a reshuffling you have to ask about the intention. is there a reason why these people are being delayed and denied? >> let me put it in this context for a moment. it's flores fix day. confirming the administration is moving to defy the decades' old agreement preventing families from being detained for more than 20 days. the question becomes a little
bit to what you were suggesting, is there a strategy here, or is this about immigration. undoubtedly, this will be challenged legally. the flores agreement is simply an agreement. it's not law, it's not beeindin but it will be legally challenged. >> it will be legally challenged and logistically challenged too because they can't hold everyone. you're sending a message to that person who is coming over from a place where they're coming in by plane, coming in at the border, you're making it harder to claim asylum and live legally as an immigrant in this country. it's something that -- with the flores challenge does as well. even if you're only able to hold a few families and send them back or send this message to the headlines, they're trying to tell families and asylum seekers not to come here. it gets into reporting we had yesterday that they have another executive order where they want to allow states and cities to be able to say no to taking in
refugees. it's a big you're not welcome here sign. and all of these things gradually make it a little harder to get those rights. >> to that point, what are the legal implications of the administration's new asylum rules here? >> well, there are limitations on what the administration can do unilaterally based on what congress has passed and also international law. there's the convention on refugees as well as federal legislation that says that any alien, is the term that's used in the statute, can claim asylum and their application -- they get a hearing within 45 days and a decision within 180 days. if they're shutting down austin and the northeast to push resources down to the southwest border, that's fine. but they still have to find a way to comply with those practical rules. same with the flores decision. they cannot unilaterally take what they agreed to in 1997 and pass a regulation that says we're going to do it a defer way
now. you can only detain children for 20 days. they can't now pass their own regulation to say that they can detain children indefinitely. they'll get a legal challenge to that. and i don't see how the result of that is different from what was agreed to in the flores decision. >> let me ask you about another aspect of the president's proposals that he's contemplating according to reports. he's looking at birthright citizenship. despite the fact it's enshrined in the 14th amendment of the constitution that guarantees anyone born on american soil becoming an american citizen. if this moves forward with this administration, it would seem that it would be legally challenged and certainly at odds with the supreme court and its precedent on this subject. >> yeah, you know, it's a very clearly not permissible. the president can't change it unilaterally. even an act of congress can't change it . you'd have to amend the constitution to change that rule. no doubt white house counsel and
others whose advise the president have made him aware of it. what is the point of advocating for such a rule knowing it will come up short? i see this more as political propaganda. >> that's certainly something that should not be lost as we get into the heat of the 2020 cycle. thank you both as always. coming up, rain forests ravaged. tens of thousands of fires raging across the amazon rainforest destroying what climetisclim scientists call the world's lungs. coming up on andrea mitchell, only on msnbc. ll, only on msnbc. and the 12-hour pain-relieving strength of aleve that dares to last into the morning. so you feel refreshed. aleve pm. there's a better choice. this is anne marie peebles her saturday movie marathons are a never-ending montage of comfort. [where have you been all my life?] namaste? namaste right here on the couch.
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fires tearing through central brazil and the amazon rainforest region destroying thousands of miles of forest cover and polluting air far away. take a look at this stunning video showing sao paolo. the infernoes are putting the air we breathe in jeopardy and the planet in peril. ann thompson has more. >> reporter: this is brazil's dry season when wildfires dot the amazon. but not like this.
three weeks of raging fires setting off alarm bells around the world. there's so much smoke satellites captured it from space. smoke has been pushed into cities more than a thousand miles away. brazil's space agency reporting almost 73,000 fires since january. an 83% increase over last year. who why the rise? human activity is suspected. development encouraged by brazil's president. >> the impact is devastating. it's dedestroyistroying ecosyst worsening climate change. >> reporter: the amazon is the planet's biggest tropical forest. it absorbed carbon dioxide,i an released 20% of the world's oxygen. the chief of this rainforest
tribe fears if the land is not preserved, it will all disappear. a vital natural wonder going up in smoke. >> a scary thought. ann thompson joins me now. the video that we just played there devastating and scary at the same time. as you mention in your piece, the fires have been raging for three weeks. walk us through what, if any, international effort is being undertaken to try to stop it. why did it take so long for the international community do you think to draw attention to this? >> not much is being done to stop these fires. most of these fires are set by people. in fact, i was talking to doug morton at nasa today and he was saying when they look at the satellite images they see where the fires are. it's on the edge of the rain forest. what they believe is that farmers and ranchers are burning the rain forest in order to clear more land so they can farm it and they can raise cattle. as a result, these are very localized fires. it depends on local efforts.
brazil's president today said that they just don't have the resources to stop the fires. >> we know without stopping the fires we're putting our planet at risk. anne thompson, thank you very much. and coming up, deadly year. two u.s. service members killed in afghanistan wednesday as president trump struggles to find a way out of this country's longest war. you're watching "andrea mitchell reports" only on msnbc. so you only pay for what you need. nice. but, uh... what's up with your... partner? not again. limu that's your reflection. only pay for what you need. ♪ liberty, liberty, liberty, liberty ♪ repair the enamel on a daily basis. with the new pronamel repair toothpaste more minerals enter deep into the enamel surface. you have an opportunity to repair what's already been damaged. it 's amazing. for adults with moderately to severely active crohn's disease,
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2019 is now the deadliest year for american troops serving in afghanistan. in five years the deaths of two service members on wednesday bringing the total number to 14. it is a painful reminder of the persistent dangers our troops face in america's longest war. we have the founding executive editor joining us now. good to have you with us. this is a troubling trend. the year amidst all the talks of the united states pulling out, peace talks with the taliban that we're seeing this spike in deaths to american service members. could this change the calculus? >> it could. it is a reminder the war is still going on and the taliban is still fighting. i know the criticism of that is how could you, how could the u.s. and trump negotiate with a group still fighting the u.s. when you talk to the american military commanders the way they think about it historically you don't stop fighting and then start negotiating in peace. you keep fighting until that peace is negotiated.
so they expect that. they also expect that the u.s. has to negotiate with the taliban and come to some conclusion. it's other groups, al qaeda, a little bit of isis which is a bit over blown at this moment, the old haqqani network out of pakistan still there trying to stake any claim they can to power to whatever the results of these talks are going to produce. >> there are terrorist organizations in several countries, yemen, syria, libya, somalia, all of them with similar intent to want to attack the united states but we don't have thousands of troops in those countries. why would you make the argument you have to stay in afghanistan to have troops there? >> we don't have thousands of troops in those countries but we have troops in all of those countries. the u.s. is at war all over the place against terrorist groups. one reason for afghanistan is simple geography. i tell people, look, the difference between afghanistan and places like those you mentioned in the middle east, the united states doesn't have bases from which to launch operations from. somalia is just down the road from a major special operations
headquarters where you can fly by helicopter, osprey, and then conduct these operations and have drone operations. less so across the vastness of africa. in afghanistan you need a base to jump off from. the question will be just how many troops do you need for those operations? "the post" and other newspapers sh reported a proposal to put 5,000 troops be pulled out of 14,000 total which would mean there would be fewer troops in afghanistan than at the air base in qatar. one air base that has to do intelligence fights for the entryer central command region. >> in 2001 it was the taliban and al qaeda we went after and tried to destroy both, certainly weakened al qaeda. taliban still very much exists. what is to say if we have a peace agreement with the taliban that the taliban once america is out is not going to try to partner up once again and allow for the presence of another terrorist organization? not in a formal alliance but
just allow them to use the land the way al qaeda did in 2001 and prior to that? >> nothing. nothing guarantees that. i think the administration knows that. >> is the u.s. realistically going to ask the taliban, hey, we'll cut a deal but no isis or al qaeda in your presence and expect the taliban to fulfill that? >> trust but verify, right? there has to be a mechanism. if it doesn't happen then the u.s. can come right back in and do what it has to do but the worry is that once you pull out capabilities that takes a lot of time and time to bring them back in. it is not just a question of dropping in trigger pullers who can kick down doors and go after leadership of these organizations. all of those things require air assets and intelligence and overflight and man power. there is a reason why we have a large base like bagram air base for example outside of kabul to do these operations. you can't just pull and take with forces. it's not exactly the number that matters as much as the capability within them.
>> what are your sources telling you in terms of the possible pushback against the president's political desire to get out of afghanistan and what do they want to see happen given what we saw unfold between his former defense secretary jim mattis on the topic of security? >> clearly we've seen trump meet the realities of his campaign rhetoric in every instance of u.s. military intervention abroad. it was very popular for him to say i'm going to pull troops home and get out of these wars. just this week from the white house he disparaged afghanistan as a police action and said the military is a police force and shouldn't be a police force. on friday the army announced the latest round of deployments, the third security force assistant brigade, the aviation brigade are being sent back in, thousands of troops being rotated in on trump's order as he publicly says this is a bad war, a bad mission. and we shouldn't be doing this kind of thing. it is the generals like the new incoming joint chiefs chairman are the ones who are probably going to check those desires and give him a dose of reality.
>> kevin baron, always appreciate your insight. thanks for joining us. that does it for this edition of "andrea mitchell reports." andrea will be back tomorrow. follow the show online on facebook and twitter @mitchellreports. here is ali velshi from new york. >> that was an astute question you asked kevin baron about if the taliban is resurge ent what does that actually mean? the taliban set the stage for the entry of terrorists basically. an interesting question i'll pursue as well. coming up this hour on "velshi and ruhle" the candidate pool in the race for the white house just got smaller. what it means that governor jay inslee is out. who is now taking the lead on climate change? we'll break down senator sanders' new plan. plus america had half a million fewer jobs last year than we thought they did. what that tells us about the