tv Andrea Mitchell Reports MSNBC August 29, 2019 9:00am-10:00am PDT
that wraps up this hour of "msnbc live." i'll see you tomorrow morning on today. "andrea mitchell reports" starts right now. thank you, craig melvin. right now, the comey report. the department of justice inspector general finding that former fbi director james comey violated policy of his handling of private memos about president trump, but says he should not be prosecuted. >> the inspector general is saying the release of sensitive information was not in his best conduct as director, but the justice department ultimately decided because it was not classified that was not prosecutable offense. tracking dorian.
the storm sweeps by puerto rico, and turning towards florida. it's expected to make landfall over the holiday weekend as a category 4 hurricane. >> we're talking about four to eight inches of rain along the eastern florida coast, but we could see upwards of 12 inches of rain. this is going to be a very dangerous situation. unbearable. could the national zoo's beloved pandas on loan from china get tangled in the president's trade and tariff war with beijing? >> the giant pandas are our most popular animal. >> i really like the color and how they're so enthusiastic. good day, i'm andrea mitchell in washington. the feud between president trump and james comey reignited today after the justice department's inspector general released the result, sharply criticizing the
fired fbi director for leaking one unclassified memo to the "new york times" through a friend, and retaining other memos in a home safe without prior approval. however, the inspector general did not find any criminal behavior or recommend prosecution. the report does say, quote, former director comey failed to live up to this responsibility by not safeguarding sensitive information obtained during the course of his fbi employment and by using it create public pressure for official action. he set a dangerous example for the over 35,000 current fbi employees and the many thousands more former fbi employees who similarly have access to or knowledge of non-public information. comey tweeting his reaction today, writing to all those who spent two years talking about me going to jail or being a liar and a leaker, ask yourselves why you still trust people who gave you bad info for so long, including the president? joining me now peter alexander, barbara mcquaid, and julia
ainsley. julia, you spent the last few hours reading this whole report. basically, it clears comey of wrongdoing. >> the inspector general referred it to the justice department and they say the justice department declined to prosecute. there was no prosecution because the information was not sensitive. he said he brought home information and kept it in his personal safe. at this point, he was not the director anymore. he wanted to bring this with him. and what they get to is his intention. they try to counter what comey told them, the inspector general investigators, in the interview. he felt he had to do this for love of country. they say here on page 57 it was an attempt to force the department to take official investigative action. so they think that his intentions here were not here. they say he had number of different routes he could have
taken. he could have gone to the inspector general, there are a number of places he could have gone with the information except for the media. you and i both know that confidential information or sensitive information is not classified and is passed in washington every day. >> and also, he was facing a situation -- just to explain -- the president of the united states was the antagonist here. he felt, according to part of this report, this involved the information that he did pass to the "new york times." it involved that critical meeting with the president over michael flynn over the president pressuring him to protect flynn from potential involvement with russia. >> he said i hope you can let this whole thing go. >> who is he going to turn to, someone else who would be pressured? >> good point. he did not leak every memo. there were other memos did withhold because he thought they were too sensitive. he says it was of incredible importance to the nation as a
whole and that that is why he gave that information over. >> of course, peter alexander already those who support the president, not the president himself as far as i know has not tweeted about this and was on the radio today with fox radio. that was before this came out. we've certainly heard from jim jordan, the lead republican on house judiciary saying this proved that comey was a bad guy. >> similar point being echoed by one of the president's own allies on capitol hill, lindsey graham. an official tweeting a short time ago that every american should thank donald trump for getting rid of, what he describes as the cancer on our democracy that was fbi director james comey. what's striking is you think about the relationship between comey and the president is it's really that relationship that was one of the key dominos as it related to the mueller investigation. remember that conversation between the president and lester holt when the president talked
about the reasons for his firing comey. he said he was thinking about this russia thing at the time over the course over the last several years. the president attacked james comey as a liar and a leaker. on at least ten occasions he accused comey of leaking classified information. the ig report says there's no evidence this pertained to any classified information. some of the past president, president obama's own allies, officials there note the context for all this, which is the fact the president himself disclosed classified information in the oval office. he talked about a military strike in front of guests in his property. he even took vladmir putin's word over the word of his own intelligence community. they're all trying to suggest, hey, if we're going to talk about wrongdoing as it were, that most eyes should be focused on president trump. >> legally, their argument would
be legally he's able to declassify anything he wants. but of course it created a big stir with the allies, not just the brits but certainly the israelis who were the holders of that very secret information that was disclosed to the russians of all people. barbara mcquaid, jim comey was keeping those memos that were not classified memos but had sensitive information. he was preparing for congressional testimony he knew was coming and for talking to his own lawyers. yes, the ig says it violated procedures, did not have prior approval. but your take on bringing home that kind of information and keeping it in your home safe. >> i think it's no surprise that he was not charged criminally with disclosing these documents or retaining these documents because you have to show that you intended to harm the national security of the united states. what he said is that he always thought of these as his personal
memorialization of his conversations with president trump. this is very different from having secret documents with the nuclear codes you disclose to a reporter. this was his best recollection recorded at the time of his conversations with president trump that he can't because he was so deeply concerned about the nature of those conversations. requesting a loyalty pledge and he wanted to have a record of what happened, when it happened, so that if you were asked about it later, which he believed was inevitable he'd have an account of that. he technically according to this report violated the rules by keeping the documents by sharing them with reporters and by not returning them. they were classified after the fact. to prove any sort of a crime you'd have to show what he did was willful and knowing. he disclosed them and wrote them at a time before they were classified. so i think the outcome here is not surprising. >> very briefly, also that
meeting and what the president said to him about flynn was a key factor in deciding whether or not there was an obstruction of justice. >> comey himself said that the reason he wrote these and released these was because he didn't want these allegations to die behind closed doors. he wanted to get them out into the public square so that there could be some sort of investigation, even appointment of a special counsel. the inspector general says it was wrong for him to disclose this information for purposes of -- causing official action to occur. but when someone has this kind of information, they want -- i think there's health in a democracy in bringing it forward. either to the inspector general or to the congress. what comey did here in bringing it public i think is something we can and should debate about whether a public official has that authority to do that. >> barbara mcquaid, thank you so much. peter alexander, great to see
you, and of course, julia lanes, thanks to all. senator chris murphy is a member of the foreign relations committee and joins me now. thank you very much. i want to talk to you about what happened between you and russia. i want to ask you to any reaction from the ig report from the justice department? >> i haven't read the report. i've seen some of the reporting. my perspective is simple. thank goodness that james comey kept records of these conversations with the president of the united states. these are conversations related to obstruction of justice by the president that may end up being part of criminal proceedings after the president leaves office and are of interest to all americans who want to make sure that the highest levels of government are being held accountable. so i think that we're better off as a nation for james comey having kept these memos. i think they'll be important well after the administration wraps up. >> and of course, the subject of
russia front and center with you. remember the foreign relations committee. you and ron johnson, who were going on a trip to russia were denied visas by russia because of your past criticisms, apparently. tell me about this because is the rest of the congressional delegation going now without you? do you think they should not go because you have been denied entry? >> so, the delegation was rather small. it was myself, senator johnson and senator mike lee of utah. senator lee was not denied a visa and he is going to continue along with the trip. i support him in that. i think it's important for members of the senate, especially members of the foreign relations committee to be having conversations with the russian government, russian slaur slai legislatures. i have been a critic of ukraine. i sponsored sanctions against the russia government.
you need to talk to your adversieadve adversaries. i'm discouraged the russian government doesn't want to talk to the congress. i think that's bad for the security of the world if we're not able to have discussions, especially when the discussions that are happening between the trump administration and the putin regime don't seem to be terribly functional discussions. >> and very one sided in fact. let's talk about the g 7, g 8 controversy. the president so isolated where he's the only one who is arguing for russia to be reinvited. he's open to the suggestion, of -- as the host next year inviting vladmir putin in the election year when we're worried about russia's interference in our elections, inviting putin we assume to doral in miami. >> i don't think it's an absurd
proposition to talk about bringing russia back into the g 8. it's important to have a global player, presence like russia at the table instead looking in. you can't do it without preconditions. the reason we kicked them out of the g 8 is because they invaded ukraine. they have not withdrawn their forces. in order for them to get back in they need to make progress, the future status of a sovereign ukraine. but we also have news today suggesting that the trump administration may be considering cutting off or suspending security aid to ukraine, which would be an absolute gift to the the russians. the announcement coming right at the beginning of the tenure of new ukrainian president undercuts him in his efforts to try to push back against russian aggression. you see gift after gift being handl handed to the russians which
continues to make us scratch our heads as to what is driving this bizarre policy. unorthodox, bad for american security towards russia. >> have you confirmed that the administration is going to try to block that arms delivery to ukraine? >> i have not. what we know is that the administration has been in the business as of the last few weeks of trying to suspend and hold back foreign aid funding. and this may be an element of that broader voreview. i have not confirmed they have stopped security aid. if they had, it's a chilling signal to send to a new ukrainian government that wants to be partners with the united states. i would add there have been reports of emissaries of the president's political operation going to ukraine and asking the ukrainians to investigate the president's political opponents. namely vice president joe biden.
i'm hoping that this suspension to ukraine is not connected to the ukrainian's unwillingness to be operatives. >> i want to quickly ask you, also, about guns. you as -- obviously the senator from connecticut have been such a proponent for action. the president keeps pointing to mental health issues. it's not -- it's people who pull the trigger, it's not the gun. are you getting encouragement from white house staff he's willing when you all come back to do something about background checks or other gun measures? is he going to revert back to the nra mantra? >> the president and i had a conversation some weeks ago in which he expressed his desire to pass a meaningful background check reform bill.
i read that to mean one that would not be supported by the nra and the gun lobby. we are in discussions with the white house about that, significant changes to our background check systems to make sure that more gun sales are subject to background checks. the white house is at the table. i see a path forward to getting something for the senate that could pass. it can only pass the senate if the president supports it. so, you know, ask me in a couple weeks as to whether the president's interest is sincere. >> keep us apprised. thank you very much. and coming up, state of emergency. hurricane dorian leaving puerto rico largely unscathed, thank goodness, but it's barrelling towards the coast of florida. what does this mean for one of the busiest travel weekends in the year? you're watching "andrea mitchell reports" on msnbc. stay with us. so, every day,
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hurricane dorian tearing through the caribbean on a direct path now toward the florida coast where it could make landfall as a category 4 hurricane. dorian is currently a category 1 storm, hitting the virgin islands before shifting northwest. by-passing a direct hit on puerto rico. the questions now for millions of residents and labor day travelers, where and how strong will it be when it hits
florida's 500 mile coastline. michelle, tell us what you're hearing from the 11:00 latest update on the model. >> reporter: hi there, it was not good news. we saw another increase in the projection of where we think it's going to land. category 4 storm, that's the protection we'll watch the next several days. it seems like with every update we get stronger and stronger. we're looking at dorian north of the virgin islands, also puerto rico. we're seeing leftover showers in the islands and also puerto rico. this is what we're looking at in terms of the latest stats as of 11:00. the next one comes out at 2:00. category 1 storm, 220 miles north northwest of san juan, puerto rico. winds at 85 miles per hour. keep in mind, just on monday, we expected this to stay a tropical storm all the way through maybe even fizzle out as it went over a land mass. that's changed drastically. it's changed the entire story.
moving to the northwest at 13 miles per hour. moving very fast but it will slow down as it gets closer to the u.s. coast and also the bahamas. that's not good news. we're expecting a lot of rain and once it slows downs, it gives it the chance to drop even more rain. he see the projection as we track dorian. friday by 8:00, a category 3 storm. saturday, still category 3. sunday 8:00 a.m. 130 mile per hour winds. it's over the open waters of the caribbean, grabbing that fuel and becoming stronger and stronger. so if you're in the northwestern bahamas you want to prepare now. we have three or four days to get prepared. you want to have your plan intact right now. evacuation plans. same thing for the coast of florida. it will be near the coast of florida later on this weekend into the labor day. we're looking at a category 4 storm. the cone is very uncertain at
this point. we're going to have a better handle on it as early as tomorrow morning. it's a broad cone of uncertainty. but somewhere in florida, this will land. it will go across the state. maybe even emerge into the gulf of mexico. we'll watch this closely over the next several days. >> thank you very much. cathy, you're down there. what are people doing to prepare? there must be a great deal of ner nervousness for a storm this big. >> reporter: andrea, good afternoon to you. if you take a look at the scenery behind me, hard to believe that we might be in the direct path of a major hurricane. many floridians are well aware of -- because of the past hurricanes, the path of destruction hurricanes can leave behind. they're listening to the governor. a lot of folks are preparing. while there is a bit of a lull
right now. the weather has been relatively comfortable and mild and favorable. over, you know, in the suburbs a lot of folks are stacking up on hurricane supplies. we're told there are long lines at grocery stores as people are stocking up with water and food. about 30 minutes from where we are is the kennedy space center. teams are bracing for this storm and making sure that their very expensive equipment stays safe during the height of this storm. but back here on the beach, you'll notice it's pretty quiet right now. we're told during the labor day holiday it would be packed. that's bad news for rotells, restaurants, businesses in this area. they're taking a direct hit from this hurricane. folks are leaving. and they want to be in a safer area and making sure that they're able to be in a better area before the storm hits. andrea? >> thanks to you, michelle and
cathy down there in florida. thanks it oo both. coming up, turning back time. the epa rolling back methane gas regulations established by the obama administration. the potential effect on climate change coming up here. we have ann thompson and a direct report from the white house as well. double-checking. know what i mean? so, i switched. to always discreet boutique. its shape-hugging elastic threads smooth out the area that people notice most. so it fits better than depend. and, the super absorbent core turns liquid to gel. so i get secure protection, in a fit that no one notices. always protected. always discreet.
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the trump administration is taking another major step today to reverse president obama's climate change initiatives. the epa announcing it will loosen federal rules on methane, a powerful greenhouse gas and a contributor to global warming. the new rule would roll back the obama administration's requirement that oil and gas companies install technologies to fix methane leaks from wells, pipelines and storage facilities. the move has been opposed by several major energy companies, and it's supported by other leaders. to sort this out, joining me is ann thompson and jeff mason. welcome both. ann, what is the advantage here from the administration's perspective? what is the justification for rolling back this methane fix?
>> reporter: it's about saving the oil and gas industry money. by rolling back these regulations, it will save the oil and gas industry anywhere from $17 million to $19 million a year, as much as $123 million by 2025. but it admits that it will add more methane into our atmosphere. as much as 370,000 short tons of methane. that's like keeping 1.8 million passenger cars on the road for a year. my question to the epa when they had their press conference today is how in the world does this protect the environment? and what the official on the call said is that they are not withdrawing the regulations around something called volatile organic calm pounds, v.o.c.s. she claims that by regulating
v.o.c.s it helps regulate methane. they admit it will put more methane into the atmosphere. that's bad for climate change because methane is a much more powerful greenhouse gas. 80 to 84 times more powerful than carbon dioxide because of the way it traps heat and warms our world. >> you know, jeff mason, the president is just back from a g7 meeting where -- you were there -- he didn't attend the meeting on climate change. he pulled out of the paris accords. he's not only being a leader on this, he's leading a complete reversal just as we're being told about the military, by health officials that global warming really is a national security issue, a public health issue. and imminently dangerous. >> reporter: absolutely. coming at the same time that
there are major fires in the amazon and brazil and watching the glaciers melt in the arctic. it comes at a time when the evidence of climate change is more apparent. this president has been working towards pulling the united states out of the paris agreement and doing other things to prevent additional action against climate change. i think, andrea, in some ways his base is happy to see. looking at this from a political lens, it may give impetus to democrats and to people on the left, millenials in particular who care about this issue going into 2020. >> and, ann, we've already seen -- you know this from covering epa, scientists have quit or been forced out. at the interior you have a lobbyists protecting our parks, or not protecting our parks.
at the state department, the intelligence official who was supposed to brief congress annually quit because his report was censored. intelligence report from the state department. i don't know who is briefing you today from epa, but the scientific panels that would have done this in the past are no longer there. >> reporter: it's not about science, it's about politics and following through on the president's promise to reduce what he considers burdensome regulation. here's something the president might understand. it's why you see the split in the oil and gas industry over rolling back these regulations. big producers like bp and royal dutch shell actually want limits on methane emissions. because methane is part of natural gas and natural gas is branded as the cleaner fuel. cleaner than coal when it burn . if you have these methane leaks
natural gas isn'to clea so clea. that may be something, that branding issue may be a way to get to the president. >> thank you so much. ann thompson. candid conversation. jim mattis speaking out for the first time since resigning in protest from the trump cabinet. we'll talk to him next on "andrea mitchell reports," on msnbc. take prilosec otc and take control of heartburn.
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former defense secretary general retired general james mattis is breaking his silence about his resignation last december. in his first interview since leaving office he talks to jeffrey goldberg of the atlantic saying he had no choice but to leave. mattis has been careful not to speak out since, telling goldberg, quote, if you leave an administration you owe some silence. when you leave a silence over clear policy differences, you need to give the people who are still there as much opportunity as possible to defend the country. i may not like a commander in chief one fricking bit. and to further weaken him when you're up against real threats we can be at war on the korean peninsula every time they launch something. joining me now is jeffrey goldberg, the editor in chief of the atlantic. this must be have been so
fascinating and so frustrating because he's written a book on leadership. he wants to stick to his book, speaking about his book. as you pointed ourt, everyone wants to know what is it about this commander in chief? don't you have a responsibility to tell people before an election whether he's solid enough to be the leader of the free world. >> right. right. he does. i think it's deeper than just wanting to get the book out about leadership without having a million questions about his term in office. but, i mean, because general officers do feel that it's not appropriate for them to go against a sitting president. on the other hand he told me his silence is not going to be eternal. doesn't last forever. you and i both know or can surmise how he feels about this president. he did quit in protest over a
policy difference. so i did push him on this question. when are you going to push him on this issue? when he says to me it won't be forever, i'm assuming that means that sometimes before november 3rd, 2020, he'll give you a fuller understanding of the president. >> he says to you that that's why his letter of resignation is in the book. you had no choice but to leave, that's why the letter is in the book. i've been informed by four decades of experience and i couldn't connect the dots anymore. you were reporting from talking to others, is in that final meeting where he went to the president, we all knew that this was a foot i know from some of his former colleagues at nato who were with him that week. how tense it was during that day when the president announced
this withdrawal from syria. he felt it was abandoning our allies whom we were training on the ground. he said to the president finally when he couldn't talk them out of it, you're going to have to get the next secretary of defense to lose to isis. i'm not going to do it. and then that extraordinary letter of resignation which the president i don't think initially understood or read closely. tell me about that. >> it's iinteresting. there's two things, one is that look, he's a war fighter. he doesn't want to lose to anybody. but there's something even deeper possibly than that, which is, you know, we all know his loyalty to allies. he believes in alliances. he believes you know, when you're going to a gunfight, bring all the guns. that's his expression. and so he felt that the precipitous abandonment -- which was later reversed -- of allies on the ground, leaving men in the field essentially was
dishonorable. apart from the fact it would lead us to lose, lead the united states to lose to isis. so he couldn't count on it. of course, we all know that this relationship was probably ill starred from the start because donald trump has an extremely transactional view, skeptical view of alliances and international friendships, international treaties. obligation. jim mattis is all about taking care of your friends and fighting your enemies together with your friends. so in one sense, maybe it's surprising that he lasted as long as he did in the job. >> and he was increasingly isolated in the national security team. he had lost his allies, mcmaster, kelly, other generals as well as rex tillerson. >> kelly was still there. mcmaster -- tillerson was his key ally, rex tillerson. of course he had been chucked out unceremoniously.
it's not only the fact he lost allies. it's that, you know, donald trump tires of people. that's pretty clear i think watching the last few years. and i think mattis was also not feeling as if his words were being heard, that his counsel was being heeded. and so it's a combination of having your -- questioning your own effectiveness, having to enforce policies you don't really like. and then the straw that broke the camel's back, obviously, this sudden and out of the blue decision just to totally withdraw from syria, which, again, you know, jim mattis started fighting in the middle east a quarter century ago. that you can imagine did not sit well with him. >> one of the most famous marines in recent american history. jeff goldberg, as always, you got the interview. thank you very much, thanks for sharing. >> thank you. coming up next, who is next?
kirsten gillibrand becomes the first senator to drop out of the contest after failing to qualify for next month's debate. we'll have more on "andrea mitchell reports" on msnbc. excuse me, where is gate 87? you should be mad at non-seasoned travelers. and they took my toothpaste away. and you should be mad at people who take unnecessary risks. how dare you, he's my emotional support snake. but you're not mad, because you have e*trade, whose tech helps you understand the risk and reward potential on an options trade it's a paste. it's not liquid or a gel. and even explore what-if scenarios. where's gate 87? don't get mad. get e*trade and start trading today.
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well, ten candidates, one debate stage, no billionaires. the democratic primary fight officially entering a few phase as the once crowded field of hopefuls shrinkes, paving the wy for the top defenders. the third debate is two weeks from now. kristin gillibrand bowing out. tom steyer tried to boost his numbers with a blitz. eugene scott, washington post political reporter is here with me in washington. first to you, garrett, i think joe biden had an event or town hall meeting, did he react to ji gillibrand and what is happening with the debate to come?
>> reporter: biden did just wrap up a town hall here in south carolina. the biggest crowd i've seen him on this trip but a much more relaxed biden than i've seen in some early states. he's clearly very comfortable here in south carolina. as for the debate, i asked him about kristin gillibrand's decision to drop out. he said she brought a lot to the conversation, but acknowledged it's tough with this process to get on the stage, to get your voice to break out with this man candidates. he told me he thought the debate process was fair. he said he thinks it's as fair of a system as anybody has developed to get folks on the stage. when i and other reporters were trying to get him to open up about his strategy coming into this next debate, how it will be to be surrounded by progressives who disagree with him with medicare for all he won't take the debate. he's going to run his race, do the debate his way, talking
about what he believes. he's been consistent with this so far, not mixing it up with these other democratic candidates. >> eugene scott here with me has interviewed joe biden with your vanessa williams and talked about potential runningmates on the heels of him getting a number of polls validating his continued front-runner status, aside from the one outlier poll which monmouth apologized for. >> right. >> tell us what he said. there is one quote that sort of jumped out at me where in talking about whom he might pick for a runningmate he said whomever i pick, preferably it will be someone who was of color and/or a different gender but i'm not making that commitment until i know the person i'm dealing with i can completely and thoroughly trust as authentic and on the same page as me. so we're jumping ahead a number of steps. he doesn't have the nomination. he hasn't won anything yet. but did you raise the subject of runningmate? >> he actually decided to talk
about it in part. we were having our larger conversation about his support with black voters and what black voters were expecting of him. and, also, why he believes that president barack obama chose him to be a running mate. a white man with working class, the obama campaign was hoping could bring on some of those voters with the same team with them and they did. he said he was very aware of that and very aware of the base of the democratic party and the need for more diversity and representation in top positions of government. he said he did not want to get ahead of himself. the nomination is nowhere near secured at this point but he certainly knows there is a desire for more people of color, more women in top positions of influence in government and he said if he could find someone bho is who is on the same page with him who he believes can work with him in his agenda and dismantle the trump presidency he would
like someone to do that. >> what about gillibrand not even getting endorsements for the most part from the new york delegation, someone as bright, talented, you know, and outspoken as she could not break through in this crowded field. >> i mean, that's right. look, it was a very competitive field. i don't know it really tells us all that much about her. it may say more about some of the big names in this race joe biden obviously and also elizabeth warren and bernie sanders. i think it is really difficult to compete and kamala harris as well has really chipped into that. there is only so much pie to go around so to speak. the democratic electorate is very interested in seeing different candidates but they seem to be honing in on a top field at this point. >> of course, some of the people squeetzd out of that debate have been very critical of the process the dnc has had here. garrett, in your interview with joe biden he was not critical of it but he has in the past weeks
expressed frustration since the second debate about how short the question and answer format was. i think he repeated that to you as well. >> yeah, that's right. he talked about the idea as he has frequently that these debates aren't traditional. you essentially have 60 seconds to outline a policy position. joe biden has a difficult time introducing himself in 60 seconds. it's just not a format that works particularly well for him. i hear that from all the campaigns i cover quite frankly. they, along with most of the voters i talk to, want to see a smaller field. they want to see it get down to five, six candidates where they can actually talk to each other and have more substantive debate. the candidates like many voters feeling like the two night affairs of ten candidates at a time is just not very substantive. >> one thing we know from the pictures behind you people do enjoy taking selfies with those candidates. thanks so much. garrett haake and thanks to all
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here's more about the panda-monium rocking our capital. >> they are kind of big and it's kind of awesome. >> from a wildly popular panda cam capturing their first moments to doctor check-ups, bamboo snacks, and the adorable tumbles -- >> look, guys. >> reporter: -- visitors here can't get enough but the vulnerable species are only on loan from china to zoos around the world. now with tension rising between the u.s. and beijing over trade and tariffs could the over sized cuddly creatures get caught in the crossfire? >> the giant pandas are without a doubt our most beloved and visited animal. >> reporter: the undisputed panda star at washington's national zoo is bei bei a 4-year-old cub who celebrated his birthday last week. by prior agreement he is to be sent back to china in a few months. his mom and dad are in the u.s. on a 20-year lease.
but that deal is up next year. >> we're very confident that we'll have a new agreement when this one expires. >> reporter: in fact, the pandas have a history of symbolizing diplomatic good will. when nixon went to china in 1972, first lady pat nixon told the chinese premier how much she liked the pandas. that april china sent the united states two young pandas. >> i think pandemonium is going to break out right here at the zoo. >> nixon's reaction recorded in a call with the first lady on the infamous white house tapes. >> just checking to see how the panda thing went. i have been in a meeting. >> oh, they were just darling. everybody raved about them. >>. >> reporter: now almost a half century later panda fans hope the trade war won't get in the way of panda relations. >> i really like how they're so enthusiastic. >> reporter: for visitors here, losing those pandas would be unbearable. you can't go wrong with giant
pandas and nixon tapes. that's my rule. and here is ali velshi for "velshi and ruhle." >> you absolutely cannot. unbearable, pandamonium. have a good afternoon. >> i plead guilty. hello. it is thursday, august 29th. coming up we continue to track hurricane dorian now forecast to become a dangerous category 4 storm as it swirls toward florida. we have team coverage on the ground. we'll also speak to a hurricane hunter who has just flown through that storm. plus the results of a two-year investigation into former fbi director james comey are now out. will he be punished for sharing his memos about his meetings with president trump? and confusion over new citizenship rules affecting children born to u.s. troops while overseas. are they really going to be denied u.s. citizenship? right now all eyes