tv Meet the Press MSNBC October 27, 2019 3:00pm-4:00pm PDT
anti-semitism and racist and hoeb homophobia. we have to fight terrorism, hate, and people taking lives on all fronts, and yes, give credit when we win, but don't think the battle is over because we fought one fight. we must continue, and we must be operating with a sense of urgency. that does it for me. thank you for watching. this sunday, breaking news. u.s. special forces carried out a raid overnight in syria. forensic testing is under way. and officials believe isis leader obee balead leader oubabu bakr al baghdadi. >> last night, the united states brought the number one terrorist to justice. >> i'll have an exclusive interview with robert o'brien.
>> plus, mounting pressure. >> that's shocking behavior of the president. >> the top american diplomat in ukraine describes an aid for investigations quid pro quo demanded by president trump. >> ambassador bill taylor testified and gave the most sweeping and devastating testimony about president trump's efforts to shake down the ukrainian government. >> mr. trump calls the charge a hoax. >> i had a perfect conversation with the president of ukraine. >> and goes after ambassador taylor. >> a never trumper. and his lawyer is a never trumper. >> while republicans remain quiet on the evidence and make false claims about being shut out of hearings. >> maybe they do that in the soviet union, but that's not acceptable in the united states of america. >> i'll talk to the chair of the democratic house caucus, hakeem jeffries of new york. joining me for insight and analysis are nbc news chief foreign affairs correspondent andrea mitchell. former homeland security secretary jeh johnson. amy walter, national editor of the cook political report.
and lonny chen, a fellow at the hoover institution. welcome to sunday. it's "meet the press." >> from nbc news in washington, the longest running show in television history, this is a special edition of "meet the press" with chuck todd. >> good sunday morning. we have breaking news. obviously, special forces have killed the leader of isis. commandos carried out a raid overnight in northern syria along the border with turkey. president trump just said isis leader abu bakr al baghdadi is among the dead. president trump made the announcement himself this morning. >> last night, the united states brought the world's number one terrorist leader to justice. abu bakr al baghdadi is dead. he was the founder and leader of isis. the most ruthless and violent terror organization anywhere in the world. >> nbc news analyst evan
kohlmann said this would be a crippling setback for isis and that there are few well recognized candidates to replace him. joining me now from northern syria is our chief foreign correspondent richard engle. richard, there's a symbolic element to this death of al baghdadi. and possibly an operational one. walk us through both and what you continue to learn. >> so a lot of detail in the president's remarks just a short while ago. a shocking amount of detail, really. you normally don't get that level of specific information about these highly secretive raids carried out be elite special operations forces, but president trump laid it out. he seemed to want the world to know how this happened, that he was watching, that american special operators flew in. it took them an hour and a half. that eight helicopters landed, that they blew a hole through the wall of a compound. and that they killed apparently a number of bodyguards and that
abu bakr al baghdadi himself was crying and screaming as he was hiding in a tunnel. he was flushed out with a dog. tremendous specificity, and i think to a degree, that's going to help his case. he's going to try to humiliate isis. to just say you weren't just defeated. you didn't just lose your caliphate. your leader died crying and whimpering as he was underground chased by a dog. so i think the president had a very strong message against isis, that is going to be hard for isis to counter because they did in fact lose their state. and now they have lost their leader. the other part, however, when he talked about middle east policy and how the u.s. is changing its interests and it's going to protect the oil sent a very different message, however. a very powerful message that is not going to be lost around the world. it was the kurds in syria who have been fighting against isis for the last five years. they got one brief mention, but then president trump said that he still is with turkey.
he spent more time thanking turkey and more time thanking syria than he did with the kurds who have been fighting with the u.s. against isis for the last five years, who right now are under attack. and he once again said those kurds should leave their homes. they should go live around some oil fields where they have never, ever lived in their existence. and president trump said, well, it's no big deal. they can just move a few miles. it's not a few miles. the safe zone that president trump talked about again today is the displacement of the kurdish people. so yes, he was very strong. he wanted to humiliate isis and rub their nose in this military defeat. but his message on overall syria policy and overall middle east policy, i think, is still going to be very controversy and very disruptive and a lot of people are going to say that the u.s. betrayed the allies that led to this moment. >> all right. richard engel in northern syria for us. richard, thanks very much. joining me now is the new
national security adviser for the president, you heard president trump talk about him, robert o'brien. welcome to "meet the press," sir. >> great to be with you, chuck. >> quite a day to have you on your first appearance here on "meet the press." so let me start with the president's decision to share so many details of al baghdadi's death following up on something richard engel said. it seemed that it was important to the president that the world know how he died. explain. >> i think today is a great day for the united states of america and a great day for the world. this was the number one wanted person in the world. he's a brutal, vicious terrorist. killed many people. the president went into detail. we can talk more about that. but it's also important for the world to know that the united states has a long reach and the men and women of our armed services executed this flawlessly, took him down, and his colleagues that are still alive should be worried. >> let's talk about a few things of the details the president gave us, a lot of details. he talked about how al baghdadi
appeared to have died. can you explain how we can confirm, you know, do we have dna of him already? where would we have gotten it? how do we confirm this? >> we have dna and we had visual on him. and the dna has now been exploited, confirmed as of this morning, a couple hours ago. >> we have an eyewitness account. did you see him in? we have a picture of you in the situation room. the president said it played out like a movie. did you guys see al baghdadi? >> i'm not going to get into letting folks what we saw or didn't see in the situation room. those technical capabilities are something i'm not going to talk about today. but i can tell you u.s. forces had eyes on baghdadi and we confirmed his death and then we took dna and confirmed the dna from previous samples we had. >> is his body still in custody? >> his body will be disposed of properly, to the extent we have, as the president said he died
blowing up -- pulling his, the toggle on his vest. >> do you imagine we'll follow the same protocol we followed with osama bin laden? >> i would expect that to be the case. >> the president said that there were a number of folks that helped. he thanked russia first. he thanked the kurds last. should we read into that? >> no, i don't think you should read into that. what the president talked about was it was a very dangerous mission for our troops. and the president made a courageous decision to send them into foreign enemy territory at night, a long-range helicopter raid. a courageous decision of the president, but it was incredible bravery and skill of our men and women in the armed forces and the intelligence community that executed the mission flawlessly. they had to fly over areas where there was significant anti-aircraft capability. the syrians, russians, turks, others. we appreciate the fact our helicopters and planes weren't molested. the kurds played an important role in the operation, and we're grateful for the kurds and for
the sdf and our allies there. >> general masloum indicated it was a five-month campaign to track him. was it his forces who were tracking him day to day? >> they're quiet professionals who work for other agencies in the u.s. government that were heavily involved as well as our armed forces. the president was aware of this effort, and we felt like we had a beat on him thursday and friday, and the president made a difficult decision to put men in harm's way. he did that, and it worked. so it was a good day for the united states. good day for our armed forces and for the president. >> the way the president said turkey was informed seemed to be that it sounds like you really minimized what turkey was to know about this operation. is it fair to say more so than perhaps any of the other entities involved in that area? >> no, look, secretary pompeo, general milley, secretary esper
were all involved in alerting their colleagues in the other countries that there was going to be a mission. >> was there concern that turkey could -- the president seemed to be concerned turkey could fire on our folks. >> i wasn't concerned. turkey is a fellow member of nato. but look, we were flying over air space controlled by other countries that have anti-aircraft capabilities and we wanted to make sure our men and women were safe. general milley, secretary esper, secretary pompeo did a great job of reaching out and making sure we had an incongress and egress that were protected. >> the president made a comment about the oil fields this morning. does he believe we own the oil fields or that we control them? what is his understanding of our role in these oil fields? >> i think the point the president made is isis controlled these oil fields and isis was deriving great income from the oil fields. we took, together with the kurds, took control of the oil fields. we're going to stay in control of the oil fields for a period of time to make sure they don't
fall back into isis hands. they have been providing income for the kurds to pay for schools, hospitals, the sdf, and that sort of thing. we're there. we took control of the oil fields from isis. the syrians could not protect them from isis so we'll be there for a period of time to maintain control of those and make sure there's not a resurgence of isis and make sure the kurds have revenue from the oil fields. >> 100% of the revenue belongs to the kurds? is that the belief of the united states government? >> the kurds have been using the oil revenue. i think they have been using 100% of the oil revenue up until now. >> going forward, is that going to be the case? >> we'll have to work it out. there will be deals that are made, but those oil fields should not fall back in the hands of isis, and we want to make sure that the kurds have some sort of oil revenue. >> look, and obviously, we don't have laws governing there the way we would govern here, but how is it we're determining who owns that oil? who is going to determine who oynes that oil? >> isis had the oil.
>> i understand that. right, who do we believe owns the oil? >> that's something the president would like to work out. what i would like to focus on is not so much the oil fields but we had a great day. >> the president brought it up, that's why i was curious. where do we get the right to determine who controls these oil fields? >> the kurds are there. right? and we have forces there that are working with the kurds. and we're in control of those oil fields now. we have to see what happens. i think the president said that's something we're looking into. right now, we're going to stay in control of them to make sure isis doesn't get them. i want to focus on what happened. this leader, al baghdadi, was the most vicious, cruel man. in my prior man as a hostage envoy, i had a chance to meet the foleys and sotloffs and had a chance to speak to diane foley today. we brought justice to a man who beheaded three americans, two journalists and a humanitarian
worker, and kayla mueller, and one of the things general milley did is named the operation, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff named the operation that took down al baghdadi after kayla mueller, after what she had suffered. and that was something that, you know, people should know. but justice was brought to those americans who were so brutally killed, as were others, as the president pointed out. >> richard engle was -- when these reports first came out, he noted this was an area that had been controlled by al qaeda, an off chute of al qaeda, who was at war at times with al baghdadi, and now here they are, perhaps giving him shelter. the indication was, perhaps he got turned in, if you will, that this may have been an inside hit by al qaeda and isis. is there something to that? >> i think that's total speculation. and, you know, that's not something i'm aware of.
maybe richard has better sources. i'm not aware of that. >> what terrorist organizations are you most concerned about now? now with al baghdadi gone, no obvious replacement, and obviously, they care a lot about personalities in a little bit of that. who is the biggest threat now that remains in that area? >> look, there are a number of threats in the area. number one, iran is the largest state sponsor of terrorism. not talking about iran this morning, but they're a huge state sponsor of terrorism. they're supporting hamas, hezbollah, the
houthis in gemmen, they're in syria. we have to be concerned about iran. >> we had supposedly 100 isis fighters that escaped the pri n prisons during the turkish safe zone period there. what do we know about those folks? >> i think that's twitter intel. i have seen that on twitter as well. so i think the sdf is doing a pretty good job of keeping the isis fighter s -- >> you don't believe we lost these fighters? >> there were several thousand
isis fighters. we made it clear we need to keep those folks under lock and key, so i think
it's -- and we're continuing to do that. look, we're looking for isis wherever it might reemerge. this was a huge win for the president. the president came into office. he was given a plate of foreign policy challenges that were probably more difficult for any president coming into office than any president since truman who took office in the second world war, and he has -- with respect to isis, he defeated the physical caliphate. we have taken out the leader of the caliphate. i can tell you, it was great news last night. 7:15 local time, we were in the situation room, and the commander of the mission called and said 100% confidence jackpot. and when we heard that. >> jackpot meant they got al baghdadi. >> we got him, 100% confidence, jackpot, over. that was great news for us, great news for the american people, but great news for everyone in the world and the region. >> one of your jobs is to sometimes you take in a whole bunch of policy ideas and policy
debates. and some ways as a national security adviser, you're the moderator when it comes to the debates between pentagon, state, sometimes the president. there's going to be a debate between some in the pentagon who say mr. president, our presence here is what allowed us to get this. the president may perceive, see, we can do both. smaller footprint and do this. should we assume that's how the president sees this? >> i think we should assume just going to the process question he asked is it's the president's agenda we're going to implement. i didn't come to this job as national security adviser with my own agenda. others may have done that in the past. my job is to get the best options from the state, from pentagon, from the treasury department and get those options to the president. then the president has an opportunity to look at those options and make the best decisions for the american people. that's what he does. if he asked my advice, i'll give it to him, but at the end of the day, he's the commander in chief. he's going to make those decisions. they're tough decisions. a tough decision to put so many men and women at risk.
he made those tough decisions. we're going to implement them. >> are you comfortable saying no to him? >> it's not my job to say no. >> you believe it's not your job to say no to him? >> absolutely not. i wasn't elected president. he was. it's my job to make sure he gets the best options and the best advice from his advisers from the cabinet secretaries and other advisers and my job to give him my best advice. >> let me ask you this. are you willing to disagree with him privately, maybe not saying it publicly, are you willing to disagree privately and say mr. president, this is the advice i would give. i don't think you should take that advice. >> the president is going to get my best advice, and he may decide he wants to go with that advice. my advice may be different from what secretary palmo or esper or milley may say, but he's going to make his decision. >> on a policy front, russia. are they an ally of the united states in this fight in isis? are they an adversary in the united states in this situation
with ukraine? how would you describe it? >> let me make it clear, russia is not an ally of the united states. the president doesn't believe that. i don't believe that. >> first country he thanked today. >> well, there are times when our interests overlap with the interest of russia. last night, it overlapped. we didn't want russian air defense missiles shot at our men and women who were executing this raid. so last night, and they don't like isis, as the president pointed out. last night, our interests overlapped with russia. when our interests overlap, there's no reason we shouldn't work with them. russia is not an ally of the united states, and russia presents a great danger to the united states and something we keep an eye on every single day. >> when it comes to the situation in ukraine and what russian forces are doing right now, threatening and killing ukrainians, how much of a concern is that to you? >> it's a big concern. i wrote about this long before i was in government. i went to ukraine to monitor the elections back in 2014, and when i went there in 2014, ukrainians were looking to me and saying we
can't get bullet proof vests, kevlar, we can't defend ourselves. you're sending our blankets and mres. you're giving us nothing. and since this president took office, we have given lethal aid to ukrainians, anti-tank weapons, supported them very vigorously and robustly. if you talk to ukrainians, especially those facing off against russian supported militias or dissidents, armed dissidents in eastern ukraine, they're happier with this administration because they're actually getting lethal aid. >> bill taylor is the current ambassador to ukraine. how long will he stay in that position? >> i don't know. i don't know ambassador taylor. >> have you ever interacted with him? >> i have not. i never met him at the state department. i think he was ambassador. >> sort of acting, right now, the chief diplomat right now. >> he's a principal officer in ukraine right now. i have not interacted with him before at the state department, and i don't know what his career plans are. >> all right. ambassador robert o'brien, the
new national security adviser. quite a morning, quite an amount of information both from yourself and the president of the united states. thanks for coming on. >> thanks for having me. >> joining me now is jeremy bash, the former chief of staff at the u.s. department of defense and at the central intelligence agency under president obama. jeremy, let me start with what you heard. we heard an amazing amount of detail. just your initial reaction. >> this was a highly complicated operation, chuck. it involved eight helicopters flying for an hour and ten minutes over complicated and dangerous terrain by my math, that means there were 50 to 100 u.s. special operations forced on the ground. they had to breach the compound where u.s. intelligence had identified the location, the probable location of abu bakr al baghdadi. there were other individuals on the compound. u.s. forces had to engage him, chase obo balker into the tunnel where he set off the suicide vest killing himself and three children. then it was complicated from there because the u.s. forces
had to clear the tunnel, obtain dna and exfiltrate the force. so the president appropriately lavished intense praise on u.s. intelligence and military forces. i think that was appropriate. >> let me ask you this, what should be our concern going forward now? we've gotten al baghdadi. obviously, a big symbolic hit to isis. but what is the real threat now coming from that region to the united states? >> well, the reason isis had been contained in recent months was because our allies on the ground, the kurds, the syrian democratic forces, had fought them. had battled them, had contained them, and were guarding them in these prison camps. of course, with the president's decision to allow turkey to come over the border and fight the kurds, that strategy is in doubt. we have heard reports from secretary esper and others that there have been escapes from prison by isis fighters. if isis is able to reconstitute itself, obtain more operational
cohesion, control some territory there, that could be very dangerous. and they could ignite a reign of terror in that region and around the world. >> let me ask you this. the president seemed to outline what our future near term military strategy is going to be there, which is essentially we're going to have a small number of forces in iraq that essentially can continue to do these missions when necessary. what's wrong with that as the footprint going forward? which is basically almost no footprint in syria or a very small one around the oil fields, to what the president sort of seemed to tell telegraph, whic is a small base of operations in iraq? >> i think the problem was allowing turkey over the border. once turkey came over the border after the green light by president trump, the kurdish forces had to in effect abandon their mission of being the ground force, the defeat force against isis. kourn counterterrorism from afar works to an extent. you can high profile precision missions and most of the time
they'll be effective against one or two elements. if isis regroups and they and their hundreds and potentially thousands of followers and fighters continue to amass territory and gain operational cohesion, we can't do this from afar. we need people on the ground, the kurds were those people. >> i have to ask you about the president's comments about the oil fields and who controls the oil. he seemed to imply the u.s. had a lot of say over deciding who gets to control that oil in the future. in the past, how have we handled situations like this? >> who controls the oil has not traditionally been part of any calculus about our military operations in the middle east. i think it's really inappropriate and somewhat bizarre and strange for the president to focus on it. it's not the role of our military and not an ambition of the united states to, quote, control the oil in syria or elsewhere. >> obviously is an important source of income for the kurds. it does raise to me, raise the
question of, okay, we have successfully gotten rid of the caliphate. what's going to happen to what we know on the map now is syria? >> well, syria is being kind of divided up between spheres of influence, by turkey, by russia, iran will be involved as well. and of course, there's another battle raging in the south between hezbollah aligned forces and israel. so the future of syria is very much in doubt. i think we were holding together the balance of power with our force presence there. we were a trip wire against turkey coming across the border. that's now over, and we don't know whether or not isis is going to regroup and pose a more dangerous threat in the future, chuck. >> jeremy bash, a veteran of the obama administration from the pentagon and at the cia. thank you for coming on and sharing your views. when we come back, i'll talk to the chair of the democratic house caucus, hakeem jeffries of new york. we've seen a thing or two. even a- (ernie) lost rubber duckie? (burke) you mean this one? (ernie) rubber duckie!
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congressman hakeem jeffries who chaired the house democratic caucus. congressman jeffries, welcome back to "meet the press." >> good morning, chuck. >> obviously, a few other topics i want to talk to you about, but the news of the morning, the killing of al baghdadi. your initial reaction to it, and i'm curious if you have learned or if you know if speaker pelosi has learned any information outside of what's been said on camera? >> it's not clear yet whether the administration has communicated with speaker pelosi as the president indicated he did not do so in advance of the operation. this is a very meaningful step in the right direction in terms of the war on terror. the military should be commended. the intelligence community should be commended. the men and women of the delta force who carried out this operation should be commended. i'm pleased it's been completed in a very substantial way. and that they have returned home
safely and no american lives have been lost. >> are you pleased that the president green lit this mission? and do you think it's been an appropriate mission to green light? >> it was certainly an appropriate mission to green light. and so in that regard, the president made the right decision. now we need him to continue to make appropriate decisions moving forward. >> what does that mean? >> well, the war on terror continues. and we can't cede american leadership in the middle east, which remains a dangerous part of the world, to entities like russia or turkey or syria and iran. >> what does that mean, it's interesting you use the phrase the war on terror continues. you don't -- i take it you don't approve of the shrinking of the american footprint in syria. >> that was an erratic decision that has been widely condemned just this week, chuck, as you know, the house in a strongly bipartisan way denounced the decision by president trump to
abandon our allies, the kurds, in northern syria. individuals who have fought with us closely, who have died fighting on behalf of their land and on behalf of the safety and security of the american people. that was an inappropriate decision. and in terms of international relations, our credibility is the ultimate currency that we have. and so betraying our allies is wrong. it has consequences. and hopefully we'll see a continuing american presence as appropriate moving forward, because we know that isis will still try to reconstitute itself, not withstanding the death of its top leader. >> do you still -- does this at all, though, make you feel better about the idea of shrinking footprints but having these smaller -- the president seemed to describe perhaps our military being stationed more in iraq and then being able to do these sort of precision strikes
when necessary. is that a model for afghanistan? >> well, certainly, i think a smaller strategic force is the ultimate objective. we have been involved in the middle east now, particularly afghanistan, for the better part of 18 years. and i think the american people in a broadly bipartisan way, understand the need to withdraw and extrath ourselves from that situation, but it has to be done in a responsible fashion. >> let me move to the other big story that is the focus in the house of representatives, and that is the impeachment inquiry. involving the president and his decisions around ukraine. i want to show you a few quotes here from members of your caucus. jerry conley, what i think you have in the public domain already is more than sufficient for an article of impeachment. ted lieu, the most damning evidence basically already came out. jackie speier, frankly, i think we have enough. the point being this -- at what point do you think it is time to
move to a public airing of everything you have found and moving toward wrapping up your inquiry? >> well, speaker pelosi, who by the way, is doing a phenomenal job, has made clear we're going to continue to proceed in a serious and solemn fashion, to undertake our constitutional responsibility. we're going to follow the facts. we're going to apply the law. we're going to be guided by the constitution. we're going to present the truth to the american people no matter where that leads because nobody is above the law. chairman adam schiff will make the ultimate decision from the committee standpoint in terms of when we transition from the accumulation of information, which has been coming in at a rapid way, to the public presentation. and we'll see when that occurs. >> i only ask it this way, many have compared this stage of the impeachment inquiry to sort of a grand jury. and you can seek an indictment from a grand jury even before you've got all the information you're going to use in your trial. so do you view this the same way that you may have enough to get
your indictment, but that doesn't mean you stop your investigation? >> well, let's be clear. the evidence of wrongdoing, as many of my colleagues have suggested, is hiding in plain sight. we have the rough transcript of the july 25th call, where donald trump pressured a foreign government to target an american citizen for political gain, and thereby solicit foreign interference in the 2020 election. that undermines our national security and it's textbook abuse of power. we have the whistleblower complaint that has been validated by the witnesses who have come forward. we have a confession that was made by mick mulvaney, the acting white house chief of staff, who acknowledged that there was an ongoing pressure campaign to withhold $391 million in aid that had been allocated in a bipartisan way in order to solicit foreign interference in the 2020 election. we have ambassador bill taylor come forward. he's a trump appointee. he's a west point graduate.
he's a vietnam war veteran. and acknowledged there was a scheme that was under way, essentially to elevate president trump's personal political interests and undermine our national security interests. >> let me -- you have a lot of deadlines you guys are going to have to meet, perhaps, between now and say the start of the iowa caucuses when it comes to impeachment. but there's one that comes up on november 21st and it's funding the government. what are you and your colleagues and house leadership doing to try to avoid a government shutdown? >> well, we continue to be in dialogue with the senate, but it's important to note that the house has done its job. we have passed the appropriations bills, according to the timeline that had been set forth, led by steny hoyer and in partnership with the entire house democratic caucus. the senate has failed to act. that said, we expect that we will actually come to an agreement to fund the government sooner rather than later. in light of the reckless 35-day government shutdown that took place earlier this year where
donald trump was effectively forced into an unconditional surrender. i don't think mitch mcconnell wants a shutdown. we certainly don't. and we need to find common ground in order to fund the government and do it soon. >> do you believe that you do need to be wrapped up with what you're going to do with impeachment before the end of the calendar year? >> no, we're not going to put a timeline on this investigation other than as speaker pelosi has said, we're going to proceed expeditiously, and of course, we're going to proceed comprehensively and fairly in order to get things done. this isn't a matter of urgent national security concern. the president betrayed his oath of office. he's undermined our national security, of course, and the integrity of our elections. this is an abuse of power, and it's fundamentally about the united states constitution. that's the timeline that will dictate when we wrap things up. >> congressman hakeem jeffries, the chair of the house democratic caucus, thanks for coming on and sharing your views. >> thanks. when we come back, boy, do we have a lot to digest this
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correspondent, andrea mitchell, and lahnee chen. this is quite the morning, i have to say. we have this panel planned before all this, and it's perfect. andrea, the president, it's a big deal. the president wants to make it the biggest deal of all time, obviously, as well. but put this in perspective for us. >> it's a very big deal to get baghdadi. it's arguably how operational he was. he was on the run, moving around. it's a tribute to u.s. intelligence and the special forces. i think he could have praised them more vigorously before he thanked russia and vladimir putin for, you know, clearing the ground so we could move in unimpeded. but it does tell you that the syrian kurds were valuable allies. and the ground intelligence that we are losing by having withdrawn from the sector we withdrew from in syria is a concern. and there are going to be a lot of questions about whether or not we're going to have that kind of ground intelligence.
i don't understand the securing of the oil and why the president makes such a big deal out of that. we went overboard in the '90s saying we didn't go in and help, you know, free kuwait after desert storm for the oil. it wasn't about the oil. it was about international global interests. so for us to make it an economic argument is only going to fuel other counternarratives. i thought it extraordinary that he had not, after the operation was over, spoken to the speaker of the house. that we are so broken down, the speaker of the house, the big eight or the big four, those are the leaders that, as far as we know, he has not -- he had not notified any democrats. >> jeh johnson, before you were at homeland, you were actually also a counsel at the defense department. so a lot of times, you're being asked, is this legal, type of things. the point is, you know a lot of operational details. you kept expressing surprise to how much detail the president was sharing. explain.
>> well, first, there's always the risk that in the first 24 hours after an operation, a lot of what we hear is inaccurate. >> he seemed to think he was watching it. how much do you think he actually was watching? >> well, we do have some pretty good technology in the basement of the pentagon, in the situation room where you can see all of that, but chuck, normally, and this wasn't just president obama. i think it's his predecessors, too. a presidential level address announcing a strategic success like this is on my orders, we conducted an operation. we took out the leader of isis. we brought justice to him. thank you to our men and women in uniform who put themselves in harm's way. god bless america. over to the pentagon for the operational details and the briefing from the secretary and the chairman and perhaps somebody in the intelligence community. so i thought that was extraordinary. but i do have to say, i was in the pentagon on may 1st, 2011, the day we got bin laden.
and at i think 3:23, whenever we heard geronimo, we got him, my first thought was, the courage and the dedication and the professionalism of men and women in uniform who did put themselves in harm's way, just like today, and that's where the credit belongs. mr. o'brien refers to this as a win for the president. this is a reminder of the excellence of our military and our special forces. and it is a win for the country, but as you have pointed out, you can kill an enemy, but you don't defeat an enemy necessarily. there's more to do here. >> geronimo was bin laden, apparently. jackpot was al baghdadi. lanhee, the president is going to use this as a way to vindicate his point of view on syria policy versus frankly, most of his advisers, not just republicans on capitol hill. >> what this sets up as is the president want this to be the single most defining moment of
foreign policy. he went to singapore to meet with kim jong-un, the leader of north korea, and now you have him sort of center stage. he wants this to be -- >> he needed a victory. he hadn't had a big victory yet. >> this is the principal argument for going into an election year. going forward, the argument a lot of republicans are going to make is what made this possible was u.s. presence on the ground. what made this possible was our strategic alliance with the kurds, all of the great relationships we had in the region. this was an operation by the president's admission that was five months in the making. five months of intelligence gathering, much more, obviously, but certainly working with forces on the ground. what's going to happen going forward if we reduce that footprint. are we going to be able to constrain isis. >> i remember after the bin laden capture and kill, there were plenty of politicians saying great. okay. >> the election is over. >> we got him. no, no, meaning we got him. now we can start pulling back. then you would have these fights. i mean, my point is, the
political world, or the average voter, is going to side with the president on this. great, you got him. let's go. pull back. we don't need as many troops. it's a harder argument to keep troops on the ground. >> to keep troops on the ground versus keeping special operations on the ground. that's the distinction many republicans were making. this isn't about thousands and thousands of troops in this region. this is about a very specialized group of smart intelligence officers and leaders who are there getting this for us. it is a smaller investment to do this rather than let it fall apart and then have to make a serious investment in literally putting lives, american lives on the line in this area. >> and the fact is, right now, vladimir putin is the commander of syria. i mean, he has -- >> that's a big statement. >> well -- >> you feel like he has now the most influence over the largest portion of syria than anybody else. >> because he has influence over
turkey, even though it's a nato ally, and with iran and assad. he has the political influence -- we can no longer be the brokers at the table negotiating any kind of solution if there ever were going to be one politically for syria. putin will have his say. >> unquestionably, it's hard to argue as the president does that somehow the u.s. pulling back is something that russians don't like. i think the russians like the hegemonic control they have in the area, and certainly, our withdrawal, even if we leave some small presence there, is still a win for the russians. it's still a win for the iranians. i have a very difficult time seeing how that would be the case as the president argued. >> is it possible a year from now we could do an operation like this, jeh, if we pulled back as much as we may be pulling back. >> yes, it could be exceedingly difficult. what type of presence we have in syria, iraq, or afghanistan is not actually a political
judgment. it's a fact-based analysis of what you need in that region to deal with the threat that exists in that region. that's a fact-based analysis that our chiefs, our joint chiefs should be delivering to the civilian leadership. i agree with what has been said, you need a force sufficient to deal with counterintelligence. >> when we come back, we'll get to the other big news of the week, impeachment, ukraine, and the democratic race for president, perhaps. stay with us. arthritis. when considering another treatment, ask about xeljanz xr, a once-daily pill for adults with moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis or active psoriatic arthritis for whom methotrexate did not work well enough. it can reduce pain, swelling, and significantly improve physical function. xeljanz can lower your ability to fight infections like tb; don't start xeljanz if you have an infection. taking a higher than recommended dose of
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back now with end game. in the past few weeks, damning evidence has mounted considering president trump and ukraine, rather than question the evidence, republicans have taken to attacking the process. claiming implausibly that they are being denied access to testimony. and president trump is using the same attack the process game plan he used to undermine robert mueller before mueller's report was released. >> and i have my own experience. you know that. you see what's going on with the witch hunt. >> president trump on friday, comparing impeachment to the criminal injustice faced by african-americans at a historically black college in south carolina. mr. trump increasingly frustrated that he has not been able to stop the impeachment inquiry. >> the picture coming out of it based on the reporting that we have seen is, yeah, i would say is not a good one. >> does the white house need to do a better job of communicating on impeachment. >> yes. >> nine key figures have
testified so far. including the top u.s. diplomat to ukraine, bill taylor. who contradicted the president's assertions there was no quid pro quo with ukraine, in explosive testimony on tuesday. taylor tuesday. taylor testifying that gordon sondland, the u.s. ambassador to the european union, told him everything was dependent including security assistance on ukrainian president zelensky announcing he would investigate the bidens and the 2016 election. >> he is a never-trumper. his lawyer is a never-trumper. >> reporter: actually taylor was hired by secretary of state mike pompeo to take on the role. white house officials are assembling a war room. >> i talked to chief of staff mulvaney. i think they are working on getting a messaging team together. >> i don't have teams. everyone's talking about teams. i am the team. >> reporter: without facts to contradict the testimony of the current and former trump aides,
president trump's allies on capitol hill are instead condemning the process. on wednesday barging into a secure room where impeachment investigators were deposing their latest witness. >> we are going to go and see if we can get inside. >> reporter: of course 47 house republicans including the vice president's brother already have access to those closed-door sessions which republicans have also held in the past. >> the private ones always produce better results. >> reporter: in the senate republican lindsey graham was forced to water down a resolution condemning impeachment in order to gain republican support. also having to focus on process. three republican hold-outs remain. senators mitt romney, susan collins and lisa merkowski. >> that is after all against the law. >> the panel is back. amy, look, sometimes it's hard, and we try to pack in everything to try to figure out in our
space time continuum continues to go all over the place. but the bill taylor testimony was similarly, i think, impactful. so impactful that it caused i think all of this sort of crazy response in the next 48 hours. >> there is no doubt about it because it was a very hard thing on the testimony itself no push back on. so as you pointed out then you go to process. this is closed door. there is no transparency. the democrats are trying to run out the clock. all of that is the most effective argument they've made. the one thing though that i think we learned though this week that is effective for the president is a -- well, actually a couple of things. the first, as you pointed out, lindsey graham puts this resolution out. at first not all republican senators joined but now it's all but three which tells you everything you need to know about where this is going in the senate which is absolutely nowhere. there is an impeachment in the house, there is not going to be a conviction. the second is if you look at the overall polling about how americans feel about impeachment, nationally, the
numbers have inched up a little bit. but go into those battleground states, a state like wisconsin, new poll came out of there this week, underwater in terms of approval of impeachment. >> jeh johnson, where are you on all of this, and what you would hope how the democrats should handle this impeachment inquiry going forward? the iowa caucuses are 99 days from today. if they do focus on impeachment, this is everything that's got to happen. first of all we've got to avoid a government shutdown. you've got to have the hearings themselves public. we've got to have the trial which by the way took a month the last time we had an impeachment trial. nafta 2.0 is supposed to be passed now or forever hold your peace. and i do think americans want to celebrate thanksgiving and the remaining holidays.
impeachment is about the president. what would you like to see your party do? >> well, you are right. there is a lot on the table here. and congress typically does not perform ahead of schedule. they are very last-minute. and i think it's important for americans. and i suspect it's going to play out exactly the way amy said. it's important for americans to not forget that there is an election in a year. that is the opportunity for change. if voters go to the polls, if voters don't like what is happening with ukraine, with the mueller report, and all the other things, that is the opportunity for change. it's up to the voters to turn out and bring that about if that's where we are. >> one thing that happened this week that should not be overlooked is that a federal judge, and this could be overturned perhaps at the supreme court level. a federal judge validated the house democrats' approach in every regard. and they're right. congress is right in separation of powers to all of the
information, the grand jury information. the fact is that these very same people, mike pompeo when he was on the benghazi committee, were refusing to let state department lawyers and that whole process argument is exactly the process that they were performing. and in those two previous impeachment exercises, the one leading up to the watergate also, the clinton impeachment, there were special prosecutors or independent counsels. so they are doing the work of an independent counsel. it is more analogous to a grand jury probe. i think they have absolute right to be having these witnesses in private. taylor should not be underestimated. this was the critical testimony. now what will happen with john bolton is he angry enough that he is going to come in because he knows everything. >> i keep painting this picture, the next 99 days. because i just don't think people have totally absorbed all of this. >> how much has to happen in these 99 days. and i think the reality is that for republicans, this process
argument was always going to hit a wall. and the question was not if but when. and so really the problem i think for republicans is how to pivot then into the substance of this. is there a way to pivot into the substance to say even if there was a quid pro quo it's not an impeachable offense. i tend to think the best way forward tomorrow republicans is to say that this whole process is divorced from the reality of what voters are facing on a day-to-day basis. that seems to be the reason why you are seeing this swing state versus national. democrats are so focused on impeachment, they are not focused on health care, the economy. and that's really where the argument needs to go. >> my guess is that is -- or some form of let the voters decide. that's why i think this window is closing fast. oof, what a morning. thank you all for watching, much appreciate it. >> let's see if the nats win game five tonight. get this world series back into our control. we will be back next week though because if it's sunday, it's "meet the press." ♪ because
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♪ welcome to "kasie dc." i'm geoff bennett. breaking news as president trump announces american special forces kill a top isis leader. he goes into extraordinary detail in front of the public while leaving congress in the dark. plus, groundhog day on capitol hill. the stage is set for another week of government officials taking us inside president trump's efforts to muscle ukraine to investigate the