tv At This Hour With Kate Bolduan CNN February 28, 2017 8:00am-9:01am PST
our special coverage begins at 8:00 p.m. eastern tonight. so glad you're with us. see you here tomorrow. >> i'm john berman. "at this hour with kate bolduan" starts right now. thanks, john. thanks, poppy. i am kate bolduan. nine hours and counting to president trump's first address before a joint session of congress. we've says this before, but this time we really, really mean it. this is the biggest day yet in donald trump's presidency. the white house says the president will lay out a bold first year agenda in his primetime address. he'll strike an optimistic tone, and will outline specifics on everything from military spending to immigration and the fate of obamacare. so how has he been doing so far? president trump himself this morning gave himself mixed reviews. listen. >> now in terms of achievement, i think i'd give myself an "a"
because i think i've done great things but i don't think -- i and my people, i don't think we've explained it well enough to the american public. i think i get an "a" in terms of what i've done but in terms of messaging i'd give myself a "c" or c-plus. >> how do you change it? >> maybe i change it during the speech. >> so much riding on that speech. joe johns joining us live from the white house now with more on this. joe, what are the american people going to hear tonight? what are you hearing? >> we're told the president is going to strike an optimistic tone, kate. i think that's pretty obvious. at least he's going to try to. we are also expecting him to talk about some of the broad areas that he wants this congress to cover most during the next year. of course, among those things, tax cuts, which is a program he has yet to roll out. the repeal and replace of obamacare. we're being told in the view of many on capitol hill is in lock
step with many of the ideas they have for the replacement of obamacare. we'd like to hear more from him about specifics. members of congress need that. sort of policy guidance as they come forward on a very difficult subject. we're also expecting to hear quite a bit, of course, about immigration. another signature issue for this president on the campaign trail. and we do know he's going to talk about it simply by the fact that among the people in the audience, as his guests will be three members of families of people who were victims of violence involving immigrants who came to the united states. so we expect him to talk about immigration. we're being told it's going to be an upbeat speech but we've been told that before. of course, some of the open questions, things like russia, which both the house and senate committees are trying to get a handle on through investigations. and there's also an issue of leaks. the president has that as a real sore spot.
it will be interesting to see how he deals with that, if at all tonight, kate. >> what does upbeat and optimistic look like right now for president trump? we'll see. joe johns, thank you. one of the big topics tonight and probably the big topic on capitol hill right now is what are the republican majorities in congress and the president going to do about obamacare? sources telling cnn that it appears right now that the president and republican leaders at least are getting on the same page. you may not want to tell that to some of the rank and file republicans in the house who have come out to say they're ready for a fight. house speaker paul ryan is sticking by the plan. look. >> people who do not get health experience from their job are discriminated against right now in the tax code. let me say that again. the current tax code discriminates against people who don't get health care at work. we want to end the discrimination against people who don't get health care through work and equalize the
treatment of health care so everybody, regardless whether you get health care at work or don't has an opportunity to get a health care plan that's affordable for you. that's what we've always been working on. that's the plan we've always been looking at. and that's what we're working on with the administration. i feel at the end of the day when we get everything done and right, we'll be unified on this. >> let's go to congressional correspondent sunlen serfaty on the hill for more on this. where do things -- that's what we're hearing from paul ryan. what are you hearing in the halls of congress? where do things stand for obamacare, specifically amongst republicans? >> there is some concern up here on capitol hill. notably this critical juchnctur for repealing and replacing. it's crunch time. he can't get on board with the draft republican plan in its current form at this time.
so certainly this is something that's sending shock waves through capitol hill in anticipation of the president's address tonight. that's why there is so much emphasis from the republican leadership calling on the president to lay it out. ryan and mcconnell sat down with president trump at the whougs and aides say leaving that meeting, speaker ryan was left with the impression that the president would embrace the house plan for repealing obamacare tonight. so certainly trying to, in advance of the speech, say that theyor the same page. emphasis there on left with the impression that's what would happen. kate? >> can that impression change? sunlen, thank you so much. a lot happening on capitol hill, including this. joining me also from capitol hill, republican congressman from oklahoma who brought a crowd with him tonight. >> i wish they were here for me
but they're not. they just want to see the capitol. >> it's a wonderful place. i enjoy it very much when i was working there. thank you for coming on. you had quite a bit -- you've had quite a bit to say about what you want to hear tonight from president trump. you laid it out very publicly in "the new york times" today. and part of it you wrote this. that the president will need to do more than wait upon a republican congress to produce the legislation he has championed. he must become an active participant in the legislative process. later on congressman, you wrote that presidents must lead. are you saying congressman that he hasn't led so far? >> i don't think he's had a chance to lead. he's been putting together his administration. i agree with his grade and agree with the actions he's taken in terms of deregulatory activity. the nomination of neil gorsuch was a brilliant stroke. he's been a baeusy guy. now to move legislation across the floor you have to sit down with the various members of the
republican party. we're not going to get a lot of democratic votes on something like repeal and replace and work out the differences. frankly, the president is very well suited to do that. he's a master dealmaker. now he'll be able to put some of that skill to good use because it's going to be very necessary to unite the party and move his legislative agenda. >> you can always say that behind closed doors to the president. why did you want to go to the pages of "the new york times" to lay out not what the public needs to hear but what republicans need to hear? >> i was happy to do so. i don't think there were any big mysteries in there. certainly not an attack on the president. but you have to get engaged. he knows that. >> who are you asking -- who are you asked to write by, the times or republican leaders? >> yes, "the times." they'd like to have a piece. so we produced one. >> you say you also said in this piece that tonight you want to hear how he's going to pay for these big spending items that he's laid out in his kind of budget proposal or highlights of
his budget proposal. more money, of course, going to the pentagon. big money for infrastructure. that's the little bit that we know. here's what the president has said about how he was going to pay for all of this this morning. listen. >> i think the money is going to come from a revved up economy. you look at the kind of numbers we're doing. we were probably gdp of a little more than 1%. and i i can get that up to 3% or maybe more, we have a whole different ball game. it's a whole different ball game. and that's what we're looking to do. >> that, of course, he says on top of cutting money from federal agencies. is that good enough of an explanation for you? >> it's a start. >> getting the economy revved up. >> it's a start. if you can be running consistently at 3% growth, it makes an enormous difference to the amount of revenue coming in. i don't expect to hear everything tonight. i don't think he's going to present his infrastructure program tonight. in this speech or speeches going
forward, and then you do. look, i wouldn't say disagree, but sooner or later, if the president wants to put the country on sound fiscal footing he'll have to deal with the entitlement program. that's why 20% of the federal budget is. so you have to sit down at some point and do it. don't i'd expect he'll focus on building up the military, something i agree with. on repeal and replace. again, some place that i agree with the president very strongly and ultimately on tax reform. those are the big items in the opening few months of his administration. that will be the focus. but there are other issues he'll have to teal wideal with down t. >> one of the big issues is entitlements. you want to hear about reforms to entitlement programs. over and over again on the campaign trail, he's promised, president trump has promised he is not touching entitlements like social security. >> i would recommend the president look at a bill that john delaney, a maryland
democrat, and i had. we'll be dropping shortly. we've had in previous congresss to set up something like what ronald reagan did with the greenspan commission back in 1983. and address social security that way. tonight, frankly, the president will in some measure talk about entitlements. if you're talking about obamacare, you have to talk about medicaid because that's a big part of that system. piece by piece, the numbers force you toward entitlement reform. that's no other way to do it. >> so in the end, even though he has promised very clearly he's not touching things like -- he's not going to touch things like these entilement programs, you think in the end he's going to be forced to? >> what the president needs is to project to people on social security and medicare, your benefits are safe. everybody's benefits need to be safe. doing nothing ensures bankruptcy ofll these programs in the not too distant future. you need to sit down.
we've done this before. ronald reagan, tip o'neill, howard baker. it's not unprecedented or impossible to do but it is politically challenging. i don't expect the president to lay out everything tonight. he's going to focus on military spending, repeal and replace and the tax code. that's a lot for one speech. >> you also have a lot on your plate. real quick on obamacare, repeal and replace. you have some problems within the republican party on the conservative side on pushing through a repeal and replace. the house freedom caucus and house republican -- the republican study group. they have come out against what was leaked last week. can republicans pass repeal and replace without those members on board? >> well, no, obviously not. republican study group is 170 members. i'm one of those members and that's not my position, frankly, just because it's been announced. but i don't have any problem with members saying what they
think. but sooner or later, people have to get together on the same sheet of music and the conductor will be the president of the united states. he's going to make a lot of tough calls and then people have to decide whether or not their individual opinions are more important to keeping a commitment to repeal and replace. i don't begrudge my colleagues making that decision but we'll be judged harshly if we don't move legislation across the floor. there is something called the united states senate. they'll have a role in this, too. asked to pass them and the president has to sign it. so there's going to be a lot of compromising along the way. a lot of people stake out positions. my guess is we'll move together over the course of this. i share speaker ryan's optimism in that regard. >> congressman, you make it all sound so easy. we'll talk to you soon. >> not easy. >> i'm kidding. >> the system works. >> the system works. it just works very slowly. to say the very leefast. congressman, great to have you. paul ryan, house speaker, he spoke out.
he also said this. no stone will be left unturned in the investigation of president trump's ties to russia. but both parties don't exactly agree on that. plus, who does president trump blame for the leak from the white house and protests at republican town halls? it's a president, but not him. and he risked his life to stop a gunman. the hero who says he was just doing what anyone should have done for another human being. >> he opened fire, and it definitely was a life-changing event. t-mobile one save you hundreds a year. right now get two lines of data for $100 dollars. with taxes and fees included. that's right 2 unlimited lines for just $100 bucks. all in. and right now, pair up those two lines with two free samsung galaxy s7 when you switch. yup! free. so switch and save hundreds when you go all unlimited with t-mobile.
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and her new mobile wedding business.tte at first, getting paid was tough... until she got quickbooks. now she sends invoices, sees when they've been viewed and-ta-dah-paid twice as fast for free. visit quickbooks-dot-com. the house intelligence committee is moving ahead with its investigation into the trump adviser's contacts with russia. the committee just now signing off on the scope of its investigation. but make no mistake. they remain deeply divided, the members of that committee, over other big details. democrats and at least one republican in congress still are calling for a special prosecutor to be brought in instead of the attorney general to lead the
way. jeff sessions and some of his first comments at the new ag spoke to reporters about this. let's bring in justice correspondent evan perez for more here. what is the attorney general sessions saying about all of this? >> well, kate, that was a very interesting thing that happened yesterday at the justice department. several reporters met with the new attorney general. the first time we've had an on the record with him. his question was noncommittal. he said i will recuse myself from anything i need to recuse myself from. he declined to address the central question of whether he plans to. i can tell you from the context of the situation, he has no plans to recuse himself. at least not until there's more pressure from the republicans. darrell issa is even mentioning that possibility right now. certainly they'll have to be a lot more republicans calling for that. and they would have to be some evidence that will be turned up that would maybe push him in that direction. that is not -- we're not there
right now. paul ryan, the house speaker, addressed some of this this morning. take a listen to what he had to say about this investigation. >> we have an ongoing investigation. i'm not going to get ahead of that investigation. we've seen no evidence. there was an intelligence communications investigation yesterday. the house republicans have bn doing an investigation on russia itself and we have a bipartisan investigation through the house intelligence committee. i think just last night they finished their oversight plan to go forward. so i'm not going to get ahead of the investigation that's occurring now but just so you know, this has been investigated. we've been investigating it and we'll continue to investigate just to make sure no stone is unturned. >> what you heard there is a little basit of a cleanup. it left the impression he didn't see there was much there to investiga investigate.
he did say they were taking a look with the democrats to try to see what they could find out. and certainly that was the -- at the end of the day yesterday, that's where they arrived at. that they now put a scope of their investigation. they're going to try to move forward both sides, democrats and the republicans. but paul ryan there suggesting that, look, once we see more here, we'll follow all the details that turn up. this is very early in the process for both the house and senate investigations and the fbi investigation that's also ongoing. >> evan, thanks so much. great to hear from you. let's talk more now. joining me for more on this, a member of the house intelligence committee which is one of the five committees now investigating russian contacts and the leaks of this information. democratic congressman jim heinz is joining me. >> hi, kate. >> so the committee as evan perfectly laid out, the committee has agreed to the scope of the investigation now. your satisfied with the way things are headed at this point?
>> inside the committee is sort of trundling along. i would disagree with speaker ryan's characterization that the republicans in the house have investigated. he said have investigated. we're in the very early stages of a terribly important investigation and so, you know, generally speaking, that investigation is getting off the ground. we're getting documents. staff is starting to look at them. the concerning thing is the way that these things are being led. we learned a week ago the white house reached out to senator burr and congressman nunez and said help us with the press. these are the people who are running those investigations and an investigation is like a trial in a court of law and that you hope there really isn't any prejudice, any prejudging of the results. imagine in a trial if you're on trial for something, the judge comes out about one-third of the way and says the defendant looked pretty isn't to me. at would compromise the objectivityf that trial and that's the position we're in here i the congress with chairman -- >> and to that exact point, with
what you just said, do you trust that the committee can lead a fair impartial objective investigation into this? >> well, again, this is nothing personal about devin nunez or burr. their comments were wildly unwise and raise basic questions about whether these investigations, even though there are people on the other side of the partisan aisle on this issue, whether these investigations can be as good as they should be. so the answer is what we've been saying from the very start here which is the answer is, an outside independent commission to do this investigation of elder statesmen and stateswomen, none of whoem are involved in the political fray. >> but right now that's not happening. and it's your committee led by nunez that is investigating. do you trust him to lead this investigation? >> well, you know, look, obviously, given the comments made. those of us on the other side of the aisle are going to watch him that much more closely. but we're all participating in
this investigation. to date there's no evidence that, you know, a route of inquiry has been blocked. we haven't been able to depose somebody. so, look, those comments were very unfortunate. point to why this should be investigated out of the committees but we have what we have so we need to march forward with the investigation that we've got. >> do you agree this is with the chairman's assessment when he said yesterday seeing no evidence of trump advisers speaking to russians? do you agree with that? >> i'm not sure that i do. i think regardless of whether that's true or not, that is, obviously, a statement that is saying, as i said earlier, golly, the defend looks innocent to me. you don't make characterizations whether you are an fbi, a trial judge. you don't make -- if you want to maintain any credibility, don't make statements about the outcome of a trial or completed.ion until it has been so i just think it was -- >> has he lost his credibility saying that statement? >> he's damaged his credibility in saying that, as have the senator. that's why you have a guy like
darrell issa saying this needs to be done by a special prosecutor. some senators being particularly aggressive. it was a very unfortunate statement that's going to cast questions over the investigation being undertaken by my committee. >> how long is it going to be before you have answers? any answers that you guys can talk about? an investigation like this with as much material as we're going to be looking at is definitely going to take months. and, you know, all along the way because so many people, including the white house by the way have lost their credibility. it was three, four weeks ago the bho white house was saying, gosh, national security flynn when he called the russians -- the russian ambassador was only wishing him a happy holiday. that turned out not to be true. so there's obviously -- >> have you seen those transcripts? >> i'm sorry? >> have you seen those transcripts? >> i have not yet. >> are you going to? >> we better. they're pretty important to this investigation. >> congressman jim himes. we've got a lot to talk about with this now months-long investigation. look forward to having you back
on. >> thanks, kate. all right. so just new moments ooh house republicans just got a warning about decorum for tonight's speech by president trump. here is what you will hear what's expected from lawmakers tonight. plus, president trump says he thinks he knows who is behind the white house leaks and the angry town halls. here's a hint. white house but doesn't anymore.
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said about it on fox news this morning. >> i think that president obama is behind it because his people are certainly behind it. and some of the leaks, possibly, come from that group. some of the leaks, which are really very serious leaks because they're very bad in terms of national security. but i also understand that's politics. and in terms of him being behind things, that's politics. and it will probably continue. >> here with me now, brian fallon. he was press secretary of hillary clinton's political campaign. and former communications director for senator ted cruz and john phillips is here. political columnist for the oc register. thanks for coming in. brian fallon, president obama is behind the angry town halls. you may not agree with it. i see the look you're giving me right now. could he be inspiring them? >> no. barack obama is not out there trying to undermine donald trump. he's been out there kite surf with richard branson. >> you can walk and chew gum at
the same time. >> were there some holdovers? probably in the early days of the administration that were behind some of the stories. i think the initial "washington post" story that talked about national security adviser flynn actually having spoken about sanctions with the russian ambassador in late december. that was sourced to nine different current and former officials. so probably some obama holdovers part of that story. we've had more leaks than you can point the finger to obama or his administration officials for. the leaks were happening because, look, in general, people that go into government are good people. they have integrity. when trump is going out there every day asking his people to go along with a lie for him, a lot of people just have too much integrity to do that. >> when it goes to the town halls amanda and who is behind it, why is president trump even going this route? the groups that have helped organizing to teach people how to go to these town halls. they are inspired by the tea party. >> this is another example where trump was led to give an answer
the questioner wanted him to give. the questioner asked, was obama behind it? he thought about it. are obama supporters behind it? probably. is he not going to tell the truth about this? why not in a more effective way. pin it on bernie sanders and elizabeth warren. president obama isn't going away. his approval ratings are higher. frame is in a way toward an enemy you will be facing that will be trying to stop you in congress. i'm very curious about this resist movement. i'd love to see donald trump bring it up tonight because the democrats have staked out such untenable ground saying they'll resist everything t stop donald trump. donald trump can say are you going to resist every funding bill? are you going to resist every judicial nominee? because it just isn't possible they can do this and keep up that kind of opposition. so i think donald trump should have more fun with this and pick a better enemy to pick on.
john phillips, let's have fun with this one. from town halls to -- from town halls to leaky halls of the white house. let's talk about this moment where the press secretary sean spicer gathered up his staff, brought them into his office and started -- and wanted to look through their phones to see if they've been talking secretly with reporters, essentially leaking information. president trump was asked about it. and this is what he said. >> well, first of all, sean spicer is a fine human being. he's a fine person. i would have done it differently. i would have gone one on one with different people. and we don't have a major league process here. we have a major leagk process i government. sean handles it his way and i am okay with it. >> what do you make of that commentary from president trump right there about his press secretary? he didn't do it the way i would have done it, but i'm cool with the way he did it. >> he did find out there are a lot of them playing candy crush was quite interesting.
look. >> you, too, john phillips. don't even knock it. >> what president trump said initially was that these leaks are coming from obama holdovers, career government employees. coming from the fbi. they are coming from the cia. and people in the media have said, wait a minute. how do you know it's not coming prom your side of the white house, from the political people? how do you know it's not sean spicer and his allies, kellyanne conway or her allies leaking against sean spicer? it's incumbent on the political people at the white house to say we've looked at our people, conducted investigations and found out the leaks aren't coming from them. now it's up to you, cia. now it's up to you, fbi, to take a look at your people and to make sure they are not the ones that are out there leaking sensitive information about national security in order to hurt the president. >> guys -- >> i have a question. why is sean spicer in charge of finding out where the leaks are. doesn't he have a very important job delivering the message before a national audience every
day? i question president trump having sean spicer do this. to me, this would be handled by a chief of staff, someone else, maybe legal counsel. sean spicer needs to focus on message. if trump thinks he has a c-plus in messaging, maybe he shouldn't be giving sean spicer so many jobs. >> big speech tonight for president trump. one thing we've just hearing from both sides of the aisle in congress. nancy pelosi warning democrats and paul ryan warning republicans, keep it calm. keep it classy. don't take photos. don't shout. be dignified tonight. do you think we'll have a "you lie" moment? >> i don't think so. they'll try to follow michelle obama's adage, they go low, you go high. we want the focus as democrats to be on donald trump and the struggles he's had getting his agenda moving on capitol hill. you have seen that the republicans came in and they had a plan.
the first couple of months they were going to enact repeal of obamacare and parlay that into tax reform. they need to do that in that order. because of the delays on obamacare, that's threatening the tax reform proposal paul ryan wants to push down the democrats' throats. this is overall a good thing to defend against these priorities from being advanced, but if you are republicans that are right now going along with all these distractions, you are tolerating them from donald trump because you thinkt the end of the day you'll get tax reform. you'll get obamacare repeal. and so far he's put no points on the board. >> a lot of republicans, we were just talking to one at the top of the hour, they are looking to hear from the president on how he's going to lead on that front. guys, thank you for joining me. a lot to discuss, especially after tonight. coming up, the father of the navy simple .e.a.l. killed in td in yemen. president trump is responding to the father. that's coming up.
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president trump is preparing for his first address before a joint session of congress. a huge moment and a huge opportunity. likely his biggest audience his his inauguration address when he painted a bleak picture about fixing what he called american carnage. tonight, though, the white house says the president is looking to be optimistic. joining me now is a man who knows a thing or two about a big speech like this one. senior political commentator david axelrod. great to see you. >> hey, kate. >> so if this is a chance for the president after a rocky start to his presidency to reset, can he do it in one speech? >> well, look. you'll have a huge audience. there's nothing like a speech to a joint session of congress because it commands tens and tens and tens of millions of americans. and so it is a chance for him to
try and reset the narrative to shift it from chaos to accomplishment. and he seems intent on that theme. you can hear it in the interviews that he's done. the second thing that he needs to do is try and rally the members in that room, particularly in his own party around his agenda. he's released details of his budget. there's a great deal of dissent among his o troops on some elements of what has already been released. and then, of course, there tangled up around the issue of the affordable care act. and so he's going to want to try and rally the country and through the country using the country support, rally his troops to get behind some sort of unified approach to these issues. and i think he's got a lot of work ahead of him in that regard. >> so with that, who is the audience tonight? >> i think it's, again, i think it's the country because if you rally people, you can fortify
members of congress. generally presidents improve their standing after the speeches. we always used to see a bump in the president's standing before these speeches to congress. if the president and his programs are more popular, you get a little more energy in the room behind those programs. but he also has to speak to members in that room and try and get them on board for these fundamental initiatives, this very dramatic budget shift he's talking about, much increased defense spending, deep cuts in domestic spending. no cuts in social security and medicare. there's a lot of dissension about different elements of that plan. and the aca. they haven't arrived at a unified position on how to actually repeal and then replace the affordable care act, and this is a major impediment in terms of the rest of his
legislative agenda. he needs to try to fortify his own troops tonight, too. >> president obama gave a similarly timed speech very early on inis presidenc in can you -- take us behind the scenes. what was the preparation like? what was the conversation now at 11:45 in the morning on the day of a big speech like that when you were there? >> there's a fundamental difference between these two speeches because when he spoke to a joint session of congress, back in february of 2009, the economy was in near free-fall. so he wanted to reassure the country that there were steps in place and more would be taken to get us to -- out of the hole that we were in. president trump doesn't face that same situation, although he seems inclined to tell the country that he inherited that kind of a mess. but there isn't that same sense of concern about where we are
right now. but in either case, what happens in the white house is drafts are passed around. drafts are commented on. in our white house, the president would go through the speech a few times. sometimes i watch president trump and it seems as if he's reading copy for the first time. he comments on a line. he'll read a line and say that's very true. as if he had just heard it. but on this kind of speech, it pays to practice because there will be such a big audience and we did do that. and the president would make -- and it's while he was going through those run-throughs. so it was a rigorous day at the white house before a joint session like this. and particularly the first time when it's new to everybody. >> yeah, and a huge moment and huge opportunity for this president as he is about to walk into the halls of congress to make this big speech. david, great to see you. thank you. >> thanks. coming up for us, the father of a fallen navy s.e.a.l. says the mission that killed his son
was, in his words, stupid. now president trump is responding to that father claiming the mission started before he became commander in chief. we'll have more details on that ahead. plus, a hero's dramatic encounter with a killer as he carried out a potential hate crime when a gunman stormed into a bar and started shooting. he waited for his time to act. now he's speaking out as he recovers from his own wounds. his story is next. in your case literally - and turn it into medical discoveries, diagnostic breakthroughs... ...proof that black holes collapse into one singularity. i don't know what that is. but yes. innovation runs on supercomputers... ...and supercomputers run on intel. you are super smart. and super busy. ♪ ooh! ufo! false alarm, eyelash! won't replace the full value of your totaled new car. the guy says you picked the wrong insurance plan. no, i picked the wrong insurance company.
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killed. his father speaking out for the first time in an interview called for an investigation into that raid. the president was asked about it this morning. >> his father has said that he didn't want to talk to you. your reaction to that? >> this is a mission that was started before i got here. this was something that was -- you know, they wanted to do and they came to see me. they explained what they wanted to do, the generals. they are very respected. my generals are the most respected we've had in many decades, i believe, and they lost ryan rn, and i was at the airport when the casket came in, the body came in. it was sad with the family. it's a great family, wife and children. i've met most of the family. i can understand wt they're saying. what's worse. again, this is something they were looking at for a long time doing, and according to general
mattis, it was a very successful mission. they got tremendous amounts of information. >> there's that and also this. the president is facing fresh criticism today from more than 120 top military brass over budget plans to boost military aid at state department funding, foreign aid. these retirement generals and admirals, they penned a letter to congress to keep funding in place. one of those is retired general daniel chrisman. thanks so much for coming in. >> thanks very much, kate. >> they say fending the pentagon is more a priority than funding for foreign aid. you say that's dangerous in this letter, why? >> in the first place, those of us who signed the letter all of us have worked side by side with dep employee mats throughout our career and we find the synergy and the power that is created when you have boots next to those american voices and
american faces that help secure stability in countries and prevent the rise of instability around the globe. the concern that we have in particular, kate, is that this is a savage cut, 30% for the so-called function 150 account, the account that handles american diplomats and american development assistance, and we just find especially since 9/11 when this funding cut would take us back to that level, the growth and instability around the globe requires troops to be working side by side with diplomats and development perts and that's the concern that we have. a cut of this magnitude can be a severe threat to the security in the out years. >> that's my question. you say it can be a severe threat. what is the president missing, general? if he moves ahead and congress is approving this funding, what do you fear is going to happen?
>> in the first place, you would see a cut in the u.s. diplomatic presence. i used to be the military adviser to the secretary of state in state. we used to travel around the globe to see the power that american diplomats and experts in areas that are on the periphery of zones of persistent conflict in the middle east and africa to see cuts in the areas that would preclude the american presidents and assistants, for example, for hunger, for aids assistan assistance. each theefs areas if left unfunded can create enormous areas of instability requiring eventually boots on the ground. what we want to see is boots on the ground as a last resort, not a first option. that's why funding of this particular account for diplomats and others is so critical.
>> it's interesting because the president wants to boost funltding to save funding for the penalty gone because he thinks american lives are at risk. he wants to protect americans. do you think if he provides cuts in this area, it is putting americans' lives at risk. >> former secretary of state gates and condi rice and secretary of state hillary clinton, those two made the argument that you need to fully fund the diplomats and others because it threatens machineries' security with a rise in instability in parts of globe that are so vital to american interests. and i think nothing is more powerful than to see secretaries of defense and secretaries of state side by side making the argument about the very account. >> more than 120 of you have sent this letter to top leaders in congress. we'll see if they heed your warning and listen to your
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thank you, kate. welcome to "inside politics." i'm john king. thank you for spending your day with us. donald trump and immigration and security issues. >> this budget focuses on keeping america safe, keeping out terrorists, keeping out criminals and putting vie legislate offenders behind bars or removing them from our