tv Weekends With Alex Witt MSNBC May 4, 2013 9:00am-11:01am PDT
congressional race between mark sanford and elizabeth kolberg bush is just three days away. and in office politics, alex talks to governor ed rendell about what he thinks the president's greatest skill is. hello, everyone. it's high noon in the east, 9:00 in the west. i'm maria schiavocampo in for alex. israel confirming they launched air strikes inside syria. the primary target was a weapons shipment headed to hezbollah in leban lebanon. let's get right to richard engel along the syrian border in nearby turkey. >> reporter: this is just another indication of the deep concern around the world about what is happening in syria and what is happening to the country's vast stockpiles of weapons, not just chemical weapons but conventional weapons. nbc news has learned that early on friday israel carried out an air strike in syria. the target according to an israeli official was a weapons
depot, some sort of building potentially carrying -- or holding ground-to-ground sophisticated missiles that israel says were bound from syria for the lebanese militia group hezbollah. the government of bashar al assad has an alliance with the lebanese militia group hezbollah, and israel has said it considered a red line the transfer of what it calls game-changing sophisticated weaponry from syria to hezbollah or obviously the transfer of chemical weapons. the u.s. said that would be a red line as well. this is the second time that israel has done something like this. in january a very similar strike. again, an israeli air strike not previously announced conducted in secret, barely acknowledged by the israelis. again, same kind of target, weapons that it says were on their way from syria to hezbollah. mara? >> all right, richard engel reporting in turkey. israel's decision to strike raises questions about if and
how the u.s. might get involved in this conflict. for more on this i'm joined by california congressman adam schiff who sits onself committees, including the group that oversees the nation's intelligence committees. congressman, thanks for being here this afternoon. >> you bet, mara. >> routers is reporting that the israeli air strike took place after prime minister netanyahu's security cabinet approved it nurse 23450 thursday night. would they have consulted with the white house or informed them about it before hand? >> not necessarily. the only surprise to me is they're confirming it so quickly. it makes sense for israel to make sure weaponry does not get transferred to hezbollah, and this is an opportunity for them to make sure that doesn't happen when the assad regime is pretty well occupied battling rebel forces. there's probably not a lot of assad regime can do. at the same time israel doesn't want to provoke syria into acting or acknowledging to, so i'm a little surprised they have
taken responsibility so quickly so certainly they have a strong interest in depriving hezbollah of those kind of weapons they could later use against israel. >> the president has talked about a red line, a so-called red line. does the u.s. share israel's attitude that any mass weapons transfer between syria and hezbollah would constitute that red line. >> the united states has a great concern about that and probably although maybe not publicly, is privately applauding what israel has done. we have a great concern with not only hezbollah getting these weapons, but this al qaeda in iraq merged with this organization in syria, that's a great concern to the united states because, you know, once the assad regime falls, and ultimately it will fall, there's going to be a fight for who controls syria in the aftermath and that fight may go on for years, and right now one of the more powerful, dangerous players in that is going to be this front, this al qaeda-backed organization. so making sure that group
doesn't get ahold of sophisticated weapons it can use to shot down israeli airliners or american airlinesers or against our troops sets a high priority for us. >> what are the most probable options for u.s. option if we get involved. >> i think arming the rebels, moving to lethal support for the rebels. right now we're providing nonlethal and nonlethal military support, so food and humanitarian items, some trapt and intelligence support. the next step would be lethal support. the next option is if it can be confirmed that the assad regime used chemical weapons and let's say they used them through aerial assets or missile assets, you could see a cruise missile strike on some of those assets done by an international coalition. it may be the u.s. has the primary role, but that would be done in concert with our allies. >> now, i want to shift gears
for a second and talk about domestic security, specifically as it relates to the boston bombing investigation. one of dzhokhar tsarnaev's friends in that bombing is now a suspect and they reportedly got into the u.s. on an expired student visa. homeland security officials acknowledge this they failed to share information with airport inspectors that the suspect had been dismissed from school. so does all this expose some homeland security vulnerabilities? >> well, you know, it certainly means i think we have to do a better job in terms of staying after our student visas to make sure when students are no longer engaegeed and not meeting the conditions of their visas, that they're not allowed back into the country or they're sent back home. those student visas are for a purpose, and that is so foreign students can study in the united states. we would benefit from doing a better job and not just on the student visas but overall tracking our visas. we have a lot of people that come to this country on tourist visas and then don't leave.
that's been a big problem in terms of illegal immigration. so, you know, part of i think what we need to do is improve our system overall, not just vis-a-vis the terrorist threat but make it or a more efficient immigration system. >> thank you for your time. >> thank you. president obama is wrapping up his visit to mexico and central america today by speaking with a group of business leaders in costa rica at the top of the hour. the president has addressed several issues, including immigration reform. in today's weekly address the president stressed his support for the bill recently introduced in the senate. >> this bill is a compromise which means that nobody got everything they wanted, including me, but it's largely consistent with the principles i have laid out from the beginning. these are common sense steps that the majority of americans support. there's no reason immigration reform can't become a reality this year. joining me now white house reporter for "the washington post" david knack murrah and
political reporter lauren fox. david, i want to start with you. your latest article in the post is entitled, president obama prods liberals to give and take on senate immigration bill. what is the president willing to give to ensure that this bill passes? >> what's happening is the white house knows there's going to be a growing opposition to key portions of the bill that they really want, including the path to citizenship which is probably the most controversial, and so what i wrote about this week is the white house was telling the liberal advocates who are supportive overall of the bill is, yes, you may have some concerns about individual pieces on this bill, but we need to support it through the senate process and not push too hard to make changes because any changes that the liberals want to make will make it even harder for this bill to get through not only the senate but, of course, in the house where there's already mounting opposition. what the president is telling people and he said it again ned in his press conference in costa rica, he said i'd like to better bill. i'm not in favor of all the pieces of this bill, but right now it's our best chance of getting this through. let's fight for the overall
framework. once we get that in place, there may be areas to sort of come back to and address in the future, but right now the president is saying he's putting all his chips in and saying this is the best bet to get past the partisan gridlock we have seen. >> lauren, tames your latest article cites new polling that shows the public is losing interest in immigration reform following the recent events in boston. senate leaders hope to get 70 votes for the measure. is that wishful thinking at this point? >> i think that they have to get a large number of votes to show the house that they have enough support among the republican caucus and that there are enough republicans on board to kind of quell some of the concerns by social conservatives and conservatives in the house who don't have latino voters in their district that they're depending on for re-election. i think that there is a little bit of concern among the public. it seems like support for things like a path to citizenship for the 11 million immigrants who either came here by crossing the border illegally or by overstaying visas, there's a lit bit of trepidation with public
support for that, and there also is a little bit of concern that in doing a broad sweeping bill of immigration reform could create some kind of environment that would invite more terrorist attacks. of course, a lot of democrats in the senate have said, you know, that's absolutely false and what we need to do is we need to redo our immigration system to make sure that none of these things happen in the future. >> and, david, in costa rica yesterday, president obama commented on senator leahy's plans to add an maement that would let gays sponsor a partner. >> i think the provision is the right thing to do. i can tell you i'm not going to get everything i want in this bill. republicans are not going to get everything that they want in this bill. >> republican senator marco rubio warned that the amendment could kill the immigration bill and senator jeff flake called it a, quote, deal breaker for most republicans. how does the president resolve
this particular issue? >> that goes back to sort of what i was talking about before. the president does support this bill. it would affect about 40,000 couples who have partners overseas who can't come on a spouse yalg visa because the federal law -- the defense of marriage act doesn't allow those partners to be recognized as legally married. the problem for the president is he supports it, he put it in principle that is he released but he didn't stump for it. they want to make sure nothing derail this is bill for these 11 million illegal immigrants who have been fighting for citizenship and a lot of those latino voters who support that. i think what you're seeing is the president will voice support but i'm not sure he and administration will fight too hard for that provision right now. whether senator leahy goes forward as he has promised to do and how much that gets hashed out in the senate process will be interesting to see. my guess is that you're not going to see that amendment go forward because of republican
opposition. >> the nra is holding their annual convention in houston. many have criticized the president. let's listen. >> this president flying grieving parents on air force one making them backstops in his perpetual campaign style press events. we have leaders who practice the politics of emotion. >> let me make this perfectly clear, we will never back away from our resolve to defend our rights and the rights of all law had been abiding american gun owners. >> and lauren, quickly because we're short on time, weaver seen polls show that some of the senators who voted in favor of the background check bills are getting a boost and some who voted against it are suffering in the polls. is the politics changing despite the nra's consideration that this was a victory for them? >> one of the landmark issues was kelly ayotte was approached
by one of the victim's daughters. there's a lot of public support and a lot of senators are feeling the heat on this. after talking to many of the members and their staffs, there aren't a lot of people who are thinking about changing their votes back. >> all right. we'll have to leave it there. david and lauren, thank you so much for being with me this afternoon. >> thanks a lot. >> thank you. turning to weather. take a look at this live picture here in new york city where it's simply gorgeous out, no the to gloat. folks in other parts of the country are singing a different tune. ray is here with the forecast. good afternoon. >> good saturday. we've got some wet weather in the southed a our jet stream continues to dive toward the south and we'll continue to keep the wet weather. you be fortunately, it looks like a rain out in the southeastern part of the u.s. as we roll through today. a jet stream continues to bring that heavier rainfall. rain/snow is still possible up toward the north and flooding rain toward the south with flood watches in effect. so we'll continue to see that chance of some wet snow here.
numerous state snowfall records fell from this storm. beautiful on the west but staying hot and here is just a couple of those preliminary snowfall records for the month of may. rice lake, 17 inches, and even around places in minnesota and iowa, some record snow for the month of may. 13 inches in osage in iowa. severe weather threat in the southeast in jacksonville. may see some damaging winds and possibly some heavier rainfall as this storm continues to slide on off toward the east. just a little snow on the backside. tomorrow looks a little better but still some showers around. st. louis even to louisville, if you are heading home from the kentucky derby, the rain totals with be heavy in spots. over four or five inches in parts of north georgia and alabama with some flooding possible. it looks like we are going to see plenty of soggy weather with some lighter totals but still up to an inch out across parts of the south. fire still continuing to burn out toward the west. the spring fire is only about 20% contained.
for the derby we are expecting a little rain and a high of 62. >> all right, ray. thanks so much. but wet weather won't keep tens of thousands from flocking to churchill downs today. we're about six hours until the main event where we could witness a history-making victory rain or shine. golden sense, the horse you see here, might go down in the history books if the jockey wince wins the race. the history books could tell a different story if the first woman wins. check out the hats and fascinators. it's been a long standing tradition for decades that sec taters try to outdo one another every year. today's coverage of the kentucky derby began this morning on the nbc sports network and continues this afternoon at 4:00 eastern on nbc.
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a funeral home director in massachusetts sf scrambling to find a cemetery that will bury tamerlan saar niv. the director of the facility says everyone deserves a dignified burial service. >> fact of the matter is i can't control the circumstances around the death, what a person did or what they died from. i can't pick and choose. work as a funeral director, what i do is bury the dead. that's it. >> the newly released death certificate for tsarnaev says he died from gunshot wounds and blunt trauma following a gun fight with police. authorities say he ran out of ammunition before his brother
dzhokhar dragged his body and you vehicle while fleeing the scene. and investigators day dna found on one of the bombs is not a match for tamer lytamerlan's wi. she will continue to meet with law enforcement to provide as much assistance as she can. we're learn being a specific search under way in the boston area. katy tur is live in boston with more. what do we know about what investigators are looking for? >> reporter: investigators are right now searching dartmouth, massachusetts. they're combing the woods because people said they heard loud booms about a month in the wootz. they're combing it to find any evidence that dzhokhar tsarnaev may have tested explosives out there. he was a student at umass dartmouth and that is in that area. three of his roommates were also arrested as i'm sure you've heard. three of nis his friends, excuse me. one is from here. he actually went to high school in cambridge. the other two are here on student visas, and one of them
azamat tazhayakov was here on an expired student visa. he was attending classes and then for some reason stopped attending them in december. he was subsequently released from umass dartmouth. he traveled back home to russia and re-entered the u.s. in the january on an expired student visa. that is under investigation right now, how he could possibly come back into the country. now security -- homeland security has told his border agents to check all student visas for everybody coming back in and that is the first major security change since the bombings. >> all right, katy tur live in boston. on the heels of the latest unemployment report, we'll tell you where the most new jobs are coming up. what do you think? that's great. it won't take long, will it? nah. okay. this, won't take long will it? no, not at all. how many of these can we do on our budget? more than you think.
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but eight years later documents found by nbc news showed the white house thwarted the investigation. here is david brinkley anchoring the "nbc nightly news" on that part of the story. >> eight years ago today the ohio national guard opened fire on demonstrating students killing four of them and wounding nine. there was a little campus ceremony today to commemorate that. james polk of our staff has found a white house order sent to the justice department at that time ordering no federal grand jury investigation of the killings because richard nixon was adamantly opposed. >> last fall visitor center opened up owe on the campus providing the history, context, and artifacts from the shootings. wall street really loved the april unemployment report. the tenth of a point dip sent the markets soaring. the dow and s&p 500 roared to record highs. we begin with the top employment
gains. the sector providing the biggest bump, professional and business services adding 73,000 jobs last month. food and beverage establishments ranked second with 38,000 more jobs. and retail's increase of 29,000 jobs rounds out the top three. now, to the best city to start a new business, that's atlanta. that's according to a new study by nerd wallet.com. it's based on several factors including the all-important availability of business loans. raleigh, north carolina, is second. austin, texas, comes in third. the researchers at nielsen have done some consumer research to find out where the happiest consumers are. well, they're nowhere near here. they're in indonesia where a hike in the minimum wage has boosted consumer confidence. shoppers in india rank second happiest. the philippines third. and those are your number ones. these mr. clean guys, they're like a clean team.
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alex. it's time for headlines at the half. forecasts say a weekend of higher humidity so help crews fighting a wildfire in southern california. more than 4,000 homes are threatened chshg. a state of emergency in northern italy after a powerful tornado tore through a town. it happened near bologna. 11 people were injured and several homes were damaged. israel has confirmed they launched air strikes on targets inside syria. early reports claim the primary target was a weapons shipment headed for hezbollah in lebanon. syria has been a gateway for shipping iranian weapons to hezbollah. those air strikes on syria come as the u.s. seriously considers its own military options with its allies. the president says putting u.s. boots on the ground is not really a solution but what are the alternatives? joining me for today's strategy talk is jill zuckman, a managing director at skd knickerbocker, and former spokeswoman at the department of transportation. also chip saltsman, a republican
strategist and former huckabee campaign manager. welcome to you both. >> hi, mara. >> thank you. >> chip, does the fact that israel has acted in this way put implied pressure on the u.s. to do something in this conflict? >> well, certainly the region is very -- is in trouble right now. there's lots of things going on. president obama drew a line in the sand with chemical weapons. they seem to have crossed that line. he's got to do something because this is just going to escalate and let no doubt that everybody in the region is going to be watching president obama to see what he does, especially iran. >> well, you say we've got to do something. what do you think -- there's no good option, but what do you think the best option is? >> that's the problem. there is no good option. i think tough do some targeted military strikes. what we're seeing is hezbollah seems to be inching towards the assad regime by saying we and talking about them like it's a team effort to make sure they said they would stand in any way to stop israel and the u.s. from doing anything in syria, but we've got to be really careful here but we've got to react and i think targeted bombings probably are the way the administration will end up going. >> jill, once again we're seeing
a cautious president obama approach this political decision-making process. politically does he need to get out front and take a stronger position on this? >> anytime the president is considering putting troops in harm's way, he's got to be extremely cautious. this is not something that can be a knee-jerk decision. we're already -- we're in afghanistan, we're still in iraq. we've got a lot of our resources already committed. so this is a big, big decision about how to move forward. >> and switching gears to the boston terror attacks, just yesterday the department of homeland security upgraded its method for security checks for foreign students after one of the friends of dzhokhar tsarnaev was found to have re-entered the u.s. on a visa that should have been canceled was he was no longer a student. according to a official, quote, arrival students will be also checked through a database known as the student and exchange visitor information system. the system contains information on schools with foreign students and on the students' enrollment
status. chip, i want to direct this to you. how does this recent move impact criticism that the obama administration gets when it comes to border security? >> well, it obviously doesn't help, and this is one of those regions -- one of those items we haven't done a good job. obviously as we look at how they have done the visas, we have seen people come in because they misspelled their names. we have to have an active database and properly vet all the folks coming in to stop any kind of terrorist attack. i think this is going to be one of those issue that is come up as we talk about border security and especially immigration. >> and, jill, we've heard some critics of the president cite this terrorist attack in boston as a case where the president has not kept the country safe. are we seeing -- are we going to see things like this be politicized more and more, the information that's coming out that the student should not have been here snp does this help obama's critics point to him and say he's not keeping the country as safe as he should? >> anytime you have tens of thousands of government employees in a department, you're going to have mistakes.
you can be the best secretary of a department, the best president of the united states, and something is going to go wrong, and i think the important thing is how do you react to it and how do you decide what changes are going to be made moving forward? because you can't necessarily stop every single mistake from happening. >> and, chip, the president and politics aside, was there a failing of law enforcement here in that tamerlan tsarnaev was, in fact, on are two watch lists. he left the country, went to russia, the russians inquired about him and he wasn't identified as someone who was likely to commit an attack like this. was this a failing of law enforcement? >> i think it was a failing across the board. he wasn't supposed to be in this country. the bottom line is mistakes were made and people died. and this is what we expect our government to do is keep us safe and i understand there's tens of thousands of people involved but we need to have checks and double-checks to make sure something like this doesn't happen again. >> if we can switch gears, jill, i want to talk to you about the nra. they're having their convention in texas today. of course, they're touting the defeat of that background check
bill as a victory for the nra. yet polls have shown some of the senators that voted against that measure are now paying for it in the polls and some of those that voted for it are getting a little bit of a boost. is this a societal shift on how the public is viewing this issue? >> i think it's still shaking out, mara. we're still seeing the public absorbing the results of that vote, and they're talking to their members of congress and they're expressing their views. so the nra can celebrate all it wants, but i think there are going to be other people out there like mayors against illegal guns who are going to be taking the issue to the public and saying, is this what you really want? so i think there's still a fight left here, and what the end game is remains to be scene. >> all right. we'll have to leave it there jill and chip. thank you for joining me. >> thanks, mara. in today's office politics, alex's conversation with former pennsylvania governor and msnbc
analyst ed rendell. alex finds out what prompted the governor to become such a huge philadelphia phillies fan and where he thinks the president went wrong on the issue of gun control. but first the governor tells alex why he thinks the president won't be a lame duck during his second term. >> the president's greatest skill so far has been to rouse the american public and he can do that as well in his last year in office as he can in his first year in office, and remember in his last year in office, a third of the senate and all of the congress will be running, too. so if he has a good proposal and they don't move on it, it's at their peril, too. lame duck is as lame duck acts, and i think -- i don't know president obama well. i know him a little bit. i don't think he's going to be a lame duck in his own mind for any day of the eight years. >> well, and then you've got the 2004 midterms. let's say the democrats hold onto the senate and should they take control of the house, then what? >> can he bar the door?
then the president will be able to get pretty much his whole agenda done in the last two years. who knows how the 2014 election will turn out. it's 17 months away. >> and 17 seats the dem would say have to pick up in the house. >> and we have a harder time in the senate where the 11 seats that are most in jeopardy are democratic and where a lot of those incumbent senators have chosen not to run, but the president's got to find a way, there's some issue that is can't wait until 2015. even if you told me i looked in the crystal ball and democrats are going to control the entire congress in 2015, so you don't have to worry. we need to do an immigration bill before 2015. we need to do an energy bill before 2015. we sure as heck need to do something on guns before 2015 and most of all we need to do something on the debt and deficit way before 2015. >> you know, i'm curious, you bring up guns. even this relatively small measure on gun control, universal background checks, it
fails. should the president have used a little more political capital on that, especially since several senate democrats voted against it? >> yeah. i'm amazed, and i thought the president did a great job in engaging the public on the issue, but he didn't do a good job in dealing with, first of all, his own party. heidi heitkamp, bring her in. talk to her. show her the polls again. she knows them. 94% of north dakotans were for universal background checks. >> what's the deal with you being such a big philadelphia eagles fan? aren't you a native new yorker? >> i was, and ironically i never stepped food in fifth until my freshman year in penn. i never even came down here when i was looking at schools, and we were there for orientation week and it was like tuesday through sunday, and i'm sleeping in my dorm room and sunday around 11:45, i had been out late the
night before -- >> oh, really? >> and at about 11:45 or 12:00 noon i literally was jolted from my bed. i thought, my god, there's no earthquakes in philadelphia. well, my dorm was a block away from franklin field where the eagles played, and this was the first eagles game of the season, and there were 70,000 people in franklin field a block away, and the eagles had just run on the field and the recognize was unbelievable. >> wow. >> and i fell in love with the passion of the eagles fans. >> tomorrow at this time governor rendell talks about his future in politics and shares the one high-profile job he would consider and ultimately accept. coming up mark sanford's second chance. why south carolina republicans are so worried with just three days to go before the election. [ male announcer ] this one goes out to all the allergy muddlers. you know who you are. you can part a crowd, without saying a word...
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in south carolina politics, the moment of truth is just three days away. that's when voters decide between former republican governor mark sanford and his opponent elizabeth colbert busch in a special election for a vacant congressional seat. for the first time in more than 30 years a house seat in the deep red palmetto state could turn blue going to a democrat. joining me for more, a corey hutchins. thanks for being here. >> thank you. thanks for having me. >> now, sanford held that congressional seat for six years before serving two terms as governor so he definitely has the experience. south carolina is a strong republican state, yet polls show him neck and neck with colbert busch in this race. what did he do wrong in this campaign? >> maybe it's not what he did wrong in this campaign particularly but what he's done in previous years. obviously his well-publicized affair with the argentine mistress certainly derailed any
national political aspirations the governor of south carolina had. a lot of folks thought he was on a trajectory towards the white house. instead, he decides he wants to go back to congress and the question was whether, you know, republican voters there would take him back and, boy, they sure did. he made it into a runoff, and he cleared that, and here he is. and i think it's made national republicans pretty worried because they've dealt with this across the country where they've had these pyrrhic victories with these purist conservatives who win in primaries but they're compromised because of maybe some wacky things they have said or done and they end up going down in the gem election and that's what the republicans are worried about happening on tuesday. >> you mentioned some of his personal problems that have been subject matter in this race, but at the same time does the fact that he even made it this far speak to some kind of political redemption? is this the beginning of a comeback for him regardless of what happens on tuesday? >> well, that's clear. whether this was a professional, political, or personal journey for mark sanford he's come a
long way surely. but also it's south carolina where we wiped away 30 years of tradition in the gop presidential primary this year when the republicans in south carolina nominated newt gingrich, who, you know, had his own problems with marital infidelity. however, the people in this district actually went for mitt romney, so it kind of might show a little more moderation here. >> as we know, money often plays a huge role in political campaigns. how do these two candidates compare when it comes to fund-raising and spending? >> well, the national republicans have pulled out of financing mark sanford's race. the national democrats have gone all in with elizabeth colbert w bush who raised about $1.1 million and that doesn't include all the pac money that's coming in to air ads and do other things. mark sanford has still done a pretty good job raising about $800,000, and he's made a really big deal about the national money coming in and funding his opponent. >> now, you mention the state
gop pulling their funding from sanford. that happened after his ex-wife accused him of trespassing in her 40e78. we also haven't really seen any big-name republicans rally around him until very recently. so has the gop done enough to hold onto the seat. >> it was the national gop that pulled out. that's interesting and that's something i think that will really kind of have national implications with whatever happens on tuesday. you know, do republicans -- do they want to keep, you know, going for these purist conservatives who win their primaries and back them in a general or are they going to back away from them and kind of hope that maybe gop republican primary voters don't keep doing this? >> what's the perception of elizabeth colbert busch and how she's handled this campaign? >> i think she's handled it pretty well because she -- i saw in the paper today somebody
mentioned she had a stage managed campaign. i think that's true. the democrats chose an outside of the box candidate. they didn't go with a county councilman or a mayor or local state rep. they went with somebody that the political class in south carolina wasn't necessarily familiar with but had incredible star power. she's the sister of steven colbert. that's going to obviously bring a lot of national attention and with that comes a lot of money and i think the d triple cs played a big role. they did not debate mark sanford as much as the former governor wanted. he wanted about four debates. she ended up only doing one. i think that worked in her favor. >> and do you think, you mentioned stephen colbert, do you think the colbert factor played in this race significantly? sh >> sure, yeah. he held several fund-raisers for her. everybody is familiar with the colbert bump. >> thank you for being here this afternoon. we appreciate it.
>> thank you. appreciate it. the legal trouble for the friends of dzhokhar tsarnaev, can they be held accountable for related crimes? i had enough of feeling embarrassed about my skin. [ designer ] enough of just covering up my moderate to severe plaque psoriasis. i decided enough is enough. ♪ [ spa lady ] i started enbrel. it's clinically proven to provide clearer skin. [ rv guy ] enbrel may not work for everyone -- and may not clear you completely, but for many, it gets skin clearer fast, within 2 months, and keeps it clearer through 6 months. [ male announcer ] enbrel may lower your ability to fight infections.
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a nationwide shutdown of the u.s. customs computer system delayed passengers arriving on international flights for several hours friday night. in atlanta home to the world's busiest airport, at least 600 people were waiting in custom lines at any given time causing some to miss connecting flights as officials used a manual backup system. border officials have yet to make an announcement on that outage. turning back now to the boston bombing case, investigators are building a case against dzhokhar tsarnaev and three of his friends now accused of obstructing justice. the teens allegedly recognized their friend in surveillance video at the bombing site and not only did they not inform authorities, but they reportedly removed evidence from his room. joining me for more on the case is legal analyst lisa green. thanks for being here. it's unclear how much, if anything, these teens knew about
the attack but does it matter what they knew if they did interfere with the investigation by interfering with evidence? >> no. the charges that are already brought against them are quite serious and quite focused on what happened afterwards. you see this very detailed account of all three of them presumably out of just a combination of bad judgment and willingness to help a friend making some incredibly bad decisions with incredibly large legal consequences. >> after the bombing, there were a number of other crimes that took place. the shooting of the m.i.t. officer, the carjacking, another officer was shot. is it possible these teens could be held at kbl fccountable for the criminal activity that took place after the fact? >> i can assure you that authorities are combing through accounts they may have received from these three young men and other evidence, cell phone evidence, computer evidence. just to make sure that there are no additional connectivity
charges to be brought but right now the focus is on what they did for their friend following, you know, the marathon bombings. >> now, it seems like dzhokhar is talking to authorities and cooperating with them because it's almost every day we're getting new information about the attacks that's coming from him. he also recently added to his legal team a lawyer that is known for getting high-profile clients out of the death penalty. is his cooperation going to factor into the kind of sentence he gets? could it help him get out of the death penalty and get a life sentence, say? >> there's a lot of speculation that bringing on that death penalty expert to his legal team is something that could be a precursor to a deal, but it's very soon to tell. the process by which the justice department will decide what charges to bring, whether to seek the death penalty, is closer to the beginning than it is to the end. >> and there were some issues early on about when he was read his miranda rights, that they took place after interrogations had already begun. how does that work? are they able to use statements that he made prior to being read his miranda rights?
is that something for a judge to be heard. down the road there will be pretrial motions brought by his defense statements to throw out statements, even after miranda warnings were read. so that's a typical high-profile battle on the road to trial and in this case we could almost certainly expect to see some of that fight. >> turning to tamerlan tsarnaev, the older brother who is desiced, to his wife katherine russell. we have information that the pair allegedly made the bombs in his apartment. there's also new information coming out there was some al qaeda material that had been downloaded on her computer although they don't know who did the downloading. but does the fact that all this took place presumably right in front of her, a reasonable person could see how could you not know when your husband is making bombs in your kitchen, is there enough there to tie her to it just by virtue of the fact it was all happening in her home and around her? >> you know, i think we need to know a lot more before we can answer that question definitively.
her lawyer has said, i believe, that she had no idea what was happening, and it is just too soon to tell what the actual truth is, but for sure the thought in her lawyer's mind and in authorities' minds are what does she know and what would it take to get the information? that seems to be the most important thing right now, making sure they cover the waterfront and gather all the information they need. could a plea deal be in the offing? we'll find out over time. >> and what's the distinction here when it comes to criminal culpability? is knowing enough or would she have to have been an active part of planning and carrying out this attack? >> there are different charges that could potentially be brought against someone like her. sometimes merely knowing something is about to happen could create liability. there are more serious charges if, for example, she harbored the suspects after the bombing. there's no indication that she did but in a hypothetical case what authorities are going to do is look at a time line, try to piece together information, either information she provides or information they're able to get from appropriately seized material, including computers and cell phones. >> all right. we'll have to leave it there.
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with your choice lawn insect controls, just $8.88. the israeli air strike in sker ya, what does it mean for the middle east and the u.s.? bar brage of bullets. a police traffic stop ends in a frenzied hail of gunfire. and boston bombing probe. why are investigators taking a closer look at the widow of tamerlan tsarnaev? good afternoon. welcome to weekend with alex witt. i'm mara schiavocampo filling in for al elects. here is what's happening. we're following the developing story out of the middle east where israel confirmed it launched air strikes over syria amid concerns they could pass on weapons to hezbollah. this is only adding to factors the obama administration is considering as it weighs its next steps against the assad regime.
>> i do not foresee a scenario in which boots on the ground in syria, american boots on the ground in syria, would not only be good for america, but also would be good for syria. >> joining me for more on this retired army colonel and medal of honor recipient jake jacobs. colonel, good afternoon. >> good afternoon. >> you have served in combat. you know an awful lot about the military and how it works. what do you think he said that boots on the ground is not likely to happen. what do you think the best military options are here if we choose to get involved? >> probably if we've decided we're actually going to get involved in some kind of attack against syria, it is most likely going to be sea or air-launched cruise missiles against specific targets like launchers and all the rest of that stuff, and only under certain circumstances. you know, the president is a politician so he plays a lot of politics. a lot of what he says has to be discounted, but i believe very, very strongly that there is no political will to -- he's not
kidding here. there's no political will to put boots on the ground in syria now or at any time in the future under any circumstances. >> it also seems like the public just doesn't have the stomach for that after everything we've been through. >> we went through the same drill in iraq. remember going into iraq and she general shin sec c shinseki, he was asked how many troops would it take. he said several hundred thousand. he was absolutely right. we're not going to commit a quarter million of american troops on the ground. >> i want to bring in the rest of our panel because president obama is speaking to a group of business leaders in costa rica right now before wrapping up his trip to mexico and central america. the president has addressed a whole range of issues during his trip, including immigration, border security, drug violence, and the economy, and he's calling for greater trade and economic cooperation between the u.s. and the region.
so for more on that in addition to colonel jacobs, way tonight bring in msnbc contributor and former chief economist and economic policy adviser to vice president biden jared bernstein, democratic strategist morris reed and republican strategist and msnbc contributor susan del percio. thank you all for being here. >> thanks, mara. >> thank you. >> jared, i want to start with you because the president is speaking to this group of business leaders ahead of his stop in costa rica. he talked about mexico's economy and its ties to the u.s. let's listen to what he had to say. >> we do not have effective integration in our hemisphere if we don't have the best education systems, the best regulatory systems, if we don't coordinate our activities. then we're going to fall behind other regions in the world, and given the talents that i have seen on display and that are evident here, i'm confident that we can compete as long as we're cooperating effectively. so, again, i want to thank the
president for the great ho hospitality and i look forward to taking a few questions and maybe i'll hear some ideas in this meeting. >> thanks a lot for your words. i was asked and i was pleased to share with you some of the conclusions from the panels we had yesterday and today, but before that let me tell you that if you're looking for places to stay next time, we are open to you anytime. and i'm sure our students and faculty and friends will support that. let me share with you, the goal of this forum was to make progress on the central american agenda to create a better region. i was talking before on the private sector initiative, on other initiatives that are represented here, we join forces to understand challenges for
security. we have worked with a number of key partners, the world bank, the u.s. department of state, the woodrow wilson center in the u.s. one key ally of the process over the past two years is also someone who made this forum a responsibility, u.s. ambassador to costa rica. was a key actor in making this happen. [ applause ] >> we're watching live coverage of president obama in costa rica speaking at a meeting of business leaders. as i mentioned before we took that live coverage, he also spoke in mexico during this trip about economic ties between mexico and the u.s. let's listen to what he had to say there. >> despite all the people who claim heritage on both sides, our attitudes sometimes are trapped in old stereotypes. some americans only see the
mexico that is depicted in sensational headlines of violence and border crossings. we're also seeing a mexico that's creating new prosperity, trading with the word, becoming a manufacturing powerhouse. a joo a recent article in bloomberg news says president obama is seeking to refocus u.s. tie was central america to highlight the region's economic potential and play down the long-standing security issues that have made past relations contentious. how does he do that, jared? >> well, one of the ways he does it is by referencing improvements in the economies of the region, particularly the mexican economy, which actually has worked as our economy has done less well in recent years as a kind of reverse magnet vis-a-vis immigration. one of the things you have to hear the president talking about when you're listening to those kinds of comments right now given our political agenda and what's on his docket is his thinking on immigration reform, and in that regard i think he
has to make it clear that u.s./mexican relations have to be good and have to be characterized by cooperation on one side, competition on the other. what i hear him saying there is we should be able to cooperate in such a way as to get the immigration reform, comprehensive immigration reform over the goal line in such a way that doesn't paint mexicans as the problem. doesn't paint illegal immigration as an unsolvable problem. >> and morris, what are some of the president's overall goals for this trip? >> well, first of all, he should be looking to highlight great mexican stories. you have a company like see mex who is a leader, the largest cement company in the world who can show the folks that people in mexico know how to do things right. he needs to highlight companies like that so show the american people that there is truly another side. frankly speaking, if you look at nafta, nafta has actually worked for the american economy as well
as the mexican economy as you look at skills and making sure that people have good wages on both sides of the border. unlike some of the places like bangladesh and china. so we need to continue to find those partnerships that work on both sides of the border and the president should highlight companies that are doing very well, not just in mexico and america but around the world as a leader in how trade can help nations that are developing to really springboard and sometimes spring ahead of america. >> and susan, the president has gone to great lengths this this trip to paint relationships with u.s. and mexico as one of equals. how much of this is related to the audience abroad and how much of this is directed to the latino audience here at home? >> probably about 60/40. it really is directed towards the debate on immigration at home. it's not to say that the president isn't right. we really need to promote trade with central america. it's critical to our economy and i think morris and jared both touched on some very good points
when it came to that, but it's also about bringing this discussion back into the united states when it comes to immigration, when it comes to security concerns, and that we're not going to, like both gentlemen said, label the mexicans as having part of a bigger security problem for the united states. and i actually think he's been pretty successful there. >> well, you bring up the security issue and i want to bring colonel jack jacobs in for that part of the discussion because one of the points that the president has made is economic prosperity is a way to kind of stem this violence that we're seeing happen in the country. is that an argument you agree with or do you think the u.s. needs to deal with this violence south of the border in a different way? >> both are true. there are some aspects of how we deal with it now that need to be retained, but at the end of the day the violence that's across the border that spills into the united states is fueled by a number of things that we have no control over, and the government of mexico has to do a better job of taking care of its responsibilities along the border in states that are now
rife with violence. for our part, dealing with the consumption side of narco terrorism has proved to be not particularly successful. we have our own problems with respect to the consumption side. the mexicans have to work harder in securing their terrain and securing our border as well. >> jared, if we can turn now to our economy because, you know, we just got jobs numbers yesterday, and let's take a look at the situation here at home, just this week we saw the dow and the s&p hit record highs. we also saw some pretty good jobs numbers yesterday. does this indicate we're finally on the road to recovery? >> well, we've been on the road to recovery. the problem is it's been a windy road. the jobs report yesterday helped in the sense that we thought based on some earlier jobs numbers that the economy was once again slowing down in spring. economists talked about a possible spring swoon. well, not only were the numbers
for april pretty good, 165,000 jobs, but the revisions to february and march were also positive adding 114,000 jobs that we originally didn't include in those earlier reports. so the message of the report was twofold. one, a little better than you thought, and, two, it's kind of steady as she goes, but she goes too slowly. we need to grow faster if we want to bring the unemployment rate down more quickly. we're still stuck in too much of a slog with too many fiscal head winds from problems like the sequester, but underneath all that the economy is rolling along as i have said. >> now, morris, despite yesterday's jobs rosh, the sequester will really start being felt in the coming months as more federal agencies cut their budgets. quote, the congressional budget office in an analysis of the effects of sequestration has predicted that sequestration will cost the u.s. economy
750,000 jobs this calendar year. so what potential impact could that have on the country's recovery? >> you know, i'm not for sure, if you remember the whole 2 200 bug that was going to cripple our economy, i think it's more akin to that. the president has to make ann l all-out commitment to the economy. by having somebody like penny pritzker, he will have an opportunity to sell his economic message 24 by 7. that's really been the problem because the economy has been going quite well over a period of time but there hasn't been the what i would consider a full-on selling of the economy and also a full-on focus on trade. we'll see that in the next -- this term with the president with penny pritzker and a lot of people who have high profiles
like the president who can commit their time and attention to the economy 100%. >> can i jump in with one quick point? >> go ahead. >> i don't think this is like the y2k issue. we can already see its impact. i didn't mention but yesterday the government sector in a pretty good jobs report lost 11,000 jobs. that's the seventh month in a row of job losses for of the government sector. part of that is very much tied to the sequester. manufacturing added 0 jobs. there's a lot of small businesses in there that depend on government contracts that are cutting back. so we can already see these effects in some corners of the report. not too large yet and perhaps not as large as the cbo warns but it is a potential issue. >> jared, let me -- >> wait, we don't have time to launch into a big debate. i'm sorry about that. >> we can't focus on the government to create jobs for everyone. american businesses -- >> come on now -- >> i'm going to have to be the referee and call it over right now. thank you all for being here. jared bernstein, thank you for
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now to the latest in the boston marathon investigation. prosecutors are building a case against three of dzhokhar tsarnaev's friends accused of obstructing justice. the teens allegedly helped remove potential evidence from tsarnaev's dorm room after the bombing. one funeral director in boston is left with a complicated dilemma, where to bury the body of tamerlan tsarnaev. nbc's katy tur joins us live from boston. and, katy, when it comes to public sentiment about this issue of what to do with
tamerlan's body, what are you hearing from people in that area. >> a lot of people don't want him buried in the state of massachusetts. they'd like him sent home to russia. but this funeral director has the task of figuring out what to do with him. they're having a hard time finding cemeteries that will accept him. he's at a worcester, massachusetts, funeral homes. a lot of protests and anger from that community, angry that he's even in their town. the funeral director says he understands this but does also say that he's got a job to do. >> the fact of the matter is i can't control the circumstances around the death. what a person did or what they died from. i can't pick and choose. i work as a funeral director. i bury the dead. that's it. >> reporter: and last night we did learn the exact cause of death. gunshot wounds and blunt force trauma. this is according to the funeral director who read the death
certificate to us. we believe those gunshot wounds tamerlan got them during the shootout in watertown. the blunt force trauma we believe happened when his brother took the car and ran over tamerlan's body and dragged him for some time. mara? >> katy tur live in boston. let's bring in "washington post" security correspondent greg miller for more on the latest on this case. is greg with us? there he is. greg, thank you for being with us this afternoon. >> sure. >> so i want to talk about tamerlan tsarnaev's widow, katherine russell. investigators seem to be focusing on her. they took some dna from her last week. they continue to speak with her. what do we know about her role in this, if any? >> they have seized her computer and they have found some troubling material on that laptop, including a copy of inspire, which is allegedly the source of the recipe that the tsarnaev brothers used to make their bomb. what's unclear is whether this was material that she put on that computer or maybe her
husband had done so, and so far there isn't any evidence that's been presented publicly that she was aware of the plot in advance. of course, that's what authorities are really focused on right now. >> and we know they're looking into her for any potential involvement. we know they've identified these three friends of dzhokhar tsarnaev for their potential involvement. do you know if there's anyone else that they're looking at? how wide is the net here? >> well, the net is really wide. i mean, in fact, the fbi has sent additional agents to russia to work with russian authorities and to try to retrace tamerlan tsarnaev's steps during a seven-month trip he took to russia last year and that led up to -- when he returned to boston, that was a short window before the bombing happened. so, i mean, this is an international window and officials are trying to figure out if -- still trying to figure out if they had any direct assistance. so far that doesn't look like it's the case. >> investigators have been searching the woods near the school where dzhokhar tsarnaev was enrolled.
any idea on what they're looking for? >> they're looking for evidence that they had tested some of these devices, some of the explosives that they made. they made these bombs off of a recipe from the internet using simple devices like a kitchen pressure cooker, and authorities are trying to figure out where -- did they test these devices, test the fireworks that they obtained the gun powder from to make these decisions? they're just looking to put together a complete chronology of their activities leading up to the attack. >> there's a very well-known saying that law enforcement has to be right every time in preventing an attack like this and terrorists only have to get it right once to carry out their mission, but people have been looking at some of the ways -- some of the failures in this case in that tamerlan tsarnaev was on a watch list and was not identified as someone who would carry out an attack like this. there is one of the students who was here on an expired student visa. he should not have been here. how are officials re-evaluated homeland security and their protocols to make sure they fix some of these issues?
>> well, the nation's intelligence director, jim clapper, announced last week, i guess, that all of the intelligence agencies that were involved in any way in handling any of the data that was available on tamerlan tsarnaev in particular before the attacks are doing -- there's a complete investigation to determine whether there were any missteps. president obama said last week that so far, he gave them sort of a qualified endorsement saying that based on what he had seen so far, he doesn't see any evidence that any of those agencies had slipped. but i mean, we go through this after every attack and, in fact, after every failed attack. there's an effort to determine are there still gaps in this massive counterterrorism apparatus that the country put together after september 11th that let attacks like this slip through? >> and at the same time i think it's important to focus on what officials are doing well because they have an extraordinarily difficult job. you mentioned security protocol that is were put in place after 9/11. what are some of the things that
changed in the country after 9/11 that are preventing other attacks like this from taking place? >> well, you know, in this case i think it's interesting that this was an attack obviously that was not prevented. but tamerlan tsarnaev nevertheless was already on multiple terrorist related databases in the united states. he had been interviewed by the fbi. his mother had been interviewed by the fbi. he'd been under some scrutiny. there was a communication from the russians to both the fbi and the cia. it's not clear that those sorts of things were in position or were put together the same way before the 9/11 attacks or even immediately afterwards. so there's been a huge effort since then to really dramatically improve intelligence sharing. this is something that we at the "washington post" are taking a very close look at in a story we've got scheduled to run in tomorrow's paper. >> well, if you could talk to me a little more about that because there was some discussion between russian and the united states about tamerlan. so how key is adequate intelligence sharing between
various allies in trying to identify people like this? >> well, i mean, this was a big factor in this case because the only reason there was any suspicion in the united states about tamerlan was because the russian authorities had come to the fbi in 2011 and said we're worried about this guy. but that warning was so vague and so incomplete that when the fbi looked in it, they didn't see any basis for it and went back to the russian authorities who did not respond to requests for further information, so it sort of bogged down there. so while there was -- tough credit the russians for providing this initial tip, there's still a certain amount of cold war mistrust between these agencies that make it is hard for them to be completely confident in sharing data, especially sensitive data, with one another, even 20 years later. >> greg, when will that article be out? when can we look for it in "the post." >> it should be on the website this afternoon and definitely in the newspaper tomorrow.
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welcome back to weekends with alex witt. i'm mara schiavocampo in for alex. humidity and cooler temperatures are giving firefighters a much-needed boost in california where a fierce wildfire is raging northwest of los angeles. 4,000 homes are already threatened, and officials say it could take more than a week to get this monster under control. some damage already reported around camarillo springs, and firefighters from all over the coast have been pulled in to help. nbc is live in camarillo, california. good afternoon. are we seeing any progress at this hour? >> reporter: well, mara, we're here on the pacific coast highway, and the scene behind me tells the story. it's about 28,000 acres that have been destroyed so far over the past several days. this is the third day that firefighters have been competing to try to put down these flames. now, over the past several days they have had to compete against
gusty winds. they have had to compete against dry weather, low humidity. they're hoping today that the weather starts to work in their favor. farther south from the pacific coast highway, there are evacuation orders still in place. by no means is this fire under control. they are concerned that in the coming hours the weather patterns could change and really pick things up once again. they are even coming back to sites like this one behind me to make sure there are no embers lying around and nothing that could spark this fire up again. it's undoubtedly a situation of great concern but for the first time over the past several days, the officials here feel that they have a little bit of momentum on their side. they're hoping that within the next 48 hours they could get some rain showers that would help suppress the fires that are still burning further south from where we are standing. we also mentioned earlier today that officials plan on putting up in the air the assets they have, helicopters and possibly the fixed wing tankers that could use either water or fire
retardant to put down some of those flames. mara? >> this wasn't the only fire the crews had to contend with this weekend. tell us what happened in northern california. >> reporter: well, there's also fires that are breaking nout northern california, and it gives you a sense of this fire season that's breaking out across the state. now, officials in northern california say there have been two fires in the past 24 hours. one in the city of san jose. that burned for about an hour. it was not very dangerous but it's certainly something they're keeping a close eye on because it is in a developed or residential part of the city. the major fire that has broken out took place in the -- about two hours north of sacramento. about 6,000 acres have been destroyed in that fire. that is taking place mostly in a rural area. there is no major danger to any residential buildings, but no doubt officials there also are concerned with the erratic wi7nd patterns, the dry conditions, that fire could continue to
spread. right about now, there are about ten buildings that are in danger, and there are ear evacuation orders in place there and there are about 1,200 or so firefighters engaged in that fight as we understand it. >> live in california, thanks so much for that update. back to our developing story in the middle east. now that israel has fired on syria, what is syria's next move? and will the u.s. get involved? joining me now to put all this into perspective, former u.s. ambassador to morocco, mark ginsburg. thanks for being here this afternoon. >> good afternoon, mara. >> israel confirmed that its target in syria was a weapons transfer from syria to hezbollah in lebanon. is this the kind of situation where israel would have consulted with the white house prior or given them any advance notice? >> not necessarily because the pattern has been repeated in the past. there have been several shipments that the israelis detected of scud missiles and
other sophisticated weapons and they're absconding with this weaponry across the border. the israelis are determined to stop it because if they're going away with missiles, it's just a matter of time before they also try to go away with the massive deployment of chemicals -- chemical weapon that is the syrians are slowly losing control over. >> now, you said in a recent article on "the huffington post" that president obama was color blind to red lines. that's a quote from you. can you explain what you meant? >> well, what i really meant is that at this point in time the administration has very few options other than to arming the rebels, but that's not going to change the equation on the ground. it was more a position i'm taking in that article that notwithstanding all of the administration's desires to see the slaughter stop, there are very few options left. all of the options that are being called for, no-fly zone, boots on the ground, arming the
rebels is not going to stop the disintegration of syria at this point. and so i'm extraordinarily reluctant to see the administration agonizing over its red line doing anything that ultimately in the end is not going to be effective. >> well, you mention pretty much all of the options that are on the table, and you say that none of them are really going to be effective. what do you think the u.s. can do if they want to stop this bloodshed? >> well, unfortunately, the only thing that is left to do is to convince the russians to stop arming the assad regime and to quarantine the borders of syria preventing arms getting in. that requires the consent of the russians. that's why senator kerry -- secretary of state kerry is going to russia i think over the next 24 hours, to see if he can get russian buy-in. but, look, the russians, particularly president putin, mara, have no real interest in jettisoning assad because they know what's going to happen as i know what is going to happen. there's going to be a sunni
islamic extremist terrorist failed state in syria, and in chechnya and dagestan from whence the tsarnaev brothers came, that is the worst scenario to see al qaeda further on their doorstep. >> and in terms of what the u.s. may do in terms of getting involved, you know, we have heard the president and lots of intelligence officials talk about a red line, talk about chemical weapons, that sort of thing, but the death toll over the last two years in syria is as high as 70,000 people. why are we still having this conversation about a so-called red line? isn't the humanitarian toll enough to act? >> listen, we are so behind the curve at this point that it's distressing and i have been saying this for several years. all of the agonizing hand wringing in washington misses the point, as you just pointed out. the syrians are furious with us. they feel we've abandoned them. the humanitarian aid is not being appreciated. the syrian secular army is losing control to the front which is supported by al qaeda.
so we are on 33 1/3 speed when for all intents and purposes what is taking place in syria right now is light years ahead of where we are. >> i want to ask you quickly, one of the options on the table is arming the rebels but there are possible risks with that. what are they? >> well, the risks are that even if we provide the rebels who are largely disorganized with more sophisticated weaponry, we may see the very thing happen that we saw in afghanistan, mara. which is we wind up letting these arms inadvertently fall into the hands of terrorist organizations that are running rampant around syria, and then we have created an even worse situation. so all of this agonizing over whether or not we can identify the right people to turn arms to really is not the issue. even if we turned it onto them, the more terrorist organized militias will turn on those forces and try to take those arms away.
and that's my real fear, unless there's massive bots on the ground from some coalition that will turn the tide militarily. that i'm afraid is not going to happen. >> mark ginsberg, thanks so much for your perspective this afternoon. >> thank you. on the heels of a strong defeat of background checks in congress, strong rhetoric today at day two of the national rifle association's annual meeting. >> our feet are planted firmly in the foundation of freedom hundred swayed by the winds of political and media insanity and to the political and media elites who scorn us, we say let them be damned! >> nbc's casey hunt is following it all from the convention center in houston. casey, thanks for being here. >> reporter: thanks for having me. >> now, with background checks being at the heart of the current gun debate in washington
and, in fact, this legislation having been recently defeated in the senate, does the convention have a celebratory mode or are they in fight mode? >> reporter: they are absolutely celebrating this. the nra leadership has been up on the stage at their annual meeting of members. wayne lapierre was up there calling this a big victory for the gun lobby but they're also casting it carefully as a battle that's part of a larger war. so they want to make sure that they don't get too comfortable with it, and nra president david keene actually got up there and acknowledged that they didn't think they might even get this far back in january after the newtown shootings. he called the defeat of the background check legislation, quote, an accomplishment that few of us would have predicted back in january, end quote. the members that i have been talking to here say also that they really don't support the background check legislation and that they see it as an undue burden on legal gun owners. >> nra is getting a new president. he's already been elected but
he's taking the role on monday. couple interesting points about him. he's called president barack obama a fake president. attorney general eric holder, rap rab bilid un-american. what can you tell me about that man? >> reporter: jim porter was on the stage earlier today. the way he cast this was by saying president obama is looking for revenge on nra members. if you will remember during the campaign, obama made a comment about using your vote as revenge and that got a lot of criticism on the right. so jim porter here today reprising that. >> kasie, we're hearing the boston bombing was brought up at the convention. what was the response to that? >> reporter: so wayne lapierre, the ceo of the nra, raised the boston marathon bombing in his speech today. let's listen to this. >> how many bostonians wish they had a gun two weeks ago? boston proves it.
when brave law enforcement officers did their jobs in that city so courageously, good guys with guns stopped terrorists with guns. >> reporter: so i have been following this pretty closely, mara, and the nra officials confirm to me this is the first time that the nra has raised the boston marathon bombing in connection with the gun control fight. so it's an interesting turn. if you'll remember, the two brothers had illegal guns and that m.i.t. police officer who lost his life was also carrying a gun. and lapierre's remarks generally were really aggressive, as is his trademark. he said that president obama was exploiting the newtown tragedy and that the background check legislation in the senate would not have prevented newtown. mara? >> all right nbc's kasie hunt in texas. thanks so much for that. just ahead with the big three, a potential deal breaker that could kill immigration reform. the middle of this special moment and i need to run off to the bathroom. ♪
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and today's topics, immigration hurdles, rising tensions, and best week/worst week. editor of citizen jane politics and contributor for "newsweek," patricia murphy. democratic strategist, morris reed, and republican strategist susan del percio. thank you for being here. >> great to be here. >> patricia, i want to start with you. first let's talk about immigration hurdles. here is what president obama had to say about immigration reform while speaking in costa rica a short time ago. >> comprehensive immigration reform that i'm hopeful we can pass this year after 30 years can make an enormous difference in improving what is already a system that's better than it was. >> now, senate leaders here in the u.s. are aiming to win up to 70 votes for their comprehensive immigration bill. patricia, does that look like a real possibility here? >> well, you know, as with everything in washington, the devil is in the details, and one
detail that cropped up this week was an amendment that's probably going to be introduced by senate democrats to extend same-sex couples' immigration benefits. it something like that is attached to the bill, marco rubio, who is leading the republican effort said, no, this is not even going to pass, it's not going to get his vote and it will not get a large majority. it really depends what that bill looks like coming out of the senate. based on the numbers in the senate, then we'll know if it has any chance in the house. it really defends what democrats put on there. they feel emboldened. they feel they have a chance here and they think republicans have to pass it. we're going to see what happens. democrats feel really good about its passage but it depends what they put on it. >> susan, patrick leahy has talked about introducing an amendment but some republicans are calling it a deal breaker. >> i support marriage equality but putting that off the table, right now we don't have federal
legislation that supports marriage equality so why add something that they know is going to be doomed. the devil is in the details and if we want to see comprehensive immigration reform, we need to get this done as cleanly as possible. i think that there will be plenty of support in the senate and i think the house will pass it as well, but the democrats have to be careful not to overplay their hand too much because it will be seen as a big loss for the president and for everyone else. >> and, morris, president obama says that he supports senator leahy's proposed amendment but he says that neither side will get everything that it wants. what is the president willing to give up to get this bill passed? >> the president understands that and he won't allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good. we need to get this deal done. this is sometimes when the democrats feel too good about themselves and they overreach. we need to get this done, pass it out of the senate and out of the house and let the president sign this. this would be a major victory for all americans. when we continue to politicize
this, that's when we get into trouble. i would like to send a message, do not let the perfect be the enemy of the good because at the end of the day getting this bill done is fundamentally important to the future of america. >> all right. >> not just to political parties. >> patricia, way tonight move on to our next top irk which is rising tensions. israeli officials confirm an air strike targeted a weapons shipment. president obama says he does not foresee u.s. boots on the ground, but how much pressure is on the president right now to do something here? >> there is increasing amount of pressure on the president to do something here and i think the israeli air strikes puts that pressure up even higher, and the president i think really put himself in a box by saying there is a red line here in syria if we think they've used chemical weapons we will react. now we think they may have used chemical weapons, we're not yet reacting. with the israeli strike, this is another red line or israel.
israel is a close ally of the united states. will we do something? the president said we would. he's so tied up in what he can do though. the american public is not ready for another ground war. will they tolerate air strikes? it's very hard to say. he's in a very, very difficult position and i think this weekend has made it even more difficult. >> and susan, in the past republicans have criticized the president for not being strong enough on leadership. politically speaking, does he need to take a stronger stance on this issue. >> this is one the president got into himself. he got into trouble himself by setting up this red line, and the fact is we do have to be really careful. even senator john mccain said no one is ready to put boots on the ground in syria. that's for sure. but we only have bad options, and how far will we be willing to go? there is no comprehensive answer right now, and that's why the president putting that self-inflicted red line really tied his hands a great deal and prevents him from maybe thinking out of the box a little bit. >> you say we only have bad options, which certainly lots of people would agree with. but are there options that would
get the strongest bipartisan support? >> probably at this point maybe supporting the rebels on the ground if they could get into some kind of coalition with the arab league which we haven't seen but if that could happen, perhaps that would be the best quickly before we head to break, you know, the president has said that there was this red line of chemical weapon bus now, we are trying to decipher how strong that evidence is. is the fact that israel has acted here, does that put pressure on the president to do something now? >> listen, we have to, you know, trust but then verify, we trust that the israelis are doing the right thing but we need to verify for our own purposes. the other day, my colleague hit on something, we need to follow the lead of the arab league, fundamentally first an arab league situation, then becomes america showing leadership, we can't get on the same page or help the arab league get on the same page what they need to do first and foremost, we are going to continue to have to hold back until they figure it out, when they should go in and support them. at the end of the day, because
israel made that i can this we have to trust that they are doing the right thing but we need verification on what exactly is going on with the chemical war. >> hezbollah was moving arms. that was to their own security i nothing to do with what is going on with syria war. this was a separate security concern for israel. >> lots of buzz about ted cruz running for president but is that part of the big three's best or worst week? we will pick one our panel when we come back. we'd ever grown together was a record collection. no. there was that fuzzy stuff on the gouda. [ both ] ugh! when it came to our plants... we were so confused. how much is too much water? too little? until we got miracle-gro moisture control. it does what basic soils don't by absorbing more water, so it's there when plants need it. yeah, they're bigger and more beautiful. guaranteed. in pots. in the ground. in a ukulele. are you kidding me? that was my idea. with the right soil... everyone grows with miracle-gro.
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we are back now with the big three for their best and worst of the week. all right, susan, i'm going to start with you. what was your best and worst of the week? >> senator john mccain. he has been one of the toughest critics of this white house and yet, joe biden's giving him a shoutout. and granted, it's because of his position on gun control and --
as well as even his restraint on taking the white house serious. so, he has actually shown that you can work with the opposition, which is a good thing, and still get things done. so, also when it comes to immigration bill, which we see coming up in the weeks. the worst week was president obama. when the white house press corps is questioning if you've got juice, really not a good week when you are president. the whole question of is he a lame duck president three months into his second term, that's problematic, not that he can't work his way out of. >> not what a president wants to be asked about. morris, your picks? >> susan, really? come on. come on. this is ridiculous. my worst -- let me start with my worst, my worst is those poor germans, the best economy in europe, now the best football clubs in europe. you know what to do with those poor germans. but my best week goes to the economy. again, adding jobs, steady pace, wall street skyrocketing. i don't understand why the republicans cannot praise this
president for his stewardship of the economy. susan, i just can't understand t. >> can't start a fight. don't have a lot of time. patricia, i want to end with you. who are your best and worst of the week? >> my best week goes to gabriel gomez, republican nominee now in the senate race up there. he is polling just four points behind the democrat. he is a former navy s.e.a.l., former fighter pilot and has democrats sweating bullets because they think he has a real shot up there. my worst week goes to ted cruz. he may have had a nice night in south carolina last night, but he has had some calling him revisionist historian and a jerk and those are conservatives talking about him. i think he has crossed the line from aggressive to offensive to people in his own party and i think he needs to maybe take a moment to reflect on that and work on his relationships for his own side of the aisle. >> you are going to have the last word, patricia, susan, morris, thank you all for being with me. >> thank you. that wraps up "weekends with
alex witt." stay tuned. up next, craig melvin is in. have your safe good day. woman: everyone in the nicu -- all the nurses wanted to watch him when he was there 118 days. everything that you thought was important to you changes in light of having a child that needs you every moment. i wouldn't trade him for the world. who matters most to you says the most about you. at massmutual we're owned by our policyowners, and they matter most to us. if you're caring for a child with special needs, our innovative special care program offers strategies that can help.
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good saturday afternoon, i'm craig melvin. you are watching msnbc, the place for politics. we start with developments in syria. >> we have evidence that chemical weapons have been used. we don't know when, where or how they were used. >> hours after the comes by the president, israel launches air strikes inside syria. so, what now? >> the fact of the matter is i can't control the circumstances around a death, what a person did or what they died from. we can't pick and choose. >> that's the man with the unenviable task of caring for the body of tamerlan tsarnaev. more from boston. how many bostonians wished they had a gun two weeks ago? boston proves it. when brave law enforcement officers did their jobs in that