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tv   Andrea Mitchell Reports  MSNBC  December 17, 2015 9:00am-10:01am PST

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>> respect the process. justice is not a verdict. justice is a process that we have to protect. >> joining me today, baltimore's mayor in her first interview since a major setback for the prosecution. and busted. the drug company boss whose price hikes went viral finds himself on the wrong side of the law on securities fraud charges. i spoke to him back in september about the uproar over his alleged price gouging. >> we think all this frenzy is misplaced. it's not well understood. this is a complex pharmaceutical product and i understand that the community at large wants to villainize pharmaceutical companies, hedge fund folks and corporations in general, but that attitude is misplaced towards this product.
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good day. i'm andrea mitchell in washington. we begin with the breaking news out of california, where enrique marquez, the friend and former neighbor of san bernardino shooter syed farook is going to face federal charges presumably stemming from his role buying the assault weapons used in the killings. nbc justice correspondent pete williams joins me now. pete, you broke the story this morning. tell me what kind of charges would you expect in this case? >> i would like to but i don't know. i think the way you put it is exactly right. he is going to be charged and i think what we have been saying is as early as today, could be charged. maybe today, maybe later. in one way, this is totally non-surprising, because it's been pretty clear since we discovered what the federal agents have found out which is namely that he bought the two assault rifles in 2011 and 2012 that were used in the shooting. now, whether or not he knew about the shooting plan, that's a technical violation of the law. you can't take somebody's money and go buy a gun for them.
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that's a straw purchase, because these charges are in federal court we assume that there may be federal gun charges here. whether there will be other charges or not, as you know, there was discussion that he had told the fbi that he and farook were talking about a possible attack in 2012 but farook got cold feet because of the arrest of some other people on unrelated terror charges in southern california, that he saw that on the news and thought maybe we shouldn't do something. whether that will factor in, i don't know. there's a lot of back and forth going on now among the lawyers about precisely what to, how to charge it. the fact that he was going to be charged, you can sort of see this coming. >> what impact could his checking himself into a hospital, all of his -- the protestations he wasn't well, he was confused and some reporting that his story changed over the time, how does that play? obviously defense lawyers will make much of it. >> probably so. if it's merely the gun charges, then that happened a long time ago and that is a pretty
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straightforward thing and his frame of mind after the shootings would be sort of irrelevant to that. if it's more -- if it's related to other things that he told the fbi, i think you're right, that could complicate it, although we are told that he talked freely to the fbi for several days without ever asking for a lawyer. >> and as a former neighbor, as a friend, could he shed light on who radicalized whom, were they on parallel tracks, how did they meet? is there a larger cell? >> well, yesterday the fbi director said they found no evidence so far that tashfeen malik and syed farook were part of a larger cell but the question of what else were they planning, did they have help, that's certainly unresolved, the fbi would say. you're right, it puts marquez in a funny position. on the one hand he's been the fbi's best window into the thinking of farook. on the other hand, he's got some jeopardy and now he's going to have a very different relationship with the federal government here. >> clearly. pete williams, thank you so much. we have more breaking news now. in brooklyn, federal officials are holding a press
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conference at this hour after arresting martin shkreli, the pharmaceutical company ceo who obtained notoriety for hiking the price of a life-saving antiviral drug 5,000%. now he's being charged with unrelated allegations of securities fraud. cnbc's dominic chu joins me. we knew at the time he was under investigation but we were focusing on the drug pricing issue. this is completely unrelated? >> it's unrelated to the current drug pricing issue. this is about his past. as if the world couldn't get stranger for this, the latest is that he's been arrested and processed by the fbi and it happened earlier this morning. so you can add those allegations of securities fraud to reasons why he's inspired the ire of so many. according to the complaint from regulators at the securities and exchange commission, the s.e.c., he and his attorney were party to quote, widespread fraudulent conduct. now, these are again
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allegations. among the list of charges, shkreli's former hedge fund is alleged to have made significant misrepresentations and omissions to investors and prospective investors. it involves among other things allegedly lying about how much money the fund actually had. there are also allegations that shkreli in a prior role as ceo of another biotech company in the past, he fraudulently induced the company to fund legal settlements with' investors of these hedge funds he used to manage. so the complaint is very complex. it's 22 pages in length. it goes on to list other allegations of wrongdoing. what's happening now, we are waiting moments from now, you have already seen pictures of the arrest and the walk-out to face charges here. what's happening moments from now is a press conference by u.s. attorney robert capers, also in attendance here will be michael harpster, special agent in charge with the fbi and the
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new york field office, also the securities and exchange commission director of enforcement also in attendance. they are going to go through and tell people what these charges are and why shkreli has been arrested but like you said, this is just the latest in a long list of reasons why he's gone viral on the internet about the things that he's done, not the least of which again, remember, this is the same guy that paid that $2 million for the only copy of the latest wu-tang clan album. this story keeps getting stranger and stranger. >> stranger indeed. the bottom line is that when we interviewed him a couple of months ago, this is not a case where they had invested any r & d in developing this drug. they bought the company after the drug was already developed. and then immediately hiked the price 5,000% and this is a life-saving drug used by many hiv patients, and he said he was going to bring the prices down. he hasn't yet, correct? >> yes. that's the interesting part about this, too.
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in his defense, he in his defense said that the world of drug pricing is very complex and he did say that with this particular drug, the one you are talking about now, that they do, for those people who are really in need and don't have insurance, they do provide it at low to no cost. it's only for the larger insured carriers that they actually provide that bigger cost. but again, this is just one of the many offenses that the public at least all over the united states and even the world now have been really putting against here martin shkreli. >> thanks so much for joining us today. meanwhile, in baltimore, protests were relatively small and without incident overnight after a hung jury failed to deliver a verdict in the first of six trials for police officers on a variety of charges resulting from the death of freddie gray. lawyers involved in the case expect the prosecutor to seek a retrial, but experts are questioning whether the mistrial will damage prospective cases against the other defendants as well. baltimore mayor stephanie
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rawlings-blake joins me now. this is her first national interview since the mistrial was announced. thank you very much. a lot of concern about what the baltimore prosecutor did here. i know you don't have any control over how this was prosecuted, but when i'm hearing from lawyers, that it was a mistake to go after the weakest cases first and that even though the trials had been severed and it made it more complicated, that this is going to damage the other cases. >> the challenging part for me as mayor is i'm not the judge or prosecutor, i don't have any control of that. my focus is on controlling the process and doing everything i can as mayor to ensure that the public can have faith in the process. as i said yesterday, we seek justice and justice isn't a verdict. justice is ensuring that we have a fair process. and i want to thank the jurors who took their responsibility very, very seriously and
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although they were unable to unanimously come to a verdict, i'm just grateful that the vast majority of baltimoreans respected their oath and their decision. >> is there concern that perhaps the cases were brought, the charges were brought too quickly in response to the public reaction and in response to fears that there would be more outrage if the prosecutions were not launched so quickly? because some people are saying those charges were filed way too quickly and even though they are likely to announce today re-prosecuting this case before she's had time, the prosecutor's had time to interview the jurors and find out what went wrong. >> you know, i like you have heard concerns from legal experts, from community members. i have heard that same thing. i'm certainly not in position to make a judgment about whether or not the prosecutor rushed to
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charge. i think that's the judgment of the public to make as a result of how these cases bear out. i'm just very, again, grateful that we had a process where the jurors were heard and the public is respecting that as freddie gray's family asked us to. >> according to the testimony, the defense argued that it was standard operating procedure not to use seat belts in these vans. how have procedures changed since the tragedy of freddie gray? >> you know, i think a lot of improvements have been made to the police department subsequent to the tragic death of freddie gray, and the unrest. we have improved training of the officers, equipment, and some of the equipment that has been changed are the vans and what we have in the vans. we have looked to improve the vans that we have, to improve safety for the individuals we transport as well as protect the safety of the officers. we are also installing cameras
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in the back of the vans so not only can the driver see what's going on in the back of the van, but that we can record that and it can be used in the future. there are many things that we have worked to improve in the police department, in the way that we communicate, in training, all of those things since the unrest that happened in april. >> and are police still going to be out in force tonight just protectively? because they did by all accounts a really good job last night. >> the men and women of the baltimore police department and our regional partners did an amazing job yesterday, and we continue to monitor social media and we will have the assets that we need in place to respond as necessary. i just want to thank all of the community members, our faith leaders. what you saw yesterday was a true reflection of the strength and resiliency of our city. we have people who understand
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the right to protest, the freedom of speech, but also respect the sanctity of our communities and the value of our communities, and we really came together to show that yesterday. >> thank you very much, mayor. good to see you again. coming up, president obama gets set to speak at the national counterterrorism center as another scandal hits his cabinet. music: "another sunny day" by belle and sebastian ♪ ♪ ♪ such a shame it's labeled a "getaway." life should always feel like this. hampton. we go together. always get the lowest price, only when you book direct at
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president obama is being briefed on the threat to the homeland at the national counterterrorism center. his first visit to the facility since his first year in office. even as in the wake of san bernardino, he is asking his intelligence officials, the
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state department, homeland security, all to review how they vet social media before granting fiancee visas and the whole visa process. of course, tashfeen malik, syed farook's partner in if san bernardino killings. joining me, malcolm nance, a career counterterrorism and intelligence officer, david ignatius, editorial columnist and ari melber, chief legal correspondent for msnbc. ari, first to you. to your exclusive reporting today, the whole question of social media postings and what homeland does. as we now know, it was erroneously reported that homeland and the state department had ignored social media postings by tashfeen malik. it turns out she hadn't. there had been only direct messages which were not as accessible. but this is a memo that you have obtained showing that homeland
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decided against pursuing those social media contexts. >> that's right. we know this was not an issue in san bernardino attacks, it is not being suggested in our reporting here that somehow this would have prevented that. it is not that kind of question. yet as the question around how we are vetting people entering the country has gained more and more currency and steam, what we have obtained today exclusively is a draft memorandum from 2011 according to a former senior dhs official which did not become policy but went through the policy review, went up to the highest levels, and i will tell you briefly what it did. it would have authorized vetting of social mnetworking sites for visa applicants. it stated the goal was to catch applicants who posed a crime or national security risk and we are releasing here for the first time, i can tell you i spoke with dhs officials and they don't dispute that this was a draft policy. they say it was never enacted. they say they are actively considering additional ways to incorporate the use of social media review, something that the president may or may not be weighing in on here.
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and they say they have three pilot programs within the last year to try to figure out how to do this. but the headline is that at least some people within the dhs as far back as 2010 were trying to make these changes and tell us and the documents suggest they were frozen out of doing that. that was not successful and years later now the country's assessing whether there are ways to bolster this and do something many employers do which is make social media review a part of the process. >> malcolm, we do know that in the paris attacks, there were secret dark apps that were being used so that they were communicating in ways that james comey and the fbi and others have been complaining they can't see. that's why they have been asking for more cooperation from silicon valley. but how big a problem is this? for intelligence analysts? >> well, it's a big problem. you know, on the forward end of how we collect intelligence, with regard to someone who is going to come to the united states, we rely on the host
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nation, in this case saudi arabia, to do that. we have a lot of civil liberties here in the united states and we do work within them. in saudi arabia, they don't. they monitor everything. if we were going to get an indication based on social media, it would have come from the intelligence community over there. but what can we do now about this. well, i think going out after social media's a good start but most people who are going to be trained agents as you saw in paris, they are going to actually come in and use encrypted communications and they are not going to use social media to a certain extent to plan missions. but it will give us indication perhaps that they are -- have been radicalized. >> david, what is the president likely to learn broadly speaking, obviously not the classified information, but broadly speaking, what kind of briefing can he get there that he can't get in the oval office every day? >> i think this is in part symbolism. he's briefed every day on these issues. as earlier this week he went to the pentagon in a very visible
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meeting, discussion with his military intelligence advisors, so now he's going to see his counterterrorism advisors and will speak after that. i think this is all part of an effort, very deliberate effort by the white house to show the president more visibly in charge of the government's response to the terrorist attacks that we saw in san bernardino, that they know the president has been seen to be too reticent. they want him out forward more. >> in fact, this has become a major issue in the campaign, the 2016 campaign. you see the republican candidates this week in the debate all attacking both president obama and hillary clinton for her connection as former secretary of state, for they say being too soft, not being aggressive enough. you know, is the truth somewhere in between? >> well, i think it is fair to say that president obama has been cautious, careful, does not want to get the united states into another ground war in the middle east. that is absolutely central to him. it would take a lot to move him
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off that position. that said, he does want to reassure the country, i think it's gotten through to him that his typically obama distanced, cool response to these things which that's just the way he is, has left some in the country feeling unsafe. they want the president to speak more directly to them, to show that he personally is on top of these things. it's a kind of atmosphere this white house has not always been good at managing. they are trying to get it better. >> ari melber, what about the privacy concerns, civil liberties concerns? hillary clinton came down more on the side of we have really got to crack down on the technology and get cooperation from silicon valley to go after these isis websites before they are plotting attacks. bernie sanders, her democratic rival, is saying privacy should be paramount. where's the law on all of this? >> as you know and from your reporting, this is a legal thicket. on the encryption issue which is
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getting more attention, security experts say it's not even about privacy because they have the legal privacy rights and warrants to go in but what they get is gobblediegook if it's been encrypted by a company. they say it's more a business regulation issue than a privacy issue. on the visa issue, there are privacy concerns. when i spoke to officials today after this story came out, they pointed me to a later privacy directive that doesn't replace this proposal that we have been reporting on but that basically goes into the fact that with regard to both americans under review and u.s. residents who may be here legally but not yet be american set sense, there is a higher bar for what they can do with regard to screening or anything that could be considered a search. i think the headline is this stuff has not been modernized, not been updated, and from our reporting and our understanding, there isn't currently a threat matrix that has been harmonized with the law to at least be more invasive or do a tighter
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screening which many are calling for at least in areas we are legally allowed. the sources i have spoken to say when they were raising this early on, there wasn't any interest in doing anything. now there's tremendous interest but it is complex. you would need a patchwork if you wanted to maximize the invasive searches wall lessening that when it involved americans and people in the united states. >> we are going to take a quick break. more news and we will have you come back when the president is coming forward. we'll be right back. the front line, we have news from iraq where a 17-hour pbatte took place to hold back an isis assault on kurdish forces.
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fire after it was said he too used a private e-mail account. in an interview with cbs news today in iraq, carter tried to explain himself, acknowledging he should have known better. >> what i did that i shouldn't have been doing until a few months ago is occasionally use my iphone to send administrative messages, no classified information, to my immediate staff. even that, i shouldn't have been doing. when i realized that, i stopped, but this is -- i have to hold myself to absolutely strict standards in terms of cybersecurity and doing things that are appropriate. i didn't in this case. it's a mistake and it's entirely my own. >> i'm joined by nbc chief
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foreign correspondent richard engel in istanbul, turkey and nbc pentagon correspondent jim miklaszewski. here we go again. senator john mccain says he's asking the armed services committee to launch an investigation. they want to see copies of all these e-mails so you will have e-mails being turned over to committees, then classification decisions as to what's classified, what's not. that's a subjective process. >> that's right. officials here insist that those e-mails that ash carter, the secretary of defense, used in his personal e-mail account, although it was defense department and government business, they're described here as benign and in fact, boring, but as you say, it can be in the eye of the beholder. the real head scratcher here is how possibly could ash carter not only that, but those on his staff that were receiving and responding to these government e-mails on his own private e-mail account, how could they have not determined or thought
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for a second that oh, look, hillary's up on the hill getting l lambasted, that he was doing the very thing she was doing. not in the same scope, of course. the "new york times" received 72 e-mails for the month of april alone while hillary as we know was -- had hundreds of thousands of e-mails while she was secretary of state on her own personal account. but again, it indicated at least at the time because this was immediately after ash carter was in fact put into the pentagon here and confirmed, they came in here totally tone-deaf to what was going on around them. >> the chief of staff dennis mcdonnough made it clear to everyone what they were supposed to be doing. hillary clinton's argument has been she came in in 2009 when the policy was not a written policy. well, certainly by last spring it was a written policy.
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richard engel in is statanbul, is all happening at the same time the defense secretary is arguably the most important player in the national security cabinet right now. he's in iraq today, dealing with issues including the peshmerga forces who were under fierce attack from isis only overnight. >> reporter: well, there was a briefing at the pentagon and mick can tell us more about that. it was an enormous battle that military officials say took hours to repel that, about 500 isis fighters, and they don't often mass in numbers like that, launched an attack not far from mosul and that it took i think it was 17 hours, according to this pentagon official, to repel this massive assault by isis. so it is a very bold move. you don't normally see isis fighters take to the roads in such numbers like that, because yes, they are a difficult target
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to push back, but they are also a very big and obvious target to hit from the sky. >> i wanted to ask you about action at the u.n. today because the united nations security council led by the u.s. and russia, unlikely partners, but that's what john kerry has been working on, they are going to approve a resolution for more financial sanctions. they are already under sanctions, isis is, but this is going to elevate them as a terror group to the level of al qaeda which gives more enforcement to finance ministers to try to cut off funding that goes, their ransom money, the oil, smuggled oil, art and treasures that they sell, all their other sources of financing. how impactful do you think this could be? >> reporter: i actually think this is very significant. i think it's one of the most positive developments that there has been in months. it hints that there could be more cooperation coming, not just at the u.n. but critically,
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cooperation between the u.s. and russia. also, president vladimir putin gave his very orchestrated marathon press conference today in moscow and he was also talking about the possibility of greater cooperation in the fight against isis. so hitting isis where it hurts which is its wallet, because isis doesn't operate like a terrorist organization, it operates like a state and although it is able to raise about $1 billion a year, according to estimates that i was just reading a short while ago, it has enormous expenditures. i has to pay all of its fighters. it has probably 70,000 to 80,000 fighters according to some estimates. if you have to pay them every month, maybe anywhere between $100 and $1,000 each, you have -- the group has enormous bills. so it can be an achilles heel to this group that some analysts
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say can be even more effective in harming them than just the air campaign. >> richard engel, jim miklaszewski, thank you both so very much. one year after the u.s. and cuba announced that they were normalizing diplomatic relations, washington and havana have reached a breakthrough deal to establish regular commercial air flights. airline service between the two countries. starting in the next few months. american airlines posted this picture today with the tweet, countdown to cuba. also this week, cuba and the u.s. announced a trial run for direct postal service. that will be for the first time in 52 years. until now, mail has to be rerouted through third countries. one of the biggest cultural breakthroughs could be from cuba's national pasttime and ours, baseball. major league baseball players are right now on a good will tour in cuba and the tour includes major league stars who defected from cuba back in their homeland for the first time. the league is hoping to negotiate with the cuban baseball federation so that
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cuba's very talented players can play in the u.s. without giving up their citizenship. despite the trade embargo. and the mlb hopes to arrange exhibition games and potentially even regular season games in havana. despite progress on several fronts, after decades of cold war animosity the people of cuba are still waiting to see much of the economic impact from the thaw between the two countries. praise from putin. richard engel talked about it. we will tell you what the russian president now had to say about donald trump. this as we continue to wait for president obama to make his statement at the national counterterrorism center. we'll be right back.
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every year we look forward to vladimir putin's marathon end of the year press conferences. today was no different. russia's president saying he's ready to work more closely with the u.s. to resolve syria's
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civil war. >> translator: an important thing to say is that we support the initiative of the united states including the proposal regarding the development of draft resolution of the u.n. security council and this resolution was conveyed to us by secretary of state mr. kerry. i believe we could support that. >> that's the resolution we were just talking about at the u.n. today. the news conference lasted three hours and seven minutes touching on a wide range of issues, even 2016 presidential politics. i'm joined by msnbc's keir simmons who attended the press conference and michael mcfall. keir, tell us about today and what he had to say about donald trump. >> reporter: yeah. that was the thing that really got people's attention. he said it after those three hours, just as he was leaving the room. he was asked about donald trump
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and this is what he had to say. he said he is a bright personality, a talented person, no doubt about it, but it's not up to us to appraise his politic sides. it's up to the u.s. voters. but as we can see it, he is an absolute leader in the presidential race. he is saying that he wants to move to a different level of relations with russia, to a closer, deeper one. how can we not welcome it. of course, we are welcoming it and i think what it indicates, andrea, as well as what you mentioned which is him talking about president putin talking about being open to kerry's visit here trying to get some kind of a deal on syria, is that russia would very much like to move to a closer relationship with washington. why is that? well, one of the reasons is that much of this news conference today was taken up with questions from russi russian
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journalists about the russian economy which is in a very, very difficult state. of course, part of the reason for that are the sanctions led by the u.s. that were imposed on russia over ukraine. so what president putin sees i think as a possibility with syria is that he can engage with the u.s., get towards an agreement to push towards a deal and that will put russia back, if you like, at the top table at the negotiating table and would put pressure on for those sanctions to be lifted. that's not to say it will be easy, though. president putin making clear again today that he does not want to see president assad, the president of syria, removed from power unless as he describes it, it is through the dictate of the syrian people. as you know, seyria is in such state of meltdown that how
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exactly you figure out what the syrian people would want is a question even if you don't simply assume that most -- many, many or at least the majority of syrian people would like to see president assad removed. >> there's a lot to unpack there. my gosh. mike, you have vladimir putin, donald trump, bashar al assad all in one big complicated mess. in fact, a lot of american analysts think that putin went into syria on september 30th with those unannounced air strikes surprising the u.s. officials, surprising the president whom he had just met at the u.n., precisely to try to soften up european support for those ukraine sanctions to become a player as he now has, and to try to get those sanctions eased on him. >> i think that was part of his motivation, to change the channel away from ukraine to syria. i think his major motivation of course was to support assad. assad was in trouble, deep
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trouble, and president putin didn't want to see him fall and that's why, that was the main motivation. he does hope for this kind of linkage between cooperation in syria in return for sanctions relief, but that's not going to happen. it will only -- sanctions relief will happen when president putin abides by and implements the minsk agreement. i think that's crystal clear policy out of washington. and in most capitals, not all, but in most capitals, that's still the policy in europe. >> but he is certainly signaling the possibility and he did with kerry, apparently, of some possible breakthroughs as they try to get these talks. tomorrow they are all going to be in new york trying to get talks going. the long-awaited diplomatic talks to try to either transition away from assad or come up with some sort of alternative transitional government away from assad. >> that's right. you know, the meeting he had with secretary kerry, from what
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i understand, was one of the most positive ever. obviously his statements today about the united states were some of the nicest things he's said about the united states since becoming president again for a third term, and they are serious about working with the united states on a political solution in syria. that all said, nobody's red lines have changed. so he still says assad needs to stay in place. the united states says assad eventually has to go. they added that adverb eventually. and the syrians, let's just be clear, the syrians have yet to engage in any of this, either the assad side or the opposition. so it's a good sign but i think we have a long ways to go before there's going to be a resolution. >> and there are political perils for secretary kerry and the administration in trying to deal with putin and trying to improve the relationship. john mccain was just as we were speaking on the senate floor
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really criticizing strongly john kerry for even suggesting that we could work with russia. let's play that. >> in moscow searching for quote, common ground with russia on syria, and ukraine, secretary kerry said, and i'm not making this up now, i'm telling my colleagues i am not making this up, quote, russia has been a significant contributor to the progress, unquote. was russia making progress when it bombed u.s.-backed syrian forces fighting the assad regime? or was it -- was that when it took a brief pause from bombing syrian moderates to indiscriminately dropping gum bombs in isil territory in eastern syria, killing untold numbers of civilians? >> keir simmons, it's always very difficult to either you're working to try to get russia back on board and work together, or you are going against russia but it's a big political issue
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back here in the states. >> reporter: yeah. exactly. you know, what i think is interesting about what president putin had to say about donald trump, although it was in some ways entertaining, was that it illuminated something that i was told by spokesman peskov who speaks for president putin earlier this year in an interview, and that is don't underestimate how much the russians have an eye on the 2016 elections and who the next president will be. they most definitely think that they are prepared to wait for a new president and are hoping certainly that the u.s. will change its policy towards russia when it changes its president and that's one of the interesting things about first of all, president putin noticing what donald trump had to say and what he picked out about what donald trump had to say. donald trump saying that he would like a closer relationship, a deeper relationship with russia, really had an impact on president putin
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and for a reason, because russia is hoping that there will be a shift in u.s. foreign policy towards russia when there is a change in president. >> i don't know. maybe it's because he watched what donald trump had to say about the nuclear triad during the debate the other night and he wants to have an american president who doesn't understand that there is -- there are three legs of the nuclear deterrence of the united states. thank you both very much. in a moment the president will speak at the national counterterrorism center. you can see tall flagall the fl. he will be surrounded by the whole national security cabinet. jim comey from the fbi as well as john kerry and general clapper as well. meanwhile, story time. trump on "late night with jimmy kimmel." >> i have ghostwritten a book that i put your name on, okay? and it's called "winners are
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losers." this lobster's a loser, throw him in the pot. i like a lobster who doesn't get caught. those losers are failures who get nothing done. just do what i do and you will be number one. there are two kinds of people, which one will you be? a loser like them, would you like to finish? or a winner -- >> like me. we thought we'd be ready. but demand for our cocktail bitters was huge. i could feel our deadlines racing towards us.
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we have just gotten what they say is a two-minute warning for the president coming out. we know that doesn't always work. joining us now while we await the president is gene cummings, "wall street journal" and david ignatius is here. we were just talking about the nuclear triad and when hugh hewitt had a follow-up question at the debate and tried to help him out, the question was of the three legs of the triad do you have a priority.
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trump said i think for me, nuclear is just the power. the devastation is very important to me. >> he seemed completely flummoxed. he had no idea what hewitt was talking about. it was an example of the real lack of sophistication, background, on major foreign policy issues. there were other moments in the debate where it just seemed clear that this is a republican field that for all the study that they have tried to do, are making flip answers. i felt that listening to chris christie say shoot down a russian airplane. he was challenged quite appropriately by rand paul saying are you really ready to start world war iii. there were other moments. this is a field that is very new, they are so eager to speak to angry america that they say things sometimes they would have real trouble living with if they were elected. >> ted cruz carpet bombing isis saying they are not in cities when they are in ramadi, mosul and carpet bombing has not been a u.s. policy. we have ben carson canceling his
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trip to africa next week, saying for security reasons. >> yes. he was also going to add israel to the end of that trip so it's unclear if that part might survive the cancellation because security issues there may not be so acute. but you had to wonder from the get-go, going overseas when we are five weeks away from the caucuses and he's sliding badly in the polls, the wisdom in going out of the country at all. there might have been other reasons in addition to security that he changed his mind on that. just getting to the senator cruz carpet bombing question, the one thing in that debate that was also interesting is that wolf blitzer really called him on it and that was the first time i have seen him have to actually back off from what, you know, all the fire and brimstone he's been offering. >> david, what do you think the president can say today to try to reassure a very nervous
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american public after paris and particularly after san bernardino before he goes to san bernardino and heads on towards hawaii and a vacation? >> that's the essence of obama's challenge, how to make a policy that's fairly reserved deliberately is not committing u.s. ground troops, is not going all-in, also reassuring the american public that people are frightened about terrorism coming to this country. they want the president to be a strong commander in chief. obama has to say i'm protecting you even though i'm reluctant to take us deeper into war in the middle east. >> now, you have been there so you can tell us a bit more about the counterterrorism center which is central to the post-9/11 challenge where there is more fusion and they have what used to be anathema, fbi and other offices joined together to try to eliminate the silos that prevented us from being able to prevent 9/11. >> just as you say, this center was created in an attempt to
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pull together the different strands of the u.s. government that work on counterterrorism issues. as we saw in 9/11, the silos prevented the sharing of information, the dots were not connected. the president is going to be talking to the people who every day look at the counterterrorism intelligence, who think about messaging strategies for the u.s., who think about how to look at social media, how to develop information without violating privacy of american citizens, all the issues we have been talking about today, and the president will get a full briefing. again, this is more symbolism, i think, than anything else. the president gets that briefing every morning from his intelligence advisors. today he will get it more visibly and walk out and tell us about it. >> when we are told right after paris that there was no immediate threat to the homeland, it was partly because people in this counterterrorism center are going back over all the electronic intercepts, back
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over the human intelligence from the field, to find out if they had missed something, if there were any connections with the people that were suspected of being involved in paris. >> a lot of what they do is, yes, to review the streams of intelligence, again, to see if there are dots that they should be connecting. this is where our no-fly lists, the other ways that we try to keep terrorists out of the country, are compiled and reviewed. i think the president will talk about the specific vetting procedures. the american people want to know, are refugees going to come into the country who will threaten us. the president i'm sure will go over with officials how are the procedures to be changed or strengthened. >> this precedes his visit to san bernardino which is the role of the president as comforter in chief as well as commander in chief. >> i think also, it's to send a
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signal that it's safe. he's going there and i think part of what he might try to do today is clarify some facts that are out there in the debate the other night. we heard the republicans criticize the white house because they said their facebook pages weren't checked or social media wasn't checked. now we see reports that indeed, there wasn't information on social media, that it was in messages that had been encrypted. so he could also take this opportunity to try to defend what the administration has done so far and then also throw ahead in terms of how they might be hardening the system in the future to try to prevent, you know, a couple of lone wolves. if that's what they are, all of the security experts say they are the toughest to defend against. >> the president is in a difficult situation politically because we're in the middle of a political campaign. all of these republican
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candidates, the diverse field there is, all attacking him and attacking hillary clinton, whom they presume is going to be the general election nominee. she herself gave a speech, her third speech on counterterrorism and this, the most specifically aimed at post-san bernardino, and suggested that there has to be a real crackdown on the social media and that there has to be better cooperation with the tech companies. >> the president has said that, his fbi director has said this is an intolerable situation, we are going dark, we can't see the messages that might be threatening. the president has been reluctant to seek new legislation that would penetrate that space. he wants to work with technology companies, he said that in his speech to the country two weeks ago. these are very tough questions. what's interesting politically to me is republican candidates most of all trump are speaking to a frightened country with very, very angry rhetoric, anti-muslim rhetoric, keep the muslims out and the president's
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trying to resist that but also reassure the country. that's a very tricky balance. >> one of the things that hillary clinton did is speak to that as their rhetoric, you know, turning the sand, the desert sand aglow and all of this stuff from ted cruz and trump and some of the others, saying that this is really a recruitment tool for isis. bernie sanders went to a mosque yesterday and has been passionate on the subject of reaching out to muslim americans. there is a lot of discrimination here and it's very hurtful to the majority of, well, it's hurtful to american muslim communities. it's discriminatory and it's also fueling the isis rhetoric. >> you can see that -- >> let me interrupt you. the president is approaching the podium. we will hear him at the national counterterrorism center. you see the vice president and national security cabinet.
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>> well, as president and commander in chief, my highest priority is the security of the american people. and on a regular basis, i convene members of my national security team for an in-depth review of our efforts to prevent terrorist attacks against our citizens. around the world and here at home. we examine any known and emerging threats. we review our security posture and we make sure that we are taking every necessary measure to protect our people. today, i wanted to hold our meeting here rather than in the situation room of the white house. i wanted to hold it at the national counterterrorism center, because this is the hub of where so many of our experts and efforts come together. i want to thank our director of national intelligence, clapper, jim clapper, as well as nctc director nick rasmussen and
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everybody at nctc, all of you, for welcoming us here today. now, nick along with cia director brennan and fbi director comey provided the threat briefing and director comey and attorney general lynch updated us on the investigation into the san bernardino attacks. i reiterated that the investigation will continue to have the full support of the federal government and that we should leave no stone unturned in determining why and how these terrorists carried out that tragedy. secretary of homeland security johnson updated us on the measures we are taking here at home to increase awareness, stay vigilant and enhance the safety of the traveling public, especially with so many americans traveling during the holidays. now, after the terrorist attacks in paris and san bernardino, i know that a lot of americans were anxious and that's understandable. it's natural. what matters most tl


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