tv The Rachel Maddow Show MSNBC April 8, 2017 1:00am-2:01am PDT
world a cue was launched against him. in that he was murdered along with much of his nationalists took over, they overthrew the iraqi monarchy. that didn't last either. five years after they killed the king and the military took over, the military was overthrown as well or at least the faction of them that had been in charge. by then it was 1963, february 1963. the group that took over iraq then and ruled it for 40 years there after, that was the ba'ath party. he took over iraq in 1979. the ba'ath party itself, they took over iraq all the way back in 1963, which was basically the exact same time that the ba'ath
party also took over next door in syria. the ba'ath party mounted their coup in baghdad by the 8th of march 1963, one month later, they mounted their coup in damascus as well in syria. the ba'ath party took over in iraq in february, they took over in syria in march. in syria as in iraq, thereafter they had a few different stops and starts in terms of what their new governance would look like. they had a couple more upheavals in terms of their leadership in syria. but by 1970 in syria, they had their leader for life. his name was hafez al assad. hafez. he took over in 1970 and never gave up power.
in iraq, saddam ruled for a long time, 24 years. saddam's rule in iraq only ended when the united states military invaded iraq and overthrew him and then the occupied iraqi government executed saddam. hafez had a heart attack in the summer of 2000. and syria technically is not supposed to be a kingdom. they held an election to pick his successor, there was only one candidate on the ballot, his son. he was the only one on the ballot and it was illegal for anyone to run against him in that election so he got 99.7% of the vote in 2000 and that's how he got power. that's how we got bashar al assad as the not quite king of syria.
it's basically a dictatorship. he inherited it from his dad. at the start of bashar al assad's second decade in power in 2011 when demonstrators started demonstrating in the streets for relief from corruption, for real democracy, for a reform agenda that was different from country to country but at heart it was for a relief from corrupt arbitrary rule when the protests off the arab spring started sparking in 2010 and 2011 and 2012, every country handled it differently. the opposition that started with peaceful street protests in
2011, in syria, it quickly evolved from not just a protest movement, it evolved into an armed resistance, an armed opposition movement. since then, syria has spent two, three, four, five, now six years sliding deeper and deeper and deeper into increasingly impossible, increasingly complex catastrophic civil war. a half million people killed. half million people. 5 million people flung out of syria fleeing for their lives by taking refuge anywhere else in the world and bashar al assad still in power. and russia's propping him up. and iranians are propping him up, and the majority population of syria is sunni. they're never going to be okay again.
they will never be okay again with being ruled by a nonsunni dictator who inherited the gig from his dad and then spent his own second decade in power slaughtering syrians by the hundreds of thousands. the solution to this is not rocket science. the solution to this is way more complicated than rocket science. do you think our current administration is going to be the administration that comes up with the genius solution to this? that comes up with the answer? the new administration in our country released what they want to be seen as a situation room type photo from last night. what they're going for obviously here is i think they want their version of this iconic shot during the bin laden raid. what we got from this white house was different because the administration last night was not headquartered at the white
house in washington. they are, of course, at the president's paid membership resort in south florida. their photo which they released, it sort of looks like a situation room photo, but if you look more closely, you see it's not really the same thing. for one it was taken at a function room at mar-a-lago where we're told the president and his advisers were sat at a table for wedding receptions. you see how the chairs are gilt? this is a photo they released of the first obvious caption when you're looking at this photo is lesson one in how jared stays the favorite. look what everybody else in the photo is doing. they're all staring at the left
side of the photo while jared kushner gazes intently at his father-in-law. you want there to be a new job in the united states called crowned prince, this is how you will that job into existence. but it's also a notable photo. the mar-a-lago situation room photo. it's also notable for who's there, who's in on that decision, that moment. in the real situation room photo, the bin laden situation room photo, there's the secretary of state, the national security adviser, the vice president, the defense secretary, there's the director of national intelligence, the cia chief, the chairman of the joint chief of staff, you recognize these people. in the mar-a-lago photo, some of those same people with those same titles are there, but there's jared, the president's son-in-law. there's also the top economic adviser to the president. there's the white house spokesman back there. there's other people we don't
know at all and sort of right next to the president, there's the treasury secretary and the secretary of commerce. why are they there? we are told this is the situation room photo. this is the critical military briefing on a possible u.s. military strike in syria. why is the commerce secretary there? i don't know why wilbur ross is there. but wilbur ross does appear to have no idea what was going on around him at that moment. i have a little bit of tape to play for you. this is not on camera. it's just audio. a reporter asked the commerce secretary, wilbur ross, today what it was like to be right there with the president to be in that makeshift mar-a-lago situation room in this key moment and asked him what he thought of what he witnessed. we know from the photo that wilbur ross, he definitely was there. he was right there, right in the middle of it. he's making clear that -- he seems to have misunderstood some details about what was going on around him in that moment. listen.
>> in terms of the strikes themselves, it's my understanding that they took out something like 20% of the entire syrian air force. so it was huge not just in terms of number of planes, but relative to the scale of their air force. >> commerce secretary wilbur ross under the impression that 20% of the entire syrian air force was destroyed last night in this one u.s. strike on a tertiary airfield. i don't think that's what happened. secretary of state rex tillerson later tried to clarify it wasn't 20% of the air force, maybe of us the 20% of one wing of the syrian air force that was destroyed maybe? maybe it was 20 planes that were destroyed. maybe it was 20% of some economic figure relevant to this strike. i don't know.
but at least wilbur ross was right there at the president's side to help make this call, even if he doesn't know what the call was even afterwards. what has changed in terms of u.s. military involvement in the terrible intractable syrian civil war as of last night is a pretty specific thing. last night was not the first time that the u.s. military has shot tomahawk missiles into syria from u.s. navy ships. this footage you're looking at is from 2014 when president obama ordered that 47 tomahawk missiles should be fired at fighters inside syria that were thought to be allied with al qaeda. the united states also led a coalition of arab nations in manned aircraft bombing raid in syria starting september 2014. the united states alone and
along with other countries have continued bombing raids in syria for years now both with drones and with manned planes. those air strikes have been targeting isis. those u.s. attacks inside syria continued right through the end of the obama administration and into the start of the new administration too. none of that is new in terms of our u.s. military involvement in the syrian civil war. what is new as of last night is that now we're bombing both sides in that war. previous air strikes and the casual commando raid targeted the al qaeda affiliated fighters. they also targeted syrian government as well, the syrian military. the forces of bashar al assad. whether you like this turn of events or not, it's truly not clear why the u.s. government has made that this change. bashar al assad undoubtedly is a butcher with the blood of
hundreds of thousands of people on his hands as well as the ultimate responsibility for what has been the wholesale destruction of his own country. but he's been a butcher all this time. there are hundreds of thousands of people who have died in that war. the syrian government under bashar al assad there appears to be an industrialized human atroci atrocity. this has been true all along. that has been true for years. and it does appear that bashar al assad may have abused chemical weapons against his own civilian population again this week. but this president was emphatic after a much larger chemical weapons attack that that was no reason for the united states to get militarily involved whatsoever in the syrian civil war.
i mean, if you didn't want to get involved, if you screamed and yelled and occasionally went to all caps emphasis how stupid it would be to get involved after he killed 1400 people with chemical weapons not that long ago, why would bashar al assad killing 70 people with gas this week result in the new administration reversing its position on this war and getting in? and not just reversing its position from what the president had said when he was a private citizen in 2013. they have reversed their position, taken the exact opposite position from their own foreign policy position just last week. >> i think the status and the longer term status of president assad will be decided by the syrian people.
assad's role in the future is uncertain with the acts he's taken, it would seem there would be no role for him to govern the syrian people. >> first clip there was rex tillerson secretary of state last week. second clip was rex tillerson this week. 180 degree change. and whether you like the new policy or you like the old one, we need to now try to figure out what the cause was of that change. was it just an impulsive thing from the new president, it wasn't an emotional thing. was he secretly inclined to intervene all this time and he campaigned on the opposition until a few days ago with a stealth move? is it possible he was just ignorant about the syrian civil war before, even though he was taking public positions on them. now that he's president he's learning about what the civil war is and he's finding now that he gets it his instincts are to
start shooting missiles. in the last few days, the new administration has threatened that the united states will take unilateral action against north korea. secretary of state putting out a strange threatening statement a few days ago saying the united states has spoken enough about north korea. we have no further comment. before the national security adviser got fired, there was also his vague, strange threat against iran. >> as of today, we are officially putting iran on notice. >> it's still not at all clear what that meant, what that was about. is the notice still active now that michael flynn has been fired? could he deliver their notice through turkey since he was on the government payroll?
iran is on notice. the raid on yemen, that was apparently approved after almost no deliberate process within the administration at all. that raid was a disaster, resulted in many civilian deaths and the death of a u.s. navy seal and injuries to four other navy seals. that raid also represented a significant circulation in military intervention by the u.s. administration. without a process to deliberate over that really at all. the new president apparently approved that raid and that major circulation in yemen at a dinner meeting that included jared, his son-in-law. this new presidency is where we got what appears to have been a truly disastrous u.s. air raid in mosul, iraq. an air raid that may have killed 200 civilians after u.s. and
allied forces specifically told the civilians in those neighbors that they should not leave and they should stay in their homes right before u.s. planes then bombed those homes. and now, the new administration has launched 59 tomahawk missiles at the other side in the syrian war that we weren't yet fighting at the syrian military. why were steve mnuchin and jared kushner and the chief of the economic council and wilbur ross, why were they all in the room while that decision was being made? what military action decision requires the chief of the economic advisers to be there, or wilbur ross? the u.s. military's been involved in the syrian civil war before. we have never before deliberately taken a combatant role against the syrian military.
who knows what will happen in response if anything? is the united states going to pursue a military strategy that's aimed at regime change in syria now? today, who knows? and next week, who wants to bet? we don't understand how it is the policy changed 180 degrees from last week. how will we know it's not going to change again next week? the founders of our country tried to invest the power to make war in the united states congress instead of in the presidency. and they did that for a reason. it's hard to get elected officials from all over the country vote to start a war. congress wouldn't even take a vote on president obama's request to them to authorize military force in syria in 2013. congress is structurally disinclined toward war, and the founders knew they would be. they knew that a deliberative body would be less likely to
wage war recklessly as compared to one person who can make that decision alone. over these past couple generations, we have let that constitutional imperative slip. and now we've got in power a person with the war making powers off a modern american president who is also a person that is the subject of a counterintelligence investigation by the fbi because of the possibility that he concluded with a foreign power in order to become president. he also appears to have no morring whatsoever in the day-to-day basics of foreign policy. but he has just gotten the first good press of his young presidency, and he got it by turning on a dime doing something completely contrary to his stated foreign policy and deciding what the heck, let's bomb something.
i'll get my coat. meaning you can catch up on all the moments you might have missed. you seriously can't tell the difference between a bird and a plane? like that time gwen and blake got a little too flirty. that's so inappropriate to talk about us hooking up. xfinity watchathon week ends april 9. the greatest collection of shows free with xfinity on demand. this is the time in the show when i thought we were about to joifrn joined live by richard engel. richard is live for us right now on the turkish side of syria. we have just been told that turkish authorities have told richard to take down his live shot.
so even though he's there, as far as i know we cannot put him on camera, but i believe we've been able to get you by phone. are we with you? >> you are. and i'm sorry about this. we were up and ready to go, the lights were on, and then the police or intelligence services came and chased us away, not because i was going to talk to you, because the situation here is tense. there's a referendum that's coming up that's very important, very politically sensitive here so they're nervous about journalists setting up shop and talking about almost anything. i really wanted to be part of your show because it's an incredibly important subject you're discussing. i was listening to your intro and i was crying to myself. it's so important that people realize -- you were suggting do we have a policy in syria, can this team in power be trusted to gde us through these waters? and i wanted to discuss that with you.
>> richard, in terms of what's different here, i think it's important to be specific about the the fact there have been various types of u.s. military engagement in syria over the last few years. there have been tomahawk strikes before. >> just now we've been bombing both sides. we've been bombing the extremist groups there. first we armed those groups, now we're the bombing government that's bombing those groups because that group did an atrocity and did it on television and that's the key thing here. president trump saw it and decided to act either for emotional reasons or, if you were a cynical person, for political reasons. and i was told that the optics were also part of it.
he did want to send a message to the chinese president that he's having dinner with that he's a tough guy, that times have changed, that he can be trusted to use the military as his discretion when he wants to. >> richard, do you think particularly in light of that disturbing reporting that this may have been something done not for strategic reasons but for political effect, do you think that the united states government and the u.s. military should be expecting there will be a different kind of response to this strike targeting the syrian military than there has been to the other kinds of involvement we've had on the other sides of this war? >> so far there hasn'teen any kind of catastrophic reaction to this because it was small, because there is a meeting coming up next week between rex tillerson and putin in moscow. the russians don't want to rock the boat right now. i don't think the russians are going to forget about this. i don't think the syrians have forgotten about this. the syrian government, while you
said they are running what has been described as a concentration camp system, today were baffled. they said what side is the u.s. on? we had an interview with someone very close to assad's office who was saying are you helping the terrorists? maybe that's what they call all the extremist groups there, who's side are you on? to a degree they have a point because it's not clear whose side we're on. >> richard, glad to get you on this broadcast. >> there will be more because what's coming next week. so this time there was a strike, maybe there's not going to be great consequences because it was limited but who knows where this is going. this is really delicate stuff. >> thank you, my friend. stay safe tonight in turkey.
i want to bring into the conversation courtney kuby. you've been doing absolutely yeoman's work and really good reporting. you've been way ahead of the curve in terms of anticipating these things and describing them. i want to congratulate you and thank you for helping us report this over the last 24 hours. one of the things we had conflicting reports about today is how much damage was done. we got some sort of hard to read, hard to assess reports from the ground in syria saying not too much damage was done to this base. certainly it's still functioning as an air base. there were airplanes taking off today from there. can you thread that for us at all in terms of giving us an assessment there? >> sure.
the base itself, the majority of the damage to the base itself was infrastructure. they did not pock up the runway. these strikes were very targeted. they didn't take out the syrian air force as some were calling for early yesterday. what they were trying to do was send a very clear message, a clear signal that the specific assets that were used for this chemical attack earlier this week on civilians near idlib, those are what were targeted. they went after 20 syrian aircraft and several aircraft they went after fuel depots, the places where they refuel the aircraft on the base. they went after the air defenses, they believe they took out the defenses, a russian-made syrian radar. they weren't intending to stop
the syrian air force capability, frankly, they didn't stop the capability at that base. they still have the ability like to fly in and out of that base today. >> we got this dramatic photo released by the white house today showing the sort of makeshift situation room they set up at the president's resort in south florida. it was a dramatic picture but an unusual cast of characters, the president's top economic adviser, the commerce secretary is there, the treasury secretary is there, not to mention the president's son-in-law. is it clear in terms of white house decision-making part of this that all those people were involved in this process? do we know what the chain of decision making was here? >> it was a relatively quick decision making process. so earlier in the week on april 5th, president trump asked secretary mattis for specific plans for options to strike back at the syrian regime, specifically because of this chemical attack on april 4th.
by that day, there were plans at the white house, and then it goes back and forth. the military and the administration likes to call it an interagency process, but basically what it is is members of the nsc go back and forth and talk through their options. by the next day on april 6th, yesterday, a proposal was sent forward by secretary mattis to president trump down at mar-a-lago. we don't know exactly whether president trump accepted the exact recommendation by secretary mattis or if there was a variation of several options that came forward. we just don't know. but in fact he did make the call at 4:30 yesterday. >> a president trump said go forward with the strikes. i want it to be targeted and specifically against any of the assets that are involved in the chemical weapons attack earlier this week. and that's what the military did. think about that. 4:30 p.m. eastern time, president trump gave the order. there was a tank meeting at the exact same time. i watched the chiefs walk into the office yesterday afternoon.
lands national park twitter account. it's not a national park. obviously the national park service itself also has a twitter account, but there is also a nasty women of the national park service twitter account. they call it, quote, the unofficial resistances team of nasty lady rangers that your elected officials warned you about. here's
another one. this one's pretty blunt, not at all e.p.a. since president trump took office, one of the things that's happened online is dozens of parody accounts have popped up. they're usually pretty open about the fact they're alternative accounts. the alt department of energy on the alt department of labor, or the alt library of congress.
there's also one account called alt immigration. it's the alternative account for the agency called the u.s. citizenship and immigration service. this account has been particularly critical of the muslim ban and the wall with the border of mexico. that parody was not well received by the trump administration. on march 14th, the u.s. customs and border patrol, the real one, sent a summons to twitter, to the company twitter, asking for, quote, all records regarding the twitter account including user names, phone numbers and ip addresses. the real border payroll faxed that to twitter on march 14th. unfortunately they asked twitter to comply with the summons on the day before they sent it. yesterday twitter sued pretty much everybody involved in issuing this strange summons. they filed a case against the department of homeland security, u.s. customs and border protection, john kelly, as well as a bunch of officials from the agency.
a lawsuit said customs and border patrol didn't have grounds to even issue a summons like this. i know that sounds like weird legalese, until you see in fact the u.s. code that u.s. customs and border patrol cited when they demanded this information about the parody twitter account, what they cited was a part of the u.s. code that relates to inquiries relating to the importation of merchandise. tweets are not merchandise, nor are they imported. but nice try. did you try to get them for parking too? i don't know who the trump administration has working at the legal office at customs and border patrol, but we can tell for sure two things, one, they don't have a sense of humor, and they're not that awesome when it
comes to the legal stuff. well, after twitter sued them yesterday, today customs and border patrol tried to make the whole thing go away. they rescinded the summons and dropped everything. they withdrew, so now twitter has dropped their lawsuit in response. but under the trump administration, that's your tax dollars at work.
no, i'm scheduling time to go oto the bank to get a mortgage. ugh, you're using a vacation day to go to the bank? i know, right? just go to lendingtree.com. get up to five loan offers to compare side by side for free. wow, that's great. wait, how did you get in my kitchen? oh, i followed a raccoon in through your doggie door. [chittering] [gasps] get a better mortgage on your schedule. not the bank's. lendingtree. when banks compete, you win. just think of him as a big cat. [chittering] with rabies.
when supreme court justice antonin scalia died on a ranch in texas last year, only a few hours had passed before the top republican in the senate said president obama wouldn't allowed to put a justice on the court to replace justice scalia. he said, quote, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president. that was february 2016. that was the very start of the presidency primary season. president obama still had almost a full year left in office but the republicans in the senate declared as far as they were concerned he wasn't really president at all. president obama had no right to make a supreme court nomination and then they tried to persuade everyone else this was true. >> justice scalia served for 30 years so this clearly extends beyond president obama's term of office. it's that important. >> he served for 30 years so what gives this president the right to go ahead and try to replace him?
after president obama nevertheless nominated someone, he nominated garland to fill the seat even those who supported him, those republicans refused to meet with him, they refused to even schedule a hearing for him. they pretended like the nomination didn't exist. it's an unprecedented thing on the republicans' part what they did to merrick garland. and further they started arguing with hillary clinton ended up winning the presidency, they would never fill that seat. they would hold it open for the entire time she was president. judge merrick garland waited for 293 days for a senate hearing, the longest any supreme court nominee has ever had to wait. until his nomination ended without him ever getting a hearing. it stayed open for 14 months so republicans could wait until a republican was in place and they could get a republican candidate in that seat.
we've never ever gone through a process like that before in this country. we've never filled a supreme court seat like this in this way. ever since justice scalia died, since the day he passed away, the process of filling this seat has ever been normal. today we found out who will fill that seat, republicans got rid of senate rules that have been there forever in order to get neil gorsuch confirmed to the seat. it's done. he will be sworn in on monday. there's nothing anybody can do about it. but the way it happened was so radical that in some ways it's occluded any view of what neil gorsuch should be expected to be. if democrats manage to win back the senate next year, would this be the new normal? where the president from an opposing party no longer gets to put anybody on the supreme court and seats just get held open?
if another supreme court justice retired or died on the bench and there was another opening statement on the supreme court if democrats were in charge of the senate would they not allow trump to nominate anyone? is that what we do from here on out? is there any other remedy at this point given what we just went through? joining us is the great dalia. it's great to see you on this first day of the new world order. >> hey, rachel. i feel like it's been 14 months of us talking about this theoretically and here we are. >> and that's sort of been our lives in this new political era. we talk about how amazing and strange and perverse to the course of american history it
would be if x happened, then x happens and we have to figure out what you do the next day. this is the way it goes and we don't know what happens next? or do you feel like we have a sort of tale foretold in terms of what happens now. >> i think this happens forever. something fundamental and you put it perfectly. what we learned with mitch mcconnell says that obstructing merrick garland was one of the proudest moments of his career, that this is about power now. it's not about senate norms that suggest that supreme court justices are different. now it's just about power. it's about winning elections. it's about putting the most extreme person you can put up knowing that you need 51 votes to confirm them. i don't see this unrolling and i think the other thing i'd add is 84, anthony kennedy, 78 steve breyer, this is not a theoretical question either. >> if you could wave magic wand, you could just determine what
people were going to how people were going to deal with these matters, is this a fix you could invent that would get us out of that very dire description that you just gave us. >> the depressing fix, rachel, is i think this is a situation where democrats have been awfully moderate and temperate over the last few decades. and so that when, you know, john roberts was put up, sam alito, right to quite far right nominees from republican brds, we saw kagan, sotomayor, people who were sort of center left. so i think in one sense, retroactively just keep putting
up brennans. put up people who are counter weights. the center of the court is now anthony kennedy, one of the most conservative jurists in supreme court history. i think some kind of persuade of passion force and enthusiasm, i think that's the only way to fix this. >> do you subscribe to the common view now that neil gorsuch will be to the right of every justice on the court? >> whether he's to the right of alito or thompson, those are the questions we're asking. i think he's consistently where scalia, thompson and alito are, not to the left of them. >> teller of hard truths, thank you. we'll be right back. stay with us.
i know what you want. i know what you've been thinking. you should just own up to it. you've been sitting there tonight all through the show thinking yes, yes, this is all fine, maddow. but man, i wish there was some new, even creepier details on that lurid sex scandal involving alabama's handsome 74-year-old governor. it's friday. i will not let you down. dirty text messages, open threats, including something rustling in the bushes. also something about a command to bow to the throne. and that's a quote. put the kids to bed. maybe clear the room of anything you don't want to upchuck on. because it's about to get little weird. it's our final story of the night. thank you, alabama. that's next.
>>foe pastear, alabama's republican governor robert bentley has be under three separate investigations as the state has tried to figure out ether he ud taxpayer funds to carry on and then cover up an affair with a top staffer. well, on wednesday this week we reported that the state ethics commission had referred the governor for prosecution. well, today the alabama house impeachment committee released their investigative report on the scandal, and oh my. the report says the governor refused to cooperate with the investigation in any meaningful sense, which they say is itself grounds for impeachment. but despite his lack of cooperation, they're able to detail things like the governor dispatching alabama law enforcement officials to break up with his alleged girlfriend on his behalf. he also allegedly directed law enforcement officials to drive all over the state to confront people he thought might have sexy recordings of him and his alleged mistress.
the report also details significant sums of money paid to his alleged mistress. and that part doesn't even cover the salacious stuff like the text messages discovered by the governor's wife because he didn't realize his cellphone was synced to his ipad, and she had access to the ipad. messages where he talks with his alleged mistress about wanting to touch her body and wishing she could be sleeping next to him. and they say things like bless our hearts and other parts, to which he responds magnetic. on top of all that -- sorry. i want to rescind my facial expression. i take it back. recall. there are new revelations about the culture of fear and intimidation the governor established once he knew he was in trouble, including allegations of multiple threats against his then wife's chief of staff who helped set up the
recording device that caught the governor red-not exactly handed, the governor apparently cornering her in the governor's mansion telling her you'll never work in the state of alabama again if you tell anybody about the affair and again reportedly confronted her in a parking lot warning her to watch herself because she didn't know what she was getting into. he also told her, allegedly, because he was the governor, qu people boto the throne. the wife's chief of staff says somebody threw a rock through her window and scrawled death threats on her car. even before the report came out at 5:00 today, the leaders of the house and state senate, both of them republicans urged the governor to resign, but the governor said nope, he is staying. this afternoon a judge granted the governor's request for a temporary restraining order on impeachment proceedings. so no impeachment proceedings for now. the court says the governor deserves time to respond to the report. i tell you, i kind of can't wait
to see how he responds. i hope none of it is by text. that does it for us tonight. we will see you again on monday. have an excellent weekend. exce. "msnbc live" is next. two strikes you're out. let's play "hardball." good evening. i'm chris matthews in washington. president trump has ordered to strike syria also struck at the heart of his america first approach to avoiding foreign entanglements, especially in the middle east. news tonight of a second strike. this one hits at the very trump people, those causing trouble in the white house itself. get ready for that second explosion. steve bannon, reince priebus or