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♪ ♪ take on the mainstream. introducing nissan's new midnight edition. ♪ hi, everybody. i'm thomas roberts at the world headquarters in new york. day 79 of the trump administration. we have more about the air strike fallout. new reports and predictions today on the consequences of the u.s. military action in syria. could it lead to a bigger conflict with russia? >> so what we're talking about
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here really is the very high potential for a direct military conflict between the united states and russia. >> so big questions and i'll good evening get reaction from the former ambassador to syria. he will get his take on why another chemical attack happens now. inside the white house. a possible power struggle and shakeup of the president's men. the administration saying it is not true. what is the root cause of the clash with steve bannon and jared kushner? then a report by the advisors to deal with an armed and unpredictable north korea and one involves nuclear options and the other involves the leader of the country, kim jong un. it is a shocking option. we want to begin with the latest from syria. foreign correspondent richard
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engel is in istanbul with details. richard, what's the latest? >> reporter: good morning, thomas. no indications that russia wants a war with the united states. moscow is signaling it does not want to see the u.s. do this kind of thing again. does not want to see more strikes against moscow's ally, the syrian regime of bashar al assad. acceptedi sending that message by sending a war ship to the midediterrane. washington and moscow were one step way from conflict. russia downplaying the cause which washington claims was used to launch chemical weapons. a human rights group says jets have resumed flights from there. u.s. officials say the strike on the base was effective. that at 7:40 p.m., two navy destroyers in the mediterranean, launched 60 cruise missiles. targeting the air base.
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it lasted three to four missi missiles. ones mis-fired into the sea. the west destroying aircraft and hangars and fuel and weapons depots. >> the strike was well planned and executed and more than a pinprick. it sends a message not only to assad that using chemical weapons again is something he cannot do with impunity. >> reporter: the action was a reaction to the chemical attack which killed more than 80 people. nerve agents were used. local activists claim the town has been hit again by conventional air strikes. a syrian father who lost two twins called on president trump to go further. the trump administration is suggesting it might. >> united states took a very measured step last night. we are preparpared to do more. >> reporter: but repeating what was a one-off strike would be a
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step too far for russia. it is already sending a friigate to the mediterranean. it is increasing air defenses in syria. critics say trump is venturing into a civil war without a plan. the administration is trying to build support for action in the middle east with vice president pence talking to the iraqi prime minister. president trump talking to the king of saudi arabia. this coming before the key meeting next week with secretary of state tillerson and vladimir putin in russia. >> our richard engel, thank you. we head state side to west palm beach, florida. that is where hallie jackson is standing by. >> reporter: president trump is here in palm beach after the critical meeting with the chinese president xi jinping. the two talking about north korea and trade. the administration describes the chemistry as positive with
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president trump accepting an invitation to visit china. one of many headlines from mar-a-lago. president trump waking up at mar-a-lago after wrapping up a summit with china's president. >> we made tremendous progress in the relationship with china. >> reporter: these among his most important diplomatic meetings yet. meetings may have seemed impossible a couple years ago. >> i would not be throwing him a dinner. i would get him a mcdonald's hamburger and we would get to work. you cannot continue to devalue. >> reporter: on the menu this time? north korea. no break throughs. leaders commits to a denuke peninsula. the south florida summit overshadowed by syria. and question s about what president trump will do next. >> he will not telegraph his next move.
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i think this action was diseae e decisive. >> reporter: this is a reversal from the stance in 2013 when he called on the obama administration to stay out of the country. aides say the president was disturbed by the chemical he weapons attack after seeingvict >> no child of god should suffer. >> we cannot in one breath speak of protecting syrian babies and the next close america's door to them. >> reporter: the national security adviser says the travel ban restricting syrian refugees did not come up in the sucti discussions around the strike. and the divide is deepening in the west wing with steve bannon and son-in-law jared kushner. the white house forbced to pucs
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back on the staff shake up. the president is expected to stay in palm beach for the weekend before returning for washington for the newly confirmed supreme court justice. >> hallie jackson. thank you. joining me now is ambassador robert ford. the last u.s. ambassador assigned to syria under the obama administration. good morning. your first reaction to the missile strike. was it the right move? >> i think it is important to reestablish deterrents against the use of chemical weapons. syrian president assad was using them constantly. it's good then to try to make him pay a price and reestablish deterrents. >> we know you have met with president bashar al assad. you have spoken with him. why would he continue to authorize chemical attacks against his own people? >> he is trying to intimidate the civilian population so they no longer support the opposit n opposition. >> we know there are keskeptics
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who put up other theories. tulsi gabbard called it short sight. it goes to questions if assad authorized this attack. do you doubt he ordered it? >> i'm not sure he, himself, authorized the attack. he may have given a blanket instruction that it is okay to use chemical weapons. it is important for the viewers to understand that assad forces have been using chemical weapons a couple times a week in this area of northwestern syria for months. so i'm not sure if assad gives a mission by mission approval. in any case, syrian forces are regularly using chemical weapons. >> and assad may be moving forward because of the support from russia. it was yesterday during the same interview where the congresswoman tulsi gabbard said
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the relationship with russia should maybe the administration rethink the action. >> syria is closely allied with russia. russia has military on the ground there. what we're talking about here really is the very high potential for a direct military conflict between the united states and russia. the two world's nuclear powers rif risking nuclear consequences. >> ambassador, russia moved one of the war ships in the mediterranean waters. where the "uss porter" and "uss ross" are located. are we escalating an issue with russia? >> no, i don't think we are. we gave advance notice to the russians that the strike was coming. we made clear we are not trying to escalate with putin. we have secretary of state tillers
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tillerson. russia doesn't want to escalate with us. >> when we think about it as you bring up rex tillerson going to moscow next week, you have the unique perspective as the last ambassador to syria from the u.s. the trump administration seems to move to a position that bashar al assad must go. would that only happen if assad loses support of putin and russia? do you think that is part of rex tillerson's mission next week? to convince putin to stop supporting assad? >> assad depends on two foreign patrons. russia and he depends on iran as well. if he loses support of both, russia and iran, then assad's position would be very difficult indeed. he might even begin to negotiate. i think it will be very difficult, however, for secretary tillerson to peel russian support away from bashar al assad. >> do you think, though, because
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of the connection with the assad regime and russia and russia jumping in as broker several years ago saying they would oversee the removal of chemical weapons and make sure they were disposed of properly. is russia complicit over what happened? >> i would not say they are directly complicit. i don't know they ordered the use of the weapons. they are indirectly complicit. they are providing cover to ass assad. at the united nations last year, the united states tried to get a security council resolution condemning syria's use of chemical weapons and the russians vetoed it. on a certain level, russians are indirectly complicit. >> from your experience in meeting with bashar al assad, what is his ten dor and tone of what he is willing to do to his
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people to maintain power? >> he can be very charming, but he has a very nasty side to him and he also routinely lies straight to your face. when he denies things, in the media now i recall where i lied to my face and i knew he was lying. he knew that i knew. but i think it's very evident that assad and his family are willing to destroy all of syria if necessary so they can retain control of the presidency seat in damascus. >> were you able to call him out on it? >> oh, sure. >> his reaction? >> when you talking to the president of another country, you don't say you're lying. you say that's not how we understand it. in one case, when we were discussing human rights, he raised his voice back at me.
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>> ambassador robert ford. thank you. we will be talking about this in the future. i appreciate your time. >> thank you. so tension in the white house. the policy differences with steve bannon and jared kushner. and the ultimayou will ultamatut trump has given the men. remote moisture sensors use a reliable network to tell them when and where to water. so that farmers like ray can compete in big ways. china. oh ... he got there. that's the power of and.
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the biggest week in tv is back. [ doorbell rings ] who's that? show me watchathon. xfinity watchathon week now until april 9. get unlimited access to all of netflix and more, free with xfinity on demand. u.s. air strikes in syria overshadowed big stories here at home. including turmoil in the president's circle. and steve bannon at the center. he was removed from the national security council this week, but still had a seat in the room when president trump was briefed by his team on the syria strikes. the man sitting at the table, jared kushner, may try to be inching bannon out of the door. the shot just as jared off to
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the side at the left. joining me now is chief correspondent john harwood and molly harper. we have seen the reporting in the last 72 hours. is steve bannon on the chopping block? >> he is obviously has been demoted. aides have been pushing back there was a shake up with reince priebus and steve bannon leaving. let's be honest. things have not gone well in the white house for the last several weeks. really throughout the administration so far. i talked to a senior official last night who said we just don't know what's going -- i can't tell you what's going to happen in the next week or two. i think right at the moment when you have a military strike and you are engaged in a hostile action with syria and potential confrontation with russia, you don't want to portray the idea of instability in the white house. that may have pushed off
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changes. it is clear some changes are coming. some have taken place. >> we are just under the benchmark of the 100 days, molly. 79 days. the president has shown confidence in jared kushner. just in iraq. middle east peace is part of his portfolio of things to work on. he is pushing the infrastructure package. are there concerns with the republican circles on the hill that a policy novice is spread too thin? >> keep in mind, my realm is the capitol hill realm. steve bannon is a policy novice. he is a novice in dealing with legislat legislators. look at the weekend they jared and ivanka were in vail. if you look at how the white house has been helping and reaching out to capitol hill, when steve bannon went to capitol hill and told the
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republican party, hey, take it or leave it, they left it. this was not a good sign for president trump. it was not a good signal. it did not project strength. especially within the party. perhaps jared kushner might bring a new perspective. keep in mind we have a young speaker paul ryan who is close with reince priebus. paul ryan says he talks to the president almost every day and he was young ambitious. we see jared kushner coming up. i don't think necessarily being a novice in policy is a bad thing. if you look at who he is compared with. >> also talking about the relationship between the speaker and reince priebus. there's word that reince priebus may be on the chopping block with gary cohn kicked around to replace him. gary is a former goldman sachs player who has now come in to
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help helm the national economic council. back to the bannon and kushner thing, john. the word is that donald trump has said work it out between the two of you. they seem to be completely polar opposites. if you look at that picture. i don't know if we can show that full picture from inside the room. i don't know if we can get wider. we cut the two main figures we're talking about out. steve bannon is by the door near the military guy. their eyes are cutting at each other. unfortunately we are not seeing the two men we're talking about. if looks could kill. it shows them looking at each other. john, can they work it out or is there bad blood? >> oh, there is definitely bad blood and disagreement. i don't know how much is personal and how much is policy
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disagreement. this is a situation where the fundamental world view of steve bannon is different from jared kushner. steve bannon has talked about making the country more inn you l insular. he advanced that view with the president. the president expressed that. this is a president who is responsive to what his reviews are in the moment. look at the polls. he is not doing well. sub 40%. an interesting comment yesterday by sean spicer who was discussing the aftermath of the syria strike. he said the president asked about reaction from congressional leaders and world leaders and informed there was fairly unanimous praise. this is a president who when he gets feedback, that is something that he responds to. when the feedback is bad and most has been bad, he is unsettled by that. the question is how quickly does he pull the trigger on changing
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things. i think syria delayed that a bit. >> the feedback from rubio or graham or john mccain, that has all been go. the alt-right has revolted. there were tweets going out. a complete policy change in 48 hours. is this the way to chip away at that complete trump train support by doing things like this? >> here's the thing, he is totally -- the thing that is interesting that i find in the media and this is just me. i look back and think everybody is surprised he is accounting th acting this way. this is a man that was a democrat and gave the democratic party money. he was flexible. he said i'm flexible about this. here is the thing about donald trump. he wants a deal. he wanted that health care deal. he wanted democrats on board.
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he didn't just want republicans. when he couldn't get republicans, how do you get democrats? keep in mind. this is what i did hear on capitol hill after the syria strikes. the silver lining of it all. perhaps this fosters some bipartisanship. you know, moving forward on other legislation because president trump took decisive action. keep in mind, president obama not taking action in syria when the red line was crossed. it upset a lot of democrats on the hill had. you heard praise from democrats. you heard praise from republicans. and that kind of opens the door to potential other deals. so the thing is right now, donald trump, if he cannot win within his party, he will reach out to democrats and perhaps jared kushner is the way to do it. steve bannon has not been that way. >> i think you are right. john, go ahead. >> one quick point about what molly indicated. i'm very skeptical that given the makeup of the parties and
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legislative alignment on capitol hill there will be a lot of bipartisan deal making. will see. it is important to see in the wake of health care is dakitaki the decision it is more proactive in shaping policies. so far, we have an administration that has not laid out a tax plan. has not laid out infrastructure plan. so all of the expectations we get strike strikes legislatively are not in the cards at this moment and the idea of getting a tax plan by august will not happen. >> and to molly's point about the rose garden reveal. the president saying i don't have one specific way. i do change. i'm flexible and proud of that flexibility. john and molly, thank you. president trump catching heat from people on the right and left for the syrian air strikes. are the concerns this action will lead to a war valid? more on that ahead.
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threatening more action against syria. at the united nations, a squabble between the u.s. and russia. whether it's bringing cutting-edge wifi to 35,000 fans... or keeping a hotel's guests connected. businesses count on communication, and communication counts on centurylink.
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hi, everybody. i'm thomas roberts at msnbc world headquarters in new york. swedish authorities tells us that an arrest was made with the deadly truck attack in stockholm. the hijacked vehicle plowed into a crowd in the shopping district before hitting a department store. explosives were found in the truck. that has not been confirmed by nbc news. a spokesperson tells us the suspect arrested on terror charge is the driver. this is the scene in stockholm where a makeshift memorial has popped up to honor those lost. all eyes on moscow next week
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when secretary of state rex tillerson goes ahead with a planned visit in spite of tension over the strikes on syria. officials expressed outrage over the tomahawk strike. secretary tillerson blamed russia for failing to prevent syria from using chemical weapons in the first place. nbc's bill neely joins me. bill, a lot of skepticism over the visit in moscow for secretary tillerson. what is expected? >> reporter: thomas, good morning. in one word, a challenge awaits him here. also a polite, but probably frosty reception. they are likely to cut rex tillerson a bit more slack than other secretaries of state because he is known in moscow. remember, he is the recipient of the russian highest honor presented by vladimir putin himself.
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on the other hand, they will express displeasure of the missile strike. he is scheduled to meet the foreign minister sergei lavrov. he may want to show his displeasure by not meeting mr. tillerson. mr. tillerson will have to walk a fine line between being tough and explaining exactly why the u.s. took the action it did in syria. on the other hand, trying to achieve one of the chief foreign policy goals of trump's young presidency. that is better relations with russia. remember, he is america's top diplomat. he has been tough on russia already. saying that russia was either complicit in the chemical weapons program. some have had tough words.
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nikki haley at the united nations emergency meeting, she exchanged strong words with the russian am bass doppler radbass meeting. >> every time assad crossed the line of human decency, russia has stood by side him. the united states took a very measured step last night. we are prepared to do more. but we hope that will not be necessary. >> describe that attack of the international violation of law and act of aggression. we strongly condemn the illegitimate actions by the u.s. >> reporter: rex tillerson will come to moscow straight from a meeting of the g7 in italy. he will want to bring a united message. that certainly is the word of boris johnson, the british foreign secretary, who just cancelled his visit early next
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week to moscow saying it is down to mr. tillerson to deliver what he says is a clear and coordinated message to the russians. thomas. >> bill, we know actions speak louder than words. russia deploying a war ship off the coast of syria near the "porter" and "ross." what is this an indication of as the two war powers are meeting in the mediterranean waters? >> reporter: you could say that if the american missile strike was, you know, militarily not terribly effective, but mostly symbolic, you could say the same of what the russians are doing of the war ship. this is a symbolic move from the black sea to the eastern mediterranean. it is now moored off syria. there is no expected threat. it is carrying cruise missiles, but the pentagon does not
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consider that war ship a threat at the moment. thomas. >> bill neely, thank you. reporting in moscow. joining us from paris is christopher dickey. our msnbc contributor. chris, how are your allies reacting? especially in france. we know holland has taken a tough stance with their own air strikes. >> reporter: absolutely. i think holland is pleased with this. he was left twisting in the wind by obama when obama and the british backed away in a joint effort to punish assad for the chemical attacks in 2013. i know the french felt they were left in the lurch. the attitude is that's just great. the question everybody has is what next? is this part of a cko co- hair
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coherent policy? will this bring a settlement here or a one-off revenge for a particular attack or affront? >> chris, as you heard with the russian representative of the u.n. they are considering this an act of aggression. from the perception of holland and other eu leaders, does this enhance perceptions? maybe some negative, prior to the election and inauguration of president trump, but does it enhance his standing on the world stage? >> reporter: well, i think it does. at least for the moment. on the other hand, is there a feeling he is just wildly volatile. he was emotional when he made the decision and carried it out. his emotions could take him in another direction. i think the hope you see
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reflected in the french press is the makeup of the group of advisers around trump, the balance of power around trump shifted away from isteve bannon and shifted toward chris matthews james mattis, the defense secretary, even jared kushner. seen as more pragmatic people and more in tune with world opinion and working with world leaders. >> we saw tulsigabbard talk about threatening idal qaeda an possible nuclear war with the russians and u.s. do you think that is a stretch going beyond the stretch of refugees and nuclear tensions it.
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>> reporter: thomas, that is a bit of a stretch. in fact, a directly echo of russian propaganda. russia and breitbart which often have the same propaganda line, tulsi gabbard as well. this is not about world war iii. this is about a showdown of sorts with the russians. it could open the door to some kind of settlement. the question that we have, if you want to look long term, is how long will the russians stand by the individual bashar al assad? their line is they want a stable government before there is any transition. it is not clear they are whetted to the individual and nobody is in a better position to get rid of bashar al assad and put in a plausible substitute from his side than the russians are. >> great point. christopher dickey. thank you. what is the end game in the u.s. action against syria and how
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skeptical are democrats? reacting to the question. i'll speak to the first western reporter at the scene of the chemical attack in syria. what he witnessed has shaken him to the core as well as the world. i love you, couch. you give us comfort. and we give you bare feet... ...backsweat and gordo's everything. i love you, but sometimes you stink. ♪ new febreze fabric refresher with odorclear technology... ...cleans away odors like never before.
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which adds fuel to my bottom line. what's in your wallet? so the trump administration now signaling new sanctions against syria after a wave of missile strikes this week. joining me in studio is congress member from new york. a member of the foreign affairs committee. great to have you with me here. especially in person as we talk about this and the differences with the missile strike in syria. now there are reports of aircraft operational on the respect w runways after the tomahawk missile strike. >> certainly there needs to be stiffer sanctions against syria for the heinous acts against humanity.
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someone needs to go back to congress and they need to have a full discussion with the american people. that is through congress and the constitution awards us that opportunity. that must happen. i think we need to take action to ensure we'll bring peace to the area ands these crimes against humanity do not continue to happen. it should not be off the cuff. there needs to be a full discussion. >> we know russia has said this is an act of aggression. they feel the president, vladimir putin saying the attack harms u.s.-russian relations. what do you make about rex tillerson on the way to russia and what should he say about the crisis in syria? >> there is a cloud of trust when it comes to
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russian-american relations. there are intervention in the recent elections. we know that the trump administration communicated to the russian authorities that they would conduct these attacks at the airport. there is a cloud over if this is a genuine conversation or cynical theater at best. >>s was it a mistake to inform the russians ahead of time? because of the military operations they have been conducting there. should we have left them in the dark? >> the russians are a strong ally of the assad regime. if in fact we will take action to ensure that the assad regime will not continue to violate human rights and conduct heinous attacks against the syrian people, i don't know if we should talk directly with one of the strongest allies. >> when we think about what is
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taking place on domestic issues with the trump administration and the president's inner circle. steve bannon removed from the national security council. you were adamant about that happening. steve bannon will not be serving on the nsc and call upon donald trump to remove him from the white house. you saw the images of steve bannon in the room during the top folks within the trump administration dealing with the crisis in syria. launching tomahawk missiles. do you think he is really in jeopar jeopardy? >> is he really a security expert? is he someone that has the deep experience that you need to have with some of the generals or folks with the intelligence community that need to sit in the national security council? is he really an expert in the field? i don't think so. when you bring someone that has no experience to an important council such national security council and they begin to push the muscle around, i think that
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puts everybody in peril. not just the united states. the world community. >> president trump campaigned on america first narrative. steve bannon seems to be disappointed. if reporting is correct coming out of the white house that donald trump went ahead with any type of reaction to the syrian matter. this puts him in improper footing on the world stage and problem we should not be involved in. does that give him confidence about what steve bannon does for the inner circle with the white house? >> i think the white house got off to a bad start. this inner conflict and fight within the administration is not helping the trump administration or the country. so they admitted and signed executive orders turned back by the courts.
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we saw general flynn had to step down. we see bannon has to be taken out of the national security council. so the trump administration is really hasn't found its footing. to have an inner conflict doesn't help. they need to get their act together. >> we are 79 days in. we have more to talk abouts as we ramp up to the first 100 days. we will have you back. congress member espaillat. the trump administration says there is no conflict, but if reports are true, is it a signal the chief of staff should be sent backing? we will talk about reince priebus and his future after this. i have asthma...
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barely two months into the trump presidency, new reports of a possible white house staff shakeup coming. axios reporting the day thement is considering replacing his chief of staff reince priebus. the former rnc chief who was
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critical of candidate trump during the 2016 election has taken on the mantle of running the inside job, being the gatekeeper of the white house, but there are some people in the running reportedly to replace them. house majority leader kevin mccarthy and the president's economic adviser gary kohn. i want to bring in author of "gatekeepers." chris, it's great to have you here. put into context the difficulty it can be, not only one, to be the chief of staff but for the president to change chiefs so quickly. >> let me say, this is the most dysfunctional white house in modern history. the levels of incompetence and ineptitude are really off the char charts. lobbing a few air missiles in syria is not going to change that. the fundamental problems i learned in talking to all 17
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living white house chiefs of staff is that every president learns often the hard way that you have to empower a white house chief of staff as first among equals, to execute your agenda and to tell you what you don't want to hear. that hasn't happened in this white house. >> when it comes to that point of not hearing certain things, especially the things that you don't want to hear, is that something that could put an undue target on reince priebus' back, by being honest? >> look, it's an october peril hazard, but it's a job that has to be done. if you talk to james baker who is the gold standard as ronald reagan's chief of staff, if you talk to leon panetta who in my opinion turned the clinton white house around a year and a half in, they will tell you that among all the other responsibilities of the white house chief, the most important is telling a president what he doesn't want to hear. ronald reagan wanted to go to capitol hill on day one of his
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presidency and tackle social security reform. jim baker, the consummate insider knew that was the third rail of american politics. you touch it, you get electrocuted. he turned reagan around on that issue. guess what? they pursued tax cuts, and the rest is history. >> we know that is something this president wants to do as well as infrastructure. here is james baker talking about the role as the white house chief of staff and how tough it is. >> there are any number of people in this white house who has broad and rather undefined responsibilities that cut across both domestic and foreign policy. it's very difficult under those circumstances to have a coordinated, single, focused message. that's something that's very important to the success of an administration. >> do you think what james baker is speaking to there is the conflict that seems to be happening, not just because of the tough job reince priebus
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harks but with these advisers of jared kushner and steve bannon seeming to be at odds and not being able to work out their polar opposite views? >> the lesson here is governing is tough. it it's nothing like running a manhattan real estate business where you pit your senior advisers against each other and hope it creates creative tension. in the white house that's a formula for failure. every modern president has learned that lesson. trump is not the first outsider president to come along. jimmy carter was an outsider. ronald reagan was an outsider. carter thought he was so smart that he could run the white house by himself, and that didn't work out very well. reagan knew he needed a consummate insider and a grownup in the room. it's not at all clear that trump has learned that lesson. >> when it comes to being a grownup in the room, isn't that what folks assume reince priebus was, knowing the ins and outs, having led the rnc, having a
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deep relationship with speaker paul ryan, that they would be able to get stuff done when it comes to the lever-pulling of d.c.? >> it's not enough. priebus did a good job as head of the rnc by all accounts, but he had no experience in the white house, he had no experience on capitol hill. it's not at all clear he's told trump what he needs to hear or that trump pays attention when does. so, for example, going to the hill and trying to do repeal and replace of obamacare was a lose-lose from the get-go. someone like baker who knew the hill would never have done that, in my opinion. perhaps if trump had decided to get in a room with chuck schumer and do an infrastructure bill on day one, maybe things would have turned out differently. but the point is that they've made rookie mistakes galore. >> if you had to make a
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prediction, do you see reince priebus making six months? >> you know, i doubt it would be my guess. but you never know. bill clinton went a year and a half before he brought in leon panetta to turn his white house around. jimmy carter went 2 1/2 years before he realized he needed a white house chief of staff. if trump wants to be jimmy carter, he should continue doing exactly what he's doing, because this is a formula for failure, not empowering a white house chief of staff. >> chris whipple, great to have you on. >> thank you. >> the grim and haunting reminders, the first western reporter to reach the scene of this week's chemical attack in syria provides a chilling account of what he saw. i'll speak with limb about that tough assignment, probably the toughest he's ever had coming up. ♪ ♪
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