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tv   Andrea Mitchell Reports  MSNBC  July 26, 2017 9:00am-10:00am PDT

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temperature a couple degrees. >> tomorrow they're going to raise the temperature and ali's going to wraerg a tank top. >> tune in for that. right now tune in for "andrea mitchell reports." and right now on "andrea mitchell reports," take two. after a late-night defeat senate republicans are still trying for a health care win. this hour a vote on a repeal-only measure almost certain to fail. yet another setback after this stern warning from john mccain just 11 days after brain surgery. >> mandating legislation from the top down without any support from the other side, with all the parliamentary maneuvers that requires, we're getting nothing done, my friends. we're getting nothing done! >> resist. attorney general jeff sessions refusing to quit in the face of the president's attacks. encouraged by support from his former senate colleagues. >> i would fire somebody that i did not believe could serve me well rather than trying to
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humiliate them in public, which is a sign of weakness. >> he's a man of courage. he's a man of purpose. and he's a man of substance. >> he's a man of very high integrity. and he is an eagle scout. and reversing history. president trump announces on twitter he is canceling the obama administration's acceptance of transgender people into the military. even as he now predicts -- >> i can be more presidential than any president that's ever held this office. that i can tell you. i'm andrea mitchell in washington where senate republicans are still searching for enough votes to pass some form of health care. the latest test being a straight repeal of obamacare after repeal
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and replace with amendments from senators cruz and portman failed tuesday night. is the most likely option a bare-bones skinny repeal? and what the heck is that? joining me now to sort all this out and the unprecedented war between the president and his own attorney general, nbc's kristen welker at the white house and nbc's kasey hunt on capitol hill. kasey, first to you. what is skinny repeal? i think i know but why don't you go through it? if you can hear me. >> reporter: well, andrea, i'm not sure that -- yes, i can, and i apologize. we're outside waiting for senators to arrive here, and we have a little bit of a peanut gallery, as i'm sure you're familiar with. but look, we don't know yet what this, quote unquote, skinny repeal will contain. right now the conversations are around potentially eliminating the mandates, the individual mandate, the employer mandate, and potentially eliminating the medical device tax. that's something that has actually had support from people
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in both parties. it's something that they think they might be able to get momentum behind. but really they're just trying to cobble something together right now that they could eventually have a final vote on to say that they can -- that they have passed it through the senate and to take a look at what they could do with the house. but this is far from certain, andrea. nine republicans voted last night against that massive overhaul package that of course we've been talking so much about. we're anticipating that the straight repeal vote that's set to come up here any minute will also fail, and then they will have to essentially go back to the drawing board. we're trying to talk to republican senators to get kind of a sense of whether they think they could do something like that. lamar alexander was quoted as telling reporters this kind of a package would not be a solution to fixing the problems with obamacare. but this would potentially let them at least move on to the next thing which there's quite a bit of political appetite to do right now. everyone's a little worn out with this. but of course we shouldn't lose sight of the fact that there are a lot of americans waiting to
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find out what republicans are going to do. there are significant uncertainties now in the insurance markets that is having a real impact on people relying on these obamacare plans. sos athis drags out and delays and there's still a lot of up certainty there are still these real world impacts going on. andrea? >> and in fact, skinny repeal, whatever they call it, that would get rid of the individual mandate, get rid of the medical tax to support medical devices. so it would be devastating to many people who rely on these plans. it's not just some reduced form of health care. it really cuts the guts out of obamacare and the whole financing of it like a house of cards. let's talk about lisa murkowski. the president tweeting against her today. and she's now responded, kasie. she of course had voted against the president. the president had tweeted, "senator lisa murkowski of the great state of alaska really let the republicans and our country down yesterday. too bad!" he's going after his own party,
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those who are rebellious. she has now responded and i think in an interview with you, kasie. let me play this sound. >> i am in a position where i'm not looking to a re-election until 2022. that's a long time away. and quite honestly, i don't think it's wise to be operating on a daily basis thinking about what a statement or a response that causes you to be fearful of your electoral prospects. we're here to govern. >> she and susan collins, of course, getting the ire of the white house. and then today kristen welker, on twitter the president reversing the obama administration's transgender decision on active duty military. doing it on twitter.
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and now criticized by john mckean, the chairman of the armed services committee, who's commenting, putting out a statement against what president trump did on this. the pentagon is saying that they will defer all comment to the white house. but it is a big switch, and it is the first real sense of this president getting into the social issues that have been so controversial. >> reporter: that's right. this is yet another major shift, reversal of an obama-era policy. andrea, president trump announcing, as you say, on twitter this morning that effectively transgender service members can no longer serve in the military. that's going to impact those who are currently serving as well as potential recruits in terms of the numbers, the amount of people it could impact. there's a range we've seen everywhere from several to as many as 11,000. you mentioned senator john mccain. let me read you a little bit of what he had to say, andrea, in
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this statement, which was scathing. he says, "the president the's tweet this morning regarding transgender americans in the military is jet another example of why major policy announcements should not be made via twitter. the statement was unclear. the department of defense has already decided to allow currently serving transgender individuals to stay in the military and many are serving honorably today." so there is some confusion about what specifically this means. we're going to have a briefing with sarah huckabee sanders. but there's also a backlash, andrea, who say this move is backwards-looking. i just spoke with someone who served in the military, who was openly transgender, who said look, these are people who are fighting and dying for their country and this is a rebuke by the commander in chief. it will not make our country stronger or safer. it will do the exact opposite. now, in terms of what we've heard from then candidate trump on the campaign trail, he vowed to be someone who supported the lgbtq community.
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his daughter ivanka trump has been vocal, has tweeted about the importance of lgbtq rights, but this will be seen by that community as well as a number of civil rights groups like the aclu as the exact opposite, as discrimination against that group of people, andrea. >> and kristen, i just wanted to get a reality check on the jeff sessions, this unprecedented situation between the president and his attorney general. the whole independence of the justice department is on the line here. the president again tweeting today, "why didn't a.g. sessions replace acting fbi director andrew mccabe, a comey friend who was in charge of clinton investigation but got big dollars, 700,000, for his wife's political run from hillary clinton and her representatives drain the swamp." we have to unpack and fact check all of that. it's quite confusing. but the bottom line is on twitter he's going after sessions. sessions was seen i think at the white house, but he is telling close associates at the justice department he is not quitting. so he's carrying on.
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ironically, a lot of the president's agenda. his very conservative agenda on voting rights and other such issues at the justice department. he's been one of the more effective cabinet secretaries. and the recusal is mandated under the legal procedures governing conflict of interest for lawyers, judges, and of course for the a.g. >> his decision to recuse himself, andrea, has been praised by democrats, by republicans, by legal experts who say look, he served on the campaign and so it would have been a conflict of interest. so it was the right move for him to recuse himself. and yet the president continues to step up his attacks on a daily basis. he was asked yesterday over and over again why doesn't he just fire his attorney general if he no longer has confidence in him. he disputed that he was allowing him to twist in the wind. he said look, i'm just disappointed in his skiegs to recuse himself, i want him to get tougher on the leaks. i thought that was an interesting comment. is he hanging that over his head and saying look, if you take
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this action on leaks, if you get tougher on leakers i will pull back some of my criticism of you? that remains to be seen whether that will actually happen. but it is our understanding that jeff sessions has no intention of going anywhere. yes, the president's attacks are getting to him at this same time he and his supporters stress he has a lot of conservatives who are urging him to stay in that role. but it does raise questions about the independence of the judiciary and concerns, andrea, that the president's broader goal is to have a new a.g. in place who will remove the special counsel and ultimately get rid of the russia investigation. so a lot of concerns particularly on capitol hill about what the president is really up to here. >> kristen welker, kasie hunt, thanks so much to both of you for starting us off. and joining me now is mike levitt, former utah governor and health and human services secretary to george w. bush. and msnbc analyst eugene robinson, of course a columnist, pulitzer prize-winning columnist at the "washington post." governor, let me just start with
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eugene here on the jeff sessions issue because this is so unprecedented to both of you really, to have the president not just in open dispute with any old cabinet secretary. this is the attorney general of the united states. there's supposed to be an independent judiciary. how have we come to pass to this situation? >> well, donald trump was elected president. that's how we came to pass. we've never seen anything like this. you and i have been around here for a long time. even in the days when bill clinton clearly was not thrilled with janet reno as attorney general and there was some conflict, there was nothing like this. >> he wasn't public about it. he complained privately, some of it leaked out. >> exactly. it never goes public. and it's not just before -- because there was no twitter then. donald trump is going out, standing in front of microphones and -- >> let's watch this from his news conference yesterday with the prime minister of lebanon.
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>> if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me prior to taking office and i would have quite simply picked somebody else. i told you before, i'm very disappointed with the attorney general, but we will see what happens. time will tell. time will tell. >> governor levitt, you've been in the cabinet, you've been in the cabinet with a lot of internal disputes, but this is pretty remarkable. and on top of which jeff sessions as a senator was the very first senator, very first person from the senate to endorse donald trump. he's now saying that that's because he felt that he had such big crowds that jeff sessions was just going along to ride his coattails if you will. but how does he continue this way? what is his strategy here in this public war of words with his own attorney general? >> i have to confess that like many others this is not a
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reality i recognize. i've been in a cabinet in two different roles, and there are times when a president disagrees with something that a cabinet member has done and has every right to have a conversation about the cabinet member's performance. but generally and i think properly those are conversations that take place eye to eye, knee to knee, inside the oval office. and believe me, when that happens, cabinet members listen. but to do it in a public way is -- well, let's just say it's a different management style than i think we're accustomed to. >> and one of the things you've noticed as we have noticed is there are a number of republican senators who are former colleagues of jeff sessions, a number of conservatives rallying not only in the senate but in the media as well, rallying to jeff sessions' defense. i'm not sure how smart politically this is for the president. what does it project in terms of what kind of loyalty that he would give to his own people? >> well, presumably donald trump recognized the quality of jeff
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sessions when he chose him as attorney general. he's a fine man. he's a dignified man. he's a great public servant. and again, i think this is just a style of interaction we're unaccustomed to and in my judgment not a productive one. >> speaking of things that are productive and not productive, we're going to have a series of votes now. we're expecting one very shortly. we've already seen a defeat for the senate leadership. i want to ask both of you about this process that john mccain so strongly criticized on the floor. and there's some controversy over his own voting last night. but he says he will not vote for the substantive goals to become. >> the process is absurd. we're talking about between 1/6 and 1/5 of the economy and at the moment republicans in the senate are trying to reform and transform between 1/5 and 1/6 of the economy on the backs of envelopes, essentially making it it up as they go along, for
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strictly political reasons. this is no longer about helping the american people. it's no longer about shoring up insurance markets or making sure that medical care is more widely available or whatever your goal is. there's no societal goal here. there's a political goal. it's to fulfill a promise that was made. and the argument, the whole argument is that we have to do this because we made the promise no matter what it is we do. >> and governor levitt, as a former health and human services secretary, to be voting on legislation one after another, not only is it not read, there's no congressional budget office score, we don't know who's helped, who's hurt, how many millions would be knocked off the rolls. how can the republican party defend this in the midterms and thereafter? >> first, can i say, andrea, i thought that john mccain's statement yesterday was historically important. it was dramatic. it was wise. it was eloquent.
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and what he said about the history and the customs of the senate were words that every senator now and in the future should adhere to and listen. i do think there's some value in at least understanding the legislative strategy that mitch mcconnell is using. he's essentially framing the issue so that he knows where the base votes are, and he's got 100 amendments now that he'll start looking for ways in which he can piece this together. whether that's the right legislative strategy from a policy standpoint i think is a separate question, but it is important to recognize that there is a strategy playing out here, and i think john mccain is right. if this doesn't work, then the senate owes it i think to the american people to go back to what he referred to as regular order. i thought it was very telling that he said to the applause of the democrats we need to get back to regular order. and then he said to the applause of the republicans, because the democrats didn't do it either.
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it was a kind of awkward humor that erupted inside the senate chamber at least as i heard it. it was telling and an important observation. >> and we've just heard that the votes that were supposed to be done one after another this morning are now delayed until 3:00. my suspicion is they don't have enough republican votes. and for many of these votes they've been told by the parliamentarian they need 60 under reconciliation, what's called the budget process, not just the 50 that got it to the floor. and 60 is just not going to be possible according to any of the calculations that we have made. but is there anything that has been yet proposed that you think would improve obamacare and be a way of expanding healthcare or making it more viable economically? >> both parties, andrea, acknowledge that there are things in the current law that need to be changed.
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i think the problem -- i think senator mccain hit the nail on the head when he said sometimes i and other senators have -- it's been more important for us to win than it is to get it right. and his call was let's get it right. there are things on which this legislative body could agree if they could get down to the business of fixing health care. >> well, we have to leave it there. but thank you so much, mike levitt. thanks for being with us from utah and of course our friend here at the table, eugene robinson. and we have some breaking news. and it is good news. it's good to have some good news. great news here in washington. louisiana congressman steve scalise, majority whip, has been discharged from medstar hospital after spending more than a month recuperating from being critically injured in that june shooting at the alexandria, virginia baseball field practicing for their congressional baseball game. hospital officials say the house majority whip has made excellent progress, has had a number of surgeries. he will now begin a period of
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intensive inpatient rehabilitation. we continue to send our thoughts and prayers to the scalise family and hope progress continues and he's back on capitol hill soon. and we'll be right back. ♪ tresi♪ (announcer) tresiba® is used to control high blood sugar in adults with diabetes. don't use tresiba® to treat diabetic ketoacidosis, during episodes of low blood sugar, or if you are allergic to any of its ingredients. don't share needles or insulin pens. don't reuse needles. the most common side effect is low blood sugar, which may cause dizziness, sweating, confusion, and headache. check your blood sugar. low blood sugar can be serious and may be life-threatening. injection site reactions may occur. tell your prescriber about all medicines you take and all your medical conditions. taking tzds with insulins like tresiba® may cause serious side effects like heart failure. your insulin dose shouldn't be changed without asking your prescriber. get medical help right away if you have trouble breathing, fast heartbeat, extreme drowsiness, swelling of your face, tongue, or throat, dizziness, or confusion. ask your health care provider if you're tresiba® ready. covered by most insurance and medicare plans. ♪ tresiba® ready ♪
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president trump is ramping up his unprecedented criticism of his attorney general, telling the "wall street journal" the former alabama senator, the first in the senate to endorse him, only did it because of large crowds at the trump rally, saying -- >> he looks at 40,000 people and
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then he probably says, what do i have to lose? and he endorsed me. it's not like a great loyal thing about the endorsement. but i'm very disappointed in jeff sessions. >> and let's get the inside scoop from susan page, "usa today" washington bureau chief. sam fine, daily beast politics editor. and msnbc contributor. and peter nicholas, "wall street journal" white house reporter. and one of the reporters who conducted that interview with the president. so let me start with you, peter. we know that when "the new york times" was with the president last week there was only hope hicks, who's a very close aide, but not anyone who's going to tell the president to stop talking and not get into trouble. there was an army of advisers in the mnuchin -- excuse me, in the mooch era. >> era of mooch. >> now you've got a communications team. >> that's right. it was a very different situation than "the new york times" confronted when they did
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their interview last week. what we saw is gary cohn, who kind of sat with us in front of the president's desk. we also saw reince priebus, the white house chief of staff. we saw ivanka trump, the president's daughter. and we saw anthony scaramucci. so it was a large cast of characters who were in the president's field of vision. i did have a sense they were there as sort of a visual reminder of some kind that he needs to stay on message perhaps. and avoid some of those fireworks. >> but he stayed on message and still criticized his attorney general and criticized his secretary of state for not being tough enough on iran, for doing what all the other countries and the u.n. weapons inspectors say, that iran for all of its other aggressions and support for terrorism that in the limited arena of the iran nuclear deal iran is complying. so now they've taken that away.
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it's going to be a state department decision. >> that's exactly right. and what we did hear from the president is he will overrule his advisers when he decides whether or not iran is compliant. that his own view is that they are not compliant. he seemed unhappy with the decision to proclaim them compliant. and he said that next time around he's less likely to accept that judgment and is prepared to overrule i guess tillerson and mattis if need be to conclude that they're not in compliance. so that was quite a statement from him. >> and every 90 days under the terms of that agreement the two-year-old agreement, sam, they've got to tell congress they are or they are not complying. and this would be a big dramatic change. tillerson has been undercut on persian gulf policy, middle east policy. there's a big dispute ongoing about afghanistan, whether to send more troops. the pentagon wants more troops. the president doesn't. what's going on with foreign policy? >> it's tough to figure out, to be honest. now there's reports that they
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are sort of reverse-engineering a reason to stay in afghanistan by talking to the president about the mineral supplies that we can mine -- >> economic benefit. >> and then you've got sessions. and sam, forgive me for dwelling on this but it's so -- >> you are forgiven. >> it's so unprecedented. >> it's very odd. the threat here is he undercuts everybody. there are obviously exceptions to this rule, but they tend to not be the high-profile people in his cabinet. but there is not a single person of significance that he has not undercut. he even undercut jared kushner at one point in time when he talked about how he was getting more famous than he was. so there is this whole talk about how the president values loyalty and loyalty matters but he's an immensely disloyal person to the people around him and the common theme of the trump administration is that he will throw you out if he feels like you're not doing his bidding. and in this case with jeff sessions it appears that he has soured on him strictly because jeff sessions followed protocol
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and did what everyone considers to be the right ethical thing to do, which is recuse himself from this russia investigation. >> and then we have a tweetstorm, susan, an announcement about transgender policy, reversing the obama policy, which is now being criticized. the reversal has been criticized by john mccain, the armed services chairman. >> you know, interestingly also by senator joni ernst who's issued a statement. she's another conservative republican with a military background. conservative on social issues. and she says in her statement that she served with all sorts of people. if they're willing to serve and able to serve, she's in favor of allowing them to serve, although she doesn't support financially providing medical coverage for transition surgery and treatment. so here you have two conservative republicans with strong military backgrounds raising questions. and what did we hear from the pentagon press office? they have referred all questions about this to the white house. there are reports that the pentagon press office wasn't even aware the president planned to announce this big reversal this morning.
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>> pretty extraordinary. and one other little quick thing and just check this out. tweeted out and we'll put it out online. rick perry, the energy secretary, and they are in charge of our nuclear weapons, was pranked by these russians comedians pretending to be the ukrainian prime minister. >> yes. >> and talking energy policy with these two comics from moscow. >> it happens. >> it could happen to any of us. >> you've been pranked by russian comedians before, andrea. >> i probably didn't know it. i probably still don't know it. thank you so much. congratulations on your big get, your interview. sam stein, susan page. thank you. >> coming up, trump's world. while the president picks a fight with members of his own cabinet, what does he have to say about russia and waging war against isis? you're watching "andrea mitchell reports," only on msnbc. shawn evans: it's 6 am. 40 million americans are waking up to a gillette shave. and at our factory in boston,
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believe you'd have russia and i don't believe you'd have iran to anywhere near the extent and maybe not at all in syria today. >> president trump echoing what cia director mike pompeo told tuesday in aspen last week, that the obama administration "invited russia into syria" and is somehow to blame for everything that has followed. joining me now is brett mcguirk, the special presidential envoy for the global coalition to defeat isis. brett, it's very good to see you. you've done this for a number of years. you've been balancing all sorts of big challenges there. as we approach raqqa now as the next major target, maybe tal afar in iraq according to general dunforth, but raqqa really is the next big city in syria of course after mosul falling, what is the big challenge here? in terms of all of these disparate elements including the syrian kurds who turkey doesn't
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like and views as terrorists. >> there's obviously a lot. it's a very complex picture. but i think we have a very clear and well-defined policy. number one, we are in the stages of defeating isis and really annihilating isis. that's the direction from president trump which we are now executing on the ground. when it comes to raqqa the syrian democratic force wiz we're working with and the force inside raqqa is about 70% local arabs, sunni arabs from the area. about 40% of raqqa now has already been cleared of isis terrorists. this is very much on plan. this has a long ways to go. it's a very tough battle. the battle began on june 6th. so we're about six weeks into it. but it's going quite well so far. about 40% of raqqa is cleared. we of course finished mosul a couple weeks ago. and as you just mentioned, general dunford, we have a very clear now plan, step by step for the final areas that isis continues to hold. this will take time, but the plan is very well defined and coming together. and a part of it, andrea, also is the bigger picture. your lead-in segment mentioned the russians in syria.
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look, we're working to find areas in which our interests converge in syria and we can find areas of the country in which we can work together to basically deescalate the overall violence. that means fewer people dying, fewer refugees, trying to return people to their homes. so we did that in the southwest of syria. it's a very important part of syria, right on the border of israel and jordan. that cease-fire now has been in place for over two weeks, it's holding remarkably well and unlike other cease-fires we tried, what' different is we worked for a couple months with the russians and jordanians who are a critical player in this, and king abdullah was a real driver of this process, to work out a very painstaking negotiation kind of block by block through dpchlt aras city and in this part of syria for what we call a cease-fire line, a line of contact. this is really the first cease-fire we've had in syria where hef a very detailed line of contact where everybody knows where they're supposed to be. so so far this is holding quite well. we're encouraged by it.
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lives have already been saved. we'll continue to work on that. together, quiet down syria, deescalate the violence while we focus on finishing off isis. >> but finishing off isis is the real challenge because you've driven them out of mosul but they've fled into the desert, they've disappeared, they could be guerrilriluerrilla forces an interpol has put out a notice of a suicide squad of isis fighters, 173 strong, armed and trained and ready to strike europe. what do you do once you get back these cities but then they're on the loose? >> well, actually, what we've done -- it took some time to put this together. we had to seal the border with turkey. remember, 40,000 foreign fighters, 40,000 foreign jihadis from all over the world fled into syria from -- traveling through turkey. 2013, '14, '15, '16. so what we had to dos with work with the turks to seal that border. that's now done. very difficult for these fighters to get into syria and most importantly it's now almost impossible for them to get out.
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our strategy is not to just push them into the desert. it is to encircle where isis is and then annihilate them, particularly the foreign fighters. our policy is very clear. any foreign fighter that is in syria or iraq still it is our policy to make sure they can never get out of iraq and syria. they will die there. in mosul the reason the battle is so intense in the last three weeks of that battle because we had hundreds of foreign fighters from all around the world as far away as china that barricaded themselves in the old city in civilian structures wearing suicide vests killing civilians as they tried to leave, but none of those foreign fighters got out. so it is our strategy to make sure they cannot get out. you mentioned interpol but this is very important. interpol is a member of our global coalition. and that's symbolic because this is not just a military fight on the ground in iraq and syria. it's a global coalition. it continues to grow. now has 73 members. we just added four members in recent weeks, four critical much not countries. and interpol is a member because what we are doing when we find
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information about a foreign fighter or someone who tried to join isis or did join isis it's a global data base now of 19,000 names so that any interpol member country and members of our coalition can share that information so at a routine traffic stop, at a border check or at a search we're able to find these people and protect our own homeland. this will be painstaking work over the years ahead, but that's why we built this global coalition to stay ahead of it. and interpol is really critical on the law enforcement side, a critical member of our coalition. >> brett mcguirk from the state department. the man on the spot. i know you're just back from syria last week. thank you very much for all you're doing. >> thank you so much. >> you bet. and coming up the pentagon issuing a troubling new warning on north korea's missile capabilities. you're watching "andrea mitchell reports" on msnbc. in body, in spirit, in the now. boost® high protein it's intelligent nutrition with 15 grams of protein and 26 vitamins and minerals.
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such as kidney, liver, or bleeding problems. it's important to learn all you can... help protect yourself from a stroke. talk to your doctor about xarelto®. there's more to know™. welcome back. there are troubling signs today that north korea may be getting ready to test another long-range missile. as soon as tonight. even as u.s. intelligence now believes the regime could be able to strike the u.s. mainland with a nuclear armed missile as early as next year. that is a two-year shortening of the timeline. joining me now from capitol hill is democratic senator chris van hollen. senator, thanks for joining us. i want to ask you about it threat because now we're hearing they could have a mini warhead if they can solve the re-entry problem on the warhead side, the heat factor obviously, as early, as soon as 2018. this puts a huge pressure on our military to come up with a military plan for a problem for
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which many say there is no military solution. >> well, it's a very dangerous situation as you say. it looks like they're on track to have an icbm that could strike the united states a lot sooner than people thought. they've already got nuclear weapons. which is why, andrea, we've got to step up in an urgent way. the economic pressure on north korea. the reality is we have u.s. sanctions in place. there are international sanctions in place. but lots of firms and banks around the world are violating those sanctions. they're doing business with north korea. especially chinese banks. which is why senator toomey of pennsylvania and i have introduced bipartisan legislation to put greater economic sanctions on north korea using the model we had in the iran sanctions legislation. and it's why the house just the other day passed sanctions on north korea. we've got to move forward right away and get those into place. >> senator corker, who of course you know is the foreign
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relations chairman, said to david ignatius of the "washington post" this morning that they're going to strip the north korea part out so that they would not have as big a challenge in conference to coordinate the senate and house bills because the senate bill as you know is 97-1, or 97-2. the house bill passed something like 417-3. i don't remember the numbers off the top of my head. but it was overwhelming vetoproof. as long as you can pull the north korea piece that the house added out. do you have any support for your stand-alone bill? >> well, my view is we need to move quickly. we should adopt the north korea sanctions bill from the house. but i do believe it needs to be supplemental down the road. what i don't want to have happen is any delay because i think it's important we move forward right away. i just had a chance to question secretary mnuchin, the secretary of treasury, in a committee hearing the other day. actually, earlier today. i asked him if president trump
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had agreed to sign the legislation that passed the house both on the north korea sanctions and the russia sanctions. he said he didn't know yet. we've got to get moving on this. as you've just indicated, we're getting urgent reports about escalating developments in north korea, and we know there are measures we can take economically. let's move quickly and comprehensively. >> and there is some indication from anthony scaramucci that he has not decided yet, the president hasn't decided whether he's going to sign this. these votes have been so overwhelming that if he vetoes it he's going to be overridden. it would be the first override of donald up from. maybe he would invite that, to set himself up against the republican congress. i don't know whether that is part of the strategy. let me ask you about jeff sessions because a number of your republican conservative colleagues have come to his defense. and many of your democratic colleagues and perhaps you as well disagree with some of his
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policies. very conservative enforcement policies, volting rights, sanctuary cities, but it can't be healthy for the attorney general of the united states to be under attack from the president of the united states. >> andrea, as you said, i have strong disagreements with the positions attorney general sessions has taken on all sorts of issues. the ones you mentioned. also his efforts to roll back some of the efforts to make sure we don't have minimum mandatory sentences for non-violent offenders. substance abuse should be treated as a health issue more than a criminal justice issue. but with all that being said it is dangerous to have a president of the united states talking about removing the attorney general because now the attorney general did what was the right thing to do and really what was legally required for him to do, which was recuse himself with respect to the russia investigation. so sessions did exactly the right thing in that respect. he said i've been part of the
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trump campaign so, i cannot be impartial when it comes to investigating potential collusion between the trump campaign and the russians, recused himself, and of course now we have a special counsel, robert mueller. but it is outrageous and really verges on another kind of obstruction of justice to penalize the attorney general. and of course it would be even more outrageous if he got somebody in his place in order to fire mueller, which is what some people are speculating. all of this clearly violates the bounds of the constitutional sort of structure and is a very dangerous moment constitutionally if that's what's going on. >> senator van hollen, thank you very much. thanks for being with us today. and we'll be right back.
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. in its first challenge to the president, the republican-controlled house overwhelmingly joined the senate last night in approving new sanctions against russia with a veto-proof majority, also adding north korea and iran was already in that bill. joining me now, nbc news senior national security analyst, juan zerate, security adviser to george w. bush, and evelyn
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farcuss for russia, ukraine and eurasia, nbc foreign policy contributor. with all of your experience, you can sort this all out. first of all, the secretary of state really challenged very credible reports, from my reporting, he's frustrated, the president criticizing him in the "wall street journal" for recertifying iran last week for obeying at least the nuclear agreement and him saying next time he's going to do it himself because he's sure they really aren't obeying it. >> yeah. >> they have already taken the middle east policy away from him. that's green blat, special envoy of the white house. jared kushner is interfering in all of this persian gulf policy. what does the secretary of state do? >> well, i think the first problem is, you have a lot of these policy disputes, which are -- some of them serious. serious questions like the recertification of iran and what the u.s.-iran relationship should look like, playing out in
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the twitter-sphere instead of in the sit room. and i think that's a part of the challenge we're seeing, obviously with the attorney general, as well. you also have the fact that you have so many near-term crises bubbling up at once. you have the crisis in the persian gulf between qatar and our allies, saudi arabia and the uae. greater confrontation with iran, north korea inching closer and closer to the ability to hit the united states with a nuclear weapon. all of these things are urgent, and i think the administration six months in is still trying to find their feet as to how they manage all of these policy challenges at once. especially as they try to pivot from the obama era and some of the policies that they have been handed. >> let me just drill down on one of those things and follow up with evelyn. north korea, according to our reporting, and also the "times" "washington post" first to report it, the new assessment they have figured out how to miniaturize the warhead and put it on the long-range missile. haven't ironed out the reentry, but the estimate is a year, two years sooner than we thought. >> yeah, the intelligence
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communities both in the united states and in the region have debated what the missile capabilities have been, whether or not they could create an intercontinental capability. and you're right, the last link in that is the last entry of the vehicle, the ability to bring the missile down on to a target. the second part is, have they minute tourized a nuclear device. still some debate on that. if they are quickening that pace, we are reaching that closing window of opportunity to try to prevent their capability to threaten the united states directly. that is game-changing. that also, andrea, explains why the administration has been so urgent, why they claim the era of strategic patience has to be over, and why they have been trying to put more pressure on china to affect the calculus in pyongyang. >> evelyn, you're a pentagon expert. what are the military options what so much of this is buried underground? how do you target for a preemptive strike? >> i don't think there are good military options and i remember when i went to pyongyang and the nuclear facility, the only one they had at the time, the
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plutonium-based program, the high end of the estimate was material for ten weapons. now the high end is about 48. so it's not just the capability, the ability to reach the united states. but also the proliferation danger. you know, now that they have more material. the military options are not very good. and that's why i think you see the administration trying to put pressure on china, on russia, as well, and on obviously north korea to get back to the negotiating table. i'm a little bit nervous, because they seem to be threatening regime change. you saw that, even in your interview when you interviewed general dunford, our patience running out. and that worries me a bit. because regime change is the last thing -- that's actually going to make russia even more intransigent when it comes to dealing with north korea and helping us, as well as china. the chinese recently moved troops to the border. they're clearly worried. the border with north korea. they're clearly worried. >> i'm going to have to leave it there. >> i think the administration is just trying to change the
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calculus. change the motivations. and in the iran context, keep in mind, israel was saber-rattling. a lot of experts think that helped bring iran to the table, effectuated sanctions from europe. the u.s. may be trying to do that with north korea. >> thank you so much. >> thank you. >> could not think of better guests today. >> thank you. more ahead. we'll be right back. no, please, please, oh! ♪ (shrieks in terror) (heavy breathing and snorting) no, no. the running of the bulldogs? surprising. what's not surprising? how much money aleia saved by switching to geico. fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent or more. it's my decision to make it's nbeauty last.ix. roc® retinol started visibly reducing my fine lines and wrinkles in one week. and the longer i use it, the better it works. retinol correxion® from roc methods, not miracles.™
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and thanks for being with us. that does it for this edition of "andrea mitchell reports." remember, follow the show online on facebook and on
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twitter @mitchellreports. craig melvin is next here on msnbc. hi, craig. >> good to see you, my friend. good wednesday afternoon to you. craig melvin here at msnbc headquarters in new york city. transgender ban. president trump taking to twitter to call for a total ban on transgender individuals in any capacity in the armed forces. what it means for the thousands of transgender americans already enlisted in the military. also this afternoon, repeal and delay. a little over two hours, the gop will be putting up their latest bill to repeal obamacare. that one also widely expected to fail. so what's next in the health care fight? and still slamming sessions. day three of the president's twitter tirade against his attorney general. what he's saying today, as oval office insiders suggest there could be some major changes coming to the department of justice. we'll get to that in just a moment. but we start with two big fights. the one


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