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tv   The 11th Hour With Brian Williams  MSNBC  August 4, 2017 11:00pm-12:00am PDT

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mailboxes.com. i hope you'll consider watching my brand new msnbc, the beat, airs week nights. and now as is "the 11th hour" with brian williams. weeknights at 6:00 p.m. eastern. and now is the 11th hour with brian williams. tonight donald trump leaves for 17 days of vacation. but those nagging russia problems follow the president north to new jersey. "the new york times" reports tonight robert mueller's team has asked the white house for documents on former national security adviser mike flynn. plus attorney general jeff sessions vows to crack down on leaks but is his tough message to leakers or the boss? and mattis, mcmaster and kelly trump's made no secret of of the love of generals but can they bring order to a chaotic administration? the friday edition of the 11th hour" begins now. we've made it to friday. good evening once again from our nbc news headquarters here in new york.
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day 197 in fact of the trump administration. and a long time trump ally and short-time white house employee is firmly back in the news tonight. "the new york times" is reporting, quote, investigators working for the special counselor robert mueller recently asked the white house for documents related to former national security advisers michael flynn and have questioned witnesses about whether he was secretly paid by the turkish government during the final months of the presidential campaign. that's according to people close to the investigation. it continues. the line of questions shows that mr. mueller's inquiry has expanded into a full-fledged examination of mr. flynn's financial dealings beyond the relatively narrow question of whether he failed to register as foreign agent or lied about his conversations and business arrangements with russian officials. flynn did not comment on the story tonight. trump's lawyers said they continue to collaborate with mueller on an ongoing basis. in new reporting comes a day
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after we learned mueller now has a washington grand jury at his disposal. as for the president who 24 hours ago called the investigation a hoax and a total fabrication, he left washington this evening for a 17-day trip to the new jersey golf club in bed minister, a working vacation as the white house calls it, that coincides with repairs in the west wing and congress leaving town for the august rehe -- for the august recess. as a new report from the "washington post" put it tonight, the next few weeks could afraid the white house an opportunity to regroup, with a calmer political environment expected. more on that in a bit. a big part of that potentially happened this past monday we general john kelly started as white house chief of staff. tonight marks the end of the first full week on the job, and already changing the culture inside the building. he is reportedly having staff start the morning meeting earlier. been moved to the roosevelt room
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where there are no distracting televisions on the walls. he has been keeping the oval office door closed to stop loiters from trying to catch the president's eye. and he is monitoring calls, making sure he looks at information before it hits the president's desk. but infighting remains a problem. the latest internal target appears to be national security adviser h.r. mcmaster. "the new york times" has reported that trump is defending mcmaster as conservatives seek his dismissal. the article says, quote, thor if ross si of the attacks coming from the faction of the party allied with steve bannon, the chief strategists, has general mcmaster's associates convinced it was no coincidence. despite the changes in staffing the president left for vacation with the same tone tenor and message he brought to the campaign trail. telling supporters in west virginia last night it's personal. the democrats are trying to cheat them of their future.
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>> we are fighting for every american who has been overlooked, pushed aside, or told to put their dreams on hold. but we will win. and we're winning now. we didn't win because of russia. we won because of you. that i can tell you. we won because millions of patriotic americans voted to take back their country. they can't beat us at the voting booths. so they're trying to cheat you out of the future and the future that you want. they're trying to cheat you out of the leadership you want. with a fake story that is demeaning to all of us and most importantly demeaning to our country and demeaning to our
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constitution. we are working every single day to heed and honor the will of those millions and millions of voters that came out and voted for us. not for me. they voted for us. >> critically note the language there. and that's where we begin with a first class friday night in august starting panel white house correspondent for bloomberg shannon pettypiece is back with us. msnbc national political correspondent steve kornacki. and we rock robert trainer, senior adviser to the bush 43 re-election campaign. good evening and welcome to you all. shannon you get the lead question. and we have news on all fronts for the friday night going in order starting with flynn. there is no way to ask this without coming at it backwards.
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what about flynn and turkey gets mueller and team any closer to the chief charge involving russia? >> so this connection between this turkish businessman and michael flynn have been known for a while and suspected it was going to be a focus of either the congressional investigations or mueller investigations. but i think a lot of people assumed that was because this turkish businessman paying flynn's consulting firm for essentially consulting and lobbying work had ties to russia. that's why we thought the turkish businessman was relevant. as "the new york times" is reporting tonight it appears that mueller might not be looking at the russian connections but just whether or not michael flynn was paid directly or indirectly in some form by the turkish government to do work. so whether flynn was acting actually on behalf of the turkish government. it takes it out of the recommend of russia and maybe you know a
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sort of a side issue that -- i mean, again we don't have a lot of information here yet -- could have nothing to do with russia. but that's the issue with the special counsel is when he opens up the books on someone, if he sees some illegal activity, it doesn't mean he ignore that is and says never mind. you go where the facts lead is what they always say. that could be what we're seeing happen here. >> steve, do you have any indication the central theme of this administration, ie russia, will be any different when we near the end of 2017. >> as you're hearing there from shannon, this raises the question of what direction is this investigation going? >> right. >> because once you get a special counsel history tells us you have the start point and it's like a game of telephone you wonder how did we end up here? i could think back to the white water investigation involving bill clinton in the '90s. you look at what he was ultimately impeached for had nothing to do with the land deal.
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but in the course of that investigation, you had the governor of arkansas who had nothing to do with bill clinton in white water. he got convicted caught up in the investigation in the special counsel, the independent counsel looks into his business dealings that brought him down. we'll see where it goes on flynn. but if this is something independent from russia and has to do with mike flynn's finances it's an indication of what happens when a prosecutor has this kind of power, this kind of latitude and gets curious about something. there is no telling where it goes. >> robert it's great to have you at the table and welcome. >> thank you. >> you've been on the inside. i saw a column today saying august has been cruel to some presidents. but with the right team, couldn't they make the case this could be a reset and rejuvenation month for them? >> absolutely. i think that's why you saw the president in west virginia. hello. mansion is up for re-election. the governor switched from a democrat to republican. if this white house had a professional team around it.
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>> imagine that. >> it would be i think mind boggling in many ways, and here's why. one the president and his team could talk about the stock market and economy. the president and his team could talk about the swamp in a more professional way saying look the reason i'm here is to change things let me figure out how to do this. the point is that this is a white house in disarray. it is run by nonprofessionals. to your point, steve, this is what drives the white house crazy. when they see the special prosecutor going in a different direction because in -- if i was in the white house i would say, mr. president, this is why you should go around the country and talk about why this is not a good thing. in other words, the special prosecutor. because it kind of makes your point, if you will. but the problem is the president can't stay on message. we saw him earlier yesterday pretty much read the teleprompter feed from the crowd. the question is can he do that the rest of august? i'm doubtful. >> shannon, just before air you
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alerted us that the traveling white house in bed minister had released a statement to the press pool that always covers the president. for the viewers before i ask you to read it. it has to do with what we talked about at the top of the broadcast about h.r. mcmaster being in the sights of a wing of the party in the continuing circular firing squad. this is general mcmaster is a noted author, a kind of soldier warrior scholar who has the great respect of his colleagues and peers, except he has been in the sights of some folks inside the white house. shannon, tell us what the president has released tonight about his relationship with the general. >> and this was kind of unusual that at this hour the white house would put out a brief statement for the president. essentially reaffirming his support for mcmaster calling him a good man. saying he was pro israel and saying he stands by his national
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security adviser. and the reason he had to put a statement out like this is because there has been an increased swirl of stories about tensions in the white house between mcmaster, these tensions have been brewing for months, ever since steve bannon was removed from the national security councils, which mcmaster overseas. he felt bannon didn't have a place there. that obviously upset bannon and the bannon wing of faction within the white house. but the escalation between the two has been picking up. there's been a lot of attacks of mcmaster on breitbart.com and in that nationalist wing of media. but with kelly -- general kelly in there now as chief of staff, him and mcmaster respect bet things or anything. but they are two military men come from the same cloth, have a lot of the same world view on issue. kelly has brought mcmaster a
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reprieve and some protection allowed him to make changes he wants to make on the national security council. and now you see the president putting out a statement reaffirming support. i think that's really being driven by kelly to stamp out any sort of questions about whether mcmaster has the confidence of the president and place in the administration. >> as they say in the military the two generals have each other's six. that may be good for mcmaster. robert i was not trying to be snide and trying to be respectful, but is my use of the phrase circular firing squad fair? >> absolutely. what she didn't say which we need to acknowledge conservatives are upset with the president that mcmacmasters is in that position. conservatives are upset that mcmaster is firing flynn deputies. conservatives are really happy with bannon being in the white house. conservatives, ie breitbart, are really happy that, for lack of a better term, bannon is the
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keeper of the flame. this is a circular firing squad no doubt about it. >> the israel mention i have to back fill. that referring back to a breitbart article that mentioned mcmaster, vis-a-vie on stand on israel. steve your stock in trade is numbers. some really interesting poll numbers the past week. are we correct -- the president is at a new floor in his presidency. but are we correct or in error to define that as the base? >> yeah, i think there is an extra challenge with donald trump that we have never had with any modern president and really any major figure we've had. we have to ask every time we get a new report of numbers he is do this or that. do they mean with donald trump what they men in the past? we have a couple of polls putting the approval rating in the mid-even 30s. 33 is the lowest of the entire presidency by any historical standards by july august to be registering 33% in a poll is
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absolute political catastrophe. that's what any standard says. we have to measure that against candidate donald trump last year. we could have said the same thing over and over last year. by any historical standard candidate trump was registering catastrophic numbers. 27% of the people in our poll last year said they had a favorable image of him. we had outright majorities saying they didn't think he was honest or competent, that his views were outside the main stream. they had negative impressions of him personally. this looked like the most unelectable candidate in history. is what is happened in the election? >> it raises the question of how he won. there's all sorts of theorys. one possibility it raises is that what donald trump has capitalized on and created really is a level of, i guess you could call it cultural polarization that takes a big group of people in this country that say i don't like the guy, i think he's full of it and a con man. but the culture is so polarized
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into these two tribes in this country that they end upsiding with him because he's our con man, whatever you want to call him. if that sustained him in the campaign last year, that does raise a question when you look at these polls. they would be catastrophic by any other standard, but with donald trump, if that cultural polarization still prevails, these numbers may not mean what it looks like. >> we're just going to pause. when we come back, again, the president's critical choice of words, as he went populist last night. is it a sign of things to come?
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no longer will we allow other countries to close our factories, steal our jobs and drain our wealth. >> a little bit more from the president last night in friendly west virginia, striking a note of nationalism and populism. our panel is still with us. shannon, populism is one of the familiar levers that a politician can pull. and he did in a friendly red state. >> and i think it is actually an effective message for him because it's one that he won on, and one he has gotten derailed from. this was the first rally he gave post-the obamacare, health care repeal.
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i don't know if that made him feel like he didn't need to be trying to appease members of congress in any way. but, you know there is an effective message he has especially when it comes to jobs, protectionism, you know, anti-immigration policies that you know not only hits with the base but hit with a lot of voters in the blue states. the message gets lost sometimes. but when he is on it it is effective with the trump voters that got him to where he is now. >> robert, this isn't talked about much. but all the teams of investigators have a certain mindset. they are obviously towering patriots. when they hear the populism, it's not going to anger them but when they hear it coupled with this is a hoax, and this is a total fabrication, in the middle of what is the latest bit of their live life's work that could be a problem. >> absolutely it could be a problem. let me go back for a second. donald trump is very good at speaking to the crowd, speaking
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very declaratively. i would make the argument he is at his natural space when talking about blue collar jobs. he is very authentic. and you have to give him credit for that because that's one of the reasons he won. i would make the argument he is the blue collar billionaire. to some reason the person living paycheck to paycheck in west virginia connects that with that guy. there is something to be said about that. say whatever you want about donald trump in terms of being over the top or good stuff or bad stuff. the reality is there is a certain segment people frankly look like me that look at him says you know what that's my guy. he is fighting for me. >> that goes back to the favorite kornacki sound bite of tonight, he's our con man. steve, what were his numbers in west virginia? this is the same disconnect you were talking about. >> this was his best state in country that the other thing that separates him do the rules apply to him that applied politicly to other presidents.
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here's the thing that's different about donald trump. he has been about one thing. thing, that's his base. think about barack obama. when barack obama was running in 2008, his goal was to expand the playing field, to go into all these republican states and get as broad a mandate as possible, to take that mandate, get legislative and enact his mandate. with donald trump, it is just enough, 70,000 votes across three states to get into the white house. and my goal is not to expand that, it's just not to lose a single one of them. and if i don't lose a single one of them, i'll have my party with me and i'll get re-elected by the same tiny thin margin. that seems to be the goal. keep the polarization that was in place on election day alive throughout the entire presidency. and if you keep that alive, at least the theory, you will keep that razor thin coalition
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together. we've never seen anything like this. >> but the question becomes, whether or not when he goes up for re-election, when he says i didn't repeal obamacare, i could not build the wall, will the folks still show up for him. i don't think we know. >> another newsy friday night in midsummer, another fantastic panel to share it with. shannon, steve, robert, our great thanks. certificates of appreciation are in the mail right now. coming up, jeff sessions comes out strong on leaks. we'll talk about the possible targets and perils of this new strategy, when "the 11th hour" continues. our best bandage yet! it moves like a second skin. better? yeah. good thing because stopping never crosses your mind. band-aid® brand. stick with it™
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for a limited time, you can qualify for two treatments at no cost. stand up to chronic migraine. talk to a headache specialist today. so today i have this message for our friends in the intelligence community. the department of justice is open for business. and i have this warning for would be leakers, don't do it. >> attorney general jeff sessions today revealing the new plan to try to stop leaks of classified information. he says the fbi created a new unit to handle leak cases. trump spent days as you'll recall publicly humiliating his own attorney general saying he would not have hired jeff sessions if he knew he was going to recuse himself from the russia investigation. now sessions is going big on something trump has wanted since
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he was elected. and that's stopping the leaks. >> i'll tell you what does happen. i have many meetings with intelligence. and every time i meet people are reading about it. from intelligence, papers are being leaked, things are being leaked. it's criminal action. criminal act. and it's been going on a long time before me. but now it's really going on. i have actually called the justice department to look into the leaks. those are criminal leaks. i want the attorney general to be much tougher on the leaks from intelligence agencies which are leaking like -- rarely have they ever leaked before. >> joining the conversation tonight. charlie savage "new york times" national security and legal reporter. he was in the room where it happened today. the attorney general's press conference earlier. and kerry cordero back with us former senior associate general counsel for the dni, the director of national intelligence now at georgetown
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law. thank you both for coming on tonight. charlie, what if it's their own federal workforce they're talking about here. >> well, that seems to be the message that attorney general sessions is trying to send. he spoke -- he directed his message directly to what he called our friends in the intelligence community as he sent the saber rattling warning that they will find them and catch them and prosecute them. he seemed to have two audiences today. one was people who have access to classified information and might be thinking about talking to reporters about -- in ways that go beyond the approved talking points about what's happening in the world. but the other audience of course seemed to be the president himself who has been -- as your introductory segment made clear, putting tremendous pressure on attorney general sessions to do more about leaking. and a lot of the pageantry of today's event seemed to be geared at the audience of one. >> kerry where do you put his
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what he was talking about today, federal employees or the end user or the raw dat that is leaked the-free press or the federal worker. >> he came at the press and the intelligence community workforce. in the clip you played a second ago, he assumes that it's the intelligence community that's leaking all of this information. and this president and this white house unfortunately they've really politicized the issue of leaks. there is different kinds of leaks. there is leaks of classified information which is mostly what the attorney general was talking about. but then there is leaks what you might refer to as washington inside baseball. that's a lot of what the president has been talking about over the last few months. he doesn't like things getting out he doesn't want getting out. unfortunately the white house and president have conflated those two things. today unfortunately because it appeared so responsive to the president's concerns really came across as politicizing leaks and what that does is that really
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damages the national security justification for being concerned about what our some serious leaks of -- leaks of classified information that have taken place. >> and charlie, to your point, it is possible that the criticism has colored the way the attorney general views his job. >> well, it's very hard to look at mr. sessions right now, especially on an issue where he has been under such tremendous public pressure from president trump, without seeing it through the lens of the president trying to bully him into resigning or setting the groundwork for firing him. many conservatives and former colleagues in the senate rallied around jeff sessions in the last week or so to warn trump not to fire him to be hands off. obviously trump is not wanting to fire him or get rid of him because of his lack of leaks investigations so much but because he stands in the way of
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putting in a new attorney general who could fire bob mueller because he wouldn't be recused the russia investigation. all the swirl taints any of the policy moves he makes in the policy area. >> charlie you've been at this a while have you ever seen a tempo or volume of leaks like this. >> everything i just said notwithstanding there is no doubt that we have been through through an avenue laj -- avalanche of leaks. part of that due to which faction is mad at hue. that is not illegal. that's just ordinary information come out without -- not through official channels but doesn't implicate the law in any way. notwithstanding anyone involved in national security laws knows that we have seen a lot of information about -- information that was gathered through surveillance or transcripts of presidential phone calls and in ways that is extraordinary that we wouldn't see in a normal washington environment with a
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normal president and a normal give or take of politics. it seems to be part of the froth we're in right now. and i think one of the things people who do national security for a living are concerned about at some point beyond donald trump when normalcy returns to washington will the norms have been destroyed in terms of what gets put out in the public routinely and what does not. >> carrie in your view how does that what happened today how could that back fire? >> the issue is first of all one of the things most concerning of what the attorney general said is he immediately raised the issue in the press conference of going after the records of reporters. and potentially opening up the guidelines that were just revised in 2015 that said the approval of obtaining records from reporters would have to be approved just by the attorney general and really that should be a last resort in a leak investigation. and any kind of investigation having to obtain the records of reporters. the fact that he went sort of directly there during the -- during the press conference
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today was concerning from a justice department perspective. because there's a lot of other investigation that would need to take place. and there is going to be a lot of concern from the media perspective if he reopens those guidelines and starts trying to lower the standards. >> not fair to ask you this for a 15-second answer but i'm going to anyway. were you saddened to see the leak carry of the transcripts the president's private phone calls with overseas leaders? >> i think that's one example of information that's out that normally shouldn't. i skimmed through them. i mean i think it would be interesting actually if the director of national intelligence conducted a classification review of those documents so that people could see what was really -- how much of that was seriously classified and what wasn't. there have been some other leaks, for example i think charlie mentioned contents of surveillance phone calls, matters that might have been under national security surveillance. and those have been reported on
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publicly. those types of things that get at sources and methods obviously from a national security perspective are damaging and do cause harm. but my concern is that the white house, what they've been doing is politicizing these. so it's hard for people on the outside to distinguish the serious leaks from the ones that are not of classified information. >> a terrific conversation tonight. again on an august friday night and our great thanks to charlie savage, carrie or daro. another break forrous. can trump climb back from low numbers while on vacation for 17 days. our panel will weigh in when we come back.
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welcome back to our broadcast. president trump heads into the summer vacation with some of the lowest poll numbers of his presidency thus far. just a third of americans approve of the job he is doing according to quinnipiac. a majority 54% said they're
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embarrassed by the president. 63% said trump did not represent their values. 59% said he doesn't care about average americans. let's talk about this with our panel tonight. colleen mccane nelson. editorial page editor for the kansas city star. and jameel smith is back with us, contributing writer for "the daily beast." colleen i'd like to begin with you. we just got finished talking about leaks. i'd like to leave the topic there because it's germane. how do you think your readers took to the story of the leaked transcripts of donald trump and importantly where members of the base are concerned who live around kansas city, do you think it -- it hurt his relationship with them when they saw he was perhaps less than serious about building that wall and having mexico pay for it? >> well, that certainly started to chip away at some supporters
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belief in donald trump because they're counting on him to build a wall. but this avalanche of leaks that charlie talked about a moment ago starts to become a blur for readers in kansas city particularly on the russia investigation and all the swirl of what robert mueller is look into. and for a lot of readers here they want to focus on trump's agenda and they want trump to be able to advance his agenda. and they view the investigation and all the leaks as an impediment to trump implementing what they want to see him do whether on immigration, health care, jobs, et cetera. >> jamaul out in los angeles i know you have a specific opinion on the leaks. >> yeah, i actually think it's not the worst thing in the world. there's been a lot of hand wringing about these leaks, saying it's bad that northern leaders -- foreign leaders may
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not be able to trust the privacy of conversations with the president. but let's be real. he is going to leak them anyway. he will leak them through the twitter accounts, through his speeches. he talks about them all the time. he went to twitter to talk about turnbull. he talked about the mexican president let's not fool ourselves assay if we don't leak this it's remaining private. it's coming out one way or the other. the american people should know how they're being represented by their president to foreign leaders. >> we should probably colleen point out to viewers as the song says you left a good job in the city working for the man every night and day. you were covering the "wall street journal" and moved to kansas city. now you're among actual americans. and tell us how high russia ranks on the list if we were to walk into fred piotz in kansas city order dinner where would it rank on the subject matter people are following? >> well that is a good spot to
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go brian. thanks for that. but, no, russia does not rank high here. and i mean the first question is whether trump supporters believe there is anything to the russia story. you had trump in west virginia yesterday saying it was a total fabrication. and we saw polling a couple weeks ago where 72% of trump supporters said they believe the russia investigation is a fake story. when i talk to readers they say they don't see how it impacts their lives. first of all if you reject the whole premise of the russia story for starters you're not really interested in the drip, drip, drip of what comes out every day. and even if you think there is something to it, a lot of people are just waiting to see where it ends up. they're not necessarily lying awake at night wondering whether donald trump jr.'s meeting with the russian lawyer was about
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adoption or getting dirt on hillary clinton. >> jamaul what citizens have in common from washington west to kansas city west to l.a. is they have needs. needs they are hoping to have addressed by the president and their member of congress. and there aren't a whole list of things that members of congress are going home for their -- their summer break bragging about. >> well, here's the thing. you have people here coming home like harris who has efforts to brag about her efforts to bring the wealth gap between everyone else and black women for instance. but i'm from ohio. there is folks back who home in cleveland talking about the russia story and connecting it to daily lives because they understand that it's another form of voter suppression which a lot of folks are used to talking about. so i think it fits within a lot of different narratives economics voters, you know voters rights a lot of different things that people may not be necessarily highlighting. but folks are really talking
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about. so i think we need to kind of divorce ourselves from this notion that people in the midwest and people in quote unquote real america are in the concerned with this story. there is a lot of us who are. >> our great thanks again on a friday night in august for a fantastic conversation. colleen mccain nelson, jamaul smith one of the prouder graduates from this shop. thank you for joining us. we'll check in with you we'd like to do that. coming up after one more break, donald trump is open about his love for generals. but can the generals around him bring order to washington and specifically the west wing? that's ahead when we continue.
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welcome back to our broadcast on a week a retired general took the reins asset as chief of staff at the white house. politico has a fascinating story about the military officers that serve president trump. chief among them, kelly, mattis
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and mcmaster. three men with 11 stars between them. the headline here trump's generals trying to save the world starting with the white house. it reads in part trump's generals have tended to see the mission agency two fold. the first job to correct what senior military officers see as mistakes of the obama administration. a hesitancy to use force. the second job and far riskier one is to mitigate the damage caused by their boss. the story goes on to say that the generals have been nicknamed the axis of adults. the author james kitfield is with us tonight. also with us from seattle retired four-star u.s. army general barry mccaffrey and msnbc military analyst with experience in government and military throughout the world. james, terrific piece, well researched and written.
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i recommend it to everybody. let's start with kelly. who i'm afraid is just a general and not a cardinal. he is being talked about in near religious terms. a lot of people putting hopes and dreams on this guy. a political as far as we know. what's the upside and down side of the president's reliance on generals? >> the upside is these are men, worldly men, nonpartisan not part of the swamp that trump talked about so much as a candidate. they know how to run large organizations, disciplined. that's the upside. >> the downside is they have a very nonpartisan tradition of the u.s. military. and they have respect as individuals i think as they are known to be nonpartisan they're getting sort of put into this partisan swirl that is around president trump.
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so can they keep their credibility? that remains to be seen. but certainly it's interesting to me when president trump gets in a bad stop like he did last week when there was a meltdown of chaos in the white house he turns to the generals to help get him out. i think that's his instinct. he likes tough guys in uniform. he calls on these guys a lot. >> general mccaffrey in your time in starting back in the veet nachl -- vietnam era, tell the folks in our audience how generals have changed. people with no military connection these days may not know the kind of warrior scholar we have seen at the top ranks, the people who get three and four stars on their shoulders. >> well, that's a good point. by the way, brian, i've been in and out of three administrations in the white house, bush 41, clinton/bush '43. i think james got his article dead right. kelly is a good example of a guy who grew up in the marine corps,
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working class irish values, complete integrity. i've told people he may be one of the best public servants i ever met. and mattis, one of these warrior intellectuals, he worshiped by the armed forces, dunford is first rate, lots of experience. h.r. mcmaster, ph.d. noted author, intellectual. they're a new breed. my dad was a three-start general. he never voted when he was in uniform. by the way, officers then usually didn't vote, they didn't wear their uniforms in washington, d.c. we have a new class of leaders. i think we ought to feel good about it and grateful that kelly and mattis and mcmasters have stepped forward and tried to help organize this administration. >> we do get impressed by those stars.
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do you think there's ever an over reliance in part because you guys tend to be more confidence than most? >> you may well be right. i don't think the generals do very well at politics. you know, the politics have memories that go back 30 and 40 years. they've worked with each other. they hate each other because of a primary 30 years earlier. those kind of intertwining connections the generals aren't part of. i think that's a limitation. they're also driven toward trying to get an objective reality done, rather than compromise. but i think at the end of the day, look, general kelly, for example, had seven years dealing with congress for the united states marine corps. and he was executive assistant to two of the most brilliant secretaries of defense we ever had, gates and panetta. so it's not as if he's unaware of the ground and the alchemy that goes on inside washington, d.c.
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>> do you draw any conclusions on whether being apolitical in a west vang that we already in this hour described as a circular firing squad, do you think it is better armor than most? >> i think it is better armor but it is not fool proof. i mean, we've already seen -- a lot of us wonder when h.r. mcmaster was named national security adviser how long it would take him to butt heads with steve bannon and sort of the nationalist wing and that faction that's very strong in the white house. all of these generals have world views that are internationalists. they've served overseas many times, they've dealt with alliances. it's very much different from the nationalist world view of the steve bannons of the world. you've seen this war now between h.r. mcmaster and the bannon faction with breitbart basically running 11 stories basically headlining saying mcmaster must go.
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a lot of us anticipated that happening. so now that kelly is going to give him some cover, i think mcmaster wants to clear out a lot of the hardliners from the national security council associated with bannon. he's fired four in the last month or so. we're going to see this play out but it's not going to be pretty. at the end of the day, it's the person in the oval office that has to decide what discipline he wants to instill. in the past, he's resisted being very disciplined. >> james, we thank you for coming on to talk about your article. general mccaffrey, always a plaesh. thank you, gentleman. a final break for us. and coming up, the hub-bub over the president's choice of vacation destination and here's a hint -- its chief export is bruce springsteen when we continue.
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last thing before we go here on a friday night, a point we prove every night around here. a great time for our trade. we are in a new kind of golden age for journalism, except for a piece that posted tonight in the "boston globe." put it this way -- when somebody goes after your home state, the state you're driving to after the broadcast, as 41 said when kuwait was invaded, this will not stand. say what you will about this president and we do here pretty much every night, this piece begins by talking about the president's vacation, quote,
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he's spending his 17-day summer holiday in new jersey, you heard that right, new jersey -- italics added to emphasize disdain. faint praise doesn't get any better than this. not all of new jersey is as charm last as the notorious pulaski skyway. oh, and those concrete barriers on the interstate. thank the lord he chose new jersey, gushed john aly, a commissioner who lives on martha's vineyard where bill clinton and barack obama returned multiple times. ask if he would ever vacation in new jersey, he answered quickly, hell no, jersey is a place you pass through to get somewhere else. mr. alley, i do hope you'll let us know the next time you're passing through.
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we can meet you at exit 98. from there, we can tour all into miles of coastline, the pine forest down south, the horse so that is our broadcast for this friday night and for this week. thank you for being here with us and good night from msnbc news headquarters here in new york. tonight -- >> are there any russians here tonight? >> the counter offensive begins. >> they're trying to cheat you out of the leadership you want with a fake story. >> tonight, new details on the mueller investigation. as the white house attacks leakers and the president and his allies undercut the special prosecutor. >> i think mr. mueller is hurting his reputation. >> maxine waters.

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