tv Morning Joe MSNBC August 22, 2017 3:00am-6:00am PDT
states military has begun strikes against al qaeda terrorist training camps and military installations of the taliban regime in afghanistan. >> this modest expansion can make a real difference. >> hasty withdrawal would create a vacuum that terrorists, including isis and al qaeda would instantly fill just as it happened on september 11th. and now 16 years into that conflict. welcome to "morning joe." mika has the morning off. with us, we have david ignatius,
mark halperin, washington bureau chief and associate editor of commentary magazine and jonathan la mere. last night as you know president trump unveiled it was billed as a new approach to afghanistan. the 30-minute speech marked a major policy reversal for donald trump who in the past has urged the united states to get out of afghanistan. >> my original instinct was to pull out and historically i like following my instincts, but all my life i've heard that decisions are much different
when you sit behind the desk in the oval office, in other words, when you're president of the united states. a core pillar of our new strategy is a shift from a time-based approach to one based on conditions. i've said it many times how counterproductive it is for the united states to announce in advance the dates we intend to begin or end military options. we will not talk about number of troops or our plans for further military activities. we are a partner and a friend, but we will not dictate to the afghan people how to live or how to govern their own complex society. we are not nation building again. we are killing terrorists. we can no longer being silent
about pakistan's safe haven for terrorist organizations, the taliban and other groups that pose a flthreat to the region a beyond. it's time for pakistan to demonstrate its commitment to order and to piece. and india is the world's largest democracy and key partner to the united states. >> david ignatius, around this set since january 20th there have been a lot of people who said, well, we didn't vote for donald trump but we just hoped at the very least the magnitude of the office and responsibilities would weigh on him enough that he would moderate some of his thinking, some of his views, some of his
bad habits. last night he admitted in one way the weight of this office, the responsibilities of the commander in chief did get him to change a view and that is on afghanistan. when you sit behind that desk and you understand for the tfirt time we can't win in afghanistan but we sure as hell can lose there. >> i think you put it just right. it was a somber speech. it didn't have any hyperbole. this was straight forward and you had a president who really had wanted to get out of a war he thought didn't make sense and now after working with his generals, working with his advisers, he has concluded that even if he didn't have a plan to w win, but there were no details
of it, he does know that walking away in effect surrendering this commitment that's been going on for 16 years would be a mistake. he needs the platform in afghanistan to conduct operations. in pakistan it's the core of what he decided to do. it's too valuable to the u.s. to give up right now. but we're back in the same world of pressuring pakistan, carrots and sticks for pakistan. he didn't talk about nation building for afghanistan but inevitably when you're trying to build an army, it's implicit. the reality caught up and he changed his plans. >> and it's something our leaders will have to be more
honest about. i remember in 2004 and fiv2005, does sending troops to iraq, how badly does it affect us. he said this isn't a war with afghanistan, it's a war with afghanistan and pakistan and we'll never be able to fight that war. the best we can do is not lose the war. that was 13 years ago, 12, 13 years ago it's the same reality. and even though people like me don't like to hear this and most americans don't like to hear it, we just must be in a situation like we're in after the korean war where leaving was not an option and people like me thought leaving was an option until i saw what happened wihen
we just left iraq. >> joe, you put your finger on it. the president made the point that we've seen with a hasty withdrawl does. and the result of doing that was to create a vacuum and into that vacuum came isis. we all watched it, we all learned that same lesson. i found myself thinking -- watching the president last night how hard it must have been to talk to general kelly, who lost a son in afghanistan and to try to think how he would tell general kelly he was going to follow through on his plan to just pull out of there. could you look johnson kelly in the eye and say the sacrifice your son made, the ultimate sacrifice wasn't important enough to keep on the ground. there's very little enthusiasm for this policy today but not a
single person there can bear the thought of walking away. >> mark halperin, i don't know that realities on the ground are any different in 2017 than they were in early 2003, let's say, but at the same time, america, if america leaves, there will be a horrific void. so donald trump had a will the of simplistic slogans during the campaign, he said a lot of things that made crowds cheer. there's nothing easy, there's nothing simple, there's nothing pat about our policy in afghanistan now. what's the take away and what's the political impact? >> bitter eirony that pretty muh the hardest thing in the president's in box leads to roughly the same conclusion. you can't walk away. look at the al ban to come to
the netting table. rye troo i to chang the foundation of afghanistan. >> and do people think the taliban is going to negotiate in good faith, do people think afghan's and yet those are all part of this president's plan. he said he'd be a candidate of change excluding very interestingly on this issue and while a lot of the american people may not like it, you look at the reaction from congress, including from some democrats but a lot of establish republicans, they applaud it. and people looking at the longer arc of the process of people the president on top issues, this was clearly one of the more deliberative process the
president has been to. i'll say to conclude it is a bitter thing from a lot of people who wanted change. >> julie pace inside the white house. and people who understand military tactics and have actually fought in wars can be in there and have a strng voice, can you take that part of it. but it's also the fact that the president does listen to generals. so here's a president who doesn't even listen to scientists saying don't stare into the sun during a solar eclipse but it appears time spent at camp david was worth it. there was a reasoned, thoughtful process this our national security team walked through. >> and even before that big meeting at camp david last week,
this has been one of the most detailed, most thorough processes we've seen in would you go. and these quickly were rod out quickly from the general krns to trump in a detailed plan, make the case in a sustained way that appealed to his own interest. >>. >> and what is the outcome here? >> those are questions that seems unwinnable for two presidencies now. he's taking this on because his generals have told him the consequences would be
disastrous. trump does not want to be a president who creates a vacuum, who allows afghanistan to turn back into a launching pad for terror attacks in the united states. >> and that is at the end of the day, josh, any president that faces this, faces just a lot of bad options. president obama's decision, he struggled over it for so long. i think 2009 and just struggled with it. at some point doesn't understand that victory in afghanistan means there wasn't a terror attack against the building in york or washington today. >> had it comes to afghanistan policy that, is the route of roo every -- from afghanistan.
and he campaigned on decimating core al qaeda. based on the strategy that involved a surge of military resources and a new diplomacy being effort, which is key here and wasn't talked about last night, that was critical to our success in doing that. but the other part that he struggled with was at the end of his term, which is this question that he'd set a goal of essentially getting our troops out of afghanistan by the end of his tenure and he made a decision over the course of 2015/2016 to do that. >> are a lot of conservatives that saw the withdrawal from iraq as a good thing. certainly not john mccain, not lindsey graham, but after a
decade of war, and i include myself here said, hey, enough is enough. are we going to be an occupying force in two countries for the next 30 years? and a lot of us learned a valuable lesson after iraq, that suddenly, you know, i stopped saying when i went out giving speeches or spending $2 billion a week or a month in afghanistan let's spend that money rebuilding america. guess what? sometimes we don't have easy options and donald trump ran head on into that last night, didn't he? >> yeah, he's not the first. the last three consecutive presidents have to one degree or another ran on retrenchment. those three presidents encountered realities in the white house that forced them to abandon their campaign rhetoric. it's not easy to tell the american people that we are obligated just about everywhere in the world and wouldn't call the 800 troops an occupying
force -- >> i was talking about what i was thinking back in 2009 and 2010, about the fact that we were in iraq and afghanistan and spending billions and billions of dollars and it went against all of my natural instincts. but again, 2011, 2012 taught me that sometimes there are koreas in the world and afghanistan may be our korea. we may need troops to stabilize for quite some time. >> trump was honest about the threat in pakistan and the double dealing there. russia is investing heavily in afghanistan and, but we have a great gain in afghan that are we are acknowledging we're playing.
>> there is not going to be and easy -- this morning steve bannon is back running breitbart and this morning breitbart is heaping presence talking about trump reversus course. i wonder if they picked up the phone last night and called everybody in the base to note that. i don't think they really did. i think that's like one person unhappy. and is trump's afghanistan policy different than obamas, so on and so forth. does that resonate outside of breitbart leadership? >> you have to admire the gall of somebody who is content to say their opinions represent the base, that's a lot of hubris. >> when they're really not republicans, when they're really
not conservatives. i'll just say that. >> no, some of them would be very honest about saying they're not conservatives. conservative hasn't con served very much at all. it was interesting the way there were so many rhetorical flourishes in that speed. is there's 4,000 troops we know are going to be going. we benefit from stability and that means building a nation that can take more than 15% of the country and control it. that's nation building. whether we call it that is fine with me, wall it whatever you want. >> let's talk, jonathan, about the president and how he started his speech after the horrific events of charlottesville and his equal live horrific response, last night he started the speech calling for unity and
talking through the lens of the military fighting the battle. take a listen. >> the men and women our military operate as one shared team with one shared mission and sense of purpose. they transcend every line of race,thnessity,creed and color to sacrifice together. the soldier understands what we as a nation too often for get, that a wound inflicted upon a single member of our community is a wound inflicted upon us all. when one citizens suffers an injustice, we all suffer together. love for america requires love for all of its people. when we open our hearts to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice, no place for bigotry and no tolerance for hate.
>> i thought one of the most reactions to the president's depressing press conference last tuesday was when the joint chiefs came out and said just what the president said right there. it sounds like a week later the president actually is adopting his own service leaders line and that is, you know, the military can only work well if they are united as a force and the same with the country. >> that's right. the word charlottesville never krsed he is laughs his remarks have so dominated headlines the last week. it's going to be something this presidency will carry with him for a long time time. the one individual who suffered harm might even be the young
woman in charlottesville who lost her life. i was struck by a few things in the speech last night. the president is going to have a rally tonight in phoenix. this is one of the moments how he did have a chang of heart. we saw, the idea of sitting behind the desk in the oval office and is coming to' decision. this is an unconventional president who always wants a win, ideally an easy win, making a choice. >> one thing you will not hear us say is "tonight is the night donald trump became president." let's just take what we have in front of us, what happened last
night. was it striking to you? because it certainly was to me that it's one of the few times when he stood in a position that required that he showed some restraint and showed some dignity. and he didn't talk about crowd sizes. he didn't talk about the campaign. he didn't talk about crookedily hillary. he spoke to what the american people needed their commander in chief at that moment to speak to. were you struck by that last night? >> i thought the tone was different. he didn't say it directly but the themes the buck stops here. i'm going to announce something tonight that i didn't want to do because i've got i don't know the best military advice i can and i don't hear another voice
cheering, "usa, usa." this is a difficult time, senior military leddership. i think trump was jefr whelmed by the real burden doesn't do anything harder than sending troop and i think he needs to feel he can pell wounded warriors who come back from three demoumts what they were doing, what they were sacrifice, i'm continuing the thing a you believed him, fought for. we're not going give it up, we're not going to walk awayagain, i'm told the feeling as they moved toward making this
it is. >> mark halperin, this is a president who has always made the easy choice politically and as a candidate, always taking the cheap shot, always played to the lowest common key no he tull tullly. what got him there, first of all, and finally to close out the block, just how bad is phoenix going is to to be tonight? are we're going to have a completely different eshow tomorrow? is donald trump going to say i was responsible last night so i'm going to go out and set the world on fire tomorrow and give the base a little bit? >> well, look, on the first
question. if so this is a group of generals, very impressive, accomplished group with skin in the gym and a belief that they could turn this around, even though a lot of what they're proposing is not new. they believe, as this president does, that the only thing worse than fighting a war is losing a war. no u.s. president can afford that. o one look, every element of phoenix tonight you would think would bring out the wirs political i'd theless than 24
hours after he addressed the nation on a somber, difficult topic in a serious way he back to dividing the country and engaging in rhetoric that's not comparable or along the same lines. i'd better on that but maybe, maybe he's going o use it to surprise people. if you're putting down money, i wouldn't put down a lot of money that tonight's going look any different than a normal trump rally in an arizona he spoke about unifying the country. we'll see if he can. >> still to come, the top democrat on the foreign relationship is going to be joining us and retired navy seal sniper, ebb raeb scott taylor of virginia and four start admiral. you're watching "morning joe." we'll be right back.
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people on other channels didn't, too. i think on cnn they got some guy with nothing but a bathing suit on, he's on the beach and he's a surfer and he's just looking up because, man, it's gnarly. where are your glasses, kid? anybody see it? >> in d.c. we had about 80% of the eclipse. i had glasses on. i followed the advice of scientists. it was a good view. it was impressive. that connection to the cosmos was real. >> the president looking into the sun was analogous to just about everything, i love to touch a hot stove. >> and one that does not listen to his advisers, hey, put your
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cyber intrusion and sabotage, though the admiral insists there are no indications that those are the causes of the incident. let's bring in former nato allied supreme commander. please diplomacy analyst for nbc news and msnbc. >> admiral, a tough day for the navy. i want to ask you the question that i'm hearing from navy people i talk to. is it possible that after these many, many years where we've been focused on ground wars around the world that our surface navy may be lacking in the kind of training, leadership, spending for the basics of seamanship, piloting that are part of the story not simply of mccain's problems but
the fitzgerald and two other ships in the seventh fleet this year? what do you think is going on? >> let's pause for a moment to think about those ten soldiers and hope by a miracle we find them at sea. david, you're spot on with the question and i think that's the soul searching the navy has to go through and it is the surface navy. these are not our nuclear submarines, not our aviation, our plane, these are really the cruisers, destroys, frigates operations of the navy. i do think this fleet which has reduced in numbers dramatically oaf the last ten years or so has been run hard and put up wet so to speak and it is in many ways a reflection of a kind of exhaustion. i think that kind of root cause has to be examined very, very seriously. no one in better position to do
this and i think he'll bring in outside eyes to take a look at what's happening in our surface navy. but we ought to mention there's an operational aspect to this. we've loss two of the front line operational missions. it's a very bad day for the navy. we're going to have to get to work. >> admiral, let me ask you to focus on the thing that you oversaw when you were supreme allied commander. president trump said he's looking for support from u.s. allies for this mission and you hear talk that maybe we'd ask our nato allies to add roughly 4,000, like the number we're putting in. is that realistic? this is a nato that's awfully skeptical of this president. are we going to get that kind of
support in afghanistan? >> david, i think we will. historically we operated on a 2-1 ratio. i had 100,000 u.s. troops in afghanistan, 50,000 allied nato troops. i think we can get at least that and i would say in this situation we're asking for a raise of u.s. 4,000. i think we will get 4,000 from the europeans. my bet is general mattis has pregreased those skids, he's been talking to the allies. let's face it, 4,000 troops is not a huge number. the europeans have 2 million troops and it can be pressure but i think they will join us. >> admiral, mark halperin. what did you think last night that was both new compared to
current policy and smart? >> we didn't hear much new, as you're well aware, mark. think i three bad options on the table, pull out, helicopters come over the embassy, we see the rise of ungoverned space. we can massively increases to the levels i just discussed no one has the stomach for that enormous middle east and central asian fatigue in the u.s. the on two new elements i heard which were mildly hopeful were conditions based. i think it is important we put this on a timeline and second the regional strategy but particularly bringing india actively, consciously -- that may work against us but conditions based on pulling at india both good ideas. will it chang the game? i don't think so. but we can stay in the game and hopefully over time we have a chance at pulling the taliban
toward a negotiation. we've hoped that a long time. that's the best of three bad options. >> admiral, it's julie pace from the a.p. talking about pakistan's role is nothing new. the president did discussion a karat and stick approach. what is practical in terms of the pressure that the u.s. can put on pakistan to change its behavior in ways we have seen oa over the past couple of years? >> i think you put your finger of where the story goes now in terms of afghan staistan and its to islamabad and pakistan. we've used some of that but withheld it. this gets back to puttingndia back in the equation, puts pressure on the pakistanis
saying we need to be more pro activewith the united states. in terms of sticks, it's more cross border and pakistan operations, highly classified but using our actual special forces more aggressively in that region. it's going to be a mixed picture. i don't give it high hopes but, again, best of a bad set of options. >> james stavridis as always, we appreciate you coming up on the show. >> macoming up next, the city's mayor is asking the president to not come at all. we'll talk more about the president's speech to arizona today and the political fight that he helped pick and the chaos that i think most of us believe is going to ensue when he lands in phoenix. we'll talk about that next on "morning joe."
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so president trump is heading to arizona with a first stop at the border town uma. the state's republican governor won't be attending. the governor is going to greet air force one when it lands but it's going to be working on other matters during the rally. greg stanton writes "america is hurting and it is hurting largely because trump has doused racial tensions with gasoline. it's time to let cooler heads prevail and begin the healing
process. i'm not sure the president will heed that call. what can we expect tonight? >> i think we can expect president trump to do the first page in his play book, which is to go and look for an opportunity to stoke his base and he throws red meat that is controversial and toxic to a majority of americans. >> noah, we found in the past he's more likely to do that if he's had to show a little built of restraint before. there always seems to be a response. he giave a speech on tuesday or wednesday, a joint speech to congress and everybody said maybe he's turning the page and that saturday is when he tweeted about barack obama. it's almost like he's got to constantly prove to people that he's just little bit -- 2017, that he just a little bit blank.
>> he doesn't like being controlled. he delivered a speech yesterday where he spoke about charlottesville, albeit veiled and he instinct is to stare directly into the sun and talk about how there is a moral equivalency to be made here, and i was right to talk about that last tuesday, and yes, racism is bad, but we also have other bad folks out there outside this room. >> for the sake of america, let's open not. jeff flake obviously is not going to be there, but his name may get mentioned. >> yes. i think the president is not going to be shy about attacking some of his political foes. he's going after a sitting republican senator jeff flake. he's suggested he might endorse a challenger. i think it will be interesting to see if he mentioned senator mccain. he's held him personally responsible for the failure of
the health care bill in the senate. there's talk of a sheriff, a long-time trump supporter. he suggested to fox news a week ago he might even pardon him. would he mention him or do that from the stage tonight? >> we'll see. >> mark, the question is can the president maintain the two-day hitting -- two-game hitting streak. can he show restraint two days a row? >> the last place in america i would send him is arizona where so many of the themes and personalities. >> i'm sorry. we were just saying that offset. i'll let you finish. we were saying off camera that is the last place in the world you would want the guy to go if you wanted him to follow up on the momentum of last night. >> there's no question that national security, afghanistan, huge issues, but you've heard me say it before. the domestic agenda will define this presidency. the success and failure to a
large extent, and the question of how can the president bend congress to his will? right now the game was getting republican votes to pass major legislation. no outreach to democrats. if that's still the game, if he goes to arizona and attacks some combination of the two smais th rights, i don't think that's a recipe for helping get his republican based agenda through congress. that's as important as anything. can he send to members of congress, they have a strategy to bend the will of congress on tax reform? >> or so radical that goes against donald trump, every one of his instincts would be to stand up there and say, you know what? he came up one vote short in health care. but i really look forward to talking to john mccain, a true american hero, and your other senator jeff flake to work with them and help us get the 50 votes we need to appeal
obamacare. the crowd would share and every moderate senator would say maybe we can work with this guy and get to 50 votes but is that in him? >> i agree with the with exception of the crowd cheering. we put the president in the room and if he mentions jeff flake, they'll be booing. >> if you say not to micromanage stage direction, but if you say we can work together with john mccain and jeff flake to repeal obamacare once and for all, cue crowd. roar of the crowd, and -- >> maybe. >> i'm saying if you did that -- >> i understand. you got a chance. >> that's how you build momentum. that's how you build coalition. you reach out. politics even though steve bannon never got this. politics is about addition nature it's not about subtraction. it's not about fighting wars
politically with your own party. >> it's very sharp. mark is right. the president reads the room, he doesn't lead a room. he'll see this room will want to hear what they've been conditioned to hear. >> my god, it would stun a lot of people and really everybody who says that donald trump's press secretaries have an audience of one? well, his speech tonight, whether he knows it or not, has an audience of 52. everything he does is an audience of 52. it's the senators, the republican senators in the united states senate wondering whether they should risk their political careers on this guy that will go after their own. >> yeah. joe, you know this better than anybody, legislating requires patience. it requires a long-term goal and strategy and implementing it to accomplish a long-term goal. it took barack obama more than a
year to get health care reform passed. donald trump is not a long-game kind of guy. he seeks immediate gratify fact. when he goes into the crowd tonight, he's not thinking in the back of his mind, what's my long-term play to build a coalition even among republicans to repeal obamacare. he says how can i get that crowd to cheer for me. that is in some ways, the crux of his weakness as a president. >> actually, i think julie last night we knew exactly what the president was going to say. i think tonight most of us think he's going to play for the cheap applause. tonight is going to be far more interesting than last night, because we'll see whether he can show the restraint that presidents need to show if they want to have governing majorities. >> and i think it's important to put this in context of what the president is facing this fall. he's heading into a hugely consequential stretch of his young presidency where he has tax reform on the agenda and facing the debt ceiling and government spending.
what i'm struck with at the rallies is how trump misses a huge opportunity to sell his agenda. the bully pulpit of the president and this particular president is so vast where he can gather a big crowd, get them rallying behind him, get live television coverage, and he tends to kind of blow it. and he tends to throw the red meat and miss the opportunity. can we get his head around what's coming this fall? i think that's what we'll be looking for. >> that's a question in a post bannon white house. can he actually do that? can he build coalitions? can he build support for his policies? can he do what every politician has to do if they want to win? or will he continue being a guy stuck at 36%? julie pace, thank you so much for being with us. greatly appreciated. more reaction to the president's new afghanistan approach. republican leaders are praising
his comments while democrats are saying he has no strategy. we'll be talking to ben cardin, the ranking member of the foreign relations committee. and andrea mitchel with join us with her latest reporting when "morning joe" comes right back. ♪ when you think of saving money, what comes to mind? your next getaway? connecting with family and friends? a big night out? or maybe your everyday shopping. whatever it is, aarp member advantages can help save you time and money along the way.
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hi. hi. you guys going to the company picnic this weekend? picnics are delightful. oh, wish we could. but we're stuck here catching up on claims. but we just compared historical claims to coverages. but we have those new audits. my natural language api can help us score those by noon. great. see you guys there. we would not miss it. watson, you gotta learn how to take a hint. i love to learn. >> do you want president obama to essentially leave the decision of what the united states does in afghanistan for the next president possibly being you and if so, what is your instinct about what you would do with that decision? >> i would not have gone into
iraq at all, but once we went we shouldn't have left so quickly. we should have left at least a group of soldiers back, and i think we're really confronted with the same thing in afghanistan. we have a group that we have to keep. i mean, i think otherwise it's just going to go the way of iraq. we went into iraq which was a disaster decision j just a disastrous decision. not afghanistan. that's probably where we should have gone. >> i think you have to stay in afghanistan far while because you're right next to pakistan which has nuclear weapons. nuclear weapons changes the game. my original instinct was to pull out, and historically, i like following my i thinstincts. >> last night's decision to stay in afghanistan was consistent with son-in-law of the things donald trump said on the campaign trail. mika has the morning off. but with us the associated editor of commentary magazine,
noah rothman. we have a cornucopia of people today. >> we're getting the podcast together. >> and they're going to sing a duet. also with us former white house press secretary to president obama josh earnest, white house reporter for the a.p. jonathan lamire, mark hall paren, david ignatius and let's bring in columnist for the new york times brett stevens and foreign affairs correspondent andrea mitchel. now that we've done the line up, we have three minutes to continue this. each of you has 2.5 seconds to speak. jessie decided the more the merri merrier. when mika's not here, we have to fill time. she interrupts me all the time. joking.
andrea mitchel, we're trying to figure out how to spoort throug last night. you always want to be careful. it did seem, at least, to some of us on the set that the president did something he doesn't usually do. that's make a tough decision that goes against his gut instinct, and he did it as he said, because he sits behind the desk and understands that sometimes issues like this aren't easy. >> he stuck to the teleprompter. there were none of those pauses and ad libs like many of them, many of them, sometimes in the unfortunate ad libs. he stuck to the teleprompter and said that he had been wronged, that he had realized sitting behind that desk is a different position. it's something that a lot of other presidents have realized in different ways and a lot sooner than seven months in, but the fact is he decided to do something that was fairly conventional which is a
continued presence in afghanistan, the 4,000 number had been briefed to us back in june when he first said he was delegating that authority to general mattis. the significant thing is that general mattis and the others decided to get him to buy into it, living with the bannon presence in the white house and others, they clearly had to decide to get to his head and his heart. even though as recently as ten days ago if not fewer days ago, he was still in the mode of let's get out, let's withdraw and even condemn plating the erik prince scenario which the military said all along was a nonstarter for them. >> brett, was last night a positive step forward for the president's foreign policy? >> it was a good speech, but you have a jekyll and hyde presidency. we've seen it before. when he's before a teleprompter and reading a speech prepared for him, it was a successful statesman like event. and actually, there was some innovative policy. the most interesting thing was
the mention of india which doesn't exactly delight our friends in islamabad. >> a lot of foreign policy leaders have been saying for years, this has to be a regional answer. so i thought it was interesting that when the president talked about india, he was actually saying something that a lot of foreign policy thinkers have been saying for a long time. >> you had richard holbrook during the obama administration leading a strategy. that was all right. and you heard the voice of mcmaster. although one thing that was interesting was his refusal to contemplate nation building. h.r. mcmaster made his name in iraq doing things like that. trump now rejects it. the problem with the speech, joe is that if 100,000 troops under president obama doesn't going to defeat the taliban, 12,000 isn't
going to defeat them. he would have been more honest if he said we can't afford to win this war or lose this war. so we're going to have a long struggle to make sure it's not a safe haven. >> that's the challenge. we can't win zbafghanistan, bute can lose it. and the consequences of losing will haunt america for decades. >> the enormous consequence of a return of a 9/11 level terrorist plot, but even in the more limited sense, what we would lose in afghanistan is a platform from which we can operate against terrorist groups the president mentioned in his speech, 20 groups in the region, and also, although this is rarely specified, against -- from which we can operate against pakistan's nuclear capability. we can watch it. we can follow it. we can make sure if something
happened in pakistan the u.s. would have forces close by that can deal with it. i think that's probably one of the biggest factors for the president. >> the president has been bleeding support in the united states senate from republican senators. does last night's speech actually stop some of that bleeding and possibly help build a bridge to people like lindsey graham and john mccain and others who have already come out strongly saluting this speech? >> well, it certainly helps on the margins. for one night, one news cycle they're feeling good about the president and about the process by which he came to a conclusion, kind of a mainstream, conservative, republican view of how to deal with afghanistan, and the kind of rhetoric he used. but it's a long process, and, again, september is going to be filled with challenges of how the president builds a coalition. you're going to have breitbart on the outside attacking the white house at times, attacking republicans on things like the debt ceiling, on the budget, on
dealing with tax reform. it helps. i think every time i come to capitol hill i'm struck by how republicans from the most conservative members of the senate to the more moderate, they're desperate for normalcy and a presidency that works and looks a little bit more like what they're used to, and i think last night was a night of that, so sure, on the margins, at least, it's one helpful night. >> noah, we were showing the breitbart headlines. breitbart going after general mcmaster, at least. steve bannon didn't, and his allies didn't accuse him of being a drunk or put anything else out there that just absolutely outrageous. this battle against general mcmaster for some reason continues. i'm not exactly sure why they've chosen a man who has committed his entire life to service to the united states in uniform, there are better targets politically to pick inside the administration. but i wonder will the president
be able to tune that out and look at what he's hearing from the u.s. senate in the audience of 52 where he's got to get the senators together so he can start passing legislation? >> well, we have had some pretty positive signs in the form of the ascension of the generals and the purging of the old bull sha victims. >> when you say that, that might sound -- >> that might sound harsh, but bannon did call himself a lennonist. >> that's fair. thank you. glad you supported that one. >> you're in the same neighborhood. go ahead. >> that is relatively reassuring, especially when it comes to military strategy. what we understood the bannon strategy to be was a contractor surge, a privatization of this war. that's not something that's sustainable and probably has broader consequences. one of the fears i think that everybody has is that the president is -- goes off script. he's okay when he's on script,
but he's waded into a delicate choreograp choreography. he's okay on vicinity, but what does he say when he says we're talking about reawaiting our alliances in the region. >> the president has handled one of the toughest policy issues last night. handled it, i would say most would say reasonable and well. the question is can he handle the easy pitch tonight where he's just talking politics in arizona before a cheering crowd? >> i think he'll handle it to his own satisfaction. i want to go back to what brett mentioned. the role of diplomacy in trying to resolve the issue in afghanistan. of course it should be an urgent priority. in order to address the longer term situation, we have to deal with the diplomacy and the politics inside in afghanistan both president bush and
president obama had to deal with the president ckarzai. they had to persuade him to set an election date and the results were contested. the u.s. had to broker an agreement to try to get some kind of governing coalition in place there. that took place over years. this is long, hard work, and right now there's no one leading that effort inside the trump administration. there is no richard holbrook in place to navigate the effort. it has to be a priority. >> andrea, dark humor was starting to set in yesterday. i was on facebook, and i did a facebook live thing with my music, and a guy i guess from the state department sent a message and said by the way, there are 800 of us here at the state department doing nothing, would be glad to do background
vocals. they're sitting at their desk. you hear it every day. they're sitting at their desk waiting for guidance. how do you do something like this without the state department fully engaged? >> you can't. and that is the critical question. there is no diplomacy. the secretary hasn't been to the region, and the fact is there is no ambassador in india. you don't have people who are on the ground who can do this. you don't have assistant secretaries except acting assistant secretaries who are holdovers. in one case susan thorton targeted by bannon but supported by tillerson, she has strength because she in asia in japan and korea, has by necessity, proved herself and has been traveling with the secretary. there's nobody in this region without any note they closed the afghanistan, pakistan office.
there's nobody home. and people waiting for direction, but they don't have the authority because they're not trump appointees so they don't have any standing with kabul and islamabad. who is going to do all this hard work? >> jonathan, how long are we going to go without an ambassador to india and every other country that's extraordinarily important? >> the administration has not been in a president bush to do that. >> why is that? >> they've had trouble finding qualified people to take the jobs. they've had trouble filling key posts. we know of the empty desks in the state department. i want to circle back to the president has an easy pitch tonight from the stage in phoenix. it's not just a crowd inside. it's a crowd outside. every time he goes to the southwest, he's met with protests. there are going to be protesters both outside the arena and some inside. how is he going to respond? >> will he respond like this
weekend when he tweeted out or said something like protesting is fine. we've got to come together as a country. will he for the first time at his own rallies instead of saying drag them out, beat them up, i'll pay your lawyer's fees, is he going to say the same thing at his own rally that he said this weekend which is everybody has a right to speak. let's bring this country together? >> that's a key question. does he feel like he's been pushed into some of these more normalized responses about everyone has a say? we know how much he rebuffed and disliked the idea that he had to amend his charlottesville statement, the first one he gave in new jersey. he thought he addressed the situation. he was pushed into the white house statement and then we saw the response at the press conference. >> and approval ratings in the mid 30 doing it the way he and bannon thought was the best way to do it which was fight everybody in your own direction. the question is how radical of a change would it be if the president tonight said the same
thing tonight at his own speech to protesters that he said over the weekend when he was trying to correct the grievous errors of charlottesville? >> yeah. republicans including a lot of members of congress look at the white house for two new areas where they say there needs to be more discipline. kelly, the new chief of staff has already made great progress in instilling discipline in process. how paper flows, how decisions get made, the scheduling. there is more discipline there. >> that is so important, mark, isn't it? because what would rile the president up to tweet half the time is aides would bring in negative stories, maybe from breitbart or from some other online publication, and the president would go off on it. paper flow to the president's desk is pretty extraordinarily important. >> the other half is message and strategy discipline. what happens day today to try to drive the president and the white house more towards its agenda, more toward the goals. particularly the debt ceiling,
the budget tax reform, all the big things that need to be dealt with. on that it's not clear that there's discipline or that you can have as many bad off message s days as they continue to have. we'll know when congress is back whether the process of message is catching up in terms of discipline with just the process of the daily operations of the west wing. >> that's always been the key. it's message. it's squeezing every word. it's making sure that you guard everything that the president says, and it's thought out. just like they did this weekend with their afghanistan policy, david ignatius. >> they wrote a speech that was the speech the president needed to give, a country wanted to hear. i just would note at thinking about what he's going to do tonight. president trump touched the third rail of american political
life last wreaeek, and he got burned. i've rarely seen all the parts of american society come together, corporate leaders, civil society leaders from different organizations, the military, all affirming what our country is about, and basically saying do not challenge these basic values, and did he learn something from that? we'll see. but it's rare to see that degree of unity around what it is to be an american leader, what our country really is rooted in. so we'll see if that message got through. >> andrea, how long -- i want to go back to the state department. i'm fascinated and horrified by this. how long can we go on with the state department half staffed and with no ambassadors? >> well, the problem is a matter of the congressional schedule as well. these are confirmable positions.
and if you're not going to nominate them until this management study being done by two outside consultants comes back in the fall, and then tells you how many people you want to have, then you're not going to have nominees who can be confirmed by the senate until the spring. you're two years in before people actually get into place. you're heading into the midterms. if you even fill those positions, it's -- it's really a depressing and discouraging factor, even though the secretary says he meets with foreign service officers and they reassure hip he's on the right path. he's meeting with a very select group. the other thing nobody is talking act tal talking about is russia. russia is playing a major role in afghanistan against our interest in supporting the taliban. that did not come up in the speech yesterday. last night, rather. so we just have yet to hear how
they're going to actually carry out this regional approach. >> brett, how do you right at this point rex tillerson? i think james mattis, secretary mattis has received fairly high marks. but it's more of a mixed record for rex tillerson. >> yeah. i was a stern critic of john kerry, but i think tillerson really is up there as a nominee for worst secretary of state ever. >> why is that? >> well, precisely because the state department is also part of the machinery of government, and that machinery has to run in order for normal things to happen. like having relationships with foreign countries or having services for u.s. people, or doing all the sorts of things the state department has to be. tillerson seems to be of a kind of school in which it's like maybe it's pull pot. >> wow. okay. that is -- okay.
if that is, in fact, the case -- >> i don't mean -- >> that is one of the worst secretaries of states of all time. >> i don't mean the killing fields. it's blow it all up, see what happens, wait for a while, and then try to arrange pieces as you see fit. that might work in a startup environment. it doesn't work in a bureaucracy. >> the idea of saying we're going to do a study over the first six to nine months of the administration and then figure out what we need. no. actually, the first six to nine months of the administration are the most important months of the administration for sending a message to the world. >> and tillerson turns out to be a bannon person in this respect. it's like this deep suspicion of the so-called deep state of the idea that every bureaucrat is in it for himself. there's no sort of spirit of public interest. we're going to sideline all these guys. they're irrelevant anyway. what does the state department even do. that's a strange approach far man who wants to learn how to be
a diplomat. >> it's a bizarre approach and made more bizarre by the fact that he's been friends with james baker and several others, and got, actually, got his job on the strength of suggestions from i would say great leaders like bob gates. condoleezza rice, others supported his selection, and so here we are eight months in and the state department is more dysfunctional than it's ever been in american history. still ahead, we'll go to peter alexander at the white house and bring in the top democrat on the foreign relations committee, ben cardin. more "morning joe" in a moment. growing up, we were german. we danced in a german dance group. i wore lederhosen. when i first got on ancestry i was really surprised that i wasn't finding all of these germans in my tree. i decided to have my dna tested through ancestry dna.
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hey you've gotta see this. cno.n. alright, see you down there. mmm, fine. okay, what do we got? okay, watch this. do the thing we talked about. what do we say? it's going to be great. watch. remember what we were just saying? go irish! see that? yes! i'm gonna just go back to doing what i was doing. find your awesome with the xfinity x1 voice remote. welcome back to "morning joe." we've had quite a few dictators thrown out today. and -- >> i went a little far.
>> you overshot? >> the -- >> rex tillerson is -- >> no. maybe steve case or something. >> okay. sure. steve case will appreciate that. lennon? who else have we dredged up? >> you wrought brought up lenno. >> i brought up john kerry. wait. i'm sorry you're comparing him to who? >> i leave up to you. >> okay. we got breaking news on this search for the ten missing sailors. moments ago navy officials revealed they found some remains in sealed compartments during their search and the malaysia navy believe they found more remains at sea. the mccain kplicollided with an tanker on sunday. the navy's top admiral has ordered the entire fleet to take
a one-day operational pause to make sure all ships are operating safely. there's a comprehensive review. the admiral insists there are no indications those are the causes of the incidents. i thought the admiral put it well. this is not a good time for the united states' navy and certainly the tragedy this morning that we've learned they found remains of the missing sailors only adds, obviously, to the bleakness surrounding what the navy is facing right now. >> the loss of life now confirmed underscores how serious this is. i think the chief naval operations admiral richardson made clear when he called for a stand down for the whole navy to
take a pause and look at the training procedures. that's telling us the chief of naval operations thinks there's something wrong here. there may be some systemic problem. our surface warfare units, the sailors who man the ships at sea, have been really on the kind of sharp end of the cutting board as sequestration, other cuts have limited spending for training readiness and what i was hearing yesterday was in the navy a question. have we not trained our surface warfare sailors sufficiently to deal with the kind of crises they're finding. we've had four significant accidents at sea in the last year. and i think the navy is determined to figure out why it's happening and probably spend more money to train it people. >> let's go to peter alexander. peter, president trump taking his plan for afghanistan on the road today.
and he's going to do it by getting in touch with his base at a campaign rally in arizona. and vice president pence will be joining the president in phoenix tonight. he's speaking this morning ahead of the trip. what's he saying? >> he just spoke to matt lauer a few minutes ago here in the roosevelt room at the white house. this will be the president's eighth campaign-style rally in basically eight months since taking office. last night really being his first prime time policy address. you can see where his comfort level lies on those two separate issues. here's what he said, mike pence, the vice president, when speaking to matt lauer a short time ago specifically on the issue of troop levels given recent criticism that the president wasn't any more specific about the policy plans in afghanistan going forward. >> without numbers and without a time line, isn't this an extremely open-ended commitment to a war dragged on for 16 years? >> as you're aware, the pentagon in june made a request for some
nearly 4,000 troops to deploy in the region. >> is that the number? >> i think it's yet to be seen, and we'll certainly be making that information available as the president receives recommendations. >> one item striking as i spoke to an official late yesterday was this idea of what exactly winning looks like as this official described it to me, we'll know winning and progress when we see it on the ground. in terms of what we'll see on the ground. tonight in phoenix, arizona, police are anticipating a big crowd of protesters at the phoenix convention center where a lot of the hard core supporters are expected to arrive tonight. joe, last night the president spoke about loyalty and love. it appeared though he never mentioned charlottesville by name, that he was trying to smooth over some of the tensions following his controversial comments about what took place in charlottesville just about a week ago. tonight, though, we expect to see a lot of those dwivisions, the clashes between sides.
the mayor of phoenix has been urging the president not to come. >> all right. peter, thank you. peter alexander at the white house. let's bring in the ranking member of the senate foreign relations committee, ben cardin of maryland. senator, thank you so much for being with us. what was your reaction to the president's speech on afghanistan last night? >> first, it is good to be with you. i think the president in calling on regional cooperation, that is the right thing. we need to have pakistan a more cooperative partner in dealing with afghanistan. ind india could be important in dealing with this. i find difficult to follow what he's doing on the military side. it looks like another surge with additional troops being put into afghanistan. we need a diplomatic surge. we need the regional partners to get the parties to talk about the future of afghanistan in a peaceful way so there's no voids
for terrorist organizations to operate. that, to me, is going to be the key whether he can implement a surge and have the confidence of the regional partners that we can really bring peace to afghanistan. >> andrea has a question. >> what are we going to do diplomatically when you have so many vacancies at the state department? the secretary of state proved on his trip to guam that he could effectively offset the president's somewhat ill-chosen fire and fury comments and try to quiet the waters around north korea literally and figuratively. what have we seen in the region in south asia that can dwin to cope with this kind of challenge? >> you're right. there's so many vacancies in key positions. there's vacancies throughout the world in the state department. key administration appointed officials to give guidance to our dedicated foreign service
officers. that's missing. and for someone to be able to put together that diplomatic surge, they're not in place to do it. you look at the president's budget, his budget certainly doesn't implement this type of diplomatic surge. we get inconsistent messages. it would be helpful if we knew the key players and they were appointed, senate confirmed the positions, and we knew that the president was going to put our diplomatic efforts and development efforts in the budget. >> senator, it's brett stevens here from the new york times. it's obviously we're all wrapping the trump administration, i think, rightly so. but you have president obama in office for eight years pursuing not just military but diplomatic och oc options as well and with a full deck at the state department. why do you think those efforts failed? what's your analysis? what can the trump administration do that would improve on what the obama administration failed to do given where we are in
afghanistan now? >> well, we need to learn from the past. we know a military surge, we've tried two under the obama administration. that did not work. we also know that russia is now getting more interested in afghanistan. that is not helpful. i think bringing in regional partners is important, but also we have to recognize that russia plays a role in afghanistan and how do we counter their negative impact in that region? so you got to learn from the past. and one thing is clear. there's not a military -- u.s. military victory in afghanistan alone. you need to be able to have a stable government. you need to bring the warring partiesing t together. bringing in india, bringing in pakistan in a more productive way certainly would be helpful. >> david ignatius? >> senator, you just referred to india and pakistan. i want to ask you to focus on pakistan. the president put us back in the carrots and sticks game with
pack st pakistan. that is going to require congressional support. do you think congress would be ready to provide new aid if it's going to help, and would it be prepared to cut it if they're not being to help? >> we have conditioned aid in pakistan and been willing to put together significant financial support for pakistan when they cooperate with us in fighting terrorism. what is very frustrating, they have a relationship with terrorist organizations that are very deadly to the united states. that has to end. so we really do need to use a carrot stick approach, and yes, congress should weigh in. i'm anticipating following legislation. bipartisan legislation to deal with the congressional role in afghanistan and part of that will be to deal with the regional partners. >> all right. mark? >> thoughts on your colleague bob menendez facing a criminal
trial? what are the implications of that trial and a possible conviction? >> i'm not going to go down that path. we're all waiting to see what happens with the outcome. this has been going on for two and a half years. i think we're all pleased to see that hopefully this will come to an end. >> all right. senator ben cardin, thank you so much. greatly appreciate it. andrea, thank you. can't wait to watch your show today. and coming up, it's not often you get a member of the president's own political party cast out that the president will be the party's nominee for a second term. but that's exactly what happened. senator susan collins yesterday suggesting that she couldn't really predict whether he would do that or not. we'll talk about what it means ahead on "morning joe."
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what happens next? >> there's a long time between now and that point? >> do you think he'll end up the party's nominee in 2020? >> it's too difficult to say? . >> too difficult to say. there were a lot of people who wrote in names? >> it shouldn't be that difficult to say. >> anyway, susan collins not committing to backing trump for reelection. very interesting. what does it mean? >> well, it means that the senator is saying what we're all thinking which is that we don't know if this guy is going to make it for four years. he seems disinclined to adjust to the office barring last night which was a big exception. and the address to congress in february. otherwise he seems to not be very comfortable in this office. he doesn't seem to like it very much. that's not to say that everybody does, but he doesn't have very much support from his party in congress. in fact, his party in congress has been hemming him in more so than we've seen in our -- at
least my memory. so he might have to look at some options on the way out, and it behooves members of his party to start speculating about this. i don't know about publicly. i guarantee they're all thinking what he said. >> trump's whole life is not being seen as a loser. i think you have to go back to the 19th century to find a president who voluntarily decided not to run. i don't know if it's -- >> right. >> ruterford haze or frank run pierce or james buchanan. it's not in trump's bones not to seek nomination. >> i don't think it's in any president's bones. around 2010, 2011, you could look at barack obama on tv, eni was thinking, he wouldn't be upset if this were like the virginia governorship, and it was a one-term thing where he could go. it is frustrating as hell in there. >> the president's campaign is
ramping up. they're trying to send a signal he is running. we saw the mike pence float story a couple weeks ago. "the times" speculated pence was running. how quickly pence had to walk away from that. that was a statement directed to a party of one, trump. they're sending signals trump is going to run. susan collins has been critical of him all along. >> i believe somebody is going to make a 1976-style run. >> what the interview raises, i think, is how many of the senators will endorse their colleague who is now taking this challenge to the president? how many will say ben sass, i'm with you? it sounds like maybe more than we think. >> and marco rubio, said some pretty rough things about him in the last campaign because i didn't think he was ready. he stayed in there. he's keeping his head down and
speaking out. he spoke up really, i think, as early and as tough as any republican senator. >> he has, and many other republican senators have. the republican who is making the most waves, being the most critical seems to me to be john kasich, and he appears to be softening the beaches to do something like a primary challenge, but from donald trump's left, at least on issues like the surge in afghanistan which he put out a statement saying yesterday i'm against that and entitle reform. he wants to stay and fight it out, but if republicans need to create a soft landing space for him, they should be considering how that would go. >> brett, what you said about people walking away. john reminds us that after he began his reelection campaign, l.b.j. stepped down in 1964. but that was after getting a scare in new hampshire. he actually launched his reelection campaign. >> that's right. and he completed the first term.
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>> well, president trump's new approach to pakistan has a familiar ring to it and that may not be a bad thing. it may be because that's america's only option. with us now, republican congressman scott >> i'll be the first to admit, i have been so frustrated by the afghanistan not policy, but war over the past 16 years. you just sit there and think, wait, this isn't what we do. we fight wars, and then we bring our sons and daughters home. >> it's great to be with you. that's a legitimate question to be asked, and we've been there for 16 years, and right now there's no end in sight. it looks like. i think that the president's
skepticism about afghanistan is warranted. i know that a lot of folks feel the same way. i was happy with the strategy. i think he did a good job. changing the status quo is important, and then evaluating to see where we need to be, and in the near future in my opinion it should then tell us what we're going to -- what it's going to look like for the long-term. >> congressman, noah rothman with "commentary magazine." imnot su i'm not sure if you can even speak to this, but we've been discussing the role that russia is playing. they've been ramping up economic assistance and military assistance, and it's openly supporting the taliban. they said it's an effort to keep it from being subsumed into the ranks of isis. american generals have testified before congress that this is support for insurgency, point-blank. is there a strategy that would wlunt the influence of russia, or is russia going to play a spoiler there for us? do we have a strategy that can address the influence that
russia is playing in afghanistan? >> well, i think that's an excellent question as well, too. not only russia. not only do you see russia supporting the taliban and helping out some of the government, but you also see china in there as well too. obviously we have diverging interests from both of those countries. you didn't hear that last night, but that being said, i believe that the president's strategy was certainly one more of chess as opposed to checkers. you have to look at the totality of the region there and look at all the players and how they're impacting both, you know, for stable zblaizization of afghan state itself and how that diverges from our own interests. i don't know what the strategy is yet. i think that's an excellent question that you asked. i would like to hear more on that. we have to acknowledge the fact that they are there and they are playing a role. we do need them to help out for the stability of the region, for the stability of afghanistan, but there's no question about it that there are some diverging interests there. >> congressman jonathan here with the associated press. the violent clash in charlottesville, that's obviously your home state. you have been critical of some
of the president's response to that. i wanted to get your take on what he said last night, though never mentioned the world charlottesville by name. he was tweeting about national unity, and what you hope to hear from him tonight he is going to be in front of a rally stage in phoenix. if he taks about this again, what do you hope this message is? >> i hope it's -- i hope moving forward it's one of unity. you know, i have heard politicians be very critical. i myself have been critical of certainly that third one who is taking questions in the press conference. i was happy to hear the president talk about unity. i want to see all politicians whether you are left, right, wherever you are on the center, we should not be talking about identity politics, racial politics, tribal politics. we should be speaking about building this country as opposed to tearing it down. i was happy to hear the president last night and what he said. i hope that continues tonight, and i will also say i hope that it continues with politicians from my own state, for example, on the democrat side and the republican side. i don't think it helps this country whatsoever in your day to day to be tearing down things as opposed to being building and
not speaking about unity. >> mark halperin. >> congressman, for some tough words earlier in the program for secretary of state tillerson, i wonder how you would say he is doing well and what would you like to see him do better? >> well, i think that secretary tillerson is doing a good job. he has a different approach. he is a different type of person. he came from private sector. he has been negotiating deals around the world. some of the most austeer places that you could be in, and dealing with not only governments, but also on the ground tribal folks because a lot of times in many countries where his product was is not where the government is, and certainly a difference in types of folks. you have to understand politics there, but also conditions on the ground as well too. he brings a different kind of approach. i like it. i would like to see him out there a little bit more. i think in the beginning it seemed as though he was a little isolated. i think that he needs to be out there more, of course, and, you know, i understand the administration's desire to look at the state department and not,
you know, waste money, but at the same time you have to have diplomacy. it's a crucial element of our foreign policy and a tool in our tool bag. i would not like to see it cut as it was spoken about initially by the administration. >> all right. congressman scott taylor, thank you so much. greatly appreciate it. obviously, your answer on rex tillerson, unlikely brett stevens, did not mention -- thanks for being with us. david ignacius. >> thanks for having me. >> so taking the president's speech last night and conversation we've had for the first couple of hours here, how do you put all the pieces together on afghanistan regionally? >> president trump, it was hard for him after saying again and again he wanted to find some different way in afghanistan. really wanted to get out. he has decided to stay. he has decided to stay for the most pragmatic reasons. i'm haunted by an image that stays in my mind from probably six years ago in kabul.
i had been talking to our commanders there, and i'm out in a courtyard across from headquarters, and who do i see but h.r. mcmaster. a general who is trying to fight corruption in afghanistan. that's his assignment. h.r. looked like he was going to pop. he was just so frustrated with this mission. the government just riddled with corruption top to bottom. he basically said we've just got to keep trying to make this work. trying to make this work. i can hear him saying that to the president over these last weeks. if anybody knows how hard this is, it's h.r. mcmaster and jim ma mattis. in the end they told the president to do this hard thing because there's no real alternative. >> no real alternative, and it just may work. i mean, you look at what journalists were saying that were going to iraq in 2006, 2007. they talked about the despair that they saw over there and the chaos over there, and then in 2009, 2010, you know, had many
come back. we did have a policy that seemed to be working. maybe after all these years maybe h.r. mcmaster and others can find a positive way forward in afghanistan. still ahead, the president began his afghanistan speech saying our men and women serving abroad deserve a return tounite. we'll show you how he connected the two ieshsz. the vice president was pressed on donald trump's both sides remarks and the praise he received from david duke and white supremacists. we'll play his response and more ahead on "morning joe." four seconds on the clock, down by one. championship on the line. erin "the sharpshooter" shanahan fakes left. she's outside of the key, she shoots... ...she scores! uh... yes, erin, it is great time to score a deal. we need to make room for the 2018 models. relive the thrill of beating the clock. the volkswagen model year end event. hurry in for a $1,500 in available bonuses and 0% apr
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>> on my orders the united states military have begun strikes against military inst l installations of the taliban regime in afghanistan. >> this modest, but meaningful extension of our presence while sticking to our current narrow missions can make a real difference. it's the right thing to do. >> a hasty withdrawal would create a vacuum of terrorists, including isis and al qaeda would instantly fill just as happened before september 11th. >> now 16 years into that
conflict. welcome to "morning joe." it's tuesday, august 22nd. meeka has the morning off. with us we have columnist and associate editor for "the washington post" david ignaci, senior political loirs for nbc news and msnbc mark halperin, washington bureau chief for the associated press, julie pace, former white house press secretary to president obama now an msnbc political analyst josh ernest. associate editor of commentary magazine, noah rothman, and white house reporter for the a.p. jonathan lamere. last night, as you know, president trump unveiled what was billed as a new approach to afghanistan. the plan continues america's engagement provided few details, including any specific reference to how many additional american troops are going to be deployed there. the 30 minute speech marked a major policy reversal for donald trump who in the past has urged the united states to get out of afghanistan.
>> my origin stikt was to pull out, and historically i like following my instincts. all my life i have heard a core pillar of our new strategy is a shift from a time-based approach to one based on conditions. i have said it many times. how counter productive it is to announce our military activities. we are a partner and a friend, but we will not dictate to the afghan people how to live or how to govern their own complex
society. we are not nation-building again. we are killing terrorists. we can no longer be silent about the safe haichs and taliban and other groups that pose a threat to the region and beyond. it is time for pakistan to demonstrate its commitment to civilization, order, and to peace. another critical part is to further develop its strategic partnership with india, the world's largest democracy and a key security and economic partner of the united states. >> there's the president last night. david, around the set since january 20th, there have been a lot of people who have said, like, well, we didn't vote for donald trump, but we just hoped at the very least that the
magnitude of the office and the responsibilities would weigh on him enough that he would moderate some of his thinking, some of his views, some of his bad habits. well, last night it sounded like at least he add midthat at least in one way the weight of this office, the responsibilities of the commander in chief, did get him to change a view, and that is on afghanistan. >> it was a somber speech. it didn't have any of those flourishes of hyperbole where the president will say and i really mean it and, you know, it's beautiful too, which i think undercut what he says. this was straight forward, and you had a president who really had wanted to get out of a war he thought didn't make sense, and now after working with his
generals, working with his advisors, he has concluded that it is -- for zbl fundamentally different. he does know that walking away, in effect, surrendering this commitment that's been going on for 16 years would be a mistake. he needs the platform of afghanistan to conduct operations there. in pakistan i think that's the core of what he has decided to do, although he didn't really state it directly. this is a counterterrorism platform. it's too valuable to the u.s. to give up right now. we're back in the same world of pressuring pakistan, carrots and sticks for pakistan. he didn't talk about nation-building for afghanistan. inevitably, when you are trying to build an army that's implicit, it was a moment where, as he said himself, the realities of being president caught up with his rhetoric and changed his plans. >> and the realities of what we're facing in afghanistan and
what the stakes are in afghanistan is something that i think our leaders are going to have to be more honest about, david. you know, i remember back in 2004, 2005 asking a special ops go and i said, hey, did iraq sending all the troops to iraq distract us of our mission in afghanistan? how bad does that hurt us? if you can take all the troops in iraq and add another 500,000 and invade pakistan, then maybe you can get to the root of the problem. he said, this isn't a war with afghanistan. this is a war with afghanistan and pakistan, and we're never going to be able to fight that war. the best we can do is not lose the war. that was -- that was 13 years ago. 12, 13 years ago. it's the same reality, and even though people like me don't like to hear this, and americans -- most americans don't like to hear it, we just may be in a situation like we were in after
the korean war where leaving is not an option, and people thought leaving was an option until they saw what happened when we just left iraq. >> you put your finger on it. the president made that point that we've seen what hasty withdrawal does. president obama was determined to fulfill his campaign pledge to pull the troops out of iraq and the results of doing that was to create a vacuum and into that vacuum came isis. we all watched it. we all learned that same lesson. the president has too. i found myself thinking watching the president last night how hard it must have been to talk to general kelly who lost a son in afghanistan.
there's very little enthusiasm in the pentagon, but a general recognition. not a single person there really can bare the thought of walking away. >> no. mark halperin, i don't know that the realities on the ground are any different in 2017 than they were in early 2003, let's say. at the same time america, if america leaves, there will be a horrific void. donald trump had a lot of simple slogans during the campaign. he said a lot of things that made crowds cheer. there's nothing easy, there's nothing simple, there's nothing pat about our policy in afghanistan now. what's the take-away, and what's the political impact? >> bitter irony that really pretty much the hardest thing in a president's inbox for the last three presidents leads to roughly the same conclusion.
you can't walk away. you know, there's some new things here, but look at sort of the foundation. make the taliban come to the negotiating table. try to get the afghan government to be less corrupt. try to change, as david said, with carrots and sticks, the behavior of pakistan. those are the foundations of barack obama's attempts to try to deal with afghanistan. >> and also, george w. bush's. i mean, you know. >> do people think the taliban is going to negotiate in good faith? do people think pakistan's behavior is going to change? do people think the afghan government can be less corrupt? if you look at the history of the last two presidents, you wouldn't bet on any of those three things happening, and, yet, those are all part of this president's plan. he said he would be a candidate of change, including very explicitly on this issue. there's clearly a lot more continuity here than change. yet, while a lot of the american people may not like it, you look at the reaction from congress, including from some democrats, but from a lot of establishment republicans. they applaud this. people who are looking at the
sort of longer ark of this president's process of being president on tough issues, this was clearly one of the most deliberate processes, deliberating processes the president has been through. he listened to a lot of voices. he considered a lot of options. i'll say, to conclude, this is a bitter thing for a lot of people who want to change because this policy has a lot more continuity than it is change. >> julie pace, inside the white house obviously -- we could look at a couple of things here. one is the bannon effect. steve bannon gone. now actually people that understand military tactics and understand where we are in the world and have actually fought in wars can be in there and have a strong voice. ist also the fact that the president does listen to generals. here's a president that doesn't even listen to scientists saying don't stare into the sun during a solar eclipse, but it appears that he, you know -- it appears that time spent at camp david
was worth it if you want -- even if you disagree with a policy. it was -- there was a reasoned thoughtful process that our national security team walked through. >> and even before that big media day at camp david last week, this has been one of the most detailed, most thorough processes that we've seen this white house go through. you know, this is the same white house largely that was doing the travel ban, and some of these other policies that were rolled out pretty quickly without a lot of thought behind the implementation. you saw a completely different strategy here from the generals, which was really to come to trump with a detailed plan to make the case to him in a sustained way that really appealed to his own interests. those are questions that don't have an easy answer. this is a war that has seemed unwinnable for two presidencies
now, but he is taking this on because his generals have told him that the consequences of withdrawing would be disastrous. look, trump, we've talked about this before. trump wants to be a successful president. whether he can do that or not remains an open question, but he does not want to be a president who creates a vacuum, who creates -- allows afghanistan to turn into a launching pad for terror attacks in the united states. >> right. any president that faces this, faces just a lot of bad options, i mean, president obama's decision, he just struggled over it for so long. you think 2009, tripled the in be -- added 30,000 troops in afghanistan and just struggled with it. at some point doesn't every president understand despite what they say on the campaign trail that victory in afghanistan means there wasn't a terror attack launched against a building in new york or washington today. >> when it comes to afghanistan
policy, that is the root of everybody's ideal outcome is preventing horrific large scale terrorist attacks against the united states that are launched from afghanistan, and president obama campaigned in 2007 and 2008 as president on decimating core al qaeda that was located in the afghanistan-pakistan region, and based on the strategy that involved a surge of military resources based on a renewed diplomatic effort, which is key here. we've not yet talked about it in detail. that was critical to our success in doing that. the other part of the afghanistan policy decision that president obama generally struggled was at the end of this term, which is this question that he had set a goal of trying to essentially get our troops out of afghanistan. >> right. >> by the end of his tenure. he made a decision over the course of 2015 and 2016 that it wouldn't be safe for our country t do that where. >> just can't do it. there are a lot of us -- i'm not including you, but a lot of
conservatives that saw the withdrawal from iraq as a good thing. certainly not john mccain. not lindsey graham. you know, after a decade of war a lot of us -- i include myself here -- said, hey, enough is enough. are we going to be an occupying force in two countries for the next 30 years? a lot of us learned a valuable lesson after iraq that suddenly, you know, i stopped saying when i was giving speeches we're spending $2 billion a week or aa month in afghanistan. let's spend that money rebuilding america. well, guess what, sometimes we don't have easy options, and donald trump ran head on into that last night, didn't he? >> yeah. he is not the first. the last three consecutive presidents have to one degree or another ran on retrenchment, and those three presidents encountered realities in the white house that forced them to abandon their campaign trail
rhetoric. it's not easy to tell the american people that we are obligated just about everywhere in the world, and i wouldn't call the 8,000 some odd troops that are stationed in afghanistan an occupying force. this is a country that is destabilized. >> i was talking about what i was thinking back in 2009-2010 about the fact that we were in iraq and afghanistan. >> sure. >> and spending billions and billions of dollars and it went against, you know, all of my natural instincts, but, again, 2011, 2012 caught me that sometimes there are koreas in the world and afghanistan just may be our korea. we may have to have troops there to stabilize for quite? time. >> trump was very honest about the nature of the threat posed by pakistan, doing the double-dealing there. he didn't talk about iran, and he didn't talk about russia. russia is invested very heavily in afghanistan, economic and military assistance, and it's aiding the taliban. generals say this is an insurgency, support for insurgency. they say it's supporting the
taliban against isis. we have a great game in afghanistan that we are only just beginning to being aknowledge that we're playing. it's time to be honest about that. >> still ahead on "morning joe" does the president risk alienating some of his core support by voters by changing his philosophy on afghanistan. with steve bannon back at breitbart, he is facing pressure from his populist flank. plus, the president draws praise for his tone, but will that widther in the desert as he heads to arizona in a political mess of his own making. you're watching "morning joe." we'll be right back. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪
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america first unhappy. i wonder if they called everybody in the base last night to note that. i don't think they really did. i think that's like one person unhappy, and i think mcmaster's voice has trump's afghanistan policy different from obama's. so on and so forth. does that resonate outside of breitbart readership? >> you really have to admire the gall of somebody who is content to say that their opinions represent the base. >> yes. >> that's a lot of -- >> when they're really not conservatives. they're really not conservatire. they're not conservatives. i'll just say that again. >> some would be very honest about saying they're not conservatives. conservatism hasn't conserved very much at all. it was interesting the way there were so many rhetorical flourishes in that speech directed at the base. we're not nation-building anymore. >> right. >> we're not talking about our troop levels. it's nonsense. there's 4,000 troops that we know are going to be going. they've announced that level. they're saying we're going to
support deals that benefit us. well, we benefit from stability, and that means building a nation that can take more than 50% of the country and control it and can reduce some of the corruption that's crippling our efforts there. that's nation building. this is what we're doing whether we call it that or not. that's fine with me. call it whatever you want. that's what we're doing. >> let's talk, skronen that, about the president and how he started his speech. after the horrific events of charlottesville and his equally horrific response, last night he actually started the speech calling for unity and talking through the lens of the military that's fighting the battle. take a look. >> the men and women of our military operate as one team with one shared mission and one shared sense of purpose. they transcend every line of race, ethnicity, creed, and color to serve together and
sacrifice together. the soldier understands what we as a nation too often forget. that a wound inflicted upon a single member of our community is a wound inflicted upon us all. when one citizen suffers an injustice, we all suffer together. love for america requires love for all of its people. when we open our hearts to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice, no place for bigotry, and no tolerance for hate. >> i thought one of the most remarkable reactions to the president's depressing press conference last tuesday was when the joint chiefs came out and said just what the president said right there. it sounds like a week later the president actually is adopting
his own service leaders' line, and that is, you know, the military can only work well if they are united as a force, and same with the country. >> that's right. the word charlottesville never crossed his lips last night, but that was obviously what he was talking about. he was trying to revisit again his remarks about that incident that is so dominating headlines for the last week, that is going to mean something that he carries with him -- this presidency will carry with him for a long time, his initial response. to finally come up on that point and say, look, this is all that needs to be. we all need to be on the same team here and set aside our differences. there can't be bigotry. the one individual who suffered harm might even be the young woman in charlottesville who lost her life. i was struck by a few things in this speech last night, and it's silly to draw any long-term conclusions about changes in tone. the president will have a rally in phoenix, and i expect we'll see a different donald trump on the stage. this is one of the few moments where we saw him speak publicly about how he did have a change of heart, that he went against his initial instinct when it comes to strategy in afghanistan. we saw him also for one of the require times speak about the
gravity of the office. the idea of sitting behind the desk in the oval office and it's coming to a decision. this is an unconventional president who always wants a win ideally an easy win and ended up making sort of a conventional choice more about not losing. >> coming up on "morning joe" a political roundtable continues with john pedoritz of commentary making zpleen and -- we will also get her take on the reports of the secret service and that they can't find enough funding to follow the president's family around. morning joe back after this. ♪ ♪ i'm... i'm so in love with you. ♪
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and enjoyed by the community in the future. together, we're building a better california. >> in a minute we'll be talking about those that are backing away from the president, but, first, meteorologist bill karens on the eclipse and a potential round of severe weather today. >> joe, we may have to watch out for texas in the next couple of days too, but, first, millions watched this yesterday. look at this. i like the little diamond effect you have there. the moon blocked the sun. this is from oregon, one of the first places to be cast in total darkness. the special charter flight flew over the pacific for that rare glimpse right there. plus, they can say they were first. we can go even higher. this view from the international
space station. you can actually see the dark spot there over the united states. that's what moved across the country so fast. now, back on the ground this was the view at the football stadium in southern illinois university. you can see to get very dark, you see how it glows there, and that's as everyone's phones are recording it. that was in carbondale, illinois. carbondale had one of the longest durations of total darkness, 2:38. they're also in the next one in the totality in seven years. this is my favorite. this is a multiexposure over the arch there in st. louis. that's fantastic. i don't know how they do that, but the clouds are moving too. pretty cool stuff. let's get into the bad stuff. we don't want to mention the president did go out on the balcony and put the shades on and did get a pretty good view. that was quickly without the glasses and everything was fine from that. let's go into -- the other thing is what happened where we dealt with a really bad flooding in kansas city. we've been continuing to get the pictures in, and some of these pictures have been showing some pretty nasty stuff.
this was from this morning at sunrise. we had a lot of evacuations in the kansas city area. we had nine inches of rain. they have canceled schools in many cases and canceled businesses. there have been many water rescues done by the fire department, by boats, with vehicles like this that have been stranded in the water. it's now stopped raining, but the flash flood emergency still remains for the kansas city area. the radar does show that, but it's going to be another couple of hours until we clear out. the other thing we have to watch today, severe weather possible. slight risk of storms. even enhanced risk of storms all the way through central pennsylvania and through central new york. 27 million people at risk of severe storms. we could even get an isolated tornado or two today in areas of central new york, pennsylvania, and then, finally, we have to get to the tropics. this is when things can happen in a hurry. our computer -- this was a tropical storm. it kind of dissipated down to a tropical wave. now it's over the top of cancun and the yucatan. it's heading into the warm waters of the gulf, and both of our long range computer models, the european model we talked about and our american model, both think that as we go through thursday, this is going to start to develop.
the american model is a little further to the north. the european model a little further to the south. regardless, if you are in southeast texas, this is a story you are going to need to watch. our american model even has this as a hurricane on friday. that's only three days from now. the possibility of a hurricane coming into our country. not a lot of time to prepare. of course, we'll have more details on that in the next couple of days. the rest of the forecast just watching out for those thunderstorms later today. new york city, it looks like you will be about 10:00 p.m. to midnight when the storms roll through. today just plain old hot, hazy, and humid. more "morning joe" when we come back.
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president. there's no way of -- there's no way of reading it other than as a everyone thinks that neocons are the -- that's ridiculous. we're for, like, killing -- i was supposed to introduce everybody, and then we'll start the commentary debate. by the way, kids, of course, alex said you need to introduce john before he starts talking, but john, you loved him as a kid, you trust him as a mother. john commentary with us. also nbc news political analyst mark halperin, noah rothman, former obama press secretary josh ernest, suddenly feeling very alone on the set. >> i was noticing. >> and brett stevens back with us as well.
enjoying the conversation. washington bureau chief for usa today, susan page. you were going to say? >> there are two it ragss of the neo-conmind. there's the hard neo-con which is gene kirkpatrick, authority tarns versus totalarians, this is about the american interests and. then there's the wolfowitz wing which is more about democracy promotion and human rights, and i think what you saw in trump's speech was a reversion to the kind of original more hard-headed i think self-interested position. >> more of a -- noah, you had -- the paul wolfowitz position got its airing in george w. bush's second nag rags when he said we're going to tafrp out tyrannies in all four corners of the globe, and we're going to be the avengers and go out and use our military men and women to fight every war and promote democracy.
last night was not about leading forward so to speak militarily. it was about, hey, we may not be able to win this thing, but we just can't lose it. >> well, that alone is a reput yags of the posture that donald trump struck on the campaign trail. >> but it's also -- i don't know that that is paul wolfowitz. i don't know that that is george w. bush in 2005. it's about killing terrorists, and the idea that the harder neo con that gene kirkpatrick is, you make am additions with the world as it is. you can't choose to say i can keep my hands clean. it can be the moral decision to align yourself in a compromised position because the goal, the aim at the end is much more important.
they've now come to the same position on afghanistan over 16 years, which is this is the least you can do. not the most you can do. the least you can do is you go into a country. you go in to oust its regime. you are left holding the bag. what are you going to do about it, and if your efforts to install a democratic government are unsuccessful, you can't just go away and leave because the bad guys are going to come back. it urns it out that this far from being extreme and insane and crazy and bananas is a consensus view of people who hold the reigns of power in the united states over wildly idealogically different governments. wildly different governments. >> mark halperin, that's one of the things that if you looked at every president from harry
truman to george h.w. bush, you could look back, connect the dots, and there was a continuous line from 1947 and the truman doctrine to george h.w. bush overseeing the collapse not only of the soviet empire, but also of the soviet union and, you know, christmas day 1991. it was a remarkable thing to see. as much, john's point is, i mean, it's really something we need to soft and look at. as divided as we seem to be, i was always struck by the continuous line between george w. bush's approach to fighting terrorists and barack obama's approach to fighting terrorists, and now even though he doesn't want to hear it donald trump's approach in afghanistan to fighting terrorists. at least to stop them from getting a foot hold in caves in afghanistan and pakistan. >> i want to note that john had
said without any irony, efforts to install a democratic government. i appreciated that. >> there's often an intent to try to draw a line back to vietnam, and, clearly, there's some similarities and clearly no president wants to lose a war. the biggest thing is and the reason you see the similarities for the three post-9/11 presidents is there's a different element now. vietnam was not about americans being worried that someone would come here and kill americans. post-9/11, the stakes are higher, and every one of those generals, when they're grieving, whether they're saying it explicitly or not, make it clear, if you withdraw, if you go to a kind of steve bannon-like position about what should be done, americans could die, and that will be on your watch. i think it's going to be a long time before any president is willing to disregard the general's recommendation if they say an impliksz of withdrawal is terrorists will be able to regroup and come hit us here on u.s. soil.
>> the last thing barack obama wanted in 2009 -- the last thing he wanted to do was triple the number of troops in afghanistan. the last thing he wanted. he had to do it. it was the only responsible thing to do despite the fact he didn't want to do it. donald trump found himself there last night on august 21st, 2017.
>> we have a more open-ended commitment in afghanistan than we did 24 hours ago. the other thing that's remarkable about this is there are other issues on which president trump has changed from his campaign position to a more conventional position, but on this one, last night he ak knowledged it. he said my instinct was to withdraw, and it was only after hearing the arguments of the generals that i agreed to change position. that is, it seems to me, unusual and makes this a policy. he 100% owns now these days. >> barack obama, the same. he wanted to come in. he wanted to end george bush and dick cheney's wars. he sat behind the desk. he listened to the generals. he listened to the admirals, and he realized he couldn't just leave afghanistan. >> yeah. >> that's exactly right. and one of the challenges that president obama faced was how do we make sure that we're not making these open commitments. one element of his strategy was to set deadlines, and that was certainly something that was criticized by a lot of his
opponents, but the thinking behind that was we need to put pressure on these governments, whether it's in iraq or in afghanistan, to assume responsibility for the security situation in their own country. basically they say to these governments we're going to support you economically and diplomatically and, yes, militarily. we're going to be there to help you train. we're going to give you the equipment that you need. we're going to do that not because we want to take over your country, not because we have an open-ended deployment here, but we want to build your capacity to govern your own country, to at least provide for the security situation in your own country. it can't be an ungoverned space that terrorists can use to launch terror attacks against the united states. >> we have to go to break. let's did a quick lightning round. solve afghanistan in 15 seconds. >> i can't solve it. >> i know. >> i can say that a year into the obama commitment to after fan, there were 100,000 americans there. last night trump said worry sending 4,000. the rules of engagement may change, but we're talking about a scale that is -- bears no relation to the size of the
problem very likely, and so this could just have been a vaporware speech where he says we're going to do something about it, but we are going to commit the least possible resources we can to this because even though i'm saying i am apologizing and i am turning my mind around, i am not spending any political capital on this if i can avoid it. >> since we're quoting dead communist -- you may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you. americans may not want to be interested in the middle east, but the middle east has a way of being interested with us. the minimum commitment to make sure that we do not lose in that battle space is vital, and that's why there's a kind of consensus across three administrations that we just can't afford to walk away and pretend that it won't haunt us in barcelona or orlando or elsewhere. >> john is right. this is probably a cosmetic commitment. it was just as cosmetic when the president ordered strikes, punitive strikes on the assad regime for executing a crime against humanity. this is doctrinal.
it's beginning to become something that is a coherent foreign policy, even if it's not really a committed foreign policy. that's a sea change. that's something we should watch. >> all right. when we come back, the commentary coup continues. when we return. hmm? is that the rest of our food? what? no. how come you have cheese in your beard? because switching to geico could save you 15% or more on car insurance. oh! ok. geico. because saving 15% or more on car insurance is always a great answer. whoa! gross! i expect things to last [kina looong time.as, and so should you. midas has a lifetime guarantee on these parts. that's right. on things like struts, brakes, shocks. all kinds of automobile parts.
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pertains to this country, and we want jobs, manufacturing, in this country. if you look at some of those people you're talking about, they're outside of the country, having a lot of product made outside if you look at merck as an example. some of the folks that will leave they're leaving out of embarrassment because they make their products outside. and i've been lecturing them, including the gentleman you're referring to, about you have to bring it back to this country. >> president trump last week as u.s. business leaders began to take a stand against his response to violence in charlottesville. this past sunday business sections of "the times" and "the washington post" both featured stories about corporate america's newfound moral voice. let's bring in, speaking of moral voices, cnbc's brian sullivan. they call him the conscience of ft. lee. what's going on? >> well, thank for that. >> actually, nobody's ever
called you that. >> no, they haven't. >> what's going on? >> i'm going to disagree a little. these are ceos that come on cnbc frequently so i'm not going to slam them, but i will say this, let's be careful, this moral voice, yes, they are leaving some of the councils but two things, one, the biggest council, the strategic and advisory council, disbanded itself. you know why you do that? you're sneaky smart. then you don't have to come out with a statement saying why you're leaving a council. two -- >> they did this because they had to d it. >> they had to. >> you had a president that was preaching moral equivalency with white supremacists and neo-nazis. >> but they're not -- the other point i'm trying to make is that they're not leaving government. i mean, ibm, we're still going to work with our government partners. they may be leaving these councils but one way or another they are going to stay close to government because they have to. the federal government is the largest corporation in the world. they know where the bread is
buttered. >> earlier this morning the "today" show vice president mike pence was asked about the president's comments about charlottesville when he said there were fine people on both sides. here's the "today" show exchange. >> the president said he thought there were fine people on both sides of that rally in charlottesville so when he said that, you just told me you don't agree with that, did those words offend you? >> the president and i were very clear last weekend in the wake of the terribly tragic events in charlottesville that we denounce bigotry and hatred and violence in all its forms. >> he said there were fine people on both sides of that rally. >> the president specifically denounced white supremacists, neo-nazis and the kkk repeatedly. and he did it when he denounced hate and violence on saturday. he did it in his address to the nation sunday and -- there was no moral equivalency drawn by the president. >> susan page, was there moral
equivalency drawn by the president? >> you know, i actualry think this is one of the biggest threats to president trump's tenure tox his presidency, because the president's powerful not only because he commands troops but because he has moral authority. now you see a situation where businesses refuse to serve on his councils, charities are canceling events they planned to hold at mar-a-lago. in an nbc marist poll yesterday in three key states americans by 2 to 1 said they were embarrassed by the behavior of the president and that goes to one of the things that presidents rely on most during their tenures and there's the ability to kind of rally the nation in moral terms as well as in economic and military ones. so i think this collection of things adds up to a serious problem for this white house. >> and, john, a week after the joint chiefs came out and said basically there is no moral equivalency, denouncing what happened in charlottesville, seems like the president
followed his joint chiefs. >> well, i mean, the material in the speech last night about how we're all one nation was very good and imagine what it would have sounded like had all that horror not happened last week. that's the oddity, the sort of self-inflicted wound. then you have to ask the question, the painful question, why did he find it necessary? mike pence is lying, everybody knows he's lying, everybody heard what he said, he did this in the debate where he breezily dismissed trump's positions and say they were the ones pence was holding that night. we live in a time in which the president can say whatever he want ts and then his own people will say that he said something entirely different as though we weren't all listening. the cognitive dissonance is maddening. >> there's the off the cuff president, joe, then the teleprompter president. >> there are also two presidents in this sense thashg 234 the united states the president is
both head of state and head of government in the way it's a separated function. and i think ta what happened over the last week is that president trump was no longer head of state. i don't think he can competently fulfill the kind of ceremonial functions as being the -- not commander in chief but the kind of -- the moral conscience of the country when it needs it. it would be great to have -- when barack obama was president, i disagreed with him all the time but when he was at the medal of honor ceremony or at arlington, you felt he's my president. you can't feel that with donald trump. >> what happened, though, what's so interesting is, you know, there have also been two policies. there's been the policy that donald trump has tweeted out whether it's about allies, whether it's about russia, and then you have the policies of mike pence, general mattis, and the rest of the responsible administration taking a tone on russia, saying -- mattis saying
if it didn't exist, i'd have to invent it, it's so important to us. last night it seems those two factions, at least for 15, 20 minutes came together as one. >> and i think you're going to see some other policy decisions coming up the rest of this year where that will be the same thing, particularly now that you've replaced reince priebus with kelly. you have to person at the top of the white house pyramid really able to control policy and most of those policies, i think the big question is what happens on domestic policy. does he become a more normal republican on domestic policy or does he continue to be divided between normal and less normal. >> i think less normally -- >> he does go down that road. >> he acts less normal. >> susan referenced that poll that indicated there is a lot of dissatisfaction in the country with the way trump handled the response to charlottesville. one of the thing is thought was discouraging about the poll, the
majority of republicans that were in that poll ch saw his support handling that incident. at what point do they get tired of defending trump? president obama held a town hall on cnbc y with john harwood and the first question was, president obama, i'm a strong supporter of yours but i'm exhausted by defending you. the question is at what point do donald trump's supporters get exhausted in defending him? only seven months in. >> we shall see. that does it for thus morning. thank you so much for tuning in to the commentary variety act. chris jansing picks up the coverage. >> thank you, joe. hello. i'm chris jansing. for stephanie ruhle this morning, new strategy, no details. president trump promises victory but is silent about how many troops he's putting into afghanistan. >>ly not say when we are going to attack, but attack we will. >> and he put