tv The Rachel Maddow Show MSNBC September 19, 2017 6:00pm-7:00pm PDT
>> mright now people are thinkig about lisa who could be the pivotal vote in what she's cons >> good to be with you. "the rachel maddow show" starts right now. good evening. >> thank you, my friend. thanks for joining us this hour. there is a lot to keep up with tonight. i'm glad you're here to do that with us. first, of course, we have been watching today with great dismay. as we just got in this increasingly terrible footage out of mexico city from the large earthquake that mexico sustained there. the death toll from this quake in mexico city is over 100. and we could tell early on from the first footage that we got in that toll would expect -- we would expect it to rise. we knew that was likely to get started for the central mexico.
32 years ago today, mexico city sustained an even larger quake that caused thousands of buildings to collapse that killed as many as 10,000 people. as eerie as it is, what happened today fell on the exact anniversary of the terrible 1985 quake. today's damage will not end up being as severe as what they went through in '85 but what happened today is very, very bad. as i said, death toll already over 100. many collapsed buildings rescue efforts continuing as i speak tonight. we'll have more on the situation including a live report from mexico city in just a moment. in the caribbean, a large disaster continues to unfold as i speak. this is hurricane maria. a concentrated rapidly developing extremely dangerous category five hurricane that follows almost immediately on
the heels of hurricane irma, which was also category five when irma kareemed through the caribbean islands two weeks ago, people on the hardest hit islands ened up being evacuated to some of the lesser affected islands in the region. those lesser effected areas post irma. the islands to which people and supplies were relocated post irma, those islands themselves are now looking into the eye of destruction from this subsequent hurricane maria. it's just unbelievably tragic and coincidental apparently it has fallen in this way but the island of guadeloupe was a relief staging area and evacuation landing zone for people on the devastated island of st. martin. well guadeloupe has itself sustained significant damage from hurricane maria. the island of st. croix was relatively unscathed in the u.s.
virgin islands. st. croix became a shelter for people from the more heavily damaged islands of st. thomas and st. john. st. croix is expected to get hit by hurricane maria overnight tonight. the pattern also holds true for puerto rico which did better than feared during hurricane irma. in puerto rica took in people in need of refuge and became a staging ground for relief efforts. puerto rico is on track tomorrow morning to get this new storm, hurricane maria slamming ashore as a category five or high-end category four storm. no storm like that has hit puerto rico since the 1930s. so this is a big serious situation for a lot of americans tonight in the u.s. virgin islands and in puerto rico. it's also a big scary situation among their neighbors in the caribbean in this resilient and beautiful but absolutely reeling
part of the world. there is nobody better at explaining this stuff than bill. bill will join us in a moment to walk us through what we should expect tonight and tomorrow. beyond those two huge and concur rent natural disasters still developing stories tonight, there is also a lot of news going on in the world right now including what is a very threatening effort by republican senators to try once again to repeal the affordable care act. you heard senator cory booker in the last hour with chris hayes telling chris that he believes that the republicans look like they are putting together a 50 votes plus the one vote from vice president pence they would need to finally do this. they are pursuing this effort in a rush for a variety of reasons in part that means there is no official estimate of what the costs would be of this plan but for their earlier f forts to repeal the affordable care act, they would be causing tens of millions of americans to lose
health insurance coverage. they really are rushing this through. it is not clear democrats and a few republicans will be able to stop them again like they did earlier this summer so that continues to be a developing story into this evening. we'll be getting an update on that this hour, as well. all of that with all of those other things going on, the news also just continues to break on the scandal that threatens this new presidency as well as members of the new administration and multiple members of the president's campaign. this is the president speaking at the united nations which was a spectacle like we have not seen from another american president ever. we'll talk with andrea mitchell about that in a few minutes. while that speech by the president was happening at the united nations today, simultaneously at that moment, the president's long-time personal lawyer and a long-time trump organization executive
named michael cohen at that moment was flunking out of his testimony before the senate intelligence committee today. michael cohen's lawyer agreed he would appear voluntarily and behind closed doors and reportedly agreed that neither mr. cohen nor the committee would make any public remarks about his testimony but then michael cohen break the deal. he gave a copy of what he said was his testimony to a bunch of reporters and when the committee found that out, they threw him out. deal broken. so yeah, no more testifying behind closed doors. now they will be bringing michael cohen back in open session and open televised hearing on october 25th. as that news was breaking today, reuters was first to report a sitting president is using campaign funds and funds donated to the republican party to pay for his own legal defense in the
russia matter in this criminal and counter intelligence probe being lead by special counsel robert mueller. do you know anybody that bought a make america great again hat or bumper sticker or some mean thing about wishing violence on hillary clinton that was an official project of the trump reelection campaign? if you know anybody that bought merchandise or gave money to the trump reelection campaign, we know what the dollars actually went to pay for. they went to pay for the president's legal fees. i mean, it's an unusual thing. other presidents haven't done this. that's unusual enough. for this guy in particular and a president that built the political persona on being so rich, it's a fairly stunning turn of events instead of paying his own legal bills, he's getting regular people around the country who thought they were making political contributions to instead pay his personal bills for his legal
defense. now we know why he formally legally established his reelection campaign on the very first day of his presidency. the formation gave him a vehicle to raise funds from regular people around the country that he apparently quickly started diverting from any actual reelection campaign to instead, paying his lawyers on the russia thing. and also paying his family's lawyers on the russia thing. we learned in july the trump reelection campaign spent $50,000, $50,000 they got from campaign donations on the services of a personal lawyer for donald trump junior. that payment incidentally preceded any public disclosure of the news that donald trump junior had attended that meeting with russian operatives at trump tower during the campaign because he was interested in the russians promise that their government had damaging information on hillary clinton, which the russians wanted to convey to the trump campaign. before we learned about him attending that meeting, apparently, the trump reelection campaign had already cut a
$50,000 check to a personal lawyer for donald trump junior. a personal lawyer who continues to represent the president's son on issues related to the russia scandal. well now tonight, the wall street journal reports after the president's reelection campaign spent $50,000 on donald junior's lawyer in june, thereafter the republican party also spent another $196,000 on russia lawyers for donald trump junior. now tonight nbc news confirms that it goes beyond the spending on the president's son and his lawyers. the republican national committee will apparently report tomorrow that as of last month, the republican national committee, the rnc has already spent over $230,000 that they collected from republican donors on the president's own legal defense in the russia scandal. this is legal but no president has tried to do this before, let
alone a billionaire. as reuters puts it, president trump is the first to use such funds to cover the costs of responding to a criminal probe. and this unprecedented news about using republican party funds and using reelection campaign funds to fund his legal defense, this of course follows the bombshell news from last night that the president's campaign chairman has been told by prosecutors they plan to indict him. that news from "the new york times" last night followed close on the heels of news from cnn that the president's campaign chairman was twice in the last few years made the target of a foreign intelligence surveillance act warrant, a fisa warrant, the kind of warrant you can only get from a fisa court judge if the judge believes the american citizen in question is knowingly acting as the agent of a foreign power. i need to mention that nbc news
has not confirmed that cnn reporting about the warrant for paul manafort but if true, it's important to recognize that warrant include as time period when the president himself was continuing to talk to his campaign chairman. even after the inauguration despite the president's stating publicly he hadn't talked to paul manafort in a long time and him insisting that paul manafort had been involved in the campaign for a short time. apparently, they were still talking to each other after the inauguration at a time when reportedly, paul manafort was having his communication surveilled because he was the target of a fisa warrant because a judge was convinced he was a knowing agent of a foreign power. now we don't know if the president himself turns up on the surveillance intercepts the fbi reportedly made. given the reported timing, that does appear to be a possibility. remember when james comey said
lord d lord, i hope there are tapes. lord, there might be tapes. like i said at the top, there is a lot going on. we got expert help on tap tonight for the legal chair and his personal lawyer blowing up at his aborted testimony in the senate today. we'll have expert advice and also got expert help on tap tonight to help us understand why even veteran trump watchers were flabbergasted by the president at the u.n. today. but i want to start first tonight by bringing in somebody in mexico city. the death toll is rising tonight in mexico city. it's up to at least 1119 people who have been killed in this earthquake. that number is expected to rise. the epicenter of this quake is a 7.1 quake gnat far from the town of raboso. south of mexico city. mexico city is home to 22 million people.
the most populous city on the continent and tonight, mexico city is hurting. joining me is dudly. thank you for joining us. i really appreciate your time tonight. >> sure, hello. >> first, how long you've lived in mexico city? how well you know the city and what you experienced today during the quake? >> i've been living in mexico city almost 30 years. the quake came about 1:15 in the afternoon. just a little over two hours after we had an earthquake drill they do every year to commemorate the anniversary of the 1985 earthquake. this quake hit exactly 32 years and six hours to the day after the 1985 earthquake that killed at least 6,000 people in mexico city. >> since the 1985 quake, i know that building standard changed in mexico. the type of drill you were describing today which they hold annually is an important form of
earthquake preparedness. how well did the city hold up in this large quake? obviously, we saw the terrifying pictures today of buildings collapsing. what is your assessment how bad the damage is, how many buildings are down and how big an area -- how big an affected area we're talking about? >> some of four dozen buildings down but the buildings have fell. a lot of them were apartment buildings that just pancaked, and the hope is that they are talking about something like 36 people now confirmed dead in mexico city. we hope that doesn't rise too much but you assume it's going to have to. the danger is whether people because they had just done the drill two hours ahead -- before that, that they got out of the buildings past but there are people missing a lot of places. these buildings just pancaked. there are six, five, six story high buildings full of
apartments that went straight down. the damage is pretty much concentrated. it's all over the city but concentrated the worst of it in exactly the areas where the '85 quake hit worst. mexico city is built on an old lake bed that is actually like a bowl of gjell-o. when we get the quakes, that section of the city from the center and a good portion of the city really shakes very hard and this was a bad one. >> dudly, mexico city reporter for the wall street journal. very tough day. thank you for joining us tonight. appreciate it. >> no problem, thank you. as this natural disaster absolutely rocks mexico city and rescue efforts there are starting to hit their stride just heartbreaking pictures of the rescue efforts not just with first responders but regular people joining in to try to protect anybody who might have been saved but buried, while we are looking at that in mexico
city, we're watching disaster loom. in puerto rico specifically and the caribbean and includes parts that were just hit so hard by hurricane irma. as hurricane maria bears down on the caribbean, we're joined by bill karins. thank you for being here tonight. what can you tell us tonight? >> we all have hurricane fatigue. harvey, irma, jose. is it dire for this storm or maybe worse? this is the tenth strongest storm we recorded in the atlantic basin and headed for 3.5 million people. we're about 12 hours away from what should be and what i expect to be one of the worst hurricane ds asters that we've ever seen. i don't say that lightly. we're talking about a storm with 175 mile per hour winds that is going to be heading over st. croix close to it in a couple hours and about 8:00 a.m. making landfall in puerto rico. it looks unavoidable. doesn't look like an escape
path. here is st. croix. you can see the well-defined eye. pinhole eye. it's small. the 175 mile per hour winds are only in this circle. that is where the devastation will occur. there is mystery where that travels over puerto rico, over san juan, the highly populated areas where 1 million people live and central puerto rico but less people live there. nobody will win. it will be extremely destructive. depends where it goes and i want to advice everyone in st. croix right now, you're getting into hurricane-forced winds and now we're only about 40 miles, 35 miles from that eye. it's time to get to your safe room because you'll be in that for six to eight hours and close to the eye and here is the timeline. there is 2:00 a.m. and going over about 8:00 a.m., landfall puerto rico. can go to the right of the cone that would target san juan or south coast. still be determined where the worst would be. everyone with interest in st. thomas, a little better for them.
i cannot -- i've never seen a storm this strong targeting a population like this. you showed the pictures at the top of the show. there is less than 2,000 people live there. >> uh-huh. >> this is 3.5 million. this is almost as strong as irma. i'm very afraid. i hope you have a lot of very important people that listen to the show. i hope the relief agencies and people in control of the military and coast guard, they need a massive response immediately after the storm to save lives. i hope that planning is going on right now. >> it's daunting especially when you heard about so much of the relief supplies and humanitarian relief efforts post irma being held up. the prospect of them getting in after this with so much damaged is very scary stuff. bill karins, thank you. lots more to get to tonight. stay with us. i count on my dell small business advisor
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this it was apparently a big mistake today. this footage shows a russian military helicopter shooting at someone. see the guy there? shooting at someone who was -- it was not supposed to be shooting at. see that guy? the dude apparently survived this, but reports are sketchy. this happened in the middle of a gigantic military exercise russia has been doing the past few days. russia denies there is anything wrong with that mistargeting of a by stander and their exercises and deny there is anything intimidating or unusual about the exercises themselves. i have to tell you, russia has been lying about the size of the
military exercises to keep western military observers from being allowed in to see what they have been doing. what russia has been doing over the past few days is believed to be the largest military exercise since the end of the cold war and aside from the sidefect of russian troops apparently accidently firing on random locals and civilians that showed up to watch, the other reason russia's neighbors are unsettled by these exercises is because it was only three years ago that russia invaded a neighboring country and took over part of it. when russia invaded its neighbor, ukraine and took over part of it, took over create im russia preceded the invasion with a big military exercise at the edge of ukraine that gave russia an excuse to mass a bunch of troops there and mill titary equipment. after russia invaded ukraine and took crimea, the u.s. and countries responded with serious sanctions against russia.
that bank that secretly met with jared kushner sanctioned. the other bank lined up to finance trump tower moscow, also sanctioned. the russian energy company trying to do an oil deal with exxonmobil that was so big putin gave exxon ceo rex tillerson the medal and thanks for doing the deal, the company is sanctioned which skewed up the big deal with exxon. the sanctions on russia are really, really big pain and getting rid of them is a huge priority for russia. in january, the personal lawyer, long-time executive with the trump organization took a meeting in a new york lobby in new york city with a few different people including a proputin politician from ukraine and the result of that meeting in new york was a written proposal for the u.s. government to not only make the sanctions on russia go away, but to tie that up with a bow on top, as
well. the plan had three parts. number one, the president of ukraine would be thrown out of office. he's the president that replaced the proputin dictator who paul manafort used to work for. the guy who replaced him himself would be thrown out. number two, russia would get to keep the parts when they invaded ukraine. that feels better and part three of the plan would be the u.s. would drop our sanctions against russia, which we leveed against them for invading ukraine and taking over part of that country. that would be quite a deal, all right? putin would get a, what he wants and b, what he wants and in exchange for that, he would get c, more of what he wants. get rid of a president he doesn't like. get to keep the stuff he stole and stop paying the price for it. nice deal. the details of this awesome deal were reportedly written up, putin into a sealed envelope, which president trump's lawyer hand delivered to the white
house. quoting from "the new york times", a week before mike flynn resigned as trump national security advisor, a sealed proposal was hand delivered to his office outlining a way for president trump to lift sanctions against russia. michael cohen said he left that proposal in the sealed envelope in general flynn's office during a visit to the white house. mr. cohen said he was waiting for a response from flynn when flynn was fired from his post. after giving that whole account to the "new york times" about what happened to that ukrainian plan, that would be so awesome for putin, michael cohen then subsequently spoke to a different newspaper about it. he spoke to the washington post except to them, he told a totally different story. when he spoke to the washington post about this, he denied the part about putting the plan in a sealed envelope and giving it to michael flynn at the white house. michael cohen speaking with the post acknowledged that the new york meeting took place and he
had left with the proposal in hand. but he says he did not take the envelope to the white house. and he says he did not discuss it with anyone. he called suggestions to the contrary fake news. quote, i acknowledge that the meeting took place but emphatically denied discussing the topic of delivering any documents to the white house and general flynn. so that's a weird thing, right? this is not he said, she said or he said, he said. this is i said, i said. [ laughter ] >> this is a situation that one newspaper then had to go interview the other newspaper to try to make sense of it. the washington post contacted "the new york times" to find out what happened in their interview with michael cohen and "the new york times" told the post, yes, michael cohen really did that. quote, cohen -- mr. cohen told the times in no uncertain terms he delivered the ukraine proposal to michael flynn's office at the white house. the problem is he then told "the
washington post" in no uncertain terms he definitely did not deliver that proposal to mike flynn's office at the white house. either he did or didn't. he maintained that he did and maintained that he didn't. he was clearly lying to one of those two papers. well, today "the washington post" got yet another version of that story from michael cohen. now michael cohen's version of the story is that he didn't just not hand deliver that proposal to mike flynn's office to the white house. now he's got a new story. now, quote, cohen insists to the post that he did take an unvel lope c -- envep lolope containing the plan. he threw it away. it was a trash can at the hotel. all right? a, why? and b, why is this so hard for you to remember? michael cohen worked for the trump organization for years.
he was one of the trump guys trying to make the trump tower moscow thing happen. he wrote to the kremlin for help with that deal. last year, months after trump started running for president, michael cohen is deeply involved in trump politics and business and he's known for giving different people radically different versions even when on the record on the same day. today before a scheduled appearance at the senate intelligence committee, he gave reporters a statement about his testimony casting himself and the president as victims of a smear campaign. the committee says that he did this. he handed out this statement even though the committee had told him explicitly he was not to speak to the press. after they found out that he had distributed that statement, the committee cancelled the hearing with mr. cohen entirely. they made michael cohen sit in their office for an hour or so and then cancelled. they said they will only
interview mr. cohen in an open session. that's interesting because the special counsel robert mueller has reportedly been encouraging committees investigating russia they should do their witness interviews in open session from here on out reportedly because muller's team has not been able to access transcripts of the interviews that have happened behind closed doors because the committees have not been willing to hand them over. so not going to be a problem with michael cohen. because that testimony is now going to be in public october 25th. which should be fascinating. i do think that we've got now a bunch of probably answerable questions on our hands whablt is happ -- about what is happening here. we got a history. if he continues to give multiple conflicting accounts of his actions like he has to the press, is there any real risk for him of being prosecuted for lying to congress or obstructing justice? i know there is in theory. does that actually get pushed?
in this day in age? is this a real risk? also, now that we know the president's reelection campaign is paying the russia scandal legal fees of the president's son, and now that we know the republican party is paying both the legal fees of the president and his son, are there legal considerations for the white house or for the republican party in terms of who is allowed to donate to the funds? as a related matter, do people who thought they were donating to the republican party or to trump's e reelection effort, if they didn't intend for the money to be spent on trump family legal fees. and finally, how serious is this reporting from cnn the president's campaign manager was twice the subject of long-running fisa warrants to survey the communications and how serious is the reporting prosecutors told paul manafort he should be expected to be indicted. all open questions for me right
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special counsel. bob muller. quoting from the journal, the lead tonight. special counsel robert mueller interviewed rod rosenstein. questioning who is directly overseeing their investigation. this is an unusual circumstance. one of the things the special counsel bob muller is investigating is whether the firing of fbi director james comey was an effort on part of the president to obstruct justice by trying to interfere with the russsia investigation. the russia investigation was on his mind when he fired fbi director james comey. rod rosenstein was involved in the firing of james comey since the white house sited his memo
to justify the firing. we've been asking whether rod rosenstein would have to recuse himself from overseeing this part of the invest fwags since he appears to be a key witness or key part of the investigation. now we know from the wall street journal is that reportedly according to the journal sources, he was interviewed by the special counsel's prosecutors about that matter. while he himself continued to oversee their investigation. do you think he ordered the prosecutors to interview himself? this is is weird, right? joining us is barbara. nice to see you. thank you for being here. >> thank you for being here. >> this new news from the wall street journal, you're just absorbing it. it strikes me -- before this it struck me as strange he would be overseeing this investigation when he was an important potential witness to the obstruction of justice part of it. it strikes me as even more weird now, now that we know this
investigation he's overseeing interviewed him about this matter. how does this strike you? >> i agree with you. i mean, ordinarily you can't be both a party to a case and a witness to a case. so it would be very difficult for him to super vice a case where he is going to be a witness. you would expect him to recuse himself but because this happened by the report in june or july, it may be the case that he was interviewed and robert mueller takes the position and rod rosenstein takes the possession he would be called. the investigative avenue and move on to something else. in light of what we know about the contradictions president trump himself made about first saying it was the rosenstein basis how comey handled the clinton e-mail matter that was the basis for the firing and conthere dico contradicted himself saying it was russia. you would think rod rosenstein
would be a key witness. i have a lot of confidence. i know him. he was the u.s. attorney in the obama administration and bush administration. he's career professional who knows the rules and abides by the rules. so it may be that he and muller do not see him as a critical witness down the road. >> and i mean, i wonder also if it's possible they have a lot of witnesses to this particular part of the investigation and decided that they can proceed without testimony from rosenstein because they can simply get testimony from so many other people about it. i guess there is no reason to speculate on this. we'll find out if and when they bring charges in this matter or make a public statement. remarkable development. one of the other developments, we learned that the president and his son have both had the fees for their personal lawyers who are representing them on the russia matter paid for by the republican national committee and by the trump reelection campaign.
is it clear that that's a legal use of those funds? >> well, i think it is. i'm not sure it's clear. like so many other things, we find ourselves in uncharted waters in this administration. it is lawful to use campaign funds to pay legal fees for a campaign. ordinarily that's for providing legal advice about federal election laws or disputing a recount, those kinds of things. i'm not aware of a situation used to pay for criminal legal fees but it's not prohibited. i think this falls into the category of what we as prosecutors would analyze and conclude is awful but lawful. >> awful but lawful. barbara, i have one more question for you about something involving this paul manafort reporting with him being threat ped with an -- threatened with an indictment. can you stay with us for a moment so i can ask you those questions. >> you bet.
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do prosecutors really do that? do they tell people expect to get indicted months before they actually do indict them? >> yes, i don't know about months before but yes. this is being portrayed as heavy-handed and a threat. i don't think that's how it's intended. you note it was prosecutors who told them, not the agents. prosecutors wouldn't have been on the scene at the search warrant and raid. that would have been fbi. my guess is what happened is there was a phone call or conversation that occurred later from the prosecutors who talked to his lawyers and said you should know your status, which you are a target of a grand jury and we intend to indict you. so that is conversation that often occurs as an opportunity to begin negotiations. what it means is unless you want to talk with us about what you know and cooperate and maybe we'll change our mind. so it's not uncommon. it's not seen as a threat. it's i'm providing you with notice of your status as a target of a grand jury
investigation with the potential to be indicted. do you want to talk before we go ahead and do that. >> can i ask you one further nutty question out of total ignorance on my part? >> sure. >> is it possible paul manafort has already been indicted and we don't know about it? >> it is possible. frequent frequently, almost always, fired under seal and then they are unsealed at the right moment when they want to make an arrest. it is possible. he's already been indicted. it's possible that they are close to indictment. so the answer to your question is yes. >> barbara mcquaid, current msnbc contributor. thank you for your clarity. really helpful. thank you. >> thanks, rachel. >> we'll be right back. stay with us. patrick woke up with back pain.
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a a delegate from the philippines had gotten up to make a speech and in that speech he railed against the soviet union. the soviet premier nikita khrushchev responded by telling the presiding officer to call that towady of american imperialism to order. he then took off his shoe and pounded on the podium. there is no actual footage of the shoe pounding but that's his irate speech. the same year, fidel castro spoke at the u.n. for 4 1/2 freaking hours, including a special rant about how john f.
kennedy was illiterate. in 1974, head of the plo, yasser arafat giving his debut speech to the general assembly. >> translator: i have come bearing an olive branch and a freedom fighter's gun. >> arafat didn't mean that literally, he insisted on wearing a gun in a holster for his first u.n. speech, which is nuts. but every year there's someone. in 2006, venezuelan president hugo chavez said the american president at the same time, george w. bush, was satan. >> translator: the gentleman to whom i refer as the devil came here, talking as if he owned the world, truly as the owner of the world. yesterday the devil came here. right here. right here.
and it smells of sulfur still today. >> every year there's at least one from somewhere. today our president made his first speech before the u.n. general assembly. i called kim jong un "rocket man." he threatened to, quote, totally destroy north korea. and he said big portions of the world are, in his words, going to hell. he also bragged about his election victory and the stock market. the president's chief of staff did not appear to enjoy it. just in case you thought that was one bad picture, here's another one. while the president was speaking today, fire alarms literally went off at the state department in washington. and when the history of this era in american politics is written, that will be written off as poetic license. somebody will think that is made up. but i am telling you, it really happened. the fire alarms went off at the state department while he was
speaking today at the u.n. joining us now is andrea mitchell, nbc news chief foreign affairs correspondent and the host of "andrea mitchell reports" weekends at noon here on nbc. andrea, thank you for being here. >> thank you. >> this was an unusual speech for an american president. does it have any hallmarks of the unusual speeches of other country's presidents? >> it is certainly an unusual speech, a weird speech. rocket man. insulting kim jong un. if you want to try to move towards diplomacy with the north korean leader you would think you would not be taunting him to do something again like having another nuclear test or firing off a missile. there was a lot of criticism, even from allies, subtle implied criticism from macron, in his speech, that we should not be this aggressive toward north korea. there is also criticism of what he said about iran, he seems ready to walk away. tonight rex tillerson on fox news said that the president
wants the iran deal renegotiated and they have a meeting tomorrow night at 6:30 with all of the players. and rouhani has said very clearly that that will isolate the united states, that america will pay a price if it walks away from the iran deal. and certainly the rest of the world does not want it to be cancelled. perhaps they can renegotiate it. the iranians said there's nothing to renegotiate. >> with the president signaling changes this radical, not just to american tradition but also to ongoing american policy, what is the practical effect of the emptiness at the state department, the -- just the senior ranks the state department being literally unfilled? >> the fact is that there are very few people. there is certainly no -- there's only a handful of confirmed trump people who have the power, the authority of this administration and its priorities. you have some acting assistant secretaries and you have
holdovers, one or two holdovers from the obama white house. she certainly are not going to be taken seriously by foreign diplomats, by embassies, by foreign governments. i talk to people, including heads of state, who say this is inexplicable, the fact that there are so few appointments. the pushback from the state department is that this administration, one official actually said to me, this administration takes more time because it cares so much about ethics, it takes more time to vet these nominees. >> and that's why they haven't nominat nominated anybody? >> there are some nominated in the pipeline. but if you talk to walter schaub, who quit in the department of ethics, this is hardly a serious investigation. look mike flynn, look at paul manafort. >> this was foretold from the earliest days of the
administration. do you think as a long time observer of these things that there is any method to this madness? is this them failing to create diplomatic capacity or is this them destroying american diplomatic capacity for some other reason? >> i don't know the reason, other than rex tillerson did come in with a mandate to cut fat. and there is fat and bloat anyway, but this isn't a rounding error of the state department budget. we'll hear from barack obama tomorrow in a q&a with little and melinda gates here in new york about foreign aid and development and what can be done privately. certainly in these questions one would think that the former president is going to speak out about what's happened. richard haas from the council on foreign relations said to me yesterday that this is just basically diplomatic malpractice in that so few jobs are filled. and that there is no diplomatic initiative on north korea. it's one thing to, you know, talk about the military deterrence.
we have to talk about that. and that should be a solid position. but you have to couple this rhetoric with real diplomacy. and that hasn't been done. >> andrea mitchell, nbc news chief foreign affairs correspondent and the hardest working woman in news. >> no, you are. >> i work slow. you work a lot. we'll be right back. it's easy to think that all money managers are pretty much the same. but while some push high commission investment products, fisher investments avoids them. some advisers have hidden and layered fees. fisher investments never does.
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endless shrimp is back at red lobster. and we went all out to bring you even more incredible shrimp and new flavors. like new nashville hot shrimp, drizzled with sweet amber honey, and new grilled mediterranean shrimp finished with a savory blend of green onions, tomatoes, and herbs. feeling hungry yet? good, 'cause there's plenty more where these came from. like garlic shrimp scampi, and other classics you love. as much as you want, however you want them. but hurry, endless shrimp won't be here long. quick update on the story we started the show with tonight. after the 7.1 earthquake south
of mexico city today, rescue effort are taking place right now, some being done by first responders as you would expect, but a lot of it is being done by ordinary people, pitching in, trying to find and free anybody they can who might be trapped in the rubble. we reported earlier that there were some four dozen buildings flattened in mexico city. the death toll from this major earthquake was 119 when we started the show. we said it was expected to rise. as of now, that prediction is coming true. the head of mexico's national civil defense agency now says 139 people are known to have died. but again, the rescue efforts continue as we speak in mexico city, in central mexico. that does it for us tonight. we will see you again tomorrow. time for "the last word with lawrence o'donnell." good evening, lawrence. >> good evening, rachel. so much breaking nukes on the russia investigation. we'll be joined by rob reiner who is part of a group that's created a new website debuting today that's tracking the russia investigation. i've been playing with it a