tv The 11th Hour With Brian Williams MSNBC December 7, 2017 8:00pm-9:00pm PST
>> the white house official explanation is that the president was just suffering briefly from dry mouth. and i for one am going to accept that explanation because it has happened to me and i'm sure it will again. but let's keep an eye on the president just in case in this one instance the white house isn't telling the truth. that's tonight's "last word." coming up, the president hits a new low in the pew approval poll, all next on "the 11th hour with brian williams." tonight, what the white house says about donald trump jr. invoking privilege. and the effort under way on the political right to attack and take down robert mueller before his work is done. al franken on his way out of the senate, reminding everyone the president's been accused of worse. and just hours after that, the arizona republican who says he's leaving congress because of conversations with female staffers. and the new polling numbers just out on the president's approval. and what he managed to get wrong
about a solemn day in american history. "the 11th hour" gets under way now. good evening once again from our nbc news headquarters here in new york. day 322 of the trump administration. and while the white house spent the day largely on defense in the russia investigation, the conservative wing of the republican party and associated media is on offense. they are taking on and attacking robert mueller's credibility. today, press secretary sarah huckabee sanders took questions about the mueller investigation, but mike flynn, about donald trump jr. specifically she was asked about the president's son invoking attorney-client privilege in not wanting to answer questions about conversations with his dad. >> has the president released him from any such privilege to allow him to speak to the committee? >> that's a question you would have to ask his attorneys. we believe his lawyers had a legitimate reason and basis for
not answering those questions. that's something i would direct you to his attorneys to address more fully. matthew? >> can you explain to me how it can be attorney/client privilege when neither donald trump jr. nor president trump are attorneys? >> again, that's something you would have to talk with don junior's attorneys about. >> on monday when the president became aware that michael flynn lied to the fbi, you referred her to john dowd. john dowd is not engaging on that. that's a knowable fact in this building, not a legal matter, not for the attorney to say. can you just tell us when the president became aware of that? >> the attorneys feel differently and feel this is a question that should be answered by them. i'll have to refer you back to john dowd again. >> does the white house believe that the fix was in, that robert mueller's probe was biased from the beginning? >> look, we are fully cooperating through this process. we're going to continue to do so. as i said a few minutes ago, we certainly felt like some of the political leadership at the fbi was problematic.
we're glad that director wray is there. we feel like he's going to clean up some of the messes left behind by his predecessor. >> and in the meantime, new polling numbers are out tonight. pew research asked people whether they thought senior trump officials had improper contacts with russia during the campaign. 59% said definitely or probably yes. 30% said definitely or probably not. they were also asked whether they're confident mueller's investigation will be conducted fairly. 56% said they were very or somewhat confident. when you break it down by political party, that made up 68% of democrats, 44% of republicans. as mueller's investigation progresses, a piece by "vanity fair" says republicans are keen to, as they put it, quote, play on right wing doubts about the investigation, so wing popular distrust and priming the public for an eventually flynn pardon or even a mueller takedown. that includes seizing on the news that mueller removed a top
fbi agent in his investigation, saying he may have shared text messages that were critical of trump. here is what the effort to take down mueller looks like in terms of the coverage on fox news. >> mueller's credibility is in the gutter tonight with these new discoveries. his conflicts of interest, his clear bias, the corruption are on full display. mueller is frankly a disgrace to the american justice system. and has put the country now on the brink of becoming a banana republic. >> mueller should be dismissed. the entire staff should be fired. and a new special counsel should be appointed. >> and here is what it looked like today in a hearing of the house judiciary committee. members were questioning the new fbi director, mr. wray, about the people who work for him and their potential anti-trump bias. history buffs will note the tone is familiar to the hunt for
communists almost 60 years ago. >> are you aware of any of the following people openly aligning themselves with the political bias expressed by mccabe or openly speaking against this administration? first, carl good afternoattis. >> i'll quarrel with the premise of your question with regard to deputy director mccabe. >> have you heard him open a line himself with political bias against the trump administration? >> no. >> josh skule. >> no. >> larissa mincer. >> i actually don't know what that is. >> okay. all right. thank you. fair enough. brian parman. >> no. >> i have begun to have serious doubts about some in the fbi, serious doubts about the integrity of some of the highest levels of the fbi.
did bob mueller recruit people to his probe that had a bias against the president? >> so that's what's going on in congress and in the media on this effort to diminish the mueller investigation and bob mueller. today, former bush white house aide and mccain presidential campaign senior adviser steve schmidt in this studio called out these attacks on robert mueller with perhaps the most robust defense of robert mueller you will ever hear. >> prosecutors in this country have tremendous power. and they should not be beyond criticism. but this isn't criticism. this is a premeditated, deliberate, dishonest smear of robert mueller, a man who has spent his entire life in public service, who is known if for nothing else his probity and his rectitude. and we should talk about his war record because he's put his life on the line for his country and he's conducted himself at all times as an honorable servant of
the american people. he is a recipient of the bronze star with the valor device. he is a recipient of the purple heart. he was wounded in combat for the united states. what you're seeing on fox news is inseparable from the type of propaganda you would be subjected to if you lived in bellarus or russia. it is dishonest, it is purposeful, it is misleading. to see republicans tie themselves to the mast on this, to bring such disrepute to the conservative movement, the republican party, the assaults on the rule of law, on our institutions. this will get worse before it gets better. that's a friend of this broadcast, lifelong republican steve schmidt.
e e e eli stokels is back with us. matt schmidt. and jennifer rogers returns to our broadcast. counselor, let's start with public integrity. i suppose this calls for a personal opinion from you. how does it make you feel to see louis gohmert, the texas republican, and others, going down a list of career professional law enforcement people? you're a former fed. those are your former colleagues. >> well, it's not okay. i mean, professional law enforcement people, professional prosecutors, are not subject to these kinds of attacks. you take an oath to uphold the law, to prosecute and to go where the facts lead you. it's not what you're used to, it's not what you should be
facing. >> how did it feel to wake up this weekend and see the president attacking the federal bureau of investigation? >> we've seen that before, it's not much of a surprise, he's been doing that since shortly before he fired jim comey. i think chris wray and his troops are ready for that. it's disheartening. director wray had to send a strong message to his people to buck them up when they're under attack from their own president. that's unprecedented. look, they're professionals, they get up, put on their boots and go out to do their job. they try to ignore those sorts of things, they try to stay above the politics and just go about their business. and this is now for the lawyer in you, what do you make of this attorney/client privilege. is there something we're not understanding about this? >> attorney/client privilege is a very fact-specific inquiry always. you need to know the facts. it's not entirely clear to me
whether this is a justified privilege claim or not. one of the things you need to know is who the lawyers were. you need to know whether the conversation was seeking legal advice or not. you're not allowed to just carry a lawyer around with you to always claim privilege whenever you don't want to give information about a conversation you're having. on the other hand, if the president and his son were truly discussing with a lawyer what had happened in this meeting with the russians for the purpose of seeking legal advice, then there could be a legitimate privilege claim. it's just a little bit too early to tell. >> matt miller, how concerned are you really about this effort on the right? and we showed the clip from fox news, we showed part of that hearing in the house today, to diminish, to attack, to take down robert mueller? >> it's extremely troubling for two reasons. one is the immediate impact. i think it's very clear what the president is now the entire republican party is trying to do, and that's undermine bob mueller with the long term goal that when he finishes his investigation, if he comes back and makes any finding of
wrongdoing that involves the president, that the president's base and the president's base in the country and his supporters in congress can either dismiss that finding or will support bob mueller being fired. that's one troubling aspect. but there's a more insidious long term impact of this, and that is when you are constantly attacking law enforcement, attacking the fbi, the justice department, in bad faith, and let's be very clear, the members of congress making these attacks know that they're dishonest attacks, you're undermining the credibility that those fbi agents, that those prosecutors need when they intact with the interact with the public. that has long term effect on their ability to do their job and makes this cynical campaign they've been launching so harmful to the country. >> eli stokels, i happen to know about some of your blue ribbon reporting today. tell us what you've gathered from talking to associates about
the president's state of mind right now and in particular about his attitudes toward mueller and the investigation. >> well, the president hasn't tweeted much this week and has seemed sort of calm on the surface since the tweet storm over the weekend. the people who have been having conversations with the president this week, a lot of them have been communicating that he needs to be much more defensive and on guard against this mueller probe. and they are letting him know they are going to be taking a message to the airwaves that is going to, as you laid out, start attacking bob mueller and his integrity and the credibility of this investigation, because there is that sense that it could be moving toward some sort of obstruction of justice case. i asked one trump loyalist who is often a tv surrogate, very close to bannon, close to hope hicks, i asked tonight, what is it about comey -- or what is it about mueller that actually you think is corrupt? this person said to me, well, he's best friends with comey.
newt gingrich is on tv saying that mueller is corrupt now. when mueller was appointed, we all know newt gingrich tweeted that he was a superb choice, had impeccable credentials and republicans should calm down. what's changed? mueller has gotten closer to the president as this probe has gone on. although trump and sarah sanders when they speak publicly on this matter say we're fully cooperating, they deflect all the legal questions to the legal team, they don't want to talked about it. but all around the president, his closest allies are starting to really go after bob mueller. i think that reveals some nerves as this thing gets closer maybe to an end game. >> jennifer, will mueller and i think the 16 associate counsels he's hired, will chris wray, the new director of the fbi, all be able to fold themselves into their work and shut out the noise? because that will be essential to the work product they eventually submit to the american people. >> i think so. i mean, they've probably never
had an investigation with quite this much public attention. but they're all used to high profile investigations, and having to kind of put their head down and do their work. i think they'll be able to do that. one interesting thing is, they're working legal issues, right, and working on counterintelligence issues. they're not working on political issues. this attack on mule certificate mueller is based on politics, not based on law. if they stay focused on the law and try to ignore all the political kind of nonsense that's going on, then they'll be fine, and that's what i'm sure they're trying to do. >> matt and eli, i need quick answers because we're late for a break. give us a viewer's guide, matt, you're first, what you're looking for, mindful that careers have been destroyed with bad projections on this broadcast, what you're looking for in the next couple of days. >> i want to see what's coming next for what bob mueller's got from mike flynn.
i don't know if we'll see it in the next few days or by the end of the year. the information from mike flynn is going to guide bob mueller's next steps and guide his most important questions and the witnesses we know he's still interviewing, people close to the president like hope hicks. >> flynn is one of the few people who knows where this is go exactly. eli? >> i'm watching the president, watching his twitter feed, as we all are. when he's nervous and scared, backed into a corner, he lashes out on twitter and sometimes makes his own situation worse. he's going to be in mississippi on saturday. we'll see what happens as this goes forward. if for news leaks out, the first thing you watch is how does trump react to it, because eventually that reaction always comes. >> great points all around. eli stokols, matthew miller, jennifer rogers, thanks for making up our lead-off panel tonight. next, the wildfires in california. and the ethics scandal continues its tear through
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his history of sexual assault sits in the oval office. and a man who has repeatedly preyed on young girls campaigns for the senate with the full support of his party. >> the intentionally ironic title of al franken's latest book is "giant of the senate." al franken, who once worked in this building, one time "saturday night live" star who made the leap to successful politician, announced today he will soon be a former u.s. senator, while firing a parting shot there at the president and republicans accused of sexual misconduct. franken, a second term minnesota democrat, faced the same accusations from at least seven women, the first emerging about three weeks ago now. 35 of his fellow democratic senators had called upon him to step down. and his announcement comes a few days after congressman john conyers, democrat from michigan, seniormost man in the house,
ended his five-decade career on the hill over accusations of harassment. then just hours after senator franken's announcement today came congressman trent franks, republican of arizona. he also said he was resigning after admitting he had spoken with two former female staffers about his interest in finding a surrogate. it came after the house ethics committee began an investigation into this. congressman francs issued a statement late this afternoon saying in part, i have absolutely never physically intimidated, coerced, or had any sexual experience with any member of the my staff. he said, my wife and i have long suffered with infertility. we pursued adoption on more than one occasion only to have the adoptive mothers in each case change their mind prior to giving birth. this is all unfolding against the backdrop of roy moore's campaign to win a seat in the
u.s. senate from alabama. today the president will hold a rally in pensacola, florida, less than 20 miles from the alabama state line, well within media reach of many of the state's voters. this has presented what some might call an optics issue for the president and his party. our own kristen welker brought it up today in the briefing room. >> we've seen democrats forcefully call for john conyers' resignation, al franken's resignation, which happened today. do republicans and does this president risk losing their moral authority on this issue, which is a huge issue right now, by endorsing a candidate like roy moore which has now been backed by the rnc as well? >> look, i've addressed this in depth. we think that the allegations are troubling and that ultimately this is something that the people of alabama should decide. >> to talk about this tonight, two of our friends are back with us, jonathan allen, nbc news national political reporter, and co-author of "shattered: the story of hillary clinton's
doomed campaign," also indira lakshmanan is back with us, welcome to you both. jonathan, i saw someone on twitter tonight say to members of congress, batten down the hatches. is this, to continue that metaphor, a sea change? >> absolutely. it's a sea change. we saw just last week, i spoke to a number of senators on the democratic side who were basically saying they wanted to see the ethics process play out on al franken. by wednesday, three dozen of them, almost three dozen of them had come out and called on him to resign. john conyers resigned earlier this week as well. there's absolutely been a sea change. this national reckoning we're having across all sorts of industries is now focused on the capitol and focused on politics. i don't expect that this wave is going to break anytime soon. >> indeer i can deedee deindira
congress? are they catching up? are they in the middle? or is any speculate of washington ahead, alarmedly, of societal change in this country? >> i would say that congress is probably a little bit behind the curve of what we're seeing in the media, which has really sort of stepped forward and had to take account. but that makes perfect sense. we in the media hold other people accountable. we have to hold ourselves accountable first. we haven't seen the same kinds of resignations in big pharma or business or universities quite yet. i'm sure that will be coming. i want to say on congress that one of the things i think is most striking about this is that it was women, led by senator kirsten gillibrand of new york who has made sexual assault her issue, who led the calls for al franken to resign. one thing that we haven't talked enough about is the fact that one-third of the democratic caucus in the senate are women,
whereas fewer than one tenth of the republican caucus are women. and i think that this makes a big difference, you know, along with overall the party leaders' stance in why al franken was called on to resign and why you see the rnc and president trump still backing roy moore, not to mention blake farenthold in congress for that matter, who used taxpayer money to settle a sex harassment complaint from one of his former staffers. >> indira, you're so right where senator gillibrand is concerned. she started with sexual assault in the u.s. military and reporting procedures and chain of command. and if you think about it, it's the same issues writ large now for all of congress. jonathan, the two parties are dealing with this, you could say, differently. i heard democrats today on television calling conyers and franken in effect human
sacrifices because they need to have the moral high ground. do you buy that? >> i think that's -- i think that they are trying to get to the moral high ground on this. as indira points out, there are many more women in the democratic caucus in the senate and the house. what happened for the democrats is it became, with their own constituents, and certainly with the women in their caucuses, it became much more politically painful for them to stand by al franken and john conyers than it was to abandon them. i think the morality and the politics here are intertwined in a way that really can't be sort of disambiguated, right? i think in order to have the moral high ground, or in order to have the political high ground they have to feel like they have the moral high ground. sometimes, occasionally, the political high ground and the moral high ground are actually the same thing. >> so indira, this is the tough question. what are you looking for next, how broad does this get, and what's the chance that innocent
lives get entangled in this? >> well, look. i want to say first of all, in terms of representative trent franks, footage you showed of him and you talked about him and his wife's infertility, of course we all feel for them in that. but i would also say i suspect there may be more to this story because if it were simply a question of discussing infertility in his office, i doubt that paul ryan would have asked him to resign over that. as i said, where we see blake farenthold standing firm in his case. so, you know, there may still be more coming out on all this. where i would look for the next steps is i would like to see how women in the republican party change their view, and if they're willing to change their view. i say that because as one of my "boston globe" colleagues points out, it was white women who made one of the deciding factors in donald trump being elected president despite the "access hollywood" tape. in fact white women in alabama are strongly, a strong majority,
for roy moore. so we may see here that it is actually women who may make a difference in bringing men who are accused, sexual predators, against whom there are many, many allegations, not just one, and very credible ones, you know, are they going to change their mind? because why should the party leaders be holding people accountable if the voters from their party are not holding those same men accountable? >> important point to end on. strong stuff. terrible topic tonight. gang, thank you so much to jonathan and indira for coming by the broadcast again. coming up for us, some unforced errors from the white house as america marks a date which will live in infamy, when "the 11th hour" continues. we come into this world needing others. ♪ then we are told it's braver to go it alone. ♪ but there is another way to live.
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this was pearl harbor day. if you're the leader of this nation, it's hard to screw up pearl harbor day. it's the day we salute the sacrifice of those killed in the sneak attack by japan. we modeurn the dead, salute the survivors, mark the u.s. entry into world war ii. this day in history later defined america as the dominant power in the modern world. yet despite all that i just said, the president and first lady both managed to get it wrong today. the first lady on twitter got the date wrong by a month, later corrected. the
president got fdr's quote
wrong. it was a date which will live in infamy. then came time for the president to host
some pearl harbor survivors. >> as we remember that fateful day, it's an incredible honor to be joined here with surviving veterans of the attack on pearl harbor. and you'll be here for the next seven years with me, okay? all right? seven years. after that, who knows? you saw something that few people have ever witnessed before. amazing. thanks, mickey. you look like you're about 50 years old. you must have been very young. that was a pretty wild scene, you'll never forget that, right? one great battle cry could be heard by american friends and kn foes alike. remember pearl harbor, have you heard that before a couple of times? >> here to talk about what we
just witnessed, long time gop strategist mike murphy. different gop then, he worked for john mccain and mitt romney among others. here in new york, eugene robinson, pulitzer price winning columnist for "the washington post" and we're happy to say an msnbc political analyst. eugene, it's hard to screw up pearl harbor day. >> pretty wild scene, wasn't it? i never heard pearl harbor described as a pretty wild scene. this was a ceremony, you know, annually we remember pearl harbor day. this is a ceremony we remember for all the wrong reasons. we'll remember it for donald trump, president trump, in his way, inserting himself, making himself the central actor in pearl harbor. >> it's hard to do. >> it's hard to do. >> i saw the movie. >> you saw that ceremony today and he did it. and also, maybe it's just me,
there was something sort of off about not just the way he inserted himself, which was one thing, but also the way he read the proclamation, as if he were encountering it for the first time. there was no sort of -- it was very unfocused and very sort of disjointed. in an odd way. >> so mike murphy, in the wake of these polling numbers from the pew poll, and everyone acknowledges, you know, it's not like larry's polling. these are some of the best number crunchers and consensus getters in the business. is it these small things that's bringing down these numbers? or is it waking up over the weekend and seeing the president of the united states attacking our federal bureau of investigation? what do you think is doing it? >> well, it's interesting. it is a very legitimate poll. i think it's a mix. i think part of it is kind of what i like to call the screwball presidency, trump
zigzagging around, nobody really in charge, something eating up the news cycle every day, half of which seems badly thought through, some things are about policy. the whole tone of it. the interesting thing about that poll, his numbers with democrats haven't changed but he's down to about a 32% approval rating, but among evangelical protestants, a big group of the voters who elected him, he's gone down 17 bones. that's a bone fracture. that shows a real problem. he's dropped ten points down to a third of the vote with catholics which gets to those kind of blue collar workers he got in the great lakes states. finally, among all women his approval rating has gone from a third back in february, which is bad, down to 25%, which is a dumpster fire. so i think it's all adding up and the polling is showing that. he may be seeing those bad numbers, because today at the pearl harbor thing he kept making it about him in seven
years, which i think shows what's really on his mind, that bravado, that he always responds to criticism with fear. >> eugene, he announced the intention to move the embassy in the middle east. on substance today, we had violence in the middle east. on the subject that emerged from that event was the president's health. we'll show why and we'll show the white house reacting today and then we're going to talk about it. >> and finally i ask the leaders of the region, political and religious, israeli and palestinian, jewish and christian and muslim, to join us in the noble quest for lasting peace. god bless the united shtatesh. >> i know there were a lot of questions on that, frankly pretty ridiculous questions, the president's throat was dry, nothing more than that.
>> gene, people got rattled watching it in realtime. they get rattled watching it again. the president's health is now back in the conversation. >> just do the thought experiment. if i started talking like that right now, you would be concerned, if, you know, uncle fred sitting on the couch next to you at home started talking like that, you would think about calling 911, you would be concerned. and again, there is -- i don't think that -- i think the slurring of words is something we haven't seen. what i think we've seen is a loss of focus at times, as if he's very tired. reading from the prompter as if he's really tired and isn't quite connecting the thoughts together. now, perhaps i'm projecting. but perhaps not. i do think i see this. and i wonder if other people
don't see it as well. >> mike murphy, last word. do you cast modesty aside and tell the folks watching at home why you did the impossible and received a lot of love this week on social media because of a donation you made. >> well, i love the republican party and the conservative movement. i've worked for them since i was in college a million years ago. so i made a small contribution to doug jones in alabama, as did some of my old consultant operative colleagues from the old mccain 2000 campaign and some younger republican consultants who are too young to know better, we all said, look, we're loyal republicans but we cannot have roy moore in the united states senate, it's a stain on the party, he's not qualified. so we supported publicly, in a natural act for guys like us who have worked for the party a long time, doug jones, the democratic alternative inial halve it's the only honorable choice. >> terrific conversation, gentlemen, you know you're allowed back here any time. thank you both. the big headline from your
congress today, the government has been funded and will continue to run for two more weeks. now as they turn to the tax bill, as they say, what could go wrong? that when "the 11th hour" continues. david. what's going on? oh hey! ♪ that's it? yeah. ♪ everybody two seconds! ♪ "dear sebastian, after careful consideration of your application, it is with great pleasure that we offer our congratulations on your acceptance..." through the tuition assistance program, every day mcdonald's helps more people go to college. it's part of our commitment to being america's best first job. ♪ america's small business owners. and here's to the heroes behind the heroes, who use their expertise to keep those businesses covered.
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we're all here as a very friendly, well-unified group. it's a well-knit-together group of people. and we hope we're going to make some great progress for our country. i think that will happen. >> what a conciliatory tone from the president during that meeting at the white house just a day after commenting the government could shut down and that it would be the democrats' fault if it did. chuck schumer, nancy pelosi in the oval office to talk about the year-end agenda. congress passed a continuing resolution today which avoids a government shutdown this week. it also sets up a funding showdown, you guessed it, just before christmas. that bill will need at least some democratic votes to get across. and republicans are hoping to get their tax bill passed before the new year. back with us, eli stokols, who
has agreed to stick around, and we welcome back to the broadcast darlene superville, white house reporter for associated press. darlene, they go down to the white house. was this, this kicking the can down the road, which is really a washington export to the rest of the world, was this a victory for the dems? just thinking through this, because as you get close to christmas, you don't want to stand between capitol hill and national airport as christmas approaches. you'll get killed by the cars going out to the airport. does this force the republicans' hand to maybe make a deal they don't want to make? >> that's probably what democrats are hoping for. this happens all the time when we get around to the end of the year and congress is faced with budget dilemmas. they kick the can down the road for a week or two at a time and we come back and do it all over again. >> eli, "washington post" is reporting that the president's new york-based rich friends have
made their displeasure about the tax bill known. it's apparently going to hurt new yorkers who have money especially. the president has apparently, quote, signaled he's open to making some changes. do you believe it? >> yeah, i mean, the president has always been open to responding to whoever the last person was to be in his ear. and clearly this is a bill that's written to do some harm to blue states more so than red states. so it's understandable. trump has said that a lot of his friends are not going to like that bill, he said it's bad for him. we don't know if that's actually true, we know very little about his income and his tax returns. but, you know, this is also something in terms of the shutdown, the politics of all this being intertwined. republicans believe that whatever the flexibility the president has, whatever happens in the conference committee, that pushing this two weeks out does buy them a little time to make sure that they get that big legislative win that they're looking for by the end of the year. >> and darlene, i won't ask you to make a personal prediction,
but perhaps offer percentage chance that we actually see a signed-into-law tax bill by the end of calendar year 2017. >> i think there's a good chance for that. it's something that the republicans and the president both really want. and one of the advantages to the government not shutting down this weekend is that lawmakers can continue to work on trying to iron out differences between the house version of the tax bill and the senate version of the tax bill. >> eli, last word. did i hear they're actually going to put forth an infrastructure plan in january? >> their eyes are getting big, they think they're almost to the finish line on one thing and they'll start another thing. there is talk that infrastructure will she tbe the focus in the early part of next year. >> eli and darlene, thanks for coming on tonight. coming up for us, a first in the state of california this
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we want to update the situation in southern california, tonight. five major fires continue to burn. the winds are on the increase and the los angeles fire department's so-called burn index, the likelihood of fire, is the highest it's ever been. over 300 schools are closed, don't forget. almost 200,000 people are out of their homes and on the run. and 23,000 homes remain in the path of the fires now burning. the largest of them, in ventura county, has torn through over 115,000 acres, on its slow march to the pacific. this is what visibility has been like. look at this. this is our knbc chopper coming
in for a landing to refuel. at times, because of the smoke, you can't see the ground until you're on top of it. today, california use the cell phone alert system to notify 22 million people they were in the extreme fire dabnger area. that encokenencompasses seven counties. chief, thank you for being with us. to an audience of folks not in california, how do you describe the santa ana winds. >> first of all, thank you for having me, brinan. >> the santa ana winds are something we're faced with. but this is a strong wind. they're amazing. we've been faced with winds upwards of 80 miles per hour. it pushes the winds hard to the
east and pushes the fires to the west. >> we saw from san diego, an ember of something dropped in the middle of a mostly retirement community. houses close together. 20 of them went up before anyone could do anything about it. it's a truly helpless feeling to watch all this, especially out here in the east. and we look at the air assets. knowing the special courage of the air crews and pilots, watching the flame retardant, the water, get dropped. do you have all you need? if you could wave a magic wand, would you bring about 30 more aircraft overnight? >> we have what we need, as far as aircraft goes. if i could wave a magic wand, it would be to turn off mother nature's fan. that would be my wish. but the acts are heroic, who the pilots do and what the firefighters do on the ground. our resources are stretched
thin. we are making do with what we have. we want to evacuate in front of the fire. >> there's tired and firefighter tired. tell me the shifts your men and women are working. do you have visiting departments come in to fill in? and how are they doing? >> we do. we have 2,600 firefighters on the line. they rotate shifts in 24-hour shifts. in the beginning they were working 48 and 36 hours. they were just exhausted. there is a definition of firefighter tired. and these men and women don't have the word quit in their dictionary. they didn't on this fire, the thomas fire. >> you have to be an optimist by nature in a job like yours. as tired as you all are, if i forced you to tell us some good news, has anything turned for the better? >> for sure. the winds didn't materialize as we expected.
so, it's giving us a little bit of an opportunity. and we're happy to take every opportunity we get. it's ironic when the east winds stop plblowing the onshore wind start blowing and it blouse everything right back into our face. >> chief, everybody in your county, everybody up and down the southern california coastline, in our thoughts and prayers. can't thank you enough for work you've all been doing. thank you for finding time to talk with us. >> thank you very much, brian. thank you for sure ouharing our. coming up, south koreas trying to sell the quickly approaching winter olympics are not getting help from the white house. we'll explain when we continue.
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one tiny, insignificant detail about these winter game, they're taking place 50 miles from the north korean border. so, there is some sensitivity surrounding these games in pyeongchang, south korea. things were not helped when sarah huckabee sanders at the white house briefing said from the podium that, quote, no official decision has been made on sending team usa to the games. she later clarified via twitter. quote, the u.s. looks forward to participating in the winter olympics in south korea. there is concern among cooler heads, that a u.s. boycott would only hurt the host country of south korea, our ally, and would only give kim jong-un of north korea the satisfaction of having scared off the world's leading superpower. so, there's that. that is our broadcast on a thursday night. thank you so very much for being here with us. good night, from nbc news headquarters here in new york.
a lot of news has broken tonight. the judge overseeing the case of trump national security advisor mike flynn that plead guilty to lying to the fbi and became a cooperating witness with the robert mueller investigation, the judge in the mike flynn case has recused himself from that case. we don't know the basis of the judge's recusal. we do know the consequences of it. the way these things work, there's been a random lottery, a random drawing from the judges in that district, who will figure out who will pick up the case, to replace j