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tv   MSNBC Live With Katy Tur  MSNBC  March 2, 2018 11:00am-12:00pm PST

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that wraps up this hour of "msnbc live." join me at 2:00 p.m. on msnbc. my colleague steve kornacki takes over from here. >> thank you for that and good afternoon, everybody. or good morning on the west coast where it is still 11:00 a.m. 2:00 p.m. in washington. we are following lots of breaking news from this afternoon. white house chief of staff john kelly just had a surprise briefing with reporters at the white house. kelly talking about security clearances, former staff secretary rob porter and the allegations made by his ex-wives. we'll have more on what the chief of staff had to say in just a moment. meanwhile, the picture emerging from the white house is
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a wild one. in the last five days we've seen high-profile departures the president stripping his son-in-law of the top-level security clearance. a white house that may be spinning out of control. axios reports of the president, quote, his staff at times managed to talk him off the ledge. no more. tired of the restraints, trump is reveling in ticking off just about every person. that is in reference to an abrupt move from trump on the issue of trade, one he made apparently all by himself and is unnerving wall street. >> the commander in chief capitalizing on the chaos within his administration by promising unilateral action on tariffs. >> all this hysteria has a lot to do about nothing.
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>> the markets are dropping. the president is being pushed by republicans, by business leaders, not in the steel industry, to do something doifrt change his mind. here he is saying basically heck no to everybody who wants him to reconsider this. >> if this is chaos, i think the american people are glad for it because we just passed the biggest tax cuts in history. >> the president now saying that he plans to impose tariffs on steel and alumni and took to twitter to say he would be fine with a trade war. that news has extent markets diving for two days now. it also could be the final straw for gary kohn, the president's economic adviser who has threatened to quit. then there is the issue much guns. mixed signals emerging. the president first encouraging lawmakers to push for more gun control, but now nra is saying it met with trump and they are on the same page. of course, it is still just friday afternoon. if we learned anything these
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past few weeks, well, a lot could still happen on a friday afternoon. all these developments lead to our big question for this afternoon. if chaos is the rule for the trump presidency, then what can chaos accomplish? let's get right to it with a team of reporters. peter alexander is at the white house. philip rucker social security white house bureau chief for "the washington post," and betsy wood rough is a politics report for the daily beast. and former deputy chief of staff and lecturer at berkeley law. let's start with peter alexander. the news of the hour is that surprise believing for the white house chief of staff john kelly again questions about rob porter. what did he learn from john kelly. >> as we heard from john kelly and his largely off-the-record
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meeting, some of much was allowed for release, he detailed what is a new timeline about exactly what he knew and when regarding rob porter. he says on that day he was a man of true integrity, but he only knew the allegations of emotional abuse from one of the former ex-wives of porter, that he had no knowledge about any physical abuse allegations from rob porter's ex-wives before he made that public statement praising porter. he said porter at the time resigned and then a couple hours later when kelly learned about these physical abuse allegations, that's when he confirmed as he told us in no uncertain terms that porter would be departing. i was struck by one of the quotes. he said we didn't cover ourselves in glory in how we handled that on that day. he said it was confusing. in effect, john kelly says -- because one of the questions was why the white house was still
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standing by porter for 24 hours after the photo of a black eye came out. kelly saying he should have donna better job communicating it to the staff. the white house has become aware this allegations existed. others within the west wing, john kelly effectively said that christopher wray the white house had been communicated this information months ago, but that kelly said it was not information that he had ever received. again, this is reigniting new questions about the internal process of the white house. steve, right now storms are brewing in the northeast, this nor'easter. the winds are how long. feels like a metaphor for what's been going on in this west wing for quite a while now. >> peter alexander at the white house. peter, stand by. some breaking news here to report to you as well from our colleagues here at nbc news. carol lee, julia ainsley, they
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are reporting the headline. mueller asking if kushner business ties influenced white house policy. from the reporting here, special counsel robert mueller's team asked witnesses about jared kushner's efforts to secure financing for his real estate properties, focusing on his executions during the transition with individuals from qatar, turkey, russia, and had the united arab emirates. that news just breaking in the last few minutes here on nbc news. let me bring in philip rucker. you reported recently about jared kushner, maybe a diminished role for him in this administration. the news this week that that top-level security clearance now has been stripped from him. what can you add to this breaking reporting we have here? >> it's just another controversy
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involving the presidential son-in-law who has seen his role diminished substantially. he's isolated inside the administration right now. his colleagues are mocking him. he's lost some of the power that he once wielded in those early days of the presidency. however, he continues to oversee the peace in the middle east process. and so it's obviously an area of scrutiny and has been for sometime publicly. as your colleagues are reporting, it appears to be an area of scrutiny for the mueller investigation as well. >> betsy, we're going to try to get one of the reporters who broke that story for nbc news on with us when i'm we scramble to do that, let me bring in betsy woodruff here. the question of the overall story line emerging from the administration this week. we talk about this news on
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trade. the president now saying he's going to impose tariffs. you have this jared kushner news, then hope hicks, her departure. in terms of this question of chaos with this administration, on the one day hand, by the standards of past administrations, this would be a very chaotic week. by the standards of this presidency and the campaign donald trump ran, this is sort of what he was as a candidate, wasn't it? >> that's right. and i think what we've seen in the past week is the reason that so many of these stories about white house personnel that often sound border line tabloid are actually so important. that's because all this personnel chaos, all this resolving door staff turnover has an actual quantifiable impact on these serious policy issues. there's been a lot of reporting pointing to the fact that the implementation or the
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announcement of these new steel and alumni tariffs came after rob porter left the white house. there's a chance if he had kept the president's ear and things were stable, if the president in the first place had put together a team that was fundamentally stable, then it's possible the president wouldn't have made this announcement that's having an impact as we speak on the stock market. all these stories about turmoil in the west wing, people coming in and out, tension in the family, it's not just inside baseball d.c. gossip. these personnel matters have an impact on the way the government works, how the most powerful man in the world does things. >> you've been an insider in the clinton administration. let me ask you. maybe intentionally, or unintentionally, but when we talk about this atmosphere of chaos and this unpredictability and these balls that are in the
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air, could there be a method to that in that it helps the administration advance an agenda somehow? or is it all downside from the administration standpoint? >> i am hard pressed to find any positive or upside to this management style. and i want to echo what betsy said. we may we understood from the way trump manages his companies that it's chaos. heads roll and only the strong survive. i would ask the american people to really try to inside that this is not inside baseball, that this is, in fact, affecting their lives. it's astonishing to me that there is a public battle going on between the attorney general and the president. and i am counting and hoping -- i have no love for jeff sessions, but if he can stand up and remember that his client are
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the american people, the institutions. by the way, congress has a role to play. they are a check on the imperial power of this president. and i am looking to see when are the republicans really going to stand up and do what they need to do for the american people? >> we were going to try to get more for you on this breaking news about jared kushner. federal investigators scrutinizing his business discussions with foreigners during the transition period between the election in 2016 and the start of the presidency. whether that later shaped white house policies. joining me now for more, nbc news national security reporter julia ainsley. just take us through what you know, please. >> sure, steve. what's important here is that there were meetings during during the transition. this is a point where kushner knew he was going to need to pull back from his financial interests and his fema's real estate firm. and he knew he would be having an influential position in the
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white house. so it wasn't quite clear what that would be yet. he had a number of meetings with officials and just foreign nationals from other countries such as qatar, turkey, the uae and china as he was desperately trying to get financing for his building, 666 5th avenue that was in debt. now mueller is looking at whether he was influenced by how these dealings went. for example, his probing the qatarry meeting, there was a meeting that he had when someone who goes by the name of hbj and mueller is trying to figure out if that person decided not to put up that financing later influenced the foreign policy. as we know in the spring trump came out and endorsed a black aide from the nation's neighborhoods qatar. they decided they wanted to block them because they funded terrorism. it really took a lot of people by surprise when the president came out and took that strong
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position. now we're wondering is it because jared kushner was influenced and he wanted to retaliate against them for not financing his building. we understand that robert mueller has tried to reach out to turkish nationals. it's not clear that the qatarrys or the turks have decided to cooperate. it's difficult to get foreign nationals to cooperate, especially if they themselves are not the targets. it's not like you can bring them through extradition. because they have to come forward voluntarily. it's painting this web and it's showing that robert mueller is very much interested in jared kushner's business dealings with foreign governments and whether or not he was then influenced by those dealings once he got into the white house. >> julia, do we know how this
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particular development in the investigation balances with the mandate to look into the issue of russia rolling the 2016 campaign, potential collusion with the trump campaign? this particular aspect of it is now going into jared kushner's business. this is something president trump indicated in the past he might have a problem with. but taking that aside, temple the mandate of this investigation, how does this balance with that? >> you think about the mandate, it always said anything that my arise in the courts of that investigation. this is something that has arisen as the special counsel has looked through the financial dealings of jared kushner and other people who were in the white house. he wants to see how foreign governments are influencing this white house. the same thing led him into the direction of figuring out how tur turkish nationals interacted with michael flynn.
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if they've been allowed to be influenced. so it's not just that robert mueller isn't allowed to look beyond russia, beyond the campaign and has to put blinders on. he can look into anything that may arise. and he also has resources beyond his office. he can work with fbi counterintelligence and legal attache offices overseas. he can even lob that off and have other divisions, other field offices look into this. but we know based on questions that witnesses have been asked in recent weeks that he is interested in every piece of this, steve. >> the president has made comments about the idea of this investigation extended beyond russia, beyond collusion, beyond those questions and potentially into areas of business that perhaps he would see that as grounds to step in and shut it down. betsy woodruff, this reporting is suggest this is going into one of those areas, the
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president didn't want it going into. >> without a doubt. that said, has julia pointed out, it's within mueller's mandate. his mandate is quite broad to look at matters that arise from this investigation. that said, i think an important piece to understand is about coordination between people in trump's orbit and russia is that we've known since even before mueller was put in place as special counsel that this story was going to be all about money. when you look at the history of trump's conversations with folks in russia, his visit to moscow in 2013 for the miss universe pageant, so many people in his orbit had conversations related to business dealings with very powerful individuals in russia. it's not just a question perhaps of ideological sympathies or trump seems to have an appreciation for putin's positive comments about him. all these relationships are always informed by a financial back story. that's part of the reason that
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months ago we would learn that mueller was working with irs financial investigators with some of the most sophisticated law enforcement officials who focus solely on financial crimes because anytime you're looking at something that has this type of scope and involves this many people, no matter what, money's always going to be an issue. >> can i get in there? >> chuck, thanks for joimning u. what is your read into the story? >> interesting stuff. i think julia and betsy have sort of nailed it. look, if you do something or fail to do something in an official position based on your personal financial interests, that's a crime. not only am i not surprised bob mueller is looking at this, it would be incredible if he wasn't. any u.s. attorney, by the way, in the country that has venue over this case, and there are probably many, because venue is
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an elastic concept, it's fully within bob mueller's remit. it's something he should be doing. it's also very disturbing. we don't expect our politicians or those who staff our politicians to be trading or fore going trades. >> right. perhaps obviously the keyword there. based on this reporting this whole issue -- you mentioned the term conflict of interest. we talked about that a lot with jared kushner and the trump family, with this administration in many different instances, the idea of you are elected, you joined an administration that's been elected, and you put your private business to the side. you put it completely off to the side. this is part of the reason for that. >> you know, steve, frankly, we sometimes talk about it like it's nuanced or layered or very
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complicated. it's not. this is an incredibly simple thing to do. there's a line and you don't get near it. if you have a personal financial interest or a familial interest or something else that could call into question your decision making as a public official, then you recuse yourself from that matter. it's really not complicated. >> philip rucker, going back to that time, this is the transition period we're talking about. the campaign in 2016, looking ate from afar, maybe this is true of a lot of folks around donald trump, maybe jared kushner wasn't expecting at the start to join the administration. >> that's right. but by the time donald trump got elected in november of 2016, it was very clear that jared kushner was going to play a big role in shaping this government. he functioned in that period almost as a secretary of state.
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he was a conduit for anyone trying to gain access, they went through jared kushner. they had meetings with jared kushner, they called jared kushner to get to meet his father-in-law. and then when they moved into the white house for several months, jared kushner continued that role as a conduit for foreign leaders, and in particular, those in the middle east, china, and mexico. and so his role now has diminished a little bit, but he was a major player in foreign affairs for this government and during the transition phase. that's why mueller is so interested in his business dealings at the same time. >> chuck, it's funny. we just followed this entire story of mueller and this investigation. we get a sense that we know where it's going. we think we can put in a frame how he's operating and then we get a development like this that puts it into a different direction. do you have a sense just looking in like the rest of us at this investigation, is this an investigation that continues to widen or slow down and wrap up
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at some point? what does this tell you about where mueller is in the course of things? what do you think? >> this piece of it isn't terribly surprising for the following reason. we've understood from media reports that kushner has sort of deep and broad financial interests around the world. so if he's going to serve as a qua quasi secretary of state. either he's going to recuse himself, or he's going to step in it, which may well have happened. i've used this analogy before. the mueller submarine surfaces and we see something new. but this is not that surprising. if you're not incredibly careful with the conflicts of interest you bring into public life, then this is what you should expect to see happen. >> betsy, we said at the start that it's only 2:00 on a friday.
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there is still time for more news. there are still more developments that could come this week. this is just another example. we talk about all of the headlines this week for this administration, all things we thought at the end of the week we would say this is the story of the week or this was the story of the week. when you get a story like this, how much is immediately fortune that you had been talking about right up until that moment. >> exactly. i think that's part of the reason it's important look at this new information we have thanks to julia's great reporting in broader historical context. trump announced he's going to be running for re-election in 2020. since we're talking elections already, this news is one of the central themes of the 2016 election, which was criticism on the part of republicans in large part trump himself or hillary clinton over her financial dealings. the clinton foundation was a central part of how republicans argued against her and for trump. they said that her financial
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dealings were too complicated, that she had conflicts of interest, that she didn't separate herself enough from her role in the state department and that because of that she was corrupt. there was even a book, "clinton cash" she was she was too close financially to the decisions she was making in government. now we see a situation with jared kushner unfolding where the parallels are unmistakable. this is a situation where someone who comes from a financially complex and interesting background. kushner companies bought 666 5th avenue, this massive building in manhattan at the worst possible time too make that kind of purchase right before the housing bubble popped. subsequently jared kushner found himself in a position in the white house of simultaneously having an extraordinary amount of influence over political decision making and having some extraordinary complex financial problems on the part of his family company. while he's taken steps back from
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the family company, it's his family business. he talks to his father every day and he's involved in these conversations. it's easy to get lost in the churn, but speaking broadly, the parallels and the irony here stands out. >> betsy woodruff and julia ainsley, philip pump, chuck rosenberg, thank you for joining us. i appreciate you all rolling with us. there are many other pressing issues that are playing out as we speak. we're going to dive next to nbc news exclusive reporting on the president and his now of those controversial new tariffs. what it was that led him to surprise all of washington, certainly a surprise to wall street with that news. the president was angry and, quote, unglued. stephanie ruhle will join me next.
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you know what's not awesome? gig-speed internet. when only certain people can get it. let's fix that. let's give this guy gig- really? and these kids, and these guys, him, ah. oh hello. that lady, these houses! yes, yes and yes. and don't forget about them. uh huh, sure. still yes! xfinity delivers gig speed to more homes than anyone. now you can get it, too. welcome to the party. reporting on president trump's mindset when he decided to impose tariffs on steel and alumni imports. according to our own stephanie ruhle and peter alexander, the president was angry, and according to one official,
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unglued when he made that decision that could trigger a trade war. trump had been stewing over several events that have been unfolding. with hope hicks' departure, war with jeff sessions, and headlines about his son-in-law, jared kushner. joining me now is stephanie ruhle who had that reporting as well as former indiana senator and governor evan by. stephanie, let me start with you and this reporting. the president's on twitter today saying want a trade war. says he's going to do these tariffs. you have the reporting on what brought that about. >> let's talk us wac to wednesday. you brought up what had the president so unhinged, so distressed. he was looking to have a fight. wilbur ross, who's really a man standing alone here, it's always been wilbur ross and his ally peter navarro pushing these ideas, that the the rest of the republican party and not gary kohn, steve mnuchin side of the
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world. you want a fight? without communicating with the white house, wilbur says i have a meeting set up tomorrow at 11:00 a.m. with steel executives. the people on this list, no one knows their names. now the white house said now we know those people had been here before so it would have been okay. by midnight they still didn't know the contents. there were no approved remarks for the president to make, no diplomatic strategy to how to tell our foreign allies. no legislative strategy how to tell congress. teen white house counsel's office was scheduled to do a review of possible steel tariffs, that wasn't going to be complete for another week and a half to two weeks. so long story short, it was a hot mess. and the commerce department, and one person said it was like they took over the white house for a good 18 hours. so we know that meeting with the steel executives didn't happen.
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by the end of the day yesterday after the market tanked and president trump is saying why did this happen, you have the likes of gary kohn and murch murch and general kelly who rarely defends those new york bankers says mr. president, you knew this was going to happen. they told you for months the market wasn't going to take kindly to this. trump is doubling down on this. does it mean he's going to stick to it? kohn has threatened to quit. people i'm talking to have said they have a week to convince president trump do not move forward on his tariffs or narrow it significantly. and trump doesn't like red markets. maybe he will. >> what was interesting was this is something the president campaigned on. he campaigned on this tough trade policy, the idea of really going after a lot of the free trade consensus that existed. this is fascinating to look at.
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a couple years ago they had the same attitudes on this. now republicans overwhelmingly hostile to it. they've moved against free trade while the democrats have moved by huge numbers into the free trade direction. >> steve, unfortunately it's another sign of how tribal our politics have become. you can see that about people's attitudes about russia. the republicans used to very skeptical. not so much. and the democrats have flip-flopped as well. let's hope the president follows his pattern on other things like tearing of you the iran nuclear deal or nafta. he gets briefed and begins to think the better of it. here we have the markets reacting very adversely. whether it's a trade war or different war, once you start it, very difficult to know where it's going to end. but you can be sure there will be casualties. >> you're 100% right. and the white house said the world knows these were president trump's views, fine. but he doesn't have the facts. and in this case the state
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department, the rubbery department and the defense department were not given a heads up and had no opportunity to weigh in. that's certainly not a way to run things. >> there's a week the administration feels he has to change his mind. maybe a parallel here. he announced he was going to ban transgender soldiers from the military and there was no plan or briefing. and it kind of drochlpped. >> you could say to those in the white house, this is moving forward. but remember, this is the chaos candidate. trump saying this today -- we could be on until the next giant headline, massive disaster tomorrow, and this could be behind us. what's note worthy is this chaos inside the white house. ross isn't going to end up on the same side of munch anytime soon. in a week when trump's furious with jeff sessions, and he's not
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so happy with ben carson. >> china has engaged, so we need to do something about it. there are procedures for doing it the right why so you get the trade relief. you help workers in america, part of donald trump's base who've been victims of that sort of thing. you get a lot of consumers who get harmed. we have agriculture in indiana as well. they need to have a thoughtful process in place for making policy, otherwise you get all sorts of casualties you just didn't anticipate but could have if you had gone through appropriate procedures. >> evan buy and tsarnaev ruhle with that reporting. by the way, you can cattwhk the president told lawmakers not
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to fear the nra, that he would fight the nra, in fact. and then he met with the nra last night so where does donald trump actually stand on guns? that's next. ok your advice and had geico help with renters insurance- it was really easy. easy. that'd be nice. phone: for help with chairs, say "chair." phone: for help with bookcases, say "bookcase." bookcase. i thought this was the dresser? isn't that the bed? phone: i'm sorry, i didn't understand. phone: for help with chairs, say "chair." does this mean we're not going out? book-case. see how easy renters insurance can be at geico.com. your digestive system has billions of bacteria, but life can throw them off balance. try align extra strength, the #1 doctor recommended probiotic brand.
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with 5 times the good bacteria to re-align your system. re-align yourself, with align. want us to do about what woulthis president?fathers i'm tom steyer, and when those patriots wrote the constitution here in philadelphia, they had just repelled an invading foreign power. so they created the commander in chief to protect us from enemy attack. the justice department just indicted 13 russians for sabotaging our elections. an electronic attack on america that the chief investigator called "warfare". so what did this president do? nothing. and is he doing anything to prevent a future attack? the head of the fbi says no. this president has failed his most important responsibility-
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protecting our country. the first question is: why? what is in his and his family's busins dealings with russia that he is so determined to hide, that he'd betray our country? and the second question is: why is he still president? join us today. we have to do something. when did you see the sign? when i needed to jumpstart sales. build attendance for an event. help people find their way. fastsigns designed new directional signage. and got them back on track. get started at fastsigns.com.
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co i'm a fan of the nra. no bigger fan. i'm a big fan of the nra. these are great people. these are great patriots. they love our country. but that doesn't mean we have to agree on everything. it doesn't make sense i have to wait until i'm 21 to get a handbag but i can get this
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weapon at 18. i don't know. i'm curious as to what you did in your bill. >> we didn't address it, mr. president. >> because you're afraid of nra. >> on wednesday the president signaled to a meeting of lawmakers that he wants several new gun control measures. last night he met with the leader of the nra, though he called it a good or great meeting on twitter, and the nra leader he met with agreed and said he and the president don't want gun control. so where, if anywhere, is all of this going? on wednesday's meeting we were just showing that you clip from, trump seemed most interested in the biggest near-miss legislative efforts on gun control in recent times. it was five years ago back in 2013, it was a bipartisan bill sponsored by joe mansion, democrat from west virginia, and pat toomey, republican from pennsylvania. >>io and pat, what are you doing about the 18 to 21 in your bill?
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the handbag, you can't buy one. you have to wait until you're 21. but you can buy the weapon used in the school shooting at 18. i think it's something you have to think about. >> that was the president throwing in a couple suggestions on the table but he did seem interested in that question of background checks. that was the mansion and toomey bill a few years ago. there's loopholes now, especially for gun shows. that's the question. when you poll this, you've probably seen this. you're not going to find agreement with this. 97% in the most recent poll with folks say they want universal background checks. that was the mansion toomey bill. we want to show you why the politics of this end up a little bit messier than that suggests. they tried this in 2013 and it failed. in 2013 a couple things were going on. number one, it polled at 92%,
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basically the same. so 92% in 2013 said they wanted universal background checks. there was the tragic shooting at sandy hook a few months before that. if there was a time for that to happen in congress, this was going to be it. the polling was there. there was that bipartisan mansion toomey bill. look, it failed on the floor. but more than that, think about the political lessons. every one of these was a senator who voted against those background checks that 92% of the people supported in polls. they all voted against it and they were all up for re-election the next year. every single one of them won re-election. that vote, voting against the thing that 92% supported, did not hurt a single one of them. two democrats also voted against it from red states. they did lose. but you got to remember they lost to candidates, republicans who were probably even more conservative unguns than they
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were. so nobody paid a political price. after that failure there was a new strategy. put this on the ballot. if you put it on a ballot, it can't fail. they did in maine and it failed 52% to 48%. hillary clinton won maine on the same day. attitudes on this issue when you strip away the basic questionnaire and you get into a real political debate, they default to something more complicated and messy. joining me now here in the newsroom to talk about the politics of guns is national correspondent. the president talked about the mansion toomey, the background checks bill. he talked about the age restrictions saying it should be 21 and not 18 if you want to buy an ar-15 or something. maybe due process wasn't as important to him as getting the guns out of the hands of bad
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guys. three things on the table. meets with the nra last night, they say we're all on the same page, he doesn't want gun control. can you make sense? >> it was great tv, wasn't it? he certainly gave democrats a lot of what they wanted to here. he signaled openness in terms of gun control and far beyond what republican colleagues in the house and senate are willing to do. where but where's the follow-through? we've seen this before. weeks later he hardened his position and made more demands and that deal failed. we're seeing a similar shift from the president after that meeting last night with the nra, after comments by white house spokeswoman sarah sanders to press earlier today that the president is supportive of the cornyn murphy bill, a modest change. sounded much hardware leery of the other items. >> is it appétit on capitol hill, you think back to 2013 when those background checks
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failed. a lot of questions, is it different this time? has the appetite on capitol hill changed on this in any appreciable way? >> the appetite to discuss it or the fact they feel it need to discuss it has definitely changed compared to previous mass shootings where it usually fades within a few days. that's mostly as a result of these young people, these teenagers speaking out. but the attitudes haven't changed that much. and the reason is precisely the chart you put up about what happened after that 2013 vote. it doesn't matter the an issue is pulling to 92% if you can't translate that to vote. this may be a moment where that changes, but it's not been proven yet and many of the republicans who were wondering what to do about this have primaries coming up. this is a tough time for them and they know the politics are much safer. to pull them out of that place is a very, very difficult task.
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>> i think that's a key point. it might be different but the politics in the past have been very, very tricky on this. reporter from bloomberg, appreciate that. is it h.r. mcmaster next to leave the white house? we will get into that and we'll be right back. is a hee kapur
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general mcmaster isn't going anywhere. as the president said, he thinks he's doing a great job and glad he's here. >> that was sarah huckabee sanders again denying today reports that h.r. mcmaster is about to leave the white house. but multiple sources telling msnbc's nicole wall street and the national security adviser could leave as soon as next month. john kelly and defense secretary jim mattis are said to be behind the move. there are also reports of friction between mcmaster and the commander in chief. joining us is mark jacobson, senior adviser to ash carter and associate professor at georgetown university. he's known h.r. mcmaster for nearly 20 years. mark, let me start on that point. you do have a pretty good read on h.r. mcmaster.
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what is your sense of this situation? is he frustrated there? >> well, i've talked to a lot of people up there. most of them are frustrated. i think for anyone try to staff the trying to play the role of the consigliere which is what mcmaster is supposed to do, it is an impossible position. you have a president that doesn't listen to advise and changes his mind and i'm not surprised there is a lack of clarity out of the white house on what may or may not happen on a major personnel move. >> what has his role been in this administration. >> he plays two roles. the first is to be the adviser to the president of the united states and the second, often more important role is to manage the interagency process. that is to diffuse tensions between the state department and the department of defense and intelligence community and get the system works so they could provide the president of the
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united states with a reasonable set of options and to implement them when called upon. on the latter half, i have to give mcmaster a good deal of credit. on paper there is a decent national security strategy and you see that mattis and tillerson and mcmaster are meeting regularly. but again that doesn't mean there is not an incredible amount of tension within the white house between the national security adviser and the president. >> if this is the end, if he does leave in the next few weeks or whenever it may be, what would that do to this administration? what would the administration without h.r. mcmaster look like? is that a void and who would fill it. what is the implications. >> for better or worse there is already chaos when 30% plus of the staff overturning in the white house. what i worry about is we always looked at the mattis, tillerson, the kelly and the mcmasters as the quote, adults on the foreign affairs front. kelly is disappointing. mattis is the shining star
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throughout. but i worry because it matters in terms of who replaces mcmaster and of course i want to know where he goes next. we've heard reports that maybe he goes off to a university, i think stanford or any school would be lucky to have him. but maybe he goes back to the military. and i think he has a bit more to offer, but that remains to be seen whether the pentagon agrees. >> do you think he would be disappointing if the tenure lasted a year and he is out. >> i think in some administrations anybody would be concerned it was only a year but if you survive at the trump white house with a senior role, you are doing well. >> mark, thank you for joining us. we appreciate it. >> my pleasure. and we have one more thing for you, next. but as we head to break, we want to mention today's nasty nor'easter. it is dumping wind and rain and snow from the mid-atlantic up to maine. more than 2,000 flights have been canceled across the region. the storm is wreaking havoc on new england.
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200 national guard troops have been activated in massachusetts to help victims of coastal flooding. this is especially pronounced south of boston. there are evacuation orders in effect in the last hour amtrak announced that all service along the northeast corridor now suspended. be right back. thank you so much. thank you! so we're a go? yes! we got a yes! what does that mean for purchasing? purchase. let's do this. got it. book the flights! hai! si! si! ya! ya! ya! what does that mean for us? we can get stuff. what's it mean for shipping?
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let me show you. how long ago did i declare war on north korea and little rocket man. >> four months. >> wrong. it was last friday. see, i'm bending time. so keep the chaos coming and shake things up around here. >> and one more thing before we go. the president versus the man who plays him on "saturday night live." to months his online feud with alec baldin was on hiatus but he dropped a new interview with baldwin and said that playing the president is quote, like agony. i can't. and that was baldwin on monday. here is the president this morning. alex baldwin whose dying mediocre career was saved by impersonating me on snl and now says playing him was agony and alex, you were terrible. bring back darrell hammond, much funnier and a far greater talent. you know the actors name is alec and not alex.
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was the president saying alex to tweak him or giving him too much credit maybe. also the word dying was misspelled and the tweet was taken down by the president within 20 minutes. and it was reposted with those errors corrected. it quickly earned not one, not two, but three rebuttals from baldwin who taunted the president with the word impeachment and gave ideas for the trump library and ended by saying, mr. president, please ask your wife to stop calling me for snl tickets. we have charles barkley this saturday. we'll wrap things up for this hour. i'm steve kornacki in for katy tur and ali velshi will pick things up. and we have a storm brewing outside and -- >> and inside. all over. i was going to say, i'm not ready. i need a couple of minutes. i can never get fully up to speed on everything going on. >> we started the last hour by saying it is only 2:00 and the last few weeks we might have more breaking news. i sat down in this chair and i
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said in my ear, we have breaking news. >> that is the world we have. you have a good afternoon. good afternoon, i'm ali velshi. it is a wild week for the trump administration and a few hours. it is only fitting we end the week with a slew of major headlines breaking in the last two hours. first nbc news is learning that special counsel robert mueller's team is asking if the president's senior adviser and son-in-law jared kushner's foreign business ties have influenced trump policy. in another exclusive report, we're learning what was the driving force behind the president's decision to launch a potential trade war by imposing strict tariffs on steel and aluminum. my colleague stephanie ruhle will join me in a moment to talk about the domino effect of the white house turmoil. and if that wasn't enough, john kelly is speaking out today. the president's chief of staff is finally releasing a timeline about former senior aide rob porter. remember him? that is the scandal that ultimately escalated questions
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over security clearances and again jared kushner within the white house. but first, let's go to the nbc news exclusive. nbc news has learned that jared kushner's business discussions are the latest -- target of robert mueller's probe. they are scrutinizing whether any discussions with foreigners during the presidential transition later shaped white house policies in ways that were designed to either benefit or retaliate against those he spoke with. this is according to witnesses and other people familiar with the investigation. nbc's carol lee helped break this story. she joins me now on this. carol, this is crucial because this administration has so many conversations with so many different people, the question here is whether or not those conversations turn into policy. >> correct. and this is significant because it is the first time that we've learned that robert mueller is -- there is a --

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