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tv   MSNBC Live With Ali Velshi  MSNBC  March 13, 2018 12:00pm-1:00pm PDT

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very deep red and if the democrats achieve their objective of flipping the house next november, that path will come right through here in southern california and the 48 thd district, home to beto o'rourke could be the place to tip the scales. >> msnbc's jacob soboroff in huntington beach, california. jacob, thank you much. a good reminder there from ali velshi. everyone thinks of california as a very, very, very blue state. >> right, not down there. >> that's because the population centers, which are highly populated, have a lot of liberal or very democratic folks, but if you get into the interior of the country -- >> the south and the north. >> you will find some extraordinarily republican areas. >> yep. >> devin nunes country. >> and if you go way to the top, there's an independence movement to separate and have their own state. >> california has a whole lot of factions. it's an interesting place. >> for people who lump it all together as one, california is a country unto itself. >> and it has a lot of sun.
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>> and it's the size of a country. >> great avocados. >> almonds. >> good tacos. >> you get these two californians together on tv. >> i'm just wondering what i'm not -- why am i not there? >> instead, you're in a snowstorm here. good to see you, katy. good afternoon,velshi. we are watching jaw-dropping developments unfolding within the trump administration. at this hour, president trump is headed, as you just heard, to a facility in san diego to take a first look at prototypes for his border wall. but we are not focused on that so-called wall. we're looking at the president's blindsiding decision to fire his secretary of state, rex tillerson. wedged in between tweets about the raging economy and immigration, the president broke the news on twitter today, just before 9:00 a.m. here's what he said. mike pompeo, director of the cia, will become our new secretary of state. he will do a fantastic job. thank you to rex tillerson for his service. gina haspel will become the new director of the cia and the first woman so chosen. congratulations to all.
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tillerson who returned just today from his trip in africa addressed the moedia with his version of events. >> i received a call today from the president of the united states at a little after noontime from air force one. and i've also spoken to white house chief of staff, kelly, to ensure we have clarity as to the days ahead. who is most important is to ensure an orderly and smooth transition during a time that the country continues to face significant policy and national security challenges. >> well, he's right. the timing is not most important. tor the other stuff is. it is noteworthy, though, that he got a phone call from the president, according to his timeline, three hours after everybody else in the world saw a tweet about it. following the president's trip in san diego and the never-ending revolving door back at the white house is nbc news's hans nichols at the white house
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for us. hans, it has been a crazy day, to say the least. on one hand, most close observers sort of figured that tillerson's days were numbered. they have been at odds for some time on important foreign policy issues. >> reporter: and according to our reporting at nbc news, over the weekend, while tillerson was traveling in africa, he was told that he should be stepping aside. that this may be coming. the issue that we don't know is how close has tillerson been to being fired in the past or how close has he come to resigning in the past? and that may be why this came as a surprise, as tillerson, undoubtedly jet lagged, woke up this morning around 8:45, saw the president was firing him by tweet. that was official. it was public. now, when you listen to the president's explanation of it all, it's frankly quite simple, ali. the president in so many different ways said he simply didn't have good chemistry with his secretary of state. >> as far as rex tillerson is
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concerned, i very much appreciate his commitment and his service and i wish him well. he's a good man. >> mr. president, mr. president, what did you tell -- >> rex and i have been talking about this for a long time. we got along actually quite well, but we disagreed on things. mike pompeo, we have a very similar thought process. i respect his intellect, i respect the process that we've all gone through together. we have a very good relationship, for whatever reason, chemistry, whatever it is, why do people get along? i've always right from the beginning, from day one, i've gotten along well with mike pompeo. >> now, ali, what we've learned in the last hour or so after that rex tillerson press conference -- i shouldn't call it a press conference, state at the department of state. he had a lot of people to think. he had special praise for secretary mattis at the pentagon, but no word of thanks for the president under which he
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served. that was a remarkable omission. one other note on the alliance between tillerson and secretary mattis, they have breakfast about once a week. i should say, they would have breakfast about once a week. they would be in constant contact. the two of them really tried to massage the president's public postures, his private conversations with foreign leaders. now that tillerson is out of the loop, the question is, will secretary mattis and pompeo, who's much more hawkish than tillerson, pompeo was for at a certain point -- he seemed to suggest that he was for regime change in north korea. we'll see to what extent mattis and pompeo are able to develop a working relationship. >> as always, you've set the table well for a busy hour, because we're going to be looking at each one of these things in their own -- with their own merits, hans, thank you very much, as always. hans nichols for us at the white house. let's talk about what hans just mentioned. mike pompeo and who he is. mike pompeo is expected to face what could be a tough senate confirmation hearing in april. so let's look at this new
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nominee to the -- to head the state department. he served in congress as a tea party republican from kansas in 2011. until he was chosen to serve as president trump's cia director. now, during his time on capitol hill, mike pompeo took issue with the 2014 report in which senate democrats were critical of enhanced interrogation techniques or torture like waterboarding. i'm going to talk extensively about torture later in the show. but pompeo said of these people, these men and women are not torturers, they're patriots. the programs being used were within the law, within the constitution. but in his confirmation hearing last year, he softened that stance a little bit. >> if you were ordered by the president to restart the cia's use of enhanced interrogation techniques that fall outside of the army field manual, would you comply? >> senator, absolutely not. there's no doubt in my mind about the limitations it places not only on the dod, but on the central intelligence agency, and i'll always comply with the law.
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>> now, on another topic, last year amid reports questioning whether the president read his daily intelligence briefing, pompeo discussed his method of boiling down intelligence reports into three buckets and keeping the presentation to around 30 or 40 minutes. this arrangement is likely one of the things that brought pompeo's stock up in the president's eyes, in addition to his hawkishness that hans was just talking about. on the pressing issue of north korea, pompeo has been in trump's corner. earlier this year, he gave a talk about the u.s. commitment to contain and legitimate the regime, the north korean's regime nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile capabilities. and a few days ago, after the president made the surprise announcement that he would meet with the north korean dictator, pompeo said no concessions were made to kim jong-un ahead of the talks. another point where the two see eye to eye is the iran nuclear deal. pompeo pompeo has floated the idea of rolling the deal back. something the u.s. can't do unilaterally and something that rex tillerson said it shouldn't
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do. pompeo has called iran a thuggish police state and compared it to isis. but there is one point of contention, and that's russia's interference in the u.s. election. while the president has gone back and forth about russia's involvement, pompeo has firmly declared its meddling as a fact, along with the other intelligence heads, by the way. over the weekend, pompeo flatly called vladimir putin's denial of russian meddling false. if confirmed, pompeo would be fourth in the presidential line of succession, which makes all of this really important. now, all of this reshuffling comes at a time when the administration is dealing with sensitive foreign policy issues on multiple fronts including, as we said, north korea, the iran nuclear deal, russian interference in the elections. bobby ghosh is a foreign affairs columnist and commentator and joins me now. also with us is thomas countrymen, who served as assistant secretary of state for international security and nonproliferation from 2011 until 2017. thomas, let me just start with
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you. because you ended up with a -- you ended up being dismissed from the white house, from the state department in a similar manner, to that which happened to rex tillerson. >> that's correct. in january of last year, just a few days after the inauguration, while i was on a diplomatic trip, i received the news without explanation that i was released from my position. so i feel great empathy for rex tillerson. getting fired can be humiliating, but i found it to be liberating. and i hope he wakes up tomorrow with that same feeling. >> well, the president actually implied that he would. he said, rex tillerson is going to enjoy his life more. he said something like that to reporters today. >> well, i certainly enjoy my personal life more than i did when he was working 55 or 60 hours a week. but i got great satisfaction from working that hard for the american people.
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i hope that mr. pompeo can improve on mr. tillerson's management of the state department, but what concerns me more is that, as you've just mentioned, pompeo has much more hawkish views about iran and north korea. right now, we don't have a nuclear crisis with iran, but if mr. pompeo as secretary ends up being a yes man to the president's worst instincts, it's very possible that two months from now, we will have two nuclear crises with both the iran and north korea. and that concerns me. >> so, bobby, this is important, because the president seems to think that everybody involved in the nuclear -- in the iran nuclear deal was an idiot. in thinking that iran would suddenly become the world's best neighbor. that's not true. iran's got lots of problems. you can call them names or do whatever you want. but the fact is that we have a deal with iran that we cannot unilaterally remove ourselves
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from. and there are a lot of fears that while we're on the edge of the possibility of a deal with north korea, scuttling the iran deal could affect our ability to make deals in the future. >> yeah, it sends the wrong message. it means making a message with the united states that also has the it doesn't mean anything. that a change in president and the thing can be torn up and you're back to scratch. so anybody looking to make a deal with the u.s., whether it's the north koreans, whether it's anybody else, will be looking at that very closely. you're right, iran is not a good neighborhood. it is definitely a bad actor in the region, and i understand that this government has its hands tied in trying to deal with that. but the solution is to not throw out a deal that already exist, but to find other ways to hedge and hem in iran's emissions. >> i want to bring in john brennan to this conversation, msnbc's senior national security and intelligence analyst. and he was the cia director from 2013 to 2017.
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john, good to see you. we literally are catching you on your way to somewhere or from somewhere, because you're at an airport. let me know what you think about this. rex tillerson, by my accounts, was a measured, integrity, worldly guy. but in capitals around the world, bobby and i were just talking about this, he wasn't thought to necessarily have the ear of the president or be representing the president. >> yes, i think rex tillerson was somebody who foreign leaders and his counterparts felt brought a certain degree of common sense and rationality to u.s. foreign policy. that said, i think they understood that he is not somebody who was really close to donald trump and had much influence, quite frankly, in the corridors of the white house. but he was somebody who understood, i think, some of the complexities of some of these problems around the world and someone who, i think, respected. now, he didn't do a good job as far as management of the department of state. but from a standpoint of trying to keep the u.s. on an even keel on some of these very complex
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matters, rex tillerson was a voice of reason. >> thomas, what do you think about the -- you made the same comment that john did about the management of the department of state. i mean, i've got to imagine that rex tillerson is a better manager than he turned out to be at the department of state and that this has to do with the fact that this administration just does not hold the state department and its role in the same esteem that prior administrations have. >> that's correct. i think he could have done a better job, but you state the essential fact that is true, which is that the white house has shown contempt for public servants of all types, and in particular, for the state department. now, mr. pompeo has a better reputation than mr. tillerson for his management of the cia, but keep in mind that this white house loves the cia, loves the military, and sees it as part of their political dogma to criticize every other public
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servant, no matter what kind of sacrifices they've made. >> because, john brennan, that is part of the deep state that the president wants to convince america is going on. you know gina haspel, by the way, the person who will be nominated to be the new cia director. she's going to have a bit of a rough ride, just because of her role in enhanced interrogation or torture. but what do you know about her and what do you think about her? >> i have great respect for gina. she has 33 years of cia experience, both abroad as well as at headquarters. she's somebody who understands the challenges associated with cia work. she has overseen some of the covert action programs. and i fully expect that the senate intelligence committee will give her background appropriate scrutiny when they go through the nomination confirmation process. but gina is somebody who i have great confidence in, can steer the ship of state, of cia, and having a professional there, having somebody who is apolitical and nonpartisan and
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is not going to engage in policy will be seen as a breath of fresh air at a lot of people at cia. >> a good point. bobby, let's talk about another matter. if you put aside north korea and put aside iran, certainly by may 12th where the president has to recertify the deal and he's said he won't, something is going to happen there. the next big issue we're dealing with is the middle east in general. and for whatever work the state department should be doing, jared kushner may be undoing it on his own. is mike pompeo going to be given the authority to run the state department like it should be run? the budget has been slashed. staff positions have not been filled. we do not have ambassadors in some of the major ports in the world where we need them. is it going to be a better state department under mike pompeo? >> i don't think he's going to get a bigger brief than tillerson had. will it be better? look, pompeo is a creature of washington. he's opinibeen a member of cong. he is the director of the cia.
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he knows how to operate within washington in a way tillerson never did. my sense is, he will be able to fill positions that are there. will he be able to wrest more power for the state department? i think that ship has sadly. i think until the time cubnkush decides there's not much to be gained from his involvement. >> i don't know when that comes. maybe when he gets the loan for his business that he's been shopping around for all this time. to thomas, you just mentioned that this president likes the cia and likes the military. and mike pompeo is going from a position at a place where the president likes, into a place where it doesn't seem the president has a lot of time and energy for. why is that good for anybody? >> it's potentially good for the state department, if, in fact, mr. pompeo is somebody who is willing to speak truth to the president. if he's willing to say, i can be an effective secretary of state, but not if you insist on cutting
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the state department's budget for 30%. i simply don't know whether mr. pompeo, who was described by president trump as having a similar thought process to the president, whether he's going to stand up for the employees who are there to stand up for him. >> and john brennan, you said something similar. you said, i think rex tillerson was far too principled and not sufficiently loyal to donald trump. are those prerequisites for the job? >> well, i think all presidents deserve and most of them before have wanted to have people who would be able to speak truth about these issues. and i think rex tillerson showed an independence of thought and mind. and i don't know whether or not mike pompeo will do that when he goes to the department of state. but i do think that is what this country deserves. somebody who's going to give their unvarnished views. obviously, the person who is in
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the oval office gives the overall direction, but this is where it's so important that people like jim mattis are able to counsel restraint, in my respects, on donald trump. and so mike pompeo is, i think as we said, he's rather hawkish, hard line, a strong partisan and a loyalist. but i think he has to, you know, leave some of these traits behind if he's going to fulfill the obligations and responsibilities as secretary of state. >> do you think he's going to have an okay time getting confirmed? i can't really see why he wouldn't be. >> well, i think both of these nominations are going to be given very careful scrutiny. and some of the things that mike pompeo has done or said since he's been director of cia, i think, will be fair game for questioning by the senators. but, there's still a majority of republicans in the senate. so i anticipate that they'll both get through. >> john brennan, good to talk to you. thank you for taking the time. john brennan is a former cia director and msnbc senior
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national security intelligence analyst. thomas countrymen was the assistant secretary of state for international security and nonproliferation from 2011 until 2017. thank you all for your time. tillerson and his undersecretary are not the only administration employees to get the boot in the last 24 hours. president trump's longtime personal assistant, john mcen e mcentee, was abruptly escorted out of the white house. two federal law enforcement officials told nbc news that mcentee was under investigation by the secret service for serious financial crimes. the trump 2020 presidential campaign released a statement this morning saying that he would join as a senior adviser for campaign operations. that's apparently what happens when you're under secret service investigation in this administration. this former staffer is one of trump's longest-lasting aides. he followed trump through the presidential campaign, but struggled to get the necessary security clearances for his role in the west wing. all right, up next, mike pompeo's complicated history with wikileaks. he went from applauding their
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disclosures during the 2016 election to attacking the group as a hostile agent doing the bidding of russia. those details after the break. plus, an outspoken supporter of using torture weighs in on gina haspel's appointment. ♪ no, please, please, oh! ♪ (shrieks in terror) (heavy breathing and snorting) no, no. the running of the bulldogs? surprising. what's not surprising? how much money aleia saved by switching to geico. fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent or more. ♪
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all right. we're looking at live pictures of president trump who has arrived in san diego to look at prototypes for border walls. we're monitoring it for you and will bring you any news that comes out of that. the biggest news, of course, if mexico agrees to pay for the wall. one big question on the president's next pick for secretary of state, how is he going to handle russia? mike pompeo said back in june that moscow interfered in our election, something donald trump has been remarkably slow to acknowledge. and just last night, the president tweeted this in all caps. the house intelligence committee has after a 14-month long in-depth investigation found no evidence of collusion or coordination. although the lead of the investigation, congressman mike conaway says there was, perhaps, some bad judgment and inappropriate meetings. meanwhile, democrats on the committee accuse republicans who hold the majority of ending investigation early for the good
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of the president. >> so the republicans on the committee viewed their job as protecting the president, not investigating what took place. essentially, it's the intelligence committee majority saying, we just would rather not know if it's going to be bad news. >> now, there are still other groups investigating the russia election fwhincluding the speci counsel, robert mueller, the senate judiciary committee, and the senate intelligence committee. in farirness, most people thougt the house intelligence committee was not going to end up with a particularly rigorous review. we know mueller's investigation into russia has been wide-ranging, from money laundering to secret meetings to russian interference. and we now know that he's also interested in trump adviser, roger stone, the guy on the right, and any contacts he might have had with the founder of wikileaks, julian assange. we know this, because another former trump adviser and friend of cable news, sam nunberg, revealed it to ari melber last night. >> they asked, what did roger tell me about his dealings with julian assange or his communications with julian
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assange during the election. >> what did roger stone say to you that you relayed to mueller's folks about his dealings with wikileaks? >> yai can't get into that. that's not fair to them. that's not fair to the investigation. >> now, remember that wikileaks revealed all those hacked e-mails from the dnc and hillary clinton's campaign chairman, john podesta. "the washington post" reports that stone claimed to be in contact with assange before any of those e-mails were leaked. but stone is telling "the post" that he was only joking with nunberg when he said he talked with assange, similar to what he told "meet the press daily" last week. >> i never had any advanced knowledge of the content, the source, or the exact timing of the wikileaks disclosures. i never predicted that john podesta's e-mails would be hacked. i predicted that his business activities would come under scrutiny. >> this guy is a weird guy. because he brags about a lot of stuff and then tells everybody that it's not actually true. for more on what this all means, i'm joined by ken dilanian.
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the most surprising thing about roger stone is we actually have to take these discussions seriously, because he may have actually had contact with all of these people. if someone wrote this as a script and submitted it, they would be laughed out of time. >> totally agree. and look, at the end of the day, there's so many disparate accounts here. "the washington post" has two sources, one nunberg and one anonymous source saying that stone appeared to have advanced knowledge that wikileaks had these e-mails. stone flatly denies it. to me, it's all about what can robert mueller prove? and it's not really going to be based on the testimony of someone like roger stone, because can he really be believed? or even nunberg. nunberg's credibility appears to be somewhat in tatters at this point. he's told several different stories about things. the issue is going to be, like, what is the documentary evidence, i think? and this is really important, ali. and we're chuckling here, but this whole question of, did members of the trump campaign have advanced knowledge that the russians had obtained these e-mails and were distributing them to wikileaks? and did anybody coordinate? that's the heart of this entire
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russia investigation. and george papadopoulos, that campaign aide who's cooperating with mueller, you know, remember, has said that a russian agent approached him and told him that the russians had the e-mail. and we still don't know who he told inside the campaign. the stone flow of information seems to be another way the campaign may have learned about the hack of these e-mails before the public knew. >> and papadopoulos says that donald trump knew of this in a book that he's writing. >> that's right. well, papadopoulos is saying in that famous meeting that we all have seen a picture of, where papadopoulos is sitting with donald trump and jeff sessions, he's saying that he broached the idea of a meeting between putin and trump, and that trump said that that's interesting. that's the first time we've heard that. we knew of this meeting, but in this new book, they're reporting that papadopoulos told investigators that trump responded, "that's interesting." what we also know is that jeff sessions said, this is a terrible idea, we shouldn't have this meeting, and then it didn't actually happen. but, you know, what george papadopoulos has to say about
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who knew what about his interactions with russians is going to be very important, i think, as to whether robert mueller can prove collusion and coordination between the trump campaign and russia, ali. >> all right, ken, thanks very much. ken dilanian, nbc news national security and intelligence reporter who's staying on top of all of this for you. all right, i want to go out to san diego. president trump will be speaking there tonight. right now he's checking out prototypes for the border wall. jeff bennett is following this for us. where are you? you're where the president is going to be speaking, jeff? >> reporter: that's right, ali. the president right now is along the border, checking out those prototypes, getting a firsthand look at some of the prototypes for the walls that the administration wants to build and then he's going to come here in miramar and speak to the crowd you see assemble heerd behi ed -- assembled here behind behi ed -- assembled here behind me. you have a state that is at the leading edge of the anti-trump resistance. not just over issues like immigration, but also the
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environment, over marijuana policy, over gun policy. you're not going to see any sort of protests happen here, because, of course, this is a military crowd. i would point out, though, that you're also not going to see any california elected officials. the governor of this state, jerry brown, says that the trump administration is to use his words, waging war against the state. as you well know, attorney general jeff sessions has sued the state over california's sanctuary cities policies, which give protections to some undocumented immigrants. we'll have to see whether or not the president makes mention of that. typically, presidents try not to get political in front of military crowds, because the u.s. military is supposed to be apolitical. but we know, based on past events, that the president seems to see the military as one of his constituencies. so we'll have to see what he says about immigration. we'll also have to see what he says about the big news of the day, the ouster of rex tillerson as his secretary of state and mike pompeo coming onboard as his secretary of state designate. so those are some of the things we're looking for in the next couple of hours, ali. >> all right. jeff bennett in san diego for
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us. coming up next, gina haspel, the president's pick to head the cia, is no doubt a seasoned intelligence officer with a great deal of experience, but while the cia -- while she was with the cia, she ran a secret prison in thailand where terrorism suspects were subject to torture as an interrogation tack thinking -- tactic. and that's something that isn't sitting well with some lawmakers. >> advancing her, at this point, is really a favorable referendum on secrecy in government. whoooo.
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president trump in san diego just a few moments ago. >> so we're looking at the wall and the wall systems and we have a lot of them. and this gentlemen who's a real expert, you've been doing this how long? >> 25 years, sir. >> and you were here before they had a wall? >> correct. i started here in 1992. >> and what was it like until you built the wall? and the wall, by the way, is that wall up there, which is just sheet metal, but still, at least it works a little bit. how was it before you built a wom wall? >> there was effectively no border in san diego. it was a chaotic situation. this fence behind me, it was made out of scrap metal that the military wasn't using that we set in place to really delineate the border. >> you needed something? >> it changed our environment. we decreased the illegal cross-border traffic by 95% with that fence and the roads and the lights and the technology -- >> so that's 95% with a scrap metal wall that they just put together with excess material
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and it worked 95%. and that wall they can get over very easily. these walls they can't. but, you know, for the people that say "no wall," if you didn't have walls over here, you wouldn't even have a country. you wouldn't even have a country. and by the way, the state of california is begging us to build walls in certain areas. they don't tell you that. and we said, no, we won't do it until we build the whole wall. but there are certain areas, as you know, where they are really wanting us to build a wall. because people are complaining, people are pouring in. so, you know, they don't talk about that. [ inaudible question ] well, i do have a preference. the problem is, you have to have see-through. you have to know what's on the other side of the wall. and i mean, a preference is something like that. the problem is you don't know what's on the other side of the wall. and if you don't know what's -- you could be 2 feet away from a criminal cartel and you don't even know they're there. now, we have equipment to take care of that, x-ray equipment, et cetera. but if you're on that side of the wall, that's the hardest
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wall to scale. it's got a lot of assets. the problem is, tell them, what do you think about the importance of see-through. >> whiff a see-through wall, sir, i know what's approaching the border before it approaches. we have great partners in mexico with the law enforcement on that side. i can call them for assistance. i don't get the opportunity to get ahead of a threat if i can't see what's approaching. >> and what's the danger of not having the see-through? >> the steel/metal fence behind us, we learned from that. in the '90s, we went in cut in ports so we could see. we found that smugglers were using the fence to hide behind. and they were acquiring large groups of people and narcotics and then just rush across the border. >> if you have a pure fence, that's a fence, a very sturdy fence. but coming up, the first thing i notice, look how many holes are in that fence. they fix the holes, but it doesn't look very go ahead. they patch it with more fence. if you take a look at the fence and it's a very powerful fence, not doing the trick, because they cut holes in it. and then they're patching holes
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all the time. i'm looking, you have hundreds of holes cut in askand patched. so the fence is not strong enough. it's not the right idea. but for those people, if you don't have a wall system, we're not going to have a country. and there's a lot of problems in mexico. they have a lot of problems over there. and they have it will cartels and we're fighting the cartels and we're fighting them hard. nobody ever fought them like we fought them. i mean, we fight them hard. but the fact is, if you don't have a wall system, it would be bedlam, i can imagine. >> it's very hard to control. >> so we're looking at the walls where you have some see-through capability. if you don't have some see-through, it's a problem. so we'll take a look up here. >> all right, that was president trump in san diego, near the mexico border wall, talking about a border wall. i want to get back to the big story of the day, though, with mike pompeo taking over at the
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sta state department, his deputy at the cia, gina haspel, is who the president is calling on to run the agency. she will be the first woman in that role assuming she is confirmed. but haspel is a highly controversial figure. let me tell you a little bit about her. she has spent about 30 years as an officer with the cia. haspel was made deputy director of the agency last february. now, she spent much of her time undercover, but later in her career, haspel was heavily involved in the cia's controversial torture program. you'll hear it referred to as enhanced interrogation. in 2002, she ran a secret cia prison for suspected terrorists in thailand that used harsh interrogation tactics, including waterboarding, sleep deprivation, and even squeezing detainees into coffin-sized boxes. haspel oversaw the interrogation of detainees, one of whom was tortured so badly that at one point he appeared to be dead. he was waterboarded 83 times in a single month. now, in 2005, nbc news confirms that haspel took part in an
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order to destroy videotapes documenting those investigations. in 2009, former president obama ordered the secret cia detention centers to close down. i have former fbi special agent, a ali sufant with me. he served on the joint terrorism task force. he's also an outspoken critic of harsh interrogation tactics. ali, let me just ask you about this. 83 times, this particular suspect was waterboarded. this suspect was abu zubaydah. and in fact, you wrote in 2009 there was no actionable intelligence gained from using enhanced interrogation techniques on abu zubaydah that wasn't or couldn't have been gained from regular tactics. you actually interviewed him. >> yes, i interviewed abu zubaydah, and i didn't write this in "the new york times," i also -- i did, but that's not the only thing i did. i also testified under oath in
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congress about the same thing. about the fact that we did not know need to do enhanced interrogation techniques, enhanced interrogation techniques backfired. look, what we see today is the lack of moral, you know, reckoning. >> right, you're a former fbi special agent. >> yes. >> john mccain is a war hero and he's on the same side of this. he says, there are things you do and things you don't do if you have a moral conscious. >> exactly, i agree 100%. and also at the same time, if you look at the cia's own inspector general report, not one single eminent threat was stopped because of the so-called enhanced interrogation techniques. >> because you believe when you interrogate someone, you might want them to say -- >> firsthand, a lot of the investigations came up to the same conclusion. so they came to the same conclusion. the the issue that we have today is an issue of, it's a moral
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issue. and it's also a legal issue. you know, maybe people had to do what they had to do at a very difficult time. that's a question, but also at the same time, we have to know from her what she feels about that. >> so if she did this while she was an employee of the cia and it was legal, that's a different story. >> there are a few issues that you just mentioned today. there's the issue of torture. but also the issue of the destruction of videotapes, evidence on torture. and that happened in violation to a federal judge's order. so now this is another thing that need to come out during the confirmation hearing. we need to know what she thinks about these issues. i think the intelligence committee will give her a chance to explain and we need to air all these matters out in the public. >> is there an explanation that you would find sufficient? is there an explanation you would find sufficient? >> i personally don't. i personally think there's a legal and moral issue and we violated that.
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and if we start justifying why we violated this kind of things, it's basically a snowball effect here. so we have to be very careful. but we don't know what she believes or what she believes about these issues. was she following orders and a lot of people probably have issues with that, anyway. was she believing this is a moral thing to do. these are things that need to come out during her confirmation hearing, but that is a very controversial nomination and we need to be very careful about how we approach it. so far, i think everyone who worked with her to include director brennan are saying how great she is. but also at the same time, even with great people, there are some mistakes that they make and we need to air these things during her confirmation hearing. the media has been talking about it. i hope it comes out during her hearing. the issue of enhanced interrogation techniques, the issue of rendition, the issue of the destruction of the tapes.
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we need accountabilityaccountab. without accountability, we're going to have more problems, because people will do whatever they do and they feel they can get away with it. >> hold that thought on accountability. i want you to stay right there. the cia's torture program was a product of the post-9/11 battle against al qaeda. now, fears of the rise of isis have eclipsed al qaeda in recent years, but there are signs that al qaeda and its threat are still very real in 2018. more than 16 years after the events of 9/11. now, to understand what happened on that day, 9/11, you actually have to go back a long time before that. you have to go back to 1993 and the bombing at the world trade center. and five years after that in 1998, the group bombed u.s. embassies in kenya and tanzania cull kyling more than 200 and injuring thousands more. and then there was the attack on the "uss cole" that killed e american soldiers. the story to have the run-up to
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that tragedy, 9/11, is the subject of the pulitzer prize-winning book, "the looming tower" and a brand-new hulu web series of the same name. the book's author, lawrence wright, is one of the kpeexecut producers on the show and he joins me now and one of the main characters in this true story is this guy, ali soufan. i'm glad you're both here. i think im up to date on what's going on. but larry, you where this book and it's one of the most comprehensive books on what led to the destruction of the -- what led to the 9/11 attacks. and you got involved in this project, because you felt that america really needs to know the whole story to avoid it happening again. >> and i needed to know it, too. you know, i had lived in egypt and i had actually written about ali soufan. i hadn't met him, but i knew about him in a movie called "the
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siege" with denzel washington. and -- but i -- honestly, it was a mission more than an assignment. it took five years of my life. and it's probably the most important thing i'll ever do with my career. >> you feel that it's a ten-part series, right, on hulu? you feel that it's pretty faithful to the story? >> well, we only take a part of it. you know, we take the john o'neil section and ali's involvement. but there's a lot of history that is in the book that i hope that we may have a chance some day to include. but i was very reluctant up until recently to allow it to be made into a television show. but television changed. you know, in the interim between 2006 when i published the book and now, television has gotten so much more expansive and interesting. and we've got ten episodes, we've got fabulous actors and
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directors. we shot in eight countries. it's not the intelligence that i was thinking of. >> no. >> for a story teller, it's a great medium. >> and ali, this is a great dramatic series. if you didn't know it was true, it would just be good television. but you think that there is -- you ended your last comments on the cia with accountability. you think that we have to explore accountability in 9/11. what do you mean by that? you mean accountability on u.s. intelligence services? >> well, you know, 9/11 did not come out of thin air. and we had a lot of investigations to include the cia's own inspector general report, to include the 9/11 commission. there are people to be held accountable. the cia ig, for example, pointed fingers or individuals that need to be held accountable. we never had accountability. we thought, if 3,000 americans were killed, if one day changed the entire world, if the pentagon was attacked with a plane, if a plane was downed in
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pennsylvania by heroic passengers that prevented it from going and hit congreting c, we're going to have some accountability. and we didn't. and unfortunately those people were to be held accountable for 9/11 ended up taking us to the war in iraq. and we thought after hundreds of thousands of people were killed in iraq, with 5,000 coalition troops go into iraq under false premise, invading another country, we're quigoing to have some sort of accountability. unfortunately, we did not. and a lot of people who were involved in that iraq war were also involved in torture. and we thought, maybe if we violated american norms and values and dimmed that light on the shining city on the hill, then, maybe then we will have accountability. we did not. see, that's why people work with the russians. because they know they can -- there's nothing that can be done to them. >> rate. >> you know, you make it through a political prison, play the partisan game, there's nothing to lose and a lot of things to gain. we need to have accountability. only then we can protect our institutions and we can protect
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our country. and i hope that series will make the american people realize what happened, what are the events that led to 9/11? so we can have some kind of closure. only then we can have some kind of closure and turn the page and understand a lot of these threats that's going around us and know how to deal with it in a logical and systemic matter. >> "the looming tower" you can watch it on hulu, ali and lawrence wright, author of "the looming tower: al qaeda and the road to 9/11." you have to read that book. it's now a series on hulu. ali soufan, the real-life fbi agent that is portrayed in "the looming tower." thank you, guys. >> my pleasure. >> thank you. all right. president trump is talking to reporters now in san diego. let's go back there and listen to what he said a few moments ago. >> has coming here to see these been -- >> we're looking very much at the wall with some see-through capability on the other side and solid concrete on top or steel and concrete on top.
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the round piece you see up there or you see more clearly back there, the larger it is, the better it is, because it's harder to get over the top. it's really deterrent from getting over the top. who would think? but getting over the top is over the top is easy. these are like professional mountain climbers. they can't climb of these walls. some of them they can. those are the walls we're not using. so we determined, you guys have done a fantastic job. we've determined what to do. when we build, we're not saying, oh, gee, i wish we did it a different way, but if you didn't have it, you would have a tremendous problem. even the walls they have now, they're not holding out. they're not holding up. they're small, but they're really great compared to what they had before. stopped about 95%. >> i can just point out, we're showing pictures of the united states, of course, too. there's been an equal benefit, tijuana, mexico, you don't have all the activity hanging out on the south side of the fence. it's improved the borders on
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both sides. not just our side. >> okay, folks. >> what do you say to criticism from governor brown that some of the money might be better spent? >> i think governor brown has done a poor job running california. have the highest taxes in the united states. the place is totally out of control. you have sanctuary cities, you have criminals living in the sanctuary cities and the mayor of oakland goes out and dmoetdydmoetdy notifies when i.c.e. is going to pick them up. criminals, you would say dangerous people. i think the governor is doing a terrible job running the state of california. you know, hey, i have property in california, i will say. i don't think too much about my property anymore but i have great property in california. the taxes are way, way out of whack. and people are going to start to move pretty soon. if you don't have safety, meaning if you don't have this kind of wall, the drugs are pouring through in california. can't do it. so the governor of california, nice guy, i think he's a nice
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guy. knew him a long time ago. has no the done the job. the taxes are double and triple what they should be. and everybody that lives in california, they know it. thank you very much, everybody. >> thank you. to your left, everyone. >> all right. president trump is going to be speaking again in about one hour in california. you're not going to want to miss that. up next, we're live in pennsylvania where voters there are casting their ballots in a special congressional election between democrat connor lamb, guy on the right, and republican rick saccone, guy on the left. does lamb have the momentum to turn the trump-dominated district from red to blue? would this be a preview of november's midterm elections? we'll talk about it on the other side.
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cold and snowy election day in western pennsylvania. polls in district 18 will close? a little over four hours. because of this special election. the deciding between conor lamb, democrat, rick saccone, the republican, who president trump tweeted his endorsement for mths morning a few minutes before dropping the news also on twitter he fired rex tillerson. vaughn hillyard is in mcke mckeesport, pennsylvania. vaughn, what is going on, how are things looking there? >> reporter: good, despite, snow, ali, there are plenty of voters coming here to this voting location in mckeesport. the question is when the polls close, three hours from now, who's going to win? is conor lamb the democrat despite really all the odds when that seat became available after the resignation of the former
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republican congressman, tim murphy, at that time, people viewed this as a district, right, plus 20 for trump, mccain won it, romney won it. when you're looking for republicans, there's going to be about 15 open competitive seats in which republicans have left their post. it's going to be a kind of similar situation as what you see here. the question for republicans, what type of candidates are dthy able to field in open congressional seats like here? the democrats had a field day. f they' they've taken a particular strategy they could follow along the lines of conor lamb. this is kasie hunt asking conor lamb about the president and rex tillerson earlier this morning. >> you know, i don't real wily e any comment on that either way. i've been very focused on our voters here. they overwhelmingly want me to work with the president where it benefits us in if western pennsylvania. i'll be more than happy to do that. >> reporter: conor lamb over the last week, ali, has refused to do television interviews up until those words you just heard because it's very careful waters
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in which he's trying to tread when it comes to around support for the president. i've talked to plenty of democrats and republicans here who still stand by president trump. they say they'd vote for him again but they're going to vote for conor lamb. they say he's taken the high road and think when he gets do congress that he's able to work. the question is to what extent are other democrats in november able to kind of follow a similar path as conor lamb is? >> vaughn, thanks very much for your reporting there. the nation will be glued to this news as it comes s out tonight the results of the news in pennsylvania's 18th. right now investigators in austin, texas, are searching for the persons or persons behind three deadly package explosions in the past two weeks. on monday two different packages exploded at two different homes killing a 17-year-old boy and injuring at least two others. earlier in the month a package boll killed a 39-year-old man. police say the attacks are related but say it's too soon to tell if they're the work of one person. all this is going on during austin's popular south by southwest conference. police say the attacks are
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unrelated to the event. eight days after a former russian spy and his daughter were poisoned with a deadly nerve agent, a russian critic of vladimir putin has been found dead in his london home. counterterrorism police are leading the investigation into what officials are calling nicolai gluchkov's death. a close aide to someone who died under mysterious circumstances in 2013. there's no connection between his death and the poisoning of sergie skripal and his daughter. this wraps up the busy hour for me. i'm not going to see you at 11:00. stephanie's got that tomorrow morning. i'll be on assignment in washington. i'll be back at 3:00 p.m. eastern. thank you for watching . "deadline white house" with nicolle wallace starts roo educate now. hi, everyone, it's 4:00 in new york. for those of you keeping up with definitions in the time of trump, a warning from the white house chief of staff that you might get a tweet is the new
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you're fired. donald trump is fighting a cascade of unwelcome headlines about his alleged sexual relationship with porn star stormy daniels and ongoing fallout from the security clearance debacle including today's departure of one of his close st aides, guy literally with the title, body man, escorted off the white house grounds. against that backdrop, donald trump gave rex tillerson the ax this morning and replaced him with cia director mike pompepom. all the news delivered on twitter. the move raising eyebrows for, if nothing else, the optics of firing the guy who took a tougher line on russia yesterday than the white house and replacing him with the guy who took such a soft line on russia as cia director that the cia had to walk back his comments. it's been under pompeo's tenure as director of the cia that we have a president who does not read his


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