tv Andrea Mitchell Reports MSNBC March 30, 2018 9:00am-10:00am PDT
catt was born in 1859 in wisconsin, joined the women's suffrage association in 1887. and in 1892, susan b. anthony asked her to work with congress directly on women's voting rights and she took over as leader of that movement in 1900. in 1920 the is 19th amendment became law. catt died in 1948. thanks for watching. i'm chris jansing. right now "andrea mitchell reports." right now -- red alert. russia test fires a new missile and kicks out more western diplomats as tensions escalate over the kremlin's suspected poisoning of a former spy and his daughter in england. all this as russia's new ambassador to the u.s. tells savannah guthrie on "today," relations between the two countries are the worst he can remember. >> it seems to me the atmosphere
in washington is poison. is poisoned. it is a toxic atmosphere. off message. president trump turning a policy speech in ohio on infrastructure into a campaign style rally, a political event on the taxpayers' dime. >> you saw those beautiful pictures and that wall looks good. it's properly designed. that's what i do, is i build. one democrat said we want to get rid, we should get rid of our second amendment. in other words, get rid of it. that's really -- could be right about that. so we're going to protect our second amendment. that's not going to happen. when i was growing up we had what's called vocational schools. they weren't called community colleges, because i don't know what that means, a community college. and firing line. former va secretary david
shulkin tells chris hayes he talk to the president shortly before he was fired. >> when is the last time you spoke to him? >> i spoke to the president yesterday. >> what was that conversation like? >> we spoke about the progress that i was making, what i needed to do from a policy perspective to make sure that we were fixing the issues in va. >> that's before you were fired? >> that's correct. >> you spoke to him. he made no mention of the fact that he was about to terminate you. >> that's correct. good afternoon, everyone. i'm andrea mitchell in washington. vladimir putin flexing his military muscle with a test launch of what russia claims is a new hypersonic long-range missile called say tan 2 by nato. putin claiming it is invincible against western defense systems. this as russia retaliates against the u.s. for expelling russian diplomats over that attempted assassination in salisbury, england. now in a tit for tat move, russia kicking out 60 american
diplomats from moscow and shutting down the u.s. consulate in st. petersburg. today european ambassadors were called in to the russian foreign ministry to get their marching orders. nbc's kristen welcher is at the white house. nbc's keir simmons in london. nbc's national security and military reporter courtney kube is at the pentagon today. we'll go to court in i ney in a moment. kristen, start us off at the white house. the escalating tension and confusion. the signals the president is sending to vladimir putin. >> that's right, andrea. the three of us have been reporting on the mixed messaging here. fact that you have these strong actions being taken by the trump administration, and yet we're not hearing that strong language come from president trump himself. it is notable obviously because he is someone who takes to twitter to criticize just about everyone who he has an issue
with. so we have been told according to our sources that president trump's been reluctant to take strong action against russia, against vladimir putin, for a couple of reasons. one, because he wants to find a working relationship with russia, a stable relationship he believes is better in dealing with a number of international c crises. he also doesn't want to play into the media's hands that russia meddled in the collusiel and that there collusion. he's denied that claim. some say this could lead to a better working relationship with putin. we are also told behind the scenes the president was infuriated after president putin flexed his muscle about his nuclear arsenal in the days leading up to his own re-election. that really got under the president's skin. so you'll recall he had that phone call with putin. the read-out officially was that the phone call was very
cooperative, it was a pleasant phone call. but behind the scenes, we're told that the president really needled putin about some of those warnings that he was giving on his nuclear arsenal, the president saying something very similar to you don't want to have a nuclear arms race, that will be bad. but if we do, i will win. that's part of why you're seeing this disconnect and really torn in terms of the messaging he's giving to his own top advisors, in some instances tense thlling not to talk about these actions they're taking against russia. >> it has to be confusing to our european allies. keir simmons in russia, theresa may not knowing why the president did not come to her defense and backing against russia when she first said that the kremlin was responsible. rex tillerson did, then he was fired almost immediately after saying that russia was the culprit there of that poisoning attack. >> yeah. i mean the issue in europe right now will be dealing with the
reaction from russia. diplomat after diplomat being called in this moscow to be told that russia is retaliating. diplomats from france, germany, italy, poland, the list goes on, in response to the concerted action by the west. it won't be a comfortable experience. there's nothing quite as stern as intimidating as facing an angry russian diplomat. they call it in russia face control, controlling the face so you don't smile. but joking aside, we heard the russian ambassador telling savannah guthrie that he believes the relationship is poisoned. and on that, i think all sides can probably agree. the u.n. secretary-general worrying openly that relations with russia are descending dangerously and worrying in particular that, unlike the cold war, there aren't the same safeguards in place to prevent this escalating into a more serious kind of conflict.
we're nowhere near that, of course, at this stage, but this has always been the risk with russia, is that, plainly, russia does have a very substantial military and how do you call russia to account without at the same time putting yourself on a path that would be dangerous. the answer clearly -- it appears, according to our reporting from president trump, is that you make very clear to the russian president that in an arms race america would effectively win that. >> and with all these mixed signals, courtney, you were also part of that reporting team. talk about this icbm. we saw the lunch, what they put out from the defense ministry. what's it tell us about their military capability and the question is did they notify the u.s. properly if they're supposed to under our arms control treaties? >> that's a question, andrea, that we're still trying to get an answer to.
of course, as you know better than anyone else, under a treaty application they are supposed to notify the united states in advance of any kind of test like this. the united states actually conducted a trident missile launch earlier this week and they notified russia in advance, they complied with the obligation. but we don't yet have confirmation from any mill stare or state department officials whether russia did notify them in advance. what's particularly concerning about this launch, it is not really a new capability, but if in fact it was a successful test of a hypersonic icbm, that's something that the u.s. missile defense systems just cannot defend against. a hypersonic missile of course is one that goes high up into the atmosphere, it comes back down and it flies very fast and lower towards the earth than what we would see in a normal -- in a more standard bliallistic missile which has an arc and
slightly different trajectory. that's not something the u.s. missile defenses are built to withstand. this one also russia is saying it had up to 15 nuclear warheads on it. that's another thing that u.s. missile defenses just cannot defend against. they can not -- each individual interceptor, u.s. interceptor that would be used to defend against a missile is -- takes out one warhead. 15 coming at one time would be a tremendous threat to the u.s. >> thanks to you, courtney, kristen welker and keir simmons in london. joining me now, former u.s. ambassador to russia, michael mcfaul. rick stengel, former under secretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs. and tom donlin. former national security advisor. how unusual would it be for russia to test this kind of missile without notifying the united states? >> i don't think we're surprised
with capability. also the u.s. missile defense system is a tactical system not a defense system. it would be usually violative of obligations not to inform. but it shouldn't be surprising to us at this point. russia is actively hostile to the united states at this point. it is engaging brazenly in violation of international law, in norms across the board from crimea all the way through the providesenings. i don't think our response has been adequate to this point. >> what should we do? >> i can think of a number of other things. first of all we need to protect our elections and spend the money that congress appropriated. second i think we need to impose economic sectoral sanctions which are suppliesed by congress with super majority votes last august. third i think we should focus the nato summit coming up in july on the russia challenge. the last nato summit, the first summit that president trump went to they didn't even discuss russia because they were afraid of upsetting president trump. this needs to be the focus now i think of nato and i think a couple of other things.
then i will yield to mike and rick. i think we should be looking at these violations of international law and war crimes in syria. >> because of the use of chemicals -- >> well, no, because i think since august of 2015 i think russia has aided and abetted syria in a number of clear war crimes. they're building a file, various organizations on this. i think we in the united states should be building this file as well. like i said, brazen violations of international law and norms across the board from crimea to ukraine, to syria, to the shootdown of ml-17, to testing nato, supplying the taliban and the poisonings. there is a broad range of things here. it is not just responding to the poisoning. there is a broad range of things here where russia's engaged in active hostile measures against the united states. it needs president trump to respond personally. >> mike mcfaul, we are now hearing from the reporti ining the president -- he didn't raise
the issue of the poisoning in the uk but he did say if you're going to have an arms race, we're going to win that one. does that indicate that he's getting tougher with putin and why was the white house so reluctant to reveal that? >> well, first of all, if he'd said that, he has every reason in the world to say it publicly, so let's just be clear about what white house officials do in terms of spin of read-outs of calls for president trump. but secondly, i just really want to underscore something that tom just hinted at. we need a new strategy of containment. a neocon tanmetainment strategy we are thinking consciously about how to contain these things russia is doing and pushing back. i think we were moving that way after the russia annexation in ukraine where we had multiple extensions doing that, then we got to the trump administration and president trump stopped it. and to this day he has not said a single word about how we need
to have this comprehensive strategy. and that disconnect, as you're reporting, as nbc's reporting said earlier, that makes him look weak in the eyes of putin and i think he really needs to come out, maybe make a major statement, major speech on russia so that the russians understand there is not a disconnect between the president and his own administration. >> to rick stengel, what do you see in terms of these mixed messages and how they're received in europe as well as in moscow? >> well, i think tom and mike did a spectacular job of summarizing everything. i'll connect the dots in one respect which is that what we saw with the annexation of crimea and the invasion of ukraine and the beginning of a containment policy i agree needs to be continued on. what we saw there was, in a way, a test run for what russia did here in the election of 2016. so i think this idea of containing russia in terms of the messaging it does, in terms of the violations of international norms, i mean what they did in ukraine was the
biggest violation of borders basically since world war ii. i think this idea of trump having to give some kind of statement to say, look, to the american people, they are our adversary. we need to have a strategy to contain them, i know i've not criticized vladimir putin before in the past but this is serious business and we need an overarching strategy to contain them. i think that's a very good point. >> what do you think of the nbc report, carol lee and team, of him telling his aides don't talk about vladimir putin. what do you think he's doing there? >> well, again, i always -- i'm always a little skeptical about this kind of reporting. and the thing that we've seen with trump, and even the statement about that he got riled up and said to putin, if you challenge me to an arms race, i'll beat you, is that he has these emotional strings that people pull on all the time and the fact, for example, that he reacted emotionally to when putin said let's start negotiating -- re-negotiating
the restart treaty that obama started, trump raled against it because it was something obama today. everyone knows that in diplomacy you build on what the folks did before you and trump has to do that. >> in fact what he's doing, tom, is trying to unravel what was done before him with the iran deal and other issues. john bolton. what influence might he and mike pompeo, who are both a lot more hawkish on russia and other issues, what influence might they have on the president going forward? >> well, a couple things. one is to reinforce what mike and rick just said. one of the oddest aspects of american foreign policy under president trump has been the refusal to criticize vladimir putin. despite the fact that we've gone through there list of actively hostile measures that russia's taken to undermine the west and the united states. it is an inexplicable, to this point, aspect of american foreign policy. second, with respect to ambassador bolton and director
pompeo, there seems to be in the administration no shortage of expertise and understanding what the russians are up to except on the part of the president in terms of his accepting the advice that he gets. there still remains this distance between the advisors and administration itself and the president. we'll have to see if ambassador bolton or director pompeo when they come in their new roles can narrow that gap. >> mike mcfaul, what other steps would you recommend we take, economic sanctions perhaps against oligarchs? what do you think might really get vladimir putin's attention? >> well, i like tom's list. write that down, tom. send that memo in to the new national security advisor. and what's important about it -- i mean i would put at the top of the list sanctions against those business people close to putin, especially those that do a lot
of business in london. that will get their attention. but what i said about tom's list is important is because it is comprehensive. it's not just a tit for tat. it's not just one instance in response this "this." it is a set of policies. multi-dimensional across a big sphere. that's what grand strategy is and that's what we need for dealing with putin's russia today. >> and, rick, you are an expert on public diplomacy. do we need to hear the voice of the president of the united states? >> yes. i think this idea of inconsistency is something that is flummoxing the administration. they can have pretty good policies on sanctions, pretty good policies on different things. but if the president doesn't echo it, then somehow it seems to dismantle it and it is a kind of signal to vladimir putin that we don't really mean it. so i think that's a very disturbing part of this. and as tom said, it is absolutely inexplicable that trump has not been able to say anything negative about president putin.
>> the economic pressure is really important i think here. there was a xlcolumnist this morning said this is kind of old school, tit for tat. there needs to be pressure that vladimir putin and his regime will feel and it has to be in the economic sphere. >> i can't think of a better way to start off than with this panel today. thank you all so very much. today, trouble in the middle east on the israeli-gaza border. the palestinian health ministry says now at least 13 people have been killed, more than 1,000 injured in fights between demonstrators and israeli soldiers. israel has similar numbers. there was supposed to be the start of six weeks of peaceful protests to culminate in a march toward israel in may to mark the 70th anniversary of the jewish state's creation. of course on may 14th, the move of the u.s. embassy from tel aviv to jerusalem, something the palestinians are protesting against as well.
coming up, a political hit job? former va secretary david shulkin talking about why he thinks he was fired. you're watching "andrea mitchell reports." more than a thousand workers are starting their day building on over a hundred years of heritage, craftsmanship and innovation. today we're bringing you america's number one shave at lower prices every day. putting money back in the pockets of millions of americans. as one of those workers, i'm proud to bring you gillette quality for less, because nobody can beat the men and women of gillette. gillette - the best a man can get. not in this house. 'cause that's no average family. that's your family. which is why you didn't grab just any cheese. you picked up kraft mozzarella with a touch of philadelphia
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you said this explicitly -- the ig stories and stories about the trip those were an effort to get rid of you. >> the political appointees within the va that did not like the type of progress we were making. >> did you know that? were you watching this happening and you were saying the people who work in the building with me who are appointees of the president are actively trying to get me fired right now through this. >> yes, that is correct. >> joining me now, three msnbc contributor, "weekly standard" contributor, charlie sykes. "new york times" political reporter jeremy peters. and tbs "news hour" white house correspondent yamiche alcindor. yamiche, you and i both got the easter message memo today. charlie sykes, first to you. the firing of david shulkin, what does it tell us that the president talked to david shulkin, as chris hayes discovered live on television last night on ""all in with
chris hayes"" that the president talked to shulkin about plans going forward and he didn't know he was fired officially? it had been plenty of weeks until john kelly called him to watch his twitter feed. how is it donald trump talked to his veterans affairs secretary and was not able to say the words "you're fired." >> even by the standards of this administration, that exchange last night on chris hayes' show was jaw dropping. it is the casual calculated cruelty and management by humiliation that we've seen by this president. it is obvious donald trump does in the want to say the words himself. he always wants an interimmediate yaintermee interimmediate yaer. it is interesting how often he avoids any kind of actual confrotatico confrontation or really accountability to what he's doing to one of his key cabinet members. that is an important as agency
for the trump administration as any, and yet to see how incredibly shambolic it has become and how shambolic this process has played out, it was pretty remarkable. >> yamiche, they have an ig inspector general's report on his travel to england, he was basically sight seeing with his wife. he says it was preapproved and he did plenty of work. it seems to fire him and keep scott pruitt, there was an abc report yesterday that scott pruitt went on a first class trip with staff all flying super first class to morocco to sell liquefied natural gas, which is not part of his purview with the epa. and that there is a possible conflict of interest because he's been staying at the home of a hobbyist on capitol hill of the lobbyist of liquefied gas? >> it seems until the president feels personally embarrassed by
the people around him you can still stay in his good graces. i would say if this scott pruitt goes on and on, scott pruitt could also be worried about his job. back to the method how he fired his va secretary, imagine as reporters are always asking sarah sanders does this person have the confidence of the president, she's always saying they will know if they've lost the confidence. in that case the person lost the confidence and the president himself couldn't say that. when we think about how the other cabinet secretaries feel about their jobs, none of them probably feel at all some sense of comfort from the president because they don't know who could be next. >> it is friday, so jeremy, might we hear a new communications director today? hope hicks' last day i guess was yesterday. the president feeling very "home alone." he's down in mar-a-lago. could there be other changes today? >> we just don't know until they pull the trigger. but the problem with this president is he's so reluctant to pull the trigger. the big misconception of this presidency is, is trump is this
aggressor, decisive and he pulls the trigger with ease. he sin credibly passive aggressive. look at how he fired rex tillerson. look at how he fired the va director. these were remarkably similar in just how weak-kneed they were. he refused to confront these people directly and it el them to their faces they're fired. he enjoys to cyber bully people. when he can do it on twitter, he is perfectly happy. when it comes to face to face, he is much more reserved. >> he certainly was happy of being silent all week. he was out in ohio at what really had the appearance of a political rally. it was supposed to be about infrastructure but this is the kind of speech he gave. let's take a sample. >> how about -- i tell this, because being a builder, we can all talk as friends. we're all builders in this room. i was always very good at building. it was always my best thing. i think maybe even better than being president i was good at
building. they had sadists who treated our builders horribly. like a movie. we're going to have 100% of the caliphate, as they call it, sometimes referred to as land. we're taking it all back quickly. quickly. even look at roseanne. i called her yesterday. look at her ratings. look at her ratings. >> charlie, what do you make of this? this is supposed to be a government paid-for trip, not a political rally. >> what a surprise that donald trump went off script here. what is it about infrastructure and infrastructure week? even though he says it is an important part of his agenda, he can't stay focused on it. maybe because infrastructure is, what? boring and he knows he doesn't really have a plan and nothing's going to get done. but that was a quintessential trump speech and clearly he felt liberated from washington and you had that kind of stream of consciousness. but even by those standards,
again, his inability to stay on message when it comes that would be central to his agenda really continues to be striking this far into his presidency. >> charlie sykes, jeremy peters, gentleman mee yamiche alcindor, thank you all very much. fox news feeling backlash to laura ingraham's backlash against david hogg. johnson & johnson, and trip advisor, are responding to calls from consumers saying they no longer want their ads to run during ingram's show. david hogg joins me now by phone. david, first of all, tell me how you're doing because you've been facing a lot of social media reaction to all of this. do you accept laura ingraham's apology? she did apologize issuing a statement on twitter saying that any student should be proud of a 4.2 gpa, including david hogg and on reflection, she wrote, in the spirit of holy week i apologize for any upset or hurt
my tweet caused him or any of the brave victims of parkland. for the record, she added, i believe my show was the first to feature david immediately after that horrific shooting and even noted how poised he was after the tragedy. as always, he is welcome to return to the show any time for a productive discussion. are you ready to return to the show? >> no, i'm not. because she only apologized after one-third of her advertisers dropped out. she's gone after lebron james, dwyane wade and other people. when she went to dartmouth she tried exposing gay individuals at the school by sending in an undercover reporter which is just deplorable. she is a bully and she needs to be held accountable. i don't care what title you have or are you are, a bully is a bully and you have to be held accountable. that's what we're trying to do here. >> she would of course say that she's apologized and asking if you aring whether to take that apology but you apparently are not. >> no. because realize this -- in the same tweet where she apologized to me she tried promoting her
show at the same time. i just found that sickening. >> and what are your next plans, david? >> well, in terms of the movement, what we have coming up is a town hall on april 7th, and we're trying to get one in every congressional district. then we have another national school walkout on april 20th. >> the april 20th walkout commemora commemorating? >> yeah. april 20th walkout is commemorating the anniversary of columbine, yeah. >> well, safe travels to you and good luck going forward. all of us were really incredibly moved by the events of last saturday. thanks for joining us today. >> thank you. it is just the beginning. >> thank you. next up -- suing saudi arabia. a legal breakthrough for 9/11 families against saudi arabia. we'll talk to one of the leaders in that fight coming up next. stay with us. - there's a common thread i see every time i'm in the field. while this was burning, you were saving other homes. neighbors helping neighbors and strangers alike. - this is what america's about.
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such good and important work for the environment. together, we're building a better california. in an important tefk case f test case for a group of 9/11 families, a federal judge is now upholding their right to sue saudi arabia, home of 15 of the 19 hijackers. the lawsuit alleges that saudi arabia had a role in the planning and financing of the
september 11th terror attacks, something that the kingdom has strongly denied. the lawsuit is the first of its kind since congress overwrote a veto by former president obama to uphold a law permitting legal action against sponsors of terrorism. i'm joined by terry strada, national chair for the 9/11 survivors and families. terry, this has been a long, long struggle for all of you to get this law passed, to override a presidential veto and to now win the first test in court. tell us what happens next. >> well, what happens next is the lawyers will follow the judge's order and begin the discovery process. that way we will start to learn many more of the missing pieces to the role that the saudis played in financing, aiding, abetting the hijackers here in the united states. >> as you know, there is a new leader, the crown prince. he's now in the united states,
mohammed bin salman. he is a reformer in terms of gender rules in the kingdom, the economy. but he's also been very tough on opposition, political rivals. he's pursuing a war in yemen against iranian interests there. so he's a controversial, but a very large figure, but closely allied with this president, president trump went to riyadh. it was his first overseas trip, his first big summit. what do you do facing a very different kind of young saudi leader? >> well, we're going to do the same thing we've been doing and get them to own up to the responsibility that they have in financing and aiding, abetting the 9/11 attack. this prince is deflecting. he's blaming everybody and not taking a good look at the nation that he comes from and the responsibility that they have in having these handlers here in our country, out in california, meeting these hijackers, giving them the financial stability
that they needed to live in our country, take their flying lessons, rent their cars, apartments, all of that. the two gentlemen we know about in california are just two of them. how many more were here on 9/11, and how many are still here? so i know he's cleaning house in saudi arabia. he needs to do some cleaning house here in america, also. >> do you have concerns about the administration which is cementing an alliance with saudi arabia, more so than with any other of the middle east figures, persian gulf leaders. >> my biggest concern is the islam that they've spread across the word. we need to address that very seriously. hoping that the investigation, that our lawsuit, will go forward with this discover and we learn so many more of the details that they were involved in. that the blinders will come off and we will have a different type of relationship with them and we will be better able to protect ourselves going forward.
i know that we need them strategically. i understand that. but i think that's where it should start and end. >> one of his reforms is to restrain the wahabiism and the more radically inclined clerics there within saudi arabia. that's what he says. do you have any confidence in that? >> that's what he says he's doing over if saudi arabia? i want to see him do that over here in the united states, also. when he owns up to it and realizes how many are in our country and he either takes them back or he allows us to deal with them and send them back, then i might start to believe that he's serious about cleaning up the mess that they have made by spreading this very, very horrible form of islam around the world and here in the united states. >> terry strada, as always, it is good to see you. keep in touch about this case as
it goes forward in the courts. >> i will. yeah. thank you. coming up -- the embattled attorney general, jeff sessions, under pressure. you're watching "andrea mitchell reports." more on that in a moment. i feel chronic, widespread pain. fibromyalgia may be invisible to others, but my pain is real. fibromyalgia is thought to be caused by overactive nerves. lyrica is believed to calm these nerves. i'm glad my doctor prescribed lyrica. for some, lyrica delivers effective relief for moderate to even severe fibromyalgia pain. and improves function. lyrica may cause serious allergic reactions, suicidal thoughts or actions. tell your doctor right away if you have these, new or worse depression, unusual changes in mood or behavior, swelling, trouble breathing, rash, hives, blisters, muscle pain with fever, tired feeling, or blurry vision. common side effects: dizziness, sleepiness, weight gain, swelling of hands, legs and feet. don't drink alcohol while taking lyrica. don't drive or use machinery until you know how lyrica affects you.
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justice in a way that can be respected for years to come, not to allow the department to be just a political advance arm to advance an agenda. >> is attorney general sessions keeping that pledge? under pressure by some die-hard critics of the mueller probe to appoint a second counsel to investigate the handling of the clinton e-mails. sessions tried to name a u.s. attorney in utah to see whether it is warranted. chuck rosenberg is a former senior fbi official and former attorney. did he pull it off? >> i think so. i think threading the needle is sort of an apt description. i don't think this warranted a special counsel. i think you save that for extra ordinary circumstances. and by the way, in asking john huber, the u.s. attorney in utah to sort of lead this inquiry, he picked a thoughtful, decent,
experienced career guy. so, yeah, threading the needle. >> carter page was on with chris hayes. chris hayes had one heck of a show last night. i watched it twice, it was so good. >> i saw it. >> carter page. this figure in the midst of all of this, claiming that he wants to have his fisa warrant declassified so that everybody can read it. what about all the confusion about the fisa warrants and whether the fbi acted appropriately or inappropriately and the doj, of course, in going to the fisa judge? >> i would sort of like to see it, too. but, frankly, as an institutionalist, i prefer these things to remain classified and under seal. that said, i participated in the fisa process when i worked for bob mueller at the fbi at his counsel, andrea. here's what i can tell you -- the process is really careful and really exacting. so mr. page ought to be careful about what he asks for because i'm not so sure he really, truly wants all of this out in the public. >> there are also reports,
reuters first reporting what seemed pretty credible, it seem to be an obvious path for mueller to take, which is to look at the way the republican platform was changed once manafort took over and was running the convention and there was a big right turn -- or left turn -- if you will in terms of the platform language on ukraine and russia and certainly much more to manafort and his clients' likings. so looking at whether or not there was undue influence on that, that would make sense. that would be manafort and rick gates. >> and perhaps others. it makes perfect sense to look at it. why were things dropped? was it the result of thoughtful policy discussion and give and take as you might expect at any convention? or was it something nefarious, that "they," whoever "they" are were getting something in return for altering the republican platform. for a prosecutor like me, andrea, that's a really interesting question. >> as always, chuck rosenberg, thank you very much.
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in ohio on thursday, the president was talking about his planned meeting with kim jong-un, a meeting he is planning without a confirmed security of state and before his new national security adviser takes over. the u.s. does not have an ambassador in south korea after 15 months of cutbacks at state department. joining me is david rank, the former deputy chief of mission and acting ambassador at the embassy in china. just back from beijing. very good to see you. >> good to see you. >> you were just in beijing at the same time as kim jong-un. i think you were staying at the same guest complex? >> the same complex, yeah. big complex, but suddenly -- >> what were the signs something was up? >> overnight they said that part of the complex, can't go there anymore. and it's the state guest house. only a few really high level folks show up there. and that kind of security meant either donald trump or kim jong-un. >> we knew where donald trump was. >> he was making a lot of news
here, yeah. >> what do you think about the way the president spontaneously agreed to this summit with kim jong-un, surprising his south korean visitors who were there to brief him on what to expect and he said, fine, i'll do it? >> well, i think everyone was surprised, right? >> is that a good thing or a bad thing? >> you know, the element of surprise, some value to it. i worry about the implementation. there are a lot of issues. look at what went into the last time we had in-depth negotiations with the north koreans almost 20 years ago, it takes a lot of preparation. we have to make sure we have all our ducks in a row and all our allies in the right place. we don't even have a state department to speak of at this point. >> which brings me to why you stepped down after a stellar career. at the top of the state department in foreign sefrks and now people are home alone. >> yeah, unfortunately. there are some great career folks who are fighting the good
fight. they are doing the work of the american people. and they are looking forward to working with mike pompeo, assuming he's confirmed, to try to pick up some of the pieces that are there because it was a really tough 14 months under rex tillerson. >> because there were nominations, there weren't confirmations and so many cutbacks or he didn't understand the process, the role. >> i think there were a lot of factors there. i don't think he understood the function of the state department. he wasn't interested in managing it. didn't have a connection with the president that aloud him to speak with authority. and he didn't share confidence with the really -- i mean, i worked for 30 years with the people of the state department. they want to do the work of the american people. he didn't give them that chance. mike pompeo comes in, i think, with a better reputation as a manager and optimistic on that regard. >> then john bolton visiting the
pentagon yesterday. jim mattis trying to indicate and dispel rumors, a lot of reports that he's nervous about the new national security adviser. let's show an overheard moment as john bolton was arriving. >> ambassador bolton. >> so good to see you. >> thank you for inviting me over. >> thanks for coming and -- >> mr. secretary -- >> ambassador -- >> the devil incarnate. the fact is that john bolton is a really good bureaucratic infighter among other things. he's going to be right down the hall from the president. what does that portend for jim mattis and mike pompeo? >> we've always known secretary mattis was a really important figure in this administration. a voice of calm and reason and long-term stability. and it's just going to be more important. john bolton, if you look at his
track record of iraq and north korea and iran, he has really bad judgment on those. the iraq war is a trillion-dollar mistake. cost hundreds of thousands of lives. he was part of the group that pulled us out of the agreed framework which led to the situation we're in now where you have north korea with nuclear weapons and the ability to deliver them to the united states. in the career foreign service, if you make a trillion-dollar mistakes like that you don't get promoted or another chance. john bolton has a chance to make good. >> an optimistic forecast, i guess. steve rank, great to see you. >> thanks. with the final four tipping off tomorrow in san antonio, among the great stories from this year's tournament, the cinderella loyola. sister jean today.
>> i like to pray for both teams so that especially the fans who might hear me know that i'm partly on one side but only partly because at the end of the prayer, i always ask god to be sure that the scoreboard indicates that the ramblers have the big "w." >> villanova is also hoping to have faith on their side when they face off against kansas. team chaplain father rob hagan is one of the school's associate athletic directors and a fixture on the sideline. also the story of kansas star udoko izuboki. his mother attempting to see him play for the first time hoping to make the trip to texas from nigeria in time for tomorrow night's game. she was granted a travel visa. we're hoping she gets there. plenty of reason to watch tomorrow's games, even if your bru bracket is busted as mine was.
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sorry to be out of time. craig melvin, happy holidays to you. >> happy holidays to you, my friend. enjoy the weekend. >> craig melvin here at msnbc headquarters in new york. don't mention it. nbc's exclusive reporting reveals president trump does not want his increasingly tough policies on russia touted in public. meanwhile, overnight russia testing a new missile and ratchets up the tension. is