tv MSNBC Live With Katy Tur MSNBC May 24, 2018 11:00am-12:00pm PDT
much. it is 11:00 a.m. out west and 2:00 p.m. in washington where we are watching two big stories right now. first, at the white house, president trump has called off what would have been a historic meeting with north korea's kim jong- jong-un. our other big story is unfolding on the hill where intel officials are briefing the bipartisan gang of eight this hour on the fbi informant who aided the russia investigation. and we just learned from a doj official that white house lawyer emmitt flood, one of the president's attorneys, came to the doj for the meeting. but this official who talked to us did not know how much, if any, of the meeting flood was able to attend. more on that in a minute. but we are going to start with that breaking news on north korea, since ss touch big breaking news. president trump is walking away from the planned june 12th meeting with kim jong-un, at least for now. he sent a letter blaming the cancellation on the tremendous anger and open hostility in a recent statement by the north
koreans. >> well, many things can happen and a great opportunity lies ahead, potentially. i believe that this is a tremendous setback for north korea and indeed a setback for the world. our military, which is by far the most powerful anywhere in the world, and has been greatly enhanced recently, as you all know, is ready, if necessary. hopefully positive things will be taking place with respect to the future of north korea. but if they don't, we are more ready than we have ever been before. if and when kim jong-un chooses to engage in constructive dialogue, and actions, i am waiting. it's possible that the existing summit could take place, or a summit at some later date. nobody should be anxious.
we have to get it right. >> so the june 12 meeting is done. cancel the conference room. right? well, maybe not. president trump said it is possible a summit could still take place on that date. something echoed on capitol hill by secretary of state mike pompeo who played a key role in initially setting up the one-on-one. >> what i am hopeful is that we can continue to have conversations and put this back on track so that we can get to a place where we can achieve the outcome. >> outside of that hearing, lawmakers were quick to react. >> i think it is a good thing for kim jong-un. we got this letter from the president saying, okay, never mind, he must be having a giggle fit. >> we were in a much better situation, the entire world is safe. >> this is the example of what happens when you don't understand the nature of the diplomacy that has to take place. >> i think kim jong-un has made a serious mistake in deciding to
make it impossible for this summit to occur. i think president trump was right in walking away from a summit that clearly was not going to be about denuclearization. >> we have got a lot of questions. is this deliberate? the president has often bragged about lis ability to walkway from a negotiation. or was the white house just not prepared? and why didn't the white house give allies like south korea a heads-up? kim jong-un has already released the three american hostages, and today he may have dismantled one of his nuclear sites. so it all points us to our big question -- what happens next? what does north korea say, and are we headed for a nuclear showdown? we have got a team of reporters here in the u.s. and abroad to help us understand this. nbc's kelly o'donnell is at the white house. nbc's hans nichols is at the pentagon. and nbc's janice mackey-frayer is in beijing. kelly, first to a question that's nagging me. this statement seemed to come out of nowhere this morning. it was very abrupt.
why did the white house at the very least alert south korea? it seems like they did not, given the way south korea reacted. >> it would appear that the timeline put the release publicly before the contact the president had. he did say that he spoke with his counterparts in japan and south korea today. we don't have the exact timeline. we have seen, even in the initiation phase of this summit the abrupt way the president accepted the request from north korea and just feet from where i am standing now is where the south korean delegation came out and announced it a couple of months ago. so the protocol of how you notify your friends or how you publicly release this is not something that seemed to bear a great deal in the process. but as we are now hours after it, katy, i think it is important to keep looking for ways, that this is a tactical move that could still keep this perhaps on track. just listening to the president's words today where he was forceful in saying it is over, and then back saying, it could be, it could be back on,
including the same date, june 12th. so there is a lot of back and forth here on this. it has set into motion -- >> is it tactical -- i'm sorry to interrupt. but he's often -- that's how he speaks. maybe this is going to happen, maybe it is not going to happen. we'll see. it would be great. it would be terrible. he takes all sides of an issue in order to say, listen, i never promised this, or i'm not wrong, look what i said here. >> it's very trumpian syntax, no question. but the letter was more forceful, more direct and committed in a formal way. if we just take that, within the letter, there is still the, you can call me back, mr. kim jong-un, if you're interested. but it has triggered a response from other nations, and from lawmakers in both parties. some who believe the president made the right move by pulling out of this, not liking the rhetoric coming from north korea. others saying it exemplifies an administration that has not respected the long-term protocols of preparation and
planning for such a summit. i think a key thing will be to find out if the white house representatives who were intending to be in singapore in the next few days to scout locations and do all of the things that are required to prepare for the summit, if they still go, that's a sign i'm holding on to my airline tickets. >> good sign to watch out for. that letter, we're going to read the entire thing in full in just a couple minutes because it is worth hearing the entire thing in full. just a portion of it though, if you change your mind having to do with this most important summit, please do not hesitate to call me or write. that's what the president said to kim jong-un. and one other question that's been nagging me, kelly, that i hope you'll have some clarity on. john bolton initially brought up north korea ending like libya if this summit doesn't work out or saying that that was a good plan for denuclearization. the president squashed that. he dismissed that idea, said no, no, no, we're not doing that when north korea reacted poorly.
why did the vice president bring it up again in a fox news interview? >> it is curious. he was prompted by a question about what could trigger a failure in this before we knew about today's decision to hold off on the summit. and in his response, he said that really the only thing that could turn this in to the libyan model, meaning you denuclearize, and then the leader of the country is ultimately killed by his own people, would be an utter failure on kim jong-un's party. that's sort of where the vice president was going in the paragraph of his answer in a response to what could go wrong still. the problem with that, of course, is that it does invoke a dire ending for one of the parties of the summit and that was viewed unfavorably by north korea, prompting them to be critical of the vice president, which gave us one of our iterations today where we were saying, by speaking harshly of the sitting vice president of the united states before a summit, that that wouldn't fly. so that is one of the components that has caused the united
states to back away, perhaps much more strongly is the threat of nuclear showdown. but it was an interesting choice t from the vice president who typically does not freelance his comments very much. >> good point. janice, we haven't heard from north korea yet. when could we potentially hear from them? >> potentially, we could hear by tomorrow morning. the region has been blind-sided by this, in particular south korean president moon jae-in. he's been a proponent of the engagement with the north. he was just in d.c. meeting with president trump about preparations for the summit. now it appears there was no advanced communication with seoul that this letter was going to drop. as far as reaction from japan, there's nothing official yet, but people expect that shinzo abe might actually be a bit relieved. he was uneasy with the pace at which the diplomacy seemed to be moving forward. and there is no doubt that china
has a role in this. at least according to president trump. we can look at those comments that he made earlier this week about the change in attitude that he noticed in north korea and in kim jong-un since that second meeting that kim had with xi jinping. then again today, the president talking about dialogue being good until recently, and he thinks he knows why. so it is unclear whether he's apportioning some blame to china. but it does acknowledge the role that china plays in this. so they now re-assert that position. china now reclaims that leverage over north korea. remains to be seen whether we see that emerge in trade negotiations with the united states. but so much of what happens next is going to be determined by the reaction by north korea itself. kim jong-un had promised moon jae-in that he would stop testing missiles, but he's made no promise that he is going to stop building them. and even with the dismantling of
that nuclear testing site today, nothing has been verified, and even if it is, it will change nothing about north korea's nuclear capabilities. >> remember, tomorrow in north korea is today. it is 3:00 a.m. out there. so morning will be -- or when people are waking up, at least, will be just a few hours from now so we could hear something sooner than later. hans nichols, how is the pentagon reacting? >> what we've learned the last couple hours here at the pentagon, one, military assets we have out there are on high eye lert b alert but not on heightened alert. that's an important distinction because the pentagon says their posture has not changed. they are always on high alert out there, but they haven't raised it because of these breakdown in talks. the pentagon thinks to themselves as the engine room of diplomacy. they keep churning, they keep working. they're not necessarily concerned about what's happening atop the ship. they want to make sure though that the military provides options to the president. i also think we learned another couple things. one, in terms of sanctions enforcement along north korea and the maximum pressure
campaign, the pentagon is saying that they don't have any evidence that china is softening its enforcement of sanction. there had been some speculation about that. the initial view from the pentagon is that they don't think that china is walking back at all. and then crucially, they're still assessing intelligence here at the pentagon on whether or not that nuclear test site was completely dismantled. they are looking at pictures. they're looking at all the data. they'll ultimately make a determination on that. one quick thing, katy, rhetoric here, while it might seem quite hot, talks about ready to fight tonight and we're in a fighter stance, we're in a boxer's stance, a three-star general said earlier, that's fairly common here at the pentagon. just the fact that they're repeating it today, i don't think we should freight it with any more significance. rhetoric from this building hasn't changed. >> good context. hans nichols, thank you very much. kelly o'donnell. and janice mackey frayer, appreciate it. democratic senator ben carden of maryland joins us from capitol hill. he's member of the senate
foreign relations committee. senator, thank you for being here. do you know if anybody was made aware of this decision before it was announced this morning? >> i'm quite certain that no one on capitol hill knew about it. we had a hearing this morning with secretary pompeo. as we are walking to the hearing, we got the letter. and it was quite a surprise. it was a surprise to our chairman, senator corker and the members of our committee. so we were not expecting this. >> you said it was puzzling a little bit earlier today. you also talked about diplomacy. do you think that this is going to be a larger strategy for the president to get them back to the negotiating table with more favorable terms? is there reason to believe that? >> well, i have major questions as to how the president conducts foreign policy and diplomacy. so this, to me, is strange. but i do think the president understands that diplomacy is the only satisfactory way to resolve this crisis. and we all agree that north
korea is the bad guy. they're the ones who are violating the nuclear protocols and they need to denuclearize the korean peninsula. we all agree to that. but we need a pursued diplomacy. seems to me at times, including today, the president elevates the tension where i don't agree that was necessary. >> senator cardin, what do you think might happen next? before this, the president was trading jabs with the north korean leader, tweeting about his big nuclear button. and in this letter that he wrote to him he also says, you talk about your nuclear capabilities, but ours are so massive and powerful that i pray to god they will never have to it be used." are we heading for another nuclear showdown? or another testing of missiles? >> well, one of the positive results from these discussions is that we now have direct conversations from the united states and north korea. so i am hopeful that we'll see those communications continue.
there was some concern as to whether enough work had been done in preparation for the june 12th summit. i hope that we get back on track and that we can find a way to move forward. clearly we have to be very strong. our objective is to denuclearize the korean peninsula. we need to make sure we have inspections in place. we got to be tough, but we have to pursue diplomacy and i don't think it helps when we do these macho type of comments back and forth. >> well, on that, should people be nervous? i mean kim jong-un is irratic. he's got nuclear weapons. he was testing them, then suddenly he was conciliatory with the president. the president was taunting him with insults and tweets, then he was conciliatory towards the north korean leader. people are a little off center from all of this. should people be nervous given today's announcement? >> absolutely. i don't think north korea or the united states wants to initiate a military confrontation. but there could be a
miscalculation. and today's actions by president trump leaves that possibility as a stronger possibility that could be a miscalculation. once you start shooting, it could be extremely tragic. >> senator ben cardin, senator, thank you very much for joining us and helping us understand. and next -- the letter. the letter. and, what happens next. stay with us.
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welcome back. we're still following breaking news. donald trump has canceled the june 12th one-on-one in singapore between himself and the leader of north korea. the white house had said the summit was supposed to bring peace to the korean peninsula and denuclearize the north. the president called off a meeting in a letter to kim
jong-un. and here is the letter in full. "dear mr. chairman, we greatly appreciate your time, patience and effort with respect to our recent negotiations and discussions relative to a summit long sought by both parties, which was scheduled to take place on june 12st in singapore. we were informed the meeting was requested by north korea but that to us is totally irrelevant. i was very much looking forward to being there with you. sadly, based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, i feel it is inappropriate at this time to have this long-planned meeting. therefore, please let this letter serve to represent that
the singapore summit for the good of both parties, but to the detriment of the world, will not take place. you talk about your nuclear capabilities, but ours are so massive and powerful that i pray to god they will never have to be used. i felt a wonderful dialogue was building up between you and me, and ultimately it is only that dialogue that matters. some day, i look very much forward to meeting you. in the meantime, i want to thank you for the release of the hostages who are now home with their families. that was a beautiful gesture and was very much appreciated. if you change your mind having to do with this most important summit, please do not hesitate to call me or write. the world and north korea in particular has lost a great opportunity for lasting peace and great prosperity and wealth. this missed opportunity is a truly sad moment in
history. sincerely yours, donald j. trump, president of the united states of america."
former director for korea, japan and oceanic affairs at the national security council joins us. jeffrey lewis is the director of the east asia nonproliferation program at the middlebury institute at monterey. and rick stengel, former under secretary of state for diplomacy and foreign affairs during the obama administration. jeff jeffrey, what is that letter? >> well, my understanding is the president of the united states dick stat dictated that letter. wendy sherman who worked in the obama administration compared it to a break-up letter from a 13-year-old writing a stream consciousness from a relationship at an overnight camp. the president's ego has been bruised, and he's taking it out in letter form. >> you called it a goat rodeo, jeff. >> yes. i mean that's probably an insult to actual goat rodeos, but this has been a complete farce. the reason i pick that metaphor
is a rodeo is a kind of thing that has some drama. but if you were to replace the horses with goats, it is just funny. and this, frankly, would be pretty funny if we were talking about the risk of nuclear war. >> rick, i believe i saw on your twitter that you were comparing it to a break-up. >> a high school sophomore who wrote a letter to his girlfriend before she broke up with him is what it seems like. in fact, i thought you should have done more of a dramatic reading of letter to kind of reflect those emotions. no. i think the letter is just extraordinary, like so many things here. but i have to say this -- i think he was right to cancel the summit. he's canceling it because of his own incompetence. i mean what i think people don't realize of the colossal mistake he made. in diplomacy we have something called a deliverable. right? which is, after all these negotiations, we deliver something important that the other side wants. big deliverable for north korea was a summit with donald trump, the president of the united states. and donald trump delivered that before the negotiation even
happened. so there's bound to be confusion about this. terms have never been defined. obviously what the north koreans mean buy denuclearization is very different from what the united states means by it, and that, by the way, means it is going to end in tariffs. >> north korea already released the hostages. they made a show of destroying one of their nuclear plants. unclear if that was actually destroyed or if it was just a show for the tv cameras. but how do you expect them to respond to this? >> well, i think it depends. i think there is going to be a lot of back-channel negotiations going on. i'm sure south korea, which is very surprised by this, because president moon was just here and i don't think he was coordinated on this -- are going to try franticly to reach out to the north koreans to make sure north korea does not overreact to this. i think north koreans are surprised by this. even though they released these statements last week, they didn't mean to cancel the
meeting. right? because they didn't think that trump was actually going to scrap the meeting. i think they were just showing their irritation with all this talk coming out of washington about libya model, because they hate that. it is gadhafi. whenever they say, hear libya, they think of gadhafi. and all this stuff. they were just showing their irritation. i don't think they met for this meeting to be canceled. so i think they were taken aback by it. i don't think they'll necessarily return to provocations like missile testing. they just dismantled their nuclear test site and i don't think they need to do that right now so i think they'll bide their time and see what happens. >> why did this administration bring up libya over and over again? >> some people speculate because people like john bolton might want to capsize the talks if they bring it up to offend the north koreans. this morning when i woke up and saw the news they had allegedly destroyed one of their nuclear test sites, my first reaction was, wow, this summit is really coming together. they've done the deliverable on their end, which is to destroy nuclear site. it is all coming together which
is why it is so strange that that would happen today and reflects this kind of really chronic miscommunication between the two sides. >> jeffrey, how does china play into this? >> well, i think china is in a really interesting position because the president seems to be making china the scapegoat for this. we've heard the president over and over and over again say that north korea was going to give up their nuclear weapons but the position changed once the north koreans talked to chinese. i don't think that's true at all. but i think from the chinese perspective, they're really interested in north korea not making too much trouble. so one of the reasons i think the collapse of this summit is a big win for kim jong-un is he's made the chinese happy and he hasn't had to give anything up. it's pretty good day for him. >> jeffrey lewis, rick stengel, sumi terry, thank you very much. we'll have you back soon. see what happens next. this hour, the gang of eight is getting -- excuse me -- a classified briefing from the doj
on the fbi informant in the russia investigation. devin nunes already got that classified briefing. so what's he going to do with it? stay with us. mom? dad? hi! i had a very minor fender bender tonight in an unreasonably narrow fast food drive thru lane. but what a powerful life lesson. and don't worry i have everything handled. i already spoke to our allstate agent, and i know that we have accident forgiveness. which is so smart on your guy's part. like fact that they'll just... forgive you... four weeks without the car. okay, yup. good night. with accident forgiveness your rates won't go up just because of an accident. switching to allstate is worth it.
breaking news on north korea but there are several other stories unfolding in washington. at the white house, any moment, president trump will award the medal of honor to a retired navy s.e.a.l. who served in afghanistan. we'll bring that to you live when it happens. on capitol hill, the bipartisan gang of eight is getting an unprecedented and classified briefing behind closed doors on the fbi informant who aided the russia probe. the bipartisan gang of eight meeting is the second briefing of the day on that fbi informant. and it even -- and it wasn't even on the books until late last night. the original briefing, which happened earlier today, initially involved only members of president trump's administration, along with republican congressman trey gowdy and -- wait for it -- devin nunes. but a single democrat, adam schiff, joined the last minute. and a doj official tells nbc news that emmitt flood, one of the president's lawyers, came to the department of of justice for the meeting, as well. huh.
although they cannot confirm how much, if any, of the meeting flood was present for. and our team on the hill saw him walking to the meeting with chief of staff, john kelly. the meeting stems from president trump's attempt to rile up his supporters over this fbi source. for the past week he's been alleging a vast conspiracy by the fbi to try and derail his campaign for the presidency. remember, it is not the facts that matter here to the president, it is all about the messaging. and the message he wants people to believe that the mueller investigation is a deep state witch hunt. keep that in mind. joining me now, msnbc's garrett haake from washington and here on set, john lemire, white house reporter for the associated press and author of "trump nation." timothy o'brien. garrett, why was emmitt flood at this meeting? any knowledge whatsoever about what the president's lawyer was doing sitting in on a classified briefing about an fbi informant that was investigating the
president and his campaign? >> it almost defies belief, katy. that is the million dollar question. not just meeting. but meetings. i was one of the folks who saw emmitt flood going into this meeting now that's going on on capitol hill. and he saw him and john kelly leave about five minutes ago, meaning he was probably in the room or at least in the sort of classified area, the closed area we can't get to, for about 20 minutes. why indeed would the president's attorney, or an attorney for the president, need to be in a meeting that is ostensibly about congressional oversight of the doj. because remember, that's how republicans have presented this meeting, that this is all about republicans wanting to see documents that they believe they are entitled to in an oversight role of the department of justice. kelly got involved to help facilitate this, according to the white house. but the role of flood was never previously discussed. it was never discussed around either one of these meetings. and it defies any credible description or explanation as to why he would be involved in oversight of the department in
which he is not involved given his role at the white house. it is a question i simply can't answer right now, katy. we hope to get answers from the white house later to or from some members in this group who might when they come out say what, if anything, flood had to say or do behind closed doors. >> we will keep an eye out for that. garrett, also just talk about devin nunes. he got a briefing before the gang of eight. adam schiff basically muscled his way in to this briefing. remind us again why devin nunes is such a controversial figure and why the idea of him getting a classified briefing alone with another republican raised a lot of red flags for folks. >> sure. nunes is the chairman of the house intel committee whose entire investigation into the russian interference in 2016 has been plagued by complaints about partisanship, that essentially it is a republican-led operation seeking to answer only questions that republicans want to have answered. so much so that at one point nunes had to unofficially recuse himself. essentially step back from the
investigation after he was accused of improperly sharing information that the investigators were developing with the white house directly. so he is viewed, particularly by democrats, but even by some republicans as a not particularly credible person to be heading up this investigation. so when democrats learn that nunes and trey gowdy, who has a better reputation in terms of his investigative zeal for this, to a certain degree, were going to be meeting with doj alone, that's when you started to hear these calls to get a democrat in the room. my understanding of how the musical chairs worked this morning is, when paul ryan, the speaker, could not attend this gang of eight briefing which he would be entitled to, he came to the earlier briefing. that means nancy pelosi should have been invited and she gave up her seat for adam schiff instead. if you can follow the bouncing ball here, congratulations. it just goes to show what an incredibly ad hoc process this has been really from the word go. >> it is hard to follow. but i think there is one thing we should keep in mind. you wrote a column about it today.
we talked about it yesterday on the show. a lot of these tweets and meetings seem to stem from the president wanting to convey a certain message rather than askew to the facts that are going on. >> this is about trying to create confusion, trying to muddy the process, to tarnish the investigation. and therefore -- >> let me just remind people what we're watching. this is the medal of honor ceremony. we'll go to it in a minute. but john, finish your answer. >> tarnish whatever its findings might be as well. to assert there is this deep state conspiracy against the president that began during the campaign. we know the president earlier last week or so when he was presented information about this informant, pretty standard practice for an fbi, suspicious situation like this, he decided to seize upon the idea that it is a spy. that's how he wanted to brand it. that's how he wanted his allies on the hill and his outside advisors to call him. that's how he is certainly choosing to tweet about it. now he's even given it the hashtag spygate.
he thinks that's a far more nefarious and damaging assertion that he thinks, again, mud ddie the waters and makes this a bipartisan investigation. >> he trying to turn a catchy fr phrase. liein' ted. crooked hillary. spygate. >> this is more than that. is the executive branch asserting itself into the oversight process, into a possibly criminal investigation. i think it is extraordinary that emmitt flood was allowed to go there. emmitt flood is not a member of an intelligence committee on the hill. >> he's not a member of the administration. >> he is an attorney who has been retained to defend the president in the mueller investigation. it is entirely inappropriate that he was there. and this idea that the informant should now be spun into the notion of a spygate, it is worth people remembering that donald trump himself was an fbi informant in the early 1980s when he was in the casino business in atlantic city. he offered himself up as a source to the fbi. he's familiar with how this
process works. that's not being a spy. it is conveying information to help law enforcement do its job. he knows very well how those roles work because he was one himself. i think it is -- i think it is worth pausing right now and taking a 35,000-foot look at what this means about good government and the rule of law and the extent to which these things pollute that plo ses. >> t process. >> tim, put you on hold. here is the president. >> -- deputy secretary of defense, patrick shanahan. under secretary of the navy, thomas modely. thank you, thomas. va secretary nominee, doing a fantastic job for us, robert wilkie. and congressman scott taylor and brian mast. thank you, fellows, very much. thank you. members of the armed forces and distinguished guests, please sit down.
that actually worked out very nicely. and join me in officially welcoming master chief brit slabinski to the white house. special man. a truly brave person. today we pay tribute to brit's heroic service and we proudly present him with our nation's highest military honor. and i would go so far as to say our nation's highest honor. joining brit today is his son, brice. brice? thank you very much. a rising senior at a wonderful school known to the world as ohio state. great place. that's a great school. along with brit's sisters, brenda, and tika and brenda's husband, tom.
thank you very much for being here. here, as well, are brit's significant other, christina and her two children, john and megan. who we just met in the oval office. that's a special place, too. thank you all for joining us for this really special day and special ceremony. thank you very much. finally, we're honored to be joined by several previous congressional medal of honor recipients. would you please stand? would you please stand? thank you, folks. very, very special people. your names and your immortal acts of valor are forever engraved in the memory of our
nation. our nation will always be grateful to you. and you know that. today we induct a if you name into the world's most exclusive gathering of heroes. and that's exactly what it is. brit was raised in northampton, massachusetts. he became an eagle scout by the age of 14. his father was a veteran who served as a frogman in the underwater demolitions group of the u.s. navy. those are tough people. while brit was in junior high, his dad brought him to their reunion. brit was inspired by their bond of friendship, their stories of service, and their boundless love of country. as soon as he graduated from high school in 1988, brit enlisted in the navy to become a s.e.a.l. that means he is a physically very strong person, and that
also means he is a mentally very strong person. that's tough. throughout the grueling months of training, brit proved himself every single step of the way. in 1990, he graduated, the legendary bud's training course, and he earned that special badge worn only by the bravest few, the s.e.a.l. trident. in 2002, brit was called to support "operation enduring freedom" in afghanistan. in the late evening hours of march 3rd that year, he led an elite team on a combat mission to establish a secure position on the peak of a 10,000-foot mountain. brit and his teammates were preparing to exit the helicopter, on to the mountain, when their aircraft was struck by a machine gun and machine gun
fire like they've never seen before, and a rocket propelled grenade from al qaeda terrorists down below. not a good feeling. as the helicopter lurched away from the assault, petty officer 1st class neal roberts was flown out of the aircraft. tremendous, tremendous, horrible thing to witness. and on to the side of the mountain before the helicopter crashed into the valley below. after surviving, barely, the violent crash, brit and his team were retrieved by a second helicopter. also, by the way, piloted by very brave people. at this point, brit received information suggesting their comrade, neal roberts, the man thrown out of the helicopter,
was probably still alive. the team faced a choice to wait for reinforcements and pretty much safety, or to return immediately to the enny stronghold in the hope of saving neal's life. they would be outmanned, outgunned, and fighting uphill on a steep, icy mountain, and every soldier knows you don't want to fight uphill. they learned that at gettysburg. you don't fight uphill. but they would face freezing temperatures and bitter winds at the highest altitude of battle in the history of the american military. this was the highest point where we ever fought. the odds were not good. they were not in their favor. but brit and his team didn't even hesitate for a moment. they made their decision. for them it was an easy one.
they went back to that mountain. when the helicopter reached the mountain peak, they jumped out into a furious onslaught of machine gunfire like none of them had ever seen before. brit and his teammate, sergeant john chapman, charged uphill toward the enemy where john was shot after clearing a bunker. brit continued to engage the enemy, repeatedly exposing himself to horrendous fire. two of his other teammates, steven "turbo "to bch" tobias a bogaty suffered very, very serious leg injuries. brit helped them to safety and continued in air strikes as continuous fire drove them ever further down the face of the mountain.
got worse and worse, more and more dangerous. he kept going. in a treacherous descent, brit and his man carried "turbo" through the snow. at one point they fashioned a makeshift harness out of their gun straps to hoist "turbo" down a 13-foot cliff. in itself, treacherous. because if you miss that little area, they go down the mountain. no stopping them. when they could go no further, brit tended to the wounded and coordinated their escape until his team was finally evacuated from enemy territory. seven of the brave men who fought with brit are here with us today, and maybe they'll stand up as i call their name. petty officer 2nd class brett
margante. pretty dangerous place, huh? way to go, brett. chief warrant officer kyle soderbergh. thank you, kyle. petty officer 2nd class steven tobas. thanks, steven. chief warrant officer al mack. thank you. sergeant christopher cunningham. master sergeant eric stebner. a chief petty officer who is still on active duty is it quietly not with us today. i just want to thank you all. unbelievable acts of bravery. thank you very much.
thank you very much. incredible. today, we also remember the brave soldiers who gave their lives on that mountain. tactical sergeant john chapman. corporal matthew commons. specialist mark anderson. sergeant bradley cross. senior airman jason cunningham. tactical sergeant philip stebac and neal roberts who met a horrible death, for whom these events are now known -- it's called the battle of roberts ridge. incredible event. to the gold star family members of those heroes who are here today, please stand up. please, stand up.
>> it is an honor to have you accept or nation's pro found sorrow and a deep love and everlasting gratitude. these are incredible, incredible men. and you could be proud that they were in your family and they are looking down right now and they are very, very proud of you. thank you very much. thank you for being here. thank you. to brit and to all of the men of roberts ridge, you waged a fierce fight against the enemies. and these really have become the enemies of america and the enemies of all civilization. through your actions you demonstrated that there is no
love more pure, and no courage more great than the love and courage that burns in the hearts of american patriots. we are free because warriors like you are willing to give their sweat, their blood, and if they have to, their lives for our great nation. britt, you went on to serve many more years in the u.s. navy before finally retiring in 2014. today he continues his life of serving pe ining by volunteerine navy s.e.a.l. foundation and on behalf of gold star families, special, special, incredible families. and as one of his fellow service members testifies, he is an amazing father to brice, who like his dad is now an eagle scout.
britt wants the country to know that for him the recognition he's about to receive is an honor that falls on the whole team. he wants you folks to know that. on the whole team. whenever american warrior who fought the forces of terror on that snowy afghan ridge. each of them has entered the eternal chronicle of american valor and american bravery. britt, we salute you. we thank you. we thank god for making you a united states s.e.a.l. we love our navy s.e.a.l.s. they are very special, very incredible people. it's now my tremendous privilege to present to you the congressional medal of honor. and i'd like the military aide to come forward and please read the citation.
thank you. >> the president of the united states n tin the name of the congress takes pleasure in presenting the medal of honor to britt k. slabinski, united states navy, for service as set forth in the following -- for conspicuous gallanttry and inrepresent theid hit at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while assigned to soint task force in support of operation enduring freedom nm the early morning of march 4th, 2002, officer slabinski led a reconnaissance team to its assigned area atop a
10,000 foot snow covered mountains. their insertion helicopter was suddenly riddled with rocket propelled grenades and small arms fire from previously undetected enemy positions. the crippled helicopter legislatured violently and ejected one teammate onto the mountain before the pilots were forced to crash land in the valley far below. senior chief slabinski boldly rallied his five remaining team members and marshalled supporting assets for an assault to rescue their stranded teammate. during reinsertion, the team came under fire from three directions. and one teammate started moving up hill toward an enemy strong point. without regard for his own safety, senior chief slabinski charged directly toward enemy fire to join his teammate. together, they fearlessly assaulted and cleared the first bunker they encountered. the enemy then unleashed a hale of machine gun fire from a second hardened position only 20 meters away.
senior chief slabinski repeatedly exposed himself to deadly fire to personally engage the second enemy bunker and orient his team's fires in the furious, close quarters firefight. proximity made air support impossible and after several teammates became casual tees the position was untenable. he led his team to a more defensible position and requested reinforcements. as daylight approached accurate enemy mortar fire forced the team further down the shear mountainside. senior chief slabinski carried a seriously wounded teammate through deep snow and led a difficult trek across precipitous terrain while calling in fire on the enemy which was engaging the team from the surrounding ridges. throughout the next 14 hours
[ applause ] >> as we close today, let us close with one final prayer. let us pray. almighty god those of us who have had the privilege to witness this special ceremony are reminded once again that we serve among the greatest of warriors among the greatest of navies among the greatest of nations only because of the brave few who continue to raise their hand in the protection of this great nation and those in it from those who would wish us harm. men such as our very own master
chief britt slabinski what personifies the mosted cherished of virtues we all strive for, courage, courage for when our moment comes and we look into the abyss and we promise ourselves and others on our honor to do our best, to do our duty, for god and for our country, and in so doing forge an unbreakable bond in the heat of battle, in the furnace of affliction, which strengthens molds and galvanized that bond to come forward as pure gold. as we close this aramony today ma which is aer the chief slabinski take him with him the certainty of knowing that his days spent serving this nation were a value beyond measure. may it never be far from our thoughts, the price that he and many others have paid in the pursuit of that freedom, and may that inspiration be breathed into each one of us and live on into the generations to follow,
especially to our brother and sister warriors, tomb mates and family and friends of naval warfare. and we continue to wish his family god speed n. our holy name we pray, amen. the medal of honor ceremony right here. we have retired u.s. army colonel jack jacobs a medal of honor recipient as well. he is also a msnbc analyst. it is a beautiful ceremony. you had a chance to talk to britt slabinski a few days ago. what is he like? >> like a lot of recipients. he is very quiet, and unassuming. and he says it's not all about him. it's about all the people who didn't make it back. the people who were his ship mates, his teammates who were with him. and if you talk to medal of
honor recipients they will all pretty much say the same thing. there is a medal of honor recipient now gone from vietnam, nikki bacon, he said movingly one time in a speech, he said this -- i don't wear this medal for myself. i wear it for all those who can't. and if you talk to other recipients not just for the medal of honor but for all awards of valor they will say the same thing. >> it is a special moment i imagine. >> yeah, it's pretty heady business being in the white house. >> no matter the politics. >> there are no politics then. i was decorated by richard nixon almost 50 years ago. and the whole idea of being at the nexus of power and talking to the president of the united states, especially when you are young as i was, is a pretty -- is a very heady circumstance.
and you don't know what to -- you don't know what to tell the president of the united states when he asks you how are you feeling, son? the only thing you can say, i'm feeling fine. >> it's one of those things where 50 years later recounting it you have a mixture of tears and smiles. it's still full of emotion for you. >> it's almost memorial day. you can't stop thinking about the people you served with. >> you cannot. jack, thank you for being here. we appreciate it. >> thanks for having me. >> there is nothing like a man by the way in dress whites. all i'm going to say. kasie hunt picks things up now from washington. >> very much those sentiments from colonel jack jacobs. got a laugh out of the whites, i have to say. >> aim he not wrong. i'm not wrong. >> no comment. good afternoon. i'm kasie hunt in for ali velshi. moments ago president trump presented the medal of honor to a navy warrior who led a 2002 firefight and rescue mission in