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tv   MSNBC Live With Katy Tur  MSNBC  May 31, 2018 11:00am-12:00pm PDT

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in just 15 minutes we expect to hear from secretary of state mike pompeo. he's been meeting here in manhattan with north korea's former top spy turned diplomat, kim yong chol. we'll bring you that live when it happens. but we begin with another story out of the white house. today president trump used his pardon power for the fifth time. quote, we'lling giving a full pardon to dinesh d'souza today, he was treated very unfairly by our government. not familiar with d'souza? here is a primer. he is a conservative commentator, filmmaker, author and convicted felon, best known as a pro vacatur, which is a nice word, who regularly pushes right wing conspiracy theories and spews racist commentary. he implied that his conviction was revenge orchestrated by the obama white house for his conservative views.
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after charlottesville he claimed the white supremacist group leader was an obama guy. he claimed the media covered up the las vegas shooter's left wing leanings. in february he mocked parkland shooting survivors when state gun legislation failed. but before all of this, back in 2014, d'souza pleaded guilty to campaign finance fraud. he was indicted for using straw donors to illegally contribute tens of thousands of dollars to a republican senate candidate. it was that conviction that the president pardoned again today. as we've said time and again on this show, nothing happens in a vacuum. just as d'souza is pardoned for campaign finance fraud, someone close to the president is facing questions over whether he too committed campaign finance fraud. michael cohen, who paid adult film star stormy daniels 130
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grand to stay quiet about her claims of an affair with mr. trump, which some have speculated could amount to an illegal in-kind contribution. and cohen is being investigated by the southern district of new york, as was d'souza. is our big question today is, wasd dinesh d'souza's pardon connected to michael cohen? hallie jackson joins us now. hallie, where does this pardon come from? >> reporter: the first time the president talking to d'souza last night, the president said d'souza had a heart attack when he heard he would be pardoned. here is deputy press secretary raj shah answering some of those questions you just raised here at the white house.
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>> reporter: why did the president not go through the pardon attorney before deciding on the pardon? >> he's worked through -- he's worked this process through the white house counsel and felt that it was appropriate to pardon dinesh d'souza. the president has the constitutional authority to do so. >> reporter: is he sending a message to any of his allies wrapped up in the russia investigation? >> no. each of the president's actions on pardons, on other things could be judged on the merits, looking at the facts and the circumstances surrounding that case. the president felt it was merited. >> reporter: so shah saying there that each of these pardons could be taken at face value, one by one. but this is now number five. you look back at others, you look at the ones the president is also foreshadowing. he told reporters on favoair fo one that he is considering commuting or pardoning rod blagojevich blagojeviof illinoi martha stewart, people he has a
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relationship with from "the apprentice" days and "the apprentice" spinoff days. there is also the political overlay, the political factor here. james comey is a thread that runs through several of these pardons or potential pardons. you also have the preet bharara factor as well, someone who is a long-time know of president trump, he had brought the dinesh d'souza case. the white house says according to one of the spokthe spokespeo wonder if kim kardashian woke up this morning and said, this is the pardon the president will make today, dinesh d'souza. >> we will see.
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hallie jackson laying it all out for us at the white house. a former new york university professor and an msnbc contributor, joy vance, and an msnbc legal analyst join me. joyce, i want to bring up on whether or not there was a message to somebody like michael cohen. laurence tribe tweeted, trump's dinesh d'souza pardon today on top of his pardons of scooter libby and joe arpaio, make sense only as an elephant whistle, bigger than a dog whistle, to michael cohen and all who know damning things about trump, protect me and i'll have your back. do you agree, is this trump normalizing his pardon power so when pardons for his inner circle come later he can say, i've been pardoning all along?
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>> it's a loud elephant whistle. you know, the timing is remarkable. it comes just a day after there were even more revelations in michael cohen's case. it seems clear that the government is amassing a significant amount of evidence against cohen. and lo and behold, we have today the pardon of dinesh d'souza, pardon for campaign finance violations, one of the same crimes michael cohen is being investigated for, and one of the most important things about this pardon is that it didn't go through the normal doj pardon process. while that's not constitutionally required, it's a way that doj and the white house make sure that pardons are given with integrity, that no one who doesn't deserve a pardon or who has factors in their background that make it a miscarriage of justice gets a
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pardon. >> is this a message to your former colleagues in the southern district of new york? >> i think it's a message to michael cohen, who is under investigation by my former colleagues. as joyce said, the timing of this, after a hearing coming out of the blue, it allowed him to tweet this morning that d'souza was convicted unfairly. so already now he's starting with -- he's been going after the fbi and mueller for a long time. now we've got the southern district of new york who people speak very kindly of, and now he gets to start with this, calling it an unfair prosecution. so he's already starting in with the, you know, propaganda, disinformation campaign about the southern district of new york. and the facts, if you recall about d'souza, are he pled guilty, he admitted a crime in court, he took responsibility for it. they tried at the time to claim it was selective prosecution, and judge berman, the federal district judge, reviewed motions. it was briefed.
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and he said, basically, absolutely not, this is nonsense, this is not selective prosecution. the idea that now frump is saying there is an injustice that happened here is really a farce. >> were you in that office when he was prosecuted? >> yes, i was still there. i had nothing to do with the case. >> what is the reaction, have you heard any reaction from your colleagues to this pardon? >> no, i haven't. i mean, honestly, just to keep my roles separate, i would, you know, not reach out to them about it. and everything i'm talking about, the case, is really what i know from public record, that should be clear. but honestly, the southern district is not intimidated easily. they're going to keep going, they're going to keep doing what they're doing. i think they have a strong case and that case keeps getting stronger and they're building it, and this is not going to deter them. >> joyce, the president is also tweeting about the mueller investigation today. he's trying to rewrite history, saying that he didn't fire james
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comey because of the russia investigation. news flash, anybody who watches a television or has a pulse knows that he told lester holt that he fired james comey because of "the russia thing." and he also tweeted, "not that it matters." what does it mean? not that it matters whether he fired james comey for russia, not that it matters whether he obstructed justice or not? >> trump is continuing to build a public relations strategy convincing his base that mueller is biased against him and that anything that comes out of the mueller investigation can't be trusted. so the only way to understand this is part of this litany, it doesn't really matter why i fired jim comey, everybody knows it had nothing to do with russia, this is trump's effort to tell the big lie, tell it over and over again and hope it will stick. because in the wake of the lester hope videotape and his comments a few days later to the russian ambassador in the oval office, of all places, that it
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was in fact all about russia, the comey firing, this one is tough to maintain with a straight face. but the president is trying. >> we all talk about what sort of obstruction case robert mueller has. i feel like a lot of the obstruction, i'm not a lawyer so correct me if i'm wrong, a lot of the obstruction is right there in front of us, up in our face, and the president is very clear about it, in the way that he speaks about the investigation, what he's demanding to see about the investigation, trying to get jeff sessions to unrecuse himself and oversee it, firing james comey, demanding that the fbi turn over documentation about the informant within the campaign. >> exactly. i was thinking that this morning, actually, in connection with the d'souza pardon. just because trump does something in broad daylight, i think hopefully now we've all kind of learned by now that that doesn't mean it's not wrong and it may not even mean that it's not illegal. i think people tend to think certainly as a prosecutor, often
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i did, if someone's doing something illegal, they're going to try to hide it. and that is often true. and there have been a lot of lies and misstatements here on trump's part and other people close to him's part, to try to cover up some of it. remember, in the beginning, there was no contact with russians at all, supposedly. so i think that's absolutely a good point with respect to the obstruction. and frankly, with respect to these, you know, actual and dangling pardons, right, that he's sending this message, as you said at the beginning, to bring it back to cohen, don't worry, hang in there, i got your back. and it's all part of that same process. and just because he does it in broad daylight doesn't mean it can't be part of a crime. >> we were giving a two-minute warning for secretary of state pompeo who will be addressing reporters about his meeting with the north korean spy, that was 3 1/2, 4 minutes ago. i want to try to get one sound bite in from donald trump's legal eagle, if you want to call him that, rudy giuliani, talking about why the president fired
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james comey. let's play it, hopefully we'll get through it. >> regardless of recommendation, i was going to fire comey. knowing there was no good time to do it. and in fact, when i decided to just do it, i said to myself, i said, you know, this russia thin thing with trump and russia was a made-up stories. >> he fired comey because comey would not, among other things, say that he wasn't a target of the investigation. he's entitled to that. >> that's donald trump and rudy giuliani, contradicting themselves. joyce, when you're a prosecutor and you look at those two things, what do you think? >> that first videotape is one of the most compelling pieces of evidence of intent that you could have as a prosecutor. giuliani is all over the place, trying to launch a public relations strategy. could it be evidence? likely not. but as mimi points out, this evidence is happening in front
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of us in brought daylight, and each individual piece is just that, an individual piece. when you put it all together, it becomes a very strong and compelling picture. >> i do want to talk a little bit about the other pardons that he is floating, or at least the commutations. rod blagojevich, martha stewart. we have lynn sweet, i believe, available as well, let's bring her in if we can. lynn sweet is a columnist and a washington bureau chief at "the chicago sun-times." lynn, you covered blagojevich, you covered this time. remind us again what rod blagojevich did and why he is serving a 14-year sentence. >> well, thank you. i didn't cover his trial, i was in washington, but i've known him for his political career. he's serving time for basically shaking down potential senate candidates for campaign
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contributions. he's been in a campaign to try and get the attention of trump in order to get some kind of offer of clemency because his supreme court appeals have now expired. he's framing this as a political prosecution, the justice department run amok in trying to wiretap him and search for a crime. he's framing this as this was a sentence in search of a crime, although he was convicted of criminal wrongdoing in the second of two trials. >> here is the president tweeting about rod blagojevich. let's remind everyone, blagojevich is a democrat. he said, there's another one i'm thinking about, rod blagojevich. 18 years in jail, it's actually 14, for being stupid and saying things that every other politician, you know, that many other politicians say. so do many other politicians say these sort of things, was it just a stupid thing, lynn? >> if everyone i report on and you report on, katy, are wiretapped, you may hear things that we heard in the wiretaps of rod blagojevich, which were
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pretty sensational, sometimes involved colorful language. but yeah, if we had the ability to listen in on what everybody's saying. the other thing you may find interesting is that blagojevich was a contestant on "celebrity apprentice." so this is somebody who trump knows. and this is kind of the -- you know, the blagojevich team is making this appeal to trump, framing it as an overreach of the justice department. blagojevich himself had an op-ed in "the wall street journal" where he frames it this way. >> lynn, i'm sorry to interrupt you. here is secretary of state mike pompeo. >> -- vice chairman kim yong chol. we have teams working with our north korean counterparts to prepare for president trump and chairman kim's expected summit in singapore. through these series of meetings i'm confident we're moving in the right direction. today, vice chairman kim and i
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discussed our countries coming together to take advantage of the unique opportunity that our two leaders have created through their visions of the future that they have so clearly articulated. vice chairman kim young alcohng planning to travel to washington to deliver a personal letter from chairman kim jong un. it offers an opening to boldly lead the united states and the dprk into a new era of peace, prosperity and security. our two countries face a pivotal moment in our relationship in which it would be nothing short of tragic for this opportunity to go to waste. in my conversations with chairman kim jong-un in pyongyang and today with vice chairman kim yong chol, i have been very clear that president trump and the united states' objective is very consistent and well-known. the complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization of the korean peninsula. president trump has also made it
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clear that if tim jong undenuclearizes, there is a brighter past for north korea. we envision a strong, connected, and secure prosperous north korea that maintains its cultural heritage but is integrated into the community of nations. we think that working together, the people of the united states and north korea can create a future defined by friendship and collaboration, not by mistrust and fear and threats. we sincerely hope that chairman kim jong-un shares this positive vision for the future. we will go into the summit in singapore with our eyes wide open. if these talks are successful, it will truly be historic. it will take bold leadership from chairman kim jong-un if we are able to seize this once in a lifetime opportunity. we believe chairman kim is the kind of leader who can make
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those kinds of decisions and that in the coming weeks and months, we will have the opportunity to test whether or not this is the case. happy to take a couple of questions. >> our first question to nick from bloomberg. >> reporter: thanks, mr. secretary. last night the state department told us the u.s. would be looking for a historic commitment from north korea before the summit would go ahead. today you ended talks with kim yong chol early. can you talk about why you did that? did you get the commitment you sought, and did the u.s. and north korea now agree on what denuclearization would mean? >> so -- we didn't end the talks early. we had a set series of items that we wanted to make sure we covered, topics which made sure we were clear on in terms of what our expectations were and their expectations in return of us. we achieved that.
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this is a difficult, difficult challenge. make no mistake about it, there remains a great deal of work to do. and we made progress here as well as at the same time made progress in the other venues the conversations were taking place. we had all the time we needed today to make the progress that was achievable during our time here in new york city. >> our next question goes to michael borden from "the wall street journal." >> reporter: sir, following up on that, senior state department officials, the same person who spoke to us last night, also indicated that the united states hopes to persuade north korea that its security doesn't depend on nuclear weapons. you've now had three meetings with him and spent some hours with him. do you feel that you've been successful yet in it doing that? or is the difficulty in settling this issue the reason why president trump is now talking about the possibility of having two or three summits and not just trying to break the back of these issues in a single meeting?
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>> yeah, make no mistake about it, president trump, this administration, completely understands how hard this problem is. there is a long history where north korea has viewed its nuclear program as providing the security that it needed for the regime. the effort now is to come to a set of understandings which convince the north koreans of what president trump has said. if we're able to achieve it, if north koreans are prepared in fact to denuclearize, this includes all elements of their nuclear program, if we convince them of that, that in fact their security is greater, that in fact the real threat to their security is the continued holding onto of that nuclear weapons program and not the converse. we've had lots of conversations around that. the true test of course comes when we actually achieve this. but many conversations have been had about how we might proceed, what the path might be forward so that we can achieve both the
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denuclearization that the world demands of north korea and the security assurances that would be required for them to allow us to achieve that. >> next one, martha raddatz from abc news. >> reporter: secretary pompeo, you call it a proposed summit. will we find out whether it's a go tomorrow? and also, you looked the vice chairman in the eyes, you have been with him in the room. what accounted for the progress? this has been such a roller coaster ride, the summit was off, we've gone from fire and fury to this. talk about what accounted for the change, and do you worry that you could still change back? >> so, martha, i have had the chance to meet chairman kim jong-un twice, and now kim yong chol three times. i've spent a great deal of time with each of them. i believe they are contemplating
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a path forward, prepared to make a strategic shift one there country has not made before. this is obviously their decision, they'll have to choose, as i just spoke about, a path that is fundamentally different from the one their country has proceeded on for decades. it should not be to anyone's surprise that there will be moments along the way, that this won't be straightforward, there will be things that look hard and times it appears there's a roadblock, and sometimes perhaps even perceived as insurmountable. our mission is incredibly clear. it is to push forward. the president has directed me to push forward, to test the proposition that we can achieve that outcome. so i know everyone's following this minute by minute and hour by hour. this is going to be a process that will take days and weeks to work our way through. there will be tough moments. there will be difficult times. i've had some difficult conversations with them as well. they've given it right back to me too. there are decades to this
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challenge. so one ought not to be either surprised or frightened or deterred by moments where it looks like there are challenges and difficulties, things that can't be bridged. our mission is to bridge them so we can achieve this historic outcome. >> reporter: on the proposed summit, will we know tomorrow whether there will be an actual summit? >> don't know. don't know the answer to that. >> final question, adam shapiro with fox news. >> let me just say, martha, we may not know tomorrow. i will tell you, we've made real progress in the last 72 hours towards setting the conditions, right? so your question really goes to what are the conditions. the conditions are putting president trump and chairman kim jong-un in a place where we think there can be real progress made by the two at the meeting. it does no good if we're in a place where we don't think there's a real opportunity to place them together. we've made real progress towards that in the last 72 hours. >> and adam from fox. >> reporter: secretary pompeo, you talk about complete
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denuclearization. what concerns does the united states have about exposing south korea and our asian allies to greater perhaps chinese influence if there is a deal in the future, a drawdown of u.s. military presence? >> i'm not going to talk about today nor at any time during the negotiations about the elements of what the shape of the agreement looks like. those are things that ought to be held so that the leaders have all the freedom they need to make the right decisions. with respect to the drawdown, it's obviously a dod issue, i'm not going to speak to that today. what i can say is this. i've been the secretary of state now for 30-odd days, i think. there is no daylight between the south koreans, the japanese, and the united states with respect to our approach, to how we resolve this issue with respect
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to north korea. i have spoken to my counterparts there. i've spoken to president moon there. we understand their concerns. we understand the risks that could be posed to them. and an agreement that we reach will provide an outcome that each of those countries can sign onto as well. >> reporter: is there the potential for creation, for lack of a better term [ inaudible ] and the economic political and militarily? >> the chinese are moving all around the world today, let's be clear. the risk of that is real everywhere, not just in this particular space. we're keenly aware of it. and i am confident that the things we're talking about with respect to north korea will not enhance the risk of that to any significant degree. we wouldn't do that to the south koreans or the japanese, two of our most important allies in the region. >> everyone, thank you. thank you so much. great to see you. >> there you have it, secretary
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of state mike pompeo talking to reporters, actually answering questions. we didn't really see that from his former -- from the former secretary of state, his predecessor, rex tillerson. he did announce that kim yong chol, the former top north korean spy he was meeting with, will travel to d.c. the secretary said it would be nothing short of tragic to let this opportunity go to waste. he said real progress has been made to set the conditions for the summit, real progress made in the last 72 hours. he maintains the u.s. still wants complete denuclearization of the korean peninsula, but did admit that they still center a long ways to go to convince north korea that they would be safer without nuclear weapons than with them. hands nichols is nbc's defense correspondent traveling with james mattis in singapore. here with me is gordon cheng,
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author of "nuclear showdown: north korea takes on the world." it sounds they're trying to get this june 12 summit to go on as planned, hans. >> it seems as though it's still in doubt. when you listened to pompeo carefully, i counted five or six it's, if this summit will proceed. it seems the north koreans have not yet made the decision if they are committed to denuclearization of the korean peninsula. several times pompeo was asked directly will this summit takes place. he said, don't know, don't know. i think overall he was positive about the direction, he said they're proceeding in the right way. it seems the crucial thing here, katy, the contents of that letter that kim jong-un will be delivering to president trump tomorrow at the white house, that's really the key. the other tactical discussions, i'm here in singapore, the defense secretary arrived just hours ago, there are conversations about where the summit might be, the logistics,
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there is the second team at the dmz that pompeo mentioned. the crucial question is has north korea made the leap, have they made that decision. from pompeo i just heard that the north koreans are still contemplating the path put forward and there is still very much in the air. >> i'm wondering what is in that letter that kim yong chol will deliver to the president from kim jong-un. let's go to nbc's andrea mitchell. >> reporter: it's very clear this summit is on. they say they won't announce it yet, they won't know yet. but the fact is that they found the big game changer, if you will, katy and hans, was the letter that the north koreans issued after the president's letter canceling the summit last week. they say that that letter was so conciliatory that they felt, according to a senior official who briefed us last night, they felt that they had screwed up, to use his words, by being so harsh in response to the u.s. the week before.
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so everything here, from having watched this diplomacy, and you have as well, katy, is that this is on, it only requires the delivery of the letter from kim jong-un by his top official, kim yong chol, who has been meeting here in new york for the last day and a half with the secretary of state, to the white house. that in itself is extraordinary. we have not had a high ranking official from north korea in the united states for 18 years. and this is hob done with a waiver of sanctions because this official is the former spy chief, he's been held responsible for the cyber attack against sony pictures in 2014, for the military action torpe torpedoing a south korean warship in 2010 with the loss of 46 sailors. so there is a lot that's been described about how tough this official has been in the past. jim clapper, former head of intelligence, said in 2014 when he went there that he was
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constantly berating him face-to-face and getting angry about the u.s. in the past, he has been a very hostile player. and that is a dramatic change now, having dinner last night here with the secretary of state, meeting today, and now going to washington. they are taking the risk of having him go face-to-face with the president of the united states. a senior official told one of our colleagues over in seoul that they would not let this happen, they will not let the summit happen if they're going to send president trump into a buzz saw, katy. >> incredible. andrea mitchell, thank you very much. gordon, what could possibly be in that letter? >> probably it's just general language. it's certainly not the commitment that the united states needs. we have to remember that north korea has four or five objectives for this summit. one of those objectives will be completely satisfied as soon as kim gets into the room with president trump and they shake hands, because that picture will be showed throughout north korea for decades, if the regime
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lasts. so i don't know if we should have that meeting between the leader of north korea and the leader of the united states until we have the commitments that secretary pompeo was talking about. because once that meeting occurs, a lot of our leverage or at least some of our leverage is off. >> so you think the north koreans need to agree to denuclearize before the president gets in a room with him? >> yes. they need to make a commitment to dismantle their nuclear weapons program, give up their ballistic missiles, and also i think to account for the japanese abductees. >> what's the likelihood that that's going to happen, though? >> not at this moment, it's not going to happen. >> before june 12th. >> that won't happen either in all probability, because president trump said it may take more than three meetings with kim jong-un to get them there. that to me is much too long. the united states can get north korea to give up its weapons short of the use of force. that's just economic and diplomatic leverage and pressure
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that we haven't really applied. we've applied some to north korea, of course. but we haven't gone after russia and we've only made very tentative steps to go after north korea's major sponsor, and that's china. we do those things, we can get north korea to a point where they realize the only choice for disarmament is death to the leader. right now you have a regime that doesn't have as much cash as they need. >> it don't sound like we're doing that, it sounds like we're trying to have a conversation with this leader and reason with him and be friendly enough that he will willingly , voluntarily give up his nuclear program. >> "the wall street journal" reported that he decided not toe go after sanctions because they want to create a good atmosphere for these talks. but we need more pressure,
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because once we put that pressure on -- for instance, kim jong-un keeps loyalty by giving gifts to senior regime elements. if he doesn't have the money for those gifts, katy, he's very well out, and he knows that. it's important for us to keep that pressure up. until they make the commitments that are necessary. >> they also -- pompeo was also saying they want to convince north korea that they are actually safer without their nuclear weapons. i've always been told by experts about the region, experts on the region, including you, that north korea looks to libya, they look to iran, and they say, hey, listen, they weren't safer, or iraq, they weren't safer without nuclear weapons. why would they be convinced that they are safer, that this regime is safer, that kim jong-un is safer without a nuclear arsenal? >> well, the soviet union collapsed with the world's biggest arsenal. and i think that's really the lesson for kim jong-un, and that is, if you don't have an economy, if you don't have the
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money to keep the regime together, you've got problems. we know there are some problems in north korea right now. so for instance, these summits, not only the one with president trump that's coming up, but also the one with moon jae-in, the south korean president, that's created expectations among common people in north korea. word of mouth. everyone is looking forward to this. so, you know, kim is probably feeling a lot of pressure. also he's got some pressure from generals, because there was a shake-up of the north korean military just last week that we learned of, at the top. this was really critical, because a guy who had been at the top of the military for only four months was out. and that really means that there's a lot of dissension at the top of the generals and the admirals and the flag corps. >> i was listening to the daily, my favorite podcast. they were talking about north korea. and their north korea reporter was saying, it's unclear, it's
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actually -- that it would be a good idea for kim jong-un to make his society more open, because if people in north korea see what it's like to live in other societies that are not as brutal, ones that have economic opportunity, how can somebody like kim jong-un stay in power. >> yeah, that's western thinking, if you have an open and vibrant society, the leadership can't survive. but the kim family for seven decades has kept themselves in power by keeping people destitute. >> exactly. >> when people are destitute, they do not have the means to resist. >> so why would you want to open up and make your economy work again? >> you wouldn't. that's why i find all of these tweets from our president, saying look, north korea can become a strong and prosperous nation, kim jong-un is looking at that and saying, that's the last thing i want. >> so why is he having a meeting with donald trump? >> because they need sanctions relief. they don't want the u.s. to strike their nuclear and missile
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facilities. they figure during the pendency of talks, they won't do that. also the legitimization, once kim is in the room, that's a big win for north korea. up to now, the north koreans have made all the concessions. we've made none. but that changes as soon as kim and trump sit together and shake hands. and then the balance changes, because we've made a big concession. i'm not saying we shouldn't do that, but we should get something in return immediately, and that something is a clear pledge to give up weapons and an inspection regime that is the strictest on earth. president trump got out of the iran deal because of the inspections regime being faulty. if that one was faulty, then you've got to have a really tough one for north korea. >> tough situation. gordon chang, thanks for talking us through it. and hans nichols in singapore, thank you very much. comedienne samantha bee issued an apology to ivanka
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in his new memoir, obama's confidant ben rhodes takes us into the room. according to rhodes, obama's emotions came in waves. at times he seemed optimistic. at other times, angry. "new york times" chief white house reporter peter baker got an early copy of the book. he writes, president obama expressed rare self-doubt, wondering whether he had misjudged his own influence on american history, asking his staffers, what if we were wrong? joining me now is peter baker, chief white house correspondent for "the new york times" and msnbc political analyst, and msnbc national political reporter carol lee who also covered the obama white house. peter, the book, it seems like, at least, really pulls back the curtain and shows us what it was like, the outward appearance of obama in that time was total
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calm and still, confidence. but it sounds like he was really grappling with his own legacy and what he had done for eight years. >> i think that's exactly right. he was stoic in the public sphere. we didn't really get to see his own personal reaction to this election, an election that in some ways was a repudiation of things he had done. it meant the public elected somebody who was his exact opposite, who was planning to undo the things he had done as president. so ben rhodes' book gives us more of a flavor of that. this is a restrained president, unlike the one we have now, he doesn't show his feelings or emotions very readily. i think you get a little bit of a glimpse inside of the angst and the uncertainty that this must have caused him in those days and weeks after november 2016. >> you know, he says according to the book and according to your writing, "sometimes i wonder whether i was ten or 20 years too early." he also asked his staff, "what
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if we were wrong?" what does he mean by that? >> i think what he means by that is, you know, did they push the envelope too far, did they assume that the country was more progressive or liberal or multicultural or whatever phrase you want to use, than it really was, that this backlash from people who didn't like what happened in the obama presidency was more powerful than they had expected, and that perhaps the country wasn't as ready, this is what he's musing on, anyway, wasn't as ready for a president like him as it might be in ten or 20 years. >> here is another quote from the book. "i don't know, he told aides, maybe this is what people want, i've got the economy set up well for him, no facts, no consequences, they can just have a cartoon." he added, "we're about to find out just how resilient our institutions are at home and around the world." i mean, he's right about that, we are figuring out how resilient we are. the president is going after the d doj, he's going after the media, going after anybody he feels
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gets in his way, he just imposed tariffs on our allies, peter. >> he did in fact seem to project what the argument would be as soon as president trump took office. what are these institutions going to do in the face of a president who takes a different view of them than other presidents have, republican and democrat. and i think that, you know, president obama saw it coming. one of the other things that's interesting, we have heard so little from president obama since he left office. he told reporters in his last press conference that he would speak out on issues that were important to him, for the most part he's only done so occasional and in writing, not very vocally, doesn't seem to want to get into a fight with president trump, which is frustrating for democrats who want him to play more of a leadership role. this book gives you some of a look of how he was thinking about these things in november of 2016 through january of 2017. >> they still want him to be the leader of the democratic part. carol, the other interesting thing is russia. according to the book, according
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to rhodes, it offers little sense that the former president thought he could have done more to counter the russian influence in the election, that if he said more about it, all donald trump would do was claim over and over again that the election is rigged and use president obama's words as evidence of that. i will tell you from being on the campaign trail in that period of time, that was the message at the end when they thought they were going to lose, the president hammered rigged, rigged, rigged, over and over again, talking about this global conspiracy. his supporters, the ones who decided he was going to vote for him and believed in him, really grabbed onto that message. what do you make, though, looking back in hindsight, of so few obama administration officials thinking that they should have gone tougher on russia before the election, been more explicit about it? >> yeah, i mean, we know a lot, we knew that president obama had gone back and forth on how to
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handle the russia issue. and ben rhodes' book kind of gives us a little more of a glimpse on the thinking on that. it also is a reminder, having covered obama, and peter knows this too, is how much he would take an issue and wrestle with it and argue every side of it, and really think about it, and then sometimes, you know, come out not really wanting to do -- or deciding not to do much of anything. and this was another instance in which we see president obama weighing all of the different options and ultimately deciding that politically, because he was so inserted in the 2016 campaign, and very clearly had an agenda, that it would be more counterproductive for him to actually be more aggressive towards russia. the other thing that rhodes writes about is that president obama was concerned that if he took a really aggressive approach to russia at that time,
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that russia would escalate its own intervention in the election to perhaps going after voter tallies or somehow racheting things up. so the thing that isn't really addressed here, which everybody wonders how much it factored into it, this was a white house, the obama white house, from the president on down, who really thought that hillary clinton was going to win. and so how much that played into it is not so much delved into here. but we certainly get a better window of what president obama's thinking was at that time. >> it's interesting, i'll give you that. guys, thank you very much. breaking news, just moments ago, comedian and tv host samantha bee issued an apology for calling ivanka trump a vulgar world. she tweeted, i would like to sincerely apologize to ivanka trump and to my viewers for using an expletive on my show to describe her last night. it was inappropriate and inexcusable. i crossed the line and i deeply regret it. on her show, "full frontal," bee
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said this about a photo ivanka tweeted of her and her son, "one mother to another, do something about your dad's immigration practices, you feckless" "c" word. "he listens to you." the white house said, "the language used by samantha bee last night is vile and vicious. the collective silence by the left and its media allies is appalling her. disgusting comments and show are not fit for broadcast and executives at time warner and tbs must demonstrate that such explicit profanity about female members of this administration will the no be condoned on its network." joining me is nbc white house correspondent hallie jackson. >> reporter: katy, let's unpack that statement from the white house. it talks about the collective silence they describe it as, by the left and media allies. that seems to be an implicit reference to another big story that we've been covering all week long which is what roseanne
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said in that racist tweet, the uproar over that, and subsequently the cancellation of her show. you also have the white house saying her disgusting comments and show are not fit for broadcast. this apology obviously just came out. and to be honest, i'm not sure we're going to see another reaction or another escalation of this from the white house. but we are hearing from some supporters of sam bee, including a woman, a comedian, who has had her own brushes with controversy with this administration, kathy griffin, who says on twitter a few moments ago, don't be hard on sam bee for apologizing, i know what it's like to be put through the trump wood chipper, comics are held to higher standards than the president. there's also the question of how ivanka trump herself is responding. to that, look to, for example, how she responded to the most recent controversy, the photo of her as you just referenced that
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sam bee talked about, holding her son. after that, ivanka trump tweeted that, quote, roman emperor marcmarch us stay out of it. >> what samantha bee was referencing was that picture of her and her son. it came just as this administration was criticized for tearing families apart at the border. and losing children that were under at the very least, its care. at least the administration was placing them places until they could go to their own deportation or immigration hearings. as ivanka commented whatsoever on her father's immigration policies? and what is happening at the border? and the families, and the mothers and fathers that are losing their children? >> no, not publicly and not in forums where that would be a
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effect factor. we just referenced these tweets about the photo itself, presumably about the photo. that was the comparison people took out about it. she was on sports and if i had nts day day. she introduced some comments and then left that call. her name is in the headlines for another reason, her brand, the brand she stepped away from day to day management of but that she obviously continues to have a stake in, this business, and the questions about these new chinese trademarks that have been awarded to that company. that was another story that came up in the last several days with ivanka trump's name. the president of the ivanka trump brand says this is the normal course of business. we are told by folks from the company that those trademarks in some cases had been requested two years ago, before donald trump entered office. still conflict of interest experts we talked to said this does raise some questions. to give you context to that immigration piece, think about
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what is happening in today in texas. there are rallies for example, one being led today by a congressman talking about splitting families from kids. the administration has argued and continues to argue that they believe that that is a deterrent. jeff session is part of this new zero tolerance policy has said if you smuggle kids over the border, we will prosecute you. no questions. >> any parents in the administration having any sympathy whatsoever for these families that are being torn apart? anyone commenting even in the background about what is happening. >> the administration has pointed to the pal see, kiersten nielsen has come out and talked about how in this country if a parent commits a crime and goes to prison they are separated from their child. and she said in an interview with npr undocumented immigrants should be treated no differently. >> a lot of these people are coming in asking for asylum.
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tbs has responded. samantha bee has taken the right action in apologizing. those words should not have been aired. it was our mistake, too, and we regret it. next, did trump just trigger a trade war? and sprays in the bathroom can be ineffective. try mr. clean magic eraser with durafoam. simply add water, and use in your kitchen for burnt on food, in your bathroom to remove soap scum, and on walls to remove scuffs and marks. it erases 4x more permanent marker per swipe. for tough kitchen and bath messes, use mr. clean magic eraser with durafoam. brand power. helping you buy better.
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let me be clear, these tariffs are totally unacceptable. for 150 years, canada has been the united states' most
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steadfast ally, from the beaches of normandy to the mountains of afghanistan we have fought and died together. we have to believe that at some point common sense will prevail. but we see no sign of that in this action today by the u.s. administration. >> that was canadian prime minister justin trudeau. and he is basically saying welcome to the trade war. what follows the trump administration -- what it follows -- excuse me -- the trump administration slapping steep fines on steel and aluminum imports from our allies today, canada, mexico, and the european union. joining me now, cnbc editor at large, john harwood. mexico has respond asked so has the european union? >> all of our ool allies are going to respond to this. china is going the respond. in fact, they already announced they are going to respond to other tariffs the united states
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imposed. i don't know that you would call it a full-fledged war at this point. but certainly we are in a trade battle, and the result of that ballots, katy, is going to be to raise prices for american consumers. >> what are the prices that will be raised? what's mexico going to be levying their own tariffs against, and the eu? >> the eu is going to target things like kentucky bourbon to go after mitch mcconnell, agricultural products. china will do the same. canada announced a series of products that they are going to target. it's going to be an entire range of things. justin trudeau pledged dollar for dollar responses. this is why it is a self defeating policy for the american economy to initiate -- inflict harmon a large number of people for arguably, possibly a gain for some industries like steel and aluminum. but on net, economists agree that the average american is going to come out a loser.
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>> what does the president want bilateral trade agreements? >> he thinks that he can negotiate better deals that than the incompetent ten people he say served in government before him. this is a silly statement. we have had experienced trade nerkt autos for some time. you can criticize their deals and negotiate different deals but he seems to be obsessed that this is an easy thing to do and once he applies his magic touch on these negotiations that all of a sudden americans are going to be better off. but it is just not that way. i was talking to mark zandi, who was a prominent non-partisan economist who is saying he is taking a sledge hammer to 70 years of worldwide trade policy led by the united states. you don't do that with no consequences. >> that wraps thing up for me this hour. kasie hunt is in the building. did you read peter baker's article about the new obama book, taking us behind the
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scenes as to what happened after donald trump was elected? >> yeah. it's -- i mean, peter baker -- >> ben rhodes' book. >> and peter has an incredible lens and perspective. >> most interesting article of the day. go out and read it. >> for sure all of you should. >> and the facebook. >> we have rewritten the too much this show several times to accommodator to all of the breaking news this. hour, president trump will be leaving texas. once again the president is surrounded by controversial headlines. today the president caused a stir before he left washington, starting with a tweet on former fbi director james comey. then flexing his clemensy powers by issuing another pardon and suggesting more are coming, then triggering a trade war, after slapping tariffs against american allies. now, just within the past two hours, the white house is calling for the cancellation of tv host samantha bee who said this about the

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