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tv   MSNBC Live With Ali Velshi  MSNBC  November 14, 2018 12:00pm-1:00pm PST

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a coin toss earlier and got to do the 3:00. >> is the coin toss in the constitution? >> it is now. >> thank you so much, steve. hello, everyone. good afternoon. i'm chris jansing. i'm in for ali velshi. this hour, washington is bracing for a possible series of shake ups at the highest levels of the white house following multiple reports of a president who is frustrated, angry, and resentful. we're just halfway through this week, and the administration's post-midterm activity is already mired in headlines of high drama and lots of uncertainty. talk of replacements for trump's chief of staff, john kelly, homeland security secretary, kirstjen nielsen, both running rampant, even as they continue on the job. it's still unclear who's going and who is staying. but what's becoming more clear is the reason for the chaos. "the washington post" reports five days of fury by president trump. based on conversations with 14 different senior administration officials. during his 43-hour trip in paris over the weekend, "the post"
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writes, quote, trump brooded over the florida recounts, sulked over key races being called for democrats in the midterm elections that he had claimed as a big victory, and he erupted at his staff over media coverage of his decision to skip a ceremony honoring the military sacrifice of world war i. all of this while also berating both british prime minister theresa may and french president emmanuel macron. but a former political aide also pushed out by this administration says, nothing out of the ordinary for this president. >> this is a clear example of donald trump being embarrassed, and as a result, you see him sulking. and he's pouting, like a child. and as a result, he's going to continue to lash out and everybody around him will be miserable. just the way he likes it. >> so, let's start at the white house with nbc's hans nichols. so hans, so much to get to. "the washington post," not the only folks reporting on the president's recent fury. one administration official told the "l.a. times," and i'm going to quote here, the official who
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spoke on the condition of anonymity painted a picture of a brooding president, trying to decide who to blame for republican election losses, even as he publicly and implausibly continues to claim victory. so what are you hearing about how likely he is to take out his frustration by firing some senior staffers and how quickly could that happen? >> reporter: well, the latest from the white house is that mira ricardel, much of the attention was on her yesterday, the deputy national security adviser, she is still in her place as of a few hours ago. that doesn't mean that things haven't changed, as you've been hinting at. this is a very fast-moving situation. in general, chris, presidents use midterms to change the correction of their presidency. if they don't like the advice they're giving, the direction they're going, or even the policy, they will use a midterm to reset. the issue here is, is that after those midterms, what was widely considered to be a defeat, the president, as you mentioned, went out to the cameras and
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declared victory. that's in stark contrast with what president barack obama did in 2010 when he lost, 2006 when george w. bush lost, called it a thumping. the challenge for this president is that why would he change his staff, why would he have this radical reshuffle is he is perfectly content with the direction of his administration, because it's clear that all the decisions from this white house are driven by one man and one man alone. and that is the man sitting in the oval office. so, wherever there's blame on the election, did he go too heavy on the caravan? did he not spend enough time in certain states, was some of his is own best ittle too hot? his , counsel. so whatever sort of changes we might have, the direction of this white house is not going to change. chris? >> hans nichols, thank you for that p that. i want to bring in my next guest, author of "the
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gatekeepers." good to have you here. so let's look at john kelly. right now, if we believe these reports, he's trying to save kirstjen nielsen's job. he's one of the folks who has clashed repeatedly with not just ricardel, who we were just talking about, but john bolton, as well, and is being faced with being replaced himself. the white house would have us think this is just business as usual. is it? >> in this white house, it might be. but this is still a broken, dysfunctional white house. for a while, kelly was able to make the trains run on time. i've compared him to ronald reagan's ill-fated second white house chief of staff, don regan, who was arrogant and imperious and politically clueless and and i think kelly has been all of those things. but i think his greatest flaw has been that he has reinforced all of donald trump's worst partisan instincts from day one as white house chief of staff. and i think, you know, i think it's time for him to go. i think trump would be wise to seize this moment as a way to
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change his presidency. >> yeah, start fresh, maybe a new year, a new outlook. the white house argues, though, and has argued, look, turnover is normal in a white house, especially after two years. we're coming up on the two-year mark. but we should remind people just how many staffers have already come and gone by our count, 44 at the senior level. and some of those folks lasted only days or weeks. "the washington post" spoke to a former white house director of legislative affairs who said this. trump does function as his own chief of staff in a lot of ways and might welcome the chance to bring in a new crop of aides more aligned with his vision. vision is one thing, but isn't also the purpose of a chief of staff to take a lot of the managing off the plate of the president so he can deal with policy. if you're not a fan of the president's, you could argue, this is only possible because this is a president who doesn't like to fox cus on policy. >> that's true. but in fairness to trump, there
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have been many presidencies who have gone through four, even five white house chief of staffs of barack obama had four, reagan had four. there's nothing wrong with having a change of chief of staff at this point. and i would argue that it's really critical, because one of the problems that this white house has had is that it's really enthralled to right-wing ideologues who have no idea how to govern. one of trump's fundamental problems from the beginning is that he doesn't understand the difference between campaigning and governing. >> to that point, mike pence's chief of staff, nick ayers, who a lot of people are pushing to take over for john kelly, aides said told trump that appointing ayers would lower staff morale and trigger an exodus. but some say he has great political instincts and that would serve the president well going into 2020. how much of the job, ideally, is about politics and political
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instincts and how much of it is about management, managing staff, managing policy? >> it's all of the above and so many more things, as well. there's no question about the fact that from what i've heard, nick ayers may have better political instincts than john kelly. the bar is pretty low there, by the way. but having said that, this is a job that requires, in my opinion, someone with real gravitas, experience, knowledge, and -- knowledge of capitol hill, relationships on capitol hill. but fundamentally, the most important thing is, you have to be confidant enough to walk into the oval office, close the door, and tell donald trump what he does not want to hear. now, there are very few people who walk this earth who can do that. >> and even the ones who can, does he listen, i guess is the point? and why do you want to stay on if you're not going to be listened to, right? >> i think the only chance trump has of turning this presidency around and succeeding in 2020 is to find his own version of a jim baker or a leon panetta, who can
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do that with him. who can help him to learn that there's a difference between campaigning and governing. >> we'll see. can you teach an old dog new tricks? chris whipple, thank you so much. always good to have you here. there's one more looming problem reportedly playing into the president's recently foul mood, special counsel robert mueller and the likelihood of more indictments from his russia investigation. the "l.a. times" writes, trump has retreated into a cocoon of bitterness and resentment. and now nbc news reports that trump's legal team says the president's written answers to questions posed by the special counsel may be submitted as early as this week. with me now, nbc news intelligence and national security reporter, ken dilanian. hey, ken, so what is the mueller team likely to learn here? what were sort of parameters of the questions that were asked? >> well, chris, the most important parameters being set by the president, and that is that he is refusing to answer questions about obstruction of justice, we understand. and so that is going to set up a conflict with mueller down the
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line. because mueller badly wants those answers. but we know from a set of questions that were published by "the new york times" and confirmed by people on trump's legal team that mueller wants to ask the president very basic questions about everything we all know about the russia investigation. for example, you know, he wants to ask him about trump's 2013 trip to moscow for the miss universe pageant. he wants to ask trump, was he aware of outreach by his staff to the russians during the campaign? when did he first learn that the russians had hacked democratic e-mails. when did he learn about that trump tower meeting between his son and a russian lawyer? so very basic answers to basic questions. but it will have the effect of putting the president on the record, locking him into a story, and -- but i don't think it's the end of it. because as many legal experts have told us, robert mueller at the end of the day is going to want to sit down in front of the president and interview him, if he can. >> well, it seems to me that part of the complication of this, ken, is that he's already answered some of those questions publicly, right, either on twitter or been asked by
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reporters and sometimes answered them in contradictory ways. >> well, that's right. but he hasn't answered them in a way that is punishable by lying to investigators. it's a crime to lie to investigators. this will put him on the record. and the other thing is, chris, we don't know -- you know, a lot has changed since that list of questions was published first by "the new york times" and michael cohen is now cooperating. paul manafort is now cooperating. robert mueller's understanding of this whole russia situation has evolved and there may be questions we can't even conceive of right now. and the other thing, chris, we don't know to what extent robert mueller is threatening to subpoena the president and haul him before a grand jury. one reason mueller might be resisting that is he doesn't want a lengthy court fight that could delay his investigation. >> so, i guess, what do we know? does it look like whatever they're going to answer, whichever of these questions they're going to answer, they're almost done with it? >> i don't think so. because to the extent that they are circling around roger stone right now, we know the grand jury's investigating roger stone, if they charge roger stone, robert mueller's likely
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going to want to try to get his testimony, try to flip him the way he did with paul manafort and michael cohen. and that could take some time, if it ever happens. it could take six months. so i don't personally believe that we are very close to the end of this, chris. >> thank you very much. we appreciate that, ken. joining me now, barbara mcquade, an msnbc contributor. hey, barbara, we've talked about this before. written answers as a substitute for an in-person interview. obviously, you can't ask follow-up questions, you can't observe body language, you can't observe tone. so what does robert mueller get out of this and what doesn't he? >> well, you're right that it is of somewhat limited value for the reasons you identified. the other reason is that these answers are likely being drafted by lawyers. i mean, with president trump's input as to the substance of them, but they can be, you know, tweaked and edited and revised my lawyers. and so that limits the value to some extent. but nonetheless, as ken said, it
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does lock president trump into a story. there are certain facts that are going to be true or not true. and it will be very difficult for president trump to wiggle out of those things later. you know, when he talks to the media, it can be very free wheeling and one day he can say one thing and one day the other. this is a very sober process where these are the answers that he represents as truthful. and so, he can't later on down the road say that that that wasn't the case. so in that way, it does help narrow the scope of the facts for robert mueller. >> we also know about this president, that he does like to kind of shoot from the hip. that he speaks very much off the cuff. he does not seem, history would suggest to us, to be the kind of person that if he ever did have to be questioned under oath, he's going to go back and study the answers that were in written form, right? so, locking in really means something very specific for this president. >> well, it may be particularly challenging with this president. but i think one thing that's
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important to remember is that when someone is charged with perjury or making false statements, it isn't because they forgot or they exaggerated. there are a couple of very important aspects, elements of that crime. one is that you have to then and there know that what you're saying is untruthful. so that's important. and the other is, that it has to be a material fact. not some minor detail, but the key essence of the subject that you're discussing. and for those reasons, perjury charges are actually somewhat rare, but when they are brought, they're serious. and so no one's looking to play gotcha, i don't think, in robert mueller's investigation. i think they're looking for a quest for the truth. and those who have lied, wave se -- we've seen already, have been held accountable by making false statements. >> so they're going to get something. we don't know exactly what questions are going to be answered in this. but is this a situation where you think that robert mueller and his investigators could look back and say, we should have never gone for written answers. we should have tried to force an in-person interview. or when you look at the totality
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of this type of investigation, is this a relatively small piece of it? >> it's hard to say. those are strategic decisions that get made along the way in lots of different ways, but robert mueller is not precluded from still using a grand jury subpoena to get the. of president trump, unless they've made some promise to him and his lawyer that they won't do that, which i think would be unwise and unlikely. so if they're not satisfied with these answers, they could still serve him with a grand jury subpoena. i think they would be successful. there are those who say that a sitting president cannot be subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury. i think the nixon case strong l suggests otherwise, although that was for tapes as opposed to live testimony. but the reasoning there, that the grand jury is entitled to every man's testimony, i think still holds true in this scenario. so even if these answer come forward and are not what robert mueller hoped for, he still has the ability to serve a grand jury subpoena. i think this was an effort to make things come a little more quickly. although now that so many months have passed since he got those
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writtenens answers, he maybe wis he would have just filed a subpoena in the first place and he would have his answers from president trump. >> let me ask you quickly, finally, because you mentioned earlier this week that you thought maybe the special counsel should speak to the interim attorney general, matthew whitaker? what could that reveal? >> i think that would relate to whether there is an obstruction of justice that is ongoing. if president trump had conversations with matthew whitaker about instructions to shut down the investigation or to interfere with it in some way, that would certainly be obstruction of justice. and i think in light of his track record with these requests for pledges of loyalty and other things, it is certainly within the realm of possibility that in taking the very unusual step of leapfrogging deputy attorney general rod rosenstein to insert matt whitaker as the attorney general, i think it would behoove robert mueller to ask, why did that happen and is it something to do with the russia investigation here. is president trump attempting to
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use matt whitaker to obstruct this investigation? >> always good to talk to you, barbara mcquade. thank you very much. appreciate it. coming up, more than a week after the midterms, let's call it problematic new complication in the senate race recount voting machines. they're overheating. yes, overheating. plus, two key rulings in georgia regarding provisional and absentee ballots. what it means for the still-undecided race for governor. but first, flashpoint in california. some survivors of the worst wildfire in that state's history are angry and they're pointing fingers at officials, asking, where were the warnings? the death toll is climbing, dozens still missing. you're watching msnbc. you're watching msnbc.
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and now to the growing and already staggering devastation from the california wildfires. a local newspaper near the destroyed town of paradise asked this. how much suffering, how much grief can one small community endure? how do you even begin to plan 48 funerals? that number will certainly almost rise as an unknown number of people are still missing. 100, maybe 200. many of them in their 80s and 90s. the fires have also burned more than 8,400 structures, but no group has been spared. flames have destroyed the homes of millionaires and celebrities, including miley cyrus, gerard butler, neil young. many of the firefighters and first responders, as well, have lost their homes. as arizona state university fire
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historian steve pine told the los angeles times, fire doesn't particularly care whether you live in a mansion or a trailer park. it doesn't care. it doesn't feel our pain. it just does what it does. paradise, which has been nearly obliterated, was home to many retirees. it was said to be one of the last places in california where someone could live on a fixed income. residents who were able to escape said warnings to leave the area were too little, too late. nbc's steve patterson joins us now from chico, california. we can see behind you there's a donation center. i guess you're in the parking lot of a local walmart set up to help people affected by the fires. what kind of outpouring are we seeing from the local community? >> reporter: oh, chris, it's been absolutely incredible. as you mentioned, paradise reduced to ruins in an incredibly short amount of time. you're talking about people living in houses for 20, 30 years that lost everything in minutes. everybody has a harrowing story. everybody i spoke to basically says they had to leave with the
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shirt on their back, so they have nothing. so you see the outpouring of support here in chico. just take a look at this. this, as you mentioned, this sort of grassroots donation center, just sort of popped up. we're talking about two or three guys that had an idea to come out here when they heard about fire, brought their food trucks, one guy brought some clothing donations. word caught that this was happening. and you see the result of this. hundreds of people, likes like about thousands of items. it goes all the way back to a food area. there's another tent area set up for people in really dire straits, if they need to stay here. this is all grassroots, by the way. this is not the salvation army, this is not the red cross. there is no infrastructure. these are just people helping people. it's great to see after seeing so much devastation in paradise that people are coming together, chris. >> i want to also ask you about the controversy that hasarisen. many of the people have escaped with their lives, but only the
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shirts on their backs, essentially. saying they didn't get any warnings or the warnings were very, very late. what are officials saying about those criticisms? >> yeah, chris, look, i want to be careful with this. i can only tell you about the people we've spoken to on the ground, which is quite a number of people who have come up to us and said, hey, there was no warning. what's being done about this? why haven't people addressed this? we do have an nbc news reporting team that has looked at this angle. they have talked to butte county emergency officials who have said basically two things. one is that this fire moved faster and burned hotter and was unlike anything we've ever seen. that basically consumed this town in one shot. there is not a warning system available, even if it was perfect, that could have warned that many people in that span of time. the second thing they said is that they actually did warn people. that there were about 25,000 calls that went out. that there were about 5,000 text messages and 5,000 e-mails. the town of paradise, about 27,000, as you mentioned, more elderly folks who would have
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needed fair warning and able to get out. we're not sure where those numbers are distributed at this point. butte county is a big place. it's not just paradise that was affected. but officials say that work was done. they're sorry more work wasn't done. but, obviously, that's something that will have to be a part of an investigation that will follow the extinguishing of this fire, and then the work that's being done in paradise, which is heartbreaking, which is the removal now of so many bodies that are left behind. >> the search continues for those who are missing. steve paterson, thank you so much. coming up, a surprising new twist in the florida senate recount. a mechanic is called in after voting machines in one county overheat. plus, more lawsuits and a looming deadline tomorrow, as republican rick scott shows up in the nation's capital, claiming victory, even with all of that chaos and confusion back home. and it's not just florida. judges issue two key rulings in georgia's still-undecided race for governor. and stacey abrams' campaign makes a new plea to voters in a just-released tv ad.
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welcome back. we are now less than 24 hours until florida's recount deadline.
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all 67 counties have to have their ballots recounted by tomorrow at 3:00 p.m. eastern, but -- and this is a big but -- will it happen? palm beach county, the third most populous county in the state is experiencing major issues with machines overheating. they even had to fly in a mechanic. now nearly 175,000 early vote ballots are being counted by hand. and the county election supervisor is already saying she just can't be ready by tomorrow's deadline, despite officials working nonstop. so the recount in florida will decide two high-profile races. you probably know governor between rick desantis and andrew gillum, which currently sets at about a 30,000 vote difference. the race for senate, even closer. rick scott currently has a 12,000 vote lead over senator bill nelson. under pressure, governor scott today recused himself from certifying the election. he did the same thing back in 2014, when he ran for re-election. actually, he's in washington today, posing for pictures with majority leader mitch mcconnell and incoming freshman republican
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senators. but we note, senator is not a title scott officially has yet. >> so we're here this morning to welcome our six new republican senators that allow us to continue to our majority. and we'll be heading across the way here shortly to elect the leadership team for the next two years. good morning. >> governor scott, do you still contend that there's fraud going on in florida in this recount? >> all right, everyone, thank you very much. >> is this picture going to be outdated by tomorrow? >> thank you! >> in georgia, meantime, several court battles will determine who will be the state's next governor. legal fights over the counting of provisional ballots and absentee ballots. a federal judge ruled yesterday that as many as 27,000 provisional ballots are going to be reviewed. democrat stacey abrams still needs about 27,000 votes to trigger a runoff against republican brian kemp. today, abrams released a new ad,
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calling for every voice to be heard and for voters to share their stories of possible suppression. i went to georgia yesterday, where a newly activated army of women flipped a long-held house seat there. and turned what might have been anda sle -- a sleepy race for governor into a brawl. are you feeling disheartened or energized? >> energized, definitely energized. >> why? >> well, because we've actually made a difference. we were told that it couldn't be done. we were told, this is georgia, this is red, it will never happen. and we have actually made a difference. >> and we're finding more votes and we're counting more provisional ballots and getting more absentee ballots counted and we're winning more court cases. you know, what's going to make this happen or not is going to have to be the court system and their ability to see through, you know, what's a voting right protection issue and what's not and what's somebody trying to suppress votes. and they're seeing that. and that's making this happen. >> i thought i might find you all a little bit dejected. but, no? >> no, absolutely not.
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for me, we are sitting in the belly of the jim crow south. and we are still looking at the possibility of a black woman being the governor of georgia. that's huge. that's huge. >> and if she doesn't win? >> if she doesn't win, we -- i mean, it's still huge. >> this is a long game. things change and shift with persistence and perseverance and it's how i sleep at night. >> is this a one-off or do you feel confident that it's going to be part of the narrative going forward? >> it will absolutely be part of the narrative going forward? >> what makes you so sure? >> because we're all here and we're all going to keep going. >> and we're only getting more pling more people into it. and getting more younger people involved. >> have you thousands. >> thousands of women out there. i'm joined by patricia murphy, a
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columnist for the daily beast and "roll call" and aaron blake is a senior political reporter for "the washington post." so these women were really fascinating to me, because they are fired up, win or lose, this is going to 2020 for them. you wrote on election night, patricia, if abrams loses, quote, democrats will have officially tried everything to win and failed. that's a different story than i'm hearing from these women who are saying, change doesn't come overnight. we are setting the stage for change long-term in georgia. are they right, too? >> i think they are right. and i think that the election results, they have not been certified in the state, but the election for stacey abrams, she has made this race much, much closer than any democrat has in nearly 20 years. the georgia sixth congressional district, where i think you were in that piece, that has flipped from republican to democrat. that was newt gingrich's old district. the georgia seventh congressional district, another suburban district, is becoming much more diverse. a lot of women voters at has co
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votes. and those are stories that you did not hear about democrats in georgia, for the last 15 or 20 years. republicans have totally dominated nah state, with a few exceptions. and these have been really different kinds of races. stacey abrams has run a different kind of race. those women activists are newly activated. so i think they will continue to make a difference, even if stacey abrams doesn't end up winning this race. >> yeah, georgia is just one of the states where among the groups of women who i have spoke, who were canvassing, making phone calls, working their tails off for democratic candidates, there were republicans in there, with there were independents in there. most, as you point out, have never been active in politics before. several of them have said to me, i didn't know what "gotv" stood for. i want to play a little bit more of my conversation. because i think it's instructive about how women are feeling empowered right now. take a listen. >> we tend to really get
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organized and support each other, because we are used to not having a seat at the table, perhaps. and you have to come in through some kind of back door or side door. so we know how to do this in other parts of our lives. and i also think that we're so tired of, of the sexism and the racism. and all of the things that we walk through life experiencing, we've had enough! and it's our turn now to be the organizers, to be the candidates, to be the elected officials. we are 51% of the population. >> the future is female! >> and now that you have a seat at table, you don't want to give it up? >> right. you can't unring that bell. >> the way they put it, we're going from a patriarchy to a matriarchy, because the guys have screwed it up, essentially, is what they said. and they also think that this is really just the start. they don't think that this is a one-off. from what you're hearing from people all around the country
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exactly what we're hearing in georgia? >> absolutely. i actually interviewed a couple of those women when john osoff was running in the sixth congressional district a year and a half ago. i'm glad to see they're still energized and did not take that ge defeat as a final defeat. and these are women, when i talked to them a year and a half ago, they were extremely motivated, almost entirely by donald trump. their reaction, this were republicans, independents. the day, specifically when they heard the "access hollywood" tape was the day they got involved, changed their minds. these are women who are doctors, lawyers, engineers, master's degrees, phds, and they said, listen, i had not paid attention to politics in this state. a lot of them had newly moved to georgia. i had not paid attention before. i'm paying attention now. and literally, over my dead body is this going to happen again. they are very angry and very activated. >> one of the things that surprised me, aaron, is that these women also told me, we know now who is on our election board. they didn't even know before that an election board existed.
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they are getting down to the nitty-gritty. they cannot believe that all of these years, after a contested race in 2000, we're still talking about these same kinds of issues that they're flying people in, you know, to fix broken machines. i thought it was interesting when sherrod brown, the ohio senator, of course, said earlier today, if abrams doesn't win in georgia, republicans -- in his words -- stole it. that's kind of the thing, isn't it, rick scott is saying about democrats in florida? what does this all mean going forward, not just for activism, but the way we look at voting and voter suppression in general? is it going to change? >> i think it's clear that democrats have made a decision that this is their moment to make that argument about voter suppression. i don't think that they necessarily vf illusions that stacey abrams is going to win that runoff, necessarily, or that she could win if it did go to a runoff. if you look at the history of runoffs in georgia, generally
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the republicans will do better once you get to that point. things may have changed slightly in that state. certainly it's gotten a little bit bluer over the years. but if you look at the comments of people like senator brown. if you look at the comments of hillary clinton who said something similar yesterday, senator cory booker also mentioned the election being stolen. they see this as their chance to raise this issue of voter suppression in a way that they haven't been able to do in any other state, because there hasn't been a race with such national attention. it hasn't been close enough. it's difficult to get people to tune in to this issue. and so, i think as you're seeing them ratchet up the rhetoric, even maybe adopting a little bit of the rhetoric that republicans are using in a state like florida, they are doing that for a very specific purpose. and that's so that we have this conversation in a way that we simply haven't had it before. >> erin bligaaron blake, patric, great talking to both of you. thank you so much. coming up, we're learning new details about that statement from melania trump's office,
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calling for the firing of a national security official. what's her beef? a d.c. insider will join us next. plus, former first lady michelle obama opening up about the challenges of living in the white house, raising the obama girls there, and what's next for her. you're watching msnbc. her. you're watching msnbc. hey there people eligible for medicare.
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learn more with this free decision guide. call or go online to request yours. tick, tick, tick, time for a wrap up. a medicare supplement plan helps pay some of what medicare doesn't. you know, the pizza slice. it allows you to choose any doctor, who accepts medicare patients... and these are the only plans of their kind endorsed by aarp. whew! call or go online and find out more. whew! ♪ applebee's bigger bolder grill combos are back. now that's eatin good in the neighborhood. controversy continuing this hour over first lady melania trump's highly unusual move of publicly calling for the firing of a top national security official. the statement from her
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spokeswoman saying, it is the position of the office of the first lady that she no longer deserves the honor of serving many this white house. she is mira ricardel, number two under john bolton. it's known that ricardel has clashed with people in both the east and west wings of the white house. but even by trump white house standards, this is out of the ordinary. for more on all of this, i'm joined by emily heil, reporter for "the washington post." emily, this isn't what first ladies do, is it? i mean, publicly getting involved in personnel issues. it's almost like she's taking a page from her husband. she feels disrespected and she lashes out, right? >> it is rather trumpian, isn't it? well, there are actually two parts to that question. is this something that first ladies do, weighing in on personnel decisions? absolutely yes. i was talking to an historian who told me today, this goes all the way back to martha washington. >> but not publicly! >> that's the distinction. i mean, this is where usually, if a first lady feels -- and
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generally there are objections to west wing staff. usually have to do with the job that the staff is doing on behalf of their husbands. you know, they don't think that their husbands are being served particularly well by any particular aide. and then they might make that known, kind of, through back channels. that's what pillow talk is for, right? well, in this case, it happened very publicly. and another interesting distinction here is that the issue that the first lady seems to have with this staffer is not that she was doing a bad job for the president, it was that she didn't like the way she and her staff were being handled. so it's a clashes that former first ladies have had with west wing staff. >> yeah, we should also remember that this is a first lady who got burned during the campaign with charges of plagiarism. so she may be even more sensitive in that sense. but i also want to talk about the former first lady, michelle obama. she's out on her book tour. a lot of people saw part of the interview where she kind of raised her eyebrows when she was
quote
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asked if mrs. trump ever took her up on her offer to be just a phone call away and that phone call has not rung -- has not come. but michelle obama was also on the "today" show this morning. she talked about what it's like to fill the role of the first lady. let's take a listen, which i think in some ways, might apply to what we're seeing with melania trump. here it is. >> i think the beauty of the job is that it's undefined. >> mm-hmm. >> you have the flexibility to choose the things that you care about, that give you passion and strength. i learned to sort of live in that world of defining the undefined. >> and there was also a statement that the first lady's office put out that said, you know, she's a strong woman and she's going to do what she wants to do. be best, meaning, melania trump there. that is true, though, right? every first lady faces this. you've got to figure it out on your own. what do you want to do? how public do you want to be? what are your issues going to
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be. >> absolutely. there's no job description for being first lady, right? there's no salary. there's no real, you know, definition to this job. so each woman makes it her own and does her own thing with it. some first ladies, you know, are very policy focused. some are not. some have a softer touch. some take a harder tone. it really just depends on what this -- what this particular woman wants to bring to this job. and i think melania trump is still very much feeling this out. nearly two years in, what she wants to do with this platform. it is a tremendous platform. some first ladies have been very effective, not just in, you know, in doing things to promote their husband's work, but also doing their own work. getting legislation passed. that's something first ladies have done. we're talking about laura bush. we're talking about barbara bush. hillary clinton. michelle obama. they got legislation passed. they moved needle on policy issues. now, that's not something, it seems, that melania trump wants
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to do. her ambitions seem to be a little bit more scaled back. but she's, i think, finding it difficult to find her footing, particularly with a husband who is so divisive. i think that makes -- that backdrop is so difficult. and it makes her -- it pushes her into a smaller and smaller lane, in terms of the issues that she can talk about, without having to be compared to her husband. her husband makes her job, which doesn't even have a job description, really hard. >> emily heil, thank you so much. always good to talk to you. >> good to see you. more than a dozen news organizations including nbc news have joined cnn's lawsuit against the white house for banning reporter jim acosta. they write, quote, our news organizations support the fundamental, constitutional right to question this president or any president. a federal district judge appointed by the president is hearing that case in washington. earlier today, the doj responded to the lawsuit, saying that the president has the right to pick and choose which journalists can be given a press pass to cover the administration. coming up, the trial for the notorious drug lord known as el
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chapo begins in new york city with the defense revealing its strategy in court today. will it work? plus, the feds reveal who their main witness in the trial will be. you're watching msnbc. your paycheck. your family depends on it. but if something happened to you...
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it would be hard to imagine more drama or more security than what's surrounding the trial of the man the treasury department called the most powerful drug trafficker in the world. joaquin guzman known as el chapo, faces a life sentence if convicted of drug traffic, murder conspiracy and money laundering. but in a stunning move, his defense said he's actually getting a bum rap. el chapo is no more than a myth. let's take a closer look at the notorious druglord who was once one of the world's most wanted men. so el chapo once ran the drug cartel that controls a lot if not most of mexico's drug trade. it's one of the target of the long-running drug war. federal prosecutors say he sent 440,000 pounds worth of cocaine and other drugs into the u.s. now at the height of his power, he had a place on "forbes" billionaires list. he's reputed to be worth as much
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as $14 billion. federal prosecutors say he had his own private army, along with a personal arsenal that included a diamond-encrusted handgun and a gold plated ak-47. he ordered hit men to kill his enemies and sometimes he did the job himself. in 2015, he escaped from a mexican prison through an opening in the shower section of his cell. while he was on the run, he talked with actor sean penn and a mexican soap opera actress. he was quoted as saying, i supply more heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana than anyone else in the world. i have a fleet of submarines, airplanes, trucks and boats. but that wasn't enough to keep him out of jail. el chapo was captured again in january of 2016, extradited to the u.s. in 2017. now he's on trial at the federal courthouse in brooklyn. nbc's stephanie gosk has been covering this. we've been talking about it in the hallways off camera. >> it's fascinating.
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>> the drama had barely begun and a couple of the jurors had to be replaced. let's start with that. >> one of the jurors said he'd be bankrupt if he went what could be as long as four months, the course of this trial. the other juror told the judge that she was experiencing anxiety. and although she didn't specify why, you can imagine why one might be anxious. the judge has actually ruled that their names of the jurors be sealed. they remain anonymous and that is for their safety. he mentioned -- you mentioned the $14 billion, that incredible ring that el chapo ran. and the fear that their lives might be at risk if their names were out there. so just highlights just one of the many security concerns. >> the other one being, what do they do with getting him back and forth? do we even know where he is? where are they keeping him? >> it's really interesting. you go to one of these trials in new york city and there are reporters there that work these beats for years and years and
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years. and one of the things i -- >> they know all the courthouse people. >> exactly. >> one of the things people keep saying, it's amazing how tight-lipped law enforcement has been about his whereabouts. about el chapo's whereabouts. he was held for a while in this maximum security facility in manhattan. and that they had been transporting him to this courthouse in brooklyn but to do that, they have to cross the east river and go over the brooklyn bridge. they were shutting it down and it was this convoy of vehicles, helicopters and the rest of it. and you can imagine just effortwise, logistics but securitywise doing that twice a day is very difficult. one possibility is that they actually keep him in this federal courthouse in brooklyn in some kind of makeshift maximum security cell where he would be monday to friday. >> do they have cells in that facility? >> not with the same kind of security, is my understand, as those he was in, in manhattan. so they'd have to do something
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to beef them up, so to speak. but that courthouse, the security is unbelievable. just to get to the courtroom itself you have to go through multiple layers of security clearance. it's pretty remarkable. >> stephanie, we'll keep on this over the next four months. >> also just worth pointing out that $14 billion, senator ted cruz wants to use it if they actually -- the government gets it to build the wall. the submarines and boats and tunnels would have gotten around that. >> okay. thank you. we'll be right back. ♪ ♪
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and that's going to wrap up this hour for me. look for me on twitte twitter @chrisjansing. "deadline white house" with nicolle wallace starts now. a group of the country's most highly regarded conservatitoday using its clout the alarm about donald trump's war on the rule of law. and his attempts to weaken and undermine the independence of the justice department. their concerns joining the chorus of uproar over trump's decision to put an outspoken critic of special counsel robert mueller in charge of his investigation. the attacks from within the president's own party come as mueller appears to be intensifying his pursuit of the truth as it pertains to presidential trickster roger stone. the "the wall street journal r " report"ing rer

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