tv Morning Joe MSNBC December 12, 2018 3:00am-6:00am PST
big tech just as in our interview with tim cook, the apple ceo, the google ceo says he recognizes more tech and privacy is inevitable. so this is a real change in how silicone valley engages with washington. before, they tried to not engage. now, not only do they recognize that they need to be a sustained direct personal presence here and that's why you have the google ceo whos has mostly been mind the scenes on capitol hill, but they recognize that they're not talking about whether to have new laws, but what they'll be. >> mike allen, what you said. thanks, mike. we'll be reading axios a.m. in just a little bit. signup.axios.com. >> that does it for us on this wednesday morning. "morning joe" starts right now. you want to shut it down.
you keep talking about it. >> no, the last time you shut it down. >> no, no, no, 20 times -- >> i wonder if i sit real still if they will even notice i'm here. i'm a manila envelope taped to a beige wall. no one can see me. >> none of us have said -- >> you want to know something? you want to put this on my -- >> you said it. you said it. >> president pence. the pence administration. the michael pence presidential library and casino. >> that was quite a scene yesterday. >> wow. >> yeah. at his worst, donald trump has been a bully and a clown his entire life, but yesterday it was his worst with traits on display for all the world to see live from the oval office. the president was embarrassing and undignified in his fight with nancy pelosi and chuck schumer. some of his fans may have liked it, but most americans do not.
this is the type of wretched behavior that led to the democratic landslide next month. there is no upside for trump or his minions after that. instead, mr. trump embarrassed himself. he weakened republicans' hand in the budget talks and drove a wedge between himself and the senate republicans whose support he will need if he is impeached by the house. contrast the buffoon we saw yesterday with the quiet professionalism and heroism of robert mueller whose veiler as a marine has been the basis for his career. >> as garrett graph with wired reminds us, marine second lieutenant robert mueller would receive the bronze star with valor for his actions in combat. robert mueller volunteered for
the marines after princeton. but get this. he was at first ruled medically unfit. this was in the middle of an unpopular war. instead of saying that he had bad feet, bad knees -- >> bone spurs. >> bone spurs. he spent the next year rehabbing his injured knees. he spent a year to rehab his knees so he could go to vietnam. then he went to army ranger school, which is a rare honor for a marine. mutters ridge 50 years ago yesterday, robert mueller's platoon took casualties and were trapped by 200 north vietnamese. one marine remembers hearing from the ridge, who is down there? are you dead? it was lieutenant mueller. hold on, mueller shouted. we're coming down to get you. that day was the second heaviest fire i ever received in vietnam,
marine david harris said. but lieutenant mueller was there, directing traffic, positioning people and calling in air strikes. he was standing upright, moving, and he saved their lives. his bronze star commendation read this, second lieutenant mule's courage, aggressive initiative and unwavering devotion to duty at great personal risk to himself were instrumental in the defeat of the enemy, keeping with the highest traditions of the united states marine corps. >> we have said it before. trump has never faced an adversary like mueller. and tuesday showed why this president and his advisers should be so very worried about the looming showdown between these two extremely different men. good morning, everyone. it's wednesday, december 12th. along with joe, willie and me,
we have mike barnacle, john heilman, higheidi prisbella and eugene scott. welcome to you all. willie, yesterday was incredible. chuck and nancy, i'm always a fan of nancy, but it was a good day for chuck and nancy. >> quite a show. and more than just lurid entertainment, it was a situationing that actual situation that actually unfolded for republicans in the house and the senate. >> and you could tell that by the way they reacted to what they saw as the president said i will own this shutdown. if you want to call it the trump shutdown, it will be the trump
shutdown if we have it. you had nancy pelosi coming out and saying to the president of the united states, you don't know what you're talking about. president trump invited news cameras into a meeting with democratic leaders nancy pelosi and chuck schumer yesterday escalating a negotiation overboarder security and wall funding. schumer openly mocked the president. >> if i needed the votes for the wall in the house, i would have them in one session, we would be done. >> do it. >> it doesn't help because we need ten democrats in the senate. >> don't put it on the senate. put it on the negotiation. >> it doesn't help for me to take a vote in the house where i will win easily with the republicans -- >> you will not win. let me just say one thing. the fact is, you do not have the votes in the house. >> nancy, we do and we need border security. >> find out. >> it's very important. >> this has spiraled downward. when we have came at a place to
say how do we meet the needs of the american people who have needs. the economy has -- people are losing their jobs, the market is in a mood. our members are already -- >> well, we have the lowest unemployment that we've had in 50 years. >> people of the republican party have lost -- are losing their offices now because of the transition. people are not -- >> and gained in the senate. nancy, we've gained in the senate. excuse me, did we win the senate? we won the senate. >> when the president brags that he won north dakota and indiana, he's in real trouble. 20 times you were called for, i will shut down the government if i don't get my wall. >> i'll take it. you know what i'll say? yes, if we don't get what we want, one way or the other, whether it's through you, through military, through anything you want to call, i will shut down the government, absolutely. >> fair enough. we disagree. >> and i am proud to shut down the government for border security, chuck, because the
people of this country don't want criminals and people that have lots of problems and drugs pouring into our country. so i will take the mantle. i will be the one to shut it down. i'm not going to blame you for it. >> joe, there's no turning back from that one, is there? he dug in pretty deep and chuck schumer nodding and getting what he wanted. >> he was fantastic. >> the expression taking candy from a baby comes to mind. it was really -- it was all too easy, wasn't it? donald trump even walked into schumer's line where the president was bragging about winning north dakota and bragging about winning indiana. this is terrible for the president for many reasons.
this is the first time in donald trump's life that he's had people talking back to him that people had had political skills and knew how to trap him. you can go back to the debates and he would run over people like marco rubio, he would run over rand paul, the other 16 people who were completely hapless in responding to this. these two people know donald trump. you know why? because he contributed to all of their campaigns in the democratic national committee and they've known each other as democrats a lot longer than they've known each other as donald trump being a republican. but, willie, on capitol hill, you could almost hear the screams from the republican cloak room as donald trump basically gave everything away, gave the high ground away to the democrats. where do they go now? >> i think the president
probably thought i'm going to display once again how serious i am to getting that border wall. i know it was a campaign promise. i'm so serious about this that i am willing to take the shutdown on. maybe he pleased that segment of his supporters. but in doing so, obviously he has taken complete othwnership any shutdown. it was right there for everyone to see. >> two key elements. one is he thinks he's a great negotiator and he thinks he can beat anyone on television. so he basically surprises them and says, hey, we're going to have this negotiation in public on camera where schumer and pelosi, if you listen to them, they keep trying to shut it down and say, let's go have this in private. but trump is a horrible negotiator and he's not as good on television as he thinks. so he gets beaten in his own game. early in the discussion, you hear pelosi drop the trump
shutdown into the discussion. by the end of the discussion, he has not only accepted the trump shutdown, but has embraced it with victm and vigor. it reminded me of "a few good men." baiting colonel jesup on the stand to where trump is basically saying you're right i ordered the can code red. yeah, i want the shutdown, i'll take the shutdown, it will be my shutdown and all of a sudden it's like bring in the marshals and lead him out in handcuffs. >> there's so much contained in that 17 minutes of tape that hopefully everyone in america saw including vice president pence in the corner. but for once, for the first time, i think, do all the republicans and democrats who have gone in front of cameras to speak about donald trump, nancy
pelosi one-on-one takes him down, face-to-face, nose to nose, takes him down. the other aspect that's interesting about the president's personality and his views, his automatic fall back position on nearly everything when he's in trouble, when he thinks the crowd is not paying attention or the crowd is lifeless, where does he go? he goes to the border wall. he goes to rapists, he goes to diseases, he goes to fear. that's his only fall back position. >> and, you know, eugene scott, as you look at what was happening in that room and you heard what happened afterwards, chuck schumer and nancy pelosi couldn't have been happier. pelosi goes on to say the border wall is about the president's manhood. >> absolutely. the democrats went into that meig with a mandate. they won the house and they won
the house because they told voters they would push back on the most problematic ideas coming out of the trump administrati administration. they fact checked donald trump in realtime in his face in a way that he hasn't experienced from people within his own tribe. a big challenge for the president is that he doesn't seem to realize that he doesn't have the popularity, even with his base in december 2018 that he did before the midterm elections. many of the people who voted for trump, who were supportive of trump, should i say, before the midterms still are not. so he's trying to let them know that he still has their back, he's still going to build this wall that he promised them on the campaign. that's when we saw schumer and pelosi completely remind him that the facts on which he made this promise isn't true. >> i know it's common knowledge, heidi, but donald trump is living in an alternate reality,
an alternate political universe. you could go back to right after donald trump got elected president of the united states and only one in three americans supported building the the wall. probably less than one in three americans support building the wall mow that we have another $1 trillion in debt piled high on us. you look at the drubbing donald trump and republicans took this past election because of this sort of rhetoric, this sort of behavior. speaking of a few good men, i'm sure republicans are calling for a code red right now, whatever that means, on capitol hill because they have to know. the ones with half a brain have to know that this is leading straight to a cliff that about 30 or 40 of their fellow republicans were pushed over politically just a month ago. >> they've really jammed it -- or he's really jammed the
republicans, joe, because the sources i talked to last night said that we are closer than ever to a shutdown that could actually last into the new congress. he's really not left them any negotiating options here. they're so far apart. but i think what we saw yesterday is that, like you said, he's been living in this alternative reality. guess what? there's a new reality show in town and he's no longer the producer/director who is playing to the cameras. there's a whole new cast of characters, including a woman in the room who is going to wield her power a little differently. last night as they all played out, mansy pelosi comes back to the hill, equates trump's manhood to the wall and yet within moments, he was calling her and she said that the negotiation was, quote/unquote constructive. so this is a whole different cast of characters here who are
going to go into the oval office and they're not going to allow him to be in that alternate reality. they're going to fact check him when he says, for instance, he has built the wall. that's not true and they're going to call him out on it. >> john heilman, i don't want to beat a dead horse, but it's there and it's been there for two years. let's talk about it ben. i've repeated on this show sdpi time and again that donald trump speaks to 33% of americans, a hard core 33% of americans. >> yes, sir. >> yesterday in that mueller cnn poll we see that 33% is down to 29% agree with what he and rudy have been doing, attacking a war hero like robert mueller.
and i hate to keep asking this question over and over again, but when are republicans, not only on capitol hill, but in state capitals across america going to finally understand that donald trump being a 40% president or a 33% president was always going to lead to them getting destroyed in the off year elections which we said and is only going to lead to them being destroyed in 2020? the party is being dismantled bit by bit. can you name a republican in america with any authority that understands that? >> it's hard to say, joe. i'd say, amazingly, we've seen of the course of the last couple of days in the context of the mueller probe, in the context of the southern district where we talk about there's been a reality tornado that's come through the white house and people finally recognize how
much trouble trump might be in, you still see people like orrin hatch, the leaders of the republican party saying, well, maybe he's been implicated in a crime in the southern sdriktz, maybe he's complicit in a felony, maybe he's an unindicted coconspirators, but campaign finance laws aren't really a big deal. there's still a state of denial on capitol hill about the depth of the problem, about the political reality, about how receive the loss was this november, about what it portends for two years from now about the mounting trouble he faces. all i can come back to every time when we have this discussion is the republican party was bankrupt enough intellectually that donald trump was able to take it over in 2016. that was the condition of the party. if there was not a bankruptcy intellectually and politically on the republican side, there would be no donald trump. so now that donald trump, he's
the head of an intellectually bankrupt party and he's behaving as such. eventually, math will catch up to hill. at some point, even those bankrupt will look up and say, hey, this is too horrible for us and we're going to eventually lose and we're going to have to abandon him. but i don't know when that day comes. i think it will come, but i don't know when. >> it has to be now. >> you wonder when, willie, because they had the worst loss since watergate, they lost seats, governorships across america. i mean, it just -- things went so badly and, you know, john brings up a great point. we described robert mueller's history as a marine. we don't have to describe his history as a law enforcement officer. it's beyond reproach. he guided us in those terrible days after 9/11 as fbi director with great distinction. you actually have republicans --
you actually have republicans who spender their days trashing an american hero like robert mueller and defending a guy -- and kevin mccarthy's defense is, sure, it's a felony, we're not going -- i mean, come on, it's just a felony. >> and for what, exactly? they're protecting whom, a guy that is going to help them out some day, a guy who would protect them if they were up against it? of course not. the only time we've seen republicans step up and cross the president is in the case of jamal khashoggi. we've heard them come out again and again and they're still coming out. and the president in an interview with reuters said, i still support msb. i'm still behind mbs. but to your point, joe, that's the only place we've really seen republicans come out and they will not come out and protect the special counsel. for whatever reason and we've asked a million times, the
senate majority leader says the president is not going to fire. he's not going to take steps to fire bob mueller. we don't have to worry about legislation. that be fundamentalels us, it be fundamentalels a lot of people in this country where they go the confidence for that. i can't answer your question. i don't know why they don't cross him more than they do except in the case of of a washington post columnist. >> if you had said the republicans would basically give murderers in saudi arabia the go ahead, would run up a record federal debt, run up a trillion dollars extra in deficits, they
would say no, no, that doesn't sound like a republican, that doesn't sound like a conservative. that's a radical. that's who is in the white house right now and that's who the republican rank and file members are supporting right now. >> if it isn't painfully obvious the to republicans now, god help us. still ahead, we'll talk to the reuters reporter who sat down with president trump yesterday in the oval office. jeff mason joins the conversation plus emily jane fox who has exclusive reporting on michael cohen's legal moves. that's straight ahead. but first, here is bill karins with a check on the forecast. >> the number one question that will be heard overall today in areas of georgia and areas of atlanta, did you feel it? they had an earthquake earlier this morning, 4:14 a.m., located in tennessee, but many people in atlanta did feel it. this is one of the biggest they've ever recorded. it's 4.4 magnitude, no injuries,
no fatalities or anything like that, but just a significant event that a lot of people woke up to early today. winter weather alerts north of chicago. milwaukee, watch out for slick roads. light snow to light ice graze. fast forward into thursday, here comes our rain storm in thursday night in st. louis. friday morning, our storm will be over little rock with heavy rain and rain on the east coast. if you have flight plans out of atlanta on friday or flight plans friday evening from new york city to baltimore, d.c. and richmond, you could have delays because of the heavy snow event. we have to watch out if we get flooding concerns from the melt in the snow and the ice. we'll continue to give you updates on the rain storm. new york city, rain for you comes friday night. no problems with ice or snow.
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just days after a 36-year-old a aide to the vice president turned down an offer to be white house chief of staff, president trump claims to have more candidates for the job than he can handle. telling reuterss last night, quiet, i have at least 10, 12, 12 people that want it badly. i'm making a decision. great people. trump said. i'm sorry. i can't help -- >> if by none you mean 12, then yeah, 12 people. >> i could do it immediately. i'm in no rub. a lot of people want it. everybody wants it. who doesn't want to be one of the top few people in washington, d.c. you three guys with would take it. >> no. >> no? he goes on, i have so many people, i cannot interview them all, i said. my god. turn to go bill shine, trump asked, is that a correct
statement? and he nodded. what else is he going to do? john kelly will remain in the job until at least january 2nd or perhaps longer because they might not find anyone. but that poor guy, he just wants out. >> fresh off that wide ranging interview with president trump, jeff, thanks for being here. i understand rick santorum turned it town on tv last night. everybody, it's just -- it is a miserable time to be inside that white house. it's going to be a very tough position for the president to field with everybody who is effective. tell me, what was your take on the president and his mind-set yesterday when you were talking to him? >> well, first of all, i guess i can confirm the three reuters reporters, myself, my colleagues steve and roberta are not taking the job of chief of staff. but he was in a good mood, honestly. and it was just a couple hours
after that raucous meeting with the democratic leadership. he was pretty calm. he answered our questions about a whole range of issues, including the chief of staff, but about china and impeachment. he seemed like he was not in a -- he was not in a harried mood. he was happy to chat. >> so let me ask you what's next. what is the feeling around the white house? what's the feeling around the press core about what comes next for this president? >> well, the chief of staff piece of that will be huge. he's coming into a year, 2019, in which he will be faced with democrats controlling the house of represents. he's faced with all these legal challenges. he's faced with these political challenges. so it will depend a lot on who ends up leading that ship or steering that ship. he said as you just mentioned, he has 10 to 12 candidates for that job. it will depend on how china trade talks go.
one of the things he talked to us yesterday is that he's willing to intervene in t the huawei cfo story. i asked him specifically if he was worried about being impeached and he said no, i'm not concerned. >> jeff, several members of the intelligence agency have concluded the saudi crown prince played a key role in the assassination of khashoggi. when that came up yesterday, the president of the united states maintained that position? >> he didn't say he didn't care, but we asked him if he thought the man known as msb, standing
by, the crown prince, he has not wavered at all. it's something he's come under quite a bit of criticism for. >> john heilman, i'm just wondering, and you can take it to jeff, but if the display yesterday has any hope of showing those who think had this president might even be able to handle our allies or our enemies at these foreign meetings that he goes to, that he clearly doesn't have the skills let aloeng loan the support, the skilled to handle a conversation with any type of sense of how to actually get a goal completed, i think yesterday might have been devastating. i'm not sure the president understands that, but perhaps republicans do?
>> mika, i don't think that if you look back over the course of the couple of years, there have been few dell administrations of trump's weakness as a negotiator. >> this was big. >> i would say as much as anything, not only did it demonstrate the deficits that he has has a negotiator with foreign adversaries, but it would make me worried if i was on his legal team. it would demonstrate, well, i don't want that man in a room with bob mueller because if chuck schumer and nancy pelosi can bait him and get him back into a corner and cause him to lie and corner himself that way, can you imagine what would happen if donald trump actually testified in front of bob mueller and his team. that leads me to the questions you asked him yen, the
president at this stage, even before democrats take control of congress, openly addressing the question of impeachment struck me as rather remarkable. but give us a sense of what his body language was and what he discussed with you and some of what he said as you asked the question. >> it is a reality for the president going into 20 1d. his body language and his demeanor was confidence. he believes he has done a great job as president. getting other judges appointed and approved, regulation, the economy broadly, so he says it would be pretty hard to impeach somebody whos has done such a great job and who has done nothing wrong. >> all right. thank you so much, jeff mason, greatly appreciate you being with us. so, willie, you know, it's very interesting, yesterday when you look at what happened yesterday, mika was talking about the world
stage. i was watching the show yesterday, watching you guys talk to richard haass. >> you mean world in disarray? >> he has a recipe for every season. >> can i correct you? until richard's segment yesterday, nobody used to think about that around the holidays. now everybody does. but, anyway, you look at your discussion about the chaos worldwide, theresa may had a vote of no confidence today, she couldn't get her car door open yesterday to meet angela merkel. you look at what is happening in france, facing riots in the streets of paris. our allies are going through terrible times and they have
donald trump in the white house. the timing could not have been worse with the problems our democratic allies are having across europe. >> when you go across from germany and italy and you go up to france which is literally on fire, and then today, a huge no confidence vote for the prime minister, theresa may, she could be out of office, she could be out of a job. so you put all that together with what is happening here and i think richard is right when he says the world is in disarace, mika. >> yes, it is. coming up, michael cohen is set to learn his fate today in a manhattan courtroom. we'll bring in emily fox who has new details on what comes up for the president's former fixer. "morning joe" is back in a moment.
southern district of new york and another by the special counsel's office. he has pled guilty to 8 counts from the southern district including two campaign finance violations to cover up donald trump's alleged affairs. new york prosecutors are recommending a substantial prison term for his crimes. no less than 3 1/2 years, even considering his cooperation. the special counsel's office, taking into account cohen's cooperation is essentially recommending no additional jail time outside of his sentence in the new york case. joining us now, senior reporter at "vanity fair" and msnbc contributor emily jane fox. emily, you've known michael cohen for a long time. you've spent a lot of time with him. i'm just wondering as you've watched the arc of this, how is he doing, just on a human level, just on a personal level? >> i think this is obviously a tough day, but it's one that he has prepared for.
i think that people who knows him, people who have been waiting for this day, who have spent time with him recently are sort of hoping for the best but preparing for the worst is the way this was put to me. this was obviously an emotional day for someone who is close with his family, who for years was blindly loyal to president trump and today he's seeing that loyalty come back to haunt him. there two things i'm looking forward to today. the first is what he is going to say in court. now, i don't know what he is going to say, but he does have the opportunity to address the court. and the last two times that he was in court and did have that opportunity, he took it. and we learned substantial things about the president. the first time he -- that was the time where he stood up and said that the president directed him to make those payments to the women and that was a big revelation and that was something that was echoed by prosecutors in the southern district of new york in their sentencing memo last week. and the second time he stood up and said that when he did lie to
congress, that those lies were were because he was, a, loyal to the president and, b, because he wanted to stay in connection with the president's message that he knew was so important to him. again, i don't know had what he will say today, but i think it will be pretty important. and the second thing is, there will be a different legal strategy going forward. this is the end of one era of the cohen saga and the main cohen saga over the last year and a half. lonnie davis had will no longer serve as his attorney going forward because the sentencing will be over. he will simply by an adviser to him, advising him on when and if he decides to tell his story after the mueller report comes out. >> heidi. >> emily, you know, michael has certainly provided invaluable information to the southern
district prosecutors about individual wone with directingig potential felonies, but we're heading into a second era and there could be a second wave of investigations into the trump businesses specifically. this is fertile stuff, including the foundation, money laundering, look at the tax story that the "new york times" did about trump evading taxes. to what extent did michael cohen, do you think, based on your reporting, based on everything that you know provide, seize and potential information about this second avenue of investigation that we could vitae shape here? >> i know that he has spent time with investigators in the southern district of new york and also the attorney general's office in new york who are looking into particularly the trump foundation. his attorneys have said that he will continue to cooperate, even after sentencing. so what he has already told them, i'm sure, has given them some information in those
investigations and what he may tell them going down the road could lead to mr. . >> emily, let me get you to possibly clarify something i don't understand. i know michael was cooperating, certainly with mueller, but i was surprised a few days ago when the southern district of new york came out and said that he refused to sign a full cooperation with them and that he had not been fully forthcoming and because of that they were going to recommend a good bit of prison time. do you have any insights why a man in this position would hold back and decide that he wasn't going to fully cooperate with the southern district of new york knowing that would keep him away from his wife and children for three or four years? >> this had is the way i understand it. in order to be a full official cooperating district in the southern district of new york, you have to explain to them everything you have done since you were born to today and
everything you know around you who has done anything wrong. at this particular point in his life, i think cohen decided it was not the right decision for him, it was not the right decision for his family. he wanted to get the sentencing over with is the way it was described to me. >> mike barnacle. >> in how many ways is he broke? is he broke psychologically as well as physically? >> i think this has been incredibly tough on him to spend time away from his family and it's been tough financially. there are no banks that will have him as a client. insurance is difficult to get when you have pleadinging guilty to lying to a financial institution. so his life as he knew it is over and he's about to start a new chapter. i don't know if he -- i don't know that he does not have the taxi medallions any more. i don't know what will happen to the assets that he has, but this has been a turning point and for someone who covered him for a long time, it's an arc in his
life and we're at a very different place from when i fist started covering him. >> emily, in the long and winding road of the president's explanations of what happened with these payments to the two women, he seems to have landed on yes, we made the payments, but no, i didn't have an affair. michael consaid we were trying to make this go away to protect the president and embarrassment for his family. has michael told you the president, in fact, had an affair with these women? >> he's never told me that. when we were first covering the story, i believe he said i don't really know what happened, i don't know. but he has never 'emphatically said this happened or it didn't happen. >> emily jane fox, we'll be looking forward to hearing from you tomorrow. thank you very much. still ahead, two top democrats eye their next move
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to chill out a bit and you can be sure i don't follow the tweets as closely as i used to. i've got to say i'm proud of president trump's policy agenda and to have had a part in it. he is driven to succeed and much of his frustration arises from his inability to move the bureaucracy to achieve what he believes ought to be achieved fast enough. as kanye west said, he has dragon energy. i think that's a good description of it really. >> that's former attorney general jeff sessions and not an
"snl" character speaking out about life after the trump administration, addressing the alabama chambers of commerce where he quoted none other than kanye west. heidi, before we head to the top of the hour, we've been talking about that extraordinary meeting between the president and top democrats at the white house yesterday. what are the implications looking ahead for nancy pelosi? >> look, i think this can only help her, mika. this is exactly what a lot of those rebellious democrats have said that they want which is someone who will stand up to this president and, in fact, "politico" is out with a story this morning saying that it seems that nancy pelosi has cut a deal to secure her speakership with some of those rebel can you say yus democrats that would essentially amount to a term limit on her. no more than four more years. and this would allow her to get the votes to become what she said is a transitional speaker, while allowing some of those more vulnerable democrats to still keep their promise to vote against her on the floor in
january, which is a good deal for everybody all around it seems. >> wow. heidi, thank you very much. coming up on "morning joe" -- >> reports that president trump is having difficulty finding a new chief of staff. president trump tweeted, quote, many over ten are vying for wanting the white house chief of staff position. for example, one of them is even ten and a half. >> president trump's search for a third chief of staff continues, even though he says he can have anyone he wants. and also that john kelly is going to stay until january, perhaps longer. who knows? you're watching "morning joe." we will be right back. ♪ ♪ ♪
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♪ welcome back to "morning joe." it is wednesday, december 12th. along with joe, willie and me, we have veteran columnist and msnbc contributor mike barnicle, national affairs analyst for nbc shus news and msnbc, john heilemann, joining the conversation nbc news capitol hill correspondent and host of kcdc -- >> i need the lightning bolt. >> kasie hunt. >> hold on. >> led zeppelin for the next hour.
zeppelin rock block. >> she's outgrown it. now stop. >> no, she hasn't. >> she's above it. >> do you know why we're doing the zeppelin rock block. >> no. >> because we have the professor at the u.s. naval war college and author of the book no greater band than led zeppelin, and also the death of expertise, tom nicholson. tom, it's a bad, bad sign when you give your heart and your soul and your love to the kids and you're up there working and you're sharing with them -- >> where is this going? >> you work for an entire semester just to give them little grains of your knowledge that they can grasp ahold to and then they thank you at the end by doing what? >> by giving me a vinyl copy of the first led zeppelin album. i brought it on myself. i brought it on myself. >> we can't get this time back. >> you did bring it on yourself. >> i'm launching. on capitol hill --
>> go ahead. >> republican senators reacted to the white house meeting where president trump basically got educated by chuck and nancy and said he would proudly take responsibility for a government shutdown. >> i hope that's not where we end up. i understand it was a rather spirited meeting. we all watched. but i'd still like to see a smooth ending here and i haven't given up hope that that's what we will have. one thing i think is pretty clear no matter who precipitates the government shutdown, the american people don't like it. >> well, i wish that it had gone better, but this is probably round one of a lot of negotiations both public and private that will be going on. >> i don't believe the man is bluffing. if i were playing poker with him right now and i didn't have the cards, i'd fold those rascals
because i assume he is prepared to do what he says he is about to do. >> if they're saying that in front of the tv cameras i don't want to tell you what they're saying behind closed doors. we had these kind of negotiations about newt gingrich time and again when he was speaker of the house. he did great things getting the party into the majority but when it came to negotiations with bill clinton it went badly and that actually led to him losing confidence from fellow members. why am i talking about that? because it's very relevant here. i'm telling you, yesterday was a bad day for the president and his relationship with republicans on capitol hill. they just know he can't negotiate. >> i'd add one more comment into what we just heard and that was from tom cole, the republican who sits on the appropriations committee of oklahoma who was talking about the fact that they've always tried to pin a shutdown or prospect of a shut down to the democrats and he said i don't quite see the advantage of blah i go that card in reverse. in other words, why are we
handing them the what we've been trying to -- that we've been trying to take away all of these years. the president in that room, though, as i said at the top of the hour i think what he thought was to show his supporters, to show the people that he's still going to deliver on a campaign promise, the wall will be built come hell, high water or a government shutdown. the price is now that he explicitly and specifically owns that shutdown if it happens. >> mike barnicle, the real problem here is that this is actually the first time that donald trump has not been in controlled settings in a very long time and he made a fool of himself. whoever the next white house chief of staff to worry about. >> it was a huge day. times person of year has been announced but it could well go to nancy pelosi for what she did yesterday. for the first time an elected official, republican or democrat, who have all walked away from confronting him one-on-one in person, instead running for the cameras to do it
anonymously sort of. nancy pelosi right there in the oval office takes him on and undresses him on the facts. basically saying, mr. president, you don't know what you're talking about. and the other thing, joe, was the three senators we just showed on clips, senator mcconnell, senator shelby and i forget who the third senator was -- >> senator kennedy. >> senator kennedy from louisiana. but claire mccaskill yesterday gave an interview, an exit interview really because she's going home to missouri and she said, you should hear what these senators -- she didn't name any senators individually -- she said you should hear what these senators say about donald trump behind his back in the senate cloak room. you can just sense that everything that you have said about him, everything that mika has said about him, that's what they say privately. he can't deal, he is a bully, if you confront him he backs right down and it's kind of an interesting human dynamic. >> mika, he said -- they've said it to us, republicans say that
to us all the time behind closed doors. >> yeah, after yesterday, though, i really -- i'm not sure where else they have to go in terms of trying to defend him in some way. but for nancy pelosi i consider this to be like the ultimate know your value moment because what i tell women in order to understand their value they need to push back in realtime. nancy pelosi suggested the negotiation continue away from the cameras, which the president suggested had to do with her needing to win support in her next month speaker vote, and she pushed back. >> the point is is that there are equities to be weighed and we are here to have a conversation. >> right. >> i don't think we should have a debate in front of the press on this. >> you know, nancy is in a situation where it's not easy for her to talk right now, and i understand that, and i fully understand that. we're going to have a good discussion and we're going to see what happens, but we have to have border security. >> mr. president, please don't characterize the strength that i bring to this meeting as a
leader of the house democrats who just won a big victory. >> i hear some of the reporters saying -- well, fox reporters saying why did we not want transparency in this discussion. we didn't want to contradict the president when he was putting forth figures that had no reality to them, no basis in fact. i didn't want to in front of those people say, you don't know what you're talking about. >> and scene. joe? >> that's actually an honest human reaction, i didn't want to embarrass the president of the united states in the white house. i know this may be hard -- >> and don't ms. characterize me in realtime. sorry. don't miss characterize me. don't do it. >> i know it may be hard for some ideologues to understand but nancy pelosi and other people, a lot of republicans, understand that the president of the united states represents all of us and you don't want to
humiliate the president of the united states in the white house in front of cameras, in front of the world because that's not only bad for the president and bad for the republican party, it's bad for america. so nancy pelosi's instinct was right, which was i don't want to cross you here in the oval office, let's try to have a good negotiation. that's not a good way to get negotiations moving forward. he just wouldn't give nancy pelosi or chuck schumer that opportunity to be constructive because he was a wrecking ball in there. >> a total wrecking ball. >> so, kasie hunt, i guess where are we, then, with these negotiations? are republicans now going to -- >> own the shutdown. >> they are not going to own this shutdown. they know how bad it is. are republicans going to basically cave to chuck and nancy? >> they're certainly much more likely today to have to than they were before the president made this performance. i think you could see that on mitch mcconnell's face in the
clip you showed coming in here. i mean, let's just talk again about -- i know we've hit on nancy pelosi already, but that was just a complete masterful smackdown from somebody who knows the strength that she brought to the table and as mika pointed out, was not afraid to state that to the president. there is pictures going around of her putting her sunglasses on as she walked out of the west wing that i think just kind of captures the entire moment there. and you could tell from the way the republican senators responded that they are just kind of beside themselves. you know, if you take a look at this and think through it in the bigger picture, the biggest question that we have all been asking is when do republicans start to turn on this president and there have been a series of events over the last week that has started to change some of the tone, and it was, you know, friday with the information that came out in those cohen sentencing documents, to now this kind of performance that really does jeopardize, you
know, a lot of their political realities. nobody wants to stay in washington for christmas because there's a government shutdown, nobody is interested in it. i think you are starting to see this trend away from the president, really kind of across the board. >> and this as he continues to look for somebody to run his west wing going forward. tom, you are out with a new piece in the "washington post" this morning entitled "trump made competence a dirty word now he has to have second rate talent." his inability to recruit and listen to top -- his hostility coupled with reliance on his frequently terrible instincts and produce add synergy of incompetence in the white house and beyond. things go wrong on the world stage, capitol hill or with the media. trump never blames himself, instead blaming everyone else including the people who work for him. experts also known as people who know what they're doing have had two years to obviously this and
have understandably become less willing to work for him. their numbers inside the administration dwindle, lesser lights take over, more mistakes are made. leather, rinse, repeat. tom, specifically on this question of chief of staff the plan along was for nick ayers to be the heir apparent to step into this role. he was right there on the doorstep and then he walked away and said he didn't want the job. >> you know, which may pro of that nick ayers is just as smart as everybody really thinks he is. i think one of the things you saw in the meeting yesterday is this is what happens when staff who are responsible for prepping the president for these kinds of meetings just eventually have to just give up. that he's unbeliriefable. he goes into a meeting, pulls out figures about the wall and what percentages and numbers and
as nancy pelosi who -- i'm normally pretty critical of nancy pelosi, but she was really in charge yesterday and then he -- the whole meeting goes off the rails. who wants to be the chief of staff or the guy who has to brief in that kind of environment? it's a pointless exercise because the president is going to go in and he's going to say whatever he's going to say, right or wrong, and there's simply no way to stop those disasters. i think at some point staff just kind of get demoralized and give up and i think it's perfectly understandable why somebody like ayers just said not a job for me, thank you. >> john heilemann, just a side note on jared and ivanka, who have brought to the table the worst ideas known to man. >> manafort. >> for this presidency. paul manafort, mike flynn, they were pushing rudy giuliani, begging for rudy to be secretary of state. we know that from the inside from trump himself. now they are defunct in terms of
being able to recruit people because nobody can tell them the truth. at some point jared and ivanka need to realize this, maybe they won't, but we all see it plain and simple. especially given this experience with nick ayers who basically said, uh-huh, uh-huh, yes, yes, no. >> yeah, i mean. >> not taking it. >> there is no question that jared and ivanka are -- that, as you said, mika, their track record in terms of personnel decisions has not necessarily been stellar either in terms of the quality of the people they've recommended in some cases or in terms of their success in terms of reeling people in, but i do wonder about the nick ayers thing just in this sense, you know, one of the things that it does coincide the decision that nick ayers made does coincide with some of the things that kasie hunt was talking about. you think about this moment on friday which was -- which may
prove to be a real turning point in the -- at least in terms of the reality, the onset of reality sinking in in the white house about how significantly i'm imperiled the presidency is. kasie, you pointed out that it does seem like a turning point and there are signs on capitol hill that republicans seem to be taking a slightly different posture to the president. at the same time in the last 48 hours we have heard a lot of republicans ranging from kevin mccarthy to john thun to orrin hatch all basically saying when asked about the question of the president's complicit in a felony with respect to michael cohen saying it's just campaign finance, it's not a big deal, i don't really care about that, it's paperwork, bookkeeping, don't take it too seriously. they seem to be sticking by him on that front and seem to still be resistant to this onset of reality that others are
experiencing. so i'm curious as to how you think those two things sit beside themselves -- sit beside each other, that is, the notion that they are starting to drift from him but also at the same time on the central existential issue still trying to stand by the president. >> i think that the question that they are all going to have to grapple with is what is the degree of difference between the truth of what's going on and the absurdity of their statements. that's what you're seeing a widening of over time and that's what they are going to have to grapple with. i would make a distinction between some of the russia-related collusion questions, obstruction of justice questions and the questions about, you know, payments around these affairs. obviously that was the focus of the cohen sentencing, but at the same time i think the shoe that everybody is most nervous about and what they're waiting to see is what happens on the russia question and just how definitive the evidence is that mueller is able to compile. i think that is going to be a critical turning point.
now, that said, i mean, kevin mccarthy was out there yesterday essentially saying that, you know, hey, if we prosecuted every campaign finance violation there would be a lot of people, lawmakers in congress who may be in real trouble. that may be a fair statement when you are talking about the fact that there are all kinds of receipts, people do make errors, campaigns often have to send back contributions that are in excess, but that's different than willfully committing campaign finance violations and in this case to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars, just a few months before an election, in an effort to actually make sure that you are swaying the outcome of the election. i don't quite understand how those sin naps aren't connecting for those of these republicans who are saying it's just campaign finance issues, it's fine, don't worry about it. >> it's incredible. >> they know their argument doesn't hold water because all of them know that fec violations happen, a clerical mistake happens and it happens probably -- it's happened to
them, it's happened to most members and you just fill out something wrong, you may be a couple dollars off here or there and the fec looks at it and you correct it and maybe you pay a fine and then you move on. but, mike barnicle, in this case you have the president of the united states knowingly and willfully spending hundreds of thousands of dollars for political purposes in the closing weeks of a campaign to -- to basically pay hush money to stop two scandals from breaking, which would have cost him any shot of winning that election. and if you want to look at his illegal intent, you just look at how the painstaking efforts that he and cohen undertook to hide those payments from the fec and the newspapers. >> well, joe, you just used the word, you could be working for
bob houmueller today. intent. they had an intent to defraud, to defraud the united states of america with what they did. unfortunately there are many other aspects of this presidency where it's unthinking intent. tom, i'd like to ask you about a little small thing that came out of the reuters interview yesterday. we know about the tariff wars that are pretty easy to inn with, that's what the president has said in the past, but there was a woman executive from a chinese technology company arrested in vancouver within she lands there about a week ago, she is out on bond awaiting an extradition hearing to come to the united states. the president of the united states in the course of this reuters interview said, oh, yeah, i'd try to intervene there and take care of the situation if that's what it comes to. the unthinking rhetoric that comes from the president's mouth -- i mean, you teach at the naval war college. words -- a slip of a tongue can change the dynamic between nations and this president does
things like this seemingly every day. >> well, good time to point out that i don't speak for the naval war college, but one of the things that's interesting about the president's rhetoric is his instinct because, again, this is part of his relationship with his base. his instinct is always to say, oh, there is a problem, i will fix that. as though everything is easy and fixable. i think that's been part of the narrative, part of his campaign narrative. the other thing i think is important to point out about all of these things that have been adding up over time, to go back to kasie's point and the point about these campaign finance violations, i think the president's defenders take call of these things, the blow up in the oval office, i will intervene in canada, you know, who among us has not met a russian, and the president's defenders take each one of these things discretely and say this
in itself isn't a big deal and to some extent that's true, it's putting all of these things together in a basket where it becomes a really untenable situation for a future chief of staff, for a future cabinet member, because the whole -- the whole bundle of these issues becomes utterly unmanageable and starts to look like a bad pattern. >> tom, i want to expand out with you from what's happening right now and around domestic politics to look at the challenges in great britain that theresa may is facing, what's happening with macron, his popularity and riots on the streets. angela merkel stepping down and she will be leaving her position. it seems that our closest democratic allies across the west are black on their heels while autocrats in poland,
turkey, hungary, saudi arabia actually seem to be gaining a stronger foot hold than ever. what's your assessment right now of the situation as it pertains to that and what are you telling your students about the challenges that western democracy is facing in 2018? >> well, there is no doubt that we're going through a period where freedom is under siege and the united states is awol. that we're simply not as out front defending democratic freedom, the freedom of the markets, the freedom of the global international system that we helped to create as strongly as we should be because we're simply too wrapped up with our own problems and we have decided that the world should just go on without us. to some extent this is what a world without america looks like. with that said i just want to say i think the europeans are going to get through this. i think that these are problems that were created years ago, i
think may has inherited this brexit problem, i think the british themselves weren't really ever sure that they wanted to do this. i think macron will get past these riots. i think the merkel era went on for a long time and it was due to end. but this is all coming together in a tough couple of months and, again, without american leadership i think it looks like democracy is more on the ropes than it may be. >> tom nichols, thank you very much for being on this morning. you bring us to where we're going next. still ahead on "morning joe," we are going to circle back to saudi arabia and one senator's call to i can kick out that country's ambassador to the u.s., senator dick durbin joins us for that. you're watching "morning joe." we will be right back.
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of jamal khashoggi. during that interview with reuters yesterday the president shrugged off a question on whether he thought the crown prince was responsible, responding, quote, well, i don't want to get into that. i can say that he says no, and other people say no, and some people say yes. the fact s you know, he vehemently denies it, as you know. trump was also asked if standing by the kingdom meant standing with the crown prince, responding, quote, well, at this moment it certainly does. he's the leader of saudi arabia. they've been a very good ally. i really hope that people aren't going to suggest that we should not take hundreds of billions of dollars that they are going to syphon off to russia and china instead of giving it to us. the president again drastically inflated the amount of arms sales going to saudi arabia. meanwhile, cia director gina haspel is set to brief select members of the house of representatives today on khashoggi's murder, after she
briefed select members of the senate last week a bipartisan group introduced a resolution holding mbs accountable for a slue of transgressions including khashoggi's murder. joining us now former u.s. ambassador to south korea, currently with the university of denver, christopher hill. dean of johns hopkins school of advanced international studies, valley nassar, former vat tick representative from california, now the director, president and ceo of the woodrow wilson international center for scholars jane harman, and former nato supreme allied commander now chief international security and diplomacy analyst for nbc news and msnbc, retired four star navy admiral james deaf reit tass. good to have you all this morning. >> admiral, let me begin with you. what a difficult time it is inside the cia where men and women there who work every day to keep this country safe and
give our leaders the best intel they possibly can, had to watch the president of the united states in helsinki say that he trusted an ex-kgb agent more than he trusted his own cia. here gina haspel having to deal with the same thing in saudi arabia. first of all, what does this do to our intel community to be undercut by the commander in chief day in, day out like this? and secondly, what should people on the hill do for the betterment on this country and for our standing across the globe to push back on this? >> joe, you've got it exactly right, and the morale at cia is surprisingly good in the sense that they are standing and delivering what the nation needs right now. i give a lot of credit for that to gina haspel who is a career
officer at cia, she has the chops to stand and deliver in the glare of this kind of publicity. secondly, at the congressional we need congress to step up, continue to demand all the information come on the table, needs to be more public, and we need to stop thinking about this as kind of an on and off switch where our only choices with the kingdom are cut them off completely or do absolutely nothing and stand with them. we've got to kind of treat this like a dimmer and we need to increase the level of penalty we apply, that can be diplomatic, economic, military. we should use this as a lever to force the kingdom to drop this blockade on qatar, to come out of this war in yemen. we have tools we can apply here, but we need to do it in an intelligent way that moves us forward. >> ambassador hill, if you are
talking to the next president of the united states, whoever replaces donald trump, and they ask you can we ever maintain normal relations with a country who has a leader who plotted the assassination, the torture, the murder, the dismembering of a "washington post" reporter, a virginia resident, the father of children who are u.s. citizens, what do you say to them? >> first of all, ever is a long time, but i would say that we cannot -- cannot do business with somebody who is involved in that type of activity. no question. on the other hand, i think in the longer term, saudi arabia is important. i think the real problem, though, in the trump administration was this notion that somehow we had one stop shopping, we could go to the saudis and they could solve problems all over the region. they cannot. the other point i'd make is i think the trump administration has grossly exaggerated saudi
arabia's own possibilities, whether it's cutting off oil or reaching out to the chinese or something. i think the saudis have some real problems and frankly speaking they need more -- they need us more than they need -- than we need them. so it's strange that a president who sort of has this brand of trying to be tough comes across as the supplicant in a very weak position toward the saudis. i'd like to see this president toughen up on these issues and partly the problem is he hasn't read a brief and doesn't understand these issues and he comes across in the world adds even i'm sorry to say laughable or certainly weak. >> jane harman, let me be more specific this time and say can the united states ever have normal relations with saudi arabia as long as mbs is running that country? >> i would say no in the short term. i agree with chris. by the way, new news, joe, new grandchild born yesterday in new york city, lilab.
>> big news. >> number eight. >> number eight. pretty good. >> beautiful. >> on a more serious note, no, his brother, halad bin salman has been recalled from washington, allegedly he's getting a bigger job, but he was one of the people who talked to khashoggi and said you will be safe going into the turkish consulate. i said no. i said he has to be moved sideways. the interesting news is the royal family hates him, he put them in a ritz-carlton and shook them down for billions of dollars, his own security guard is taking the fall for what happened and he's not claiming responsibility, and so i see him really at risk in terms of his personal security in the kingdom. bottom line is that congress is not going to take this. i'm really pleased to report congress won't take this. and i think there will be an authorization not to use military force in yemen if president trump wants his wall, prediction, he won't get it if
he doesn't get it next week and no one supports him closing the government so he will have to make a deal and i'm betting that this yemen aumf is part of the deal that he will be forced to make in order to get some funding. >> so we learned in that "new york times" piece a couple days ago that jared kushner continued to be in contact with mbs after the murder of jamal khashoggi to help him, quote, weather the storm, basically helping him run pr of how to handle this. so we know where the west wing is, we know where donald trump and jared kushner s but what do you make of secretary of state pompeo, for example, he knows better. he mows what the cia knows. you hear all the senators come out of these cia briefings and saying it's clear to us now more than ever, it confirmed what we thought that mbs ordered the murder of a "washington post" columnist. and yet you have people like pompeo, people like john bolton going in front of banks of microphones and saying, well, there is no direct link, we don't know for sure. >> they obviously are supporting their boss. i mean, the president has laid
the groundwork that we are going to believe mb. s and we are not going to believe our own intelligence agencies. the fundamental problem with the president's and jared kushner's approach is it has weakened the united states in the region significantly and has made the region more unstable. because they are successfully sucked the saudi arabia khashoggi issue into the vortex of domestic american politics, it's become a domestic issue in the united states, it's become a judgment on the president and let's say the anti-trump faction in the u.s. in the congress is not going to let go of this. so there's no way in which you can stabilize this relationship when there is laser focus on the problems of this relationship in the u.s. around the region, they don't believe the line that the president is putting out. they actually agree with the intelligence agency and they look at the u.s. intelligence agencies in some ways revolting against the president's verdict and they're thinking about that we also think saudi arabia is
dangerous, the united states is not taking care of this problem, we should start hedging against the u.s. policy. the u.s. policy in the region is sort of fundamentally saudi-based policy in the region is not credible. it's actually threatening to saudi arabia's neighbors because we are not reigning in the worst impulses of saudi arabia, we're backing them. other rulers and countries are worried about this and actually i would say right now the u.s. policy in the region is completely hollowed out and we are not going to be able to push it forward. yemen is a very good example, qatar is another very good example that the consensus is that the united states should finish these wars and these issues that saudi arabia started. >> so, ambassador hill, what happens if the united states does what joe suggests which is to walk away from saudi arabia until mbs is gone? you know, the argument used to be we need their oil. we are oil independent already
now, we get more oil from canada and other places. we don't want a failed state in the middle east obviously, we don't want that to happen in saudi arabia, but what happens if the united states says, do you know what, we can't work with you until there's new leadership? >> i think part of the problem is we've walked away from the region and thought the saudis could handle the region which they cannot. there is no question we have to distance a ourselves from the saudis, but we also need to be far more engaged in the region. there are other leaders there we need to be talking to. we certainly need to be helping qatar, we certainly need to be engaged in this effort to wind down the war in yemen because this is simply catastrophic. i don't think the american people have any idea of how many children and others are suffering in this. and i think frankly we need to be more engaged across the board and i would include iran in that. we have no policy with iran apart from this nonsense that we're going to somehow change the regime there. i think we need to have some conversations there. >> you know, chris, we should
also think of israel. we don't think enough about our principal ally partner and friend, and they can be a big part of this. they're moving closer and closer to the arab world. that's a particularly unfortunate consequence of what's happened with the downfall, if you will, of the relationships with the kingdom. i'm with ambassador hill, let's find other leaders, let's build with israel and that gets us into the iranian piece. >> yeah, i don't quite agree there. i think that the saudi-israel alliance is detrimental to both in many ways and israel's existential threat is iran, saudi's existential threat is iran, that's where yemen comes in and so forth, but i think the trump administration has played this in a way that has prevented those more progressive forces in israel to change israel's policy and the trump administration's anti-palestinian policy encouraged, i think, by the sunni states including saudi
arabia is extremely harmful. we need to get back to a two-state solution. we need to have a more pluralist democracy in israel and our saudi policy, yeah, it needs to change, not be eliminated, they are a valued ally, but mbs has to be moved sideways. >> joe? >> admiral, we heard the president bring up the spectre of russia and china moving in and becoming allies with the saudis if we left. what are our competitors across the globe doing right now with the united states continued retreat from the world globe, and what should our response be over the next few years with donald trump as president, what should senators and members of congress do, which direction should they push the president and this administration? >> well, in terms of how our competitors are looking at this, you are quoting led zeppelin earlier, they see this as a
stairway to heaven for them. this is the rise of authoritarianism. we're really playing into their hands and it's the wrong thing to be doing. in terms of what we should be doing, we have to leverage our greatest strength in the world which is our network of allies, partners and friends. we ought to make value-based judgments as we've been discussing this morning. we've got to get our inner agency working together better. we ought to think more, joe, about leveraging the private sector. private/public cooperation provides us real solutions here. i think if we took that kind of holistic approach and frankly it's going to have to be driven from the congress. >> christopher hill, vali nasr, jane harman and admiral stavridis, thank you all. still ahead, someone who has been on the inside of the congressional investigations into russia, democrat eric swalwell from the house intel committee joins us next. "morning joe" is coming right back. at fidelity, we help you prepare for the unexpected
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people who had worked for him met or had business dealings with russians before and during his 2016 presidential campaign, trump said, the stuff you are talking about is peanuts stuff. president trump is also talking about michael cohen who will get sentenced today and go to prison. when asked if he had discussed campaign finance laws with cohen the president said, quote, michael cohen is a lawyer. i assume he would know what he's doing, adding that, number one, it wasn't a campaign contribution. if it were, it's only civil and even if it's only civil, there was no violation based on what we did. joining us now member of the house intelligence and judiciary committee democratic congressman eric swalwell of california. eric, where do we begin? >> good morning. >> i think i will just throw it out there the president calling all this russia stuff and involvement with people he worked with in his campaign and
into the white house peanut stuff. i would probably think that you disagree with that. >> i do, mika. good morning. and the people actually have already revolted, they revolted about a month ago when they sent 40 new members of congress to put a balance of power on all of these abuses of power. but also let's go back to april 5 when the president was aboard air force one and said he had no knowledge of any of these payments. so now here we are, he's acknowledging the payments. look, he is a lying president and a lying president is a weak president, and i don't think we should hang our hats on these payoffs to stormy daniels and others, but i think they show that he is a shatd owy prater and it's probably more important to look at how he has conducted himself as it relates to russia, the saudis and chinese, because i think if he was willing to work in such a shadowy way to pay off a few women who were making these allegations he is probably working that way in much bigger issues. >> so for those who were like, i will take trump because he says
what he thinks and who cares, why does this matter? what impact as the actions that you all are very interested in getting answers on, his actions, the actions of those who worked for him, how do they impact the american people and our democracy? >> and that's what we should focus on as we conduct these investigations, which is he is making foreign policy and domestic policy decisions based on his own personal financial interest. he's putting transactions above basic american values. if he is in a fight with the chinese because he is upset about loans that they have or have not extended to his personal businesses and that's driving tariff policy, that's hurting a farmer in iowa. if your son could be sent off to fight a war overseas because, again, he's got foreign entanglements and those entanglements are driving our policy, whether it's with iran and the saudi relationship, that affects you. i think that's where we should look is to really take an mri to his finances, whether it's his
tax returns, his bank records and start to intervene to protect the american people. >> kasie hunt. >> congressman, good to see you. i noticed that you -- just to switch gears a little bit off russia for a second. i noticed that you have an upcoming trip to iowa scheduled and i'm wondering if you are still considering running for president in 2016, what your timeline might be for a decision and, quite frankly, what benefit you see to it considering how many people there are that seem likely to throw their hats in the ring on the democratic side. >> well, you have to start somewhere, kasie, and, you know, i actually do see a path, i am considering it, i will be doing a town hall next week with a parkland survivor, cameron kaskey, he and i will be doing a gun violence student town hall in des moines. iowa is first in the nation and i will be in new hampshire this friday and those states play an important role and i want to continue to listen and learn from those folks and make a decision just after the
holidays. but i do believe that the country by sending about 27 new members of congress who are in their 40s and under, that they embraced in this last midterm election new leadership, new ideas and much importantly new confidence. >> congressman in a little over three weeks the democrats are going to retain control of the house, you are going to be in charge. america and americans are fairly familiar with the lies, the distortion of truth that come out daily from the trump administration. tell me about the east bay. your district in california. tell me about the bridges, the roadways, the airports, the things that need to be rebuilt, who you do you balance those priorities? >> well, you talk to people in the east bay right now, they're listening to you and they're sitting in traffic and they want an infrastructure bill and that's true in the east bay as it is true in the rust belt and the south. people want to see that disconnected places will be connected through infrastructure, that we would have rural broadband. i see an opportunity to
collaborate with the president who has come to congress twice now and asked for a trillion dollar infrastructure plan. we will do investigations, but when it comes to infrastructure, immigration, reducing the cost of prescription drugs, he will see those bills on his desk and that helps people in my district as much as it helps people across america. we are going to try to collaborate where we can. >> all right. congressman eric swalwell, thank you very much. >> of course. my pleasure. >> looking at the president tweeting again. up next, of all the issues at play right now, perhaps nothing looms larger than the president's trade battle with china. what it means for the american economy and the balance of power in the pacific and the president up and tweeting again. "morning joe" is back in a moment. (whooshing)
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dead, 12 more wounded after a shooting near a christmas market in the krech city of strasburg near frsh french city of strasburg. the gunman is still on the run. the suspect has a criminal record in france and germany and was on a terror watch list. his home was raided earlier in the day in a burglary probe. the shooting is being treated as a terror incident. it comes almost two years to the day after the truck terror attack at a christmas market in berlin which left 12 people dead and more than 50 wounded. and president trump is up and tweeting on the attack, writing a short time ago another very bad terror attack in france. we are going to strengthen our borders even more. chuck and nancy must give us the votes to get additional border security. and he continues writing, quote,
the democrats and president obama gave iran $150 billion and got nothing, but they can't give 5 billion for national security and a wall. trying to think. john, where do we go with this? especially after what we saw yesterday in the oval office which was a blank show to say the least, not even sure if president trump waking up this morning understands what a fool he made of himself politically with chuck and nancy. is it possible that he doesn't? >> yeah. i think it is entirely possible he has no idea. there's reporting last night that he was very frustrated coming out of the meetings, throwing papers around, kind of throwing a bit of a tantrum. i think he recognized in the moment he didn't get the best of those two in the room, but i do think you look at the tweets this morning, i don't really know what to say about them. they're pretty much completely
incoherent, they're hard to comment on. what they demonstrate is just as he demonstrated yesterday, he didn't understand how to in that microcosm dealing with the complexity, dimensions of what he is facing. also the case that he wakes up to a west on fire. western europe from britain to france to across the continent is ablaze, and i don't think the president has any sense of the dimensions of that, what the complexities are involved, and he is reduced to tweeting these incoherent statements that are the same level of incapacity he put on display in the meeting yesterday with chuck and nancy. still ahead, when president trump and democrats discussed a shutdown, vice president mike pence seemed to take them literally. what the quietest man in the room was thinking. you could put a thought bubble above that, have a lot of fun with it. i wish he stepped up for himself like nancy did. and it is sentencing day for
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if people will even notice i'm here. i'm a manilla envelope, taped to a beige wall. no one can see me. >> you want to know something? >> you said it, you said it. >> president pence. the pence administration. the michael pence presidential library and casino. >> that was quite a scene yesterday. >> wow. >> at his worst, donald trump has been a bully and clown his entire life, but yesterday it was his worst traits on display for all the world to see live from the oval office. the president was embarrassing, undignified in his fight with nancy pelosi and chuck schumer. some of his fans may have liked it, most americans do not. this is the type of wrebehavior
that led to the landslide. mr. trump embarrassed himself. he weakened republicans' hand in budget talks and drove a wedge between himself and the senate republicans whose support he will need if he is impeached by the house. contrast the buffoon yesterday with quiet heroism and professionalism of robert mueller whose valor as a marine has been the through line of his entire career. >> and you know yesterday was the 50th anniversary of the battle of mudder's ridge. as garrett graph reminds us, that's where mueller would get the bronze star. robert mueller volunteered for the marines after princeton. but get this, he was at first ruled medically unfit. this was in the middle of an
unpopular war. instead of saying that he had bad feet, bad knees. >> bone spurs. >> bone spurs, he spent the next year rehabbing his injured knees before he entered ocs. spent a year to rehab his knees so he could go to vietnam. then went to army ranger school which is a rare honor for a marine. mudder's ridge 50 years ago yesterday, robert mueller's p t platoon were trapped by the vietnamese. one remembers hearing a shout from atop the ridge, who's down there. are you dead? it was lieutenant mueller. hold on, mueller shouted. we're coming down to get you. that day was the second heaviest fire i ever received in vietnam, marine david harris said, but lieutenant mueller was there directing traffic, positioning people, and calling in air
strikes. he was standing upright, moving, and he saved their lives. his bronze star accommodation read this. second lieutenant mueller's courage, aggressive initiative, and unwavering devotion to duty at great personal risk to himself were instrumental in the defeat of the enemy, keeping with the highest traditions of the united states marine corps. >> we said it before, trump has never faced an adversary like mueller, and tuesday showed why this president and his advisers should be so very worried about the looming showdown between these two extremely different men. good morning, everyone. it is wednesday, december 12th. along with joe, willie, and me, we have columnist and contributor mike barnicle. show hose t of the circus, and
hei heidi pris bill a. welcome to you all. willie, yesterday was incredible. chuck and nancy, always a fan of nancy, but it was a good day for chuck and nancy. >> quite a show, willie. and more than just lurid political entertainment, also it was a situation that actually unfolded as a nightmare for republicans in the house and the senate. >> you could tell by the way they reacted to what they saw as the president went out in the debate with chuck schumer and said i will own this shutdown. you want to call it the trump shutdown, okay, it will be the trump shutdown if we have it. extraordinary on many levels, especially that you have nancy pelosi who will again be speaker of the house saying to the president of the united states to his face you don't know what you're talking about. let's get into it.
president trump invited news cameras into a meeting with nancy pelosi and chuck schumer, escalating negotiation over government funding and border security into public threat of shutdown, after pelosi highlighted trump didn't have enough republican votes to go it alone, and schumer openly mocks the president. >> if i needed votes for the wall in the house, i would have them in one session and would be done. >> then do it. >> it doesn't help. you need ten democrats in the senate. >> put it on a negotiation. >> it doesn't help to take a vote in the house where i will win easily with the republicans. >> you will not win. let me say one thing. the fact is you do not have the votes in the house. >> nancy, i do. we need border security. nancy. nancy. >> this spiralled downward when we are at a place to say -- people are losing their jobs,
the market is in a mood. our members are already -- >> we have the lowest unemployment in 50 years. >> 50 people of the republican party are losing their offices because of the transition. people are not -- >> we gained in the senate. nancy, we gained in the senate. excuse me, did we win the senate? >> when the president brags he won north dakota and indiana, he's in real trouble. >> 20 times you were called for i will shutdown the government if i don't get my wall. >> you want to know something? >> you said it. >> i'll take it. you know what i'll say? yes. if we don't get what we want, one way or the other, whether it is through you, through military, through anything you want to call, i will shut down the government. >> we disagree. >> i am proud to shutdown the government for border security, chuck, because the people of this country don't want criminals and people that have lots of problems and drugs pouring into our country. so i will take the mantle.
i will be the one to shut it down. i'm not going to blame you for it. >> joe, there's no turning back from that one, is there? he dug in deep, owning the shutdown if it happens, and chuck schumer nodding and getting what he wanted out of that conversation. >> the expression taking candy from a baby comes to mind. could donald trump have walked into schumer's line where the president was bragging about winning north dakota and bragging about winning indiana. >> this is terrible for the president for many reasons. >> maybe he thinks it is good. >> let's make an observation, willie. this is a first time in donald trump's political life that he's actually had people talking back to him that actually knew what they were doing, that actually had political skills, knew how
to trap him. you could go back to the debates, he would run over people like marco rubio, he would run over the other 16 people that were hapless. these two people know donald trump. you know why? he contributed to all their campaigns in the democratic national committee, they've known each other as nademocrats longer than they've known donald trump as being republican. willie, on capitol hill you can almost hear the screams from the republican cloak room. donald trump basically gave everything away, gave the high ground away to the democrats. where do they go now? >> i think that the president probably thought with all of the cameras in the room, i'm going to display how serious i am about getting a border wall, i am going to send that message to people that supported me from the beginning.
it was a campaign promise. i am so serious, i am willing to take the shutdown on. in doing so, he has taken complete ownership at the same time of any potential shutdown. it was right there for the world to see. >> i think there are a couple, there's so much on display here, various things about the trump psyche. but two key elements, he thinks he is a great negotiator, thinks he can beat anyone on television. he surprises them, he starts to have the negotiation in public on camera where schumer and pelosi if you listen to them, they keep trying to shut it down, say let's go have this in private, but trump is a horrible negotiator, he is not as good on television, so he is beaten at his own game. early in the discussion you hear pelosi drop the trump shutdown into the discussion, and trump reacts, he says oh, trying to call it the trump shutdown. by the end of the discussion, he not only accepted the trump shutdown, but embraced it. it reminded me, the cinematic
reference, there are many of them, the one that struck out me, "a few good men." there's a moment where schumer turns into lieutenant caffey, beating him on the stand where he says you're god damn right i ordered the code red. i want the shutdown, i'll take the shutdown, it will be my shutdown. then it is like bring in the marshals. >> there's so much in that 17 minutes of tape that hopefully everyone in america saw, including the weekend with bernie stance, vice president pence in the corner. for once, for one time, for the first time does all the republicans and democrats who have gone in front of cameras to speak of president donald trump, nancy pelosi one on one takes him down, face to face, nose to nose, takes him down. the other aspect that's interesting about the
president's personality and his political views is his automatic fall back position on nearly everything, when he is in trouble, when he thinks the crowd is not paying attention or the crowd is lifeless, where does he go? he goes to the border wall, he goes to rapists, to diseases, he goes to fear. that's his only fall back position. >> and eugene scott as you look at what's happening in the room and you heard what happened afterward, chuck schumer, nancy pelosi couldn't have been happier. nancy pelosi quoted as telling her colleagues in the house that the border wall is about president trump's manhood, as if he had any manhead, questioning that in the president of the united states. >> absolutely. the democrats went into the meeting with a mandate. they won the house. and they won the house because they told voters they would push back on the most problematic policy ideas coming out of the trump administration. that's what they did. that's why you generally see
people on the left considering this a win. they fact check donald trump in real time in his face in a way he hasn't experienced from people within his own tribe. a big challenge for the president is that he doesn't seem to realize he doesn't have the popularity, even with his base that he did before the midterms. many that voted for trump, supportive of trump before the midterms still are not. so he is trying to let them know he still has their back, he's still going to try to promise the wall, build the wall he promised them on the campaign. then you saw schumer and pelosi remind him the facts on which he made the promise isn't true. still ahead on "morning joe," the president talks about his search for his new chief of staff, and apparently everybody wants the job. >> actually nobody does. >> not. and the president gets another chance to side with u.s. intelligence over the saudi crown prince when it comes to
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and two-hour appointment windows. click, call or visit a store today. just days after a 36-year-old aide turned down an offer to be white house chief of staff president trump claims he has more candidates than he can handle, saying i have at least 10, 12, 12 people that want it badly. i'm making a decision. great people. sorry, i can't help the imitation. >> if by none you mean 12, then 12 people. >> i could do it immediately. i'm in no rush. a lot of people want it. everybody wants it. who doesn't want to be one of the top few people in washington, d.c., trump said, gesturing to three reporters interviewing him. i mean, you three guys would take it. no. >> no. >> he goes on, i have so many people, i cannot interview them
all. my god. turning to the senior communications adviser, trump asked is that a correct statement and shine agreed. what else will he do. current chief of staff john kelly will be on the job through at least january 2nd, at least. but perhaps longer because they may not find anyone. again, that poor guy, he just wants out. >> anyway, let's bring in fresh off the interview with trump, white house correspondent for reuters, jeff mason, former president of the white house correspondents association. thank you for being here. rick santorum turned it down on tv last night. everybody. it is just a miserable time to be inside that white house. it will be a tough position. tell me, what was your take on the president and his mindset when you were talking to him? >> first of all, i can confirm the three reporters, myself and
my colleague steve and roberta are not taking the job of chief of staff, but he was in a good mood honestly. it was a couple of hours after the really raucous meeting with the democratic leadership. he was pretty calm. he answered questions about a whole range of issues, including the chief of staff but also about china and about impeachment. he seemed like he was not in a harried mood, he was happy to chat. >> so let me ask what's next. what is the feeling around the white house. what's the feeling around the press corp about what comes next with this president? >> the chief of staff piece of that will be huge because he's coming into a year, 2019, in which he will be faced with democrats controlling the house of representatives. he is faced with all of these legal challenges and political challenges. it will depend on who ends up leading the ship, steering the ship.
he said as you mentioned he has 10 to 12 candidates for the job. it will also depend how china trade talks go. he is willing to intervene in the case of the huawei cfo. i asked if he was worried about being impeached, and he said i'm not concerned. >> jeff, several members of the intelligence community and audiotapes and intelligence assessments around the world have concluded that the saudi crown prince was certainly playing a key role in the assassination of khashoggi. when that came up yesterday, the president of the united states maintained his position, did he, that he doesn't care. >> well, he didn't say he didn't care but we asked him if he
thought that the man known as mbs was responsible for khashoggi's death, and he said he wouldn't go into that. we asked him if standing by saudi arabia as an ally meant standing by the crown prince and he said yes, for now that's the case, and the crown prince is fully in power in saudi arabia. he has not wavered on his commitment to the crown prince which is something he has come under quite a bit of criticism for from republicans and democrats as you know. >> jeff mason, thank you very much for being on this morning. coming up on "morning joe," the trade battle with china isn't just about soybeans and steel, also has a lot to do with artificial intelligence. that brave new world. we'll talk about it next on "morning joe."
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including two campaign finance violations to cover up donald trump's alleged affairs. new york prosecutors are recommending a substantial prison term for his crimes. a little less than three-and-a-half years, even considering his cooperation. the special counsel's office taking into account cohen's cooperation is essentially recommending no additional jail time outside his sentence in the new york case. joining us, senior reporter at "vanity fair" and nbc and msnbc contributor, emily jane fox. emily, you've known michael cohen for a long time, you've spent a lot of time with him. i'm wondering as you watched the arc of this, how is he doing on a human level, a personal level? >> i think this is obviously a tough day but it is one that he has prepared for. i think people that know him, people who have been waiting for this day that spent time with him recently are sort of hoping
for the best but preparing for the worst is the way it was put to me, and this is obviously an emotional day for someone close with his family, who for years was blindly loyal to president trump and today he is seeing the loyalty come back to haunt him. there are two things that i'm looking for today, i'll be in the courtroom. the first is what he is going to say in court. now, i don't know what he is going to say, but he does have the opportunity to address the court, and the last two times he was in court and had that opportunity he took it. and we learned substantial things about the president. the first time, that was the time he stood up and said the president directed him to make the payments to the women, that was a big revelation, something echoed by prosecutors in the southern district of new york in a sentencing memo. the second time, he stood up and said when he did lie to congress that those lies were because he was, a, loyal to the president,
and b, because he wanted to stay in connection with the president's message he knew was so important to him. again, i don't know what he will say today, but i think it will be pretty important. the second thing is there will be a different legal strategy going forward. this is the end of one era of the cohen saga and the main era of the cohen saga the last year and a half. we'll see lanny davis who michael cohen brought on at the beginning of the summer to be his tv lawyer, even know that was a bit stunted, lanny davis will no longer serve as his attorney going forward because the sentencing will be over. he will simply be an adviser, advising him when and if he decides to tell his story after the mueller report comes out. >> heidi? >> emily, michael has certainly provided invaluable information to the southern district prosecutors about individual one directing potential felonies. as you mention, we're heading into a second era, there could
be a second wave of investigations here in the southern district of the trump businesses, specifically. this is really fertile stuff, including the foundation, including potential money-laundering, look at the tax story "new york times" did about evading taxes. to what extent did michael cohen do you think based on your reporting and everything you know also provide potential information on the second avenue of investigation we could see take shape. >> i know he spent time with investigators in southern district of new york and the attorney general office in new york looking into particularly the trump foundation. his attorneys have said he will continue to cooperate even after sentencing, so what he has already told them i'm sure has given them information in the investigations and what he may tell them going down the road to lead to more. >> emily, let me get you to
clarify something i don't understand. i know michael was cooperating, certainly with mueller. i was surprised a few days ago when southern district of new york came out, said he refused to sign a full cooperation with them and that he had not been fully forthcoming, and because of that they're going to recommend a good bit of prison time. do you have any insights were a man in this position would hold back and decide he wasn't going to fully cooperate with the southern district of new york, knowing that would keep him away from his wife and children for possibly three, four years? >> this is the way i understand it. in order to be a full, official cooperating witness in southern district of new york, what you have to do is explain to them everything that you have done since the day you were born until today and not only everything you have done but everything that you know anyone around you has done wrong. at this particular point in his
life, i think cohen decided it was not the right decision for him and his family, he wanted to get the sentencing over with the way it was described to me. >> thank you. coming up, the second ranking democrat in the u.s. senate, dick durbin stands by. he joins the conversation straight ahead on "morning joe." (whooshing)
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we know the prince knows, right? you looked him in the eye. you know that he knows. >> i have spoken to the king, i have spoken to the crown prince a number of times since the murder of jamal khashoggi, it is america's intent to hold everyone accountable who was responsible for this. >> that's yes. when you looked him in the eye and he denied it, did you believe him? >> the kingdom of saudi arabia decides who is running the country. i think this is what the president said yesterday. we are working closely with the kingdom to make sure that america is protected.
that's our interest. >> the cia says they're highly confident that the saudi crown prince did order the murder of khashoggi. >> some of the reporting you've seen on that has been inaccurate. >> is that inaccurate? >> we all know they're still working on this. this is still a developing set of facts with respect to the murder. the intelligence community is working on that. the direct evidence, what i said before, isn't available. may have shown up tomorrow or overnight, i haven't seen it. >> it is brutal. apparently the audiotapes are awful. >> the saudis paid the price. the folks that committed the murder we held accountable. >> oh my god, how disgusting is that. >> pompeo you mean, not fox news. >> the secretary of state, mike pompeo, how disgusting. how disgusting. he debased himself on national television. >> i totally agree. joe, can we just point out that
the fox hosts did their job this morning. >> did a great job. >> and thank you for continuing to ask questions about this "the washington post" journalist who was killed and every bit of evidence that's been uncovered by american intelligence institutions shows it was the crown prince who was behind it, who aided it, who was at least at the very least monitoring it. je gina haspel has investigated it. to do that is pathetic. >> i want to underline again, the "fox and friends" hosts asked him every question in that clip they needed to ask him. they brought up the relevant evidence, they brought up the tapes. they presented all the information in front of mike pompeo that should have made mike pompeo at least pause. but all three of them were
talking about the intel community. and for mike pompeo to lie, and we don't use that word a lot, but for mike pompeo, the secretary of state of the united states of america to lie, he lied through his teeth on national television, sat there and lied about a "the washington post" reporter being tortured, lured in by saudi arabia, being tortured and being sawed to pieces. let's bring in dick durbin here. senator durbin, what is your reaction when you see the secretary of state of the united states of america saying that saudi arabia has already been punished enough for the slaughter of a washington post reporter a father of two united states citizens.
>> secretary of state pompeo discredits himself and the department with these statements. i was part of the parties briefed two weeks ago. she heads up the central intelligence agency, the same agency that secretary pompeo used to be in charge of, and it was clear within minutes of the briefing this goes all the way to the top, and to argue the crown prince was not involved in this or at least not aware of it, probably directed it, is to obviously ignore the obvious intelligence we have collected. >> you know, senator durbin, you bring up a great point. what makes mike pompeo's statements more shameful is he is undercutting the findings of an agency that he, himself ran last year. >> gina haspel brought in two analysts with central intelligence agency, possibly the two smartest people in washington when it comes to the kingdom of saudi arabia and
within minutes they brought us timelines and information which made it abundantly clear to democrats and republicans in the room that statement made by secretary pompeo is false. >> so will you bring, will you ask other members of the senate to bring secretary pompeo back before the senate and your democratic colleagues, bring him back before the house of representatives to explain to americans, to explain under oath, see if he will lie through his teeth again about the cia's findings? will you tacall him back to the hill, make him testify under oath and see if he lies through his teeth to you like he did about the slaughter of a "the washington post" journalist? >> it should be a classified briefing. we can be open with the
information received by all senators, democrats and republicans, not just a select group. we asked for gina haspel to make the presentation. i think secretary pompeo should be there for that moment. i can just tell you this, joe, after first of the year, we're going to see many of the members of the administration brought in for the traditional oversight function of congress to make sure they're doing their jobs in the way they're supposed to. >> willie geist, we have seen people debase themselves and shame themselves in the service of trump. i don't know that we have seen anyone do it quite as much as the secretary of state, the united states of america lying to hosts on "fox and friends" about the slaughter of a washington post columnist killed specifically for what he wrote, what he said, and what he thought. >> and seemingly blowing off all of the evidence presented by the three hosts of "fox and
friends", they did a good job pressing him. these are not reports in the press, he says there's bad reporting in the press. these are accounts of people that talked to the cia, senator durbin, bob corker, republican coming out, saying there's no question in my mind the crown prince ordered this killing. lindsey graham saying there's not a smoking gun, a smoking saw. richard shelby. i can go down the list of democrats and republicans who heard the intelligence from gina haspel and her team and said conclusively he ordered this. yet the president of the united states and the secretary of state continue to ignore that. >> they continue to ignore what they receive from the intelligence community. the direct quote you heard from secretary pompeo, direct evidence isn't yet available. dci, haspel came in with a select group of senators, you sat there with two briefers, direct evidence isn't available. true or false statement? >> we seldom in the course of a
criminal trial have direct evidence, a videotape of the actual killing, for example, in a murder trial. but we assemble evidence that's available and much of that evidence becomes convincing to a jury as this was convincing to those of us that gathered. if this is what the secretary of state is using as standard of proof before the crown prince can be held accountable, he is asking for not only a smoking gun but a videotape and recording before he believes it. i believe what everyone in the room believe, democrats and republicans. the crown prince either directed this, he managed it, it was reported to him. he was part of this start to finish. and it is incredible in an autocratic state to expect anything less of a person with that kind of power. >> and as lindsey graham said, by the way, not exactly a tough critic of donald trump's not now since john mccain's death, we may not have had a smoking gun, but we had a smoking saw.
the bone saw, the saudis took in to cut to pieces a washington post journalist, a virginia resident, and father of american kids. >> who gasped for breath. >> and joe, you and i talked about this before. you and i have what i think is the right view about this, and it is a harsh view, which is not that donald trump is ignoring the evidence or that donald trump doesn't believe the evidence. donald trump just doesn't care. he has financial interests that he and his family are tied up with mbs in saudi arabia for a long time. he wants to continue to be aligned with mbs, he thinks there's financial interest for doing so after his presidency. he just doesn't care about the life of jamal khashoggi. i ask you, senator durbin, i can explain donald trump in those terms. they're crass and morally disgusting, but i can at least explain it that he just doesn't care about the life of this
journalist. i ask you what possibly explains mike pompeo taking the position he's taken? he's not going to make money from mbs, he has no financial connections to mbs that i know of. what could possibly explain his desire to look past the evidence that everyone that's seen it believes directly implicates mbs in the murder? >> go back to the fox interview. there was reference made during the course of the interview by secretary of state pompeo to the line of succession in this monarchy in saudi arabia. i think that is at the heart of the position being taken by secretary pompeo. it is worrisome if all trails lead to the crown prince, there could be a change of power in saudi arabia and we're not certain which direction it would be headed to. it is that uncertainty that probably leads him to this conclusion, a conclusion not supported by the intelligence evidence from the very agency that he used to head just weeks
ago. >> so joe, i just have to ask because i don't think -- i can't think of anyone that can put it more clearly than you. i understand that donald trump doesn't care, he makes a good point, he doesn't care. why doesn't mike pompeo care? are the pathetic deflections we heard when he appeared on "fox and friends", is that a patriot speaking? are these the words of a patriot? >> he debased himself. he once again undercut the conclusions of our intel community. he may think that he's being too clever, he is wiggling out, but he's not. when he says the saudis paid enough for the luring, the torture, the slaughter, the carving up of a washington post
columnist and father of two american citizens, mike pompeo puts himself not only on the other side of lovers of freedom and democracy everywhere, lovers of free speech everywhere, but also of most people on capitol hill, right? even republicans. >> reporter: in some cases especially republicans. you talked about lindsey graham who said very directly there's no smoking gun, there's a smoking saw. i think the question is going to be what are they actually going to do to follow-up on this. there are relatively limited tools, but i am interested to know what our members of congress do to hold them accountable. >> all right. senator durbin, before you leave quickly, what's your reaction to donald trump bragging about shutting down the government? >> a shutdown is not good for the country. let's face the reality here. one of the agencies that would face the shutdown is department of homeland security. now, we say when that happens
essential personnel such as those involved insecurity in airports are expected to show up for work without pay. we'll go through that exercise, for what? if the interest of the united states is insecurity at t secur down the effort under way. that's what we face with a government shutdown. it does not make america safer to have a shutdown. we have to go through an elaborate process which may in the end not be as effective as the current delegation of resources for that purpose. >> senator durbin, thank you so much for being with us this morning. we greatly appreciate it. we also once again, mika, want to extend thanks to hosts of "fox and friends." we know at least two of them pretty well, and we really respect what they did this morning. they asked the secretary of state the questions that needed to be asked. he thought he was going on "fox and friends" and would have a bunch of softballs lobbed at him. instead, they asked him
questions that needed to be asked. and my god, pompeo's answers were horrifying. >> horrifying. up next. there's no question the stock market has been feeling the heat from the trade dispute with china. also bearing the brunt, american farmers. so what's the end game for the white house in dealing with a country that rarely gives up ground. we talk about it next on "morning joe." with the united explorer card, i get rewarded wherever i go.
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turning now to president trump's trade war with china, since his dinner with china's xi last month, the president has made the claim that beijing started buying more american agricultural goods several times, always without evidence. it's something trump
did again yesterday in that reuters interview, saying that china is, quote, back in the market. i just heard today that they're buying tremendous amounts of soybeans. they're starting, just starting now. soybean traders tell reuters there is no evidence that china has resumed buying american soybe soybeans. and u.s. government data shows there have been no sales of soybeans to china since july. china is by far the largest purchaser of u.s. soybeans and the ongoing trade war has nearly decimated that industry in america, with beijing turning to brazil and elsewhere for the
product. you may also recall that right after the latest trump/xi meeting, trump competed that china agreed to reduce and remove tariffs on auto imports from the u.s. trump now says, quote, i think they're looking to do it immediately, very quickly. joining us now, former representative from indiana and currently the president of club for growth, david mcintosh, and director for chinese strategy at the hudson institute and an informal adviser to president trump, michael pillsbury. good to have you both on. >> guys, thanks so much for being with us. hey, dave macintosh, let me start with you. we both have a long history with club for growth. you and i both know from the start, it's been about free trade. it's been about restraint and spending, it's been about lower deficits, it's been about lower debt. how were you, how were you guiding republicans in congress, republicans in the administration right now, with
record deficits, record debt, and really reckless spending all over washington, d.c.? and we'll get to the free trade part in a moment. how were you guiding -- how were you trying to push them back in the direction that you and i basically were in, in the 1990s. >> right. where we actually did balance the budget. for example, the big debate about the budget bill and about building the wall, it's a shiny object that disguises the fact that they're spending trillions of dollars more than they're taking in. our guidance to them is, reject that spending and actually put fiscal restraint in, so that we can get back to a more balanced budget and reduce the debt. it's falling on deaf ears up there, because the debate ends up being about building a wall on our southern border. we have a lot of work to do on that one. we also support the tax cuts, because that generates economic
growth and actually increases revenue, and it boosts the economy. so there are several things to do domestically. shifting back to trade, we remain free traders. we recognize that donald trump uses tariffs, he says, to negotiate better trade agreements, so we have taken him at his word. zero, zero tariffs would be our ideal and he has said that's his ideal. but for example, in the north american agreement, now that we have a new agreement, let's get rid of the tariffs. and same thing with china. be strong, but be willing to accept an agreement and don't put tariffs that hurt our economy and keep them there forever. >> so, michael, where are we right now? we have, of course, the tariffs, the threat of this trade war. >> yes. >> as well as the arrest of a top ceo from china in canada. where are we right now? and where do we want this relationship to move in the next six months to a year?
>> well, i think the intelligence community has been sounding the alarm on china for several years. president obama was the first to take it quite seriously, the issues of cybersecurity, trade relations. it's not -- it's not going to be easy to get the chinese to change their basic business model of how they approach technology and trade and arms. i don't know if you approve this. i brought along a textbook i had back in 1968. professor brzezinski was any professor at columbia. >> oh, my gosh! >> by the way, the price on the cover, it says $1.75, so this shows what happened to book prices. >> did you get a good grade? >> pretty good. he told me later that i got a good grade in comparison to the other students. but he taught us empathy. he taught us to study the basic documents and try to develop empathy, in case with the soviet union and moscow. not because we loved the other side, but to understand their point of view. and the chinese have got a
strange case of conspiracy thinking, where they lump together every little thing. so when miss meng is arrested or things happen in the south china sea, that complicates our talks with them on trade issues and we have to be aware of that. so i'm optimistic that nancy pelosi, quite a few democratic senators, they support the president. this is a rare area of bipartisan cooperation. in fact, some democrats think they had this shall first. nancy pelosi almost got arrested after the tiananmen incident back in '89. so this is an area where we can have rare bipartisan cooperation. senator schumer supported the tariffs the very day president trump announced them. >> i actually first met nancy pelosi in 1995, when we worked together on mfn. and david, we actually were opposing the extension of mfn to china. in '95, '96, '97 in part because of religious persecution in china, but also because they were stealing our intellectual
property. even democratic businessmen and business women that loathe donald trump will say he's got a point. they have been stealing our intellectual property now for 20, 30 years. david, as a free trader, how do we combat that? >> and i think michael's big point is their business model is fundamentally opposed to a free market, open society. they have government control of their companies, they insist that when americans or europeans invest in china, 50% of the company is owned by chinese. they then take our intellectual property, if you make something over there, steal it, and give it to other state-owned companies. so i do think we have to be very tough with them and insist that if they want to be in the world economy and on the world stage, they need to adopt the world's ethic of an open and free market system and not use government enterprises to steal other people's intellectual rights. >> all right.
david mcintosh, thank you. michael pillsbury, thank you. please consider coming back tomorrow. we're out of time, but i need to cross-examine you about dr. brzezinski as a professor at columbia. >> he survived. >> i'll bring more of his books. >> all right. and willie geist, final thoughts today? >> my final thoughts are, we were just having a little conversation here in new york city. >> yeah! >> my final thoughts, honestly, are watching the one that's most fresh in my mind, which is that interview with mike pompeo, astounding that presented face to face with the evidence again, hep continues to deny that there's anything that the crowned prince did directly. he's using semantic games to try to wiggle his way out of it. but everybody else under the sun, including all of those republican senators who have heard the intelligence from the cia and we listed them before, said there's no doubt in their minds, and yet the president and secretary of state have nothing but doubt. >> and of course, mike pompeo also saying the saudis have
suffered enough. really? no. no, actually, they have to be held accountable. hey, willie, we'll let you and mike barnicle get back to that conversation, which -- if you can, dan, cut their mikes. that does it for us this morning. stephanie ruhle picks up the coverage right now. stephanie? >> thanks so much, joe. thanks, mika. good morning, everyone. i'm stephanie ruhle, starting with a brawl, a brawl over the wall this time. nancy pelosi and chuck schumer spar with president trump in front of the whole, live world, as vice president pence, he sits by silently. and a divided government on full display. . >> we disagree. >> i tell you what, i am proud to shut down the government for border security. >> this temper tantrum that he seems to throw will not get him his wall. and it will hurt a lot of people, because he will cause a shutdown. and making the case, or trying to. michael flynn pleads for no prison time, arguing he didn't know lying to the fbi was a