tv Morning Joe MSNBC December 28, 2018 3:00am-6:00am PST
we walked through offices and saw chipped furniture. we saw a crumbling empire at every turn. our job was to make it seem otherwise. we're going to talk to the author of that report, patrick raiden keith, later on "morning joe." is that does it for us on this friday morning. "morning joe" starts right now. if the the ♪ >> good morning and welcome to "morning joe." it's friday, december 28th. if you're looking for a clips show retrospective of 2018 or a pretaped episode on the winners and losers of the year, you've probably come to the wrong place. although i've got to say mike barnacle's bread pudding recipe is fabulous, but we'll talk
about it until the new year. while most of the country is hitting pause jl janua hitting pause until january 2nd, there is political news right now. it seeps washington is still a terribly troubled place. this morning, we're going to be asking what happens next on a series of challenges and crises that are facing the united states and the legal challenges the hak take down a president. we'll talk about donald trump's many dangerous foreign policy decisions that have weakened america abroad and strengthened our enemies. we'll talk about the stock market's continuous wild ride and ask where it may go next. we'll hit on the government shutdown that shows no sign of ending anytime soon. and the fact that the government remains shut down is causing the
president and the party to bleed new polls we'll see you this morning. we'll talk about the death on the border of two young children who were in the custody of the united states government. our government when they died. and what we can expect democrats to do to stop those tests and return children to their parents. i'm sure you saw yesterday the president's main lawyer, rudy jewel giuliani made a series of charges. and we're going to be talking to authors of two extraordinary works. one is going to be about a just released new yorker piece with the making of donald trump. and the second, an important best selling book on winston churchill that remindses us all what true leadership looks like
and, yes, it was one -- it was, i think, like three or four copies for christmas. i'm going to read all of them, they're so good. but, anyway, with us for all of those stories and more, we have white house reported for associated press, jonathan lamere, a blue jays fan, i think, columnist for the "new york times" brett stevens, white house correspondent for pbs news hour yamis alcindor, columnist for the huffingt"huffington pos contributor for "usa today," kurt allen. and former nato supreme allied commander, chief international security and diplomacy analyst for nbc news and msnbc, retired four star admiral james strevitis. admiral, let's start with that dangerous world and a president who is acting in a way that
appears to many other heads of government and many members of congress to actually be adding to that danger. where do we stand this morning as we move even closer to a dangerous new year? >> yeah, unfortunately, joe, the level of danger internationally, i feel, is rising. and you mentioned that wonderful new biography of churchill that is out. churchill said the only thing worse than fighting alongside complicated allies is trying to fight without allies. and i think that's the principal problem of the path donald trump is taking. this is why jim mattis resigned. because with we're walking away from working with our allies, partners and friends. we're doing it in syria. we're antagonizing latin america with our border policies. we are talking about withdrawing from north korea -- withdrawing from south korea in the face of
a north korean threat. i feel that level of danger is rising significantly. and i'll close with the decision to leave syria. that's a huge mistake tactically and opens support for resurgence in the islamic state. strategically, it sends a signal we're not in it for the long run working with allies in that region. a. >> if we help kunl a, that's going to hurt america when, in fact, i'm sorry, i don't want to let's our allies in on a little secret, but we help them so we can help ourselves.
one of the things that this biography outlines is the fact that winston churchill changed his position on the soviet union, whom he hated, with six times. and the reason he does was because his own country's interests always came first. and even if he loathed stalin, even if he loathed communism, if he was going up against adolf hitler and the nazis, well, then the soviet union was britain's best friend for that moment. that is the sort of thinking donald trump is incapable of engaging in. we wanted to feed iran and what they're trying to do in syria. we want to finish isis off. we want to get russia out of the middle east once again, that's going to require that we do some things that actually may make us uncomfortable. >> absolutely right. and let's face it, at the end of
the day, we are so much stronger together, operate, others. in this press conference, if you will, it felt like a press conference or almost a political rally when he said again and again, we're not the suckers any more. we would be the suckers if we walked away from that network of allies, partners and friends. i can't imagine a world without the u.s. engaging in colombia, in the balankans. we do that for ourselves, not for those allies. together we are stronger. we ought to have that strategic flexibility. >> i want for you to take a look at what richard haass said yesterday. it's been a bargain. we spent just over 3% of our gdp
on defense, maybe half the cold war average, a period in which the economy has grown at a record pace. the reason? global stability is a prerequisite for economic growth. and, you know, brett, it's important that we learn from our mistakes and you've made mistakes, i've made mistakes, we've all made misjudgments at times. i wanted us to get out of afghanistan. we were spending $2 billion a month. it didn't make a lot of sense to me. then i saw what happened when we got out of iran. and unfortunately, we are in a position in a post 9/11 world where there are a couple of countries where we're going to have to keep troops, much like we have in germany and much like we have in korea because, as general mattis said, we want to prevent world war three. we should learn from the mistakes of our recent past that
donald trump himself even criticized. >> that's exactly right. what we learned withdrawing from iraq is that when you create a power vacuum, those vacuums tend to get filled very quickly and usually by very bad actors. so we left an app thinking that we finally stabilized in 2011. you remember after the surged levels of violence came far down, we thought we had defeated what was then called al qaeda in iraq and sure enough within two or three years, the islamic state reconstituted, had taken mosul, had marched down the me his -- mesopotamia, was on the edge of baghdad, and we had to redeploy thousands of troops to win that territory back. with we did the same thing in syria where we had finally
managed to reduce isis's physical footprint down to a fraction of what had had been previously. but the lesson of that experience is that you can't take your finger out of the dike and expect that the water isn't going to seep through and eventually burst the dam. so america maintaining what was really a relatively small presence in syria, about 2,000 troops, very low levels of casualties in low single digits in the last year is a bargain to the policy next to what we might expect once we leave. that vacuum is going to be fildz by assad, by erdogan, by the idols of iran that donald trump claims to be so powerly against but is, in fact, enabling, but russia, and it's going to happen at the expense of the kurds who did so much to feed isis on our behalf. it's going to happen at the expense of our allies in slael
who are in much greater danger the can he spite t despite claim to go be israel's best friend. it will feed terror and instability. >> and jonathan lamere, that's the great irony of the president's recent moves. you can name all of the things that donald trump claims to be against in the campaign. you can look at the tweets. you can look at the fiery speeches. he attacked barack obama repeatedly for bailing out of iraq. he said he invented isis. well, here we've finished off isis, not only in iraq, but in syria and donald trump is so doing. iran, he constantly has bashed iran. yet it's dgot to be -- there ha
to be a cognitive dissonance for conservatives that still claim to support donald trump that in one fell swoop last week, he helped isis. he helped iran and he pushed russia gain a foothold over that region. >> that's right. we certainly don't need to fact check that. somewhere there was a campaign promise that he's stuck to. but this is a president that goes beyond that. but he views the world in a series of transactions. there's no global strategy. there's no long thinking. there's no grand diplomacy. it is a series of immediate moves where often he puts the american interests, in his mind,
first. where he thinks often in a financial sense, he claims allies aren't doing their part. that is the issue, as well. i was there with the president in nato in july when he gave a fiery closed door speech to leaders there brandishing others to the point others were fearful that he was going to pull you the nation out of that organizations. he did not do that, but he continues to criticize some of our oldest and dearest friends for not paying and that has led to this instability.
around the world, countries who have counted on us for decades who are now left uncertain what america is there and what america could do for them. >> we find ourselves, admiral, at a bizarre place in history where we have more access to knowledge, in tekdz, than we ever have before. we have at our fingertips basically the equivalent of what would have been super computers that would have taken up decide city blocks of computers back in the 1960s. not only in america, but also in britain. we saw it before brexit, where the idea was experts were overrated. i want to go back to churchill for a second and i want to read what happened when churchill became prime minister, when
actually andrew roberts say he seized the premiership. he was asked if he was concerned and he said, i felt as if i was walking with destiny that all my past life had been but preparation for this trial. i you slept soundly and had no near for cheering dreams. facts are better than dreams. there is only one man who can turn me out and that is hitler. and roberts goes on to say at age 65, he was superbly prepared having held every great office of state except for a foreign office, an experience psychological and foresight for the coming hour and trial. churchill talking about not being concerned, admiral, when the nazis were sweeping across the continent and about to take france and leave great britain
isolated and alone. yet today, we have not only a president in the united states that is extremely unqualified for the position he takes, but contempt for the type of expertise that saved britain in their darkest hour. >> indeed. and we have to remember about churchill, those jobs he had. he was the first sea lord of the admiralty. he knew how to bring together military, economic, he was a champion of diplomacy. he said famously, joe, and you'll know this, that democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others. so he brought all of that historical context, that expertise, his own failures, he had failed terribly in the
invasion of galipili. he brought all of that to the table and was the leader of the moment. that's designed of leader we need now. unfortunately that's not the kind of leader we have. i would close on this. back to the allies piece of this, joe. one thing president trump ought to understand is the concept of leverage. that's when you put a little bit in, but you get a lot of leverage out of the result. that's what we do with those allies. back to afghanistan, when we commanded that mission, we had 150,000 troops there. 50,000 of them came from our allies. they died at roughly the same rate as afghanistan. >> we don't have to go back to 1940. we can look at what happened in 1991 when you had saddam hussein inviting kuwait and on the verge
of invading saudi arabia. you had george w. bush who had spent his entire life as an expert in foreign policy, in china at the united nations, at the cia. no other man was more prepared at that moment to put together a historic coalition. where syria was even involved to push saddam hussein back into iraq. you were involved in that, as well. >> indeed. we saw this in desert storm, desert shield, exactly as you say. we brought together i would almost call it a grand coalition in that instance and push back. we made good decisions. we would have together all of these elements of national power. and i would argue we did roughly the same thing in afghanistan. and that coft ft -- colist
exists today. so we have to learn these lessons. it's unfortunate that jim mattis is departing. he understands that deeply. that's why his letter of resignation really hit that bell. i hope whoever the president chooses will continue to press this effort of allies, partners and friends. that is the answer for the united states. the. >> from your lips to god's ears and hopefully maybe even a few republican senators on capitol hill who will demand that somebody cut out of the same clothe as general mattis will take that position next and explain to the president why we get so much more out of our allies in most occasions than they get out of us. admiral, as always, thank you so much. we greatly appreciate it. >> thanks. still ahead on "morning joe," the politics playing out on capitol hill as it appears
the government is not going to reopen the rest of this year. we're going to show you new numbers on who voters are blaming for that shutdown and bring in kurt and yamish when "morning joe" returns. ng joe" r. the zip code you're born into can determine your future. your school. your job. your dreams. your problems. (indistinct shouting)
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many of those workers have said to me and communicateded, stay out until you get the funding for the wall. the only one that doesn't want the wall are the democrats. >> so that was on tuesday. remember i said that's kind of like his friend, jim, who he always said went to paris and kept saying, well, jim is saying paris doesn't even look like paris any more. it seemed like he was making it up, right? that was president trump claiming that federal employees were telling him keep the government shutdown.
two days later, the president is now claiming those same federal workers under financial stress from the shutdown are not even members of his own party. he tweeted, quotes, do the democrats realize most of the people not getting paid are democrats? he's confused. what a surprise. just 17 days ago, president trump, remember this, he said that he would take the mantle of a government shutdown. that he would take the blame of a government shutdown. and there were a lot of republicans on capitol hill who were upset because they knew how the president's reckless words, they knew that the president being baited and looking foolish in front of chuck schumer would end up hurting them in the end. and according to new polling left and right, those republicans were right and so was donald trump. voters are blaming him. for the shutdown. and a reuters poll conducted
after the shutdown began show that 47% of americans hold donald trump responsible while other 33% blame democrats in congress. about 7% blame congressional republicans. meanwhile, 35% of americans say they support congress putting up the money for a border wall. that's about where it's been for a very long time. only about a third of americans. 25% of americans say they support trump shutting down the government over his wall funding demands. that means 75% of americans do not. and in the krn poll conducted earlier this month, 57% said they oppose building a wall while 37% favor it. but the number went to 33% if the wall is built without money coming from mexico as the president is currently demanding. this as americans who view
immigration as a good thing has hit you a record high. in jirchb, gallop found that 75% of americans support immigration with 65% of republicans and republican leaders viewing immigration positively. yamish, i want to start with that last one. not only is immigration more popular today than it was the day that donald trump took office. obama care is in its glory days. forget about making america great again. america is already great. donald trump is making obama care great again and making it more popular than ever. >> well, i think what we learned over the last couple of years is that people actually like having pre-existing conditions covered and people like being able to bring it to keep their children up until the age of 26 on their
health care. so i think when you take away the name obamacare and say it's american health care, people have completely different ideas of what they like in their personal life. i would say this about immigration. there are a lot of people who after president trump was elected realized that some of their family members, the people that they like to see maybe at the coffee shop or their coworkers, they were immigrant webs some of them deported. we've seen stories were people were trump supporters and then their spouses were deported. and, of course, the child separation program. that changed the idea of what people thought. president trump doubled down on policy, but the courts have dealt the trump administration over and over again losses.
he president trump is banking on the idea that he can stake his reputation on shutting down the government over immigration. and i think what we see and what he's realizing is that that is not a good position and nancy pelosi is going to make his life even harder than it was in 2019. so we now see a president who is trying to blame democrats. but only president trump was here over this break. not republicans and not democrats. that physically means that he owned the shutdown. >> he did and he said he would take the credit for it. kurt, certainly he's taking the credit for it. it does seem everything that trump touches dies if you work for him,ly also everything that he opposes becomes more popular. think about it. obamacare more popular than ever. immigration, more popular than ever. and even yesterday i saw the news that the most admired
americans, usually it will be billy graham and betty ford when i was growing up every year. this year, who was it? barack obama and michelle obama. we really are seeing this backlash that republicans experienced at the polls back in november. tell me, when you worked on the oversight committee, as did i about 800 years ago when i was in congress. what is it going to be like, not only for donald trump, but for republicans as that oversight committee starts investigating and we know elijah cummings will, that the death of those children at the border, the policies that led to separating thousands of children from their parents and all of donald trump's finances. what is the next year going to look like?
>> we're starting to see some of that take place. just last night, a letter was sent to the trump administration to save all of their documents, all of their e-mails, all of their notes so they can get all the information right away. and if they resist, if they obstruct, you're going to start seeing subpoenas being issued by the american majority. this is what the american people wanted. they want checks and balances. barack obama issued more than a hundred subpoenas when i was there working at the oversight committee of barack obama. all the while, different types of corruption, saw what happens
with tom price and his private travel, seen the controversy with ryan zinke. the american people decided they want action, they want oversight and that's what they're going to get. >> isn't it incredible, not a single subpoena over the first two years of donald trump's presidency when there probably should have been a record number going out to try and investigate all the things that seemed to be going wrong in that administration and with the president himself. still ahead, trump's ever moving goal posts on who is going to pay for the wall, or should we say the steel slats? "morning joe" is coming back in a moment. slats? "morning joe" is coming back in a moment maria ramirez? hi. maria ramirez!
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i will build a great, great wall on our southern border and i will have mexico pay for that wall. >> why are we shutting down our government to get our taxpayer money to pay for the wall ma mexico is going to pay for? >> first off, this is not the final act in this drama and the wall is the first step. the pay for part may welcome later. i would be perfectly in favor of taxing remittances back to mexico and central america to
pay back the american taxpayer for this -- >> wait a second. you're a conservative. you understand that money matters, right? every cent he spent by the taxpayer is important. the president made a very crystal clear promise. >> i think you're getting distracted by that. and they should -- >> you keep asking the american people to pay for something that the president promised them -- i am not getting the accomplish the president said it hundreds of times. he said mexico will pay for the wall. the people in the rally said mexico would pay for the wall. get mexico to pay for the wall if they want a wall so bad. >> and they will. >> isn't it something that the republican par republican party -- actually this president who adopted the republican party very late in his life, this was the party of
reagan, the conservative movement of buckley and russell kirk and the party of abraham lincoln who are shutting down the u.s. government over the erection of a couple of steel slats in the middle of a desert who everybody knows won't have a substantial impacts on stemming the flow of illegal immigration which, by the way, is actually reversing itself and we actually have a negative flow into the united states. more people are going back to mexico than coming here. so this is shutting down the u.s. goftd for nothing more than a political punch line for donald trump? >> yeah, a political stunt being carried out at the expense of 800,000 people, american workers, over the christmas holiday. for the sake of a wall that
produces everything that the republican party stood for when i was a teenager. both of them talked about the need to have better relations with mexico, to have -- to make it easier for mexicans to come into this country, to work, contribute to the economy, go back to the year 2000 when george w. bush said that, you know, family values didn't end at the rio grand. that was the spirit of a very different republican party that understood that immigration isn't just valuable to this country, it's central to our -- central to our identity. and it is central to the well being of the economy that we can import so much talent from
around the world at every level of the economic spectrum, whether it's high end ph.d.s or people who are just arriving here with dreams and ambition. so it's depressing to see a republican congressman, depressing to say the least speak with false hood and demagoguery for what ought to be an easy issue for anyone who believes in the free market. >> how many times did the president said mexico would pay for the wall? that was his punch line. let's bring in ali vitale who spent two years on the campaign and has the president's analysis matching up with what he is saying today. i know you heard it time and time again and the president admitted it.
every time the crowd started to get disinterested or march away, the president would bring out that greatest hit of the wall and he would finish by saying, and mexico is going to pay for that wall, believe me. where are we two years later? >> you're right. that was the move. but that wasn't what we and most importantly the voters heard it in 20178 and beyond. take look at how that has changed. >> into the white house in 2016 is now why trump is insisting the government stay closed. at least until he gets what he wants. >> steel slats. we don't use the world wall,
necessarily. steel slats. >> that sounds different than the pitch he made over and over again to his base. >> it's going to be a big, beautiful wall. not a toy wall like we have right now. >> and it's not a little wall. it's a fence. >> i'm talking about a wall. see that ceiling up there? higher. >> that ceiling is peanuts, folks. >> there's no ladder goes over that. >> if they ever get ip, they're saying, oh, man, how do i get down from this wall? >> both in terms of who is in a wall and who paid for it. >> and it's going to be paid for by mexico. believe me. 100%. mexico is better. >> that payment has since become indirect, trump saying mexico will pay through the not yet ratified trade deal we know the u.s., mexico and canada. but the white house has struggled to explain how that works. >> the wall will pay for itself on a monthly basis. >> as the president said, as we
all said, the wall will be paid for through the savings on trade alone. >> the trade benefits, if there are any, don't go to the treasury. >> you say that the revenue provided and the money that would be saved through the usmca deal we can pay for the wall four times over and by doing that new trade deal we have the opportunity to pay for the wall -- >> have you done on math on that? >> still, some americans don't want to wait any longer. >> everybody thinks we should have the wall and we should all give 20 bucks. >> crowd source funding for that wall? >> theater. that's right. >> that idea separately funded itself to the tune of $1 billion. all while trump argues with congress for billions more in taxpayer money to pay for the wall's construction. >> we need the wall. >> an ever shifting rhetorical target eager to notch a win and deal with the details later. >> the wall just got ten feet higher. we love it.
>> joe, i know the details are important in washington, but many of the voters i've spent the years talking to want the president to plant the flag of victory in 2012 as he gets back out on the campaign trail. i'm not so sure they're baghdad down on the details, they just want to see a win. >> thank you so much, alley. >> mexicans are going to pay for the wall, quote, not even a doubt, believe me, not a did doubt, 100%, mexico is going to pay for the wall and that evolves now into the wall will pay for itself in a monthly installment plan. where are you going, jonathan? come back to me. all right. so the wall will pay for itself in a monthly installment plan. my goodness. it's been a tough two years on donald trump's most wild campaign promises.
>> i was out there on the road not quite as long as alley, but i covered the trump campaign, too, and i don't remember monthly installment plan being the chant from the crowd in any way, shape or form. it would be toughtory fit on a t-shirt or a hat. the president here, he caters to his base. the idea of people that support the wall was about 30%. that is often estimated the size ooh tru of trump's base. if that is time and time again the income he is most concerned about -- why is it it's a question of even knowing trump forp over ov decade, when "the apprentice" was on nbc, he didn't want to just have a niche audience.
he wanted to get as many people -- it was broadcast tv. he wanted as many people watching that show as possible. but we've been talking about it on this show every day, been talking about that steve bannon 33%, that that audience he has been going for, do you have any insight? do you talk to anyone? who could explain why donald trump is so obsessed and why he's been so obsessed on the 33%, 35%, and never tried to get to 50%, 55% in approval ratings, knowing so many of those hard core trump supporters will stay with him wherever he goes? >> the that's right. you can do the largest, he seems to be settling here. but for the people i've talked to who are close to him and people in the bhous, it's two things. first of all, he gives that base a lot of credit for his rise.
he can't deal with the idea of losing any of that support. but he also, and people around him feel like this is a way that playing to the base instingtcts helped him keep the 123450e9 ho. he feels like he has a level of support not picked up by the polls. he feels like 2016 boar evidence to that. we'll see if that can happen again. and he picked up just enough to find that electoral college path to win again. but it's a risky strategy. as long as the polling suggests, he's likely going to take more and more of the blame. this is one of the central mysteries of the trump administration. from day one, there's been no effort to grow his base. there's been no effort to reach out to those who didn't vote for him to say, look, i'm president
of all the people. he seems contend to stay where he is and believe that is the narrow path to win again. >> my only guess is he's not trying to sxavend to his base. he didn't want to be president in 2016 and he's not planning on running on re-election. coming up next, we'll bring in a national immigration reporter for the "new york times" who is telling the stories of parents and children reunited after spending months and weeks apart. we'll ask about the emotional scars those children endured. l scars those children endured
learned. >> so i spent the summer talking to families who were separated from one another, children as young as 3, 4 years old who obviously couldn't tell me much at all up to 16, 17. what i heard is they're very much still sitting with this experience every day. so a little boy named jesus, he's 6, he was trying to force his way into the kitchen on christmas eve trying to help his mom cook and make chicken and his mom saying, no, no, no, go out in the living room and be a normal kid. he never wants to leave his mother's side. a child who is 16 years old told me about being in a shelter and he was sort of watching younger children around him during the time he was separated from his dad. he was watching children around him break down into tears, scream and bang on the walls, and they were being met with
threats basically -- the caretakers looking after them saying if you don't behave better, you might not ever see your parents again. he told me about wondering quietly to himself, he didn't want to say anything out loud, but he wondered if his dad had left without him and gone back to central america because it was over a month before they ever got to talk on the phone. another little boy, an 8-year-old named justin, as soon as he was separated from his mother stopped talking. he barely speaks above a whisper now, and that's something that's still with him months later. lots of parents told me their children regressed developmentally and they're still trying to help those kids get back to where they were before the separation took place. >> we have heard from mental health care providers over and over again, the longer these children are kept in custody, the longer they are incarcerated, the longer they are separated from their parents, the more risk of severe mental issues later.
>> that's right, joe. and i think when we think about the trauma these children endured and these teenagers endured it's going to be long lasting impacts on their life. i talked to a family, a father, that was deported without his young daughter. they were separated for more than two months. they were reunited maybe a month ago and that father says that little girl cries all the time. she's frustrated with her life and the idea this is a little girl who will have to grow up now in honduras, have to endure poverty, and not have the resources to get the proper counseling, to get the proper help for her trauma. i think a lot of these families, some might be lucky enough to stay in the united states. a lot might be deported back to their home countries where resources are not going to be able to have them deal with the things they've gone through. it's a very, very sad thing and we know this is an ongoing thing, that there are children
separated and there's no one in sight for some of these families. >> do you have a question for caitlin? >> i'm just curious how do these kids -- what is the plan to provide any support for these kids who are being torn away, traumatized, who are just being put through some emotional strain none of us could possibly imagine. what will be done for them as this keeps going on without any real plan at all to deal with the amount of inflow coming in? >> a few things are happening. one is that first lawsuit, that forced family reunifications the aclu filed, is still being litigated in court and one of the things they are pushing for are remedies for the families. whether or not they get it is an open question the judge hasn't ruled yet on. in the meantime what i heard from lots of families here in the u.s. especially places like new york city, los angeles, is
that individual nonprofit organizations have stepped up to help these families and pay for weekly counseling for some kids that i talked to. so they're getting help working through this, but there are lots of families not in a position to get those kinds of resources. i've met families in nebraska now who have gone to states that don't have as much of an infrastructure for mental health and maybe more importantly don't have as much of an infrastructure for advocacy work like in cities like new york city. then families back in central america now. i talked to one father who is concerned about how he will pay off his debt. the money he paid to a coyote to get to the united states in the first place. he makes $4 a week. his 6-year-old has been returned to his home country. he can't pay for counseling for her. >> thank you so much for your
reporting. it's so important. the new piece is in "the new york times." thank you all as well. we appreciate you coming in. and coming up, it's day seven of the government shutdown and no sign of a compromise anywhere. "the washington post's" robert costa joins us next with the latest reporting. and, did you see it, there was a strange blue light over new york city last night. and at least one official confirms it was not aliens, though if you checked your twitter feed it looked like it was something straight out of "stranger things." we'll show you the pictures when "morning joe" returns. ♪ voice-command navigation with waze wifi wireless charging 104 cubic feet of cargo room and seating for 8. now that's a sleigh. ford expedition. built for the holidays.
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even. everything was gone like that. >> it went from nighttime to instantly the sun is up. it's a beautiful day. i'm like, whoa. and it was real quick like within a second. and then i was scared, running down the stairs. everyone was opening the doors. no one knew what to say to each other so there was even more panic. all right. welcome back to "morning joe." there we go. there was the transformer explosion last night in new york. and, boy, some of the shots from the city were pretty remarkable. as sam stein noted in his twitter feed when the aliens do come and the apocalypse comes -- there's a shot right there -- we'll be too busy tweeting about it to actually notice them landing and coming to take us away. did you, from your vantage point, see it last night? >> i caught it a few moments. i just missed it and saw the
hype on twitter afterwards. it did resemble "independent days." i will say that it was just a transformer fire at a power plant in queens. thankfully, no one was hurt. it led to some pretty great twitter chatter. i saw sam's tweet. i thought it was terrific. i thought it was the launch of the space force. thought that could be it. i enjoyed the idea as someone suggested a gender reveal party gone terribly wrong, but certainly considering the 2018 we've had, red sox aside, if this were the aliens coming and calling us home, a lot of people would probably welcome it. >> thanks so much for that update, jonathan. and joining the conversation with us we have professor at the naval war college and author of the book "the death of expertise" tom nichols,
political reporter for "the washington post," the moderator of washington week on pbs, and msnbc political analyst, and columnist at "the washington examine examiner." let's begin with you, bob costa. tell us where things stand with this government shutdown. what's the president's attitude as we move towards the house of representatives being run by speaker nancy pelosi? >> white house officials acknowledge president trump is not going to likely get the $5 billion for the border wall that he's requesting. what they're trying to do is set the terms when nancy pelosi is expected to win the speaker's gavel in the house of representatives, and they know that she's going to immediately move to reopen the government, not along the lines president trump wants to reopen the
government, but they want to make sure that republican base, the trump base, is with the president heading into 2019, a turbulent year with robert mueller's investigation, a divided government. this is as much as playing to the base and making sure they're with this president as much as securing funds for a border wall. >> and yet the numbers playing to that base doesn't seem to make a lot of sense. when you look at the polling you've got only 33% of americans wanting to build the wall if mexico doesn't pay for it. almost 50% of americans blaming donald trump for the government shutdown. there's that third again. we keep seeing 3 3% blaming the democrats, 33% favoring the wall that mexico doesn't pay for.
i've been saying it for almost two years now, this president plays to his 33% base. it's just baffling and i don't know why republicans follow him over that cliff. what does 2019 -- does it promise us any change in strategy or at least an understanding by republicans that it's a disastrous political approach to offend two-thirds of american voters. >> the conventional approach would be to say it is not enough to win a presidential election. it's not enough to have your own members of congress stay perfectly loyal to you, that conventional 33% is not enough. donald trump believes strongly that he uniquely is a political genius, that he was able to win the presidency without doing the conventional things and favorability when he was elected president, the majority of
americans didn't like him. nonetheless, preferred him to the alternative. he may be gambling on that, the idea that, look, people may only have 33% support for certain policies of mine, but let's see who the democrats put up. let's make nancy pelosi, these other guys the enemy. donald trump does not view this in a conventional way. he views this as my supporters sent me here to do something. if anything the wall is the clearest campaign promise he made. if he doesn't do that the idea he would not have won over the middle and his base would fall out is the primary concern. i think you saw in the midterms how badly it turned out to be the party of trump's base without that crossover appeal. i think trump is assuming when my name is on the ballot i want my supporters to know that means
something. >> tom nichols, what that means for the rest of the republican party, what that means for the conservative movement is disaster. the worst midterm result since watergate. worse than 2006 for republicans and worse than 2010 for democrats. this is a disaster and it's a disaster that anybody that knows how to add to 50 plus 1 should have seen coming. >> i still think the president is holding on to that 30 to 35% as a security blanket, as a firewall. that if he can hold on to that base that will cow other republicans who may be wavering into staying with him and will
be afraid of a primary challenger and active part of their own electorate. that's going to be vastly out of proportion to their actual numbers. he may be right. working to keep senate republicans in line and staying with him though it's clear from their body language and other comments that they're really upset about everything that's going on. >> maybe it helps inside the beltway. 2018, by all accounts, was a disaster. the republicans get routed in the house of representatives the worst since 1974. republican governors get routed in key states. republican state legislators got routed. and in the senate it took having a massive advantage to keep the senate and the republicans
hands. now the advantage tilts to the democrats in 2020. when is a republican -- do you see any evidence of a republican standing up going, hey, wait a second. this isn't good for our party. this isn't good for the conservative movement. i need to actively start speaking out against the sho shortsightedness of this day trading? >> the only republicans doing so to this point were those not running for re-election, whether the republicans were retiring or in john mccain's case were gravely ill. we have seen very, very few republicans willing to stand up against this president. and those that i've talked to seem to suggest they're willing to wait a little bit longer at least, what robert mueller turns up, waiting to see what the economy does.
the markets have been so turbulent. is this a sign of a slowdown? if the economy were to dip, that would be lethal to his re-election chances. the president does feel like this base is his insurance policy, that it can be the foundation of the re-election bid. you're right. what happened this past year though you could argue moving to the right, playing to the base helped him keep the senate. that's in part because of the map. the seats that were up were those in the red states that were receptive to the trump message. that will change in two years. we saw, as you said, the republicans were routed across the board in a lot of state legislatures and, of course, in the house of representatives. that sets up the dynamic of 2019. with the democrats in control of the house. with subpoena power.
running investigation after investigation. trying to take a more optimistic view, the democrats and nancy pelosi, it will be that friction, that battle that defines the next year. >> president trump's personal lawyer rudy giuliani and a speculation between robert mueller and the president telling "the daily beast" that negotiations are still open between mueller and trump's legal team about further questioning. if you're confused, you should be. when asked by "the daily beast" if it's his understanding mueller is still looking to interview trump over the phone or in person giuliani reiterated it hasn't been formally closed yet and that the loop hasn't been closed. in an interview with the hill he said the president would not be answering any more written questions and also tried -- tried -- to lay out a legal defense.
>> do you expect the president -- obviously you do represent the president, do you expect he will have to answer more questions in writing? >> well, i think i announced ten days ago over my dead body and i'm not dead yet. >> in asking the fbi in the name of comey to go easy on flynn, he was doing what thousands of people do with prosecutors and judges and pleads for mercy. he could have ordered him to not prosecute flynn. he has that power under article 2. then they moved on to campaign contributions which is ridiculous. that's a civil violation. and the theory they're using was discredited in the edwards case. and then they're looking at business things that happened years ago on the moscow thing which is perfectly legal. i was with the president the last four months of the campaign. virtually all day and into the night until he went back to his
home. there was no contact with wikileaks, none. >> so, bob costa, there's a lot to sort through here. first of all, what is the status based on your reporting of any possible interviews coming up between the president and robert mueller? >> i've spoken to rudy giuliani about this. for clarity, he's in essence, the answers already submitted by trump to robert mueller. they have questions and they come back for different points and they want to hear from the president's legal team. giuliani's expressing a willingness -- >> let me stop you there, bob. is there a fear some have speculated that the president was caught committing perjury? is there a fear that maybe he's been caught committing perjury and now they want to go back and clarify some of those answers?
>> yes and no. no, joe, because they were basic in how they answered. a lot of the answers, he said, were things you could find in any newspaper article. these were not in-depth answers which is why giuliani knows. the fear of perjury is not really out there because the answers only include per giuliani things that are out there in the news. something not something secret or things we don't know about. >> tom nichols, i thought it was fascinating that anybody can plea for mercy. thousands of people every day plea for mercy from prosecutors. this isn't a granny asking for help with her grandson. this is the president of the united states who actually is trying to lean on an fbi director who is investigating the man he selected as his
national security adviser in an investigation that could well lead to the president of the united states. that wouldn't be a plea for mercy, would it? that would be obstruction of justice if he ordered the fbi to drop that investigation. >> i'm not a lawyer but from a common sense point of view it certainly seems if you ask somebody to drop an investigation -- i'm just an unfrozen caveman professor. to me it looks that way. one of the things that stuns me, you have to exert a lot of effort this man had a reputation as a crack prosecutor and tough legal operator in new york. and now every time you hear giuliani you think, boy, i'm glad i'm not in trouble and that's not my lawyer because things change so quickly and he
almost creates more problems than he solves at any begin time. >> it feeds into your book and theory about the depth of expertise. i was talking before about this decision and the trump sacking of general mattis. you have people who are woefully incompetent all around the president. we'll be talking to the author of a new churchill biography. he paints a very accurate portrait of winston churchill as the nazis are moving across europe and churchill unfazed because at age 65 no one was better suited to face down hitler for western civilization than winston churchill because of his experience. you look at giuliani, you look at the other people surrounding donald trump and it's just the
opposite. we do have the expertise prven every day in the white house. >> i don't speak for secretary mattis but you can understand the frustration of people who have a lifetime of achievement trying to offer advice and being told that the president's instincts are better than their advice and, in fact, at that gets even worse. you go back to the president's economic adviser to -- navarro -- who said my job is just to come up with the data that confirms the president's intuition because the president's intuition is always right. experts are supposed to speak truth to power instead of to listen to their boss and then jigger the numbers to make it happen. it's the vanquishing of expertise from this white house
because the president doesn't want to hear anything that's not what he believes. >> reverse engineering actually fits with a segment we're going to have coming up about a new yorker piece. about the apprentice where donald trump was so woefully ill-prepared for those boardroom scenes where he fired somebody that he would often fire the person who was the most effective through the entire week. they would have to go back and reverse engineer in the editing base and find something terrible or find something that would suggest the person should be fired and often it was very hard to do it. believe it or not, as they were doing it on "the apprentice" people like peter navarro were in the white house. >> i want to ask about a survey
you had with millennial parents on education. what can you tell us. >> a lot of parents may be home with their kids who are home for the holidays thinking a lot about i'm ready to send my kids back to school. we did a survey with the walton family foundation to understand what do millennial parents think about the schools their kids are in. there are huge divides between parents who have a lot of resources and those who don't, whether they like the school, the school system at large or not. do parents want their kids to be going to school to get prepared for college? do they think that's the thing they should prepare for. schools should mostly be about preparing for college or trade school. another large percentage think it should be about life skills, workforce skills. parents don't just want kids prepared on academics but even things like changing a tire,
balancing a checkbook. parents expecting their kids to get these things from the school. an interesting thing to check out. kids home for the holidays looking for something to read, take a look at our study. >> all right, we will do it. still ahead on "morning joe" the myth behind the man. former producer from "the apprentice" explain how they transformed donald trump from failed d-lister to brilliant businessman. the writer of this intriguing piece joins us next from the new yorker. >> many have asked who is to blame for donald trump, the donald trump phenomenon, and i'll tell you who because he's sitting right there. that's right. that guy. mark brunette, the man who brought us "celebrity apprentice." thanks to mark brunette, we don't have to watch reality shows anymore because we're living in one. living in one.. a, another dilemma.
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everybody laughed. >> you're one of us. >> they thought i was joking. you don't watch "celebrity apprentice." >> michael moore talking to us after the election about the rise of donald trump. "the new yorker" is out with a piece profiling mark burnett and the ascension of donald trump through "the apprentice" tv show. former "apprentice" editor told the magazine, quote, most of us knew trump was a fake. he had just gone through i don't know how many bankruptcies. it was like making the court jester the king. the reporter behind the piece,
patrick, there's a line in the piece that i was fascinated by. burnett and the producers walked by trump towers and were walking through his offices as they were preparing to try to turn this man into king. they saw chipped chairs, other signs of a business holding on for dear life. we saw chipped furniture, a crumbling empire at every turn. our job was to make it seem otherwise. >> i lived in new york in the 1990s, i remember him being a punch line that you would read on page 6. the point mark burnett found trump, trump was at a low point but they remold him as this
titan and the idea this is one of the most successful people in the world. it would be a privilege for anyone to be tutored by him as his apprentice. you end up in this kind of strange situation they take a guy, the court jester, and we remake him as the king. >> it was -- they thought it was very campy and almost done like so many things that we thought trump did with a nod and a wink, but they were shocked that so many americans bought into trump as the epitome of success. what was the great quote? donald trump is a poor person's -- >> idea of a rich person. yeah, yeah. this is a strange thing. i talked to people who were involved in "the apprentice" over the years and a lot of them sounded this note, we delivered the whole thing with a wink. we knew because we worked with donald every day that it wasn't true, he wasn't this master of
the universe. it was all done in this campy way. it doesn't come across that way now. so there's a little bit of distance, people involved said america took it seriously. we were joking it was never meant to be entirely sincere. i go back and it seems the show is sincerely presenting donald trump as something we know he wasn't. >> there's no question that the show refurbished and burnished the image he was presented as this businessman and that became the central part of his campaign to start. it was obviously a change. we had things on immigration. the premise this was a businessman who could run the company as a ceo. and in your reporting if you've seen even then during the genesis of the show, was there a suggestion he would use as a platform or something he simply needed to get back on his feet as a businessman? >> i don't think anybody knew --
that anybody had any inkling he would seriously pursue the presidency. i talked with people involved in the show, even when he announced -- this isn't in the piece but something i learned when he announced his campaign, he said that he was going to run, everybody privately who was involved on "the apprentice" rolled their eyes. let's start casting the next season because we know donald will be back. there was a great deal of surprise among people who did the show that he actually went ahead and ran and became president. >> bob has a question. >> "the apprentice" and mark burnett get a lot of blame in certain circles for the rise of donald trump but he was going back to 1988 to his trip to new hampshire who wrote a best-selling biography in the late '80s. how much is that business culture of 1980s new york and the way people played to him then matter for his political
career, maybe more or as much as "the apprentice"? >> he had been a celebrity going back to the 1980s. it's the kind of celebrity that he was. i talked to tony schwarz who wrote "the art of the deal" and he said, look, we obviously had a great impact in putting trump on the map but he said i was nothing compared to mark burnett. "the apprentice" really put him into american household and not as the guy who did the cameo and the movie. not as the guy from "home alone" but this executive with great judgment people came to and consulted on important matters. >> what do you think about it, kristen? everybody is assigned blame. i talked about my brother reading "the art of the deal" in the 1980s and becoming an admirer then. it seems there's a long list there. do you think it's the tv show like reagan in the 1950s? do you think it was donald
trump's tv show starting in the early 2000s that led him to the presidency? >> i think it certainly played a big role. it allowed him to build upon a brand that has already been mentioned. it was something that he was building for decades. i remember hearing about donald trump when i would visit my grandparents in palm beach in the late '80s. as a kid i was hearing about this guy. and, look, his name is on buildings. outside of just "the apprentice" he's made a big strategy of i'm going to have my name on every building. it's going to be an empire about me as an individual. and so i guess my question about this piece is, you know, when you are interviewing folks about this and they were talking about having to reburnish trump's image, was there a sense that you also needed -- donald trump, i think, on "the apprentice" was portrayed as not just smart but
he's not portrayed as a bad individual. he's portrayed as someone who is tough but he's not necessarily portrayed as someone with a bunch of deep character flaws. nowadays we have so many tv shows you have the anti-hero, where you have their flaws put on display and is actually part of what makes them compelling. do you sense there was any sort of room for having -- when you were interviewing for this piece was there a sense that folks didn't want to have any of his flaws on display, or how did that factor in? >> trump is trump. i think mark burnett saw that and is a magnetic personality, no question. part of what the show did play up he was a straight shooter. he called it like he saw it. if he's loyal to you, he will take care of you. if you cross him he will take revenge forever. and so all of that played into the drama of the show. talking to people about the editing process, for every hour
that you saw of "the apprentice" on tv they shot an average of 300 hours of footage with all these different cameras following different crews and then this point the editors sit down and they put together a story. for me this was the fascinating aspect of this. there's a retroactive narrative construction where trump makes a decision, an impulsive decision. a lot of times he hadn't prepared and wouldn't know what was going on but would make a gut decision and then the editors have to come in and think, oh, gee, how can we reconstruct what happened over the prior week to make his gut decision make sense? on some level this is about americans looking at reality television and mistaking it for reality. it's a kind of alternative facts that we get. similarly it echoes what you see in the white house. >> we've all seen the "access hollywood" takes and from this show that could contain damaging information for donald trump. can you give us an update where are the tapes and do you think they'll ever see the light of
day? >> because so much footage was shot, there are tens of thousands of hours held by mgm that owns mark burnett's company and they are not going to release those tapes. they have legal reasons why they cannot do so. where i came out there's a great deal of trump saying awful things about women, which he did on the show. is there anything that rises to the level of the "access hollywood" tape, i don't know. a lot of speculation about him using the n-word. having talked to a whole bunch of people, i came out believing that tape probably doesn't exist, to people who would know, editors who worked on the show, people who hate trump, and they said, look, if anybody knew about that tape, i would know about it. i would love to know about that tape. i would leak that tape if i had it. it doesn't exist. if there was such a tape it would have spread by now. it would have come out. >> those people who spent time with him and mika and i spent
time with him over a decade off and on behind closed doors. there were times he would say misogynistic things. he did not say racially insensitive things at least around us behind closed doors. if you look at the women he dated and continued to date it goes against that. the people that he hung out with. the friends that he had. the acquaintances that he had in atlantic city, that would suggest that was not a part of donald trump's personality until he decide d to, in a grotesque way, make it part of his pers a persona. thank you for being with us. still ahead, he was described as undeniably pushy.
he cut corners and deliberately employed extravagances, an exaggeration for polling effect. we're talking about winston churchill. we'll talk to historian and author andrew roberts about his new biography as some say is the greatest churchill single volume biography yet. we'll have more with tom nichols as well when we return. shield℠ annuities from brighthouse financial
with us now british historian andrew roberts whose new book "churchill -- walking with destiny" is one of "the wall street journal's" ten best books of 2018. one of "the economist's" best books of 2018 and one of "the new york times" notable books of 2018 and has been called by some perhaps the greatest single volume of winston churchill ever written. andrew, not bad. not bad at all. thank you for being with us. >> thank you very much indeed, joe. >> you write of winston churchill after describing just how heinous his parents were.
you write few have set out with more cold-blooded deliberation to become first a hero and then a great man. what drove winston churchill? >> well, his parents who you mentioned were one great driving force. his father was an aloof, disdainful man but also an important victorian politician and chancellor and he died when winston churchill was 20 years old. and so he very much wanted to vindicate his father's political memory. that was one thing and also he had no money and so he was driven to write lots of books and to distinguish himself and make himself into a great man. >> you said he worshipped at the altar of his unknown father, a terrible man and an even worse father figure.
did he wrestle with that hero worship? >> yes, very much. even after the second world war he had a rather strange dream in which he met the ghost of his dead father and conversed with him. at no point did he let on he had been instrumental in helping win the second world war. however hard his father was on him he nonetheless also called his son by his father's name. he adopted his father's political stance. it was very much this fascinating attempt to impress his long dead father. >> we've always heard stories of how distant and at times cruel his parents were to him and you say that cruelty and disinterest
would have crushed a lesser man but you also note as an aside that perhaps this wasn't so out of line with how other upper class victorian parents treated their children, that perhaps this was how sensitive he was to their mrits. explain. >> and so it wasn't completely unusual but what was unusual his mother was american. one has to remember on his paternal side, right at the apex of british society went to a very tough public school. it was a harsh upbringing, frankly.
despite his family history when he did become prime minister in 1940 you have several quotes. the gangsters will soon be in complete control of the government. can you explain because there is hero worship surrounding winston churchill, can you explain just how loathed he was by many of his contemporaries especially the establishment of london. >> he had done so many things of his life, crossed the floor of the house of commons not once but twice and got women suffrage wrong, the abdication crisis wrong, the gold standard.
people didn't trust his judgment and when he became prime minister largely because of the things he got right primarily, of course, a warning about adolf hitler and the nazis. there were people who didn't trust him. >> it was fascinating how you explained a political misstep gave him the space he needed to grow into prime minister material. you said that chamberlain thought it would keep winston churchill too busy. th >> nothing happened on the
western front and so insofar as the important war minister was concerned that was churchill. he was the one people listened to. they really mat nerd that 8-month period and so you see churchill able to range over a very wide area of the war not just the naval side of it. >> and how fascinating also something that you draw very well. just how negative chamberlain and others viewed the prospects for the british in 1939 and 1940.
perhaps it was not possible and even churchill, i was fascinated by this. churchill replied, quote, with tears in his eyes all i hope is that it is not too late. i am very much afraid that it is. >> privately he did have these doubts. the leadership that he showed means publicly when it came to the press or to parliament or the people, to those around him, he showed total confidence in victory. he would have been mad not to have worried occasionally that he is going to go down and the ferocity of the attack that took place that very same day that he said those words when they were invaded by adolf hitler in the west would have meant he would
have had to have been a strange person not to have had his own private doubts. >> tom nichols is with us and has a question. >> one of the things that strikes me about churchill, he was able to somehow take his point of view based on his own experience and prevail over people much more experienced than he was. what was the interplay like between him and his advisers. at times he was a majority of one against the assembled expertise of his advisers. how did he reconcile that and manage to forge a team that beat hitler out of that? >> what he did was to never once overrule his chiefs of staff.
he would burst into tears occasionally. he would sit across the table with the chief of the imperial general staff breaking pencils in half saying, no, i disagree with you, prime minister. he would never overrule them. he would try to persuade them, try to bring them around. he was helped by the fact that he held many of the great offices of state over the 40 years since he'd been in parliament. these really important roles prior to becoming prime minister and that all his past life had been a preparation for this hour and this trial because it really had been. >> and these were not his first cris crises. he had been through hell before this. >> members of his cabinet. >> the first world war, of course, he had been in charge of the royal navy at the outbreak
of the war, made sure the navy was ready for that war. he had fought in the trenches himself. battalion commander, he actually went in and got so close to the german trenches, you could actually hear them speaking german in their trenches. this was a man of action. he had fought in five campaigns on four continents. so he understood what the harsh as pecks of war were like as well that helped him with dealing with the admirals? explain his relationship with the king and how that evolved. the ting who desperately wanted like much of the british establishment wanted more halifax to be the prime minister and had little use for churchill. talk about how that relationship evolved and if there was a turning point what that
purposing point may have been. >> yes. it's a fascinating relationship and certainly because of this concept of the turning point. because when he became prime minister, churchill was not trusted by the king any more than by much of the rest of the british establishment. the king had remembered he had been on his elder brother, king edward viii side and churchill didn't trust the king the king had been a great supporter of appeasement. yet early on, really by the time of the fall of france and the battle of britain, certainly by the brits, churchill and the king came together and became friends. the majesty, the queen, allowed me to be the first churchill biographer to use the diaries the king refers to churchill as a friend. he was one of the four prime ministers he called by his christian name. he was a -- they served each other themselves from the
sideboard at their weekly tuesday meetings at buckingham palace, so that nobody else was present. that was because church hymn totally trusted the king very soon into his premiership. he trusted him with the olympic secrets, the really important secrets of the water, secrets like enigma and the nuclear secret and where they were going to attack, the grand strategy, where generals and ministers were going to be sacked and appointed others, of course so this turned into an extraordinarily close and extremely useful relationship for both men. >> all right. an true roberts, thank you so much. we greatly appreciate you being with us this morning. the book church hymn talking with destiny is out now and an extraordinary read. the government has already shut down, of course, now the president is threatening to closest the southern border for funding for the wall. quote, we will be forced to
close entirely if the obstructionist democrats do not give us the money to finish the wall and also change the ridiculous immigration laws that our country is saddled with. it's hard to believe there was a congress and a president who would approve and, tom, hard to believe that this president is talking like he's had a congress or his party was in the minority the past several years when, in fact the majority of people in congress, of course the republicans held the house, they held the senate. the sad fact is for this president only one-third of americans want to build that wall and shut down the government over it. >> yeah, the president seems to always be making a comment completely unremoved from any historic am context as if nothing happened yesterday. as if nothing will happen tomorrow as if his party has not been in the majority.
it's almost this kind of series of just thoughts that happen at any given moment and without any real plan to shut down. we're going to shut down the entire southern border. it's hard to even know what that means. i mean, i suppose it's within the president's power to shut down on the crossing points, that's not going to accomplish very much and i think this is now you know as is often the case with the president, he's invest, inve invested, he's dug in. he doesn't seem to be thinking ahead to when the democrats are going to become the majority in a manner of days. and so i think we're going to see more of these tweets that again as we were talking about earlier are aimed at his base and shoring up his base and riling them up. >> jonathan le mere, he's dug in on a position that two out of three americans oppose.
he's dug in on a position that destroyed the republican ma joerts in both the house and the senate. he's dug in on a position that polling shows an overwhelming number of americans are opposed to, even republicans supporting immigration. >> he's a president that doesn't have much in the way of fixed ideology, certainly playing to the base is a core tenet for who donald trump is. >> that has happened before. it's happening now. that's not going to change. to piggyback on tom's point, a close adviser told me, the president, not that he's thinking nothing ahead months or years, he tries to think that second. his concern is to win that moment. >> that news cycle that headline that moment on cable. there is not much projecting before that. it's pure winning the media moment. we are seeing that here. >> he may be thinking he is winning the media moment.
he is losing the political war as more and more americans turn against him and more and more americans support immigration. tom nichols, thank you so much for being with us. we really appreciate it. coming up, there are perilous times ahead, of course, in addition to the acting attorney general and acting e administrator. 2019 will bring an acting defense secretary and an acting chief of staff and an acting interior secretary. we're going to discuss the implications of an administration that seems tobacking like it's running the federal government. plus, something special for the history buffs in our audience, tom brokaw will give us an extraordinary look back at some of the momentous historic am moments that marks significant anniversary this year from the chaos of 1968 to nixon and watergate the saturday night special, so much more, we are back in just a moment. more are back in just a moment. gentle means everything,
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. welcome back to "morning joe" on this last friday before the new year. back with us, we have white house reporter for the associated press jonathan le mere, columnist for the "new york times," brett stevens and former nato supreme allied commander, chief international diplomacy analyst for cnpc, msnbc, retired four-star general james stavridis. in the view of many dangerous foreign policy decisions that weaken america abroad and strengthen our enemies. where do you see things this morning as we move towards a more dangerous 2019? >> we're walking away from working with our allies, partners and friends, we're doing it in syria, an tag niegz latin america with our border policies, we're talking about withdrawing from north korea, withdrawing from south korea in
the face of a north korean threat. i just feel that level of danger rising significantly and i'll close with the decision to leave syria. that's a huge mistake tactically, it opens the door for resurgence of the islamic state. operationally, it cedes that zone to russia, iran, turkey and strategically, back to the point on allies, joe, it sends a signal that we're not in it for the long run working with our allies in that region so danger ahead, will robinson. >> again, admiral the mistake donald trump makes, we talked about this a good bit yesterday is he is constantly focusing on the united states an constantly engaging in false economy, saying if we help country a, that's going to hurt america. when, in fact, i'm sorry, i don't want to let our allies in on a little secret. but we helped them,' we can help ourselves. one of the things that this new
churchill biography outlines is the fact that winston churchill changed his position on the soviet union on the bolsheviks whom he hated six times. and as the author explains, the reason he did was because his own country's interests always came first and even if he loathes stalin. even if he loathed communism, if he was going up against adolph hitler and the nazis, and they could pound him on the eastern front, well, then the soviet union was britain's best friend for that moment. >> that is the sort of thinking that donald trump is incapable of engaging in. we wanted to feed iran and what they're trying to do in syria. we want to finish isis off. we want to get russia out of the middle east once again. well, that's going to require that we do some things that actually may make us
uncomfortable. >> absolutely right. and let's face it. at the end of the day, we are so much stronger together operating with others. in this press conference, if will you, that the president gave while visiting troops, it felt like a press conference or almost a political rally when he said, again and again, we're not the suckers anymore. we would be the suckers if we walked away from that network of allies, partners and friends, i can't imagine a world without the u.s. engaging in colombia the balkans, afghanistan would be a terrorist superstate right now if we had not gone in there. we do that for ourselves, fought for those allies. together we are stronger. that's the policy we ought to pursue. we ought to have that strategic flexible church hymn had. >> i want you to take a look at what richard haase tweeted yesterday. he says donald trump calls us suckers for what we spend on the fence. it's been a bargain.
we spend just over 3% of our gdp on defense, maybe half the cold war average. a period in which the economy has grown at a record pace. the reason? global stability is a pre requisite for economic growth. and you know, brett, it's important that we learn from our mistakes. i know you've made mistakes, i've made mistakes. we've all made misjudgments at time. i know i wanted us to get out of afghanistan, we were spending $2 billion a month. it didn't make a lot of sense to me. then i saw what happened when we got out of eastern and unfortunately, we are in a position in the post-9/11 world, there are a couple countries, where we're going to have to keep troops, much like we have in germany and much like we have in korea, because as general mattis said, we want to prevent world war iii. we should learn from the mistakes of our recent past that
donald trump, himself, even criticized. >> that's exactly right. what we learned, withdrawing from iraq is that when you create a power vacuum, those vacuums tend to fet filled, very quickly. usually by very bad actors. so we left iraq thinking that we had finally stabilized the situation in 2011. you remember that after the surge levels of violence come far down, we thought. we had defeated what was then called al qaeda in iraq and sure enough within two years or three years islamic state reconstituted, had taken mosul, had marched down the mesopotamia to retake fallujah. it was on the edges of baghdad and we had to redeploy thousands of american troops to win that territory back. we did the same thing in syria, where we had finally managed to
reduce isis' physical footprint down to a fraction of what it had been previously. but the lesson of that experience is that you can't take your finger out of the dike and expect that the water isn't going to seep through and eventually burst the dam. so america maintaining what was really a relatively small military presence in syria, about 2,000 troops, very low levels of casualties in low single digits in the last year, is a bargain of a policy next to what we might expect once we leave. >> that vacuum is going to be filled by assad, by erdogan, by the ayatollahs of iran, who donald trump claims to be so powerful against, but is, in fact, enabling by russia. it's going to happen at the expense of the kurds who did so much to defeat isis on our behalf. it will happen at the expense of
our allies in israel, who are now in much greater danger, again despite trump's promise of being israel's best friend. it's going to reconstitute the middle east that we fear, which is to say an exporter of terrorism and instability. >> jonathan le mere, that's the great irony of the president's recent moves. can you name all of the things that donald trump claimed to be against in the campaign. you can look at the tweets. you can look at the fiery speeches. he attacked barack obama repeatedly for bailing out barack. he said he invented isis. what here, we've beaten back isis, not only in iraq, but trying to finish him off in syria and donald trump is retreating. and in so doing, look at the other enemy, iran. he constantly has bashed iran,
yet there has to be a cognitive dissidence who claim to support donald trump that in one failed swoop last qe2 e week, he helped isis, he helped iran and he helped russia gain a foothold over that region. >> that's right. trump during the campaign trail went so far as to say obama was a founder of isis. we don't need to fact check that to know it's not true. he did criticize the president for creating a vacuum there he felt was filled by bad actors. he suggested, he raised concerns about american involvement in some of these regions. that's in some way a campaign promise he is somewhat stuck to. this is a president. it goes beyond that, he views the world in a series of transactions. there is no global strategy, no long thinking, no grand diplomacy. it is a series of immediate instant moves where often he
puts the american interests in his mind first, where he thinks often in financial sense, where he claims that allies are not doing their par that's the genesis of the dispute now in south korea, which could leave that nation in grave danger if, indeed, troops are pulled out with threats against korea looming. that's the issue as well. i was there with the president covering his visit in july in belgium when he gave a fiery closed door speech to leaders there, brandishing, criticizing them for not paying enough. >> that diplomats were fearful the united states was going to pull out of that organization. he did to the do that. he continues to criticize some of our oldest and dearest, closest and most important friend for not paying enough, often misstating what, in fact, they have committed to doing. >> that has lent itself to this ability. do we support this? even though it flies in the face
of a lot of our orthodoxy. countries that count on us for decades who now are left uncertain what america is there and what america could do for them. coming up next, we put toke something special for you history buffs. 2018 marked a number of anniversaries for some momentous moments in the history of this country. 50 years since the tumulttuous and deadly events of 1968. 45 years since a key moment that marked the beginning of the end for richard nixon's presidency, 40 years since a delicate diplomatic break through in the middle east that affects us still. history doesn't repeat itself. it rhymes as the saying goes. all of those major moments in history hold implications and lessons for what is going to happen in the new year. our special retrospective is next on "morning joe." l retrosps next on "morning joe." , but ruin my day. complicated relationship with milk?
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. welcome back to "morning joe." 2018 was extraordinary and just how many breaking news stories we covered. but this year marks several anniversaries from the last half century, from the camp david accords to the 1968 democratic national convention to richard nixon's saturday night massacre. now, we're going to look back at some of these important and really troubling moments in american history, beginning with the assassination of dr. martin luther king, jr. gunned down 50 years ago. here's nbc news' tom brokaw with a piece on the civil rights icon and his enduring legacy for our century. >> reporter: this is how we remember him. >> i have a dream. >> reporter: but 50 years ago the reverend dr. martin luther king jr. was under siege. >> i must confess that that dream they had that day has in
many points turned into a nightmare. >> reporter: for more than a decade, he had helped awaken this country to racial injustice. he won the nobel peace prize. >> we have to say in no uncertain times that racism is alive and on the throne in american society. >> reporter: but by 1968, militant young blacks had grown impatient for king's non-violent approach. >> we will shoot the cops who are shooting our black brothers in the back in this country. >> reporter: dr. king stood his ground. >> well, i'm still convinced their non-violence has not ended. >> stop the bombing and stop the war. >> reporter: he began speaking out against the war in vietnam. but some civil rights leaders saw that as a distraction and after years of confronting segregation in the south, he turned north targeting poverty and economic injustice. >> it's much easier to integrate a lunch counter than to guarantee an annual income.
>> reporter: revered by millions, king was also hated and feared by many white racists. his life was in constant danger, but he never backed down. >> i can't lose hope because when you lose hope, you die! >> reporter: in 1968, king was planning a massive new march on washington. >> we are coming to demand a bill of economic and social rights. >> reporter: but he was drawn into a conflict in memphis, where sanitation workers, most of them black were on strike. the city was refusing to set him and it got ugly. police used mace. what started as a labor issue became a civil rights cause. king was asked to help. he came to memphis, joining a poorly organized march that turned tragically violent.
some demonstrators looted and broke windows. a black teenager was killed by police. it was king's worst nightmare, undermining his reputation for non-violence, jeopardizing his plans for the walk march just weeks later. >> we must not allow the events of the day to cause us to let up. >> that would be a tragic error. >> reporter: king decided to stage another march in memphis days later despite a core injunction. he had something to prove. >> i feel we can still have a non-violent demonstration and that we will have a non-violent demonstration here in memphis. >> reporter: at a rally for striking workers, king was defiant. >> so just as we say, we will not let any dog or water hoses turn us around, we will not let an injunction turn us around. >> reporter: and he had something else to say in that speech that night. >> because i have been to the mountaintop. >> reporter: it sounded like a
premonition. >> and i've seened the promised land. i mean i may not get there with you, but i want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the promised land. >> reporter: less than 24 hours later, standing on the balcony of the lorraine motel, dr. martin luther king jr. was hit by a single shot fired from the window of a nearby boarding house. >> martin luther king jr. was killed tonight in memphis, tennessee. >> witnesses say the impact knocked him off his feet and he fell back here against this serving tray. >> reporter: president johnson appealed for calm. >> i ask every citizen to reject the blind violence that has struck dr. king who lived by non-violence. >> reporter: but there was violence. riiots in more than 100 american cities. in memphis, four days after
king's death the peaceful march he promised took place, led by his widow. coretta scott king had long stood by her husband's side. now, she walked in his place. king's body was brought home to atlanta to his family's ebenezer baptist church. among the mourners, richard nixon, soon to be elected president on a platform of law and order, jacqueline kennedy, widowed herself less than five years earlier and senator robert kennedy, who would also be killed less than two months later. ♪ we have overcome >> reporter: dr. king died hoping america would heal its deep wounds. but for all the progress, that hope remains unfulfilled. his personal legacy is secure, but his great hope is still a distant goal. >> free at last, free at last,
thank god almighty, with refree at last! >> now just hours after dr. martin luther king jr. was murdered 50 years ago, robert f. kennedy worked to heal a devastated nation. >> what we need in the united states is not division but what we need in the united states is not hatred. what we need in the united states is not violence and lawlessness, but is love and wisdom and compassion towards one another and a feeling of justice towards those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black. >> then, just months later, it was robert f kennedy tragically being mourned. on june 6th, 1968, he died from gunshot wounds, shot just moments after celebrating his
win in the california democratic primary tebaldi hotel in los angeles. many believe that was the step he needed to go in the democratic national convention and challenge richard nixon. tom brokaw was a 28-year-old reporter for knbc tv in los angeles covering that 1968 golden state primary. tom gives us a look back now at not only whites rfk entered the race, but how he wagered everything on california. >> i think that we should start focusing attention on our problems here in the united states that should be our first priority. >> reporter: one week before liss death, bobby kennedy did something no member of his family had ever done. he lost an election running 2nd in the oregon presidential primary especially will do all that i can. i have done all i can so far. at the end if i'm not skechl,ly sister to abide by that.
>> reporter: robert frances kennedy didn't set out to be president. three years, he was his older brother jack's most trusted adviser, his enforcer as attorney general. with you jfk's assassination transformed bobby, it awakened him to the suffering of others. as senator, he turned against the far in vietnam, which had been jack's war. at first, he stayed out of the 1968 campaign. but when anti-war candidate eugene mccarthy almost beat incumbent president eugene johnson in new hampshire, kennedy got in, announcing from the same caucus room his brothered a used. >> i am today announcing my candidacy. >> for the presidency of the united states. >> i was not interested in running for president. i was not interested in opposing president johnson per se. what i was interested in is trying to develop a meaningful policy in vietnam. >> reporter: kennedy knew it
wouldn't be easy. >> i'm going to have a very, very rough road ahead of me. i have five months even before the convention comes. >> reporter: just two weeks later, johnson dropped out. >> i shall not seek and i will not accept the nomination of my party for another term as your president. >> i congratulate the president open his generosity and his patriotism in taking the step that he did towards world peace. >> reporter: in fact, kennedy and johnson hated each other. but kennedy asked for and got a meeting with the president hoping to keep him neutral in the campaign. johnson then met with vice president hubert humphrey, who would later announce his own candidacy. then the very next day -- >> i have some very sad fuse for all of you. >> reporter: the campaign was suddenly tragically interrupted. >> and that is that martin luther king was shot and was killed tonight in memphis,
tennessee. >> reporter: kennedy calmed the crowd in indianapolis with an impromptu sermon. >> what we need in the united states is not violence and lawlessness but is love and wisdom and compassion toward one another. >> reporter: indianapolis what happens one of the few american cities spared from riots that night and kennedy went on to win the indiana primary. what do you feel in your bones now about your future? >> i think it's better today than 24 hours ago. >> reporter: a week later he won nebraska. then after losing oregon, kennedy bet everything on california. >> senator robert kennedy brought his presidential campaign to southern california today. >> you here in the state of california might very well decide who is going to be the democratic nominee and, therefore, very possibly the next president of the united states. >> reporter: he campaigned against the war. >> the american people want no more vietnam. [ applause ] >> reporter: and spoke out for social justice, for black and
white, for the poor and disenfranchised. >> every american, no matter what his background, what his creed, what color of his skin or where he lives shall walk with dignity and honor in the united states. >> reporter: the california campaign was an exhilarating, exhausting marathon. you could feel the danger in the air. nowhere more so than at this rally in san francisco. a heart strong moment that turned out to be just fire crackers. the next day at his ambassador hotel headquarters in los angeles, kennedy was victorious. >> senator kennedy is the winner in the presidential primary in california. >> the country wants to move in a different direction. we want to deem with our own problems in our own country and we want peace in vietnam. >> reporter: finally he said he
escaped his brother's shadow. >> my thanks, to all of you. on to chicago. >> reporter: just minutes later. >> reporter: senator kennedy has been shot. >> he's been shot in the head. >> in the head. he is still alive. >> that is correct. in the head. >> they just removed him to the hospital on a stretcher. >> reporter: kennedy's death brought shock and grief to the nation. it seemed to be more than we could ber. >> what has violence ever accomplished? what has it ever created? no martyr's cause has ever been still by a an assassin's bullet. >> we never know if robert kennedy could have won the nomination or the election. but without him, we did get more deaths in vietnam, more racial division, nixon and watergate. even now we think of what might have been and we remember him
today as his brother did 50 years ago. >> simply as a good, decent man. he saw wrong and tried to right it. he saw suffering and tried to heal it. he saw war and tried to stop it. those of us who loved him and who will take to him his rest today pray that what he was to us and what he wished for others will some day come to pass for all the world. >> that same year, 1968, also bore witness to an incredible scene of political upheaval with vietnam as the backdrop the democratic national convention descended into chaos as delegates tried to pick their presidential candidate. >> that remarkable turn of events is next on "morning joe." f events is next on "morning joe."
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apart at the seams, party against party, generation against generation, tribe against tribe. and that turbulent year culminated in a violent democratic convention in the city of chicago. tom brokaw was there for that as well and he gives us this look back at america's great divide. >> reporter: the democratic national convention chicago 1968. the country deeply divided. the war in vietnam claiming hundreds of american lives every week, the convention was a disaster waiting to happen. the democratic contenders were vice president hue bitter humphrey and anti-war senators george mccarthy and gorge mcgovern. robert kennedy had been killed two months earlier. a draft for his brother ted had gone nowhere.
lyndon johnson retreated to his ranch and marked his 60th birthday, on the phone constantly, trying to manipulate on behalf of huber humphrey watching as hus party tore himself apart. >> unless we stop killing and slaughtering these boys in vietnam the american people will not support powers that continues it. >> reporter: thousands of anti-war demonstrators descended on chicago. they hated the war and the establishment that promoted it. many flew i have et coviet kong flags. they wanted to provoke a confrontation and they got just that. chicago police under the control of mayor richard j. daly. there was trouble inside the convention as well. on day two of the vietnam peace initiative failed to pass. aeningry delegates demonstrated
♪ we will overcome some day >> reporter: until the house band was ordered to drown them ou out. it continued to get ugly. >> he's an elected delegate. >> chicago police are now in the aisles here with billy clubs clearing people out. >> reporter: this surely is a first time that policemen have ever entered a florida convention. >> reporter: in the united states. >> on day three, police with billy clubs broke up a rally, thousands of protesters refused to disburse. >> police formed into a wedge, waiting in, the battle was on. >> reporter: that night as the convention nominated hubert humphrey, they demonstrated on conventioners and all hell broke
lose. america's faultline opened up right on michigan avenue. >> police swirling all around us. people screaming. being dragged into paddy wagons. a scene of wild zroerd. >> the whole world was watching. appalled at both sides. news of the violence soon reached the convention floor. the connecticut governor, a mcgovern supporter, took aim at mayor richard daly. >> with george mcgovern as president of the united states, we wouldn't have to have the el stopo tactics in the streets of chicago. >> mr. daly is not pleased with the senator. >> how hard it is to accept the truth. >> a gutsy pig.
>>. >> reporter: daly fiercely defend his police department and famously missed hope in the process. >> gentleman the policeman isn't there to create disorder. he's there to preserve disorder. >> the morning avenue america's generational divide was on full display. >> police are brutal. police protect the status quo and consider enemies of the state, anybody that stands up and challenges what the police protect. >> reporter: chicago police spokesman frank sullivan. >> these people are revolutionarys, bent on the destruction of the government of the united states of america, they're a pitiful handful. >> what i saw there were american young men and women being satisfy annually beaten by policemen simply because they were out on the street protesting against policies over which they have had very will ill to say. >> hubert humphrey, after a long
time of yerng for it has finally won his party's nomination, there is serious question houm how much it's worth. >> houm humphrey faced a you the mull chu white house task. to unify his party. >> we do not need a police state. we need police order. neither mob brutality have any place in america. >> reporter: even as he spoke the showdown in the streets continued. the final enduring image of a disastrous convention. >> the old men oneing this convention were absolutely determined to have everything their way and they almost succeeded an in the process, they may have succeeded in losing the election. >> all set. >> reporter: just days later, richard nixon opened his campaign in chicago and was welcomed with a ticker tape
parade. he promised law and order and is that november, a nation still deeply divide, narrowly elected him president of the united states. >> up next, we fast forward about a decade for what would become a signature moment in american foreign policy. 40 years ago, president jimmy carter brought together the leaders of egypt and israel for 12 days of secret negotiations, we look back at the camp david accords, what it meant for the united states and a troubled region overseas. we also may get a picture or two of a young mika bring zeeika br. >> that next on "morning joe." b. >> that next on "morning joe."
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enemies for a high stakes mission. failure could have meant war. yet, jimmy carter and his team orchestrated an enduring agreement, the camp david accords. a successful first step for a region that is still in need of brave diplomats. mika takes a look back. she was there with her father at a time she knows very well. >> war of war after war. in the middle of the last isn'tically, egypt and israeli spent decades fighting over territory and security. in 19 sfaj, jimmy carter an evangelical christian and second year president put his press steenl on the line. >> a framework for peace in the middle east. >> carter wrote long an personal letters to the israeli and egyptians heads of state, begging the enemies to come to america and talk. >> it's tremendous.
>> they agreed, setting the stage for a negotiation at the president's wilderness residence, camp david. >> at camp david on a maryland mountaintop, almost never in our history has a president devoted so much time on a single problem. >> carter studied psychological profiles by the men prepared by the cia and defense department. begen had a loose grip on power. >> president sadat of egypt. >> anwar sadat described by the cia as a former revolutionary and ardent nationalist, known for his realism and political acumen and surprising courageous and dramatic decisions with two fierce adversaries, my father, advised the president you will have to control the proceedings from the outset. carter did just that. >> at the request of president carter, begen is making no
political statements, negotiating with each other and not through the press. >> carter's clampdown made what was happening inside a mystery to most reporters. >> next to nothing what they have said has gone outside camp david's barb wire fences. >> the israeli delegation the totally zipped out. less is coming out of it than the egyptian delegation. >> all the indications are something is up. we don't know just what. >> even carter had no idea how long the talks would last. neither did begen or sadat know what was coming out of this. begen wanted simply to agree on principles for future negotiations. >> begen and sadat were so completely and personally imcompatible. they couldn't be in the same room without explode income anger. i kept them apart. they never saw each other in ten days. >> each side got a better appreciation of what the other wanted. they played, talked about, ate
together and prayed. >> president sadat of egypt attended a friday mausoleum service. the jewish sabbath began at sundown, which means president begen won't be working on temporal affairs. >> dozens of american, israeli and egyptian staffers and family members roamed camp david's grounds. i was there with the president's daughter, amy. diplomacy is no picnic. even though it looked like it at times. >> now as the summit begins its second week. >> the advances made thus far might simply evaporate. >> the talks stalled. they needed a break. carter brought them to gettysburg to see a place where two side would kill each other by the thousands then ultimately reconcile to live in peace. >> reporter: the three leaders were relaxed and jovial, seeming to confirm reports there the informal atmosphere brought them closer together. >> on the brinkle of failure,
carter approached beg within a photograph, which he inscribed with love to each of the israeli prime minister's grandchildren. begen was so moved by the gesture that he said they would try one more time. >> the scene in the white house last night was almost unbelievable in the resulting deal removed troops from sinai, ended hostilities and opened the suez canal to israelis. >> the risks were high, but so was your determination. >> let us promise each other that we should do it earlier than here. >> the peace treaty between the countries would not be signed for another six months. >> documents ending a 30-year state of war between israel and egypt. >> the photo op was the finale, not the beginning. a time when american leadership and hard fought diplomacy led to a break through on the world stage. >> without any exaggeration,
what he did constitutes one of the greatest achievements of our time. >> in the face of adversity and hostility, you have demonstrated the human value that can change history. >> up next. of all the moments in history from the past several decades, there is one in particular that seems to color what we are doing today. under mounting pressure the commander-in-chief lashed out ultimately doomg his own presidency. we look back at richard nixon's saturday night massacre and the falk dominos that led to his resignation. keep it here on "morning joe." resignation. keep it here on "morning joe." five-year cancer survivor. being diagnosed with cancer made me rethink everything in my life. the things that became important to me were the relationships with people. we pulled together closer as a family. i had so many people at ctca helping me find a way
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ford expedition. built for the holidays. (hurry!) it's the final days to get zero percent financing plus twelve hundred and fifty dollars ford credit bonus cash on ford expedition as we await the findings of robert mueller's investigation into donald trump and russia's interference in the 2016 campaign, there are growing concerns about how president trump might respond. will he try to block the investigation or try to get the special counsel fired? it all seems unprecedented but, in fact, we've been here before. 45 years ago this year, president richard nixon fire ed watergate special prosecutor archybold cox, triggers what became known as the saturday night massacre. that turned out to be the beginning of the end for richard
nixon. here is one more look back from tom brokaw. >> president richard nixon was under siege. watergate and more. >> good evening. it is an all-out war. >> the war in the middle east was the risk of a u.s./soviet confrontation. the resignation of vice president spiro agnew who had been taking bribes and not paying his taxes. >> mr. agnew was direct, quote, i hereby resign the office of the vice president of the united states effective immediately. >> i will have nothing more to say at this point. >> reporter: the naming of a new vice president. >> congressman gerald ford of michigan. >> reporter: and that same day, a fateful court ruling. >> u.s. court of appeals has ruled decisively against mr. nixon's position on his secret white house tapes. >> reporter: the white house tapes, potential evidence of a watergate cover-up. for months nixon had been fighting to keep them secret.
now a federal court ordered him to turn them over. saying the president was not above the law. but nixon had other plans. >> president nixon announced he will neither appeal nor comply with a federal court order to turn over the watergate tapes to federal judge. instead the president said he will provide a summary of the tapes to both the judge and the senate watergate committee. >> reporter: committee chairman sam urban was spectacle. >> i would insist on a verbatim transcript because i'm not ready to accept interpretation of what a transcript would mean. >> reporter: and the proposal to have the senator listen to the tapes was undercut. >> in the end, i don't -- i'm not going to say that i can guarantee the authenticity of it. >> reporter: the crucial response came from watergate special prosecutor archibold cox. >> i read in one of the
newspapers this morning the headline, cox defiant. i want to say i don't feel defiant. in the end, i decided i had to try to stick by what i thought was right. >> reporter: cox rejected nixon's plan. saying it violated a promise made by attorney general elliott richardson five months earlier. >> mr. cox will have full independence as far as i'm concerned. he has been given or will be given on his appointment full authority to investigate all aspects of the watergate case itself and other related matters. >> the prosecutor and president were on a collision course. on october 20th, 1973, that collision came. >> good evening. the country tonight is in the midst of what may be the most serious constitutional crisis in its history. >> nixon ordered richardson to fire cox.
richardson refuse and resigned. his deputy also refused and also resigned. solicitor general robert bork was made acting attorney general and he fired cox. >> that's a stunning development and nothing even remotely like it has happened in all of our history. >> the news caused a sensation in the white house press room and sent reporters scrambling for their telephones. >> pottinger, then a deputy attorney for civil rights, was with richardson that night. >> the fbi had been ordered to secure the office of the attorney. two fbi agents appeared in the hall. one took his coat off. you saw his chest holster. they marched into the attorney general's office. richardson was extremely gracious and said welcome. the office is yours. >> one white house source said the president's motive was solely to remove the possibility of a confrontation. the president may have an even
more grave constitutional crisis on his hands. >> the saturday night massacre triggered a firestorm of protest. >> more than 50,000 telegrams poured in on capitol hill today. so many western union was swamped. most of them demanded impeaching mr. nixon. >> the president is gambling. gambling that the congress doesn't have the courage to impeach. >> up to now, impeachment talk in the house has not been taken seriously. this angry public reaction could soon change that. >> the startling reversal has changed position on the secret white house tapes. and will obey a court order which says he must give the tapes to judge john sirika. >> the president was forced to change his mind by the political events that were closing in on him. >> nixon did not turn over the most incriminating tapes and he went after the press. >> i have never heard or seen
such outrageous vicious distorted reporting in 27 years of public life. >> what is it about the television coverage of you and these past weeks and months that has so aroused your acre? >> don't get the impression that you aroused my anger. one can only be angry with those he respects. >> in the end, richard nixon had only himself to blame. >> the power of history shows the american people will put up with a great deal, even when the demands on them are outrageous as they often are. but they will not put up with anyone who claims to be or tries to be above the law. immune to the rules applying to everybody else. it seems to be known instinctively that if anyone acquires that privilege, it will be the end of this country. >> our special thanks to nbc news senior producer andy franklin and editor rob caplin
for these tom brokaw pieces and to senior producer jack bore and editor anthony for mika's camp david accord lookback. that does it for us this morning. hallie jackson picks up the coverage right now. >> thank you, joe. hallie jackson in for stephanie ruhle this morning. we begin with no end in sight. after less than seven minutes in session yesterday, congress has basically done work for the year. so this shutdown will last past the new year. maybe well into january. the options ahead with the white house out on defense this morning. >> the president has been willing to negotiate on this point. the democrats have not been willing to do anything. they care more about keeping our borders open then keeping our government open. >> plus, site survey. the head of homeland security heads to texas along the mexican border today. what house democrats now say they want to do come january