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tv   AM Joy  MSNBC  December 29, 2018 7:00am-9:00am PST

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that's it for me today. you can find me on twitter. thanks for watching. msnb live begins with morgan. wacanda forever. >> forever, man. so good to see you. i'm morgan radford at nbc headquarters live in new york, and i'm so happy to be with you this morning. a.m. joy will return next week. the government shutdown enters the second week, this as the president issues a new threat. shutting down the border is costs a million dollars a day? is the president serious about doing that? also, the secretary of homeland security visits the border after a second migrant child dies in u.s. custody in less than a mon.
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now democrats are demanding answers. plus robert mueller's response to the supreme court. new details linked to the mystery case on the russia probe. we'll have the new candidates topping the democrats list. we begin with the president closing the border. the shutdown is in its eight days with roughly 8,000 workers affected. trump is demanding $5 billion for the wall. the vice president pence said the president will accept $2.5 billion instead, but senate majority leader moo i north leader chuck schumer rew e jekted that. meanwhile as the democrats proo e pair to take control of the
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house next thursday, more americans are blaming president trump than they are congressional democrats for your the shutdown. let's start this morning by bringing in our white house kroblt kelly o'donnell as well as congressional correspondent mike viqueira. kelly, let's start with you. the president went so far as to say he would consider turning it into a profit-making operation. kelly, what did he mean by that? >> kind of a head-scratching twitter. the president pulled out a tweet that it's a great irritation for him. now the negotiations have sort of hit a roadblock with no movement and he is saying according to our sources that $2.5 billion would be sufficient to move forward. democrats aren't buying that. so in his reference to profit-making, what he's saying
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is the southern border has been a place for commerce where day in, day out there's a lot of commerce that goes back and forth between the two countries with certainly goods going back and forth but also people who are working on both sides of the border and his claim is that by shutting that down, that would deny mexico the ability to make that money and he says the u.s. has always been on the short end in his view of the nafta free trade agreement which he, of course, has updated as a new version of that, signing it earlier this year. so the president talking about the southern border kind of as a leverage point, morgan, saying if he has the authority to close that down, he would bring democrats to the bargaining table. others say because nancy pelosi is waiting for a speaker election, she doesn't want a dale at this point. her aides are saying that's not the case. the white house seems to be willing to accept that this will
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keep going until the new year with no real sense of urgency here about getting something done. morgan? >> kelly, you mention the urgency and this idea of using the southern border as a rev language point. mike, where does this all end? is there a strategy to prolonging the shutdown? you've about been sitting inside an empty capitol hill since last week. when do you expect lawmakers to join you? >> still home alone. there are work crews that sort of -- it's sort of an omen for the neck couple of weeks. this i're doing fresh paint jobs, putting up sips for new members over the next few days. there's a little negotiating but as far as legislating is concerned, there's not much going on. first of all, the fact that nancy pelosi is waiting? they don't need democrats or nancy pelosi, they already passed the president's $5 billion.
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that was the last act of them. as for as the $2.5 billion put on the table, that was exactly a week ago. there's been absolutely no movement since then and i would just caution when you get leaks out about certain sides are willing to negotiate, that is part of the public relations game that's going on right now. meanwhile nancy pelosi is under a lot of pressure from her left. the aclu in, indeivisible and os are saying not only shouldn't president trump get $5 billion, but he should. get dollar one. they call his idea immoral, this notwithstanding the fact they were willing to trade daca for the wall. a lot of things are up in the air. one thing that's for certain. this is not going to be resolved before thursday. that's when the democrats take over the house. nancy pelosi because of the way the house is structured can pass
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something up and then the real action begins. then the questions start to begin. two senate democrats are going to decide what they're going to do to try to reopen the government. morgan. >> breaking it all down for us. always a pleasure to speak with you. as the standoff continues, they're placing the blame on the incoming speaker of the house, nancy pelosi. take a listen. >> this is all about money and nancy's election. >> nancy pelosi is only looking to protect her speakership and not protect her borders. >> nancy is choosing her speakership over what's best for the country. >> joining me now is john harwood, cnbc's editor at large and chairman of long island university. we also have brian darling, founder and president as well as kneel -- neil wisniewski.
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what are the implications? what about the big picture especially financially? >> it has a slight drag on the economy. it's not a large economic event. i think it's more of a political event, probably not one with long lasting consequences and we've gotten signals from the white house about their willingness to deal and they have a greater deal in dealing than nancy pelosi does, one, because her caucus doesn't want to make a deal, but more importantly because republicans had already in the senate cut the kind of deal that the president himself backed a i way from. so he doesn't have a lot of leverage. the idea of the wall is not popular in the company and i think it's only a matter of time before the president figures out a way to back down from his demands and make an agreement with congress. >> speaking of that popularity, that's something i want to come to in just a minute. brian, we just heard the incoming acting chief of staff as well as the press secretary blame the democrats for your the
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shutdown. i have to ask you what is behind the strategy? why do that? who's buying it, and frankly is it working? >> it may be working to an extent because democrats do share some of the blame because in the senate you look at you need 60 votes to shut down the filibuster. the democrats aren't negotiating. you see the president go from $25 billion down to $5 billion down $2.5 billion. when you look at washington math, what's the difference between $2.5 billion that the president put on the table and $1.3 billion that the democrats put on the table. it seems like the dem kranlts don't want to give them a victory. it has a lot 'zo with politics, and i think they may come to a deal in early january, but right now it looks like both sides are dug in. >> that's interesting because we talked about the popularity that john was just talking about. steve, turning to you, we have new polling that shows that only
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35% of americans actually support funding the border wall and only 25% support the shutdown overall. so should republicans be worried about these numbers? >> yes, of course, they should, al though it depends on the republicans. let's get one fact on the table. when democrats say they don't want border security, the fact of the matter is congress has given this administration $1.7 billion for border hardening of which this administration has spent 6%. this administration it seems to me is not interested in a border policy but a sound bite for its base. everything goes through that. the second point, final point, you have to look at this through a political prism. you've got 22 political senators up for re-election in the year 2020. they're concerning if they turn on donald trump, donald trump will turn on them. to the extent democrats want to
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begin the year talking about finance reform, making gerrymandering illegal if they k and they don't want to get into a protracted battle with this administration. but the main thing is this. the president flip flops every time he cease an exit strategy. >> it's interesting. neil, turning to you, the daily piece, they had an interesting article and they were reporting that they're actually gleeful that the shutdown will be hijacking pelosi's big moment. neil, how true is this? will it actually work. >> well, i don't think that that's going to necessarily work. if you're incoming speaker pelosi, what's more unify iing
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than a border funding and shutdown. congressman israel can speak to this better than i can, but the fact that there's that clip of donald trump with that meeting with pelosi and schumer saying he would be proud to shut down the government, that's going to be in probably every campaign ad that we see going forward, and i don't think this is something as a political matter that pelosi is going to be too disappointed by. >> morgan, think about it. the wall's unpopular, the president has claimed the shutdown himself. he was already prepare and senate republicans were already prepared to make a compromise. he doesn't have many cards to play. what he has is a campaign promise that he made that was unrealistic when he made it that is still unrealistic. there's never going to be a solid wall across the border and we know that mexico isn't going to pay for it. from the very beginning of his
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administration, he's going to find out weighing to recover. in his conversation -- >> to cover the bases. >> correct. we remember the phone call with the mexican president who said i need something. the mexican said, no, we're not going to play. the president is the head of the government. it's his government that's shut down. he is going to figure out a way within ten days of congress coming back a way to back down and then we'll move on. >> i want to give steve the last question on something we said. when we talk about the $5 billion initially and we're coming down to possibly $2.5 billion, is this going to hurt the president when it comes to his base? is he going to say, you didn't do what you promised as you promised it. >> look. the thing with donald trump's base, they love him when they think he's right, they love him when they think he's wrong. his exposure is actually with
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independent voters. he's hemorrhaging with independent voters. he cannot go into 2020 having slightly disappointed his base but completely alienated independent voters. that's not a path to independent re-election. >> he has to worry about those who were going to back down, ann coulter, rush limbaugh, all the people who attacked him. i think the base as steve israel has said probably can accept this. they know donald trump exaggerates and doesn't tell the truth, but when those conservative hosts start hammering on him, that is some exposure that he's concerned about. >> because it's embarrassing. it's important to see how they react to that in 2020. >> john and steve will be back with us shortly. coming up, deaths at the border. secretary nielsen is visiting the border after two children died in dha's company.
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more on that after the break. s . more on that after the break
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you do not know how many died while in the custody of the department you lead and you had number but you don't know it today. >> i don't have an exact figure for you. >> do you have a rough idea? >> sir -- >> i'm talking about people who died in your custody. you don't have the number?
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>> i will get back to you with the number. >> okay. >> all right. so this was a heated exchange. and more than a weekend after that, homeland security secretary kirstjien nielsen is set to visit the border in you man -- yuma, arizona, today after a boy died in their custody. we have steven israel and victor victoria. vikki, i want to start with something. one of my colleagues who's been following this story god a press release who met with secretary nielsen, remember, close to the press, but thrust was no mention of felipe. that's the 8-year-old boy in that statement. can you explain to me what is the purpose of the secretary's visit and why not mention the boy and, frankly, why go now? >> write. and in not mentions the boy,
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feli felipe alonzo, he has a name. it's maddening to see that these human lives are not being taken seriously, especially those of children. morgan, what this shows is just the chaos involved involved in what's going on at the border. everything is thrown at the wall it. goes back to the zero tolerance policy. the on-the-ground entities have not been given the resources, the organizational structure to deal with all of this chaos with all of the rules that have been put into place and all of the flows of people coming over. so if i had to choose one word
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for describing what's going on at the border aside from tragedy, it's complete chaos. >> when you mentioned public policy gong back to it. we know the democrats are vowing to hold hearings on the two migrants' death, but the question is, steven, is there any policy they can change and what can they do? >> finally will there be oversight. there will be questions that must be answered, but let me get to the broader issue. i think victoria is so correct. look. every nation has the right to manage and control its borders and borders is an imperative for the american people. children should not be dying in our custody. the reason that these children are dying in our custody is because we don't have a comprehensive immigration reform bill. the fak of the matter is i've been in congress for 16 years. i can tell you that bill was ready to pass within 24 hours. it was a majority of democrats
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and republicans in the house and senate who would have passed this bill. president obama would have signed it. we could have avoided and averted these disasters, but politics and the republican base prevented those bills from coming to a vote and we're seeing the consequences play out horfully in the decks of these two children and others. >> secretary nielsen has promised a nue number of change. she said they would hire more medical staff along the southern border. but, vikki, you've personally seen these detention centers. you've been there speaking to people on the ground. are these the right changes to make and will it make a difference? >> you know, i think at this point, et going to the detention center where they're crammed is
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whaes going on now. on the outside it looks like a school. there's paintings on the outside. but then beyond where we are volunteering with the migrants you can see essentially the bare bones of a jail. at the end of the day, we cannot lose sight that these quote/unquote family detention centers are jails and this is where we're seeing children being held for weeks on end, again, because of the zero tolerance policy. so the detention centers are at capacity right now and what's happening is the folks in the detention centers are being dumped off in the streets of el paso and the shelters are scrambling to find space for them. it's such a big problem in terms of border control, i.c.e., and shelters as well. >> you mention the humanity of it. those of us who see those edges of what looks like cage, it's
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something that doesn't leave you. when it comes to a solution, they say the solution for the shut joup would be for democrats to give democrats funding for the border wall in exchange for daca protection. how likely you do think a deal is like that? do you see either side really budging? >> look. the democrats have already funded and supported funding for adegreeal border controls as i said earlier. $1.7 billion for additional hardening at the border. democrats supported that. they have spent 6% of that. what has to happen is you need bipartisan dialogue, not with a political agenda, but an agenda to pass comprehensive and proactive border management and policy and that has been lacking by this administration. >> we look forward to talking with you a little bit later in our show. steve and victoria.
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thank you so muching f for beinh us. coming up next, wall street and what it means for the economy and your bottom line. stay with us. r the economy and your bottom line stay with us hi.i just wanted to tell you that chevy won a j.d.power dependability award for its midsize car-the chevy malibu. i forgot. chevy also won a j.d. power dependability award for its light-duty truck the chevy silverado. oh, and since the chevy equinox and traverse also won chevy is the only brand to earn the j.d. power dependability award across cars, trucks and suvs-three years in a row. phew. third time's the charm...
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welcome back and thank sosz much for joining me. it's been a roller coaster week on wall street that ended with all three indices still in the red and this was afternoon three straight weeks of decline. stocks were on the record track record with the dow and s&p down more than 9%. the big question now, will the markets continue to swing next week on monday's final day of 2018 and will 2019 be any better? so joining me now, cnbc editor at large john harwood as well as ron insana and peter morrissey. ron, let's start with you. despite the whiplash this week, where do things stand this year? >> we're keejd of where we were last friday after all the storm and andre we saw last week. the dow is down about 6%. it's been a rough year. there are a variety of things which john talked about in the beginning of the program. when you have the president
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criticizing the president of the fed really eral reserve and try find if you can fire him when you have trade going on with china, you can concerns that we were not in the sam potion going into 2019 is that we were in 2018. >> you mentioned the chaos. john, how typical is the volatility now? >> volatility is not abnormal but driven by what we're talking about is unusual. we've never had a president behave this way. we already knew the economy was going to slow down in 2019 from the pace in 2018. we had a lot of stimulus with the tax cut, with some spending added to the federal government, and so we're slowing already. we have question marks about as ron indicated about trade, about the government shutdown, and more than that, about the
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stability of the administration, you've got a president who fired his defense secretary, who's replaced many people at the top. he's in legal trouble. so there are a lot of question marks. when that occurs as china's slowing down, as the refrt -- rest of the world slowing down, there's rising predictions of a recession in 2020. maybe not next year but in 2020. >> it's not only just the chaos you mention. you mentioned some of the kritz sichl, for example, of the president's tweets. i want to turn to you. yesterday you mentioned out the twitter message. is that kind of having an impact. are we seeing the markets responding to all of this chaos in washington? >> i think there's a lack of confidence in the leadership in washington. while the manner of his criticism about chairman powell are terrible, he should. be doing this in public. the markets themselves responded quite negatively to chairman
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powell the day after the announcement and then his subsequent press conference. so there's multiple levels of uncertainty here. i would point out when the market peaked, it was not overvalued. historic will i the price ratio is 25. that's the average. the price earnings ratio is about 22. now it's less than 20. my feeling is the market is not overvalued, that there's fundamental value there and if even if the economy slows, profits grow. the basis is there for a strong market. i see you shaking your head. >> it's been around 15, not 25, we're down to about 13 times next year's earnings. >> well, wait a minute. >> it doesn't maic the valuation picture look better. >> ron, if you send me your
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email, aisle send you email, i'll send you my data. >> i'm fine, peter. i've been doing this for 33 years myself. >> if the economy does grow, the basis is there for a decent stockmarket. the problem here is confidence in the leadership. i think that we agree on. now, the question is can they resoful the trade war over the next 60 days, reopen the government? and then the moderates elected to the house have the agenda that they could embrace. does he do that? does he start to work on things like infrastructure? we have to do things about obamacare because it's not functions as either party would like. if they start to do some positive things together, that would restore some confidence. >> we want to see what that's going to do. once we see nancy pelosi come back, how are the two sides going to compromise? looking forward, you've been
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reading the tea leaves. how is it looking for a new year's rally? >> well, i suspect as peter indicated, we may have found a bottom at the end of last week. you had a bit of a recovery. but if i knew how to predict what was going to happen in the stockmarket, we wouldn't be sitting here, none of us. but i do think that we're not going to get a lot of legislating out of washington. >> you don't. >> i don't expect there's going to be a lot of cooperation out of nancy pelosi and the president. so i think the question is limiting damage from unnecessary events like inabout stability at the white house and the government shutdown. >> our best is the fed not raising interest rates at all, which is my bet, resolving the china trade dispute. that's a 215-page document put together by bob lighthizer, the president's trade rep, which you can't necessarily do in 90 days, and seeing that the earnings are
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relatively strong. there's still a great number of uncertainties, so we're going to see a lot of champ in this market starting in 2019. >> one great risk is if president trump were to follow through on the threat he has made from withdrawing from the north american trade agreement -- >> which we saw him talk about. >> if they do that, that would be very destabilizing for the business community. >> perhaps a little more chaos and a bit of uncertainty. thanks so much for joining us. coming up next, the russian investigation. is the russian probe headed for a supreme court showdown, plus the latest on the mystery link to robert mueller. stay with us. t mueller. stay with us they customized my insurance, so i only pay for what i need. i insured my car, and my bike. my calves are custom too, but i can't insure those...
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welcome back. i'm morgan radford. robert mueller ma i have one more bombshell to drop before the year ends. john roberts put a temporary hold on an unidentified company. they're fighting a grand jury subpoena in a mystery case led by special counsel. this was northeasterly three days ahead of the deadline. i'm speaking with former federal prosecutors. let's start with you. would this new piece of evidence
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lift any secrecy around this case? >> i don't know that it ooh g's to lift anything. it involves a foreign sovereignty. they're saying they shouldn't be sub jek to a grad jury s&p. that maybe why it's in the supreme court because foreign nations, foreign sovereignties have a right to be from the supreme court. i don't know how much seek krejci we're going to get out of it. the documents are under seal and maybe only the opinions that are pulled out may be what the policies are, but it may still keep the facts under the seal. >> john, how unusual is it that the supreme could would be interested in something like this? ? it it's typical if it involves a grand jury. as a result, it doesn't have to turn over documents. but what mueller is saying is
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this company is a central part of our investigation because he has a grand jury subpoena for it. he's already indicted companies on the theory that it conspired against the united states. the question now is a company that's under investigation taking the position that it's part of the russian government? that's the real interesting part of it. >> it also goes back to the secrecy element cathy was talking about. this is on the heels of a lawyer from a russian troll farm, concord management, and he's asking the court to lift a ban that would actually keep him from sharing this with his client. we're talking about millions of pages of evidence collected by mueller and, of course, we do know that include as nude selfie, but why might mueller and his team be looking to keep this evidence secret? >> the government likes to keep
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things secret. they don't like having to say how they got this evidence. >> because they don't want to be accountable? >> they don't want anyone to know how they collected the evidence. you have the defense trying to defend their client, share it with their client so they can adequately defend somebody and what they're doing is saying we need to share this and we need to know where you got the information so we can combat it. i have to say as a defense lawyer i'm on their side. if you make the choice to indict somebody, you vuld to say how you got it. at least there should be procedures. it's becoming more and more common and more of a hamstring for those of us trying to defend to put all sorts of handcuffs on it that we can't share positioning with our clients to tell them why the government is wrong and they have been known to be wrong without being able to share it? and be accountable. >> right. so it's going to be interesting
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to see what the supreme court does with it. i think the reason it's with the supreme court may be -- there could be two reasons. one, it's really aing is can't matter involving something that's of very significant importance or, two, involve a fosh sovereignty. >> that's what we're also curious about. if i had a penny for every rally and says even's coming against me and there's nothing here, how worried should he be heading into 2019 and how worried should he be for his family? >> he has the mueller investigation, other investigations going on in the southern districts of new york as well as congressional investigations. the real key and i agree with kathy, the keep to what muller's doing right now, he's looking at two issues. one is interference. he has an indictment dealing with all kinds of interference.
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second, coordination. was there any coordination between russian entities and the trump administration. now, the real question is does he have evidence with respect to coordination. he certainly has something on the interference but can he build a bridge to coordination in terms of actual involvement by people in trump administration. this grand juryish h isis isish to deal with all kinds of emails and phone records. when you look at the indictment, it's very, very specific. the defense as cathy is saying wants to get that information. the government is saying, no, no, no, we can't tell you how we got that inform snoogs which goes to the procedure issue. but i want to go back. it's talking about legal experts saying the new york attorney general's probe could.
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what do you think they're going to find, cathy? >> i'm not sure what they're going to fine. they have broad powers to investigate. they have people close to the family who have been cooperative telling them things. some of it may be true, all of it. some may be exaggerated. we don't know. they'll look for corroboration on it. it's pretty bold to say it's going to crash. >> too bold? >> it's hard to say. i don't believe in hyperbole from the president or law enforcement. show me what you have when you have it. let me see the evidence and -- >> the question is what will we see in 2019. >> it's going to be describing. >> all right. thank you very much for joining us. >> thanks, morgan. coming up, 2020 vision. forget 2019. we'll bring you all the latest polls coming up next. e latest polls coming up next
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for each job exxonmobil creates, many more are created in the community. because energy touches so many industries, it supports 10 million u.s. jobs. 2019 is right around the corner, but already the race for 2020 is heating up. "usa today" and suffolk universe
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poll asked who people were most excited about. joe biden came out on top followed by vermont senator bernie sanders and then texas congressman beta o'rourke. it's still everybody's race. joining me now to discuss it is the sirius xm host and lynn sweet and steve israel, former congressman from long island. steve, let me start out with you. bay toe o'rourke put out a tweet. is he running for your 2020? >> it's funny we're starting to talk about the 2020 election.
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congressman o'rourke's ad yesterday was an important strategic message. you're seeing it as presidential candidates begin to build out their field staff and analytics in analytics in places like iowa and new hampshire and elsewhere. then you're seeing it in money, take a look at presidential candidates digitizing their money making operations. you're seeing the campaigns beginning to percolate and move. >> steve says we should follow the money. who are you looking at, danielle? >> i'm looking at some game changers. i want to see stacey abrams, andrew gillum, and beto, not necessarily because they can win the presidential bid but they will push the conversation to be more progressive and hopeful at this point. i think that's what we need, to see some fresh leadership. joe biden is great, i think he's fantastic. but i see joe biden's name on a ticket multiple times and i'm kind of over it and i want to
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move down the line to the next generation of democratic stars. >> when you say fresh, do you mean young? >> i mean fresh, racially diverse, young, fresh ideas and perspectives. the way that stacey abrams was able to captivate georgia as a black woman, the way andrew gillum was able to captivate the democratic party with the energy we need, from florida. beto o'rourke raising so much money, that's exciting to me. i do not want to have another conversation or see bernie sanders on the ticket. the same thing with joe biden. i think they're great with what they do. but we need fresh energy and blood and perspective right now and also somebody that is dynamic, that can stand up to trump. >> when you talk about o'rourke and stacey abrams, these are also people who lost in their states. do you think that's in any way an indication of how well they would do in 2020? >> no, because when we talk
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about how they lost we also need to talk about voter suppression. we need to talk about the ways the gop is able to shrink the electorate so that they win, by cheating. did they really lose or were they squeezed out? when you hide 52,000 ballots in your desk like brian kemp did in georgia, that's not really a fair race. so i think that they won the day in terms of energizing the people. but they may not have won that particular race. but there are a lot of factors as to why. >> and there's a lot of procedural questions as to why. we've talked about the democratic side, but lynn, what's the likelihood that trump will face a republican challenger? >> there is a high likelihood of that. john kasich, former governor of ohio, is out there. who knows what jeff flake, the departing senator from arizona, may do. but the republican primary will exist in a very different space than the democratic primary,
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because of the democratic field being wide open. another thought on the democrats, there is, besides the things that steve israel mentioned, analytics and messaging, these candidates will run under new rules that the democratic national committee put in this summer, meaning the power of so-called superdelegates, which were the big complaint of bernie sanders last time around, he had their power eroded. so the primaries will be built, the wins will be built on much more than the establishment democratic figures. they'll have some sway, but not as much. what i think is important here, though, is to look at the dynamics. you have at least seven senators getting ready to run for president. and no one in the field has the kind of star power that barack obama did when he decided, you know, this time in 2006, he already was well exploring a race. 45 years old, first term
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senator, but he won a big race, not lost a big race as he was going into this. >> lynn, i want to interrupt you there because i think it also raises a question, this is a political climate unlike anything we have ever seen before. >> absolutely. >> and the rules are different because the game has changed. steve, what lessons from 2016 do democrats really need to keep in mind as they mount a challenge against president trump a second time around? >> two things. number one, the lesson isn't 2016. the lesson is 2018. do you want to know what electoral success looks like? look at the house midterm elections. democrats were able to, number one, retain their base, and number two, got swing voters. they attracted swing voters, many of whom voted for donald trump in 2016. democrats need to retain their base and continue to attract swing voters. the second thing, forgive me, ea of all the criteria that the most to me is who will win.
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who is going to win pennsylvania, florida, michigan, wisconsin, states in an electoral college that democrats cannot afford to lose. i respect all the criteria but my bottom line is very simple: winning. >> winning is the bottom line that i think everyone is focused on in 2020. i have to ask before we go, lynn mentioned barack obama. danielle, we have this gallup poll that found barack and michelle obama to be the most admired man and woman this year. what role should they play in 2020 and are they the right ones to make a difference for the democratic party? >> they'll always be the most admired people, in my book. they have the conversation, the strategy to engage people and make them feel like they're part of the process, part of our democracy. that's where people feel lost in the trump administration, they don't feel like it's we the people anymore. everyone is left to their own devices.
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i think it's important for them to show up, engage the people and remind them of their power. >> can i throw in quickly that michelle obama did not campaign for candidates in the midterms. she did a little voter registration but it was before her big book tour was launched. she did not go on the stump for any candidate. >> do you think it will make a difference if she does? >> well, she has to decide what she wants to do. i would not look at the obamas getting involved in the early stage of these primaries. they'll look for engagement but not take sides early on. >> that's an interesting way to put it. on that note, thank you so much for joining us. and coming up at the top of the hour, the latest on the government shutdown and the blame game. why the white house is targeting a very familiar foe. (nicki palmer) being a verizon engineer is about doing things right. and there's no shortcut to the right way. so when we roll out the nation's first 5g ultra wideband network, it'll be because we were the first to install the fiber-optics and small cells,
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good morning and welcome to msnbc. i'm morgan radford here in our headquarters in new york. joy will be returning for you next week. this morning, the blame game as the government shutdown enters a second week. new details on the negotiations as the white house targets a familiar foe. >> this all comes down to mrs. pelosi's speaker ship. left to their own devices, chuck schumer and the senate democrats would cut a deal but they're protecting mrs. pelosi. plus the changes dhs is proposing after the death of a second migrant child in less
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than a month. law and order. from robert mueller's russia probe to a look at the legal battles that shaped 2018. and a new year brings new faces to the white house. is trump's cabinet chaos just beginning? so we begin this morning with the impasse in washington. the government will in fact usher in 2019 in shutdown mode. president trump threatening to close the southern border if he does not receive funding for his border wall. this is a demand that keeps thousands of federal workers either out of work or working without pay until next year. the president has offered to back down from his initial demand of $5 billion in wall funding. vice president pence making a reduced offer last saturday to senate minority leader chuck schumer who rejected it. we've now learned in just the last 24 hours that the reduced amount was $2.5 billion. so break it all down we have white house correspondent kelly
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o'donnell and congressional correspondent mike vaccara. kelly, we have a brand-new president trump tweet. he says, i am in the white house waiting for the democrats to come on over and make a deal on border security. from what i hear they're spending so much time on presidential harassment that they have little time left for things like stopping crime and our military, and of course the exclamation point. kelly, what's the strategy here? >> come on over, that's what the president is saying. it's a way to sort of poke at the democrats again, morgan. we have seen this now from a coordinated effort of top white house officials. and now the president directly saying that it is democrats' fault that there isn't a resolution. no surprise there. at the same time, democrats and top aides on the "d" side have told us what they would like to see is no funding for the wall, they call it immoral. they also say that they want to see the president publicly embrace a specific offer because they say he is known for changing his mind leaving even
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members of his own party unsure about the votes to take. and so they want to have a more public embrace from the president on any deal. it is true that the speakership of nancy pelosi does not come into being, really, until january 3rd, when a new congress comes in, they vote to elect the speaker. she does not have a big margin although it's hard to imagine, with all the strength in nancy pelosi's political arsenal, that that won't happen. but it's not something we can assume, the votes have to be cast. largely the issue is democrats in the senate, which is why chuck schumer has been the leading negotiating person, because republicans in the house have enough numbers up until this point, they will lose those come january 3rd, but republicans in the senate are still in control. yet the math requires 60 votes. and that means chuck schumer, the democrat, has a lot more at stake.
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the president, to our knowledge, has not invited democrats to come on over, as he has said. and it seems like there is an acquiescence at the white house that there won't be any significant movement until the new year. so we have several days to go at least. is that an invitation via twitter? perhaps, but nancy pelosi's team tells us she has not had direct contact from the white house since december 11th. that's a long time, given this shutdown. and really, it has been chuck schumer on the senate side who has been negotiating for democrats because of course of the math needed on the senate side to get anything done. morgan? >> kelly, it's interesting that you mentioned, of course much ado has been made of the speakership of nancy pelosi and what exactly will happen on january 3rd. there's also been a lot of discussion on the strategy when it comes to prolonging this shutdown. mike, are the republicans in congress on board with how the president and his administration plan to play this all out? >> well, the core republicans
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are. in other words, those people that represent the president's base. mark meadows and jim jordan, two members of the freedom caucus, were in the oval office in that famous meeting where president trump said "i will take the mantle" for the shutdown. now the president has another tweet out into the howling void. look around me, i can only hear my own voice here. there are working to put a fresh coat of paint in preparation for thursday, but it's really an indication of how things are at a stand still, morgan, when the white house is letting it be known they put an offer on the table of $2.5 billion, trying to appear reasonable and flexible, notwithstanding that that took place exactly one week ago when mike pence came up here to capitol hill. since then, very little movement.
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they're also criticizing nancy pelosi, suggesting that because of her weak position in the democratic caucus on the house side, she dare not come to a compromise. one problem with that logic, a funding bill with $5 billion for the president for his wall has already passed the house of representatives. it did so handily with republican support. the problem now is in the senate. a lot of pressure on january 3rd, when nancy pelosi can pass something very quickly, to keep the government open. the only question is how long will that bill be. then it comes over to the senate. a lot of pressure on senate republicans. they're not unanimous, to answer your original question. a lot of eyebrows and head scratching going on among republicans in the house and senate has to what exactly the president is up to and how he sees this ending, morgan. >> we'll be waiting with bated breath to see what happens. kelly o'donnell and mike
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viqueira, thank you for joining us. many of those workers have said to me, communicated, stay out until you get the funding for the wall. these federal workers want the wall. >> joining me now, basil smikle, and kimberly atkins. basil, let's start with you. let's get a breakdown now of the government workers affected by the shutdown. we have 420,000 working without pay, 380,000 on unpaid leave. trump says they are more concerned with this wall, basil. who is buying it? >> i can't believe that that's true, i can't believe almost a million federal workers would prefer to see a "game of thrones" style wall being built with estimates ranging from $7 billion to as much as $70 billion. it's a black hole of federal money, our tax money, that could be better spent on infrastructure like broad wheel infrastructure or immigration reform broadly.
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but these federal workers want to go back to work, that's the bottom line. and trump said that he would take it on himself. he is not doing that, surprise, surprise, he's not following through on something that he said. but ultimately he will get the blame for it, and republicans. >> what about trading the wall for daca, how likely do you think that is? >> to some extent the democrats are serious about immigration reform and daca. i don't know that the president is, because that's not where his base is. his base is about that wall. it is not about what he would argue or some of his supporters would argue is a path so citizenship, they don't want that. i think he's going to hold firm to the wall. there are well-meaning republicans and certainly democrats that want to address daca and want to address immigration reform. >> and sooner as opposed to later. >> absolutely. >> we've certainly seen shutdowns stretch out into weeks, the longest one on record lasting 21 days.
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according to the governor of texas, it could last long. >> how long do you keep the government shut down? >> until january. >> we've been functioning on continuing resolutions for a decade now because congress isn't doing their job. that's why we always end up with a showdown, shutdown fight. this time it's immigration, before it was obamacare. this is because congress is not doing their job. i would also put a lot of the blame for all of this at the feet of senator mitch mcconnell, the leader in the senate. he has the ability to call people to the senate. the one thing i know is this shutdown will not end until there is a vote in the senate. he adjourned the senate before christmas and said that the president and the democrats could make some sort of deal. that's not how it's supposed to work. mitch mcconnell should
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immediately call the senate into session, take up the bill that's already passed the house, and vote on it, and then have a debate in public. if $5 billion is too much, he can remind the democrats they spent $8 billion for a fence a few years ago under president obama. but more importantly, they should just start negotiating in front of the american people, not another behind the scenes, behind closed doors solution that they're trying to get to. this can be done, but to me this is malpractice for senator mitch mcconnell to not lead. and let's have a discussion with the democrats and the republicans, put them on the floor of the senate, lock the door, let's have a real debate, let's get to a real number. because i firmly and passionately believe this, 94% of immigration could be solved in an afternoon, because everybody agrees. but you've got people on the far right and far left who raise hundreds of millions of dollars every year using this as a wedge issue. we've also seen beto o'rourke's done his presidential advertising, it's already started. we've got to get beyond that.
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as americans, we need to expect more, not less, of both sides of the aisle. i'm going to be the equal opportunity offender today because this is wrong. it's wrong for the american people, it's wrong for those federal workers that you've been talking about, morgan. we can do better. we need to expect more. >> and boyd, i have to say, i think it's this sense of procedural secrecy that really seems to be bothering people. they don't want these things done under the cloak of anonymity. when you talk about this blame game, we know there's brand-new poll numbers from reuters that show that blame on the democratic side, 47% actually blame the president for the shutdown but only 33% are actually blaming congressional democrats. kimberly, should republicans be shaking in their boots when it comes to these numbers? >> i think republicans have a very big problem in this case when it comes to president trump. and i would -- while i agree that congress has not done its job properly for a long time and that's one reason that we're here, i would disagree that this
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is a problem, this current problem is because republicans and democrats are so dug in. it's a problem because of the president. the last time we were here, in january, with another threatened shutdown over the issue of immigration, there was a bipartisan deal that was struck and at the 11th hour it was president trump who walk away from that deal because he didn't want to back a bill with daca in it because he thought that it would be seen by his base as amnesty. he walked away from that deal in a meeting which included a report of him using a very colorful name to talk about haiti and african countries. so that is the problem here. we have a president who is dug in, who is demanding a wall as part of a cr, knowing that he won't get it, trying to say, hey, let's strike a deal with democrats. it's like a kid asking for a piece of cake before dinner, the parents saying no, and the kid trying to negotiate by saying, what about half a piece of cake? it's not going to happen. it's certainly not going to happen as part of this funding.
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so this is a battle that the president is waging in large part by himself, and he is tying the hands of folks like mitch mcconnell. >> so deal, no deal, cake or no cake. basil, i want to go back to pelosi for a minute here. should democrats be doing anything to, say, show a unified front behind her? how do we expect the shutdown to play out after january 3rd? >> first things first, they have to elect her to the speakership and not through a bruising battle, which i don't think we'll get, quite frankly. second, they need to give her the tools and support to end the shutdown. the more we talk about that, the less opportunity we have to talk about all the policy issues that a lot of these new house members ran on in those districts, those swing districts, and making this -- their leadership may be more tenuous than they like. so get the shutdown done and get us to a point where we can start talking about policy. >> speaking of policy, boyd,
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currently, when we're talking about what's happening around 2020, is there anyone surrounding the president saying, look, the numbers just don't add up? >> i think that's part of the problem. we've got way too many things that are being decided by what the latest poll numbers say or anything that's consultant certified or poll tested and approved is what's happening. that's not how you govern. i'm with basil, let's get to the policy discussion. america is at its best when there are policy ideas, and we can have roiling debates about it. we're doing shoulder shrugging, finger pointing, placing blame. that doesn't do anything to deal with the immigration issue and doesn't do anything to move the country forward. there may be some around the president who say, the poll numbers say this or that. when you don't put policy first, you always end up with the politics game. and that never does anything for the country that's going to last and make a difference for us.
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>> speaking of that politics game, kimberly, we've already seen the lacks of ann coulter, rushasting the president over border funding. how politically damaging would that be for the president if he doesn't get what he's asking for? >> i'm not sure that it will be more damaging than it's already been. recall that the president has had two years of full republican control of the congress. and he has not been able to effectuate that. i think the only plus here for the president is that he loves a fight and he loves a foil. and i think he has that kind of opponent in nancy pelosi. i think the trump v. pelosi battles in 2019 are going to be the stuff of very fiery -- it's going to be fiery stuff. so that is one place that the president likes waging those kinds of battles. but otherwise, when it comes to the wall, it's slipping away
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more than it ever has. >> sounds like we'll have a fight and a foil and possible a foe in 2019. basil and boyd will be joining us later in the show. thank you so much, kimberly, a pleasure speaking with you. >> thank you. coming up, new details on secretary nielsen as she makes another stop at the southern border today. how will dhs respond after the deaths of two migrant children? stay with us. dren stay with us but we still had to have a cigarette. had to. kayla: do you know how hard it is to smoke in a hospital? by the time we could, we were like... what are we doing? kayla: it was time for nicodermcq. the nicodermcq patch with unique extended release technology helps prevent your urge to smoke all day. and doubles your chances of quitting. nicodermcq. you know why, we know how.
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house democrats are vowing to hold hearings on the deaths of two migrant children who died in border patrol custody within weeks of each other this month. meanwhile homeland security secretary kirstjen nielsen is making an apparent attempt to tamp down on this controversy with a series of visits to border cities. she was in el paso, texas yesterday and will travel to yuma, arizona today. joining me now, an msnbc contributor and attorney. raoul, is there a sense of whether secretary nielsen and president trump are actually opening the administration for even more legal challenges? >> absolutely. the problem with this administration, when it comes to the border situation, is twofold. number one is that the president and his administration have continually presented the situation on our southern border as one that has to do with illegal immigration. that's not the problem. the problem is we have so many
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asylum seekers from central america arriving at the southern border to claim their legal right to humanitarian relief and our government is not prepared to process them, hold them and determine ultimately whether or not they will receive asylum. the second problem goes to credibility. we have this president in large part because he campaigned about what he sees as the scourge of illegal immigration and repeatedly references undocumented people as being dangerous criminals, the caravan as a threat. what we see, secretary nielsen doing in my view some damage control, when she testified before congress recently, she did not know when asked, she did not know how many people had died in custody. >> she couldn't say. >> she couldn't say how many people had died under her tenure as dhs chief. she didn't know. she didn't even know the number of ports of entry along our southern border. she took a guess at 20, it's actually 48.
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that's something every border patrol agent knows. to remind people, this is the same department of homeland security secretary who back in the summer told the country that the trump administration did not have a policy of separating families and children, which we all know now was false. so those are two big hurdles that this administration has where they're trying to wrap themselves around this new crisis, largely of their own creation. >> we've talked about the department of homeland security, let's turn to the white house press secretary, sarah sanders. i want to show you something she said yesterday. >> look, it's an absolutely terrible tragedy, something no one wants to see, which is also why we're encouraging people not to make this treacherous journey. it is dangerous. this is one of the most important reasons that we have to protect our border so that we're not incentivising people to make this dangerous journey. >> she talks about the dangers
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of the journey and incentivising people to take it. the truth is it's easy for the white house to tell migrants not to come with their children, but who is accountable who we talk about children dying once they get here? >> once they get here, they are in government custody. obviously it is dhs and border patrol. and with all due respect to sarah huckabee sanders, when people like her or kirstjen nielsen make these public announcements urging migrants not to make this trek northward and to stay home, with all respect to them, no one in central america even knows who they are. no one is listening to them, to be honest, they are not watching cnn or msnbc. what these people are doing, these asylum seekers, they are leaving their countries because they have no other options. the civil society is not holding together. it's very violent. they're fleeing for their lives. this is not a journey they take lightly. trust me on this one, no one knows more about the dangers of these journeys than the people
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who go through it and attempt it. they know full well what they're getting into. but they have no option. at home there's so much gang violence, there's so much, you know, physical intimidation and sexual abuse of women, that they are forced to flee. and we do see in the trump administration and even in the obama administration, to be fair, that efforts based on -- immigration policy based on a deterrent strategy, it does not work. and in fact this summer -- >> i wouant to stop you there, want to go back to something you said earlier, the question is which came first, the chicken or the egg. in addition to closing the southern border yesterday, the president threatened to pull funding from el salvador, from guatemala. wouldn't that increase the causes of illegal immigration that we're talking about? >> both of those actions would
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have the result of increasing illegal immigration. if the president cuts back on aid to central america, there will likely be more violence and unrest in those countries which will probably lead to more migrant caravans and more people fleeing and as a result, more people at our southern border. so the president and this entire administration, if they have any serious desire to solve this problem, must start looking at it in a realistic way and starting with one that is a humanitarian crisis and two, that the united states must help address the problems in central america, which is the root of the influx of migrants that we have. >> raoul reyes, thanks for joining us, it's been nice speaking with you. coming up, the legal year in review. from the russia probe to the "me too" movement, we'll take a look at the cases that shaped 2018.
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at times during this past year, it seemed that to truly understand some of 2018's top headlines, you needed a law degree, or at least a lawyer on speed dial. 2019 promises to be just as fast-paced with reports that special counsel robert mueller may submit his report by
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mid-february. so before we ring in the new year, ari melber, msnbc's chief legal correspondent and host of "the beat" takes a look at the top ten legal stories that dominated the airwaves in 2018. >> number 10, the border fights. president trump separating immigrant families. >> if you don't want your child to be separated, then don't bring them across the board illegally. >> a federal judge halted the policy and ordered the administration to reunite the families, while other judges struck down trump's policy to defude fund sanctuary cities. number 9, trump attacking the rule of law. >> president trump was poised to order the criminal prosecutions of two of his biggest political adversaries. >> president trump ordered the firing of special counsel robert mueller back in june. >> legal experts say those moves would be illegal and trump's own white house counsel blocked them. number 8, the rise and fall of
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michael avenatti, who became famous overnight for representing stormy daniels and taking on trump and his lawyer michael cohen. avenatti serves in a political climate hungry for warriors against trump. >> when they go low, i say we hit harder. >> but avenatti ended the year saying he wouldn't run amidst a sexual violence allegation. >> how do you plead to the sole county of the allegation? michael cohen: guilty, your honor. >> your honor of lying to congress about trump tower moscow. number 6, a change in law enforcement as juries convict police officers of committing murder in the line of duty. >> there's no justification for shooting laquan mcdonald that night, not one shot, not the first shot, not the 16th shot. >> jason van dyke, guilty of second-degree murder. >> that's two officers convicted
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this year compared to one murder conviction for officers in the past 13 years. number 5, the supreme court upheld trump's travel ban. the court ruling in a 5-4 decision that trump had not exceeded his authority. number 4, bob mueller indicting russians for election interference. >> the indictment charges 13 russian nationals seeking to interfere in the united states political system, including the 2016 presidential election. >> an historic development. the first u.s. indictments of foreign election meddling in the modern era. number 3, paul manafort convicted. trump's former campaign chairman found guilty on eight counts, including tax and bank fraud. and later pleading guilty to conspiracy, striking a deal that bob mueller now says manafort broke by lying to investigators. number 2, "me too" prosecutions. a movement that has been growing, a move from activism into the courtroom this year with prosecutions and
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convictions. >> a guilty verdict in bill cos cosby's sexual assault trial. >> the max sentence, ten years. >> harvey weinstein has been indicted on rape and criminal sex act charges. >> 99 women accusing weinstein of harassment, including well-known stars like angelina jolie and rose mcgowan. >> if he stole your lives, do you get it back today? >> i think today is a damn good start. >> 2018 also showed the limits of that movement. the top legal story of the year, brett kavanaugh confirmed to the supreme court by just two votes after a tense confirmation battle over sexual misconduct allegations. >> this whole two-week effort has been a calculated and orchestrated political hit. >> i believed he was going to rape me. i tried to yell for help. brett put his hand over my mouth to stop me from yelling. >> brett kavanaugh sworn in by
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the justice he's replacing after days of denying the sexual misconduct allegations against him. >> our thanks to ari melber for that report. and you can hear more from ari as he hosts "the beat" weekends at 6:00 p.m. eastern right here on msnbc. coming up, russia-gate heats up with a mystery case believed to be tied to mueller's investigation, next. investigati. now might not be the best time to ask yourself are my bones strong? life is full of make-or-break moments. that's why it's so important to help reduce your risk of fracture with prolia®. only prolia® is proven to help strengthen and protect bones from fracture with 1 shot every 6 months. do not take prolia® if you have low blood calcium, are pregnant, are allergic to it, or take xgeva®. serious allergic reactions, like low blood pressure; trouble breathing; throat tightness; face, lip, or tongue swelling; rash; itching; or hives have happened. tell your doctor about dental problems
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welcome back and thanks so much for joining us. i'm morgan radford. robert mueller is accelerating the pace of his russia investigation as the year comes to an end. the special counsel's office responded nearly three days early to a subpoena fight at the supreme court. earlier this week, chief justice john roberts putting a temporary hold on a contempt order against an unidentified foreign-owned company. now, that company is fighting a grand jury subpoena in a mystery case that's believed to be linked to the special counsel's investigation. joining me now, doug byrnes, a former federal prosecutor, as well as jill wine-banks, msnbc contributor and former assistant watergate special prosecutor, and betsy woodruff, politics reporter for the daily beast and an msnbc contributor. doug, why is this filing shrouded in mystery and what's the significance of coming in three days early? >> it's probably shrouded in mystery because it's part of the investigation.
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the standard talking points are, it has to be kept confidential, it's a confidential investigation and there are all kinds of legal principles that kick in, it has to do with national security. in all my years, the dust-ups i've seen in court, you see that kind of thing, it's sealed, redacted. >> so it's not unusually secretive. >> not at all, morgan. the whole fight in the supreme court, it's kind of interesting we don't know as much about it as you would expect. but the chief justice has stayed this contempt order and probably down the road you'll learn more about it. >> why come in three days early? >> what do you mean? >> why would the special counsel's office say, actually, ignore that deadline we're going to give it to you sooner? >> oh, that's interesting. i'm not sure, a rare answer from me, i don't know. >> that's a good answer, as long as it's honest. >> it's a good answer, once in a while. >> jill, should the president be worried that the supreme court is showing interest in this russia investigation? >> they haven't actually showed interest in it.
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they were willing to say that the fines should not accrue while an appeal is being considered. so that that's all that really happened. and they haven't decided that they will actually hear the merits of the case. if they take the merits of the case, it may be interesting. but because the evidence that it's even mueller on the other side of this case is so flimsy, it may not be of concern to him, because it could be somebody else. so for example, one of the grounds of not complying is that it would violate the laws of the country that owns the company. well, who does that bring to mind? of course it brings to mind, in my mind, switzerland. they're the ones who have very secret banking laws. if it's swiss banking laws, the president might be worried because it could have something to do with hidden money of his in swiss bank accounts. other than that, it's so
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speculative as to what's going on that it's really hard to predict. if the court takes the case, i'm assuming we will get some more evidence and we'll be able to figure out more about what's going on. >> and speaking of all the speculation that's in the air, betsy, reading the tea leaves, is mueller's investigation almost over, or do you think he has a lot more legwork ahead of him when it comes to 2019? >> that's hard to say. what i can tell you is that mueller's investigators are actually still in open negotiations with president trump's legal team about trying to get more information out of the president himself. rudy giuliani confirmed to my colleague and i earlier this past week that those negotiations were never closed, despite the fact that trump turned over a number of written answers to mueller's investigation. now, the likelihood that trump actually has a verbal either in-person or over the phone conversation with any of mueller's lawyers is slim to none without some sort of extremely dramatic legal fight.
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however, it does strike me as definitely within the realm of possibility that mueller's team could find a way to extract more information perhaps in responses to written questions from the white house. so that's one thing we're keeping an eye on. we're also keeping an eye on the way mueller is working to develop some sort of court documents related to middle eastern efforts to influence the trump transition team. we reported a couple of weeks ago that mueller's team is working on put together this type of material. it's likely to come out in the next few months. we just don't have a clear sense of when exactly that's going to happen, if it's going to be january, february, potentially later. that's one of the challenges of course of covering mueller, he's not a super open guy. >> we also know that the president has openly called this a witch hunt. but a new poll that's just out this month, let's see if we can pull that up. it says a majority of americans believe trump has tried to obstruct the russia investigation. so my question now, doug, for you, what signal does this give congress as democrats prepare to then take back the house? >> it's a great question, because the point is, those of us in law have been saying and
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breaking this down and talking about the difference between law and politics. impeachment is essentially a political function, obviously. so i think when the mueller report comes out, we're all trying to predict when that is, march, april, let's say, they'll realize on the doj memos that say you can't indict a sitting president. that's the not settled in the courts, people should understand that. but that's doj policy and i think mueller will follow that policy. as the late gerald ford said, impeachment is what the house of representatives says it is, meaning it's a wide-open political test and we'll see what happens. it's going to be interesting because i'm not so sure necessarily that they will impeach him. we'll see. >> we've talked a lot about the timeline. but jill, turning to you, what do you expect to see come out of this investigation, especially as we head into 2019? >> i would say that one of the most important things that should happen now actually goes back to congress. i think that with subpoena power now in the hands of the democrats in the house, there
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should be public hearings, because there's a very big difference between what congress does and what mueller as a prosecutor does. he prosecutes existing legal violations, violations of laws that are on the books now. congress needs to look at what laws are needed to prevent this kind of thing happening again. but the other thing they need to do is the educate the public about what the facts are. we won't know the facts from mueller until there are indictments and trials. and the way that people will be able to know how to vote or how to be influenced in terms of whether they continue to support the president is through the education. that's what happened in watergate. and that's what actually led to the resignation. it's because the facts came out and people lost faith in the president. so we need the facts to be public. that's what i think is important. >> facts and faith. thank you so much to doug, jill,
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and betsy for joining us this morning, it's been a pleasure being with you. coming up, chaos in the white house. we'll take a look at all the vacancies inside donald trump's administration as the new year approaches. stay tuned. i knew about the tremors.
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welcome back and thanks so much for joining us. as the current trump presidential term nears its halfway point, only a few of the original cabinet members are still along for the ride after some very high profile departures. so let's take a look at how many acting roles there are in the administration. look at this, we have acting secretary of defense, acting chief of staff, acting attorney general, acting epa administrator. there is a lot of movement, needless to say, in and out of the administration. here to break it all down, democratic strategist basil smikle, boyd matheson, former chief of staff, former senator mike lee, and reporter tim mack. tim, let's talk about mick mulvaney. what kind of chief of staff do we expect him to be? >> he'll be acquainted with how capitol hill is run. he'll be an interesting liaison
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to watch between the new democratically controlled house and the white house, to see if they can work out a deal in the new year to get the government running again. >> we also want to talk about him being omb director. he still has a job. boyd, if he has to prioritize one office over the other, which do you think for him is going to take priority? >> that's -- i mean, that is tough. those are both very tough jobs and the job of chief of staff is just never ending minutia. i do think it's a good thing that it's the first time the president has someone in the chief of staff role who really is a policy guy. and i think that will be an important thing rolling into the back half, but that splitting of time and splitting of focus is different. focus always preceding success in any political office or operation. mick mulvaney's going to have a challenge with that. i also think it's important and you -- i'm glad you mentioned this, morgan, in terms of the acting roles in there. uncertainty is another killer to any organization, and so i think
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having those acting roles, that uncertainty, again, most of these political operations run out of energy before they run out of opportunities, and the president has some real head winds and so having that kind of exhaustion taking place is not good for the president. he's going to have to pivot. he's going to have to get some focus and some discipline if he's going to move forward in a positive way in 2019. >> boyd, it's interesting that you mention this lack of stability because nearly every single panelist has used the word chaos to describe this white house. but the president is clapping back. he tweeted, the new fake news narrative is that there is chaos in the white house. wrong. people will always come and go and i want strong dialogue before making a final decision. so basil, what does this say about the current state of the trump administration and why is he really taking offense to this and pushing back so hard? >> this is happening because he's in denial. that's why he's talking about it, number one. and number two, you know, he feels the need to say this
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because he takes it all so personally, but we talked about shutdown earlier and here's what's important about that. as much as it affects the individual workers, it actually has very little effect on gdp, for example, but the chaos in the white house, the inconsistency in the policy, particularly when it comes to tariffs, that's what's having a real day-to-day effect on both workers and retirees and that's why the markets are responding the way that they are and that's why we follow the chaos as closely as we are because it's -- it actually does impact our day-to-day lives, no matter what he says. >> it has an impact for day-to-day people. >> that's right. >> as we just heard john mention earlier from cnbc. but tim, speaking -- i want to go back to something else we saw that happened earlier. trump went to iraq and visited troops for the first time and the trip has been criticized by some who say that trump politicized the military but what do you think happened here? >> well, look, the president has been long criticized for not visiting troops in combat zones. it clearly was something he
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wanted to address, even in a marginal way and he did that over these christmas holidays. but if i can return a little bit to the kind of chaos issue that you brought up, this isn't just an issue with the cabinet level appointments. this is also an issue with senior staff. if you look at the turnover that's happened among senior aides to the president, you've had a turnover rate of nearly two-thirds of his senior staff. this is unprecedented. most modern presidents over their first four years in office don't go through the same level of turnover that you see in the first two years in the trump administration. >> but it's interesting when you describe the senior staff. you know, boyd, what was once a point of pride for this administration is now a source of contention. we're talking former chief of staff, general john kelly, out. mattis, leaving on tuesday. the white house now is town two more marine corps generals so what does that mean for this administration? especially as tim described how senior these members were. >> yeah, i think there's a couple of things here.
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one, we do have to remember, president obama went through five chiefs of staff over his eight years so you know, the shelf life of a chief of staff is typically about 18 months. so, there's definitely challenges to that job and there is going to be that natural turnover. i do think it's interesting on the two generals departing. the one thing about generals is generals aren't really people that go in and drain swamps. they're there to build things, and we look at the current state of the military industrial complex, shows that. so it's not surprising to me. it's a little unsettling. i agree there is some of that chaos component but that's a lot more palace intrigue than it is on the day-to-day things in terms of what needs to get done. but i will say this, mick mulvaney's biggest challenge stepping into that role, again, acting chief of staff is a challenging title in and of itself, but he's got to create a strategy, a structure, and a set of daily disciplines they can execute. that's how the job works. bill clinton was on his way to be a one-term president but after the midterms, he got the right team around him, he got
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the right focus, the right strategy, and became a two-term president. we've seen that with many other presidents over the years. so, i don't think anyone needs to hyperventilate. the palace intrigue is good for politics and a lot of punditry but it doesn't always get down to the real issue is, are the policies right, are they making the case to the american people, do the american people feel like someone's fighting for them and moving forward. that's going to be the ultimate test but it has to be policy first, a set of disciplines, and a communication strategy that's equal to the policy strategy. >> it's interesting you mention fighting for the american people, because that fight happens not only domestically but also abroad. so before we go, i want to jump into the u.n. ambassadorship role and that role has been downgraded, no longer a cabinet position. what message does that send in terms of protecting our own people to the rest of the world? tim? >> oh, yeah, well, the -- what's really been interesting is that on the right, the view of whether the united nations is a
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positive thing for american foreign interests has been mixed, at best. and among conservative policy thinkers, on foreign policy, there really are -- there is a lot of skepticism about whether the united nations is the right way to pursue america's interests. and so, it's not surprising that at this stage in the trump presidency, they decided to downgrade this and say -- and send the signal that, hey, this is less of a priority for us. >> all right, basil smikle, boyd, tim, i wish we had more time because there's a lot more to discuss. coming up, saying no. rudy giuliani's new message to robert mueller. more on that at the top of the hour. be sure to stay with us. be sure. i'm a veteran
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and the army taught me a lot about commitment. which i apply to my life and my work. at comcast we're commited to delivering the best experience possible, by being on time everytime. and if we are ever late,
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we'll give you a automatic twenty dollar credit. my name is antonio and i'm a technician at comcast. we're working to make things simple, easy and awesome. that's it for me this hour. i'll see you again at 3:00 p.m. joy reid will be back next saturday at 10:00 a.m. eastern and coming up, frances is here with the latest. >> great, see you back here in a little bit, morgan. good day to you, i'm frances riviera in new york. alex wit is off today at high noon in the east, 9:00 out west, here's what's happening. shutdown day eight, the president threatening to close the border with mexico while dems dig in their heels when both sides could come back to the table. the next casualties if an agreement isn't reached, new reporting on the impact that's about to be felt. plus a new poll on the public appetite partner impeachment.


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