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tv   Weekends With Alex Witt  MSNBC  February 17, 2019 9:00am-11:00am PST

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saturday? >> i will be home next saturday across that studio from you. >> we'll have fun. safe travels. a good day to you. from here at msnbc headquarters in new york, welcome to "weekends with alex witt." a wall of noise today on the president's plans for a border barrier. >> he's pretty much daring the court to strike this down. >> we're not bending the rules. >> there are at least 8 billion ways that we can prove harm. >> at the end of the day, this wall is going to be built. >> as the lawsuits start to pile up, there is one man who could conceivably stop the wall. getting the cold shoulder. why u.s. leaders faced a chilly reception in munich. why heather nauert says she dropped her bid and the past that may have influenced her. and the explosive new developments in the alleged attack on actor jesse smollett. was it all a hoax?
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developing this hour. new details of the legal and political challenges facing the president's national emergency. california's attorney general renewing his promise to sue the president for trying to secure funds congress denied him to build a border wall. xavier va sara has told abc news that mexico, oregon, hawaii and minnesota will be joining california in this lawsuit. >> definitely and imminently. we are prepared. we knew something like this might happen. and with our sister state partners, we are ready to go. we're confident there are at least 8 billion ways that we can prove harm. >> also new today, the acting defense secretary on whether he will approve $3.6 billion from military construction projects to build the border wall. that includes figuring out which military projects to defund. >> you have not determined the -- specifically a wall is required to meet that national emergency. >> there have been no
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determinations by me. we are following the law. using the rules. and we're not bending the rules. >> and representative joaquin castro urging all members of congress to support his resolution condemning the president's declaration. white house immigration hard liner steven miller today says the president is prepared to take action if the resolution passes the senate. >> yes, he will veto? >> he's going to protect his national emergency declaration, guaranteed. >> meanwhile, trump allies are rejecting suggestions the president was defeated after the longest government shutdown ever ended without congress approving the $5.7 billion he requested. >> the president, one, has the authority. yes, it is a crisis and emergency along our border. this is moving it in the right direction. is it as far as i want it to go? no. it was a down payment moving forward. i believe at the end of the day, this wall is going to be built, not sea to shining sea, but
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about 200 miles. >> and democrats insisting the president has undercut his own argument when he said he didn't have to declare a national emergency, but did it to build the border wall faster. >> he's pretty much daring the court to strike this down. so it's hard to imagine a poorer case. but i'll say this, dana. it is going to be a real test for my gop colleagues in congress and their devotion to the institution. if we give away -- if we surrender the power of the purse, which is our most important power, there will be little check and no balance left. it will not be a separation of powers any more, just a separation of parties. so this is going to be a moment of truth for my gop colleagues. >> let's bring in nbc's kelly o'donnell. kelly joins us from west palm beach right near where the president is spending his weekend. kelly, so many people chiming in on this today. let's talk about anything coming from the white house on the topic. what are you hearing? >> reporter: well, the president is at one of his golf clubs here
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in florida on what is a warm and windy day. and a beautiful way to spend part of the long weekend. while back in washington and on the shows today, the fierce debate plays out over these issues that really do go to the core of some key concepts from the president's side of things, the border wall has been something he's been talking about from the days of candidate trump all the way through his administration. and there are serious questions being raised from different stakeholders, whether it's the state of california, the state of texas, whether it is democrats in congress. and the hard choice for republicans in congress, if there is a measure that's brought forward to disapprove of the president's use of a national emergency under these kinds of circumstances. different, arguably, than when other presidents have used the same power. one of the thinkers behind the scenes, if you will, policy and speech-writing aide to the president, stephen miller, who has long been one of the sharpest voices on immigration inside the trump white house, he was trying to defend this today.
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and was talking about this power being within the president's rights as a national security issue. even though the president undercut his own claims by saying he could do it now. he could do it later. he wanted to move more quickly on building a wall and that that was part of his motivation for enacting this declaration. here is stephen miller this morning, talking about the urgency as he sees it, defending this plan. >> we already have 4,000 troops on the border in light of the national emergency, a decision made almost a year ago as we see an increasing number of people crossing the border, as well as in creasing violence in mexico. what the president is saying is, like past presidents, he could choose to ignore this crisis, choose to ignore this emergency, as others have. that's not what he's going to do. >> reporter: when you talk to senior officials in the white house, they have legal precedent they look to to, to defend this decision. they also can describe where within the budget they are planning to derive these funds
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that were passed for other purposes. military construction and so forth. citing the law where they believe they have got a firm ground to stand on. ultimately, it will likely be tested in the courts. the president has said that, as well. but there is the political debate about whether this was the right use of this authority, especially when it is so ingrained in the american system that congress decides where and how money is spent that belongs to the taxpayers. alex? >> okay, kelly o., we'll see you again. thanks, kel. joining me now, francesca chambers, white house correspondent for the daily mail. charlie savage, washington correspondent for the "new york times" and msnbc contributor. and danielle dale, washington bureau chief for "the toronto star." ladies, first. francessca, what do you make of stephen miller's explanation when trump himself said, i didn't need this. is this the narrative the white house is going to be going with? >> yeah, it's clearly problematic to say that it's an emergency that other presidents have just ignored.
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this is exactly the first line that democrats went to on friday after the president made this announcement, and this is what they're using to say that not only is it unconstitutional, it's not an actual national emergency. and so if this is the line the white house is going with, i expect we'll see this come up time and time again, not just from democrats, but in those legal cases that you're describing that are going to ultimately, as the president says, probably make their way all the way up to the supreme court. >> yeah. let's get to charlie's article. and i can talk to you about that, charlie. because you are making the argument quite clearly and pretty emphatically here that presidents for decades have declared close to 60 national emergencies, but there are none like trump's. how is this one different? >> so the big difference is that none of those other declarations of national emergencies involved a president who had gone to congress to get some policy approved. congress said no, or said we're only going to give you this
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much, not that much and the president said i don't care, i'm going to invoke a national emergency to move forward anyway. in other words, none of the other ones were inconsistent with the will of congress. there is lots of emergency power statutes sitting on the books in which congress has created standby authorities for the president to invoke under certain special circumstances. maybe not always an emergency in the normal sense of that word, but just special circumstances like a foreign government or group needs to be sanctioned for some kind of bad behavior, et cetera. but when the presidents have been doing that since 1976, when emergency power law got modernized, they've always done it consistent with how congress wanted the executive branch to operate. what's different about this is the president using these extraordinary authorities in a way to get -- do an in-run around congress, violating the norm of self-restraint to only use these in the way that congress meant for them to be used. and that's what's unprecedented about this situation. >> and as i look -- and i
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nit-pick some of the details you've brought to this article, it has been used twice before, first by bush 41, secondly by bush 43. bush 41 during the persian gulf war, bush 43 in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. to take military construction funds and reroute them. my point to you, daniel, and charlie makes this, the president is making an in-run around congress. fiscally speaking. to try to get these funds around something they have already rejected, a prospect they have rejected. how problematic is this potentially? >> well, i think the courts will ultimately decide. democrats will tell you it's very problematic. and i think trump's arguments that there is a precedent for what he's doing are transparently false. you know, he said in his emergency declaration speech obama did this. we're going to use one of his. well, obama, as you said, as charlie said, didn't do anything like this. you know, he was thwarted by congress. he's now using the emergency to go around congress. and so i think the argument from
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his administration that no, no, you know, other presidents have done just what i'm doing just don't hold water. >> hmmm. okay, guys. let's move now to aj. obviously, the three of us aren't going to figure this out. it's going to go to the courts, no doubt. charlie, there is new reporting today there are two witnesses now that are backing the count that ag deputy rod rosenstein considered taping the president. it is something we have heard from fbi, former deputy director andrew mccabe. he's telling this to cbs, "60 minutes," part of an interview that's going to air tonight. what is the significance of this, having these two more voices now? >> i have a slightly contrarian take on this. i think there's been a lot of media attention to this -- this claim of both the 25th amendment discussions and taping trump since andy mccabe started promoting his book and talked about it openly. but we've known this. we've known this since last september, when my colleagues, adam goldman and michael schmidt of the "new york times" reported all of this out. and at the time, rod rosenstein
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said, well, i wasn't in a position to think about this or it was a joke or, you know -- wasn't serious. and we're kind of -- nothing has changed, except now we're talking about it again. i think the most interesting thing about it is just the fact that andy mccabe chose to talk approximate it, despite not putting it in his book. i wonder why he didn't put it in his book but then went on the air to discuss it. and it's sort of a kick in the pants to rod rosenstein as he was about to leave or is about to leave as deputy attorney general from this very turbulent two years, being dragged back into the muck one last time, maybe being subpoenaed by the senate judiciary committee under lindsey graham. it's clear there is no love lost between those two men. >> interesting. you make a good point. charlie rosenstein does have plans to leave his doj post soon and has denied that he ever pursued authorizing recording the president. and there was all sorts of -- i guess mannerisms in which it was allegedly said it was just rather a joke, that kind of
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thing. but francessca, the president has tweeted a couple of times now in reference to this story. no mention of rosenstein, by the way, when doing so. what's your read on this? >> i'm going to join charlie in the contrarian corner, actually. and say i agree that we had this discussion back in september. i remember this was a major topic at the united nations and we asked various cabinet members, including mike pompeo and nikki haley, they said they never heard any talk about the 25th amendment. we heard vice president mike pence also address this on msnbc earlier this week, saying he never heard any talk about that. so the way this was originally played out as part of andrew mccabe's new book, there were meetings within department of justice and made it seem like there was a real conversation and an attempt to approach the vice president. whereas now when we have been able to hear a little more about the interview clip and hear more from andrew mccabe himself, it's that it came up briefly in passing, but they never acted on it in any sort of way.
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and that's pretty consistent with what we had known before about this. >> to your point here, daniel, have you ever heard of anyone within the cabinet who has offered conjecture on this kind of topic? there has been a revolving door of cabinet members. it was suggested on the broadcast yesterday that folks like rex tillerson, maybe not specifically saying 25th amendment, but suggested that the president may not have the capacity to run the country in the way that we would all expect him to. >> yeah. so we know that members of cabinet have done things like call him a moron. but i haven't heard of any of them, you know, acknowledge that they've had discussions about invoking any section of the constitution to remove him from office. so i think what we know about this comes from that "new york times" story in september. beyond that, i don't think we have much detail. >> okay. i do want to ask you about the heather nauert pick, who is, of course, state department spokesperson right now, charlie.
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being suggested and promoted for u.s. ambassador, nominated, frankly. but now reneging and pulling back the nomination over these nanny issues. what can you tell us about this? are you hearing any details here? >> so just to remind listeners, she is a "fox & friends" personality whom the trump administration stuck into the state department as a spokesperson and then was suddenly going to be nominated to be the ambassador to the united nations, which is an incredibly important role where you have to go up against the russian ambassador and chinese ambassador and these u.n. security council meetings highly fraught and there was a huge amount of skepticism she was remotely qualified to perform that role for the united states. and it was against the backdrop of that enormous and dare i say bipartisan skepticism that after a couple months suddenly she's withdrawing. the stated reason is a nanny problem. she had a person working -- taking care of her kid that was
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not -- didn't have work authorization to do that. and it's -- it's almost a charming or quaint excuse to withdraw from public life. it's a throwback to the old hell'sian days of 1993, nanny gate where president clinton first two nominees had to withdraw over nanny issues. there has been so much water under the bridge since then in terms of bad behavior by public officials who declined to withdraw, starting with bill clinton himself. the current president. maybe the current leadership of the state of virginia over much worse behavior. that it's sort of shocking that would be cited as a reason to not go forward. but against the backdrop of that skepticism over competence and expertise, it's what's being said today. >> given this issue not about her ability, but rather the prospect of a problem with a nanny, i would like you, daniel, to speak to the optics of this, given the trump administration's stand on immigration. >> well, i think the optics are
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particularly interesting, because the president himself, the "new york times" and "washington post" have repeatedly shown has employed dozens of unauthorized immigrants at his own business. he hasn't been asked about this directly by the press corps, to my knowledge. and i think under any previous president, that would likely be a huge scandal. imagine if it was revealed by some conservative outlet that barack obama and some business had employed dozens of illegal immigrants. specifically with regard to his own businesses that this particular issue could sink a nominee. there have been some vague rubbi rumblings on twitter there are more issues with nauert. i don't have any evidence, but i think if it's just this one, authorize interesting, to say the least. >> last word to you, francessca, the optics of all of it. >> i would just say that moving forward, it's clear that the president is going to have to nominate someone else for this position. so we're restarting the clock,
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and any names are back on the table that he had put off the table before, including current ambassadors who might be interested in the job. so i think that this upcoming week once the president gets back from mar-a-lago, you'll start seeing a lot of speculation about who the person that he could nominate could be. and some vetting within the media of those folks. >> okay. we will look for that. and thank all three of you for your time. daniel, charlie, francessca, thanks, guys. new today, stunning developments in the jesse smollett case. nbc news now confirms the investigation into the alleged attack against the "empire" actor has indeed shifted. police are looking into whether smollett paid the two men who had been identified as suspects to stage the attack. here is part of a report just a short time ago from nbc's morgan radford. >> i noticed the rope around my neck and i started screaming. >> that rope nbc has learned was purchased at a hardware store by
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the two men involved in the alleged attack. the two men are brothers and smollett follows their shared instagram account. smollett's attorneys stating, one of these purported suspects was jesse's personal trainer. it is impossible to believe that this person could have played a role in the crime or would falsely claim jesse's complicity. police say that upon searching the brothers' home, investigators found a black ski mask, bottles of bleach and an "empire" script. police sources telling nbc, one of the men worked as an extra on the tv show. a police source tells nbc news, investigators have no clear motive as to why smollett would concoct the story, which he has described in detail. joining me now for the latest, my colleague, nbc's cathy park. okay. walk us to where we are now. how we went from having two suspects to police now shifting gears to say that smollett may have or at least they're looking into whether he paid these two individuals to stage the attack. >> hey, alex. yeah, i think there are a lot
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more questions now than ever before. and all really stems from smollett's original story when he said there were two men the night of january 29th when he was approached by these masked men who had these malintentions. they became violent very quickly. he heard racial slurs, homophobic slurs and also said he caught one of the men saying "maga country" and felt some sort of chemical splash on him and also found that noose around his neck. so he filed that police report. police began their investigation, but there were a lot of holes in that investigation. he handed over phone records, which were heavily redacted, and there were several hours of surveillance footage that authorities went through but found no clear evidence of the attack in the area that he described. so there was a lot of backlash. a lot of speculation after this information came forward from social media, from local media.
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saying that potentially this was a hoax. and now here we are. a police source close to the investigation now saying they are looking into whether smollett paid off these two men to, you know, put this attack on himself. right now we haven't heard from smollett directly, but we have heard from his attorney who said that his client is devastated by this latest revelation. he says that he continues to affirm the fact that he is a victim of a hate crime. really, still don't know what the motive behind this potential attack might be. there was some speculation out there that he might have been written off the show, "empire," so potentially why he had done this. still, that is still a rumor and still so many questions about this latest case. >> i've got to tell you. any way you look at it, it's a tragedy for any number of different reasons. kathy park, thank you so much. coming up with extra cash. what does an air force veteran, now a member of congress, think
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of the president's plan to use money earmarked for the military to build a wall instead? i'm going to ask her, next. ing t
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if you're taking money away from the military, we just spent the last four years rebuilding our military, making sure the men and women in our armed forces have the tools that they need. i don't want to see that money being taken away from that. >> gop congressman will hurd
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from texas. his district covers the largest single stretch of the country's southern border. joining me now, representative chrissy hoolihan, democrat from pennsylvania and member of the house armed services and foreign affairs committee. welcome to you. it's nice to speak with you on a sunday here. and my first question to you, ma'am, as an air force veteran, you could probably relate to what representative hurd was saying there. what does it mean to you that the president wants to divert $3.6 billion from military construction projects to build a border wall? >> so thank you for having me. and i couldn't agree more with congressman hurd and his concern. in addition to being a veteran myself, i'm also third generation military. i sit on the armed services and foreign affairs committee, particularly within armed services in the readiness subcommittee. and some of the things that congressman hurd mentioned also alarm me. money from kuwait will be diverted, money earmarked for germany, money for south korea will be diverted. money in arizona and at the
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jicama air force base where i was as a young child with my father, all that money will be diverted for this purported emergency wall that needs to be built. and i am concerned about that. i deeply worry that our troops will no longer be as ready as they would have been, and the appropriations process is being violated. >> is there a way you can give us some specific examples of when you say money is being diverted. money to be used for what specifically? you gave us locations. and that's great. but, you know, when people kind of wonder, what is it that will get short-changed? >> so hangars, runways, housing. those are fundamentally important things that have gone through the appropriations process appropriately. where the president has put forward a budget, where the congress has negotiated and compromised on it, where they have identified specific requirements that are important for those essential bases. and those things will be taken away. >> okay. let's take a listen to what the acting secretary of defense who
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says that he has not decided which military construction projects would be defunded to build a border wall. let's listen to what he had to say. >> we haven't delineated what projects we would go do. we always anticipated that this will create a lot of attention. very deliberately we have not made any decisions. we have identified the steps we would take to make those decisions. this is the important part of that. we laid that out so we could do it quickly. we don't want to fumble through this process. >> he previously said he was going to do things to the letter of the law. based on what you just heard there, does it sound to you like he does not intend to defund military projects? this is not something that he is very supportive of? >> well, i think that what has been identified, at least under the president's announcement, was something like $3 billion or more that would be diverted away
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from the military. and so i'm not certain how the secretary would propose we not do that, given that the president would like to see $8 billion for his wall and $3 billion or more will be coming from the military itself. >> $3.6 billion, to be specific. how do you see all of this playing out? is it going to be a long, drawn-out fight between the president and congress and any number of courts? >> so listen. i'm a veteran, and i actually genuinely believe in protecting our borders, all of them. i also am the daughter of a refugee, and i believe that it's essential that our immigration policy and our border is treated with humanitarian aspect and respect. but i do worry that we are going to be endlessly and hopelessly tied into a knot with this recent declaration of an emergency that doesn't exist. and what's going to happen is the congress will certainly fight it, the courts will certainly fight it. people who are not just in the congress, but who are affected citizens and states will fight this. and i think that we are in a dangerous place, where i think regardless of your party, you
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should be concerned in this use of the emergency powers of the president. this is not what was intended by this particular power. >> pennsylvania democrat, chrissy hoolihan, thank you so much for joining me. i look forward to seeing you again. >> you're very, very welcome. thank you so much. >> thank you. president trump nominated for a nobel peace prize. he says it happened, but how? we have some new details today on that, and you might not believe them, or, i don't know, maybe you will. e you will
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new today, congressman adam schiff says house democrats are pushing forward in the russia investigation as he weighs his legal options to obtain documents detailing the president's private meetings with russian president vladimir putin. joining me now, former federal prosecutor, nelson cunningham. nelson, with a big welcome to you, look, everybody remembers that denial that came directly from the president. is there a legal option right now? i mean, could democrats use any sort of subpoena power to get what they want, get this information, get a transcript? >> they can, but it's tricky. i worked in the clinton white house on national security matters, and there's always a balance between the president's
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role in national security, the president's role as chief -- commander-in-chief, and his ability to carry out american foreign policy. if the congress did try to subpoena that, the court is going to look at that and say the president is trying to conduct american foreign policy. what role does the congress have to directly question and cross examine the president's conduct of that? it actually becomes a tricky issue for any judge who had to enforce this subpoena. >> can you speculate on an issue that might have come up at that helsinki meeting, given the time, place when that was, that would constitute something that was of such -- at this point, supreme national security that we couldn't know about it now? i mean, is there something still percolating? i mean, we've talked about syria, information about that. is there something else that might have been going on that
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would warrant absolute utter discretion and secrecy? >> well, look. any time that the president of the united states has a private meeting with a foreign leader, it's a little hard to know from the outside exactly what they talk about and what they do. i don't want to defend the president on this, but i do, having worked in the white house, want to defend the role of the presidency in carrying out foreign policy, and the need for discretion and for that. now, i think it's highly suspicious the president had, what, five conversations with vladimir putin in which there were no americans present? no american officials present, only translators and sometimes only russian translators? i cannot think of a single instance in our history that you can point to where that has happened with the president, with an adversary of the united states. congress clearly is right to be looking into these conversations. i just wonder whether they're
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going to be able to get that information subpoenaed. but they ought to keep pressing. and adam schiff is on the right track here. >> and just to remind our viewers, according to the "washington post" last month, it reported that the president attempted to conceal the details. and the way he did so was by confiscating his interpreter's notes. could charges be brought forward, nelson, if the president or if anyone close to the president destroyed any of his notes from those meetings? >> well, again, i hate to be a defender of the president, but i will defend the presidency. i recall in the ken starr investigation of bill clinton, they sought to subpoena the secret service agents who were outside the door when the president was meeting with monica lewinsky. and the question was, gee, by doing that, we're going to insert these secret service agents whose job is to protect the president into a traditional proceeding. at that time, ken starr subpoenaed them and got them to come and testify before his grand jury.
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here when you're asking what did a president do with the interpreter and with the interpreters' notes, you're putting the interpreter in a very difficult position here. an interpreter is supposed to be the neutral party here, just simply passing information back and forth. if they suddenly become witnesses in a criminal or congressional investigation, that puts them in a difficult spot. again, alex, i don't want to be defending the president's conduct here, which is truly extraordinary. but the presidency is decided -- is entitled to some protections here. and we need to keep our eye on that big picture. donald trump will come and go. but presidents will be here forever. >> yeah. well, i do appreciate you making the distinction and also appreciate as always your insights. thank you so much, nelson. good to see you. >> thank you. a lonely feeling. why everyone clapped as ivanka sat silent at the munich security conference. the stony-faced story is next. e.
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new today, the president's tweet sent european countries to take back more than 800 isis fighters captured in syria and put them on trial. the tweet came off a bruising week in europe for vice president mike pence. eu leaders gave pence the cold shoulder over war rhetoric against iran and shrinking u.s. support for nato. here is our report from foreign affairs respondent, andrea
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mitchell. >> i bring greetings from the 45th president of the united states of america, president donald trump. >> reporter: the silence was deafening. that's because president trump has split with america's closest allies on nearly every issue. unlike mike pence, germany's chancellor angela merkel got a standing ovation for her speech, warning against recent trump policies. and the conference chairman even suggested president trump, not vladimir putin, is now widely viewed as undermining world order. joining me now, bill richardson, former u.s. ambassador to the united nations. mr. ambassador, my friend, good to see you. were you as uncomfortable listening to mike pence make that speech and the welcome from president trump and then that deafening silence, as i was? that was just awkward. >> i was very uncomfortable. you know, the munich security conference i've attended. it's basically where the united states shines. we're the leaders of the european alliance, the european union comes together.
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we talk against russia. we talk against terrorism united. and, you know, to have fallen so low because we're against multilateralism, we're fighting them over iran, over how much we pay and how much they pay at nato. it was embarrassing. i'm concerned, because these are our main friends. >> yeah. >> these are our friends in europe. this is germany. this is france. this is great britain. angela merkel. you know, the alliance. and to be treated that way, to be booed or silenced -- it just hurts a bit. >> it sure does. you mentioned angela merkel. during the speech she gave, let's take a look at some video of ivanka trump's reaction when everyone was cheering for merkel. she was speaking out against u.s. sanctions on enginegerman under the guise of national security. but get this. here's ivanka, the russian
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foreign minister and chinese official, all remaining seated. how unusual is it to see the u.s. being ostracized in the way we are seeing it as it has happened in the past to russia and china? >> well, that shows russia, china, the united states isolated at a conference that is for european and american unity. it's sad. i mean, ivanka trump, her reaction, her personal reaction, you know, her father is being attacked. that's understandable. but the protocol would have been to stand up and, you know, maybe a very faint clap. but that happened. she is also head of the american delegation. you know, she's not a foreign policy expert. she's the president's daughter, and that is important. but at the same time, i think this is where secretary mattis used to shine. this is where john mccain used to shine at the leaders of the
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american delegation. instead, you know, the vice president, who is following his orders and the foreign policy of the united states under this administration is not received well. this is not good for america. >> i do want to ask you about something. your take on this new report. it comes from the "japan times" and confirms that prime abe nominated the president for a nobel peace prize. but it goes on to say it only came after a request from the u.s. government to do so. it happened following the singapore summit and that the president did not include this detail when talking about it in the rose garden there. mr. ambassador, you have been nominated for a nobel peace nob. i know the criteria includes, it can come from a current head of state. but is it common for a government to ask a head of state to make a nomination? >> well, i don't know if that's a confirmed report.
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but, you know, i wouldn't be surprised. the prime minister of japan -- they're our friends. japan is our friend. japan wants to make sure that in the north korea negotiations that we take care of japan. in other words, that we insist that north korea not shoot missiles into the sea of japan, into japan, which is a big source of contention and the north koreans have done very little on denuclearization. so i'm sure if he said, hey, why don't you help the boss do a nomination -- by the way, there is very strict criteria. it has to be a head of state. has to be members of congress or legislators. has to be organizations with international credibility. so, yeah, it is a little unusual. but i wouldn't be surprised if the president himself with his many meetings with abe, and they get along well, said, you know, i wouldn't mind if you sent the name up.
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i don't have the details. >> yeah. >> but, again, i think that's probably what happened. >> okay. well, i'll just react with a smile. and my thanks to you for the interview. as always, good to talk with you. thanks. >> right. the president is hoping to send the battle over the border wall into a win in 2020. what kind of political magic will that take? but fast-moving winter weather in the west and bad road conditions are leading to dozens of accidents. 17 people hurt in a 49-car pileup near the denver airport friday. 14 in the hospital. fortunately, no life-threatening injuries. let's get to gentlemgeneral he . >> another storm system is headed that way. this is our next system making its way across the midwest into portions of the northeast. also some flooding rain currently happening out towards west virginia. and this will continue to cause winter weather advisories.
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also winter storm watches across the midwest to the upper midwest. let's talk about the northeast. i think those in the upper midwest start to fade off as we step into the next 24 hours. new york city, the higher elevation, forecasting about 2 to 4 inches. timing is key here. when to expect it from the south to the northeast, by tonight into the start of your monday. we'll be right back. f your mond. we'll beig rht back. i hear it in the background and she's watching too, saying [indistinct conversation] [friend] i've never seen that before. ♪ ♪ i have... ♪ i have...
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to take money away from defense, dod in order to build this wall that is essentially a campaign promise i think is really wrong priorities. >> the president is declaring a national emergency as he even stated in his announcement yesterday or the day before because of 2020. >> you're going to see a couple hundred miles by the end of the next appropriations cycle. >> okay. so by september 2020, right in the middle of the presidential campaign. >> new questions about whether the president's eye on 2020 is what's fueling his national emergency declaration. let's bring in policy strategist
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alena beverly, former director of affairs in the obamas administration and msnbc political analyst. ladies, welcome to you both. susan, you first. a new report out from the "washington post" looks at hu the president is seeking to turn his failure into building the wall spoke his 2020 rallying call. it requires on relying on rhetorical slight of hand and speaking the wall into existence. two-part question. a, do voters take issue with his failures so far? b, are they going to see through his rhetoric? >> speaking of voters, if you're referring to his base, they will let him go on it. during rallies, when he would say build the wall and mexico will pay for it. even bigesupporters say i just like him saying it. i don't expect mexico to pay for it. he has to keep the rhetoric up.
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that's all he has to do to appease his base. this is a 2020 emergency for trump. he's been tanking in the polls, he knows mueller investigation coming up, there's predictions of a slowed economy. this is all he has. so he's going to take this. even if nothing happens, even if it goes to court or whatever, he doesn't get any money for the wall, he will say i fought for it and i have built it already, because that's what donald trump says and he gets away with it unfortunately. >> so to that point, how do democrats navigate a war for 2020 that is being waged through at least in part this president's false rhetoric? >> here is my take, alex. in addition to the fact he's usurping powers delegated to the constitution to congress tore appropriating funds, the really sad point of this despite the fact that he is completely showing disregard for our
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separation of powers is that he is ding dong ditching congress and our courts and the american people. he's throwing the emergency bomb and then running off to mar-a-lago. we have courts inundated with lawsuits and now that the becomes the campaign issue where he is in control of the narrative. he's done a masterful job of shifting the narrative from his loss of negotiations for the border wall spending from his $5.7 billion down to $1.4. he lost and this is his way of deflecting. >> alex, if i can also just jump in on that as far as how the democrats handle it, look at all the money where he wants to take the money from, those appropriations. if i were democrats or a republican looking to challenge donald trump, i would go into these districts and say how is
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it affecting you and it's yet another thing to put on the president. >> can i ask you, just to elaborate, you say there are those to look at or hear from from the presidential campaigns, mexico is no place for the wall, do you think those in his base are for giving him for things like a government shutdown, appropriating funds from one place to the next? there are those that would suggest by moving money around from the military, something that many in his base are hugely supportive of in terms of the military, it might weaken it in some ways. do you think the base is buying this? >> i think there's two things to consider when we start looking at 2020 when the comes to republican and donald trump. his base has shrunk a little bit to 30, 32%. now you have to talk about all the other republicans who did vote for him in 2016. i like to call them trump triers for the most part. they were frustrated, did not like hillary clinton, they wanted something different and
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said let's give it a shot. they tried it and the 2018 election showed they doesn't like it. that's where the big problem for this administration, they can talk on the immigration issue and they are hoping to win back trump triers because they abandoned them in 2018 but i think that's a pretty tough sell and that's where he gets hurt. >> alena when you look the acting defense secretary patrick shanahan who said last night he has not made a determination the wall is required to meet this national emergency. in fact, he said he has not even spoken with the president this weekend. what do you make of that? >> we've seen coverage all week, all month, there is no emergency. there is no need for a wall, not that a wall would actually serve to stop illegal immigration at the border but that crime is not up at the border. this is not a necessary action. by trump's own admission, this is not something he needed to
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do. it was not necessary, he said, by his own admission, i could have done it a different way, i just wanted to do it faster. that is not the definition of an emergency in the way it has been executed by other presidents historically. that is not the purpose of the legislation, the national emergencies act. we're going to see this play out in the courts and ultimately trump is going to lose. >> the president always is sloppy when it comes to anything, think about the ban, rollout for the muslim ban. he always needs to redo something. >> you both will need to redo conversation wall street me because i'm google to have you back. a new poll shows joe biden is the best bet to beat the president in 2020 but one question remains. beat the president in 2020 but one question remains nd belly pain nd belly pain talk to your doctor and say yesss! to linzess. ♪ ♪ yesss! linzess treats adults with ibs with constipation or chronic constipation. linzess can help relieve your belly pain and lets you have more frequent and complete bowel movements.
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welcome to weekend with alex witt. ne details about the president's national emergency. california's attorney general renewing his promise to sue the president for trying to secure funds congress denied him for building the wall. other states will join california in the lawsuit. >> definitely and imminently. we are prepared. we knew something like this might happen. with our sister state partners, we're prepared to go. we're confident there's 8 billion ways we can prove harm. also today, the acting
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defense secretary on whether he will prove $3.6 for military construction projects to build the border wall. >> you have not determined specifically a wall is required to meet that national emergency. >> there have been no determinations by me. we're following the law. we're using the rules. we're not bending the rules. >> last hour i spoke with congresswoman chrissy hoolahan, a democrat, who had this warning about defending the consequences of military. >> i'm a veteran and i actually genuinely believe in protecting our borders, all of them. i'm the daughter of a refugee, and i believe it's essential our immigration and border are treated with respect. i do worry we're going to be endlessly and hopelessly tied into a knot with this declaration of an emergency that no longer exist. i worry that our troops will not be as ready as they would have
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been and appropriations have been violated. asking members of congress to support his resolution to stop the president's declaration. why does hard-liner steven miller suggest the president is willing to veto it. >> >> we already have 4,000 troops on the border in light of the emergency, a decision made a year ago as we see an increasing number of people across the border as well as increasing violence in mexico. what the president is saying is, like past presidents, he could choose to ignore the crisis, the emergency as others have but that's not what he's going to do. >> meanwhile other trump allies rejecting that the president was defeated after the longest shutdown ever was completed without approving the money he requested. >> the president has authority. yes, it's a crisis in emergency along our boarder. is this moving in the right direction, is it as far as i want it to go?
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no. it was a down payment moving forward. i believe at the end of the day, the wall is going to be built, not sea to shining sea but 200 miles. mike vaccaro joining us from the white house. good morning to you. what are you hearing? >> good morning to you or i should say good afternoon. as we know the president absconded to palm beach and mar-a-lago hours after glaring that national emergency. it fell to his senior adviser stephen miller to support and defend it on the morning shows. quite a contentious exchange on one show. he defended national emergency, justified it as consistent with 1976 law passed in the wake of the vietnam war that set forth the parameters, legal parameters for these kinds of emergency declarations. when confronted with the fact that the number of apprehensions has gone down by a significant margin over the course of the last two decades, miller went and talked about some of the other declarations still in effect. he talked about one for belarus,
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for example, trying to compare that urgency to the urgency as he sees it echoing the president's talking points about the invasion of crime, drug trafficking through the southern border. they also talked about this joint resolution going through congress now. of course, we've seen a number of congress people say they are going to be putting it on the floor. they are out next week because of the presidents' day recess. when they get back the week after it was essentially disapprove of and require the president to step back from this national emergency. it's expected to pass the house. whether it passes the senate is an open question. if it does, would the president actually veto it. that was the question. here is stephen miller's answer. >> if they pass a resolution of disapproval, will the president veto that, which will be the first veto of his presidency. >> obviously the president is going to protect his national emergency declaration, chris. i know we're out of time but i want to again make this point. >> yes, he will veto? >> he's going to protect his
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national emergency guaranteed. >> that's the first marker, the first veto of the president's administration would come if that joint resolution were to pass. it's unlikely to have the two-third majority to override a presidential veto but we are getting a little ahead of ourselves. another remarkable thing that stephen miller said, you heard him criticizes prior presidents before, calling out gorge w. bush, his fellow republican saying his immigration policy, alex, was an astonishing betrayal of the american people. alex. >> okay. thank you, mike, for that. appreciate it. joining me now jeff mason, white house correspondent of reuters, jonathan allen, national reporter at nbc.com and political reporter at the "boston globe." jonathan, what do you make of the president calling out george w. bush in that regard? that's extraordinary, don't you think? >> yes. i think it's extraordinarily unusual. i think presidents and their
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staffs generally leave each other alone. i think the look back at past presidents and this border situation is something that this president -- he always wants to say what he's doing is unprecedented, what came before him is bad and what he's doing is good. presidents try to shape things that way but not to the degree this president has. no one has ever in my experience made it as personal as president trump has with his predecessors. >> i should make it clear stephen miller is the one who said that and i apologize for attributing that to the president. what he thinks we don't know. the president is doubling down, the white house is, defending this emergency declaration. so are others. let's take a look at what's going on out there. >> the president has the authority. yes, it is an emergency. that's been shown before. i believe at the end of the day, this wall is going to be built. >> this is an emergency. what are we on now, the fifth
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caravan? i would ask those senators, how many caravans do we need? >> jeff, how much does this bolster the president's case? >> that's a good question. i think the only way to answer that is to look wlaps once these lawsuits come into the court and once they are decided and also in the court of public opinion. so far you see certainly his base is supportive of this. i think that's reflected in the fact that so many republicans on capitol hill are so far showing reluctance to be very critical of him. but we'll see politically how it affects him in the race for 2020 as i said before and the courts will impact how much he can say politically in 2020 about whether the moves he has taken to build that wall actually led to it getting built. >> i'm curious since you cover the white house make you made of the rose garden speech, what was said about the core issue of his presidency. >> it struck me on friday that
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it was a particularly critical moment for him. the president had promised that wall, and was willing to shut the government down for so many weeks because of that. when he finally came to the conclusion that he needed to declare a national emergency, he came out into the rose garden, which is a favorite spot of his to make announcements, and just sort of rambled for a long time before actually get to it about the national emergency. it seemed a little bit back and forth. i wasn't out there that day, i'm sure there was a teleprompter, but it didn't appear he was following it. it came across to me for something that would have been and was a critical moment for his presidency not quite as sharp as you might have expected it to be. >> "the washington post," victoria, reported on friday that white house lawyers had repeatedly warned the president of the legal risks of his declaration, the emergency declaration there. they even acknowledged the risk of this failing in court as being high. he did it anyway. so is this all just about
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politics? >> i think, as we've seen from president trump, that, yes, it is always just about the base. it is about keeping that 30 x percent happy. what i think is interesting and what i'll be looking for, i think the wall is becoming equally important symbolically for democratic base. this is red plameat for them. when nancy pelosi talk about the wall being immoral, it reflects a sense among democrats, democratic voters this presidency is an affront to democracy and decency. i think there's a risk for president trump and republicans more broadly going into 2020 that this wall fight, by pushing the bounds of executive power, is going to keep democrats really fired up. it's going to continue what we saw in 2018 in a level of energy
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among voters we didn't see with voters in 2016. so i think it's a double edged sword for trump. >> the question is did the president undercut his own argument by saying i did not need to do this. is this a concern at the white house? i'll go back to you, jeff, if you heard that given your coverage of the white house. >> i haven't heard that's a major concern. i think what they would say and what came across to me as someone who covers him closely, it's classic trump. i'm doing this, it's important, i don't have to do it because i've already built some of the wall. i've done this already but i want to do it faster, that's why i'm doing it today. no doubt so many people jumped on it right away. i'm sure that particular sound bite will be brought up when it goes to court. >> i'll switch gears for you, jonathan. there's new reporting today that two witnesses back the account that the deputy attorney general rod rosenstein considered taping the president.
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it is something our former fbi director andrew mccabe first told "60 minutes" in an interview that will air tonight. how problematic is this and why do you think mccabe is speaking about this publicly? the point is being made he's on a book tour and this particular news nugget, if you will, is not included in the book. >> it's something discussed before because there was earlier reporting on it. if you're somebody who believes there's a deep state conspiracy against the president, this idea that, a, the establishment is out to get him. if you're somebody who believes the president engaged in product that was suspicious to the most straight up law enforcement in the country, you look at the president's appointee rod rosenstein deputy attorney general thinking of wearing a wire to record the president in
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private because there was concern that he might be compromised in some way or conducting illegal activity in some way, and you think to yourself this is exhibit a that the president was engaged in at the very least unusual behavior. publicly we're going to have a lot of debate between now and the time we see the mueller report and now and the end of the donald trump's presidency. behind the scenes there's a lot more to be discovered, i think. >> victoria, is it conceivable that as rod rosenstein indicated this was said in jest? >> possibly, though i don't think you joke about something like that if there isn't a certain level of disfupgs that makes it at least a matter to be sarcastic about. for me, regardless of what the actual ramifications are, i don't think we're going to see trump's cabinet invoke the 25th amendment, but it just sfoes a
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level of dysfunction within within this administration and a reminder to everybody, even if you're a supporter of this president, these are not normal, these times we're going through. this is not a normal presidency. this is not a normal level of chaos, if you will, within an administration. this isn't the kind of thing that you are used to hearing talked about even in jest. >> perhaps everything is being redefined in terms of what is normal. thank you very much, jeff, jonathan, victoria, good to see all three of you. appreciate it. let's get to another of today's headlines, the controversy surrounding the attack on the "empire" actor jussie smollett. he told police he was assaulted in a homophobic and racist attack. now we're learning authorities are investigating whether the actor paid two men, previously identified aspects, to stage the attack. this is according to a source close to the investigation. joining me on the latest on this probe, nbc's kathy park.
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again, all these twists and turns are extraordinary. now we essentially have, kathy, these two suspects being released and perhaps singing a song, telling what happened. is that what they are looking for, a confession from these two? >> you know, investigators were able to question them in detail. based on the information they provided, they were released. they were taken into custody for a brief period. after some interrogations and some questioning, they were released. there was no evidence that connected them to this crime. originally there were those suspects because that was smollett's story. he says back on january 29th when he was going home at 2:00 in the morning, he was approached by these masked men who became violent and homophobic and racist. that's when he filed that police report. they began the investigation. once again, they found no
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evidence that suggested these two men were linked to the crime. we haven't heard from smollett himself, but we did get a statement from his attorney with this latest revelation. the attorney said in a statement, jussie smollett is angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with. he has now been further victimized by claims attributed to alleged perpetrators that jussie played a role in his own attack. anyone claiming otherwise is lying. there's a lot of speculation out there as far as what may have motivated something like this. originally local media had reported that jussie, who stars in the show "empire" might have been written off the show but producers quickly denied those claims. but really a lot of questions. i think more questions now than ever, alex. >> absolutely. okay. the end of the story yet to be told. thank you very much. kathy park.
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with xfinity home. demo in an xfinity store. call, or go online today. he's pretty much daring the court to strike this down. it is going to be a real test for gop colleagues in congress and their devotion to the institution. if we give away, surrender the power of the purse, which is
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little power, there will be little check and no balance. >> adam schiff warning about the consequences of one of the most serious executive branch challenges to congressional authority in decades. joining me now, democrat from california, a member of the oversight committee. congressman, welcome. good to see you. let's get right into your assessment on how much the emergency declaration may weaken our government separation of powers. >> it's a direct assault on the constitution and the separation of powers. we clearly want to hold president trump accountable for taking this action. this is not a national emergency. it never was a national emergency. you don't shut down the government if you believe there's a national emergency. every single representative in congress on the border does not want a wall built. we have to push back on trump. we have to push back his efforts to take money from the military and other places, including in california in my district in orange county to make sure that
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money stays where it belongs to help the people and citizens of the u.s. >> can i ask you what you think might be a better use of a national emergency? i'm specifically going to ask you if you would want a future democratic president to declare a national emergency on gun control? >> first of all, that's one of the worst things going on here is just the precedent being set. we don't want presidents calling for national emergencies without bipartisan support. you raise a good issue. i can think of three areas that merit greater attention to be calling a national emergency. one would be the opioid crisis. two would be -- by the way, that's about 40,000 people dying a year from opioids. second would be gun violence. another 40,000 americans. over 100 americans a day dying from gun violence. third, we've got to deal with climate change and the long-term implications there. i think there are a lot of other problems all of us need to be more focused on than building a wall and trampling over private property owners rights and
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building a monument to president trump's ego. >> white house adviser stephen miller you may have heard earlier the. >> translator: willing to veto any move to stop the emergency, one from castro, having hailed that one. how do you see this playing out? >> i've added my name to that legislation. it will pass the house. it will go to the senate. the senate will have to vote on it inwithin 15 days. we'll find out exactly where every democratic and republican senator stands on this issue, find out where they stand and take it to the president. i'm hopeful it passes. i'm hoping it passes the senate. if the president decides to veto it, the question is if there's enough support in the house and senate to override that veto. i would hope that our republican friends on the other side of the aisle are not hypocrites here. i do know if president obama had done anything along these lines, we know what the reaction would
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be. we need to get rid of the hypocrisy in congress, in the senate and do what's right for our country. >> the acting secretary of defense has said he has not decided how to divert $3.6 million from military construction projects to build this border wall. let's take a listen to him? >> we haven't delineated what projects we would go do. we always anticipated that this will create a lot of attention. very deliberately we have not made any decisions. we've identified the steps we would take to make those decisions. this the important part of that. we laid that out so we could do it quickly. we don't want to fumble through this process. >> do you have a sense from that answer that the acting secretary of defense is doubtful about this need for a wall. is there anyone that can lobby him? >> it's a great point. think about the process here.
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we have a budget that is approved, set forth by congress, approved by the senate and the president. within that is the military budget. within the military budget is a very detailed line item for every single expenditure and how important it is and what is the rational and logic behind it. so for the president to override our military leaders, to override congress, to override the senate and say i'm going to take this money and spend it as i see fit is a direct violation of the constitution. we need him to follow the rule of law and the purpose our founders set forth in the constitution. i'm proud to see leaders of the military pushing back and saying this is wrong. >> representative harley rouda, good to talk to you. i look forward to talking to you many times in the future. thank you very much. thank you. >> he's the early polling favorite for 2020 to beat the president. is joe biden even going to run?
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democratic presidential contenders out in full force this weekend. senator elizabeth warren in nevada today. warren and senator kamala harris. cory booker in rochester, new
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hampshire. here is his response when one person asked about the electoral college. >> i believe the electoral college is something we need to change. i'm going to tell you the truth, that's a great thing to have as a united states senator. it's very, very hard to reform our system of government. there's a lot of things that undermine and corrupt our democracy that are easier to achieve that i would rather go to quicker. let me give you a couple of them. one is the corruption of money in politics. >> senator booker went on to say he would not take money from corporate pacs or big pharma. booker put a hold on receiving money from pharmaceutical companies in 2015. let's go to our reporter following another senator, amy klobuchar. kind of chilly in iowa where you've been camped out for three weeks or so, vaughn. talk about what the senator has
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focused on today. >> reporter: good afternoon, alex. a week ago she was in a snow globe in minnesota. amy klobuchar has brought it back to iowa. yesterday she made her first stop as a press deposition candidate in iowa 30 miles south of the border in mason city, iowa, in a bar up that way. i want to play you a little bite. it gives you a sense of what amy klobuchar will be focusing on in iowa. >> what we saw across the midwest in 2018, we're going to see again in spades for 2020. that is because the midwest is coming back. >> reporter: klobuchar focused on the midwest. throughout her speech yesterday, she even mentioned she worked on a bill with chuck grassley, the republican for rural hospitals. she name checked multiple candidates in iowa, because in places like where we are now, this is knoxville, iowa, a town of 7,000. it's also marion county. this county, alex, went for donald trump over hillary
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clinton by a two to one margin during the last election. what she's pitching not only a caucus victory but folks have to go and win in the election. iowa went by 10 percentage points after going for obama in twomp. she has two events today. she's going to be here for an hour at the brewing company. you've heard candidates, been on the ground with cory booker and elizabeth warren. it's interesting to hear. these candidates are very human. they try to feed off different energies and different emotions of folks. you heard from cory booker. he's up in new hampshire. he's really driving home that idea. elizabeth warren very focused trying to extract the frustrations out of folks. everybody has these different, whether it be nra or oil companies, that's where she's getting the message from. amy klobuchar, her message, i'm
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your neighbor. >> you probably wish you were in knoxville, tennessee, warmer there. let's bring in a former clinton campaign staffer, former nevada chairwoman amy and joel payne who worked for the clinton campaign and previously served as a democratic aide. hi, guys. good to see all three of you. first, a lot of states that are swing states. they are seeing a lot of action at this point. things are about to get more interesting according to reports indicating senator bernie sanders may announce a run within the week. joe biden reportedly 95% ready to go all in. is this a case of more the merrier or do too many candidates risk splintering the party to the benefit of the president? >> look, first of all, alex, as far as i'm concerned, the more the merrier. we've got a president who is incredibly dangerous to this country. every day he's sitting in the white house is a day our country
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is put at risk. so as far as i'm concerned, the more candidates who want to challenge him in the primary and the more that want to run as democratic primary contenders that's fantastic. i know exactly where vaughn is standing i spent time in iowa myself. i know it's very cold there right now. you're seeing candidates hit the campaign trail. amy klobuchar is doing exactly what she need to be doing, spending time in a state like iowa, a state she can perform very well in. especially among the first four states. she's going from small town to small town talking to voters and sharing her message about i'm the person who it help you. i'm the person who can work across partisan lines to get the job done for rural america. that's her platform, what she's running on. bernie sanders, i'm not exactly thrilled about him getting into the race, but if he wants to run, fine. i hope he runs as a democrat. we'll obviously see what joe biden does in the next few weeks. >> yeah. there's a new poll out there
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emerson college, joel, i want to go over it with you. they have joe biden leading the democratic field. as we know, he hasn't yet officially entered. he has 27% followed by bernie sanders 17%, kamala harris who has announced at 15%. so how do you read those numbers at this point? >> it's all about name id. at this stage people are going based on who they know. bernie sanders, joe biden are national names, kamala harris has obviously been high-profile both in her senate career and recent weeks as she launched her campaign. i'm sure elizabeth warren rates highly as well. that's the name of the game at this point. what's going to start to distinguish and pull these candidates apart is how they perform under the klieg lights here, pressing the flesh in iowa. i've been there, too. those voters can pull out a lot of who these people are internally. i think something that's also interesting that you've got to remember here, biden if he jumps
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in is going to transform the race. what he is going to do is cut into kamala harris's momentum. she is undoubtedly probably of the declared candidates the front-runner. biden changes that. he cuts into that electability argument she can make. >> there are three democrats the trump campaign believes most viable, kamala harris, cory booker, bernie sanders. they have compiled information on them. do you agree they pose the biggest threat? or the president is personally most concerned about joe biden. >> i do believe joe biden should be a concern. the other three, he's choosing the most progressive to sound the most unrealistic. as far as the moderate electorate will go, i think if you look at somebody like amy klobuchar, she has a better
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chance of taking him on because she is more moderate and she is out there stumping and peg to the rural. she's talking to your every day mom and pop voter. so i think that's something we need to take intok. i don't know if this is necessarily a made up concern or not of the gop, but i don't think those three are the top concern. >> i want to get in the nitty-gritty with you, adrian, it's worth keeping in mind the democratic party changed rules for 2020 affecting superdelegates and what it takes to qualify for a debate. we have california that has moved up on the primary calendar. who do you think benefits most from these challenges? >> alex, this is the chess game we watch play out in realtime over the next year. it's fascinating. to the point you just made, somebody like amy klobuchar has a chance to do extremely well in iowa, because she's from a neighboring state. she has an appeal to iowa caucusgoers. at the same time she has to drive a message that appeals to
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california voters because, of course, the first day of early voting in california is actually the day of the iowa caucuses. the map creates a whole different process for candidates this cycle. it's going to be fascinating to watch. also when it comes to debates, dnc you mentioned announced the first debate which will be with msnbc, nbc and telemundo. the rules deck tate if you want to get on that debate stage, number one, you have to poll 1% nationally, in a variety of different polls. secondly, you've got to meet a very easy but also for some candidates like perhaps michael bloomberg, who is going to be a big self-funder, if he is to run, you've got to reach a grassroots fundraising threshold that is viable but you've got to work a little harder at it especially if you're one of these tier two candidates. it's going to be fascinating. i think the map changes helps somebody like kamala harris but it's interesting to see how these guys play a game of chess and decide where to put their
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money, their ground game and concentrate a lot of their cam paper political capital. >> i want to point out that debate is going to go over two nights because we expect to have so many candidates to get them on the stage, those who qualify. amy, to you, former massachusetts governor entering the stage, planning to challenge the president for the republican nomination. here he is in a new interview and he's laying out his thinking. let's take a listen. >> i think the republicans in washington want to have no election, basically. i don't think that would be very good for the company. i have a lot of views about how the president is acting in office. i don't think he knows how to act. he thinks he has to humiliate who he's dealing with or he's half a man. >> is it your ultimate goal to weaken the president rather than beating him. >> no, not rather than beating him. it is part of my thinking to make sure he doesn't repeat, we don't have six more years of the antics, frankly, for want of a better word, that we've seen the last two years.
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>> amy, a lot to unpack there. isn't he right that republicans in washington do not want a primary battle? >> well, of course not. it was unanimous at the rnc meeting where they said they would make sure he was the 2020 nominee. i think to continue with president trump in the next election. i don't know much about bill weld. i disagree with him wholeheartedly. it's funny who hear you talk about how you welcome a lot of candidates on the democrat side where in the past you would attack us for having so many people to choose from. president trump won out of 17 candidates. so you know, it's going to be very interesting to watch i think in 2020, but i do believe president trump will still come out on top. >> okay, joel. do you want to sforespond to th? were you attacking the number? i think there were 17 candidates in the last gop go-round. >> i wasn't. amy, listen, if anybody was doing that, shame on them. the more the merrier.
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i agree with what adrienne said earlier. i want to chip in on skmng amy said earlier, too. there's a false narrative you have to choose between being a progressive or appealing to the electorate. i think that's thrown out the window. here is why. progressives won big in midterms across the country just three months ago. we saw that progressives could deliver an effective message and could really kind of change the complexion of congress. i think you're going to see that again over the next two years, there's a strong progressive message out there that can move in favor of democrats. >> last question i want to pose to you, adrienne, splitting the vote. howard schultz talked about his potential run as an independent. he said i would reassess the situation if numbers change with a centrist democratic nomination. how do you interpret that? >> the data i've seen out there shows that somebody like howard schultz running as an independent would pull away
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votes from the democratic party or nominee mainly because howard schultz up until recently was a democrat. that's where my concern comes in. again, i believe the more the merrier, but i don't think a spoiler running as an independent is something we need to contend with when we really need all hands on deck to defeat donald trump. >> we really need you and your voices. good to see you guys. thanks. lawyers for actor jussie smollett say don't believe what you read. what makes police now doubt his story? we'll talk about it ahead. t his story? we'll talk about it ahead. it's tough to quit smoking cold turkey. so chantix can help you quit "slow turkey." along with support, chantix is proven to help you quit. with chantix you can keep smoking at first and ease into quitting. chantix reduces the urge so when the day arrives, you'll be more ready to kiss cigarettes goodbye. when you try to quit smoking, with or without chantix. you may have nicotine withdrawal symptoms.
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winter weather this weekend creating some dangerous and, in fact, deadly driving conditions in parts of the country. we've got missouri where three people died, more than 60 were injured and over 700 crashes across the state on both friday and yesterday. then slippery snow conditions in northern california are keeping drivers off the road there. keeping agabusy. >> reporter: this is our second storm system currently impacting and making its way to midwest. cleveland, ohio, into chicago seeing those bands of snow right now. farther to the south precipitation is falling in the form of rain. temperatures are above that freezing mark. so winter weather alerts are in place across the midwest here. but our major shift in concern is going to be northeast in
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parts of the mid-atlantic as we step into tomorrow afternoon. we're going to continue to deal with these advisories. it's going to be light accumulation, 2 to 4" for lower elevation. could see a dusting from new york city all the way into boston. let's take a look at our future cast here. we could see torrential downpours out towards norfolk, virginia, all the way into raleigh-durham as well. higher elevations, you continue to deal with snow. this will transition into lake enhanced snow as we step into tomorrow afternoon out towards northern new england. >> all right. thank you very much for the heads up on all of that. appreciate that janessa. the mysterious case of jussie smollett. was the actor's claim more believable given today's political climate? litical clima?
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because we believe all men deserve a razor just for them. the best a man can get. gillette. today new developments rocking the investigation into an alleged astack on actor jussie smollett. a police source says investigators are now looking into whether smollett paid two men to stage the assault. police had been treating the attack as a possible hate crime after smollett filed a report last month in chicago saying two masked men poured bleach on him,
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put a noose around his neck and shouting racist and homophobic slurs. officers arrested two men in the case but released them friday night. in the latest statement from his attorneys reading in part, jussie smollett is anger and devastated by the recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals that he is familiar with. he is further victimized by claims that jussie played a role in the attack. nothing is further from the truth and no one claiming otherwise is lying. joining us for the legal aspect of this case, attorney and legal analyst, michael wilson. michael, welcome to you. to shift this kind of probe from recognizing someone as a victim to investigating that particular individual as someone who potentially orchestrated a hoax, that is a 180 by definition. >> right. >> what did police find to make that decision? >> so, this was an investigation -- let me give you an example -- much like the mueller investigation where they started out with these
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allegations and it was kind of like an onion where you peel the outer layers and then you get to the core. they started out and some things didn't match up. for example, why didn mr. smollett go on a walk at 2:00 in the morning when a week prior fox received this threatening letter. then he produced these phone records which were highly redacted. i'm tell you, alex, in terms of production of documents, there's a way to do that and the pro are way is to put them in a spread sheet, et cetera. that didn't happen, so it seemed like he was hiding something. so let's talk about the timing of all this and political climate out there. did that play a role in the reaction to this alleged attack? >> yeah, sadly, it did. mr. smollett has been very vocal in his opposition of president trump and the issue here, the bigger issue here, is that trump said it was a horrible act.
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you had jason van dyke who was a police officer in chicago sentenced to almost seven years in prison for the death of laquan mcdonald. the big question is going to be the next time something like this happens, is there going to be -- if these allegations against smollett are false, is it going to be a cry wolf situation. you have to start feeling sorry for other potential victims out there and the lgbtq community if mr. smollett was involved and complicit in creating this act. >> 100%. despite all the initial rumors though he has consistently stood his ground the entire time. but if this account is found, michael, to be false and not just false but something he potentially orchestrated, what kind of legal troubles does he face? >> so, under illinois law where the act occurred, it would be considered a class four felony which is disorderly conduct.
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so he may face one to three years in prison. the aggravating and mitigating circumstances, has he been arrested before, has he been in jail before, however, most likely that won't happen. he would have to pay restitution for probably all the resources that the chicago police department has spent. more importantly, i think the devil is in the details. you want to know if other fox execs were complicit in this matter here. >> in other words -- >> that's where -- that's going to be the interesting part of the investigation. >> this is far from over. michael wilson, come see us again as this story progresses. thank you so much, michael. >> thank you. coming up, the crowded field for 2020. how many more candidates are likely to join the race? lyo joi? i don't keep track of regrets.
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we're approaching the top of the hour, right now hitting it. i'm out of time. up next, my new good buddy, kendis gibson. to you, kendis. >> have a great remainder to your weekend. i'm kendis gibson at msnbc headquarters in new york. the power grab, many democrats are on the move right now trying to shore up support for 2020. they're scattered all across the country. we'll bring you the very latest from iowa, new hampshire, as well as south carolina where many of those candidates are around. we're also following the very latest in the jussie smollett situation. authorities there in chicago say they do want to speak with him. authorities are trying to figure out exactly was this a hoax. many of the

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