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tv   Andrea Mitchell Reports  MSNBC  February 22, 2019 9:00am-10:00am PST

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the defending super bowl champions. in fact i just talked to robert kraft on the sidelines in atlanta just a few weeks ago. but robert kraft now being charged with two counts of solicitation of prostitution after a human trafficking investigation there in florida. andrea mitchell is standing by. "andrea mitchell reports" starts right now. and good afternoon, i'm andrea mitchell in washington with this breaking news from jupiter, florida at this hour. new england patriots owner robert kraft has just been charged with two counts of soliciting prostitution at a massage parlor in florida. right now florida authorities are processing a warrant for mr. kraft, who is on the part of the a resident of the state. joining me now, nbc legal contributor danny cevallos from new york. danny, as you heard just now from kerry sanders, there have been multiple people spotted going in and out of this facility. this involves human trafficking. can you give us any details?
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>> right now what we've seen is that kraft is apparently charged along with other folks who had been soliciting, allegedly, prostitution at this location. but solicitation of prostitution in florida is a misdemeanor with a 60-day potential jail time as punishment. and of course fines. so it is in the grand scheme at this time. he is charged with only what is considered a lower level crime in florida. that's not to say charges couldn't be amended based on investigation going forward. but at this time all we really know is that robert kraft is charged with a second degree misdemeanor in florida for solicitation ofprostitution, two counts. >> of course there's a reputational issue as well, this is a very high profile case now because of his alleged involvement. mimi rocah joins us, former u.s. attorney who has dealt with a lot of these cases. what makes this so potent of
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course is that this is not just allegedly a personal situation, a sex crime. it involves the allegations of human trafficking and the real victims here could well be these women. >> absolutely, andrea. i worked on a lot of cases like this at the federal level. and these really are just horrible cases for many reasons. you know, some of the details of this case i think highlight how you have these women who are brought here under false pretences. they think they're coming here for legislatimate jobs. they don't speak english. they are really powerless to escape the situation that they're essentially held prisoner in. and they become sex slaves, and it's done for, you know, profit. it's done for power. and it's just absolutely some of the worst crimes i ever saw. i will say that so far, these are state charges. i don't know all of the details,
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but based on the facts i'm hearing, it sure sounds like there could be serious federal sex trafficking charges here. and those kind of charges carry very significant penalties. we're talking mandatory minimums of five, ten, 15 years depending on the details of the case. i wouldn't be surprised if we saw more serious charges to come out of this. >> of course that would be against the people who brought them here, not against any of the -- most likely not against the people who frequented the facility, allegedly, again. let's listen to a little bit more from the officials down in jupiter, florida. and as we see a question being asked of the local law enforcement officials, i wanted to clarify, apologies for that, but barbara mcquade is also with
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us, former u.s. attorney, of course. barba barbara, from a legal standpoint, what are the implications? >> well, whatever the state charges and penalties are for solicitation of prostitution. but the bigger picture, as mimi mentioned, is this idea of sex trafficking. human trafficking is a huge problem. and i want to point out it isn't just people who are brought here illegally and don't speak english who become sex slaves, but frequently what we saw, charges out of the u.s. attorney's office in my district, were underage girls, runaways, girls living in group homes, who became addicted to drugs and their oppressors would use drug addiction as a method to control and coerce them if they were underage or even if they were over the age of 18, to use coercion also makes it a federal offense. as mimi said, penalties very severe, mandatory minimum 15 years up to life. that would be for someone who knows and participants in what's going on. i don't think anyone's alleged robert kraft was aware that this
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was a human trafficking operation. if he were, he could face penalties as a co-conspirator. >> thank you for that clarification. let's play part of that news conference. >> reporter: can you confirm that's the professional sports franchise owner that we believe it to be? >> yes, sir, he is one of the individuals. >> reporter: can you say who he is? >> that would be mr. robert kraft. >> reporter: the owner of the in you engla new england patriots? >> yes, sir. >> reporter: what is he being charged with? >> the same offences as the others, that is soliciting another to commit prostitution. >> reporter: how many counts may he face? >> right now we have two. >> kerry sanders joins me from phone by florida. kerry, what do you know about this case? >> reporter: we've been following this case because it's been rather interesting in the region for some time here. for several days now, various police departments and sheriff's
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departments have been releasing information about this coordinated effort. the people who were at the very top allegedly running these massage parlorsstitution rings, have been taken into custody. they're chinese nationals, charged with trafficking and money laundering. in the days since the investigation began, authorities set up surveillance cameras and they have video of people coming inside each of these massage parlors. one of those that's on videotape going in and then coming out is robert kraft. what makes this so challenging of course for people to understand is, while robert kraft and the more than 170 people who now have arrest warrants out for them, while they're not charged with any sort of sex slave or any of the racketeering charges, it's
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alleged here that this is part of the problem in our country, that people go in and use these services without understanding what's going on. these girls in china were duped into believing they were coming into the united states for a legitimate job, that they came to new york, they found themselves in strip malls along the east coast on florida, working in massage pour lore pa were allegedly fronts for prostitution rings, clients would come in, pay 60 to $100, and they were required to perform sexual acts on each of the clients that came in, and then [ inaudible ] they actually had to sleep on the same tables that were set up for the massages and whatever else was going on. and they even had to go to the back of the strip malls and cook food on the back steps to keep themselves fed. on top of all of this, they couldn't reach out for help
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because they had a language issue, they had a cultural issue. authorities have brought in translators, they're working with the girls. they're encouraging them to please speak, tell as much as they can, that they themselves are not in trouble. and, you know, because of the notoriety of robert kraft, this draws attention to a problem that likely exists in many parts of the country but one that now gets a lot of attention because among those who allegedly was going into these massage parlor slash prostitution fronts was the owner of the new england patriots, robert kraft. >> and i know you'll be following this all day and for all of our broadcasts tonight. kerry sanders, thank you. just to repeat withhat we've sa already, the allegation or misdemeanor is that robert kraft was allegedly a customer involved in soliciting but not, not part of the ring, just to clarify that once again.
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we'll have a lot more coming up as well on other programs. and here in washington, meanwhile, to the politics, and of course the continuing investigation of president trump, his senior staff are dismissing the russia investigation ahead of robert mueller's confidential report to attorney general william barr which may come out this week or next. press secretary sarah sanders saying today that any possibility that the president colluded with russia to defeat hillary clinton is, quote, laughable. but the impending report is clearly on the president's mind today. he was tweeting today that, quote, the witch hunt, so bad for our country, must end. joining me now, msnbc political analyst peter baker, chief white house correspondent for "the new york times," mimi rocah joining us, and phil rucker, white house bureau chief for "the washington post." welcome, all. first to you, peter baker, let's talk about a reality check. the mood in the white house.
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you and phil rucker are best able to tell us that, as we await this mueller report. peter, first to you. >> well, it's a -- sure, yeah, look, this is a very fraught moment for this white house. look at what the next week has in store for them. the president of the united states is go to go overseas for a high stakes summit meeting with the leader of north korea. we've got the likelihood of a possible delivery of robert mueller's report sometime in the next week or two. we've got, you know, michael cohen's scheduled testimony from congress. we've got the manafort thing. we've got so many things coming all at once that you can imagine how stressful a time this is, particularly for a white house that isn't fully staffed and is trying to, you know, get its feet back the ground after what happened with the border wall clash with congress. >> and phil rucker, let's share what neal katya, former u.s. attorney fired by the president, has to say about the upcoming mueller report.
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he wrote today that the report is unlikely to be lengthy by design. the special counsel regulations, which i had the privilege of drafting in 1999, envision a report that is concise, a summary of what he found. and mr. mueller's mandate is limited to look into criminal activity and counterintelligence matters surrounding russia and the 2016 election as well as any obstruction of justice relating to those investigations. phil, does that give the white house any comfort that this may not include everything or won't include all of these collateral issues that are being investigated by new york prosecutors, by d.c. prosecutors, by virginia? >> well, andrea, white house advisers will be most comforted by the most concise report from the special counsel. what they're not looking forward to is a lengthy, you know, dozens of pages kind of narrative, tick-tock, of everything that mueller learned from his many, many hours of interviews regarding the president's behavior. you know, the white house officials that i've been talking
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to the last few days say, look, we're prepared for this, but they also acknowledge they don't know what's coming in the mueller report. they do not know what sort of shape the report will be in, how it will be delivered, the length of it, how much detail it will have. they feel like they have some confidence that the president will not be accused of any sort of criminal wrongdoing, and they say that's based on their knowledge of the documents that mueller has been reviewing, and their readouts of some of mueller's interviews with witnesses. but again, they can't be certain. they're trying to be prepared but at the end of the day, as you know, this is a white house where the president decides strategy sort of on an impulse and a whim, and how he reacts when it eventually comes out is going to dictate what the strategy is regardless of how many plans white house officials have carefully laid. >> and his personal lawyer, rudy giuliani, speaking to "usa today" today in an interview, saying if mueller clears the president, we walk away and say thank you. if it is damaging, then we will
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respond. and he's been saying they have a response already. barbara mcquade, there is a legal issue here as to what william barr, once he receives this, is required or obligated in any way to do by the regulations that neal katya wrote in 1999 because some are questioning whether or not he even has to turn it over to congress. what's your take on that? >> yes, i think that most of us remember, when we think about these special counsel reports, we're thinking of the ken starr report which was written under the prior version of this law, the independent counsel statute, which has lapsed. since that time, neal and others have drafted these new statutes instead which say the attorney general is to report the fact that robert mueller is done to guess and that's all that is required. at his confirmation hearings mr. barr said words to the effect of, he favors as much transparency as possible consistent with the law, regulations, and department of
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justice policy. and so i think with those caveats, he could disclose very little or even nothing at all. i can't imagine that the public would tolerate no response whatsoever. but i think it could be a very limited report that actually ends up seeing the light of day. and this is of course we also heard from house democrats, they are prepared to subpoena mueller and try to get the report directly from him, whether in closed or open session remains to be seen, that's down the road. mimi rocah, the new york prosecutors have confirmed now today in several reports that they are preparing separate allegations against paul manafort if there is a pardon that intervenes after his sentencing. what are you hearing about that? >> right, well, and i believe -- i mean, that's the new york state prosecutors. >> exactly. >> who would be, you know, ready i guess to step in the president
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did do something as drastic and in my mind as illegal as pardoning paul manafort to reward him, apparently, for not cooperating. that's really what this would be. and so, you know, i think we should call it what it is. if he pardons manafort, it's pretty clear that what we've all been suspecting, that he is trying to tempt manafort into not cooperating by this pardon-dangling, will have been an effective strategy. if new york state prosecutors are able to bring charges which it seems like there are many possibilities for that given manafort's conduct, they should do it. and, you know, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. i mean, different prosecutors bring cases all the time, and here it would seem to me to be an entirely permissible and frankly necessary thing to do if they can.
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>> let's talk about roger stone as well. peter baker, roger stone, the gag order, the tough demeanor and tough order, really, by the judge, she didn't lock him up. she said, this is your last warning, you get two strikes but in baseball, you know, three strikes you're out. he went back to florida. he's been on twitter today but not anything that would apparently violate that order. but this is roger stone effectively gagged. >> well, it is, and remember, of course, roger stone said the only thing worse than being talked about about is not being talked about. i think for roger stone, being gagged is a pretty significant thing. it's something that goes to the heart of who he sees himself being. reading the transcript of that hearing yesterday, the judge was pretty tough on him even though she didn't decide to revoke his bail. she made very clear that she would change the condition of your surroundings, i think, something to that effect is what she said, if he were to do it again. she didn't accept his
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explanations, didn't find what he said credible. she signaled that she thought basically that the strength of the charges already brought against him was pretty significant. she said, this is a compelling evidence already case. remember, this is a side show. what's really important is whether or not roger stone was in touch with wikileaks during the campaign, did he know what he was doing, was he operating on behalf of the campaign, and how much interaction was there with the idea that russia was behind the stolen e-mails that were going to be put online. that's still the essence of this. and what's happened this last few days is kind of a side show that we haven't yet gotten to the main act. >> and rod rosenstein was speaking yesterday at the alma mater of president trump, at the wharton school. this was rod rosenstein defending his tenure. he's about to leave the justice department. >> i know because i'm managing the place, that it's being run in the right way. and we have the support of the
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administration to run it in the right way. that doesn't mean they're always going to agree with us. we're in an environment where politicians are required to express their opinions about a whole range of things. but i think the most important thing is, i say judge us by what we do. >> and this is what andrew mccabe told us yesterday right here about rod rosenstein and his tenure. what about your confidence in rod rosenstein since he was in charge of this probe? >> i think from all outward indications, from everything we know publicly, rod has supported the work of the special counsel, since he put director mueller in place. so i think that's something we can rely on. >> phil rucker, we're going to see some big changes, though, with william barr and his in did you deputy at the justice department. >> that's right, andrea. rod rosenstein's going to be leaving that job very soon. he clearly is trying to create an impression that he led this probe with integrity and that he filled this job as deputy
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attorney general with integrity. remember, he had a long career in federal law enforcement that predated the trump presidency. and i think he probably hopes to have an opportunity to have a career after the trump presidency. he's a relatively young guy, he's not going to go out into the sunset. so he's trying to, you know, leave the right sort of impression with people to have them conclude that he, you know, did the right things for the institution. >> our thafrpnks to peter baker phil rucker, mimi rocah and barbara ma cacquade. a spokesman for robert kraft is saying, we categorically deny that mr. kraft engaged in any illegal activity. that from robert kraft. we'll be back after this quick break, right here on msnbc. quick break, right here on msnbc.
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more than 200 democrats already signed onto this measure. and it is expected to easily pass the house. setting up a showdown in the senate, where some key republicans have also criticized the president's move. now are they going to stand up to him? joining me is msnbc's garrett haake on capitol hill and margaret carlson, columnist from the daily beast, here with me. garrett, what are you hearing from senators? they were willing to speak up against the president but this is going to go to the house floor on tuesday and it's going to go on to the senate. >> this will be really interesting, andrea. before the senators left town we heard from maybe six, seven, eight, perhaps a dozen republican senators about their concerns about the president's emergency declaration. everyone from susan collins to mitt romney to the more libertarians like mike lee or rand paul, raising questions about whether or not the president can or should go this route. now they will have an opportunity to vote on it. here is where the specifics are important. several of those senators said they wanted to look at the
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resolution very closely to see how narrowly tailored it was. joaquin castro, the democrat in the house who authored this resolution, he and his staff spent six weeks putting it together with exactly that in mind. they know they can get this passed by just democrats in the house but that they'll need republican support in the senate. so keeping this very narrowly tailored, very specific to the emergency declaration that this president has declared, and not liable to pull in escape hatches and off-ramps for republican senators who have been on the record about executive overreach but may not want to support this will be key. we'll be watching some of those folks when they come back to washington early next week, because the house has said they're going to move really fast on this. they want to vote on this on tuesday. the senators can no longer talk about this as an intellectual effort or theoretical endeavor. this will be in their laps by the end of next week. >> garrett, when you look at what's going to be spent, a lot of this was not under the emergency declaration, a lot of this was moving monies that presidents have always been able
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to move on unappropriated funds. it seems that the white house was dealing with this as narrowly as possible. >> that's true, but look at -- where the money comes from, you can pick your constituency, who will be upset with you. if they've chosen to raid emergency funds from places like puerto rico, or hurricane recovery in texas, they knew they would have upset those delegations. a lot of this money comes out of the military construction budget. i've been saying since last week, i wonder what john mccain would be saying about this if he were still here, because appropriators, particularly those who deal with the military, take their jobs very seriously. this money is sent to save and protect lives. and i think the administration swaps one set of problems for another by choosing to upset potentially military hawks, folks who have bases in their communities, folks who might see that military construction money on there as something that would actually benefit their district or state. perhaps they look around and see those folks to be more friendly. you've got james inhofe, the
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chairman of the senate armed services committee, a very reliable trump ally, someone like martha mcsally in the arizona senate seat right now who had to run a very trump-like campaign to get appointed to that seat, she didn't win, and she'll have to run a difficult reelection campaign in 2020. so there's a lot of politics at play here that the white house might hope some of these republican senators will back them up on this. >> this is really going to be a test of spine for republicans. easy to say, i don't like it, but -- >> given that they haven't done anything about separating children at the border and other things, you wonder if they'll show spine here. but they've spoken more loudly this time. and as garrett points out, military construction for some of these senators like thom tillis and marco rubio on around services is an issue. susan collins, who has a tough reelection fight, may want to make up for voting for kavanaugh with this. she hasn't spoken, she's been
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asked since kavanaugh voted to trim roe v. wade, she said he was assured he would not do that. but she's moved back from her position of not being in favor of the national emergency. then you have alexander, senator alexander is now bob corker of tennessee, because he's retiring, so if you're going to get a vote, you mate gight get from him because he doesn't have to face reelection. cory gardner of colorado does, and there have been demonstrations outside his office, he may vote against it. there are those with their own particular election stories. lisa murkowski, who is as independent as you get on the hill, has said she may vote against it, because it sets a bad precedent. >> this could very easily pass. but the president will veto it. >> they're not going to get two-thirds, there are not two-thirds profiles in courage in the senate, we know that. >> margaret carlson, garrett haake, thanks so much. and coming up, the isis
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bride, the alabama woman who left home to join the terror group in syria speaks for the very first time exclusively since the u.s. denied her plea to return home. who has got that interview? nbc's richard engel, of course. he joins us next. gel, of course he joins us next and still going for my best, even though i live with a higher risk of stroke due to afib not caused by a heart valve problem. so if there's a better treatment than warfarin... i want that too. eliquis. eliquis is proven to reduce stroke risk better than warfarin. plus has significantly less major bleeding than warfarin. eliquis is fda-approved and has both. what's next? reeling in a nice one. don't stop taking eliquis unless your doctor tells you to, as stopping increases your risk of having a stroke. eliquis can cause serious and in rare cases fatal bleeding. don't take eliquis if you have an artificial heart valve or abnormal bleeding. while taking eliquis, you may bruise more easily and it may take longer than usual for any bleeding to stop. seek immediate medical care for sudden sign of bleeding, like unusual bruising.
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liver problems can occur with entyvio®. if your uc or crohn's treatment isn't working for you, ask your gastroenterologist about entyvio®. entyvio®. relief and remission within reach. and welcome back. the chairman of the house intelligence committee, congressman adam schiff, is calling on his republican colleagues to stand up to
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president trump. in a scathing open letter published in "the washington post," schiff appeals largely to republicans, writing, many of you have acknowledged your deep misgivings about the president in quiet conversations over the past two years. you have bemoaned his lack of decency, character, and integrity. you have deplored his fundamental inability to tell the truth. but for reasons all too easy to comprehend, you have chosen to keep your alarm private. that must end. the time for silent disagreement is over. you must speak out. joining me now is someone not elected to speak out, john brennan who served of course as the cia director for president obama. he's an nbc senior intelligence analyst. the republicans have been reluctant to stand up to the president on these corps issue . >> adam schiff captured it well. mr. trump is a deeply flawed
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individual who i think has demonstrated that he is not fit to serve as president of the united states. adam and others, including myself, have been very dismayed at the republican leaders of congress and the members of the republican party who have been reluctant to call mr. trump what he is, which is an individual who has demonstrated the lack of ethics, principles, as well as competence. so i'm hoping that the republicans are going to be speaking out against him. >> the president is not shy on twitter, as we all know. he tweeted, conspiracy -- i repeated from "the wall street journal," conspiracy theorist adam schiff is anticipating a mueller letdown. she's a well-known opinion writer at "the wall street journal." >> and well-known trump supporter too. >> exactly. the mueller report may be disappointing in that we may not see it. it goes to william barr and there is a dispute as to whether
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william barr has any obligation to do anything except inform the committees that there is a report and that it's been delivered. >> everything is pure speculation at this time in terms of when the report is going to be issued, what it's going to look like. people refer to that it's going to be a concise report. but it could be 50 pages or more, which would be a concise summary of a very complex two-year investigation. and also mr. barr is not bound by any law. these are department of justice policies and regulations that he can change. and so i do think that he's going to have some options. bob mueller has options as well. he could decide to do what we did at the end of the obama administration, with our intelligence community assessment on russia. we developed two versions, a top secret version and an unclassified version that could be released publicly, making sure that the conclusions were going to be the same. so i don't know whether or not the special counsel's team is going to try to make things a bit easier for mr. barr, maybe write a report that is releasable to congress and the american public, and have an annex that will have classified
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information, exclusiecutive privileged information that needs to be withheld. i don't think the attorney general will be able to just put it in his drawer and not release at least something that is going to capture the thrust of that very important investigation. >> and just as we were interviewing andrew mccabe yesterday and his book was cleared, precleared by the fbi, as all such books have to be, he could not, would not, and will not say what the basis was beyond the obvious about the president and russia, what he had said publicly, the kislyak meeting, but that doesn't mean there weren't intercepts, other intelligence that led to the conclusion that alarmed them so much that they asked for an independent counsel. let me go on to the president and his response next week. what he's facing next week is this incredible summit in vietnam with kim jong-un, the second summit. the advice from his own intelligence communities.
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you know, unanimous advice in open testimony that they believe kim jong-un is not ever going to denuclearize, and the definitions of denuclearization are so different. to kim jong-un, denuclearization means getting u.s. troops and tactical weapons and anything else that might exist out of the entire peninsula. to us it means him disclosing his inventory and giving it up. and there's been to agreement on that. and he's looking, the president, for a high stakes victory with the backdrop of the mueller report and now michael cohen, his fixer, testifying openly. what are the alarm bells, if you were still in your old job, with this president for the intelligence community and what he might be giving away without jim mattis and others looking over his shoulder? >> well, i think dan coats and gina haspel and other members of the senior intelligence community are demonstrating they are doing what they need to do
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which is continuing to explain to mr. trump and others exactly what the north koreans are doing, what they're likely to do or not likely to do. same thing with the iranians and others. so it's critically important particularly when there's a person in the oval office who is not spending a lot of time in briefings and reading material. he's basically moving on his gut. having a second summit with kim jong-un in vietnam will be largely a photo op. let's not forget, the north koreans have the same nuclear arsenal that they had last year. they have probably increased their capabilities in terms of fissile material production, other types of things, machining of parts and ballistic missiles. they don't have to test in order to maintain and also to further refine that program. and the important thing is, what are we going to do to try to reduce the threat that kim jong-un poses to the region? and so i'm hoping that mr. trump is not going to give away a lot to kim jong-un on the belief or the hope or his gut instinct that kim jong-un is going to be
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nice. >> it was that testimony by dan coats, he said that the intelligence leaders need to go back to school. really it hit him the wrong way. he clearly does not take in what they are telling him. he discounts it. >> he has from day one. anything that does not comport with his preconceived notions or what his policy objectives or agenda is, he tends to ignore. and these are reality, this is reality, these are facts. that's why it's so important that the intelligence leaders continue to push this. and i'm hoping the secretaries of state, the acting secretary of defense and the national security adviser are going to take that intelligence and try to convince mr. trump that the way he sees the world is not in fact consistent with what reality is. >> those cabinet members that you just mentioned seem to be in several instances more interested in staying on his good side than telling him the truth. >> yeah, that's very unfortunate. they really need to make sure they are fulfilling their
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constitutional responsibilities in terms of their job, making sure they're doing everything possible to protect the national security of this country, not to demonstrate continued loyalty to an individual who has demonstrated time and time again that he's not fit for the office. >> what if he does a one-on-one the way he did with putin? >> it's very concerning. i am still very concerned what happened in those two hours with putin in helsinki. did he signal to mr. putin how the united states gains insight into what the russians are doing? was mr. trump trying to undermine, in fact, u.s. intelligence community's ability to continue to have insight into russian activities? so i was very, very worried about what mr. trump is doing to, again, undermine this country's national security. >> we know we'll be talking to you all next week about all of this. thank you so much, john brennan. up next, nbc chief foreign correspondent live from inside
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syria with his exclusive interview with the american-born isis bride. you're watching "andrea mitchell reports." stay with us on msnbc. rts. stay with us on msnbc. ♪ ♪ and everywhere i go ♪ there's always something to remind me ♪ ♪ of another place and time ♪ ♪ ♪ of another place and time ♪ howdoing great dad!r does this thing got? looking good babe! are you filming. at booking.com, we can't guarantee you'll be any good at that water jet thingy... but we can guarantee the best price on a hotel, like this one. or any home, boat, treehouse, yurt, whatever. get the best price on homes, hotels and so much more.
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foreign terrorist fighters being held in syria today. she's just one of them. she is a terrorist. she's not a u.s. citizen. she ought not return to this country. >> so she wasn't born here? >> she may have been born here. she is not a u.s. citizen nor is she entitled to u.s. citizenship. >> secretary of state mike pompeo with craig melvin on the "today" show, flatly rejecting an appeal from the so-called isis bride, 24-year-old hoda muthana who claims she is a u.s. citizen and has a u.s. passport because she was born in new jersey while her father was a yemeni diplomat. he is now suing the trump administration, claiming his daughter and her toddler son should be able to return to the u.s. nbc chief foreign correspondent richard engel sat down for an exclusive interview with hoda muthana in syria this morning. >> i know for a fact i was a citizen. when i tried filing for a passport, it was very easy. it came in ten days. so i thought i didn't have a problem. i'm sure there's no problem.
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i know my lawyer hopefully is working on it, and he will win the case. >> do you think you'll be able to go back to the united states? do you want to go to the united states? >> i prefer america to other -- than anywhere else, yes. >> what do you want to do if you went back to the states? what do you think would happen to you if you were allowed to go back? >> of course i'll be given jail time. >> do you regret coming here? >> definitely, 100%. the only regret i don't have is my son. and if i can erase everything and have my son in america, i would prefer that. >> wow. richard engel joins me live. richard, where is she now? >> so hoda muthana is in this part of a refugee camp. the whole refugee camp which is not far from where i am now in northern east syria is a sprawling, trash-strewn facility, a tinted camp, canvas
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tents. there are 40,000 people there. and in this large camp, there is a section for isis family members, the wives, the children of people who were married to isis fighters and their children. and it is a closed facility, the people inside can't leave. this is just for foreigners. there were 50 -- all 1,600 people in this facility are from 48 different countries. we went to the tent where hoda muthana was staying. initially she didn't want to talk to us, eventually she agreed. we sat down with her and asked her not just about her legal disputes with the government. her father has now filed a suit in order to get her passport back so that she can go to the united states to face trial. we also asked her why did she come here, why did she go to isis territory, and why was her
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twitter account sending out inflammatory messages calling on americans to carry out attacks against fellow american citizens? she said her lawyer has advised her not to talk about her social media use. >> at the same time, you and i were both in munich, i'm sure you heard what i was hearing, real anger from the american officials there, republicans as well as democrats, but the troop withdrawal from syria, certainly from the allies. and now the white house says they're going to send or leave 200 troops there, they call them peacekeepers, more appropriately they are special forces, not u.n.-mandated peacekeepers. why do you think they're bending to this pressure? >> so there are so many issues here right now. first, there is the issue of thousands of isis family members here, like hoda muthana, who don't really know what's going to happen to them because their host countries in europe and the
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united states don't seem to be willing to take them back. then there is the issue of isis itself. isis is collapsing. it is in a state of catastrophic collapse. i spoke earlier today with the leader of the kurdish-led forces fighting alongside u.s. troops. and he told me that the military campaign against isis is over, but there is a little bit of a mop-up operation. they're still trying to remove some families being used as human shields, to root out the last few isis fighters, and then they will declare a formal victory soon. but then what happens? the u.s.-backed forces here were terrified, what would happen to this vacuum left after isis? the assad regime has been making overtures that it would send its forces into this area. where i am right now, there are not assad forces. the turks have been threatening to invade. russia has talked about establishing its presence in the area. iran as well. and there was this major concern about these u.s.-backed forces
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that if all u.s. forces left, that these other countries, russia, iran, turkey, the assad regime, would move in and take over. now the commander said with a small force, just even 200 which will bring in other coalition members or guarantee that other coalition members will stay, namely the british and the french, they think they have a chance to change the dynamic here and not see a turkish invasion and not see more iranian and russian influence in this part of syria. so it sounds like it could be a small move just with 200 special forces, but for the commanders here, they think it is a game changer. >> wow. thank you so much, richard engel. please be safe. and for more of richard's exclusive reporting from syria, of course, tune into "nightly news" with lester holt tonight. coming up, round two after a dramatic courtroom showdown, officials order a new election in north carolina for the last contested congressional race. stay with us.
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election officials in north carolina have ordered a new election in the last undecided congressional house seat. after dramatic hearing pitting the republican candidate mark harris against his own son, a prosecutor who testified against his own father, watch father and son. >> i love my dad and i love my mom. okay.
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i certainly have no vendetta against them, no family scores to settle, okay. i think they made mistakes in this process and they certainly did things differently than i would have done them. >> through the testimony i have listened to over the past three days, i believe a new election should be called. >> it was a pretty dramatic moment in the courtroom. the move follows testimony this week that a political operative orchestrated an absentee ballot scheme for the republican mark harris to try and sway the race in the state's 9th district. in favor of the republican who, of course, held a slim lead of only 905 votes over his democratic opponent dan mccready in those unofficial votes. joining me is heidi przybyla. the race is not decided. talk about election fraud, how
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there was double voting, this was real election fraud, the most proved example. >> that is the most important take away, andrea. you and i both remember how desperately president trump wanted to make election fraud an issue during the campaign, even suggesting there had been millions of illegal ballots cast in california which was there no evidence of. he formed a commission early on in his administration to study this notion of fraud. they never found anything, it watt shuttered -- >> they met, they disbanded. they found nothing. in the history books will be this one prominent case which was a case of republicans in his own party trying to do exactly that. overall in the grand scheme, it's a bad development because up until now we really haven't had this type of evidence. so what it does is just undermines confidence in the system, but hopefully people will be on guard in the future and this is a good lesson to see that there was ultimately an election, reelection -- revote
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of the election called for and there will be a do over here. >> lyanne caldwell is down in north carolina, has covered all of this. lyanne joins us by phone. lyanne, you were there when all this happened. the father/son drama. for mark harris to say he believes there should be a new election was pretty stunning. >> andrea, it was incredible. it was an unexpected turn throughout this entire situation. i mean, the first unexpected moment was when his son took the stand to testify really against him. and the second was when mark harris, he took the stand and continued to try to defend himself. and then he almost perjured himself until his attorney stood up and had to intervene. they went to a break. two-hour-long break. they came back, and mark harris said that he wanted to retract the statement that he made that was going to possibly give him some perjury problems, and then he said he wanted to call for a new election. it was just stunning.
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and especially since mark harris, throughout this entire -- since the election, he has been pushing the board to certify this race, to distance himself from any illegal activity that happened. and for him to be really the one to say, look, there's no confidence in the election. it needs to be redone, it was just a monumental moment, andrea. >> well, lyanne, your reporting has been incredible from down there. we thank you so much. and, heidi, this does put it in play. does dan mccready run or mark harris not run again given the drama? >> it sounds like from lyanne's great reporting, it is likely he does not run. there is more going on than affected the election. charges of perjury, elections to pacs. it seems maybe the pendulum would swing towards him not running. the question is how much does this become like other special -- recent special elections we've seen before the
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midterms, that both parties view it as kind of a harbinger of the upcoming election, a finger in the wind where we should invest a lot of money in this outcome. and whether this whole episode actually affect the outcome. if it flips this to democrats, because there is a backlash against what happened down there, there is a lot here to play out. we'll just have to see whether the parties view it as a worthy investment to go fist to cuffs here. >> it depends who the candidates are if it becomes a proxy fight, how much money they put in. when do you think they might have the special? >> probably may is, based on lyanne's reporting, that they would do that in may. for the whole process to play out, almost a year the seat may remain vacant. >> people in that district do not have representative asian in congress. thanks to you, heidi and lyanne intrepid throughout. that does it for andrea mitchell. thanks for being with us. follow the show online and on twitter at mitchell reports. i'll be joining chuck on "meet
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the press" sunday. here is stephanie ruhle for "velshi & ruhle." >> i am stephanie ruhle. my partner ali velshi on assignment. it is friday, february 22nd. let's get smarter. we begin today with the president and his legal team bracing for the special counsel's russia report as a judge silences roger stone, banning him from talking publicly about his case. robert mueller or the russia investigation. >> we're seeing the same reports that you are. it's possible that this is coming to a conclusion and his report will be finished. and we feel good about the facts that what we have said all along for the last two years will be clear. there was no collusion. >> i can't imagine that the special counsel is not going to release something that shows a road map for the house to investigate a conspiracy to answer it as a political question. >> impeachment you mean? >> correct. >> a judge rules prosecutors

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