tv Anderson Cooper 360 CNN December 20, 2018 5:00pm-6:00pm PST
security issue if there is a shutdown. it will force democrats to come to the table. the democrats saying they're not going to do that. >> thank you very much. this is now linked to this letter, and this stunning rebuke from the defense secretary to the president of the united states. thanks for watching us. anderson and "360" starts right now. good evening. jim sciutto sitting in for anderson. this is quote an evening of news. the kind of leadership that causes a dedicated patriot like jim mattis to leave should give pause to every american. the wheels may be coming off. a supporter of the president tells us tonight, a republican house member. this too, trump is too clueless or distracted to see he just got railroad. a defense official and senior commander in afghanistan tells me. he goes on to say, this is profoundly shortsighted. that is the reaction to one of two big breaking stories this evening. the departure of defense
secretary james mattis, the last of the so-called adults in the room and the latest of so many members of this administration to leave. we first got word of it in a presidential tweet. the president saying, misleadingly it would turn out, that the decorated four-star marine general, was retiring. moments later, we learned in fact, a stinging letter came from the secretary. he was quitting, in protest. and in that letter, not one single word of praise for the commander in chief. plenty to say, however, about sharp policy differences. as you heard, the reaction from across the board from both parties, from the military, has been brutal. in one case, we should warm you, profane. one lawmaker, a democrat on the house armed services committee said sharply nchs and i don't like to say these words on the air, but he said oh, shit. as we mentioned, this is just one of two important stories this evening. the other is the growing and now very real possibility of a government shutdown.
we begin with secretary mattis, quitting in protest of the president's policies in a number of countries, as cnn's barbara starr is at the pentagon. you've been follow thing from the beginning. tell us what led to this decision to step down? >> reporter: this had been a growing decision for jim mattis throughout the day. what we are told by officials with how it unfolded is that at 7:30 this morning, mattis decided that he needed to go to the white house and see the president. he had become quite concerned about the fate of kurdish fighters in syria with u.s. troops leaving. these are the fightersthatthe u.s. has backed for years now. the fighters that the u.s. military had promised to stand by. and with u.s. troops leaving, those kurds faced a potential blood bath from a turkish invasion. and the turks had talked about going -- coming after the kurds in news reports that mattis saw this morning.
so he became very, very worried about all of this we are told. he went to the white house at about 3:00, tried to make another effort to get the president to change his mind about syria, and withdrawing u.s. troops. the president did not, and at that point mattis had his resignation letter ready to go. he would come back to the pentagon, inform his staff and inform the chairman of joint chief of staff that he would be leaving in february. the letter, he says you have a right to a secretary of defense whose views are aligned with yours, meaning his views are not aligned with mr. trump's. you cannot underestimate a key fact here. this is a secretary of defense, a retired general with 40 years on the job, who basically tonight has fallen on his sword. he has said, i can no longer support the president of the united states. jim? >> it is a remarkable moment. we've had a lot of officials
leave, quietly, off the record, on background, express dissat fak shcti faction. you have new reporting of another drawdown of troops in afghanistan. >> reporter: what we are now told, jim, is that the president has also ordered the pentagon to begin planning for drawing down, withdrawing about half of the u.s. troops in afghanistan. this could come out to somewhere like 7,000 troops. that will take some time. there's a lot of equipment there, a lot of u.s. special forces. but drawing down those troops, as well. the common theme we see tonight in u.s. national security is that the president is very much pulling back on the u.s. commitments overseas in the war on terror. an isolationist view, back to u.s. borders, rejecting overseas deployments, believing other countries should fight. but the problem is this, in afghanistan, you know better than anybody, local forces are
not yet capable of fully defending their country. the kurds are not capable of defending against isis. if u.s. troops withdraw, you basically cede that ground in afghanistan, in syria, and potentially in iraq, to isis, to the taliban, and there is great concern tonight that basically without the u.s. there, with russia there, with iran there, that terrorist safe haifens could begin to grow. >> isis still alive in syria. al qaeda still alive in afghanistan. all these years after 9/11. barbara stash, thank you very much. let's go now to the white house where jim acosta has been speaking to courses there. jim, i just want to put this up on the screen. this is a list of the names who have left this administration so far, or announced that they are leaving, rolling their next to you. you look at that. these are names of consequence. nikki haley, john kelly, of course, jim mattis.
we mention this as we started this story, that the president's initial announcement of this in a tweet was frankly false. he said that mattis was retiring. he was not. he was resigning rather in protest. >> reporter: that's right, jim. i think it's safe to say we have a chaos christmas here in washington, and it's a chaos of the president's own making. you're right, that tweet from the president was not correct when he said that jim mattis is retiring. he's obviously resigning in protest. the other thing interesting about those tweets of the president announcing the departure of the defense secretary, is he says a new defense secretary will be named shortly. that suggests the president is trying to offer the suggestion that perhaps there's a plan in place for naming a new defense secretary. if that's the case, why did secretary mattis come over here in the middle of the afternoon at the white house, and resign so quickly after clashing with the president over the syria policy? it sounds as though that a new
secretary of defense won't be announced quickly unless he decides to do it. just talking to folks on capitol hill, there is a lot of distress about the way the president is handling things these days. and in the words as you were pointing out, and a house republican said earlier this evening, the wheels may be coming off. this is a conservative house republican who doesn't want to speak publicly, but willing to say that privately to send a message that this is too much chaos all at once. >> similarly, i spoke to a gop congressman earlier, who used the expression ""f"-ing distraught" and the president's decision to leave syria. i want to remind viewers, these names that are scrolling on the screen, all the people that left the trump administration over the last several months. the question now, jim, as you've been covering that building for some time, who, if anyone, can backing the president on mattis'
departure here? who is defending him? >> reporter: nobody really at this point, jim. the only person that i suppose may not be against this at this point, and it's only because it hasn't been expressed is the vice president mike pence. he's been a very loyal soldier to the president in all of this. we haven't heard from the vice president or his team about all of that. but it does raise the question, and i think you're getting at this, as well, who would come in and become president trump's next defense secretary? when you have this kind of clash with your own national security team over something like syria, that sort of narrows your options. in the past, people like tom cotton, the arkansas republican senator, have been talked about for secretary of defense. i can't imagine he's looking at all of this and saying yeah, let me do that job. lindsey graham was also talked about as being a potential secretary of defense and he's been clashing with the president
in all of this. rand paul is the one senator who is backing the president on this syria policy. so i suppose he might be okay with what's happened tonight. but, again, that really narrows the field of candidates for potential of secretary of defense, if you are looking for somebody whose foreign policiy s more aligned with rand paul. >> jim acosta, thank you very much. joining us now is one of secretary mattis' predecessors at the pentagon, william cohen. let me begin just simply, you have an enormous amount of experience and you know jim mattis personally and professionally. what is your reaction? >> it's not just about syria. this is an issue which has been going on for some time now. you may recall when the entire national security team said that the russians had attacked us, had attacked our democracy.
president trump said, he believed president putin. he deferred to president putin saying president putin said no, so i believe him and not my national security team, which included jim mattis and others. when the issue of north korea, how to deal with north korea came up, once again, jim mattis was making one recommendation and he was overruled there. when it came time to talk about deploying our forces to the border on the south in this country, i believe jim mattis was opposed to that. again, overruled. to day after day, or time after time, and i think this was the breaking point. for secretary mattis, who has never been known to quit everything, every star that he has on his shoulders was earned in the blood and the mud of battle. and that has to be taken into account. when he says we are betraying our allies under these circumstances, remember this. this week, a federal judge looked down at a former national security adviser and he said, you have betrayed your country.
i think jim mattis was saying it in another way, saying we are betraying our allies. we depend upon our allies to keep us secure and having allies the world over. that extends our defense perimeter. and when you start pulling our troops out, bad things happen. and we are betraying the security of this country. and i think that jim mattis, i talked to him last evening, is the first time in two years, he is a dear friend that i called him at the pentagon and said, tell me it's not true. and i can tell you, he was distraught, just in our discussions. we didn't talk about resignation, but he felt this is a betrayal of our allies in not only syria, but the allies that supported this battle against isis, and the war is not over. they have not been defeated. what he was concerned about is our credibility and our reputation for reliability has now been called into question. and the president can say, i made a campaign promise. you can make a campaign promise.
but some of them are made to be broken. in this particular case, when you put thousands of people's lives at risk, you give a free pass to iran, to president putin once again, who likes this decision, you give it to assad, who is a known killer as such. and then you say, well, you're giving a green light to go in and kill all those kurds. you're giving that to erdogan and turkey. jim mattis could not accept that anymore. >> i feel it in your voice and i've known you for some time and i can feel the anger and frustration here. is america less safe today? because of his departure and the president's decision in syria and snafg >> the president has taking a wrecking ball to every stability of security we have elected over the past 60, 70 years and demolishing them. starting off with tpp, where he undermined 11 -- 10 other nations and signing an economic agreement that would have, in
fact, been in our overall interest, starting there and just systematically going after criticizing publicly our nato allies. and they should have been criticized, but in the way you demean them. >> questioning their commitment to nato, as well. >> and questioning their integrity and undermine nato. putin was in favor of brexit. now we have a chaotic, disorderly world. now that's going to come back to continental united states, thinking we're safe. i think that's a big mistake. we're in more danger now than before. >> there has been this debate through the trump administration for senior advisers in this position, who believe he's damaging the country. do they resign or do they stay? clearly mattis reached his breaking point, and went through his breaking point. in your view, should other senior defense officials resign?
>> every person who serves in a presidential cabinet, serves at the pleasure of the president. if it comes to the point where you no lock elonger feel that y carry out his directives, it's time to step aside and stay mr. president, i can't do this. jim mattis came to this point. saying i've carried the fight in every battle i've been in, but i can't do this in the name of our country. >> you describe a series of decisions on america's greatest national security threats. russia, syria, afghanistan, north korea. is the president fit to be commander in chief in your view? >> in my judgment, no. i expressed this view to begin with publicly. i did not support him for the president. i felt that by training and background and temperament, that he was not fit for the job, and everything i've seen to date, not everything, i give him credit when he's been right and i give him credit for taking on
china on multiple issues. but when it comes to the national security and the way he's dealing with our allies and betraying our interests, then i say no. >> secretary cohen, thank you. i feel it in your voice, and you've done your time there, thank you for sharing that with us. joining us now, we have retired rear admiral john kirby, who served as spokesman during the obama administration and spent decades in the u.s. navy. also former obama white house communications director and general mark hurtling, who commanded u.s. forces in iraq, among other blas. john, you spent a lot of time in government, and i know you have interacted with secretary cohen. you heard the depth of feeling and experience behind it. do you share those views and those concerns at this hour? >> i do, i do. secretary mattis has a long history and record of very patriotic, dedicated and mature service to this country. it's a blow to our national security that he's decided to do
this. but in a sense, i thihe had no choice. when you can't support your boss anymore, you have to step ahead and walk away. the one thing i quibble with in his letter is this idea you deserve a secretary of defense more aligned with your views. yes, in a macro sense that's true, but you want a defense secretary that can go to you and disagree. >> speaks truth to power. >> dissent, and try to get you to go to the right way. he tried on many issues. the iran deal, the moving the embassy to jerusalem, the military parade, the transgender ban, he tried. but he isn't willing to have those fights anymore. >> general hurtling, i wonder, the president made his decision on syria by our own reporting over the recommendation over all of his senior advisers, pompeo, john bolton, many senior republicans who have been the
president's supporters. who fills that position now? who is a voice with credibility who can disagree with the president and convince him otherwise, or is that lacking now in this country and this administration? >> you used a key word, jim, that's disagree. this president doesn't want disagreement. he doesn't want to be challenged. he doesn't want to see things outside of his bubble of his idealogical thought. and that's the challenge. i think secretary mattis came to the point where he tried his best, as admiral kirby just said, and said i can't do it anymore. here's the interesting thing, jim, and john will tell you this, this is a different kind of resignation from a cabinet position than any of the other ones that have resigned or been fired. secretary mattis grew up in a military culture where we talk about resignations. it's discussed in our war colleges and our staff colleges.
when do you get to the point where you can't either do what your pos wants because it's illegal, unethical or immoral or you have major disagreements with it? and then you weigh the balance between continuing to contribute to the organization or saying, i'm gone. when a guy like mattis says he's gone, there's something dysfunctional. and there's a lot of things in this administration that are dysfunctional. you said to jim acosta a little while ago, the wheels have come off. the wheels have been off for a long time and we've been seeing sparks fly off the axle for as long as -- well, for a long time. let's just put it that way. and this has got to change. the security of our nation is more important than these crazy, narcissistic moods of the president of the united states. >> jen, you spent a number of years in the obama administration. you know about the policymaking process, there are debates, discussions, proposals, tabled, considers, adjusted, debated, et cetera.
it seems that process does not exist in this administration, that the president tweets, the president decides on a whim. how dysfunctional is that for a country, for an administration? >> it's hugely dysfunctional. the panel touched on this already, but one is, it's not withdrawing troops that in itself is the issue. it's part of it in these cases certainly. but it's the way he's gone about it. he's done it against the recommendation of his military generations, done it without warning to our partners and allies around the wrororld, and done it in a way that says we can't be trusted and aren't going to hold true to our promises. i also think secretary cohen made an important point about the difference between a campaign promise and what it's like to be president of the united states. i worked for president obama when he was running for president. he got elected in part because
he opposed the iraq war. people thought he would withdraw troops immediately. he listened to military generals and made some choices not supported by the left wing of the party, because that's what you do when you're president. you make tough choices, and you do them because it's in the interest of the country. what's alarming today are many things, but it's the juxtaposition of who president trump is listening to. he's listening to ann coulter about shutting down the government over the wall instead of general mattis. that should be alarming to people paying attention. >> the irony is obama did withdraw troops from iraq and saw the consequences and have reverse. is trump capable of that? stay with us. we're going the take a quick break and pick up this conversation. joining us next is a republican congressman and war veteran, i'll get adam kinsinger's take on this. and the house voted on a bill to
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♪ we're speaking tonight about what virtually everyone is speaking about, in very dark terms, the departure of defense secretary jim mattis. john brennan tweeted, just a short time ago, okay, republicans, how much longer are you going to let this farcical presidency continue? at a time of such political, economic and geostrategic turbulence, are you waiting for a catastrophe to happen before acting? disaster looms! joining us now is a house republican, and also a iraq and afghanistan war veteran, congressman adam kensinger. thanks for joining us tonight. >> thanks, jim. >> let me just ask the most straightforward question, that is, is america less safe today with general mattis' departure and the decision to withdraw troops from syria and draw down troops from afghanistan?
>> yes. i mean, yeah. we're less safe. i think does that mean tomorrow something bad is going to happen? hopefully not. but what it does mean is syria now is going to be given over to the russians, and they're emboldened. it's given to the iranians, assad is emboldened. isis is going to recruit a bunch of more people because they just va vain wished the united states of america. the president, it seems like just gave up. and with these rumors about afghanistan, it's unbelievable at a time when we're supposed to be negotiating with the taliban, that maybe he would signal withdrawal? anything you know about instruments of power and howdy ploem si wo -- diplomacy works, it doesn't work by removing the military threat, and in two days that was done. the rumors rand paul got in his ear and overruled his security team, there is going to be major
consequences to this. >> cnn is reporting that drawdown is a reality. i wonder, this is really a singular moment, because you have a senior administration official who resigned in protest, he didn't walk out and give some back ground quotes months later. he left and he put a flag in the ground as he left. in your view, should other members of his staff, other members of the military, general dunford, the chairman of the join chiefs of staff, resign in protestsome >> it's hard to put myself in their shoes. duty to the country versus a major disagreement. if i was in that position, it would be hard to continue. things like syria and afghanistan, this is 20 years of american policy, and it's easy to say, we just want to bring everybody home for christmas. here's the point, yeah, we want to have the military home for christmas. but every one of the members of the military are volunteers, and they volunteer to kill america's
enemies and protect our country. so this idea that you're doing a favor by bringing everybody home for christmas, it's like a sugar rush, you're going to enjoy it for a moment, but i tell you, the military is absolutely disheartened by this. i'm hearing it from my friends, a lot of, what is the president thinking? and look, what can we do about it besides speak out? congress has to be loud about this. there's no obviously enforcement mechanism, because the president is the commander in chief. but along my colleagues that i was talking to, there is a lot of concern, like i've never seen in my life. >> my phone has been lighting up by current and former soldiers, just surprise and sadness at this decision. i wonder, you as a veteran yourself, does president trump, with this move, risk losing the support of the military community, which is essentially has supported him by and large? >> the military will always obey the commander in chief.
that's important to keep in mind. in terms of their morale, in terms of whether they think the commander in chief is making the right decisions, i'm sure there are some, because there are some that are sympathetic to all kinds of viewpoints. but i will tell you by and large, there is a lot of confusion reining among my friends in the military and other people in the military. we had iran on their heels, isis on their heels, with 2200 troops in syria. a relatively small investment. and he gave it up because he think there is's riots in the street of syria. there's not. >> and it's difficult to see what constituency he thinks he wins with this. final question, what are republicans able to do, congress, senate, or the house, to keep the president from further endangering national security? >> well, that's a question i can't answer right now, because the -- frankly the president, and i said this whether it was president obama or president trump, is vested a lot of power in the constitution.
what he's not doing is not violating the constitution. but what we can do, is maybe through resolutions, letters, speaking out, make our voice heard. that's why i've been active on this in the last 24 hours, because we have to hear the other side of this. we have to talk about, what is at stake with this, and hope the president changes his mind and hope the people around him can get in his ear and ignores the rand paul view of the party, which is not a republican view, it's a libertarian view. >> congressman, thanks for taking the questions tonight and credit where credit is due, not a lot of republican lawmakers were willing to talk about it tonight, and we appreciate you took up the cause. thank you very much. >> you bet. joining us again is my panel. admiral kirby, big picture view here. the president is withdrawing american leadership and power
from half a dozen fronts from around the world. syria, afghanistan, some of the drawdown that mattis opposed in north korea, talk of reducing troops there, but stopping exercises. even with saudi arabia, and the killing of khashoggi, not using american power to drive, you know, better behavior by a u.s. ally there. is american a deminished power under trump? >> we are becoming a diminished power under trump. here's what bothers me the most about the syria decision and afghanistan. there's no strategy. he's just saying i'm going to pull us out because i don't think we should be involved. but there's no vision of what you want to see syria become. and where do you want afghanistan to do? it's not that the troops are the answer to everything. they are an element of national power. but what i'm not hearing is, what is the strategy behind this? where are you trying to go in the middle east and in afghanistan? and it's not there in >> i want to prebutt, this is
hardened military folks saying the most striking thing about this. general stanley mcchrystal who led black ops in afghanistan and iraq. he says the kind of leadership that causes a patriot like jim mattis to leave should give pause to everybody. >> he's a person who served in the military -- >> fired by your boss. >> i think he's speaking for a big population of the military, of national security professionals, of people serving overseas, who are very concerned about the lack of strategy, as admiral kirby said that you see from president trump. and also who is identifying as his friends and partners. that was alluded to a bit in general mattis' letter. just to dive into it, who does
pulling troops back in north korea make happy? kim jong-un. these are the type of people president trump is aligning himself with. those aren't the type of people that for decades we have aligned with. and it really is contradictory to our values. >> general hurtling, the president saying he'll announce a new secretary of defense by the end of the year, intimating there's a plan behind it. that's not true. we knew mattis went there to convince the president, couldn't and su marre -- summuarily resigned. who is going to take mattis' place? >> i don't know. this is a very dangerous time. we not only have to think about what our strategy is, which has been ignored in some of these decisions, not trying to dodge your question, but the enemy has a strategy, too. you know, you have to look at
the ends, ways, and means of the north korean dictator, of the syrian dictator, of what's going on in afghanistan and the status of that. it just can't be a marketing scheme, which seems to be what's driving the current administration in the way they approach things. sometimes marketing has lies behind it, and we've seen that in spades from this administration. you can't do that with national security. you have to rely on the intelligence community, you have to rely on facts, and then you have to determine what is your best strategy for how you fit in the world. it isn't just unilateral decisions without any agreement from generals. so when you take all those things into consideration, who is going to be the next secretary of defense, i have no clue. but he better be a very special person with a steel backbone to stand up to this president and say, you don't know everything there is to know about the world, and you don't know much about national security. >> john, final thought? >> it's going to be an idealogue
now. somebody much more ideal logically aligned with trump and his foreign policy and that's not necessarily good. >> fair point. thank you very much to all of you. as we said at the beginning, if the turmoil over the resignation of secretary mattis were not enough tonight, washington tonight also shaken by a looming government shutdown. the house passed a bill, but is the shutdown inevitable? that's what the vote count looks like. the latest just ahead.
the house is giving president trump what he wants, a fundingability that includes new money for his border wall and money to fund part of the government. cnn's ryan nobles has the latest from capitol hill. so ryan, this bill passed the house, but at the senate, does he have the votes? >> reporter: you know, jim, it's very hard to find anybody on capitol hill that believes the senate will pass this with the margin necessary to pass this legislation. they'll likely need 60 votes to get it over the finish line. democratic leaders have been insistent that they have no interest in supporting any legislation, even if it means keeping the government open, if it includes funding for a border wall, and the $5.5 billion inserted into the bill by republicans is what the democrats are opposed to. to be cheer, jlear, jim, there quite a few republicans that are uncomfortable with the language inserted into this bill at this stage of the game, as it seemed
both sides had agreed to pass a clean continuing resolution that would keep the government open until february. so the big question now is, what happens next? jim, there are republicans in the house who believe that this opens the door for democrats and the white house to begin another conversation on border wall funding. but that doesn't seem to be based in any kind of reality. democrats have said over and over again that that is a nonstarter for them. they felt like they had a deal on the table, and the president turned his back on that deal. so now a shutdown seems very likely as we have approaching that midnight deadline on friday night. jim? >> christmas shutdown. thank you very much. joining me now is kirsten powers, and two of our political commentators, steve cortez, and charlie denn. is this going to end well for the president, steve? >> i think it will, because it will end well eventually for
america. there may be a lot of near-term consternation. i don't want a government shutdown and i realize it will bring pain to some people, but it's well worth the temporary problems of shutting down part of the government to permanently shut down what is a porous border that is a massive threat to our national and economic security. so i'm glad that the president said he won't sign this continuing resolution. i think the senate abdicated its responsibility by punting it to february and say we'll deal with this later. that's not leadership. so i think the president is showing leadership here in trying to force their hand. >> charlie dent, the part of the government that's going to shut down, it's going to be the department of homeland security, some elements of law enforcement, health care, et cetera. i mean, these are not inconsequential parts of the government. is that a price worth paying for the american people? >> absolutely not. look, this is utterly reckless.
we all know how this is going to play out. the house just sent a bill over to the senate. the votes aren't there in the senate. the senate will trip out that $5 billion. they'll send it back to the house. if the house doesn't pass it, this is going to shut down. there's absolutely no reason to do this. the president had a deal on border security, and daca, the dreamers. he walked away from it. the president, like you said the other day, he's going to own this. these members of congress have a responsibility to govern. and this is an utter failure of leadership. if, in fact, we shut this thing down. after a week like this, with jim mattis just announcing his resignation, and cohen and flynn and the syria pullout, this has just been an incredible week. in fact, it seems like they're in crisis over there. i mean, order. we need order and stability and discipline, not this disorder and dysfunction, constant chaos. this is just terrible for the
country. i think as center right conservatives, people ought to stand up and say this. this nativism, isolationism, this is just not in the interest of this country. >> kristen, he laid out events that seem a million years ago. general flynn appearing before a court 48 hours ago. but is this an administration in chaos to the point where it can't run this country? >> well, i think, yes, they've been in chaos for a while. but today, it was a particularly chaotic day. and i think that you even see the chaos now bleeding into the right, which we haven't seen in the past, where you have them now turning against the president, and i think feeding into the chaos a bit, because that's why he has walked back his earlier claims. i sat here last night saying we shouldn't chide him or shame him for so-called caving, because he did the responsible thing in
terms of avoiding a government shutdown. and compromising on the wall. and then he gets attacked by fox news and ann coulter, and he changes course and is now willing to shut down the government over christmas. so i don't see any other way to spin this other than chaos, especially when you add in the resignation of general mattis, which was not just a resignation of somebody who is highly respected, it was a complete rebuke of his foreign policy. and i think that's the thing that is just the most shocking about it. >> so steve, did jim mattis enormously respected, it takes a lot for him to talk out of that door and rebuke the commander in chief. you had the president's national security adviser rebuked by a federal judge this week, contradicting the president's claims of fbi, you know, forcing him to lie. you have the president now running into a government shutdown in the face of the
reality. he just doesn't have the support or the money for the wall. defend the president's running of the country this week. >> sure. well, those are very different issues. but if i can start -- >> but they've all happened within the last 48 hours. >> i know. listen, the pace of news in trump world is frenetic, that is for sure. we can never rest in the news business. but regarding -- >> it's news generated by the administration. it's decisions this president has made. >> when it comes to the wall, and i think kirsten is exactly right. the president was waffling on this. waffling is too strong a word, but he was considering what wassed a hwas ed advertised as a compromise, but he got no funding for the wall and got to sign another huge spending bill that he promised he wouldn't do again. so those of us, his supporters from the 2016 movement, from the campaign, yeah, we were very,
very worried about it. i said so last night on the air. i said i can't imagine, for example, i pledged to work for his reelection in 2020, i can't imagine going to voters and trying to explain why we don't have a wall in 2020. why we came up short on that issue, because it was a foundational promise of his campaign, the foundational promise of his campaign. and we've had a republican congress for a few more days. we have to do everything possible to get this done, not because it's a vanity project, but because it's right for the security of the american people. walls work all over the world. particularly in israel. i think that's the best example to look -- >> charlie, i see you -- [ overlapping speakers ] >> charlie has been shaking his head throughout. charlie, respond. >> i served on the homeland security committee. i have not heard one serious expert on border security say we know th-- we need a 2,000 mile
wall. i voted for the security fence act in 2006 that allowed for 700 miles of barriers, detention beds, technology on the border. yeah, we have to do more. but simply somebody please define wall to me. is it just -- a wall with steel slats? 2,000 miles? how long is it going to be? everybody knows this is not the best way to establish border security by itself. so to go to the mattresses over this, in my view, is insane. we have to get back to some measure of order and discipline and stability in this country. and it's got to start with the president of the united states. i mean, this anarchy has got to end. i feel like there are a few inflection moments. >> the anarchy that has to end is at the border. >> we have thousands of people -- >> come on. i feel like this is a scaramucci week. this just seems worse.
i mean, the trump foundation just got shut down this week, in addition to all the other things we just mentioned. >> that defines our border, and it has for many years. we have thousands of people that -- >> let's let kirsten come in here. please go ahead. >> it's just completely disconnected from reality. it is not -- there is not chaos -- to the extetent there' any chaos happening it's created by the military. him sending the military to the board torder to fight off so-ca invaders is the chaos we see. i think it was a campaign promise. it's a bumper sticker campaign promise, and he made a promise that mexico was going to pay for it. everybody knew that that was bogus. that's how he got himself into this mess. mexico is not paying for it.
we don't talk about that. mexico was never going to pay for it. now you're mad at the congress for not funding it? mexico was supposed to pay for it. why is this congress' fault? >> kirsten, steve, these are issues we're going to be running with. thanks for taking the hard questions. coming up, i'm going to speak with a member of the senate armed services committee about mattis' resignation, and whether it is bad news for the nation and the security of the world. that's from a republican congressman. stay with us. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪
defense secretary james mattis quitting in protest today, has withdrawn sharp reaction across the board in the defense community, outside on both sides of the aisle, even from ordinarily soft spoken people such as former defense secretary bill cohen. i spoke with him earlier this hour. it was impossible to ignore the anger, the frustration, the deep feeling behind his words. have a listen. >> the president has taken a wrecking ball to every pillar of stability and security we've erected over the past 60, 70 years. he systematically is demolishing them. >> joining me now is senator jack reed, a distinguished army veteran and ranking member on the senate armed services committee. >> thanks, jim. >> you, i imagine know secretary cohen well. >> i do. >> you heard in his voice, his voice was crack thing with conviction. are you concerned tonight about america's safety at home and acorro abroad?
>> i am. first you have announcement of a policy in syria that will the quite debt mental to our security interests, the stability in the region. it was done without collaboration, not only with his own staff but with our allies. and it really, i think, is going to generate significant consequences. . perhaps even in jordan, opening up opportunities for iran to extend their sway. you have that significant substantive decision. then you have the resignation of the most respected secretaries of defense we've had. a man of great principle, a man who served with great great fidelity and also dedication to the men and women in uniform. and he left, not in a casual way, but he left criticizing the president's approach to national -- >> definitively on the way out.
none of these kind of blind quotes months later. he laid down the line. >> you expect that from jim mattis. if i'm going to resign, i'm going to be honest with myself, with the american people, that's what he is. >> you spoke with jim mattis today. >> i started this morning at 7:30 a.m. on a skiff, we were talking about syria. i made many of the points i just made now. about how it was a bad policy, in fact it would be a tremendously disruptive and destructive policy, and he listened as he always does, asked questions, i think he wanted to get a feel for -- not just my viewpoint, but the viewpoint of my colleagues and others. and then we parted. i did not expect him to resign. i think that came later in the day, when he tried his best to convince the president this was a terrible policy.
it would endanger the united states, endanger our allies, and it would cause this great questioning of our willingness to be a reliable partner. >> the president and she have a good relationship, but sometimes disagree. i wonder if that's an accurate description of their relationship. secretary cohen made the point that mattis was deeply frustrated where cancelling exercises with south korea, questioning the intelligence community's findings on the election. this was the straw that broke the camel's back, was it not? >> this was the straw that will broke the camel's back. the president has been trying to distance himself from the secretary as the secretary is trying to do his job for the benefit of the american people. the men and women in the uniform for the united states. i think the followcy was so
detached from the reality of the facts on the ground that he just could not continue to serve. >> what can congress do to reign in the president's worst impulses on key national security issues today. it is in our constitution. >> we have done that in the past, just a few days ago, literally, there was a significant vote on the war powers act with respect to yemen. that was the senate voting in a bipartisan manner, very strongly, sending the signal they have to do more to end quickly the fighting in yemen. then in addition to that, there was a unanimous resolution condemning the killing of khashoggi by the saudis. particularly naming the crown prince. that is what i think is a very specific and very direct -- we can use not only the bully pulpit, but with congress and
the house, being in control of the democrats in january. the hearings process, to bring the facts forward to identify areas of significance to the country. >> well, the country's going to be looking to you. senator jack reid, thanks for taking the time. >> let's check in now with chris to see what he's working on for cuomo prime time. >> it's been a remarkable day. and a truly remarkable day, and a series of remarkable days. >> never seen anything like it, i've never seen this type of resignation and protest in an administration, let alone what this man means to this administration. who is left? where is the good guidance come from. trying to find the paths forward in these situations. you and i live the reality of what happened in iraq and afghanistan and what mission accomplished has meant in the past and what the surge was, and what afghanistan always remains to be. where do we go from here, where
do we go from here on the continuing resolution. there are a lot of big questions stirred up by what this president did rationally, and now we have to find a way out of it. >> who's going to give the president advice he doesn't want to hear. thanks a lot, we're going to see you in a few minutes. the word of the day at the white house. chaos, we haven't even gotten to the fact that the president tweeted a video of himself in overalls singing the green acres theme song. a new way to save on travel. now when you book a flight you unlock discounts on select hotels that you can use up until your trip starts. so whether you want to go out, stay in, or be in the middle of it all... add the perfect hotel when you're ready, and save. add on advantage. only with expedia.
here, we want to leave you tonight with this, a presidential tweet. you might call it his thoughts on the legislative process. here's what he posted shortly before signing the $867 billion farm bill this afternoon. keep in mind this is while the threat of a shutdown was growing, republicans openly saying there was no guidance or leadership from the white house, and the market was down 400 points on its way to being down 1,000 point this is week. yes, he really did tweet this. ♪ green acres is the place to be ♪ ♪ farm livin' is the life for me ♪ ♪ land spreading out so far and wide ♪ >> yes, that's a presidential tweet. >> a bill affecting millions of americans, reminding him of a sketch he once did at the emmys.
that's megan mullally had a tweet of her own in response. if you guys need me, i'll be in a whole in the ground. a reminder, please don't miss anderson's show, full circle, a daily interactive broadcast on facebook, always great to watch. hand it over to chris cuomo, cuomo prime time. welcome to prime time, we're having a day that this president will not want to remember. and it is one that we can never forget. the man charged with keeping our country safe, defense secretary jim mattis is out. not retiring as the president claims. he quit in protest of the president of the united states. a four-star general is here to help make sense of the moves. mattis exit comes on a day of epic uncertainty. insisting on the wall in a house vote when many in the senate have already