tv MSNBC Live MSNBC February 1, 2017 11:00am-12:01pm PST
>> well, i think those are two things. you look at the support that's already come out. i think there's eight senators already that have talked about the need to have a vote and his qualifications. not just the senate up. look at the widespread support that came out for judge gorsuch that came out last night. across the spectrum, no march your psophical view of the court, i think his qualifications for the court, his ademic background, make him an unbelievably highly qualified person. it's not just chuck schumer. i think the rest of the senate, as he goes up there. but i think the interesting -- hoed on, hold on. i understand that. and i think chuck schumer has shown time and time again through this confirmation process with the cabinet that he's more interested in politics than actually moving the government along. and i think that's -- that is troubling. i would ask you that i think the question needs to be asked of chuck schumer, why are you stalling all of these nominees? why are you insisting on new qualifications? there is a point they need to get asked, why are they
obstructing government every step of the way? there's an element they need to be held accountable as well. they held certain standards in place for their nominees, both for the bench and for the cabinet. and the question is, are they going to live up to the same standards that they imposed on republicans when they had nominees in a democratic white house? >> does the president think by personally insulting chuck schumer, that's -- >> again, kristen, i think the goal is to get -- when the -- when -- again, i would go back. chuck schumer is not innocent in this. there's a lot of comments he made. a lot of accusations he's thrown out there and a lot of politics he's played. at some point, chuck schumer needs to be held accountable for his actions and his words. blake? >> invoke the possibility on the supreme court, sean, of possibility of going the route of the nuclear option. if it gets to that point, is the white house comfortable with that act? >> i think the president made clear his goal today which s number one, he believes judge gorsuch is unbelievably
qualified and he will get nominated. not only confirmed, but done so with a large bipartisan vote. as i said at the outset, republicans looked at the qualifications of the two justices that got through in the obama administration and while they may not have agreed with their judicial philosophy, definitely agreed they are qualified on the merits to be confirmed and they did so. i think we would be asked we be held to the same snd the democrats used when they had nominees up. i think president made very clear that the decision is something that we would rather not have to go down but also that it ultimately up to senator mcconnell. >> thank you, sean. just one question today. leading up to judge gorsuch's announcement last night and him coming out after, there were still rumors that judge hardman was going to be nominated and he, in fact, drove to washington. >> no, he didn't. that was misreporting.
my understanding is judge hardiman never left the common wealth of pennsylvania. with all due respect, i can't be accountable for false statements that said he was here. he was never at the white house. my understanding is he had a meeting in eastern pennsylvania with another judge. again, i'm not -- i don't track his whereabouts, but my understanding is he never left the commonwealth of pennsylvania yesterday. so, it was -- you know, we announced when we were going to make this announcement. i think it was a phenomenal way to introduce judge gorsuch to the american people and to the united states senate. we invited democratic leaders, democratic members of the senate judiciary committee. unfortunately, none of them showed up. but it was an opportunity for them and the american people to see an amazing choice the president made for the bench. >> sean, my question is -- >> you said one, john. >> i didn't ask the question. my question is simply this, with the support that he received,
would it be safe to say judge hardiman will be on deck if there's another vacancy, soon, say, judge kennedy retiring? >> i think there's a lot of v vacancies we see. he's an impressive, impressive jurist. the four that made that final list for the president were unbelievably impressive. so i don't want to get in front of the president. hopefully he cnues to have the president's support and someone the president was unbelievably impressed with. we'll have to see what vacancies come down the pike. anita. >> i know you love when we say we have two questions. i have two quick questions about something you mentioned at top. first, you mentioned the three folks being nominated to the department of justice. why are they being nominated before senator sessions is there? is it because there is a lack of people? was he consulted? or is it just because. whole issue this week with the attorney general? >> i think it's the normal process of getting those -- i
mentioned a fru briefings, the unders and acting are in the pipeline. we announced one for homeland, one in commerce announced. in is the -- >> senator sessions, i mean, in speaking with him. >> of course, he was -- these are people he's clearly aware of and supportive of. 1030 100%, yes. >> you mentioned the meeting with harley-davidson executives tomorrow. there's reporting that he was supposed to go to milwaukee tomorrow -- or he was supposed to. that was canceled because of the company. can you talk about that? >> i just think -- look, it was easier for the executives to come here, considering the week and all of the activity that's been going on. and figured the easiest thing -- no decision was made or announced. we looked at different options. ultimately the easiest thing to do was to invite them here to washington to talk about some of the stuff we've been doing.
we're not concerned. i think we're -- we're not concerned about that. we're concerned about -- we're concerned about american jobs, moving this economy forward. we're excited to welcome them here to washington to talk about the great work that they do and the many thousands of people they employ. with that, let me go to -- we're going to be here a while, guys. we're going to the second skype. natalie from cleveland, ohio. >> secretary spicer, thank you very much for this rare opportunity. i appreciate it. i'm learning the ropes. >> you're coming back. >> i'll quickly ask two esons, if i may. first being president trump has been quick to take action on several issues he's aaddressed on the campaign trail. with that in mind, he made a stop here in cleveland and he said he would like to make cities like ours the economic envy of the world. a bold statement. so, our viewers would love to know an example, a specific example, as to how he plans to do that sooner than later? >> a great question. it's not just cleveland, but
detroit and so many of the other cities around the country. you heard the president talk about the need to rebuild our inner cities. we were really impressed with cleveland this past july when we went there for the national convention. the people of cleveland, their desire and rebound the city has taken. and i think when you go to a city like cleveland or detroit through different tax and regulatory measure, there's a way we continue to bring manufacturing back, we continue to bring jobs back. and whether it's harley-davidson or carrier or lockheed or boeing or the gm of fiat, ford, these companies he continues to talk to about how they can bring jobs back. again, another one of the conversations he had with the pharmaceutical companies yesterday. how can they bring jobs back? how can we ease regulations to do that? it's making sure we have an environment, natalie, that allows more cities to compete, to grow the manufacturing base
and recognize the things we can do taxwise and regulatorywise to allow that to flourish. yeah, cecilia? >> thank you. steve bannon can be heard on recording saying islam is a dark religion, not a religion of peace, a religion of submission. does the president chair his chief strategist's apparent beliefs on islam? >> i think the president has been very clear his number one goal is not to target anyone's religion but places and areas where we believe there is an issue. that's what the executive order was all about the other day. making sure that areas we don't feel have proper mechanisms in place to ensure security, that when they travel to the united states, we kno they're coming here for peaful purposes. the president's number one goal has always been to focus on the safety of america, not the religion. he understands that it's not a religious problem, it's a radicalization problem. there's a big difference between islam, the religion, and radical islamic terrorists that come here to seek to do us harm. >> nothing about this comment the president wants to distance himself from or even elaborate
on? >> i just made it clear there's a difference between the president's view. yeah. >> thanks. there have been multiple reports of people landing saturday in the u.s. with valid visas who were denied entry and placed on flights back out of the country. that's in violation of at least five of these federal judges' orders that came down. is the white house working to ensure those people illegally deported can return to the u.s.? and are these court orders causing any second thinking about certain aspects of the order? >> we issued earlier today some clarification -- an update from the council's office that clarified section 3-c and 3-e, that legal permanent residents, lprs, that the waiver -- we no longer need a waiver. initially as the program was lifting off, the idea is they would go through, be granted a waiver for which everyone was issued a waiver coming in. in the sake of efficiency, we have interpreted the guidance to all of these agencies to both
the acting secretary of state, the acting attorney general and the secretary of homeland security, that the guidance is the -- all individuals are responsible for the administration's implementation of this order, that that does not apply. they no longer need a waiver because if they are a legal permanent resident, they won't need it anymore. >> on glass/steagall, the president said he supported re-establishing separating investment banks from commercial banks. there's legislation on both the house and the senate side. it's in the republican program. mr. mnuchin, when he was queried on the hill by senator cantwell, was a little more ambiguous on this issue. i wish you could say something on where this - >> yeah i mean, i think part of the reason -- we've got to get -- we've got to get a treasury secretary confirmed. and i think that when you -- when we sit here and get asked questions about policy and you go department after department
whether it's treasury, energy, epa, that -- hhs, hud, education. the list goes on and on. and so you ask about issues and where the president's agenda is. well, the reason the president nominated these highly qualified people was to implement his agenda. senate democrats continue to hold that up. and i think when you -- you can't -- you're asking us about how we're going to move forward on an agenda, whether it's glass/steagall or so many other issues. at the same time, the democrats are holding up the nomination of these highly qualified people. until that occurs, it makes it a heck of a lot harder. the president's position is consistent. >> broad topic i would like your take on which is dissent within the administration and specifically related to the president's lunch with rex tillerson today. more than 1,000 employees at the state department. is it the president's position that rex tillerson when confirmed should go through the formal process, meet with those people and have a dialogue as
previous secretaries of state have? and is the president's point of view, when there is dissent it can be rooted in a philosophical disagreement that's not necessarily in defiance of his orders and that there can be a dialogue and that it can maybe inform differently about -- >> i think the president's always -- >> he said a couple days ago they should get out. >> no, there's a difference. just to be clear on this. every american has a right to speak their mind. that's one of the amazing beauties of this country. you have the ability to write what you want through first amendment. people have a right to speak out. that's not hampered. the point that i was making then is that if you believe so deeply that the policy is offensive to you, you have to understand that the job, the way our government works is we elect a president. that president gets to carry through their agend that they set out with the amecan people during the campaign. and so, they have a right to express it. i think secretary tillerson for those who got to meet him has a
very open mind as evidenced through what he did through the transition and what he's done since he's become president. he has met with groups, businesses, associations, you know, republicans, democrats, independents, that have been supportive of him, that have not been supportive of him. and i think that he's going to continue to do that. so, people have a right to speak their mind. i think there's a difference between expressing dissent and concern and not implementing a lawful order as the acting attorney general did the other night. but again, i don't mean to keep coming back to this. you're asking what we'll do when rex tillerson becomes -- part of the problem right nowcy can't fully answer your question because the democrats are slow will he walking this nomination. to presuppose what rex tillerson is going to do -- it's ironic we're being asked what these secretaries will do when they get into office and democrats won't let them assume this, when we all know the votes are there for them. >> i was talking about a particular process that has historically -- >> i understand that.
again, i think for me to presuppose what secretary designee tillerson's going to do prior to him actually getting sworn n i don't -- he probably will. i don't know. but it would be irresponsible of me to answer a question about what he's going to do before he actually becomes sworn in. >> thanks, sean. senate democrats have been sdri described bitter over the manner in which judge garland was nominated for the supreme court. do you feel the president feels that bitterness is well-founded? >> i don't know. i'm not a senate democrat. they have a right to feel the way they do. i think we've explained our position. both during last year, when this was going on, that we felt as though that this was up to the voters to make a decision on. as i point out yesterday, so many voters made up their mind based on who they believe the candidates would appoint, mr. trump, then candidate mr. trump, now president trump
was clear about the type of people he was going to put forth, both in a list of ten, then a list of 11 additional ones. the american people clearly knew where he was going to go. he followed through on that campaign promise. i think when you look at the number of people who solely based their vote on that, never mind it was -- then you expand that, it was pretty clear that was an important factor in the election. so, i understand it, but i also think that's -- we had an election. it was a major issue in that election. and i think that even when you look across the spectrum, republican, democrat, liberal, conservative, judge gorsuch has an unbelievable record. and he's being praised for that record because of that. >> i want to ask about friday. there's been some reporting that there will be meeting between president trump and jpmorgan ceos and others. can you tell us who else will be there? where things are at on financial reform. what mess alittle does the president have for bankers on financial reform. >> i'll have more. >> it seems like financial
reform has fallen by the wayside. >> i wouldn't agree with that. when you look at regulatory reform and tax reform and all of the steps that he's been taking to help the economy grow and to create jobs, that that's right in that wheelhouse. i hope to have further updates on the schedule for you tomorrow. mara. >> thank you. i have a question about foreign policy but i wanted to follow up. you said lpr is no longer needed a waiver but you didn't ask the question about people put on planes. people who were lpr but put on planes. what happens to them? >> they go through the process. if they're an lpr. if not, they go through the application process. if they're an lpr, legal permanent resident, then waived, they come back through. >> they come back again? >> that's right. i don't know how many cases that applies to. i know if they're not a legal permanent resident then they have to go back. that's part of this vetting process. there's a big difference -- >> my question is about the fighting in ukraine. and russia and russia-backed
rebels are moving the lines forward. i'm wondering if the president feels that russia is testing him because this is coming so early in his administration before he's had a chance to fully assemble his team? and what he plans to do about it. >> the president's been kept aware through national security council and national security team as a whole what's been going on in the ukraine. we'll have further updates as we go on. >> during the campaign last january, donald trump promised on his first day in office he would get rid of gun-free zones in schools and military bases. when can we expect action on that? if so, can you share details? >> i think you've seen the president has been very active in terms of getting executive orders out and following up on the campaign pledges he made to the american people last night being another example of that. we'll continue to move through this process. and i think we'll have further updates on where we are with respect to the rest of the process. with that, i want to dp to my third skype seat, lars larson. >> commander spicer, it's a
pleasure. thank you for your service to america and thanks for the opportunity. i have a broad question. the federal government is the biggest landlord in america. it owns two-thirds of a billion acres of america. i don't think the founders ever envisioned it that way. does president trump want to start returning the people's land to the people and in the meantime, for a second question, since that's in fashion these days, can he tell the forest service so start logging our forests aggressively again to provide jobs for americans, wealth for the treasury and not spend $3.5 billion a year fighting forest fires? >> thanks. i think the president has been very clear that as part of an overall comprehensive energy solution we have to utilize the resources we have that the federal government owns. whether that's the forests or national resources or minerals that exist above and below the ground, that we have too infrequently looked at our own resources and counted too much on foreign sources of energy. so, you know, we're going to continue, as congressman zinke
goes through the process to head up the interior department and governor perry goes through his confirmation process, to get those individuals through, but then working together and in areas where they have overlap and also on areas where they will act individually. to realize, to look at those natural resources that we have, figure out how to best utilize them, to benefit not just our energy but also economic growth opportunities with is that. dani daniel halper. >> you haven't really explained why the president is using the executive orders in the way he's doing it. why not take the -- why wha is the philosophy behind -- >> i don't think it's a binary choice. i don't think it's only do this. i think he has talked about especially in the area of immigration, he's been very, very clear that this is a huge priority for him. and i think he's going to continue to look at this from a
holistic aspect. visas, visa reform, the wall, our southern border, our northern border. all of these things that, you know, vetting. there is a very, very comprehensive -- those things which he can do through executive order and action, he will. those things he can do throu through -- through working with congress, legislatively, he's going to continue to do as well. >> the president's top trader adviser told "the financial times" yesterday that he believes the euro is grossly undervalued and germany is benefiting from that and that's why we have a huge trade deficit with germany and europe. does the president agree with that, that the euro is undervalued? if so, does he plan to do anything about it? >> when it comes to currency and valuation. we have secretary of treasury in the confirmation process. once that happens, i think then secretary mnuchin will be able to address that as well. >> dan housley, i would like to ask you about kelly ayotte's
role shepherding -- >> i was hoping you were going to ask about the patriots. >> i will. >> you can get a second. >> can you talk about kelly ayotte's role shepherding the role on capitol hill. >> sure. senator ayotte is someone who's respected on both sides of the aisle. she has great relationships. she's a former attorney general. he understands the judicial process very well. she's also -- i mean, this process is a relationship process, by and far. you're going around, introducing a judge, someone who is not generally been exposed to the legislative process, definitely not a congressional process, to the extent -- >> her relationship with president trump, a strange other campaign -- >> that's right. and i think that goes and shows, as i've mentioned several times both through the transition and early, the president's not holding some kind of test about what degree of support you had for him. he wants the best and brightest to continue to serve this country in whatever capacity they can. and i think senator ayotte very, very helpfully offered up her
services. she's got a lot of relationships on both sides of the aisle. she's got a tremendous amount of experience in this field. and i think the president thought she was extremely qualified to do this, to help shepherd this unbelievably qualified justice through this process. and so she, as well as the team that we've gathered of individuals on staff here, are going to help get judge gorsuch through the nomination due process. as a side note f you look at the amazing job done by the team during the transition and now to get these amazing individuals through the process, despite all of the hype that continues to go about this individual is going to face this problem or which is the -- each of them have really sailed through this process. and you know, story after story says, democrats tried to land a -- you know, take them out and couldn't land a glove. they're unbelievably qualified. they're unbelievably prepared. and i think that the same process that we followed with this is going to be followed with judge gorsuch and i think we're going to have a very speedy -- >> as an unbiased native, can
you offer your super bowl pick and president trump has shown quite an affinity for tom brady. >> i think you know where i come down on that one. yeah? >> sean, senators murkowski and collins say they're going to vote no on betty devos' nomination. senator pence would have to cast the tiebreaking vote. how confident are you that you have all the other republican senators locked down? what's the level of concern in the white house that her nomination will fail? >> zero. i have confidence she'll be the next secretary of education. she's unbelievably qualified, advocator for teacher, students, parents. i think the games being played with betsy devos are sad. she is someone who's been a tireless advocate over the last couple decades to support reforms that benefit children. they'll be the real winners with her as secretary of education. sara murray. >> in terms of both the two
republican snordz voting notice on devos, the outcry we saw from republican on the hill last week -- earlier this week about how you dealt with the travel ban. first, is there more the trump administration and trump himself should be doing to ensure that his party's on the same page with his priorities? secondly, on the yemen raid kushgs give us mon you gives -- there risks involved? was it a straightforward decision? do you still view it to be a success in spite of the death of a navy s.e.a.l.? >> i would note, i've heard story after story in the last 40 days about how -- whether -- you know, going back to the last question about these nominees going getting through. rex tillerson was going to go down -- and every one of them after they met with senators of both sides of the party, they were unbelievably qualified, ready to lead in the area of responsibility they're taking over. and i think the same is going to
be true for everyone else that's remaining. >> members of your own party disagree. >> the vote hasn't taken playing. i think we've had some concerns in the past. and i think when these nominees have met with them and shared with them their thoughts throughout the process, again, can you go back, story after story, and, again, each one of those folks who i've heard isn't going to make it, is going to go over the finish line each time. and i think that, you know, we hear it over and over again. yet, it's still -- we succeed every time. yet, another roadblock is put up. this person won't succeed. yet, you look at each one of these people going through the process. and it's worked beautifully every time. i think we'll continue that path. with respect to yemen, i think -- it's hard to ever say something was successful when you lose a life. but you got to understand that chief owens, he went back, deployed 12 times because he loved this country and he believed in the mission.
and knowing that we skilled an estimated 14 aqap members and that we gathered an unbelievable amount of intelligence that will prevent the potential deaths or attacks on american soil is something that i think most service members understand, that that's why they join the service. and so, you never want to call something a success 100% when someone's hurt or killed. and that was the case here. but i think when you recognize that an individual like this loved this country so much and deployed over and over again because he knew that the mission that he was conducting was so important to our protection, our freedom, our safety, and i know that when the president spoke to karen, his wife, and talked
about, you know, the three children that he left behind, she continued to be impressed with -- to impress upon the president, rather, that while it was an unbelievely emotional and sad time for her and her family, that he loved doing this. and so, again, i don't think you ever call anything 100% success, but what he did for this nation and what we got out of that mission, i think -- i truly believe and i know the president believes is going to save american lives. with that, let me go to the last question on skype. jeff jobe of south central kentucky of jeff jobe publishing in south central kentucky. >> thank you for allowing me to be part of today's white house press briefing. clearly, anyone paying attention seeing president trump is aggressively acting on his campaign promises. this in itself gives hope to my state, particularly the region in which i grew up, appalachia. we've seen countless politicians make promises at both state and national levels and not only
forget us but to turn on them. so, my question is, how soon or when will the rules restricting coal mining, colburning and coal exports be reversed? thank you. >> thanks, jeff. i've talked about this a couple times so far, but i believe -- or the president has very clearly stated that clean coal in particular is an issue so important to our energy independence as well as job creation in this country. whether you're talng about kentucky, west virginia, pennsylvania, so many other places in this country that rely on coal, bringing the production of clean coal back is good for our energy independence, good for our economy, good for job creation. it's something that he continues to talk about and i think once we have secretary of energy confirmed, that we can continue to take steps and move forward. f finn gomez. >> two questions for you. after the prime time
announcement last night, do you have a sense that this president will be more aggressive than his pr predecessors on prime time air play for his announcements? two, top democrats are asking the defense department to investigate michael flynn for possible violation of constitution. do you have -- do you have a response to that? >> i think on the air time issue, that's something that we're not particularly suffering from when it comes to attention. and i think the president does a phenomenal job of getting attention and getting his message out. his use of social media when you look at the number of people -- 11 million people watching the address on facebook live last night. obviously f we have important issues to address with the nation or announcements to make or nominations, then we'll request time. i don't think that that's something that we spent a ton of time figuring out. i think we're doing pretty well
on that front. the second question? >> requesting democrats to investigate flynn for possible violation of the emolument clause. >> general flynn, like countless if not hundreds of retired flag officers joined the speaking bureau and have given speeches at various places. i think that is something that is kept in practice. the department of defense is, you know, the appropriate place for them to review it, but as i said, i think that when you look at so many countless retired flag officers, that's something that generally keeps. zeke. >> sean, generallynn offered criticism of the obama administration of iran in particular. is that something we should be expecting to hear more from this administration, whether it be on foreign policy or other issues, criticism of previous administration going forward? >> i think in areas where there's going to be a sharp difference, in particular national security, contrasting the policies that this president is seeking to make the country
safer, stronger, more prosper s prosperous, he's going to draw those distinctions and contrasts out. but it's -- in this particular area, i think the president, when it came to the iran nuclear deal, was very, very adamant about his opposition and implications. he's going to make sure the american people know some of these deals and things that were left for -- by the previous administration, that he wants to make very clear what piz position is and his opposition to them. and the action and the notice he put iran on today is something that is important because i think the american people voted on change. this is another issue that he was very clear about. so, with that, thank you, guys. i'll see you tomorrow. take care. have a good day. >> sean spicer leaving the white house briefing room. quite a bit of news coming out of that briefing. we want to get you to three major points. number one, general michael flynn, donald trump's national
security adviser, showed up in that briefing. we did not expect him to do so. and he says he was putting iran on notice. this is in response to a missile test which iran says was not against the nuclear deal, which the white house says was, in fact, against the nuclear deal. also coming out of that, and we are talking about the nuclear option, this is an unfortunate term to use directly following the iran deal, but it's in regards to neil gorsuch and his nomination for the supreme court. will the republicans need to use the so-called nuclear option to make a vote just a simple majority instead of the 60 votes that is normal needed to confirm a supreme court pick? also, not in this briefing initiay, but asked a little later, betsy devos, who's the trump nominee for education secretary, she now is facing a potential loss in her confirmation hearing. it's 50/50 as two republican
hearings, mu mu cow ski from al and susan collins said they will say no for devos. that means vice president pence would have to come down to the senate and give the tiebreaking vote if another moderate on the gop side decided to vote no. we have kristen welker standing by in the white house briefing room. kristen, are you there? is she there? >> reporter: i am hear. i hear you. >> a lot of news coming out of there. let's talk about michael flynn. was this expected? and how much -- what is the white house trying to say here? . >> reporter: it wasn't expected at all. for context, sometimes the administration will bring one of its top officials out to deliver a message, particularly when they want to underscore it with a fine point. that's what we saw today, the national security adviser saying that this administration is putting iran on notice. this is a major headline, katy. they said, as you laid out so
clearly, they were doing this, taking this action because of recent provocations by iran, including a missile test. what does that specifically mean? i tried to press press secretary sean spicer on that point. he wouldn't elaborate. i said, are you trying to build the case to undue or pull out of the iran nuclear deal? he wouldn't touch that either. again, we are expecting a broader briefing on this later this afternoon. hoping to get more details. but, katy, this is significant, as you well know on the campaign trail. president trump really contrasted himself with former president obama over the iran nuclear deal. said he was going to rip it up in his first day in office. that hasn't happened. but are we seeing the start of that potentially happening? now, the are those who say it's not possible for the u.s to pull out unilaterally. so, we'll have to see where that goes today. but the other headlines, as you mentioned, the confirmation process for the president's pick for supreme court justice, neil
gorsuch, he was on capitol hill today greeting senators, giving a full charm offensive, trying to get those 60 votes needed. spicer calling on democrats to stop blocking the process. as you saw, i challenged him on the fact president trump has made some personal jabs at chuck schumer who's, of course, the minority leader for the democrats. and the fact that a lot of democrats are still fuming in the wake of republicans not giving president obama's pick for the supreme court a hearing. that could be potentially a battle. spicer flexing his muscles on that, reiterating what we heard from the president today, that mitch mcconnell should resort to the nuclear option if necessary. an up or down vote for republicans that wouldn't require democrats to get on board. he expressed confidence that betsy devos will be confirmed that despite the fact that two members of the republican party now saying they are going to be no votes. a lot of headlines here, katy. no doubt the biggest one has to
deal with iran. we'll try to dig in specifically what the administration means by putting iran on notice. >> kristen welker in the white house briefing room with a comprehensive look at what happened during that briefing. we want to go to sound from lisa murkowski explaining why she will vote no for betsy devos. >> i have heard from thousands, truly thousands of alaskans who shared their concerns about mrs. devos as secretary of education. i do not intend to vote on final passage to support mrs. devos to be secretary of education. >> how confident are you that you have all the other republican senators locked down? and what's the level of concern in the white house that her nomination will fail? >> zero. i have a confidence she'll be the next secreryf education. she's an unbelievable educator for and advocates for teachers, parents, students. it will be -- i think the games
being played with betsy devos are sad. she is someone who's been a tireless advocate over the last couple decades to really support reforms that benefit children. and they are going to be the real winners with her as secretary of education. >> sean spicer saying he regrets, quote, the games being played. again, breaking news. senators lisa murkowski of alaska, who you just saw, and senator susan collins of maine saying they will vote no for betsy devos. again, that does mean that mike pence, vice president mike pence, would have to go to the senate to break that tie. that is, unless, another republican, moderate republican, decides to vote no as well. we're keeping an eye on senators burr, heller, flake, toomey, cupito who could decide to volunteer note. we have rehema ellis here to talk about betsy devos. what are the major concerns? is it surprising to see both
murkowski and collins come out and say no? >> when you look at her record and what they're concerned about, it's not that surprising. one of the things sean spicer called her an educator. many people in the education community who would dispute that, that have issue with that. she's someone who has been a tireless and strong supporter of education in terms of charter schools and vouchers. she really has devoted a good deal of her family wealth to trying to make certain that there are charter schools in her home state of michigan. and in other places around the country. but those people who are voting against her and voicing concern about her say betsy devos is someone who talked about public education being a dead end. that disturbs them because the majority of children in this untry are in public education. 50 million kids. and while there are many people who are very much in favor of choice being an option for
parents, they're concerned betsy devos didn't speak much about what do you do with the rest of the children in the public education system? she's never held an elected office, never been a superintendent of schools, never served on public school, never sent her children to public school. they're concerned she is not, therefore, the best advocate and they've been very vocal. >> vote on the floor for rex tillerson. he is expected to be confirmed. it was a tense confirmation process for tillerson, especially among some republican senators, like marco rubio, john mccain and lindsey graham, but all three did say they do plan to vote yes for tillerson. that is happening right now. we'll keep an eye on that. we're going over to kasie hunt, our correspondent covering the capitol for us. this is pretty major news to find out betsy is devos will nea tiebreaker from the vice president. >> reporter: this is a big deal.
the question now is whether or not there are other moderate republicans who are going to come under pressure and ultimately cause this nomination to fail without any help from the white house at all. and some of the senators that we're watching, people like dean heller, the senator from nevada, a lot of teachers unions. that's where so much of this pressure is coming from. you were just talking to rehema a little bit about why this is playing out the way it is. it really does come down to that concern about public schools. you heard senator murkowski talk about that on the floor. you heard senator collins talk about it as well. they've both come under quite a bit of pressure from teachers unions. regardless, this is still the way most children in a lot of these states are educated. and it's still a constituency. they might be republicans but they're still listening to these people. the question is going to become, does the white house really want to go to the mat on this nomination? do they want to send mike pence up here to break the tie?
is that how they want to get their education secretary confirmed? again, who else might be amenable to actually coming out and saying no? i think there's a combination of things that have led us to this point. certainly the ideology that she has espoused, certainly her background, but her performance here on capitol hill is not something that impressed senators. whether it was their closed-door meetings with her or whether it was what she said in public. you'll remember that hearing was pretty rough going. the sound bites that came out afterwards, she talked about guns in schools, she he cited grizzly bears as the reason why potentially there should be guns in schools when that has been much more of of a settled line of thinking than she seemed to perceive it to be. i have to tell you one thing that's very important for particularly these senators who came out today, but also other women senators i've talked to, she's -- she didn't seem to have a very good handle on money used in public schools for ki with disabilities. d she was asked by a woman
senator, maggie hassen of new hampshire who has a disabled child herself. to a certain extent there was an expectation, hey, if you were really prepared for this hearing, that might have been something that would have come up in the, that you might have thought about. instead she seemed to be caught totally unaware perform i think all of those factor taken together led us to this point. the result now is she is the only trump nominee at this point that is in really serious jeopardy of failing because she can't get enough support from republicans. all the others while, yes, there has been some division, contention, certainly democrats have tried to take them down. we have not seen republicans revolt like this. >> kasie hunt on capitol hill. i want to touch on that a little more, that point -- that last point kasie just made with charlie sykes, conservative radio talk show host, also msnbc contributor. the democrats did want to take down one of these nominees. obviously they could not do so without republican support because they don't have a
majority. what does it mean that betsy devos is that person? can the democrats use that as a victory? >> yes. it is interesting with all of the other questions, you know, some of the ethical questions involving other nom knees that this is the one that would go down because betsy devos is a symbol of education reform. all the other thins notwithstanding. so, this is a significant victory for the teachers union. it is interesting that this would be the democratic victory. basically planting their flag on kind of the educational status quo and bringing this down, when you could certainly make a stronger case on a number of other cabinet members. >> a reminder to our viewers, we are watching the senate floor vote for rex tillerson that's about to take 25 minutes. started around 2:30 this afternoon. we should be getting an answer as to whether he is confirmed in this hour. we're going to go to break. on the other side, we've got a lot more to talk about. we've got this michael flynn rattling iran. also neil gorsuch, the supreme court pick, and we're going to
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you are looking at a live picture at the bottom of your screen of the senate floor. that's where senators are voting to either confirm or deny secretary of state nominee rex tillerson. we should have an answer for you on how they vote by the end of this hour. first, we want to talk a little more about what we just saw in that white house briefing room. a surprise visit from general mike flynn. donald trump's national security adviser coming out and giving a warning to iran after iran tested a missile earlier this week. iran maintains that that does not breach the iran nuclear deal. the white house, though, says it does. take a listen. >> president trump has severely credit sidesed the various agreements reached between iran and the obama administration as well as the united nations as being weak and ineffective. instead of being thankful to the united states in these
agreements, iran is now feeling emboldened. as of today, we are officially putting iran on notice. >> let's go to hans nichols, our pentagon correspondent. hans, first, talk to me, what is the significance of general mike flynn coming out, taking the podium at the white house briefing and warning iran? >> well, the symbolism is important. we've seen a little bit of reaction in oil markets because of that. the content, katy, is surprising. to me the most surprising part is the contrast with the pentagon. this missile test in iran happened on sunday. i'll give you the details here real quick. bear with me. it was about 500 miles, aimed to the south. the question is always, where was it aimed? i got the sense from pentagon officials that they weren't overly alarmed. clearly, they are the white house. flynn saying that iran is going to be on notice is very interesting, in part, because this actually doesn't violate the jcpoa,ite ran nuclear deal.
it does, however, violate united nations security council 2231. it's pretty clear it violates it. the germans said overnight it violates it. nikki haley overnight said it's a violation. it's the melding of all things from mr. flynn is the most newsworthy. an important point to make here, he tied in these recent attacks by houthi rebels in yemen on saudi boats. there have been skirmishes back and forth throughout the fall. if you'll recall in october the u.s. took out, under the obama administration, took out three radar installations in yemen when they were taking shots and painting u.s. destroyers in the gulf there. so, it's this idea that these twinning it all and saying, yes, it's the ballistic missile test and also iran's action supporting the houthi rebels that gives you a sense n some ways, this this was a white house just looking, looking for an opportunity to put iran on notice. and potentially going back to the drawing board on the
comprehensive nuclear agreement. katy? >> hans, i want to ask you one question. in the lead up to the inauguration, when michael flynn was named nsa, i spoke to a number of folks in the intelligence cnity who s that they were worri about this cabinet, donald trump's proposed cabinet, his propose add advisers, having a hostile posture towards iran. they said that it felt very much like the bush administration, how they felt about iraq when they took office. what is the sentiment inside the pentagon right now? >> well, there's always watching iran. they are -- i mean, i wouldn't ascribe too many policy imperatives to the surveillance that takes place here at the pentagon on what happens in iran. they've got destroyers out there. interesting right now, we do not have -- the u.s. does not have a carrier group in either the mediterranean or the red sea or there in the persian gulf. so, they're constantly monitoring. look, this is a president that campaigned on the idea of being more hostile toward iran.
he was very skeptical of the agreement. michael flynn when he was here at pentagon frequently saw iranian meddling throughout the region. everyone said iran should be on notice because this is a retired general who thinks iran has been meddling across the region in a variety of proxy warsz. this gives you an indication they now plan to implement some strategies. we don't know what the strategies will be from the white house nor do we know what the policies are. clearly, iran on notice. it's really the twinning of all these issues that's really the most interesting to me. >> hans nichols at the pentagon with all the context surrounding this. i want to remind our viewers, again, we are still watching the vote for secretary of state rex tillerson. we'll bring you the decision once we know what it is. now we want to go to a former state department spokesperson and former white house senior director under president obama. thank you for joining me, number one. >> great to be here. >> talk to me about what you just saw with with michael flynn taking the podium. that's a marked difference from the posture we saw during the obama administration.
>> posture is exactly the right term. so much of public diplomacy is about the posturing and back channel and these subtle hints and measures. traditionally the state department and the pentagon have worked hand in glove with the pentagon doing the military preparation and state department leading the way on representing american interests on a diplomatic front. what you're seeing now is essentially a fracturing of this type of relationship because of the ideology coming out of the white house and a lot of the personality driven policy. when we used to have an agreement on putting american leadership overseas, we're now seeing -- trying to -- folks trying to figure out what america first means. and it seems part of the america first agenda is to really go at it with iran. someone like michael flynn, who has had an obsession with iran over several years, now by coming out and speaking directly
to the white house press corps, really escalated the level of dialogue and conversation, forcing now iran likely to have to respond and even stronger words and measures. in previous years, we've often seen these conversations happen in back channel or with written statements. a former general now responsible for u.s. national security and foreign policy to come out and make such a statement of putting a country on notice is, frankly, the type of language that hints towards further military action. even though that may not be what the pentagon is currently preparing for. >> we're watching this vote for rex tillerson. if he ends up getting confirmed for the state department, we do believe he will, what sort of weight will that dissent memo that's being passed around among diplomats all over the world, what sort of weight will that have in a rex tillerson potential regime? >> this is the interesting part of working in national security
that makes it very different than dough mess domestic politics. you're driven by a common end, to not have places like china and russia come in when there's a vacuum. tillerson will be inheriting a state department that has lost a lot of its logistical leadership, diplomatic security, heads counselor affairs, people who do visas. they were asked to leave last week right before a massive travel ban was put in place and put all of our borders and counsel lar embassies in disarray for travel. tillerson will inherit a state department where career officials now feel they are not able to do their jobs and have to speak out through what is called the dissent channel. the dissent channel has always been a place for people to have policy discussions, the last one under secretary kerry, he met with folks who wrote this and they had an honest policy discussion.
this time you have the white house declaring that people who either get in line or go. so, tillerson's going to have to really do a lot to get people on board and working towards a common mission. >> thank you for joining me. i want to turn now to our own andrea mitchell who knows the state department better than anyone else, certainly here at nbc news, probably most of washington as well. andr andrea, talk to me about what nayyar was mentioning. she says state department employees and diplomats feel they can't speak out under this new administration. is that also what you're hearing? >> absolutely. thomas contriman, one of the fired diplomats was on our show at noon, saying this is extraordinary. he's welcoming rex tillerson, hoping he gets con fired because he's hoping someone in charge will be able to explain to the white house, to the president and his spokes people, that this -- it goes back to the
vietnam war, this dissent channel. it's supposed to be a way for diplomats, for foreign service officers and for the civilians in the state department, to speak back to power and to tell management when there are concerns. in the past over bosnia, syria, iraq. most memberably when it all started, vietnam. that's the tradition, they're supposed to have protection against retaliation. of course, that protection does not mean their nes won't be put on some sort of of a black list for future promotions. it takes guts to stand up. >> i know you covered the iran deal at length while it was negotiated, what's your reaction to nsa director mike flynn? >> well, we have to see what they say at the briefing. the fact he came out and said, we're putting on iran on notice, what does that mean? when you have retired military, one with a reputation for being very strongly -- very strongly anti-iran and anti the iran deal to come on out and say that, are they saying they're now going to assert their privilege to
announce they're with drawing? there is a six-month notification of that. they can't withdrawal unilaterally from this multi-year deal. that would be extraordinary. it would certainly please prime minister netanyahu in israel and other critics of it, but it would absolutely alarm the rest of the world -- russia, china, all of the europeans involved in this multilateral agreement. and if that is what they're talking about, it would be shocking, indeed. if it's just talking about the ballistic missile issue, that would be troubling, but not quite at the level. >> andrea mitchell at our washington bureau, thank you so much. a reminder to our viewers, we're still watching the rex tillerson vote. they're getting clowe'll have a answer soon enough. stay with us. n cards can help you take on a new job, or fill a big order
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