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tv   All In With Chris Hayes  MSNBC  May 23, 2017 5:00pm-6:01pm PDT

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national security adviser all together. trump then asks the directors of national intelligence to clear him of any guilt in the matter. when that fails, he fires the fbi director saying he wanted to rid himself of the russian thing. he then shared with the russian ambassador his relief having gotten rid of the fbi director. that's a lot of obstructing, not to be obstruction. that's "hardball" for now. "all in with chris hayes" starts right now. tonight on "all in" -- >> what is the nature of what you saw in >> i saw interaction that raised questions. >> the russia plot thickens. >> it raised questions in my mind again, whether or not the russians were able to gain the cooperation of those individuals. >> a former cia director goes further than ever in describing what he saw, as the current director of national intelligence won't deny the
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president asked him for help. >> it's not appropriate for me to comment publicly on any of that. >> plus >> if you're innocent, why are you taking the fifth amendment? >> today's biparsan response to michael flynn taking the fifth. then, the trump budget versus the trump campaign. >> save medicare, medicaid, and social security without cuts. >> and the latest updates from manchester. including an evolution and the american response. >> i will call them from now on losers. because that's what they are. >> "all in" starts right now. good evening from new york. i'm chris hayes. tonight, president trump is lawyering up amid big developments on capitol hill. a former director of the cia, john brennan, testifying for the first time that last year, when he was serving as cia director,
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he saw intelligence revealing contacts between russian officials and members of the trump campaign and grew worried that the russian government may have gained the cooperation of trump campaign officials. >> i encountered and am aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between russian officials and u.s. persons involved in the trump campaign. that i was concerned about because of known russian efforts to subborn such individuals, and it raised questions in my mind again, whether or not the russians were able to gain the cooperation of those individuals. >> did you see evidence of collusion, coordination, conspiracy between donald trump and russian state actors? >> i saw information and intelligence that was worthy of investigation by the bureau to
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determine whether or not such cooperation or collusion was taking place. >> brennan's testimony follows a report yesterday in "the washington post" that after then fbi director james comey publicly disclosed the fbi investigation into possible ties between the trump campaign and russian meddling in the 2016 election, president trump made separate appeals to the director of national intelligence daniel coats and admiral michael rogers, director of the nsa, urging them to deny the existence of any evidence of collusion. both reportedly turned him down. according to the post, senior white house officials asked top intelligence officials if they would try to convince comey to drop the fbi's investigation into former trump national security adviser michael flynn. >> the story adds another layer to the growing scandal
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surrounding the president's attempts to interfere with an investigation of his own campaign. separate from the question whether there was any collusion with russian operatives. did the president of the united states and his associates obstruct justice by trying to impede the investigation? we now have reporting that the president or his allies and aides asked a wide range of officials to knock down reports of collusion or halt an investigation outright. among them, the chairs of the senate and house intelligence committees, the fbi director, and then assistant director james comey and andrew mccabe, and now dan coats and nsa director mike rogers. testifying on capitol hill today, coats was asked to confirm or deny "the washington post" reporting, and chose neither. >> it's not appropriate for me to comment publicly on any of that, and so on this topic, as well as other topics, i don't feel it's appropriate to characterize discussions and
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conversations with the president. >> late today, nbc news confirmed that president trump is now expecting to retain a private attorney to represent him on matters related to the russian investigation. joining me now, ellen nakashima, one of the authors of yesterday's report that president trump asked coats and rogers to deny russian collusion. ela, let me start with your reaction to the testimony by dan coats today, neither confirming or denying the reporting in your article. >> it seemed to be a -- basically not denying the story, there was a tas it acceptance of the story that it was accurate. >> and my -- i should note there have not been official denials by the white house as well, is that correct? >> that's correct. in fact, the white house was remarkably silent on the story all day today. president trump did not say anything about it, did not tweet
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about it. usually he's the first out of the box. >> let me ask you this. it's sort of remarkable, the color in this article. the sense you get is the president just sort of cualling through intelligence officials without any awareness of the possible impropriety of the entire endefer. >> that's right. that's what is so remarkable about this story all along, with president trump trying to get fbi director jim comey to intervene to drop the investigation into mike flynn, to then refine that he's trying to get the nsa director to come out publicly to say there's no evidence of collusion. he doesn't understand the lines, the traditional lines between law enforcement agencies and the political -- the executive branch, the political white house. >> it's also noteworthy that
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coats and rogers just refused, basically -- it sounds like rogers attempting to explain to the president of the united states where it would be impossible to do it. >> right. both men were not going to do something that they considered to be very inappropriate, and at the same time, at least i think rogers did not want to be seen as insulting or slapping -- putting a slap in the face of the commander in chief. >> so so do we know of any other -- i guess the question is this -- the most charitable interpretation of the president's actions is he didn't like the public relations aspect of it and he was looking for pr help, him asking them to knock down the story and officials asking about the flynn investigation itself. that seems to me quite important given the comey report. >> yes, that's right. and that piece is something that
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bears further reporting. notably today, dan coats was also asked about that. and he said he was not aware of it. and so we will have to continue to report out. now, that is a little more significant in that it's -- now you're starting to talk about -- you're moving into more what could be considered obstruction of justice. >> all right, ellen, thanks for your time tonight. joining me now is senator chris murphy of connecticut. first, let's start with your reaction to the reporting we're just talking about, the president contacting coats, rogers, among others it appears in an attempt to knock down this story. >> well, first, it certainly sounded like dan coats' refusal to answer the question is a confirmation of it, that is part of this pattern of a president who is trying to shut down this investigation any way he can. and this is a pattern of
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behavior that really does start to look like obstruction of justice. so i think we're going to continue to follow this story. you pair it together with the confirmation there were contacts with the russian government during the campaign, and it feels today as if the walls are real kri cloly closing in on th president. >> former director brennan said something very interesting today about briefing your colleagues in the senate, the gang of eight particularly. i wanted ed ted to play that f. take a listen. >> we kept congress apprised of these issues as we identified them. again, in consultation with the white house, i personally briefed the full details of our understanding of russian attempts to interfere in the election to congressional leadership, specifically senators harry reid, mitch mcconnell, dianne feinstein and richard burr, and to representativing paul ryan, nancy pelosi, devin nunez and
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adam schiff between 11 august and 6 september. >> that's last september, height of the campaign that he's briefing republican and democratic members of congress. are you -- what is your reaction to the reaction of folks like mcconnell and ryan and their -- the way they've handled this issue throughout? >> well, i think there's a question there whether they had informed congress about the russian manipulation of the election or the context with the trump campaign. but the fact of the matter is, this should have been a much bigger deal at the time. and i know that both senator mcconnell and speaker ryan know the potential gravity of this, and unfortunately, they are not taking it seriously enough. there's real political peril for republicans if they continue to stand with this president and back up some of his attempts to try to stop the truth from coming out. ultimately this will land at their feet, as well as the
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president's. >> do you ask yourself what else is the white house up to when you read a report in "the washington post"? >> yes and no. in part because it doesn't seem like much happens in this white house without it ultimately being reported. not even the president's private selection of a lawyer is a secret for more than a few hours. listen, i think this administration is so ham handed in the way that it tries to stop the truth from coming out, that they eventually get caught and it gets reported on. i'm just thankful that there are so many good reporters around washington that are plebleeding this truth out and that we have an independent counsel that can take some of this reporting and give us a set of recommendations how to proceed here in the congress. >> there's been a very active debate on and off the record about the use of obstruction of justice, which has a precise legal meaning, and impeachment. what is your feeling about that? >> well, as you know, chris, you
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have a decision twl whether to forward. if there's a belief that a crime has been committed, you would think that would rise to an impeachable offense. but it's a decision by congress as to what it believes is high crimes and misdemeanors. so we're going to watch whether this rises to the level of obstruction of justice. but frankly, whether or not it does, if there is an ongoing pattern by this president of trying to stop investigative agencies from getting the truth or if you continue to have evidence that the campaign, perhaps with the president's knowledge, was coordinating with the russians, that alone without the obstruction of justice charge would be enough to start that discussion of consequences in the senate and in the house. >> senator chris murphy, thank you for being with me. >> thanks. as a few folks pointed out yesterday, it was 44 years ago
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yesterday on may 22, 1973, that this was the front page of "the new york times." richard nixon conceding an effort to conceal some aspects of watergate. the nixon presidency was brought down in large part by the so-called smoking gun tape, a june 23rd, 1972 recording on which nixon tells the staff to direct the cia to stop the fbi from investigating the watergate burglary. joining me now, attorney jill banks, one of the
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prosecutors in the watergate scandal. so let me start with this question. from your perspective, having been a prosecutor during watergate, how proper and/or legal is it for the president of the united states to reach out to members of the intelligence community to try to get them to go on the record in his defense or even to intervene in an investigation? >> completely illegal. it is obstruction of justice. >> really? you think facially, flat out? >> flat out. anyone who is saying differently, people are saying well, you have to show corrupt intent. yes, you do. but asking sessions to leave the room when you are having a conversation with comey about the investigation is clear enough evidence of intent. and it's exactly what got richard nixon into trouble. he was plotting with his aide, halderman, to get the cia to tell the fbi stop investigating on the false grounds that it would hurt national security. >> really, the breaking point in watergate was precisely that,
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that nixon sort of cooked up this idea that he was going to tell the fbi, that they were going to uncover some black ops the cia was running. that was the point, where it all flipped over, right? >> it was the discovery of that tape, which was just before trial. we asked for additional tapes. went oh the supreme court. they said we have a right to them. that one tape, june 23rd, just six days after the break-in, was exactly the smoking gun that led to the republicans going to the president and saying if you don't resign, you will be impeached. >> and why was that so important? there was a lot of facts on the table at that point. what was it about that, from a legal or political perspective? >> one, it was just an accumulation of things that by that point you couldn't ignore anymore. and it was -- he had lied. he said he didn't even know about the cover-up until march when john dean told him there was a cancer growing on the presidency.
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this was in june. so it was publicly committed to, i didn't know until march. but he actually knew in june, and he was plotting in june. he was part of the cover-up. i think it was just all too much. >> there's -- you said this is obstruction, talking about this president's behavior. so here's a question to you. with watergate, right? the underlying infraction, which is the break-in and a variety of transactions that happened, that there was a cover-up of an actual first order crime. if it's the case that there is nothing they're covering up from a collusion stand point, does that change the legal, moral, political consequence of this obstruct -- what you call obstruction? >> my opinions are based on legal. i'll leave the political to your political advisers. i don't know what will happen whether there will be impeachment, whether there's the will for impeachment. so that's a different -- that's
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a political question. but the interesting thing here is, the underlying crime could actually be as bad or worse. you had them talking to the russians, and we don't know about what. that's going to be testimony interestingly this week, although today the former cia director brennan said there was a pattern of conduct between the campaign and the russians that was concerning. that's disturbing. >> let me ask you this. i guess my question is, is it possible to commit obstruction of justice, to impede an investigation into something that you didn't do? >> that's a very interesting, philosophical, legal question, and i'm not sure -- >> it may arrive at that moment. >> i think we may. but i have a feeling you don't engage in the kind of behavior here, if there isn't an underlying crime. so the question is, exactly what are they concealing and why are they concealing it? what is the connection to flynn that makes the president protect him so much?
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there's just too many questions. >> jill winebanks, thanks for being with me. that was great. coming up, new subpoenas and threats of contempt charges for donald trump's ex-national security adviser, michael flynn. and what former cia chief john brennan described as the treasonous path after this break. my ancestry dna results are that i am 26% nigerian. i am just trying to learn as much as i can about my culture. i put the gele on my head and i looked into the mirror and i was trying not to cry. because it's a hat, but it's like the most important hat i've ever owned. discover the story only your dna can tell. order your kit now at for my constipation, i switch laxatives.ed stimulant laxatives make your body go by forcefully stimulating the nerves in your colon. miralax is different. it works with the water in your body to hydrate and soften. unblocking your system naturally. miralax.
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we issued two subpoenas to the two michael flynn businesses that we're aware of. while we disagree with general flynn's lawyers' interpretation of taking the fifth that it is even more clear that a business does not have a right to take a fifth. that it's a corporation. so those subpoenas, one has been served, one is in the process of being served, and we keep all options on the table. >> the leaders of the senate intelligence committee announced their response today to fired national security adviser michael flynn's rejection of their original subpoena to him. general flynn had invoked his
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fifth amendment and refused to turn over business documents related to his interactions with russian officials. so the committee has issued two new subpoenas, this time directly to the businesses, since corporations can't invoke the fifth. in a letter to the committee, flynn's lawyer asserted that his client had been the target on a nearly daily basis of outrageous allegations. flip also previously requested immunity in exchange for testimony which he was not granted. in the house investigation into ties between the trump campaign and russia, democrats are citing new evidence against flynn and pushing for another subpoena. congressman elijah cummings wrote to chair jason chaffetz saying -- >> joining me now, msnbc contributor, former fbi double agent, authority of "how to catch a russian spy." navid, let's start with the
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allegation by elijah cummings that they have evidence he lied to the people interviewing him when he was getting a security clearance review. how big a deal is that? >> it's a big deal for two reasons. the first one is the pragmatic one. it's potentially a crime. if he did this knowingly and there was an intent to sort of cover something up here. the second one is, on the counterintelligence side. when someone purposefully misleads something in regards to an sf-86, this form that is a security back ground questionnaire, if you have a counterintelligence officer, it raises a red flag, besides for the obvious reason. it shows potentially an attempt to deceive. and that is a very troubling thing. >> i want to just run down, here are some of the problems flynn currently has in terms when you talk about that sort of deception as a red flag. he did not clear his rt
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payments. he allegedly didn't disclose those foreign payments in a security clearance interview. didn't register as a foreign agent. and lied about his contacts with the russian ambassador. whether he did anything wrong, there is a pattern here that, as you say, it would seem to me would raise red flags. >> that's right. again, taking this to the question of criminality aside for one moment, if you're looking at this and you're a security officer, you're going to make the determination if this person warrants or meets the criteria to be given a security clearance, you're going to have very serious concerns about issuing that clearance. so it shows a pattern potentially of deception. that is the thing that really does trouble me. i mean, we know what happened from 2014. we know what happened most recently in 2017. but there's a large gap of several years where we don't know what mr. flynn was doing. >> i was watching the testimony today and there was a lightbulb
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moment for me about collusion and cooperation. you've been clear about your skepticism of open collusion and cooperation. brennan said this thing that il thought of conversations we've had in that regard. take a listen. >> i've studied russian intelligence activities over the years and i've seen it, again, manifested in many different of our counterintelligence case and how they've been able to get people, including inside of cia, to become treasonous and frequently individuals who go along that path do not even realize they're along that path until it gets to be a bit too late. >> how does that relate to your awareness of how russian intelligence or any intelligence agency operates in terms of cultivating people without them even realizing they're being cultivated? >> that's right. the russians are so sophisticated when it comes to this, and i would call it the
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romance phase. there's this part, and i was dealing with the gru, and he never said to me we want you to commit freetreason. there's a careful, slow progression where they're determining if you're real. and this concept that someone is going to sit down with you and say, i want you to spy, it's unlikely. so that's exactly right, it's this slow dance and it can take years. they're also paranoid and looking for signs that you may have been co-opted. so what brennan said rang true. it's a slow dance. >> so what i'm hearing from you, there's a possibility that there is this two collaborators exchanging information, it could be the case that russians are pulling off this operation while attempting to essentially compromise or infiltrate in a unilateral way agents around the trump campaign.
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>> that's right. so if you -- going back to that timeline with flynn. we talk about 2014 when he was essentially fired by president obama. this -- a bitter general would be a perfect target for the russians. they would make an approach. this is how i would do it. they would make an approach, and that may not be illegal or even raise the concerns of mr. flynn, who is a 30 plus year veteran of the intelligence community. so that is -- it is exactly right. they might build a network of people and then what's curious, chris, that all these people ended up in the trump campaign. but you're right. >> it just seems like this space has to be reckoned with in terms of -- there's a sort of cartoonish image that we'll find some plot which people were sitting down in the back of a runl restaurant, and this seems like a more fruitful line of thinking. thank you for joining me. white house unveiled the trump budget today with massive cuts to many of the things candidate trump said he would
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save medicare, medicaid, and social security without cuts. have to do it. get rid of the fraud, get rid of the waste and abuse. but save it. people have been paying in for years, and now many of these candidates want to cut it. >> from day one of his campaign, the president promised he would not cut medicare, medicaid and social security. unlike his opponents, he would be a different kind of republican and voters rewarded him for it in the primary and in the general election. but today, the white house released its budget for 2018,
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and among the $4 trillion in cuts it proposes are billions upon billions slashed from both medicaid and social security. the republican health care plan passed out of the house already already included $880 billion in cuts to medicaid and cut an additional $660 billion over ten years, all but gutting the program. the president's budget would slash funding for social security disability insurance, ssdi, which provides benefits to people with disabilities. many of them were once factory workers and manual workers in places like the rust belt, which helped thriver the president his electoral college victory. states like louisiana, mississippi, kentucky, west virginia, all in the trump column in 2016. house budget chair mick mulvaney was asked about the impact of
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those social security cuts earlier today. >> will any of those individuals who presently receive social security disability receive less as a result of this budget? >> i hope so. if there are people getting ssdi who should not be getting it -- >> those people who should be getting it receive less if >> if people are really disabled. we are not kicking anybody off of any program who really needs it. >> that remains to be seen. the president's budget is so extreme, it's quite hard to find anyone on capitol hill of either party who supports it, including republicans. what republicans are saying about the president's budget, coming up next.
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dead on arrival. that's how the number two republican in the senate e john cornyn, described the budget. other republican lawmakers criticized the proposal for the reduction in state department funding and for its overoptimistic growth projections. the reaction has been so negative that according to the associated press reporter erica werner, paul ryan had to tell house republicans not to fall into the trap of criticizing the trump budget. arguing there's plenty to like. and that's true, if you happen to be among the wealthiest americans. the budget trades massive tax cuts for the wealthy for unprecedented cuts to programs that help people with low income. welfare, medicaid, food stamps. but it goes further than that. it slashes funds affecting
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everything from cancer research to special olympics, another farm bill would shrink the federal student lone program for low income students. in other words, something for just about everyone to dislike. i'm joined now by senate jeff murphy. do you agree with senator cornyn that this is d.o.a.? >> yes, i do. a budget is a statement of value. president trump doesn't honor -- doesn't have the integrity to honor his campaign promises on medicaid and social security. we also learned that it's not an america first vision for america, it's billionaires first and it's rural and working americans last. this budget just proceeds to e vis rate rural america by slashing rural water supply
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programs, rural airport services, rural clinics, rural post offices and even rural rental housing. i'll try to say all of that quickly. >> so here's my question to you. look, any attempt from anyone who wants to cut spending is going to meet resistance, the folks that say this is what we need to put taxpayers first, that it's politically difficult to cut spending, and they're being brave essentially in proposing this when in's little political upside. what do you say to that? >> it's certainly putting taxpayers first if you're a billionaire. but it's putting americans, struggling americans, middle class americans in a terrible bind. undercutting the core programs that support in rural america and urban america. i think about the -- this woman, carol, who contacted me from a small town in oregon, and she said look, my husband, we've
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been married 33 years. he has dementia. he's in a nursing home. the medicaid being cut will destroy that support. she can't care for him, and she's concluded her letter by saying, if we lose the aca, the medicaid, surely i will die. and i think she's speaking for millions of americans who are struggling, trying to get by, who have worked their lifetimes, their bodies are worn out. these programs have given them peace of mind that if they have a medical problem, they'll get the care they need and they won't go bankrupt. and these programs have supported the economy. they're just being torn apart. the president has no vision of how america really works. >> you articulated in that a substantive defense and the medicaid expansion and opposition to cut, but also a political case. what's remarkable to me about the budget, it goes after so
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many different things, cancer research, things that are quite popular. these are not programs that are perceived only to benefit a few. there was a time when the president himself recognized the danger of this kind of thing, this is back in 2012. here is the president then tweeting about the ryan budget. >> what has changed? >> well, i don't know that the president has a grip over his own budget. his team is careening from one place to another. certainly i can tell you i've been out in rural counties in oregon. i have a town hall in every county. i've been in a dozen republican counties since january, and people are infuriated with the republican leadership. >> but you're a democratic senator. of course you're going the say that. >> it's very strange. in 2009, when i was first
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elected, i would go into these counties, and people came out and they were ready to tear my heart out because they thought obamacare was some type of socialist takeover. >> so you met with a lot of political activism. >> i've been on the receiving end of that, for sure. and in half of those countries i had people start up and start applauding. they are looking for champions to stop this craziness, this destructive set of strategies that trump is putting forward. and his budget embodies that. >> i kept thinking about cuts to ssdi and i thought about the voters i've talked to and what it would mean to them. it's explosive. senator, thanks for joining me. still to come, a new tone and some old vocabulary, what to make of president trump's somewhat muted response.
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thing one tonight, the magical power of jerry mangerry. "the washington post" published this diagram explaining the problem. a state that voit votes 60% bl% red. with some deviously creative drawing, you can get red winning a ma zwrjority of the districtsh a minority of the voters. it turns out this is not a thought experiment. both parties have used this to their benefit. but since 2010, republicans have been pushing the limits to it, and in some cases doing so illegally. the most extreme example that resulted in this insane district map just went up to the supreme
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court and how the high court ruled and why it could influence states across the country. rt cl. come close, come close. i like that. [ music stops suddenly ] ah. when your pain reliever stops working, your whole day stops. awww. try this. for minor arthritis pain, only aleve can stop pain for up to 12 straight hours with just one pill. thank you. ♪ come on everybody. you can't quit, neither should your pain reliever. stay all day strong with 12 hour aleve.
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wj of the most extreme examples of gerrymandering is drawn by north carolina republicans after 2010. it delivered the gop an overwhelming 10-3 advantage in house seats by 2014, turning a roughly 50% statewide support into a 77% advantage. a challenge to this map just went before the supreme court. specifically two bizarrely shaped congressional districts where republicans were accused of clustering african-american ters. monday, the court rejected those districts, citing racial bias. justice kagan wrote -- >> the district map was even too extreme for the reliably
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conservative justice clarence thomas who served as the deciding vote. rick hassen reacted to the ruling writing -- >> a texas gerrymandering case would be one of those. hours after the ruling, a judge urged texas lawmakers to consider voluntarily redrawing their district lines in light of the supreme court ruling. just like the people who own them, every business is different. but every one of those businesses will need legal help as they age and grow. whether it be help starting your business, vendor contracts or employment agreements. legalzoom's network of attorneys can help you every step of the way so you can focus on what you do. we'll handle the legal stuff that comes up along the way. legalzoom. legal help is here.
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british prime minister theresa may has raised the country's terror threat to its highest level, warning that another attack may be imminent in the aftermath of last night's concert bombing in manchester. britain's worst terror attack since 2005. the death toll now sfatands at , with another 59 injured. the victims included young children. the concertgoers leaving a
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performance by pop singer ariana grande. the bomb detonated right outsite the concert hall. the suicide bomber has been identified as salman abedi m. he lived less than four miles from the manchester arena, the site of the attack. police have arrested his 23-year-old brother but provided no further details. isis has claimed responsibility for the attack, but offered no proof of the connection. makeshift memorials in manchester and words of condolence from the royal family have been joined by worldwide expressions of support. president trump traveling in the middle east where he delivered a major speech on islam and terrorism just two days ago reacted to the attack this morning. and while his response was in character, it was quite different than much of what we saw from him on the campaign trail. that's next. ♪
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today president trump responded to the manchester arena attack during a joint press conference with mahmoud abbas in the west bank of bethlehem. >> so many young, innocent, beautiful people living and enjoying their lives murdered by evil losers in life. i won't call them monsters because they would like that term. they would think that's a great name. i will call them, from now on,
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losers because that's what they are. they are losers. >> for the president, it was a measured reaction, particularly compared to previous situations. for example, in the immiate aftermath of the orlando nightclub shooting last june, trump reiterated his call for mauz ba muslim ban. >> we must find out what is going on. it will be lifted, this ban, when and as a nation we're in a position to properly and perfectly screen these people coming into our country. they are pouring in and we don't know what we're doing. we cannot continue to allow thousands upon thousands of people to pour into our country, many of whom have the same thought process as the savaged killer. >> joining me now is the former state department spokesperson, former white house senior director under president obama and ambassador hill.
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former assistant secretary of state. ambassador hill, let me start with you. your reaction to the tone of the president and its marked contrast to how he sounded as a candidate. >> it's in contrast, of course, but i think he also expressed the indignity and sense of outrage that these murders require. so i think he did fine. i think it was a good reaction, from the heart, and i think that's what people would like to hear from our president. >> it struck me that when you think about that little date line, where he is, he's in israel, he was just in saudi arabia at a summit of, you know, sunni muslim officials and leaders. it changes both the world view and the language that any president will use, the fact that you actually have to go to the middle east and interface with people and you can't just be talking about them like they are not in the room.
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>> well, certainly. and i think we saw that the president was influenced by the surroundings so he was influenced by the fact he was around many muslim leaders and he's influenced in bethlehem, one of the holy yift cities of the world or staring at his twitter account all day. so that is, again, part and parcel of who our president is, is that he's influenced by the dynamic in the room and the media and attention that he gets around him. >> ambassador hill, a lot of people said in response to the muslim ban, there was a lot of critiques about it, substanley, morally. but one of the diplomatic critiques is precisely that this is offensive to people that we have to work with people for a variety of reasons. for instance, the first ban banned iraqis who were fighting and dying to defeat isis. you wonder if they are going to
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start to operate on this white house at all. >> one hopes. he's gone to a region of the world that's very much in turmoil and it's interesting, though, how he's cast his lot with the sunni arabs out of whose community comes this most hideous extremism. but he also seems to be trying to tee up an approach on israel, pointing out and really going after the iranians, going after the iranians in saudi arabia, which was kind of a funny place to do it, given that they don't have elections in parliaments and things like that. and then he does the same thing in israel as if to say -- in fact, he did say that saudi arabia and israel have a lot in common. he seems to be trying to tee up some sort of effort, i think, on middle east peace. >> what he really has teed up is he's stepped right in the middle of the sunni/shia conflict. in previous years, as a united states, we have tried to stay
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out of fully taking sides. granted, we don't have the diplomatic relationship with iran but iran has had elections recently and we have been making an effort to bring international power to bear to have it denuclearized as a state. that was done with netanyahu and israel. there's been previous tradeoffs. on the upside of what we saw under the obama administration and even the bush administration is we did not pick sides between sunni and shia, which has been a divisive side of the middle east. >> arming the saudis as they pursue yemen against shia rebels, the houthis, is pretty much taking sides, isn't it? >> let's just say we're going much further down the line, particularly with being in saudi arabia and speaking out about iran. you're starting to hear drumbeats. it pedalled back the last couple of years the potential u.s. involvement militarily in iran.
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these foreign trips will be interesting to see what he does when he gets back here to the u.s. and has to deal with the domestic arguments as well. >> ambassador hill, that's my question about counterterrorism here, which is, what do you see as continuity or as breaks. the musli bans one and two were blocked by the court and the first one rescinded. there's been an escalation in journalism strikes and other raids we've seen. but what, to you, do you see as the hallmark so far of how this president has taken this approach in a different direction? >> well, i clearly -- this is someone who is kind of behaviorally pliable with whomever he's last spoken with. >> right. >> i think he found a lot to think about in saudi arabia. probably issues that he, frankly, had never thought about. i think he was kind of impressed and they showed him what they are doing about terrorism. he said, wow, you're doing the same sorts of things we're
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doing. and so i think this was kind of a revelation for him. he kind of liked the whole family thing. he brought his family there so the saudis liked that and he kind of looked around that rather glorious looking room and said, hey, this is the way i like to decorate. i think he field home there. >> house of trump, house of saud. thank you both. that is "all in" for this evening. "the rachel maddow show" starts right now. >> thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. we are following several different stories that continue to develop into the late evening tonight. in terms of a time difference, it is five hours ahead of american east coast difference in england. so it's after 2:00 in the morning now in england. that country is now not only dealing with the aftermath of that horrific bombing of that pop concert in manchester, england, last night, which claimed 22