tv Andrea Mitchell Reports MSNBC July 31, 2017 9:00am-10:00am PDT
department. thanks for watching this hour of msnbc, i'll be back at 3:00 p.m. eastern for the medal of honors ceremony and the white house press briefing, but now it's time for andrea mitchell reports. john kelly taking over as the new chief of staff, but can the retired four star general get the white house troops to fall into formation? >> i predict that general kelly will go down in terms of the position of chief of staff, one of the great ever and we're going to have a good time, but much more importantly, we're going to work hard, and we're going to make america great again. the boot, moscow sends hundreds of american diplomats packing. with the administration's toughest language yet against vladimir putin. >> no threat is larger in the baltic states than the spector
of aggression from your unpredictable neighbor to the east. at this very moment, russia continues to seek to redraw international borders by force, undermine democracies of sovereign nations and provide the free nations of europe, one against another. and blast off, north korea's newest long range missile takes tensions to new heights, potentially putting cities as far as chicago in target range. >> we'll handle north korea, we're going to be able to handle them. it will be handled. we handle everything. thank you very much. and good day, everyone, i'm andrea mitchell in washington. when former secretary general becomes chief of staff, end the steady stream of leaks and convince the commander in chief
who's in general kelly's corner for now at least, to stay on message. >> he will do a spectacular job, i have no doubt, as chief of staff, we look forward to, if it's possible, an even better job as chief of staff. >> joining me now nbc's kristen welker at the white house, and msnbc political analyst, chief of staff of course to president george w. bush joining us as well. kristen, day one, a cabinet meeting, only the second full cabinet meeting according to white house records and the first day for general kelly on staff as chief of staff. >> reporter: and he faces an uphill battle, andrea, you just laid out the charge for secretary kelly as he comes in, as the new chief of staff. his goal is to basic stabilize the ship here at the white house, to stem some of that discord that's really
overshadowed this administration, and to bring some order, and the big question mark is whether the president will empower him and embolden him to be able to do that. we know the president thinks he's his own best messenger, it's unlikely that secretary kelly will be able to stop him in tweeting, for example, but will he convince the president -- report directly to him instead of going to the president. that remains an open question, but this is someone who's seen broadly as a stabilizing force, he's a 45-year marine veteran, he leads with an iron fist. the president has talked about what he thinks is so important, a tough stance on crime and illegal immigration, and he's hoping that secretary kelly brings some of that same sentiment to this position. and he's not someone who has a
lot of legislative experience, so as you think about some of the president's domestic priorities like tax reform, health care reform, that was part of reince priebus's goal, and the final straw with priebus was the fact that that health care went down defeated last week. this is a big priority for the president so one of his goals is that his new chief of staff heralds the passage of the health care bill. >> the president wants to make it work, because we still don't know who reports through kelly, who has oval office privileges, surely ivanka and jared can come and go out of the oval office, what about bannon, and other members of the staff, how is hi going to get his arms around this if people are noting in and
out? >> the responsibility the new chief of staff has is to bring order to kchaos. every assistant of the president reports to the president. and what you want to do is not go to the president whenever they need to, they shouldn't go whatever they want to, it should be a need. and there's a very fine line between a need and a want. but the new chief of staff should be well informed before people go see the president, or during their meeting with the president, or at a minimum after their meeting with the president. so it's really about the respect that should go to the chief of staff so that he knows everything that the president knows and more. so that he can offer wise counsel and advice to the president and give some discipline to the way the president is heard and the way the president is understood. and the way the president expects things to be done. that's the job of the chief of staff, so i really think general kelly is well prepared to do this job, he actually knows
washington, he served extremely well for leon panetta and for bob gates. he knows congress because he had to help lobby for congress and get them to do the right thing for the defense department. and he is a stellar leader of lots of different people who are obligated to keep an oath and part of that oath is to follow the commands of the commander in chief. and he was candid about the expectations that general kelly had in order to be able to do the job so the president will empower general kelly to succeed. >> and you've got two major foreign crises bubbling up, one with russia, with the expulsion over the weekend of 755 u.s. state department employees, both russian and american and also of course the north korean threat. he has some natural allies in
general mattis and h.r. mcmaster and also in rex tillerson. >> general kelly is well suited to help the president understand the consequence of a lot of different policy options and that's something the chief of staff among other things is to make sure that anything that the president considers, be considered in not only what he wants to do, but the consequence if it's done. and understanding the consequences helps minimize the number of unintended consequences connected with any policy decision. and it's particularly important with the challenge we have with russia and the potential military problems we have with north korea. and general kelly has a long history of helping people make tough decisions and understanding the consequences of the decisions before they're put in place, and president trump needs that kind of advice and counsel and it also needs discipline, so i'm glad kelly is there.
>> i can't imagine scaramucci and kelly in any context, they're two people from completely different worlds, this is a man who joined the marines in 1970 in the vietnam war, he's a gold star father whose daughter works for the fbi, he's all about public service, he's not about making money and he's certainly not about wall street. >> th>> reporter: that's right, and the backdrop of all of that, and the difference is scaramucci was eyeing that position as chief of staff. so i think you're going to see general kelly, as andrew card was just talking about, make it very clear what the chain of command is, because he can't get engaged in those types of clashes and we saw anthony scaramucci take aim at general kelly. priebus is out, but bannon is still here, and given general
kelly's background, it is unlikely that he will toll late that type of discord, as it bubbles up to the surface, that's going to be one of his key goals is to tamp down on that kind of drama and discourse here. >> kristen welker and former chief of staff andy card and jack reed is a top democrat on the armed services committee, senator reid thank you so much, so much happening that's on your plate here with north korea, with russia. let me share with
you from the president about china in the last 24 hours. where he said i'm very disappointed in china, our foolish past leaders have allowed them to take hundreds of millions of dollars in trade, yet they do nothing with north korea. we will no longer allow this to continue, china could easily solve this problem, this is such a slam at president xi who was an honored guest at mar-a-lago
at one time. is that the way to get chesapeachina to help with north korea? >> that meeting at mar-a-lago, to try to get his support, and the president has not acted to cut off imports to north korea. that's the economic lever that could move them to not abandon, but at least freeze their nuclear program. so i think the president's right to call out the chinese. but the issue that we have to do is come up with a comprehensive strategy, and that would involve sanctions against u.s. companies that are doing business with the north koreans, we also have to engage all the regional powers, we have to do it with a consistent strategy, and we also have to recognize that one of the fears with the chinese is that will would be a collapse with the north korean government which could cause millions to
flee into china. we have to some way reassure them that or that the international community would be able to assist with that type of humanitarian crisis. so there's a whole scheme of actions that the president should take, but also i think he should be much more methodical in terms of naming a strategy, perhaps even naming an individual envoy to be his personal representative on a constant daily basis. and signal to the chinese and the people of the world that he himself is involved on a constant basis, rather than sort of firing off messages randomly, it seems. >> and i wanted to share something with you that the joint chief of staff general dunsford shared about the possibility of a military option. >> it is not unimaginable to
have military options to respond to north korean nuclear capabili capability. what's unimaginable to me is for them to have a weapon that can land on denver, colorado. >> and the commander said he would not rule out the possibility of a first strike against north korea, if it appeared they were ready to launch. >> the north korean nuclear program is an excitizen shall way of getting over on the president. you have to continue to try to engage the chinese, you have to engage the whole world community. one of the realities here and general dunford and general mccaffrey will tell you this, is that any conflict on the
peninsula will not be a short duration, a quick strike, it will involve literally hundreds of thousands of casualties, it will be a long, drawn out fight. we have to take the steps now that would minimize that possibility, but as general dunsford and others have said, we cannot take that option off the table, that's what's so important now to use the time we have to use every type of economic, geopolitical means to stop this program. and then to begin to push it back. >> and on the other front, russia. what do we do now that vladimir putin is expelling, or threatening to expel as of september 1, so many hundreds and hundreds of our people out of russia? >> first i think we protest more vehemently than we seem to be doing. the state department is putting
out a statement that they are evaluating it. we have to remind the russian community that our sanctions are based on several actions that the russians took, not the united states, they invaded crimea, they are supporting the insurgency in the ukraine. they have interfered with our election, they have interfered with other free elections, with cannot toll hate that type of behavior. it's not right, i think we have to call them out, we have to keepry minding them that they can help themselves, not just the world community by abandoning these intrusions in democratic elections, by sitting down seriously and i'm pleased that the vice president was in the baltic talking about their threat. but taking it seriously and carrying out the minsk accords, at that point we can start
talking about diplomatic relations and avoiding these tit for tat approaches. >> the chairman of your committee, john mccain is starting treatment today for this brain cancer. i know we all want to wish him well as he continues to fight this. >> certainly, yes, senator mccain is one of the great american heroes and he is left and will continue to leave an indelible mark on the senate. i encourage senator mccain to come back so we request do the health care bill together. senator mccain is unique, one of a kind, he represents one of the greatest senators whoever served on that committee. nothing to see here, president trump on defense after a tumultuous week at the white
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been. >> president trump with his own report card, ignoring the historic west wing turmoil. joining me is republican congressman charlie dent. congressman, thank you for joining us. obviously you're in a state of the blue wall went to trump. why does he need a new chief of staff? >> well, it's been pretty obvious to most of us that there's been a fair amount of chaos and instability in the white house and dysfunction and i'm not blaming reince priebus for that, i don't think he ever stood a chance in that job because he wasn't vetted by president trump. but general kelly, who's well suited and well qualified for this job. i think that general kelly will bring the type of discipline and focus to the white house and i
hope the president grants that authority and respects that authority. i think that's really critical right now, so that this white house can get back on track again. >> for the last couple of days, we have had the president telling law enforcement in suffolk county, telling police that it's okay to rough up their prisoners, and getting rebuked not only by the national association of police chiefs, and his boy scout speech. there's definitely something about some of these speeches heegs been reading off teleprompter in most of these cases. >> that's what drives these challenges we're facing on capitol hill, here we're trying to focus on whatever the issue at the moment, whether it's health care or tax reform or infrastructure, we're having to deal with, whether they're tweets or inappropriate statements coming from the president. that completely distracts us,
and frankly it's exhausting, andrea, we spend a good part of our day talking about those issues, rather than the issues you want to talk about. for example now we have a bipartisan health care issue presented. but instead we're focusing on details. >> jeff sessions, face-to-face across the table with the president, what would be your recommendation about jeff sessions, any effort to push him out, change jobs or push him out of the cabinet? >> i think it would be a terrible mistake to replace jeff sessions. especially with my colleagues in the senate, they're likely to replace him. attorney general sessions, he did the right thing when he recused himself. he really had no choice in the matter and he's a decent and
honorable man. i think it would be a mistake for the president to try to remove him at this time. >> some of the polling we're seeing, gallup and usa today doing the polling in some of those states that were once part of the blue wall, we're seeing data that even though the president has very strong support from his republican base. >> i saw that data and it is certainly concerning, not just for the president, but certainly all republicans downballot. i think most americans and certainly most republicans want to see this president and this administration succeed. but there are times where we wish that we would get out of its own way. as i said earlier, too much time and energy has been spent, they're too focused on this warfare, this infighting, the factional warfare in the white house, this seems to be all
encompassing and has really distracted us from dealing with these very tough issues, we need a fully focused and disciplined president to help advance a legislatu legislative agenda that will me the american people, particularly tax reform, health care and infrastructure. coming up, cold shoulder, putin cut hundreds of state department staff in russia. jack knocked over a candlestick, onto the shag carpeting... ...and his pants ignited into flames, causing him to stop, drop and roll.
diplomats in russia. mike mcphaul is the nbc news contributor and ambassador to russia. >> it's not proportionate. i mean first of all, let's remember, those 35 russian diplomats were allegedly intelligence officers and they were kicked out of the united states in response to their interference in our 2016 presidential election. in a very diplomatic way, 20 times the number, and it will do real damage to our efforts in moscow, the american embassy in moscow.
>> fromrussia's also reporting e this new presidency has increased its support of north korea by 73%. so when the president goes against china and tweets against china for its support for kim jong-un, there's also a lot of russian support that he hasn't been mentioning. >> that's right, those numbers as far as i know those numbers are correct. our president, first as a candidate and then as president-elect, and now president trump, continues to talk nicely about putin, he continues to want to get along. he's always looking to say positive things about the russian president. but the russian president is not responding to that tactic. that tactic of appeasement of trying to get along is not producing results that are in america's national interests and i think it's time for president trump to realize that and to develop a different strategy towards dealing with pugh tictp.
>> in the last 24 hours, putin said that this action is, quote, regrettable. shouldn't we hear something a little bit tougher from our own state department? >> the answer is yes, i wrote many statements about the house when i was ambassador for the state department about many more minor issues that used stronger words than regrettable. so it's not the right tone. but the president needs to speak too. state department officials need to know this their commander in chief, their president, appoints ambassadors that finds this to be outrageous. >> he did answer a question about north korea at a photo opportunity with the cabinet. but he could have opened the cabinet meeting with a statement against putin. we heard more from mike pence which was more in line with the
way that american presidents would respond to this certainly than what we have heard from president trump. >> exactly, i mean, andrea, you know how the white house works, you know how it works when you have an on camera event, you read a statement at the top, we did that all the time when i worked in the obama administration, it would have been very easy to do, and he chose not to. and i do applaud what the vice president is doing, every single country that he's going to, by the way, are all countries that have experienced different kinds of russian intervention in their domestic affairs, either through invasion in crimea, or astonia, that's a great signal, but when the president is not on board, it sends a signal to the world that maybe the president doesn't agree with this strategy. now is the time for trump to
pivot hard and push back on this kind of activity. if you don't, my prediction is putin will keep pushing. >> and very briefly on the subject of north korea, nikki haley, our u.n. ambassador tweeted over the weekend, done talking about north korea, china is aware they must act, japan and south korea must increase pressure, not on. do you think we're starting to talk to north korea? >> maybe we should stop tweeting about north korea. but we cannot be done with talking. that's what diplomat do. with talk, we build coalitions and i hope trump starts talking about a strategy to deal with this threat. it's not going to be done by just threatening authority korea
over tweets. >> coming up, first day on the job, general john kelly sworn in as the new white house chief of staff, but can he bring order to a kchaotic white house. stay with us on ""andrea mitchell reports"" on msnbc. then it hit me... ...managing was all i was doing. when i told my doctor,... ...i learned humira is for people who still have symptoms of moderate to severe crohn's disease... ...even after trying other medications. in clinical studies,... the majority of people on humira... saw significant symptom relief... ...and many achieved remission. humira can lower your ability... ...to fight infections, including tuberculosis. serious, sometimes fatal infections and cancers, including lymphoma, have happened;... ...as have blood, liver, and nervous system problems, serious allergic reactions, and new or worsening heart failure. before treatment, get tested for tb. tell your doctor if you've been to areas where... ...certain fungal infections are common, and if you've had tb,...
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you in the board room. >> see you in the board room? president trump talking about the board room, that might have worked on the apprentice, but in the white house it's called the cabinet room, where he did meet with the full cabinet. so let's get the inside scoop, we couldn't do better than having carol lee, nbc news national reporter, and michael lee, senior corporate for business week, and author of the book "devil's bargain." boy, is your timing great? just producing a book takes however long to write it, but you're out with the book at exactly the right time, we all want to talk about this. first to you, carol lee. >> what we saw is the shake-up
that happened on friday and with the combative back and forth with anthony scaramucci and reince priebus, before priebus was out, it has really overshadowed days of the president criticizing his attorney general, questioning whether he was in or out and it seems a little calmer than it was last week. you know, there's rumors now that the president could try to move jeff sessions over into general kelly's former position. >> there's a lot of members of congress that say do not move him out and think you're going to gain control of the justice department and fire robert mueller. josh, do these people report to john kelly or does everyone have access to the oval office as they always have and let me play a little bit of kellyanne conway on fox being asked that very question. >> will all of the white house
staff report to the new chief of staff? >> so i will do whatever the president and our new chief of staff general kelly ask me to do. >> how's scaramucci, or have you been told you report to john kelly? >> i will speak with general kelly and the president about that, as i'm sure anthony scaramucci will. >> up in the air, we don't know what's coming out of this cabinet meeting which was under way as we took air. and that's the question now, who reports to john kelly or do they all wanter in and out of the oval office? >> kelly has been told that people report through him, whether or not he can force that, though, is a different matter. because everybody in the west wing, including some fairly junior level staffers seem to have walk in privileges with the president, and if you're someone like jared kushner or ivanka
trump and you're used to being able to walk in and speak to the president, you'll have general kelly granting permission for things you didn't used to have to have permission. >> obviously his daughter and son-in-law spend time with him that is outside the structure of the white house. even if the idea that everyone will report to general kelly instead of just the president, it seems like it's going for hard to enforce. >> steve bannon is another one of these players, looking at your book, you write about the surprise elevation of bannon to head trump's campaign, which took a lot of people by surprise, when it happened on august 17, that it hit washington like a thundercloud, and to most insiders like a bad punch line. explain. >> bannon before joining the trump campaign was famous of
being the chairman of breitbart news, that was as eager and in some cases more eager to attack republicans than it was democrats. and if you were a politician that had come under the crosshairs of breitbart, you probably didn't have a good feeling about steve bannon. so there was a sense that bannon would burn it all down in trying to plop up his nationalist ideas. and in the end he became white house strategist. and one of the interesting things to me is watching bannon be forced to make alliances with the likes of paul ryan and mitch mcconnell, and people he had slandered in his past role. and he depends on them to pass legislation, although that's not going very well so far. >> he seems to be a survivor, obviously he's been in the crosshairs with a lot of these rumors about white house shake-ups and he's really kind
of figured out how to navigate that. >> he famously clashed with mcmaster being -- >> one important thing to note, bannon has a very good working relationship with kelly because kelly has been willing to enforce a lot of trump's priorities on immigration. he spoke with congress about the need to build a wall. he's been willing to defer to presidential authority on the travel ban and other executive orders and he's one of the few people, and i include jeff sessions who has managed to have some success in imposing trump's agenda where other cabinet members, and other officials haven't been so effective. >> clearly this is good for general mattis, and potentially for rex tillerson who's been somewhat on the ropes because he's been counter manneded
and -- all of these accounts taken out of the state department and put in the hands of either bannon, jared kushner or others at the white house. the president himself saying that tillerson was wrong in recertifying iran as complying, according to all the weapons inspectors around the world in complying with the limited frame work of the nuclear agreement and saying the next time this comes up in 90 days that won't be the case. >> i think if you're mattis or tillers tillerson, you may be thinking you have an ally that you can go to. and i think the question is whether or not that works, the president allows that to work, he winds up really listening to kelly and whether he empowers him to make decisions and so we just don't really know at this stage. >> with the new chief of staff, josh, what happens to speechwriters, the whole communications staff should be reporting to the chief of staff and that's where the discipline
needs to be imposed, most famously with the speech to the boy scouts and the law enforcement speech. >> there's a lot of those in the security establishment, that simply having a law and order disciplinary like general kelly will have all those processes move smoother. i think the hope is that general kelly is bring order to these sorts of things so you don't have misfires like the boy scouts speech. but it's up to the president whether or not he wants to allow that authority especially when it goes against his own wishes and desires. >> we're going to have to leave it there, but congratulations on "devil's bargain" your well timed new release. and coming up, the white
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we look forward to a lot of positive things happening, for russia, for the united states and everybody concerned. and it's an honor to be with you. thank you. >> well, that was then, this is now. that was only weeks ago, their first formal meeting in germany at the g20. what has happened to the russian reset with vladimir putin's expulsion order against state department employees? joining me now is john mclaughlin, former cia acting director and nbc national security analyst. and george bee-bee, former director of russia analysis and special adviser to vice president cheney on russia. welcome, both. great to see you. john mclaughlin, first to you. this relationship has gone so far off the tracks, it's basically a miscalculation by both sides, is it not? >> i think it is. i think what we have now is a situation where neither side really knows where this relationship is going. it's a little bit like a couple of fighters punch drunk
somewhere near the 15th round. still slugging it out, but not quite sure how it all ends. >> and at this stage, george bebe, you studied russia for so long. have we ever seen anything like the expulsion on state tv announced by vladimir putin of 755 employees, compared to the 35 alleged spies whom we kicked out in december? >> it's clearly a very significant step on russia's part. it's unusual for president putin to go on national television and make this kind of an announcement. and one of the things i would point out about what he said was he didn't just talk about those numbers. he also very consciously alluded to a number of important things on the u.s./russian bilateral agenda, such as russia's relationship with key countries around the world. and he dangled out the prospects that cooperation from moscow and those issues might go away if this hostility between our two countries deepens. >> let me follow up where are we
cooperating. i guess deacon conflicting over syria. but it's really them trying to rule the air. >> well, yes. one of the areas he cited was syria. he highlighted the recent agreements he and president trump are reached in their meeting a few weeks ago on a cease-fire in the southern part of syria. he also talked about weapons of mass destruction proliferation, cooperation against international crime, cyber crime, as all areas where russia wants to cooperate, but he hinted that they might not if things continue to go bad. >> it's a little bit disingenuous for him to talk about cooperating on cyber crime. although president trump gave him that opening, given their election hack and what they had been doing to us. >> yeah. you know, i think there's nothing really good about this development. but one thing one could think, though -- think about is that it kind of removes illusions on both sides. if putin thought that somehow
trump's election was going to lead to the happy future for russia with the united states, i think he can put that aside. and if trump thought that somehow he could talk putin into being nice, he can put that aside. so this is not unusual in russian/u.s. relations. the magnitude of this battle is the idea we go head-to-head, clash like this, and then step back and ask ourselves where are we? how can we go forward with some minimal cooperation in some areas? the difference here is the trump administration. what someone needs to do at this point, hr mcmaster, maybe john kelly can help, you've got to get the whole team together. our approach to russia needs to be a very coordinate, complex strategy involving all tools of the u.s. government. it's not something that this government has done, this administration has done so well up until now. but we have to figure out, where are we going? where do we want this to end? >> and, in fact, it's a little
reminiscent of if you go all the way back to the cold war of krush could have taking stock of a young john kennedy saying i can take this guy and that disastrous vienna summit, george beebe. >> i think that's right. getting back to what putin had to say in that interview, he also held out some room for compromise. he indicated that all of the things that russia could do, he didn't favor for the time being. and i think he's consciously leaving some room open for compromise. but to take advantage of that opportunity, i think we have to do exactly what john says here. we need to get our own internal act together. we need a single, coherent, unified approach to russia, which understands very clearly what we need to do, where our own red lines are, where we can compromise pragmatically, and where we need to very toughly defend our red lines. >> is john kelly the guy to do that? >> well, it won't be his direct
job. i mean, he's not organizing all of our foreign policy. but it is his job to make sure that people play nice. that there's a team here. that the team works together. that the president doesn't disrupt everything with one tweet in the morning after a group of deputies or principles have come to an agreement on policy. so in that sense, john kelly has a big role to play here. >> and also, the coordination with the secretary of state, the secretary of defense. i mean, what you're saying is, they have to start functioning like a traditional nsc. >> yes. and my dealings with white houses in the past, from the cia standpoint, i and all of my counterparts, state department, defense department, energy department, wherever, treasury, you could walk in on the chief of staff if you had a problem. and you could say we need to coordinate this across our entire government. and that person would usually be able to reach into those other departments and help you do that.
so it's something that john kelly is prepared to do if trump will let him do it. >> john mclaughlin, george beebe, thank you so much for your expertise. great to see you both. and more ahead. stay with us. we'll be right back. experience. rethink your allergy pills. flonase sensimist allergy relief uses unique mistpro technology and helps block 6 key inflammatory substances with a gentle mist. most allergy pills only block one. and 6 is greater than one. rethink your allergy relief. flonase sensimist. ♪ fixodent plus adhesives. there's a denture adhesive that holds strong until evening. just one application gives you superior hold even at the end of the day fixodent. strong more like natural teeth.
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good afternoon, i'm chris jansing at msnbc headquarters in new york. changing of the guard. former homeland security secretary, john kelly, sworn in to replace reince priebus as white house chief of staff. can the former marine corps general bring order and discipline to a white house drowning in chaos? russia retaliation. vladimir putin tells the u.s. to expel hundreds of diplomatic staffers from russia, responding to the new u.s. sanctions bill. what it means for an already tense relationship between the u.s. and russia. and all in the family. they're two of the president's closest aides, but a new report calls into question whether ivanka trump and jared kushner have the power to implement the president's policy. let's start with the newly installed chief of staff. a lot is resting on the shoulders of john kelly, who was sworn in this morning. the former secretary steps into a white house consumed by political and personnel problems, looking to bring discipline to a chaotic white
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