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tv   The 11th Hour With Brian Williams  MSNBC  September 2, 2017 6:00pm-7:00pm PDT

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president originally wanted to fire james comey. a letter written but revised before it went public. tonight, the legal and political implications for donald trump and this white house. plus, john mccain calls trump grnot informed and he sai we are not his subordinates. we do not answer to him. "the 11th hour" on a friday night begins now. >> good evening once again from our nbc news headquarters here in new york. i'm ali velshi in for brian williams. day 225 in the trump administration. it brings us new insight into how the president decided to fire former fbi director james comey. the "new york times" was first to report special counsel robert mueller has an early draft of a trump letter detailing his reasons for firing comey. the report says, quote, the letter, drafted in may, was met with opposition from donald
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mcgahn, the white house counsel, who believed that its angry, meandering tone was problematic, according to interviews with a dozen administrations officials and others briefed on the matter. the letter was reportedly drafted while the president was on a long weekend at his golf club in new jersey. it was never sent, but it was apparently saved and now robert mueller has a copy. when james comey was fired a few days later, the white house had an official line on why. they said the president made the decision based on deputy attorney general rod rosenstein's recommendation. rosenstein, you'll recall, was comey's boss, and the man running the russia investigation because attorney general jeff sessions recused himself. the white house based the letter the president actually sent to comey on rosenstein's memo. the "new york times" reports they made one significant revision, adding a point that was personally important to mr.
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trump. that was a line in the middle of the four paragraph letter that the president sent to let comey know why he was being canned. quote, while i graciously appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, i wasn't under investigation, i nevertheless concur with the judgment of the department of justice that you are not able to effectively lead the bureau. the president stressed it again the next week in an interview with nbc's lester holt. >> we had a very nice dinner. at that time, he told you, you are not under investigation, which i knew anyway. then during the phone call, he said it. then during another phone call, he said it. he said it once at dinner and said it twice during phone calls. >> did you call him? >> in one case, i called him. in one case, he called me. >> did you ask, am i under investigation? >> i asked, yes. i asked, if it is possible, would you let me know, am i under investigation? he said, you are not under investigation. >> now, while we do not know
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exactly what was in this draft letter, new reporting from the "wall street journal" gives us an idea. they write, paraphrasing the letter, an administration official said mr. trump wanted this letter sent. you've told me three times i'm not under investigation but you won't tell the world, and it's hampering the country. why was trump so upset with comey in that moment, that weekend in may? several reports indicate it was something comey said a few days before while he testified before the senate judiciary committee about the clinton embellishment -- e-mail investigation. >> look, this was terrible. it makes me mildly nauseous to think we might have had some impact on the election. honestly, it wouldn't change the decision. >> "politico" reports once trump returned from the trip to new jersey, it was clear he was not changing his mind. then the white house began frantically searching for how to explain the firing. press secretary sarah huckabee sanders was asked about the draft letter in the briefing room today. >> first of all, can you confirm
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the existence of that letter? secondly, can that letter be made public? thirdly, do you report don mcgahn thought it was inappropriate? can you discuss whether you or the president believe the drafting was appropriate at that time? >> i'm not going to get into any of that. i think we covered a lot of those things very extensively during that time. as ty cobb said earlier today, to the extent the special prosecutor is interested in these matters, we will be fully transparent with his investigation. frankly, i don't have anything to add beyond that. >> with that, we bring in our lead-off panel. former u.s. attorney joyce vance, 25 years as a federal prosecutor. former chief of staff to vice presidents biden and gore, and former counsel to gore in the 2000 recount. ron klain, reporter for axis. and journalism ethics chair. welcome to all of you.
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let me start with you, jonathan. take us back to the weekend in may. it was a rainy weekend at bedminster, at the gulf club. there were other plans for that weekend. what ended up happening? >> the president was supposed to play golf with the australian golfer, greg norman. he went down by helicopter on thursday. it was a rare weekend where he did not have his chief of staff, reince priebus, or his chief strategist, steve bannon with him. it was just donald trump, jared, ivanka and steven miller. rainy weekend. he was stewing indoors over the weekend. venting about comey. now we learn that he worked with steven miller on what has been described variously as a rant, justifying his decision to fire james comey. >> joyce, let me talk a little bit about what happened in this letter. that don mcgahn, the white house counsel ended up seeing and
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reportedly thought it was problematic. what stands out to you about this? >> the devil will be in the details with the letter. we don't know the precise language in the letter. it is sort of interesting that we have these reports, but we have only characterization. if the letter was limited to president trump having great difficulty with director comey because he wouldn't reveal publicly what he'd assured trump about privately, the fact that he wasn't under investigation, then we have a situation that's a little bit more difficult to convey knowledged the participants. but if the letter comes out and says, you know, the russia investigation is a madeup sort of abollics. it needs to be ended. you won't end it, so i'm firing you, then everyone who touched the letter, saw the letter, has a real problem. >> and there's another piece of complexity to this, ron. the "new york times" had something else that was interesting i want to highlight here. it said, during the may 8th oval office meeting with mr. trump,
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mr. rosenstein was given a copy of the original letter and agreed to write a separate memo for mr. trump about why mr. comey should be fired. now, this becomes hard to start connecting the dots. on the face of it, this seems very unusual. rod rosenstein, james comey's boss, head of the russia investigation for all intents and purposes, sees this letter, whatever it is, and takes it and says, i'm going to do something with this. >> yeah, i think it calls into question what rod rosienstein ws doing here. he saw the letter, knew it had been written, drafted a different letter. the administration put it out and said, this is why we're firing james comey. the cover letter says, based on this recommendation, i'm firing james comey. it is a lie. we know it is a lie. he made the decision to fire director comey at that golf weekend in bedminster. he then drafted some crazy explanation for it. rod rosenstein knew it.
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the question was, was rod rosenstein providing political cover for president trump, and how does that affect his role in this investigation on an ongoing basis? >> because, and subsequent to that, we heard from a number of people, the president himself, sarah huckabee sanders, that this was largely done on the advice and counsel of rod rosenstein. it gets you into the president's head a little bit, about this idea that he was obsessed with james comey telling the country that he was not under investigation. what does this make you think? >> right. i mean, it is not just rod rosenstein we have to be wondering about this rational but also steven miller. if these reports are correct, the aide who potentially might be caught up in an obstruction of justice investigation. there is the ever-changing rational given by the president and his team about why james comey was fired. the first rational given is it is because he mishandled hillary clinton's e-mail investigation.
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the second rational given is, no, it's because he lost the confidence of the fbi rank and file. the third rational given is remember when donald trump was in the oval office with the russian foreign minister, sergey lavrov and the ambassador, he said, that james comey, he was a nutjob. i'll get rid of him. the fourth rational was the public letter from rod rosenstein. the fifth rational was lester holt. telling lester holt, i had to get rid of him because of that russia thing. so it is an ever-changing, constantly moving target. i think it definitely -- i think mueller's team is investigating it, but i think there are numerous aides at this point who we have to wonder, what were they thinking? the fact that the white house counsel, don mcgahn, was feeling uncokocomfortable with this. in the end, the president put back in the things the counsel wanted taken out. like the references to, i'm not under investigation, and the
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personal references, they were put right back in there. >> we're ten minutes into the show, and i think you win panelist of the night for being able to recite the five rationals. that's amazing. joyce, this does put rod rosenstein into a different light for this people. again, this is reporting. we don't have confirmations. we don't know what else rod rosenstein had to say about any of this. if the idea as presented is that the president had written out this letter with steven miller, rod rosenstein takes it away and returns with a different memo, which gives the president some cover to get rid of james comey, this has got to give people some pause about the fact that rod rosenstein is the guy in charge of anything to do with russia at the department of justice. >> well, we have a little more detail here. we know that rosenstein pushed pack when the president tried to hang the firing of jim comey on him. he cerejected that.
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the letter didn't reach the conclusion that comey should be fired. he talked about actions he'd taken. he disagreed with the way comey had conducted the clinton e-mail investigation. but rosenstein never called for the firing. so i think we then have next up that occurs here, when there is an outcry from the white house, they don't want to see a special counsel come on board. it's rosenstein who makes the decision, since attorney general sessions is recused, to put a special counsel in place. he doesn't hire just any special counsel. he brings back bob mueller, the storied, legendary fbi director. so if i was a betting person, which i typically try not to be in investigative matters, i would say that there's another story here. there are some pieces of the puzzle about rod rosenstein's involvement that we haven't heard yet. >> i was saying to ron in the break that what i'd give to be five years hence, looking back
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and saying, here's what you guys didn't know about this. but jonathan, this has been a difficult week for the white house, with respect to nightly revelations about russia. while most of us have been watching the developments of hurricane harvey and its aftermath in texas, this russia stuff has been trickling out. what does this do to a white house, especially a white house that has a busy september ahead? >> well, they already had very damaged credibility in regards to russia and their shifting explanations for the comey firing. and whatever remains of the credibility has been shredded with these stories today. and people inside know that. they know that. i mean, it is a damning chronology. you have a president of the united states sitting at home in his golf club with his son-in-law and daughter and a 31-year-old aide drafting this letter. presenting it to his team,
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including the vice president objeon the monday, and they all come out with this phony line about they were acting on rosenstein's recommendation. this chronology had been blown up. trump had blown it up with his interview with lester holt and the other things he said. the fact that pence was in the room, the oval, that's a bad fact. i don't know about the legality of this and where this investigation is shifting, and no one does because it's been kept quiet, but we can see who mueller is hiring. the caliber of investigators he's hiring. and we can now see that the white house is on the back foot. their credibility has been shot. >> let's talk about the busy september. we have a budget resolution that has to occur, otherwise, the government shut down. we have the aftermath of harvey, which is going to be expensive. we have a president who was talking about allowing the government to shut down so he can get funding for his budget
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wall, until harvey hit. and that's just urgent stuff that has to get done. the president has started touring the country discussing tax reform, which there isn't any meat on those bones either. tell me how you see the next few weeks proceeding. >> i think it is going to be difficult for the president because he's got his list of things, his wanna dos and must dos. for the president, those -- a lot of those are personal. it is about fulfilling not just the agenda for the american people but the agenda he wants for donald trump. that, of course, means his base and the wall. he is, of course, threatened to shut down the government over the wall. don't forget that he said that mexico was going to pay for it, but now it seems the american people are supposed to pay for it. i think that donald trump is not going to be able to tie hurricane spending to the wall. i think that congress feels -- i don't think the ship is going to sail that way. we now know that the president has requested over $7 billion in hurricane relief funds. i think that's going to go through probably. but i don't think he is going to
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be able to tie the wall to it. tax reform, that's a whole other conversation. how much time have you got, ali? >> you know the topic, i love it. we can talk about this a lot. >> i know. >> ron, let's talk a little about the fact that, you know, the russia stuff has been trickling out a long time. it hasn't caused congress to break with the president on its own. the president has gone out of his way to break with congress. then the charlottesville stuff happened. we have talk by members of congress that, in a lot of ways, they'll need to go at it alone on a number of issues. even the issue of daca, which we'll talk about later on in the show. a lot of members of congress say, we have work to do. we'll get it done with or without the president. >> on russia, there's a lot of smoke here and not just documents being burned at the russian consulate in san francisco. the pile keeps getting higher and higher. at some point in time, the republicans on the hill won't just be able to peer over it and ignore it. i agree, the other problem he has is a fundamentally broken relationship with the republicans in congress.
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he's at war with mitch mcconnell. he's at occasional war, on and off, with paul ryan. john mccain, a senior most republican in the senate, wrote an op-ed, calling the president reckless and unreliable. that's not the basis. he's got a huge september ahead. daca potentially in congress. debt. details on the spending bill. disaster relief. four big d's to deal with in september and a broken relationship with republican leadership. >> you teased something interesting we're going to talk about shortly. ron, joyce, thank you very much for joining us. the rest of you, stick around with me for a moment. we're going to continue with this. plus, ron eluded to black smoke that we saw coming out of the russian consulate in san francisco. we'll talk about that when we come back. plus, john mccain takes to the op-ed pages. ron talked about that, too. blistering words for his colleagues on the hill and for president trump. all of that and more when "the
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11th hour" continues. choicehotels.com. badda book. badda boom. that's it? he means book direct at choicehotels.com for the lowest price on our rooms guaranteed. plus earn free nights and instant rewards at check-in. yeah. like i said. book now at choicehotels.com
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welcome back to "the 11th hour. in san francisco, black smoke poured out of a building but firefighters were turned away. an associated press reporter heard them saying nothing was wrong. it was coming from a fireplace. a fire in the fireplace. notably, the temperature in san francisco hit an all-time high today of 106 degrees. what a day for a fire. the building is the russian consulate, ordered to close within 48 hours by the state department yesterday. that move in retaliation for putin's decision to reduce u.s. personnel in russia. our panel is back with us. thanks to the three of you for sticking around. ron, let me start with you. there was a headline from the "new york times" today, a great
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story, saying forceful chief of staff grates on trump, and the feeling is mutual. why mr. kelly has quickly brought some order to a disorganized and demoralized staff, he is fully aware of the president's volcanic resentment act being managed and has tread gingerly through the minefield of mr. trump's psyche. but the president has still bridled at what he perceives as being told what to do. mr. trump has tired to turn things around at the white house or his presidential campaign, mr. kelly has gradually diminished his appeal to his restless boss. what is different this time is that mr. trump, mired in self-destructive controversies and record-low approval ratings, needs mr. kelly more than mr. kelly needs him. unlike many of the men and women eager to work for mr. trump over the years, the new chief of staff signed on reluctantly, more out of a sense of duty more than a need of affirmation, personal enrichment or fame. we had a conversation as john kelly was coming on to take the
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job, about the role he would have to play. i don't know that anybody thought he of all people was going to relish the role. it sounds like he is having difficulty with it. >> look, the problem with the trump president se cy remains t nms and what kelly does isn't really going to change that. he isn't trying to control trump's twitter or statement but some of the information flow to the president. by the standards of the white houses i worked in, this is baby stuff. the fact that trump resents that tells us about trump. the fact that john kelly says he is not going to take it, he said trump talked to him in a way he's never been talked to before and won't take it again. earlier at the arizona rally, donald trump tried to call him up on stage. john kelly wouldn't come. that's a very different trump staffer. we'll see how the cultures mesh, if at all. >> one of the things that the people say about this white house is, okay, maybe john kelly
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has what it takes to organize the white house, or as ron says, the information flow to the president. impose some discipline with the staffing and the number of people who come into his office, how they call him and make appointments. all these things he's able to mana manage. as ron says, that's baby stuff. given the agenda and the things that have to be done and the failure of the repeal of obamacare and tax reform, does all of this matter? >> you cannot clean house for somebody who doesn't want their house cleaned. the president thrived on chaos and disorder. that's the way he likes to run things. you know, we see the "apprentice" as the external manifestation of the way he runs his business empire. he likes to have rivals fighting. fighting for his attention. his loyalty. this is the way he likes to do things. the fact we learned from the reporting today that staffers who were annoyed by john kelly's efforts to reign in the president are derisively calling
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him behind his back "church lady" tells a lot. one person trying to impose order is seen as annoying and ruining the party. if the president himself is, by steve bannon, while kelly is trying not to let the calls through, it shows what you need to know. the president gets to do what he wants to do. >> jonathan, what is your take? >> it is inevitable, it's already happening to some extent, that trump is going to rebel against this new order around him. something pretty interesting happened today. it might seem minor to a lot of people but it is actually a big deal. trump nmdonald trump's personaly guard, really like a brother to him, is leaving the white house. that's a big deal. he is someone who has been with trump for almost two decades.
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trump confides in him, tells him everything. he's often the first person that the president sees in the morning. he goes and fetches him from the residence, walks him back to the residence late at night. he's a conduit to donald trump's old world back in new york, his old friends. he often feeds him information from people on the outside. and trump asks him advice. policy advice. he is one of the last, few people from that old world cutout. frankly, donald trump, yes, everyone recognizes that the oval office needed order and that this couldn't continue, but i don't believe that donald trump is going to sort of put up with this for much longer. i think he is going to lash out. i think he is going to call the old people. i mean, he still talks to corey lewandowski. i don't see this as a sustainable course of action. >> jonathan, thank you for that. jonathan, ron, thanks to both of
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you. dara, stick around if you would oblige me. the white house faced new questions on d.r.e.a.m.ers today. whoooo.
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my neighbors are here, my friends and family live here, so it's important for me to respond as quickly as possible and get the power back on. it's an amazing feeling turning those lights back on. be informed about outages in your area. sign up for outage alerts at pge.com/outagealerts. together, we're building a better california. hour's top stories. according to a north korean state news agency, the military developed a more advanced nuclear weapon. kim jong-un reportedly inspected a hydrogen bomb small enough to be loaded on to an intercontinental ballistic missile. no confirmation from u.s.
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intelligence sources about how real this threat might be. president trump and the first lady are back in washington after wrapping up a visit. first in lake charles, louisiana, where he met with congressional delegation there. also stopping by the louisiana national card armory. earlier in the day, they visited houston, meeting with victims of hurricane heart vie at a relief center, and stopping in a neighborhood aif he can tfefect hurricane. hurricane irma in the eastern atlantic is a category two storm with sustained winds of 110 miles per hour. it is slowly moving west. it could impact the caribbean next week. keeping an eye on that. firefighters in los angeles are battling a rapidly growing brush fire. the fire has burned about 5,000 acres so far. for now, back to the "11th hour" with brian williams. they talk about d.r.e.a.m.ers, right?
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d.r.e.a.m.ers. they want the d.r.e.a.m.ers. everybody wants to be a d.r.e.a.m.er. but the d.r.e.a.m.ers don't refer to our children. they refer to other children coming into our country. >> daca? >> we have to make a whole new set of standards. when people come in, they have to -- >> split up families? you're deporting children? >> chuck, we're going to keep the families together. >> you're going to keep them out? >> they have to go. we are going to show great heart. daca is a very, very difficult vu subject for me. the daca situation is a very, very -- it is a very difficult thing for me. because, you know, i love these kids. i love kids. i have kids. i have grandkids. >> president trump is always maintained a hard line on illegal immigration, but as you heard just there, he sometimes has taken a softer stance on the so-called d.r.e.a.m.ers, those who came to america as young children, who were raised in america. the president is deciding if
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he'll end an obama-era program known as daca, deferred action for childhood arrivals. that's a program temporarily protecting undocumented imgrants who were brought to the united states when they were very young. this was president trump today when asked about the d.r.e.a.m.ers. >> should d.r.e.a.m. erers be worried? >> we love the d.r.e.a.m.ers. we love everybody. thank you very much. >> do you think daka is i daca ? >> we'll be releasing something on daca, probably sunday, saturday. the latest will be monday. >> latest will be monday. of course, a short time later, white house press secretary sarah huckabee sanders said the announcement will come on tuesday. joining me now, the white house correspondent. i appreciate it. great to see you.
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franco, let's start with you. we love the dreamers is what president trump said today. that are the options here? is it, yes, we're keeping daca? is it, no, we're getting rid of it? is there something in the middle? he seems to struggle with this one. >> this is something that the president has been wrestling with for months, you know, if not longer. the options are, does he allow -- does he terminate the program as looks to be reported? he could also end the program but allow those with existing status to continue until those expire. those would still be ending the program. or he could try to defend the program in the courts. both sides of the argument see a tough chance for this to surviving a court challenge.
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>> there's been a lot of activity, in fact, mostly in the manner of tweets, from members of congress, members of the senate, who say, let us handle this. don't end daca. let's do it the right way. one of the criticisms of daca was that like president trump enjoys, president obama also enjoyed the executive orders and things done by presidential decree. congress feels immigration and matters like this are its territory. is there a solution here, where congress takes this over and handles it? >> well, i mean, in a sense, that would be easier for donald trump. he wouldn't have to make a decision on something that obviously is, you know, a humanitarian issue. he's said i love the dreamers. he doesn't want to be seen as hardhearted. at the same time, it is a base issue for him. being tough on immigration is one of the things he won with his base on. that and the wall were key issues for him and his -- although it is a shrinking base, you know, 30% of the people who
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are still very much with him. we have to put in context here, there are other factors now. hurricane harvey and texas, which is the second -- the state that has the second largest number of dreamers in america. there are 800,000 daca people. the second largest number are in texas. it would look incredibly hardhearted for the administration to say on tuesday, okay, we're sending everybody home now, at the same time that, you know, parts of texas are underwater. i want to point out that other republican governors, although greg abbott is very much against daca and wants to end it and has made a hard stand on this in texas, other republican governors like rick scott in florida, where there are a lot of dreamers, said, hey, this is harsh, too harsh. this is not the fault of these children and i think you should defer it and leave the program alone. >> the homeland security adviser yesterday did not say -- if
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there are illegal undocumented immigrants in shelters, once they get out, they're on their own. 800,000 of these people. many of them have been here since they were kids. 45% of whom either are in school or have gotten an education. if they commit a federal crime, they cannot renew their two-year cycle. there are a lot of people who say, this is actually not a bad plan. one tweet, immigration policy should be sent through congress, not presidential orders. it is up to congress to face the uncertainty of undocumented minors. i'll be introducing a conservative solution that provides a fair but rigorous path to legal status. it requires young, undocumented adults to be employed, pursue higher education or serve in the military. frankly, a lot of people are going to say, that's unfair and unduly rigorous but at least it sounds like a solution, as opposed to the elimination of daca. in fairness, the president is
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facing some deadlines after which some states are going to sue him if he doesn't rescind daca. >> essentially, what some other republican members of congress are trying to do is essentially give trump a bit of a life raft for daca. as we mention bfed before, thiss been difficult for trump. he is torn between trying to serve his base but also a larger electorate. not only that, kind of his own moral feelings. this is obviously something that's hurt him, impacted him personally. the legislation that tillis is offering is something that would make it a lot more palatable. essentially providing him some type of cover. trump could say, it is a two-win. he gets the win for ending the program, serving the base, but also tells dreamers that he's been working on it, like he did before. and this is an opportunity to say that. look, congress, it is very hard to get anything passed in
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congress. there's a lot of sympathy for these group of immigrants. more than any other group of undocumented immigrants. you saw that with paul ryan's talk earlier today on the radio. but getting anything through this congress has been difficult. >> yeah. getting them to agree on what the actual weather is is difficult. franco, stay with us. dara, thank you for being here. always a pleasurpleasure. one senator calls the president poorly informed and reminds his colleagues, we answer to the american people. that senator, republican john mccain. much more on that when "the 11th hour" continues. ight of mount everest. because each day she chooses to take the stairs. at work, at home... even on the escalator. that can be hard on her lower body, so now she does it with dr. scholl's orthotics. clinically proven to relieve and prevent foot, knee or lower back pain, by reducing the shock and stress that travel up her body with every step she takes. so keep on climbing, sarah. you're killing it.
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so being cool comes naturally. hmm. i can't decide if this place is swag or bling. it's pretzels. word. ladies, you know when you switch, you get my bomb-diggity discounts automatically. ♪ no duh, right? [ chuckles ] sir, you forgot -- keep it. you're gonna need it when i make it precipitate. what, what? what? let's trust each other. we have been spinning our wheels on too many important issues because we try to find a way to win without help from across the aisle. what have we to lose by trying to work together to find those
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solutions? we're not getting done much apart. >> that was senator john mccain in an impassioned plea to congress the day he returned to washington following brain surgery in july. he's renewing that call today ahead of the busy september session. in a "washington post" op-ed, mccain wrote, it is time for members of congress to respect each other and to respect that they need each other to get anything done. he writes, vote, that has never been truer than today, when congress must govern with a president who has no experience of public office, is often poorly informed and can be impulltiimpu impulsive in his speech and conduct. we must respect his authority and constitutional responsibilities. we must, where we can, cooperate with him. but we are not his subordinates. we don't answer to him. we answer to the american people. back with us is franco, and we're joined by contributing writer of "the daily beast."
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i'm checking my phone to make sure i'm not wrong, the president hasn't tweeted in response to something that was published by john mccain earlier this morning. that's not like him. but john mccain has proved to be a steady and reliable thorn in the side of yet another president. he has been at donald trump's side as a thorn since the beginning of this administration. >> well, i mean, the con lumn i nice but it is late. john mccain showed integrity by casting the vote to kill the obamacare replacement. that said, he is the same guy who introduced sarah palin to america and greased the wheels culturally for a man like trump to rise politically. frankly, this column doesn't say anything that liberals haven't been saying for two years. we've known he is impulsive and makes bad decisions. we've known he is poorly informed. i don't know why we need to
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congratulate mccain for coming around. we need to see him back this up with action. >> you had to bring up the sarah palin thing. you're not letting bygones be bygo bygones. what is john mccain hoping to accomplish with this? it is not that he's just come out and decided that he thinks that congress isn't working. this is as much an admonishment of congress as it is the president. >> i would agree that liberals have been saying these things, but john mccain is a republican. what he's trying to do is encourage his republican colleagues to do what they have not done. that is stand up to this president. stand up to the president's rhetoric and encourage his own party that they do not work for this president, as he said. they're not his subordinate. they're working together for the american people. it is kind of like the old maverick of the old maverick john mccain. >> one of the things that's interesting is jeff flake, the
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other senator from arizona, also republican, has recently penned a book and op-ed about conservatives going back to what they believe to be their shared values, and this president has taken them off that track. in this desire to fulfill the president's agenda, they've gone down this unusual road and that they should be brought back. this hasn't been fully embraced by conservatives, including republicans in the senate, but do you think there is likely to be more of that in the session than there has been? the idea that republicans and senate have to be their own body? >> they're faced with the urgency of actual governance. a lot of them have been elected to obstruct obama. now they're in a position where they actually have to do the work of the government. they have to pass budgets. they have to make sure that the government stays, you know, paying its bills and what not. they have to make sure that the people who are suffering from hurricane harvey get relief. let's see if they can actually do this. let's see if they can back up and allow all this sound and
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fury about president trump with some actual action. let's see them stand up to him, if he decides to get rid of daca. let's see him stand up to them against the legislative priorities that are nativist candy for his rabid base, rather than priorities for the nation. we don't need a wall. we need actual, maybe, walls around houston, to make sure the climate change doesn't swamp it. >> all right. you mentioned the shutdown. let's fit in a break. coming up, the shutdown threat is still looming. there's a lot on the docket when lawmakers get back next week. after this war of words that happened between president trump and mitch mcconnell, that seems like ancient history. it was a couple weeks ago. can republicans get down to the business of governing? we're back after this. jimmy's gotten used to his whole room smelling like sweaty odors.
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ends monday! the president has said that
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if we have to close down our government, we're building that wall. is he backing down from that threat now? >> no. the president still very much is committed to building the wall. >> there is a report out in the "washington post" that basically says in the washington post that says, you have a smile on your face. >> you know how i feel about using other outlets as your source. i think the president's been pretty clear what his position is. i would take that as the president's position over a report on what it is. >> welcome back to the 11th hour, white house press secretary reaffirmed president trump's threat to shut down the government if congress doesn't provide funds for the board wall. it disputed the president's immediate commitment to the wall. the white house has signaled to conscience al republicans that it will not shut down -- if money isn't appropriated, potentially clearing a path for lawmakers to reach a short term
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budget deal. passing the budget is only one item on a busy september agenda for president trump and congress may not be the most important. the nbc first read team laid out the to do list for the month. providing hurricane harvey relief money, raising the debt limit by the end of september keeping the government open, crafting a tax reperform bill, and maybe giving one more shot in the senate. franko by any measure that is a aggressive agenda. for a congress that actually gets things done, that would be a tough agenda. and as you know from covering washington for a long time, budgets are something that even a congress that gets other things done struggles to get done. what does that agenda look like to you? >> it does look tough. it looks very difficult. i will say that harvey has kind of brought people together. you talked about the wall and
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the possibility of a government shutdown, you know, trump has backed down a little bit about that in private and harvey's a big reason for that, because it's brought people together, they know they need to get this done. a government shutdown during such a huge rebuilding effort would not look good. so, i think this is a place where they can come together. what's going to -- interesting's going to happen is what will it look like, a short term spending bill, that's what it's sounding like, we're seeing bickering between different sides. we all know about the battle over sandy and how some members of congress in texas didn't support. are we going to see that sort of thing. >> lot of republicans from the northeast have said while they remember how bad sandy went in terms of congressional help, they're not going to repeat that. giving health care one more shot
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in the senate, the reason they have to do that is because they're time limited. there's something that causes the senate to have to address this by the end of september or they loose their wind for doing soen they have to introduce a entirely new bill. will he do that. >> not if he looks to score a win. that seems to be his priority, make sure i win something. right now keeping the government open at this point is a win. making sure the government pays its bills on time is a win. someone with donald trump's track record, i don't expect that will be a priority. that said, i think raising the debt limit, making sure harvey is funded, i think those are the only things people are concerned about on that list. tax reform is a fancy name for
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wifg the wealthy a tax cut. >> the idea of a tax reform bill while the administration and congress would like something of meaning to take place before the end of 2017, they'd originally said that this bill, the treasure secretary said they'd have tax reform done by the august recess, now he's saying the end of the year, the bottom line in a hard to get done congress, i don't know how that gets done even though the president is out giving speeches to support it. >> trump, with almost every new president you have a honey moon period that happens decade after decade, usually you've been able to get something through. obviously trump didn't get anything through with health care. now he's looking at tax reform. it is interesting that you're seeing some democratic senators saying they'll work with trump on that because they see that the power he has over the republican power and trumpland, but it will be difficult to get
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tax reform because there's a lot of opposition to it. >> i would have lost a bet if someone would have asked me who the next person that john kelly chief of staff would be going after. i would have guessed stephen miller but dafl beast is eeg trying to side line omea rosa. there's a when general kelly is talking about access to the oval, she is patient 0. the idea she gets him riled up, gives him articles to read, something kelly's trying to put a lid on. what do you think about that? >> i think it's -- what is she doing in the white house at all. ? what is she accomplishing? what is she doing other than providing a reminder of his television celebrity days or serving as sort of a fire brand for, you know, at leave the
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african americans who certainly disagree with his agenda. i just don't understand what exactly she's doing in the white house. she has no qualifications to be there. she has no experience in government. and all she is, frankly, is a reality star. her exit would be welcomed certainly amongst a lot of african americans in this country who don't particularly care for her. >> i need you to come out of your shell the next time we have you on the show. thank you for being with us. coming up, one week after harvey first hit, a look where we've been and the work still to be done. 1,200 workers are starting their day building on over a hundred years of heritage, craftsmanship and innovation. today we're bringing you america's number one shave at lower prices every day. putting money back in the pockets of millions of americans. as one of those workers, i'm proud to bring you gillette quality for less, because nobody can beat the men and women of gillette.
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last thing before we go tonight. at this time exactly one week ago today a category 4 hurricane by the name of harvey had just made land fall for the first time along coastal texas. over the past week we've seen two more land falls on a scale that is difficult to comprehend. officials say at least 41 people have died from the storm, a number that's expected to change, and 42,000 people remain in shelters. they worry about the environmental impact of the
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storm, especially after a fire like this in the arkema chemical shelter. in the r mid examipresident trun tomorrow to houston. if you want to find out how to help go to nbc.com/harvey. that is our broadcast. thank you for being with us. have a great labor day weekend. due to mature subject matter viewer discretion is advised. msnbc takes you behind the walls of america's most notorious prisons into a world of chaos and danger. now the scenes you've never seen "lockup: raw" in every jail and prison we visit. >> it is a sewer salamander. be a nice trophy for the wall. >> there are people and things. to make last

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