tv The Last Word With Lawrence O Donnell MSNBC October 14, 2017 5:00pm-6:00pm PDT
about the vehemence with which the cuban government denied having anything to do with it which has led to interesting speculation about whether or not this might be the work of another government that has considerable leeway to operate in cuba. north korea doesn't have an embassy here but they have one in cuba. russians have a lot of facilities in havana specifically and in cuba. syria, iran have embassies in havana. could it be some other government? is there somebody over whom the cuban government could exert control to stop this even if they're not doing it themselves? we don't know. but at least we've got a sound. and that's got to be part of starting to figure this thing out. that does it for us tonight. see you again on monday. now it's time for "the last word." ali velshi is in for lawrence tonight. hi, ali. >> rachel, it's been a long week for you, i'm going to ask you to stay one extra minute. you've had a very full show. i am an economics guy. when i hear that the chairman of the campaign of a presidential
candidate may have had a loan for $60 million from a russian oligarch, as an economy guy, that sends up red flags. if you don't focus your entire career on the economy, i suppose that sends up a lot of red flags as well. it just seems weird. >> yeah. well, it's also strange that it's undisclosed this far into this investigation, and this far into all the public scrutiny that manafort has had. one of the interesting things in this reporting from richard engel tonight is not just the size of the financial relationship between this putin-linked oligarch and paul manafort, it's that the manafort spokesman withdraw part of his statement to nbc news after he had initially given a statement saying manafort had never been indebted to his clients and wasn't at the time of the presidential campaign. rescinding the statement after initially giving it to nbc is yet another red flag. it's very, very good shoe-leather reporting from richard. >> incredible. indebtedness to a foreign adversary while running a
presidential campaign to the tune of millions of dollars. let's just let that sink in. >> exactly. >> rachel, have a great weekend. >> you too. the president is tweeting tonight about obamacare and the iran nuclear agreement, two deals that he appears to hate the most. but the biggest problem with them, according to reports, is that they were both done by president barack obama. president trump announced today he would no longer certify the landmark iran nuclear deal. >> iran is not living up to the spirit of the deal. >> he put the ball in congress' court. >> our congress is highly unlikely to be able to resolve this issue. >> the president has kind of rolled the grenade in the room, had it go off, without having a strategy as to where we're going. >> you saw what we did yesterday with respect to health care. >> there is no affirmative reason for pulling back these subsidies for the insurance companies other than to wreck it. >> i think it does come down to empathy. health care, iran, puerto rico. there are people's lives at
stake. >> i met with the president of the virgin islands. >> you're the president of the u.s. virgin islands. >> i didn't have a schedule. but if i did have a schedule, i would say we are substantially ahead of schedule. >> well, the people who understand these things did have a schedule. repeal and replace by march, tax reform by august. infrastructure by christmas. strike one, two, three. >> well, guess what. we're saying "merry christmas" again. ♪ >> a lot has happened on this friday, the 13th. but the two big policy announcements from the trump white house in the last 24 hours on health care and the iran deal appear to have something in common. here is the "new york times" in june on what guides donald trump's decision making. quote, whether out of personal animus, political calculation, philosophical disagreement or conviction that the last president damaged the country,
mr. trump made it clear, if it has mr. obama's name on it he would just as soon erase it from the national hard drive. today the president attempted to unravel two president obama signature initiatives. ending key obamacare subsidies to help lower the cost of premiums for low-income of americans, and, as we reported last night and this afternoon. decertifying the iran nuclear deal, putting the responsibility of the deal on congress. in his speech this afternoon the president claimed the deal was just a short-term delay in iran's quest for nuclear weapons. despite the fact that the international atomic energy agency confirms that iran is honoring its nuclear commitments. trump claimed iran is violating the spirit of the agreement. >> while the united states adheres to our commitment under the deal, the iranian regime continues to fuel conflict, terror and turmoil throughout the middle east and beyond. importantly, iran is not living up to the spirit of the deal.
>> france, germany and the united kingdom issued a joint statement criticizing the president's remarks. russia called it, quote, troubling, but israel praised president trump's words as courageous. we should note, despite the president's rhetoric, the deal is not dead yet. it falls to congress now to decide whether to attach new conditions to the agreement or to reimpose sanctions and end the deal. here is president trump after his announcement this afternoon. >> we're going to see what happens. we're going to see what they come back with. they may come back with something that's very satisfactory to me, and if they don't within a very short period of time, i'll terminate the
deal. >> now, the punting of this football to congress was reportedly a compromise between the president and senior administration officials. the "washington post" reported this week that president trump was, quote, incensed by arguments from his secretary of state and secretary of defense that the agreement, while flawed, offered benefits. he didn't want to certify to congress that iran was complying with the deal, even though the evidence is that iran is complying with the deal. quote, he threw a fit, said one person familiar with the meeting. he was furious, really furious. it's clear he felt jammed. so white house national security adviser h.r. mcmaster and other officials came up with this to, as "the post" put it, accommodate trump's loathing of the iran deal without actually killing it outright. so inasmuch as there is a trump doctrine, some of it is reportedly accommodating the president's loathing. joining us now, steve clemons,
editor at large at "the atlantic," and msnbc contributor and ilan goldenberg, senior fellow and director of the middle east security program at the center for new american security. gentlemen, good to see you. steve, i talked to you shortly after the iran deal. i was in tehran while it was being negotiated, and no one in tehran, america or anywhere else where the deal was being talked about was under any impression that iran was suddenly going to become a friend of the west, a friend of america, was going to get out of the business it was in in yemen or with hezbollah or with assad. so the concept, the idea, that iran is violating the spirit of the deal is uninformed, at best. >> that's absolutely right. i mean, this arrangement between the united states and russia, china, europe, germany, with iran, was based on high levels of mistrust. this was not a warm and fuzzy
relationship. this was not a naive arrangement. this was something that was based on mistrust and with deep, deep verification. in fact, the head of the iaea said there is no nation in the world that has deeper and more profound verifications standards in place than we have now with iran. it was under those conditions that this was done. i think many of us who have been watching this come apart. i learned today from ben rhodes and wendy sherman and others who did a call that the obama administration had evidence that iran was just too months away from having enough fissile material for a warhead and actually crossing that line. so this was an imminent issue where there was a vector that we either get a deal or you were faced with a possibility of some form of potential kinetic military action by the united states and perhaps israel and iran.
those were the stakes in place, and donald trump acts as if he is completely unaware of these issues. that's where we are today. >> ilan, i remember the deal not being particularly popular amongst americans. it wasn't a particularly popular deal. people in america don't trust iran. and probably the only other -- the only competitive arena of mistrust is in iran because the people in iran don't trust america. there are hard-liners in iran who have been waiting for this moment to say, this is our opportunity to walk away from this deal. what is the danger, what is the danger that this tough talk about the iran deal actually results in some parties walking away from it and the deal collapsing? >> the good news is that in the short term that doesn't look like that will actually happen. the bad news is i think we have actually got the worst of all worlds. we basically have the president generate an artificial crisis because he doesn't want to sign a document that acknowledges something barack obama did was half good and working, so instead we create the crisis.
shake the confidence of european partners, and then punt it to congress in a confused mess that isn't actually that intimidating or effective. you end up with the worst of all worlds. the iranians are probably saying we don't trust this guy and this could be the end of the nuclear agreement. on the other hand, for all this bluster, this is it, it's not actually very intimidating. and then you add to the fact that you have others, russians, chinese looking at this probably scratching their heads and the israelis and saudis -- even the the israelis came out publicly saying they supported it -- probably underwhelmed overall. the president doesn't need congress to do any of what he actually laid out today. he could do all of this himself if he wanted to by laying out red lines. instead he punts it to congress because he can't make a decision himself. >> steve, if you were worried about the fact that you are working late on friday night, you're not alone, other than ilan and i. the president is working tonight. he has tweeted just a while ago. many people talking with much
agreement on my iran speech today. participants in the deal are making lots of money on trade with iran. the president is right on that part. in fact, the only reason it seems that iran came to the table finally, after two years of negotiation and agreed to the deal, was that its economy was collapsing. the united states had imposed restrictions on trade, on the transfer of money -- >> absolutely. >> -- on the use of credit cards. the iranian economy was collapsing, the rugs they used to sell. this was an industrialized country. they are into the global economy again. >> we have brought the entire world together. the entire world together to close off iran, to create what were called then crippling sanctions and we worked together with the chinese and the russians, the indians, brazilians, the europeans. and we created conditions that basically changed iran's calculus about what it was willing to do. and that is part of this arrangement, when we're talking about the nuclear side, i agree
with everything ilan just said, but another part of this was that iran was going to forestall the various pathways it might have to a nuclear capacity, nuclear bomb, they never basically said they were trying to build a nuclear weapon but they closed those down. in return for economic activity, for the removal of sanctions, for the normalization of economic relationships. and so i got to tell you, that the iranians privately have been saying already that the united states has already technically violated their part of the deal. when donald trump was in hamburg at the g-20 meeting and actively lobbying against other national leaders from investing in iran. that's what they're in it for. >> yep. >> and we have been violating that part of that. >> we'll see where this goes. thank you both for joining me tonight. joining us now. john mclaughlin, former acting director of the cia and an msnbc national security analyst. john, thank you for joining me. i want to play you something that leon panetta said to "mtp daily" today about how in doing this donald trump rolled a grenade into the room.
>> the president has kind of rolled the grenade in the room, had it go off, without having a strategy as to where we're going. the reality is that we now have a decertification of this agreement, and that they're not in compliance when they are in fact in compliance. we're out there alone without our allies. we have broken our word. and the bottom line here is that we're throwing this whole mess to congress, which doesn't have a very good record of trying to deal with anything, much less the situation in iran. it's going to create a tremendous amount of confusion in a world that's already very dangerous. >> john, i mean, to just put a finer point on that. congress can't get the easy things done.
i am not sure they could successfully name a post office these days. and we have a situation where the president and the administration are coming out and saying our allies are actually supportive of the president on this, which is absolutely not true, particularly the allies involved in this deal. and then we have the abrogation of a deal where the verifying entity, the international atomic energy agency, continues to verify that iran is doing the right thing, and we are still decertifying. it's fraught with problems. >> absolutely. the international atomic energy agency has certified compliance with the deal on eight separate occasions since it was inaugurated. leon panetta has this exactly right. in fact, i would go maybe a step further and say i think this is one of the most damaging decisions that donald trump has made since becoming president, because of the scope and the breadth of the impact that it will have, separating us from allies, strengthening hard-liners in iran, pushing our allies closer into positions
with russia and china. at the same time, also creating conditions that will make it much more difficult, should we go into negotiations with north korea, to bring them along with any credibility on anything we agree on. so, across the board -- and you know, i think -- a thought i had tonight is i suspect most of his close advisers, secretary of defense, so forth. h.r. mcmaster, i suspect they generally see it about the same way -- >> yep. >> -- that i just described. >> yep. >> so what we saw from donald trump today is the best they can manage with him. and i am -- i wouldn't take a back seat to anyone when it comes to certain and suspicion about iran. >> absolutely. >> i have held that throughout my career. but no reason to, as leon said, throw a grenade into a room over one part of this arrangement with them that's generally working and it's the most important part of the arrangement, the nuclear arrangement. >> right. that's what the two years of negotiations were designed to do. one of the things that the
"washington post" is talking about is that bob corker, senator bob corker, is saying that donald trump is publicly castigating -- publicly castrating rex tillerson. as corker sees it, the biggest problem is that trump is neutering his own chief diplomat, secretary of state rex tillerson, and thereby inviting binary situations in which the united states will have to choose between war and a north korea or iran capable of threatening the united states with nuclear weapons. corker says you cannot publicly castrate your own secretary of state of state without giving yourself that binary choice. this was work done by chief diplomats around the world. sergey lavrov. zarif from iran. secretary of state john kerry from the united states. working really hard for two years. people who had different positions on all sorts of things.
and now we have a secretary of state who really can't pull up to the table and speak with the authority of the american government. >> i think that's right. and one of the tragedies of what we see going on now is that diplomacy generally, as one of the tools in the foreign policy toolkit, has been dramatically weakened. not only by the things that you mentioned but by the -- in a way, the decimation of the state department which, during my career, i always regarded as one of the jewels and the crown of american security. and we've heard that from secretary mattis as well. plus, on the diplomatic front, you know, what we see happening here in this speech today is america first, colliding with the necessity in the world today of coalition with allies and cooperation with allies to get important things done. so we've damaged our credibility here with people that we need to accomplish great things in the world. because it's very hard for the united states to just muscle through on its own these days in a complex world. this agreement was one in which, as your previous guest pointed
out, we had managed to bring the world together on one of the most controversial problems of our age. this is probably, i would say, the most important step that we have been able to take in years in limiting the most dangerous weapons we have in the world. >> it was -- there were a lot of people at the time who didn't think it was a great deal. they thought it was the deal that we could achieve. john, thanks very much for joining us, former acting director of the cia. the president made another move to dismantle obamacare today. some of the people it could hurt voted for donald trump. reporting about what donald trump's campaign chairman owed russian interests during the campaign.
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health care in our country. we're taking a little different route than we had hoped because getting congress -- they forgot what their pledges were. so we're going a little different route. but you know what, in the end it's going to be just as effective and maybe it will even be better. >> well, better is not really the way democrats and even some republicans are describing president trump's latest move in what seems to be his plan to unravel obamacare. just in the last hour, president trump tweeted about his decision to end government subsidies to health insurance companies writing, money pouring into issue company's profits under the guise of obamacare is over. they have made a fortune. dems must get smart and deal. and then he said obamacare is causing such grief and tragedy for so many, it is being dismantled. but in the meantime. premiums and deductibles are way up. but actually the congressional budget office predicts getting rid of the subsidies will increase premiums for those who would qualify for the so-called cost-sharing reductions. it would increase them by 20%.
earlier today president trump called those subsidies a payoff. >> that money was a subsidy and almost you could say a payoff to insurance companies. what we have to do is come up with great health care. what would be nice, if the democratic leaders could come over to the white house, we'll negotiate a deal that's good for everybody. that's what i would like. >> but the democratic leaders say president trump is purposefully sabotaging obamacare. >> make no mistake. last night the president single-handedly decided to raise america's health premiums for no reason except spite and cruelty. >> and in case you think this is purely partisan, it's not. republican governor brian sandoval of nevada said this. it's going to hurt people. it will hurt kids, families. individuals. it's going to hurt people with mental health issues. it will hurt veterans. it's going to hurt everybody. republican senator susan
collins, who was a consistent no vote on the republican health care bills, said this. >> this subsidy is not a bailout for the insurance industry. if you don't have the csr subsidy, low-income people are going to have a very difficult time, in fact for some it may be impossible, affording their deductibles and their copays. >> joining us is governor howard dean, a medical doctor, former chairman of the democratic national committee and an msnbc political analyst, and jonathan capehart. opinion writer for the "washington post" and msnbc contributor. good to see you. howard, i'll hold you for a second. jonathan, the working thesis we have right now is, in the absence of legislation, donald trump is on a mission to unravel anything barack obama touched. talk about the top ten states which have the percentage of the marketplace enrollees with the csr, the cost-sharing revenue.
look at where they are. mostly in the southeast. mississippi has 78. alabama, 76. florida, 74. south carolina, 73. georgia. 67. north carolina, utah, louisiana. look at that. massachusetts is in there. massachusetts is the only state with that high level of marketplace enrollees that didn't vote for trump. so what's the working thesis here? because by doing what he did today, he hurts his base. >> yeah. i am mystified by -- by what he is doing. look, the republicans, ever since the affordable care act was passed, have been voting -- have been promising fellow republicans, republican voters, that they are going to repeal and replace obamacare. then it was repeal obamacare, that they had a better way. they voted more than 60 times to
repeal the affordable care act, and they failed. part of their presidential campaign was that they were going to repeal and replace obamacare and put in something new, something better, something great, something grand. and so, president trump seems to have it in his head that, you know, facts be damned, lives be damned, he is going to, by any means necessary, get rid of the affordable care act. and if it hurts the people who voted for him, that's on them. if it hurts health care in this country, that's on them. he has no responsibility whatsoever. and i think it's a good sign for the country that it's not just democrats who are coming out against what the president is doing, that it's republicans like congressman charley dent and senator susan collins coming out and saying this is the wrong way to go. if you want to get health care
to more americans or try to cover as many americans as possible and help with premiums and things like that this isn't the way to do it. the way to do it is to, yes, call in democrats to make a deal to improve the affordable care act that's on the books and is law of the land right now. >> governor, you are almost a canadian. i am canadian and you are from pretty close to where we are. i think the only way to do this is do what 34 -- the other 34 of the world's richest countries do. find some form of universality. 58 countries in the world have it. let me take donald trump's side on something. as a guy who looks at things through the lens of economics. there was a payoff to the insurance companies to get them to participate in these marketplaces. the insurance companies said we're not sure how this will work out for us and we're used to making a lot of money. in some ways the president is right in saying that the very profitable insurance companies are benefiting from the
cost-sharing subsidies. >> that was because the weakness of the obama bill was to continue to rely on insurance companies. whereas -- >> i knew you were canadian. >> so -- or a public option, which would have given the average american the choice of enrolling in medicare or staying with private insurance. that would have been a better bill. we missed it by a single vote in 2009. so where we are right now is that -- first of all, none of this may happen. trump has no idea what he is doing. his advisers didn't think it was a good idea. the one who did think it was a good idea don't know anything about health care. who knows where this will go. 68% of republicans actually think trump should not be repealing this. this is fascinating. i think it's a big liability for him because, as you pointed out, nine out of the ten states which are hurt the most by this are
trump states. you know, 15 attorneys general are already suing him. they'll ask for an injunction. we have a long way to go. i think there is more sort of reality television on the part of the president. >> jonathan, donald trump is looking -- the biggest part of his tax cut proposal is a tax cut for businesses. and he made the argument as did gary cohn, that in giving tax cuts to businesses they'll somehow turn around and give that to their workers as a bonus. that never actually happens. but this is the guy who is saying we are not interested in corporate welfare. every other part of the agenda seems to be very interested in giving as much benefit to corporations as he can, but not this time. he draws the line at health insurance companies. >> right. and, again, ali, if you are asking me why is he doing that, i have no idea. i just come back to the grand plan of trying to keep a promise that the republicans have always
made and have been unable to fulfill. and as governor dean said, and reminded all of us, that it most likely will not happen and that this might be yet another sort of reality show tactic of the president to look like he is doing something but, in the end, not doing anything substantively at all. >> as you are speaking we put this up. 71% of people in a poll by the kaiser family foundation say they want the president to make the affordable care act work. only 21% want it to fail. howard dean, thanks very much. exclusive nbc news reporting about donald trump's former campaign chairman and the money he owed to russia during the campaign. it's a lot of money. later, the president spoke at the values voters summit put on my the family research council, a group the southern poverty law center calls a hate group.
breaking news tonight in the russia probe. former white house chief of staff reince priebus was interviewed by investigators working for special counsel robert mueller at his office. he says his client was interviewed voluntarily and he was, quote, happy to answer all the questions. reince priebus is one of many current and former white house aides who are expected to speak to the special prosecutor's teams as they look into whether there was collusion between the trump campaign and the kremlin in addition to the james comey firing. this summer "vanity fair" reported that trump's former chief strategist, steve bannon, wanted reince priebus to testify to the special counsel that jared kushner played a key role
in getting comey fired. also tonight, nbc news' richard engel reports exclusively that former trump campaign manager paul manafort, a central figure in the russia probe, had much closer financial links to a russian oligarch than previously thought. an nbc investigation has revealed that it now appears that a total of at least $60 million in loans were made by russian billionaire oleg deripaska to accounts owned by paul manafort. deripaska is a known confidante of vladimir putin. u.s. investigators have previously acknowledged that they are looking at manafort's financial ties to prominent russian figures. joining me now, jill wine-banks, a former assistant special prosecutor in the watergate investigation and an msnbc contributor. good to see you again.
this has taken the intrigue around paul manafort to a new level, a level of indebtedness to a russian oligarch who we know is tied to vladimir putin. obviously this is information that robert mueller has. what do you make of it? >> to start with, i thought $30 million in debt was a lot of money. making it $60 million makes it doubly suspicious and certainly provides a motive why he might try to force policies favorable to russia, favorable to the russian side of the ukraine country, and it gives him a reason for why he might have been motivated to collude with the russians and, therefore, makes him a real target for mueller. and it's very interesting. it's something we really need to follow, his statement in terms of what he was doing, saying i wasn't indebted when i went to work for the president, and i am not indebted now, was then
withdrawn. he said that originally through his spokesman -- >> let me put this on the screen. we have two comments from jason maloni, manafort's spokesman. this is interesting. the first one read as follows. mr. manafort is not indebted to former clients today, nor was he at the time he began working for the trump campaign. that was alive for a little while. now that statement is gone. here is the revised statement. it says, recent news reports indicate mr. manafort was under surveillance before he joined the campaign and after he left the campaign. he has called for the u.s. government to release any intercepts involving him and non-americans in hopes of finally putting an end to these wild conspiracy theories. mr. manafort did not collude with the russian government. jill, those are two very different statements. they have taken out the reference to him not being indebted to russians and they have now gone on the offensive, saying the u.s. government was snooping on manafort and they should release those transcripts.
>> actually, ali, what i think it is is an attempt to refocus and to throw the special prosecutor off of his game. he is trying to change the focus from the money and the debt and the motive to, well, just release the tapes. release what you know about me and show that i wasn't colluding. that isn't what this is all about. the money is a motive, no matter what you do. i trust that mueller will not be thrown off, that he will keep the investigation going and that he will release anything at the appropriate time. and it's not up to him to release it. so we just have to wait and see what kind of case mueller ends up indicting. >> i want to ask you about the quid pro quo in things like this, because generally, with a loan, the quid pro quo is you give me money, i give you interest. but we know that the "washington post" reported on september 20th that manafort offered to give
russian billionaire oleg deripaska private briefings. mr. manafort made the offer in an e-mail to after overseas intermediary asking that a message be sent to oleg deripaska an aluminum magnate with whom he had done business in the past. as a prosecutor, you would be looking for what the trade is against the 26, 30, or $60 million. even if it were $500,000. you are looking at what are you getting in exchange for the loan. >> i would certainly be looking at that. you are absolutely right. the other question is, did he ever pay that back. he says he is not now indebted. did he pay back that money? how did he pay it back? did he pay it back with interest, or did he just return the money? did he use it -- he bought at least we know one condominium with it. did he sell that condominium for a hugely inflated price? experts in money laundering are very suspicious of these loans and are very suspicious when an llc, a private company, buys a
condominium. it's not illegal, but apparently it's often used for money laundering. so there are a lot of suspicious things going on with this that we can't know. i am sure mr. mueller knows a lot more than we do but we can certainly be suspicious. >> as you often point out mr. mueller has a lot of tools at his disposal to follow the money and get the details. coming up next, donald trump became the first sitting president to speak at the values voters summit. what he said and why some gay rights groups were especially outraged today. >> you tell me. who is better for the gay community and who is better for women than donald trump? believe me.
liberty stands with you™ liberty mutual insurance. ♪ do you want clean, stain free dentures? try polident. the four in one cleaning system kills 99.99% of odor causing bacteria, cleans where brushing may miss. helps remove stains and prevent stain build up. use polident daily. in the last 10 months, we have followed through on one promise after another. i didn't have a schedule, but if i did have a schedule, i would say we are substantially ahead of schedule. >> that was just one of the confusing things donald trump said today at the values voter summit. who knows what he meant by that. he hasn't passed any major legislation. maybe he is ahead of schedule on this. >> you know, we're getting near that beautiful christmas season that people don't talk about anymore. they don't use the word christmas because it's not
politically correct. you go to department stores and they'll say happy new year or other things. it will be red, they have it painted. guess what. we're saying merry christmas again. >> we're making america great again. that was the president's biggest applause line, by the way. it was confusing when donald trump said this about hurricane relief. >> and i will tell you, i left texas, and i left florida, and i left louisiana, and i went to puerto rico, and i met with the president of the virgin islands. >> that was confusing because the president of the virgin islands is donald trump. the white house later had to correct the official transcript to say that donald trump spoke with the governor of the virgin islands. donald trump is the first sitting president to address the values voter summit where the free swag bags on offer today included a flier on, quote, the health hazards of homosexuality and then, quote, i don't believe in the liberal media bumper sticker.
here is another provocative comment from trump today. >> the american founders invoked our creator four times in the declaration of independence. four times. how times have changed, but you know what, now they're changing back again. just remember that. [ cheers and applause ] >> what exactly is the president changing back? i'll ask joan walsh and jonathan capehart next. kyle: mom! mom! kyle, we talked about this. there's no monsters. but you said they'd be watching us all the time. no, no. no, honey, we meant that progressive would be protecting us 24/7. we just bundled home and auto and saved money. that's nothing to be afraid of. -but -- -good night, kyle. [ switch clicks, door closes ] ♪ i told you i was just checking the wiring in here, kyle. he's never like this. i think something's going on at school. -[ sighs ] -he's not engaging.
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in america, we don't worship government, we worship god. inspired by that conviction, we are returning moral clarity to our view of the world. and the many grave challenges we face. >> all right. joining me now joan walsh, national affairs correspondent for the nation and msnbc political analyst jonathan capehart is back with us. joan, starting with you. presidents don't usually go to the values voters summit even though it's a good place. candidates actually often go. >> candidates do. >> do them. run by the family research council labeled as a hate group by the southern poverty law center largely because of their apartment-homosexual tendencies. and they actually put out a pamphlet, a book about homosexuality called the health hazards of homosexuality, what the medical and psychological research reveals.
i really can't get my head around it but i understand why candidates want to court this kind of audience. but as president of the united states, this is not a broad-ranging group. >> no. but this is his base. i think one of the central mysteries of last year's election, there are many, many of them, but one of them is why did white christian evangelicals go overwhelmingly for this guy who had been married three times, four bankruptcies, accused of sexual harassment at minimum by 14 plus women, why was he the candidate of these folks rather than say, somebody like ted cruz who seemed much more along the lines? ben carson? why it was trump? i think that clip that you played right before the break where he said times have really changed but we're changing them back is so illuminating. it's such a great gift to us because what polls have found is these christian voters went for trump not thinking so much about
his morality, not keying in on maybe ted cruz has obeyed christian dogma more but they believed that trump was going to bring us back to a place where men are men, women know their place, people of color know their place. gays know their place. >> and people say merry christmas to you. >> and people say merry christmas to you. he's going to turn the clock back, that's what they want and he sees it. he gets it that that's what they want and he's telling them that he's done it already. >> jonathan, there are some that say it's nostalgia and there are some that say that's all code, things are changing back, something as innocuous and benign as merry christmas again really means something different. >> yeah, it's code. remember, make america great again, the people who gravitated to that phrase are the ones who were saying around the time of the rise of the tea party in 2010 that they wanted to take their country back. and, of course, joan and i we've always asked this question, take
the country back from whom? we know what's going on here. there are people within the president's base who are very uncomfortable with the demographic changes that are already underway in the country. and so they are very nostalgic about a time when they were central to the political life and concerns of this country. and, you know, if we are ever going to get anywhere in terms of solving all of the economic issues and things like that, we have got to come to terms with the fact that everyone who is in this country right now wants to be an american, the ones who are citizens are americans and we're all here to foster and move along the -- this great experiment that is america. and there are a lot of people that are supporting the president who think that america is for them. and to be perfectly blunt, alley, america is a white christian nation, that's what a lot of the base thinks.
>> america say prosperous place and as a result prosperous nations have fewer children, we don't have a good worker replacement rate, we have an aging population, so we use our immigrants to do what any country that wants to economically grow does, creates a workforce. i know we talk about this unachievable economic growth number but you can't achieve that if you wanted to without immigration. >> if you kick these people out. >> so it's not just daca it's the legal immigration that the president wants to stop. and stephen miller again painted that in terms of english-speaking, better immigrants. again, it's code. it's not actually economically sound. >> it's not sound at all. there has been great research by the public, religion research institute that i would send people to to look at. and what they've found is that this cohort of people they are aware that white christian america is no longer the majority. now if you look across color
lines, welcome back, there are lots of christians, black christians, latino christians, asian christians, but this group sees itself as being marginalized and doesn't look across these lines to find common cause, even common religious cause. they feel like they own a version of christianity as well. it's not very well thought through in terms of the either the economic implications or the social and cultural ones or the religious ones i would add. >> number one it is we're talking ourselves back to but it's interesting. thanks very much. jonathan kay part's an opinion writer for "the washington post" and an nbc contributor. tonight's last word is up next. >> thanks. >> thank you. ng set standoff.
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the era that will forever be known as the great happiness. >> all right. that's tonight's last word. the breaking news we're covering tonight on the russia investigation. reince priebus questioned today by robert mueller's team as the special counsel extends his reach closer and closer to the top. also former campaign chairman paul manafort, new reporting on his possible financial ties to russia. and president trump takes a big swing at two of obama's biggest achievements, healthcare and the iran nuclear deal. all of it as the 11th hour gets underway on a friday night. >> and good evening once again from our nbc news headquarters here in new york. day 267 of the trump administration and the russian investigation tops our news tonight as it moves in closer to
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