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tv   MSNBC Live With Stephanie Ruhle  MSNBC  January 1, 2018 6:00am-7:00am PST

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david gura picks up our coverage right now. >> thank you very much. happy new year, everybody, i'm in for stephanie ruhle this morning. not just a coffee boy. a new report suggests a conversation between trump campaign aide george papadopoulos and australian diplomat prompted the fbi to open the investigation into russian meddling in the 2016 election. >> this sort of helps fit a big piece into the puzzle of the narrative of 2016. >> we'll hear from the reporter who broke that story. tragedy in costa rica. a small passenger plane goes down in a fiery crash leaving ten americans dead. among them, a family of five here on vacation. >> inconceivable that a whole family should meet with such a disaster. and unrest in iran. 12 people have reportedly died in the largest wave of anti-government protests since 2009. president trump sending his support to the protesters on twitter.
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>> you just can't tweet here. you have to lay out a plan. >> today with trump kicking off his first full year as president, trump trying to stay focused on the highs, even though there are new reports about one of the lows. how a member of his own campaign team triggered the russia investigation. i want to start with garrett haake who is in west palm beach with the president. if twitter is any indication, president trump focused here over the last 24 to 48 hours very much on foreign policy. >> reporter: that's right, david, good morning and happy new year. the president is starting 2018 much as he ended 2017. he's just arrived at his golf course here in palm beach for the last time before he heads back to washington, d.c., later today. you said it, this morning he's engaged on twitter on two different south asian hot spots tweeting about the protests in iran again today and also tweeting about pakistan. this was the first tweet of 2018 and could be a consequential
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one. the president writing the united states has foolishly given pakistan more than $33 billion in aid over the last 15 years and they have given us nothing but lies and deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. they give safe haven to terrorists we hunt in afghanistan with little help. no more. so the president engaging in some of that twitter diplomacy of a type this morning with long-term frenemy in pakistan. there's been friction there between the administration and the pakistani government, some reports about possible aid being withheld over the last few days. this will be one of several hot spots the president will have to fully engage on when he gets back to washington. >> looking at the role of george papadopoulos, this former campaign aide, to then candidate donald trump and the role that he played and how that catalyzed the russian investigation. what has the white house said about that? >> reporter: the official word
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came from the president's attorney, ty cobb, who issued something of a long form no comment. saying out of respect for the special counsel and his work, they would not be commenting on stories like this. once again, twitter proves a useful tool to analyze how the president may be thinking about this. some hours later he tweeted with no obvious direct context about fake news, fake media, fake sources and fictitious news stories. that had been the big news story of the day. gives us some insight into his state of mind regarding that particular piece of journalism. really, david, we have not had a chance as reporters as the white house press corps to question the president or any of his top aides in person since that story came out. again, something we're hoping to do early in the new year. >> garrett, thank you very much. garrett haake down in west palm beach, florida, traveling with the president who is scheduled to go back to washington a little bit later. that "new york times" piece sheds new light on how george
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ppds into the trump campaign pain. his saga is also a tale of the trump campaign in miniature. he was brash, boastful and underqualified, yet he exceeded expectations and, like the campaign itself, he proved to be a tantalizing target for a russian influence operation. i want to bring in one of the people who broke the story. i want to start with what we learned about george papadopoulos. you knew of him as a coffee boy in the estimation of one member of that team. as you begin to color in the profile, what more did you learn about him? >> certainly the coffee boy label doesn't fit here. this is an aide who stayed in contact with top campaign officials all the way through the campaign. he was asked and did help edit donald trump's first major foreign policy speech and he helped broker a meeting between donald trump and top members of the egyptian government. so this was not a coffee boy,
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per se. now, look, we shouldn't overstate it. this was not somebody running the campaign. but to dismiss him as a l low-level player is just wrong and it also misses the fact that spies work from the outside in. what the fbi and cia were seeing were all the hallmarks of a classic influence operation. where members were directly and indirectly trying to get their hooks into people in the trump campaign and george papadopoulos was one of them. >> matt, you and your colleagues look at the role that he played on the campaign and kick starting this investigation into russia's role in the 2016 presidential election. let me read a little bit here. the hacking and the revelation that a member of the trump campaign may have had inside information about it were driving factors that led the fbi to open an investigation in july 2016 into russia's attempts to disrupt the election and whether any of president trump's associates conspired. let me ask you here how much this upends conventional wisdom and changes the narrative as we know it?
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>> well, i mean it certainly puts pieces of the puzzle together. now look, if people have been honestly paying attention for the past year, and i know there's been a lot of ups and downs, it's been tricky to keep track of but we heard from john bren n -- brennan back in the spring who said he was seeing efforts of russia to members of the trump campaign and that's why they opened the fbi investigation. so there's been this story kicking around that all of this can be distilled back down to this politically funded dossier that hillary clinton's campaign funded by this former british spy. that just doesn't hold up. this was a very serious counterintelligence investigation being led by a small group of fbi agents who had gotten information from one of america's most trusted allies, the australians. >> you begin to piece together this web that connects george
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papadopoulos to this maltese professor, who purports to be the niece of vladimir putin. there are also his connections to the presidential campaign. what do we know about how much contact george papadopoulos had with same clovis, say, or stephen miller, the president's domestic policy aide, or to michael flynn, the president's national security advisor? >> his contacts come and go. we've seen a number of his e-mails. obviously he interviews with sam clovis and our understanding is right off the bat papadopoulos is told russia relations are going to be a big part of our foreign policy. so he is ever -- he is a clever guy. he's a guy on the make and he's trying to get some russian contacts to help become more influential in the campaign. and you can see that he is -- he is staying in touch with members of the campaign about his efforts to broker a meeting between vladimir putin and donald trump or top officials in
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the campaign and top russian officials. so this was not somebody who was totally out on their own. now, again, he's not running the campaign, he's not in the inner circle, but he's absolutely not a coffee boy. >> matt, you start the piece at a bar in london. this young man, george papadopoulos, sharing this information with an australian diplomat. what do we know aside from that of what he shared with members of the campaign? he was in contact with all of these principals we just mentioned. what of substance do we know about what he shared with them? >> sure. so what we know from bob mueller's filings in federal court is that george papadopoulos learned through this russian government intermediary that the russian government had political dirt on hillary clinton in the form of thousands of her e-mails. now, we also know that papadopoulos after a night of heavy drinking with an australian diplomat in london kind of let that slip and
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ultimately that's what helped trigger all this. now, the question for me is if he is telling an australian diplomat that, is he also telling anybody in the campaign? and we've looked at a number of his e-mails and haven't seen any evidence that george papadopoulos shared that insight with members of the campaign, but that is a huge question for me. because if george papadopoulos had early insight that there were russian-hacked e-mails before they became public, if he shared that with members of the campaign, that's very significant but we don't have that information yet. >> matt, stay with us if you would. i want to bring in jennifer rubin, matt is the president of a conservative consulting group. jennifer, let me start with you. something matt lays bare is the debate within u.s. law enforcement about how to proceed. once they got this information from the australian officials, there was two months between when this conversation took
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place in london and when they went to the fbi, there was a healthy debate about wholeheartedly to get into this and how public to make it. what can you make of that conversation? >> i can imagine that the fbi agents at the time were very conflicted. this is a political campaign. you have to remember that in july it seemed an outside shot that he would become president of the united states, so the question is whether they begin an investigation. this would be the second investigation, of course, of a campaign. the hillary clinton investigation already going on. and this involving sensitive issues of national security. so i think this was not a situation in which they leaked to investigate and make a public ruckus about this. they were cautious, they began to investigate. as matt alluded to, eventually the strands become more numerous. you have a number of trump associates who are visiting in russia, who have russian contacts. it's really a remarkable effort on the part of the russians to establish these manifold
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connections to the trump administration, to open up a dialogue that continued during the transition and eventually got michael flynn in a whole lot of trouble. so i think that this is the -- just as matt said, this is the dp beginning of stitching together a whole tapestry of connections in which we'll see how high up the connections went. and the notion that there was, quote, no collusion i think has been debunked. there was public collusion by the president of the united states encouraging the hacking of hillary clinton's e-mails. there's george papadopoulos trying to get dirt from the russians, trying to set up these meetings with russian officials. there's the meeting at trump tower in which individuals representing the russian government directly and indirectly meeting with donald trump jr. and jared kushner, so we're getting a very robust picture of what happened in 2016. >> matt, let me ask you how the narrative changes particularly when you look at republicans on capitol hill. devon nunes has been talking about the dossier at length, preparing a report on his own on
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that document. how does this change the republican response to this investigation? >> yeah, i mean this is obviously a very interesting report. matt apuzzo and mark have great reputations and this does add a new piece of information into this narrative, story line and timeline because there has been a lot of speculation about how the fbi investigation began. both republicans but also other people have believed for some time that programs the dossier did explain how the fbi investigation began. now, the thing that i'm interested in having read this story and having read byron york's column in "the washington examiner" is why was george papadopoulos not interviewed until february of 2017 if he had provided this information almost a year before. was congress briefed about papadopoulos, about surveillance on him? would they have been surveilling him if he had that information? i guess my question is why would this story come out now, so much later, if it really did perhaps
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provide the reason for the fbi investigation in the first place. >> matt apuzzo, i want to talk about you about sourcing. you raise in your piece as well, there is a long period of time here between when that meeting took place in london and when george papadopoulos was talking to u.s. law enforcement. what's your sense of why that was the case? matt apuzzo. >> there's two gaps to address. there's the gap between when the meeting happens, several months between when the meeting with the australian diplomat happens and when the australians come to the united states with the information. we're very interested in why there is that gap. i mean the obvious explanation would be that information didn't seem all that significant until after hacked e-mails started to get released and then suddenly, oh, wait, i had a conversation about that, that might have suggested the trump campaign knew in advance. so there's that gap.
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and then as matt said, there's another gap of why did they wait so long to interview him. one of the things we came across in our reporting is that there was real debate inside the fbi of how public do we want to make this. if you start interviewing members of the trump campaign, you basically burst this investigation into the public light, which both has a political outcome and consequence but it also frankly signals to the russian government we know -- we know that there's some contact here and it opens you up to having russia try to cover its tracks. so there was a real debate. there were people inside the fbi saying it doesn't matter, we have to move aggressively. the very chance that the russian government has somehow subborned a presidential campaign, to hell with the rule book, we have to do everything. but in the end they said, no, we're going to keep this quiet and didn't interview papadopoulos until late january after the inauguration. >> something we've heard from the president's defenders is that george papadopoulos was an
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unpaid member of the foreign policy advisory team. given what we've learned here in this piece and over the last few months, does that matter? is that a compelling argument that's being made by members of the campaign team and now the administration that he was an unpaid member of the team? >> no, i think that has no relevance at all. what matters is who he was talking to, what they were discussing, who else knew about those conversations. and, you know, as matt points out, it's not just that the fbi was at sixes and sevens trying to decide what to do with this, the administration all the way up to the president of the united states was very concerned about politicizing this information, if you will, about releasing it during the time of the campaign where he might be accused of trying to influence the election, where he might be accused of trying to put his thumb on the scale in favor of his former secretary of state. so i think as you said earlier, the days of trying to paint him as a unpaid coffee boy, a volunteer coffee boy are really
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over. it's a question of what the conversations were, where they were going, and what those led to. the notion that an entire investigation hung on any one person or any one conversation i think has been one of the misnomers and one of the really red herrings that the republicans have raised in trying to say, well, we'll discredit this person or this person was simply a coffee boy. it's the whole picture, the whole portrait that is being painted with lots and lots of information, both e-mails, certainly electronic information that they were obtaining, plus individuals, plus witnesses, so it's a pretty compelling picture. >> matt, let me just ask you about what this tells you the way the campaign was run. how different does it seem this campaign was run than others? >> oh, there's no question that the trump campaign was unlike anything we've ever seen. and presidential campaigns do have paid staff and unpaid staff, unpaid advisors and i think that actually is an important distinction, but
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jennifer is right that it does matter who he was talking to, what representations he was making, what information he was receiving. and so obviously that will be part of the investigation and in this case papadopoulos lied to the feds and now has his own legal situation to deal with. i would just point out, david, even though the inquiry continues to get more serious and perhaps be extended, there still is no underlying crime. you have two lobbyists who had foreign lobbying problems and two people who lied to the feds. you do not have an underlying crime that ties back to collusion or financial crimes. that may be where this is headed but there is not yet an underlying crime where there's been a crime. >> two matts and jennifer joining me as well. thank you all for your time. happy new year to all of you. new details coming out about a plane crash in costa rica claiming the lives of ten americans. that is coming up. first, president trump cheers on demonstrations in iran as protests turn deadly. iran's leader fires back taking a swipe at president trump.
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the escalating back and forth, next. d we'd like you to be part of ours. happy new year! so our chevy employee discount is still available to everyone. you pay what we pay, not a cent more. we're so happy to share this with you. because you deserve to start the year off in style. it's our way of saying happy new year! and welcome to the family... the chevy family. the chevy employee discount for everyone ends soon.
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welcome back, iranian state tv reports 12 people have died in demonstrations across iran. the protests began because of high unemployment and inflation in the country. this morning president trump is weighing in on the situation. moments ago he tweeted iran is failing at every level despite the terrible deal made with them by the obama administration. the great iranian people have been repressed for many years. they are hungry for food and for freedom along with human rights, the wealth of iran is being looted. in all caps, time for change. matt bradley joins me now with the latest. matt, get us up to speed on the latest in iran. >> good morning, david. well, there haven't been any further signs of protests today so far, but we're hearing that activists have called for these protests to resume this afternoon in iran. now, whether the protesters return to the streets today after news that you just mentioned of this surge in deadly violence, the revelations
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of the sheer number of people that have been killed over the past few days, that's going to offer a glimpse of whether or not these protests are actually going to continue. on the other hand it's also not clear whether president donald trump's tweets will do anything to inspire these protests either. some of the iran experts we spoke with yesterday said that the u.s. president is so revierd in iran and if these tweets have any effect at all, and there has been six tweets from him since it began on thursday, all they would really do is discourage protesters rather than boost them. that's because the president has said so many negative things about not only the iranian government but also its people, calling them terrorists and blocking their travel to the united states and trying to abrogate the agreement that president obama came to several years ago on the nuclear issue. so the state agency didn't elaborate on how or why this death toll appeared to increase from 2 to 12, but they did report that police had rappelled protesters from police stations
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and military bases last night. and reporting from iran, david, is spotty at best. it's very difficult for us to tell with any real certainty what's going on on the ground. but if reports of these additional deaths are true, that would mark a substantial escalation in violence. these renewed protests came even after president rouhani sought to calm these tensions with an address to cabinet. that was the first time he spoke since the crisis began. if the protests continue, we'll have a strong indication that the president's ability to rein in the protests is limited. >> thank you very much. you can protest but not violently. that seems to be the message in that address. i want to bring in barbara from the atlantic council. i've seen that speech described as conciliatory. what did you make of what president rouhani had to say last night? >> i think it was conciliatory. you know, he has been a disappointment to the iranian
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people and i think he knows it. the question is what is his ability really to satisfy the demands of the iranian people both on the economic and on the political front. on the economy, iran has seen gdp growth. it's expected to grow another 4% this year, but this has been largely a jobless recovery. we're familiar with that phenomenon in the united states. this has mostly come because of increased oil exports after this nuclear deal that matt mentioned. and so can he improve the economy at a time when the united states maintains sanctions and when president trump is threatening every other minute to terminate the iran nuclear deal, there by frightening european companies from carrying out promised investment in iran. this is a big problem. the second issue is political and social freedom. you know, here president rouhani is very much constrained. >> there's been a string of tweets that i mentioned from the president of the united states. lindsay graham, the senator from
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south carolina was on "meet the press" yesterday -- or "cbs this morning" yesterday. >> it's not enough to watch. president trump is tweeting very sympathetically to the iranian people, but you just can't tweet here. you have to lay out a plan. >> lindsey graham there on "face the nation." barbara slavin let me ask you what kind of plan we know of from the white house. >> no, i don't think he has a plan at all. talk of regime change is not a plan. if he really wanted to do something to help the iranian people, he could stop inflicting these travel and visa bans on very qualified young iranians trying to come to the united states to study and people who want to visit their relatives in the united states. we have a large iranian deas per here so he's not to be taken seriously when he says he cares about the welfare of the iranian people. he wants to make the iranian
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government look bad and make himself look good but this is not a strategy. >> what's the role of the nuclear deal in all of this. you mentioned the economic motivators of these protests. can you draw a line between that deal and how it's been codified and what we're seeing economically in iran at this point? there was the promise of a lot of sanctions being lifted. >> yeah, i think it raised expectations and of course the government in iran raised expectations that this was somehow going to be a panacea and iran would be flooded with oil revenue and with investment, particular low from european, and that has not transpired. part of it as i mentioned is because the trump administration has adopted a very hostile policy toward the deal, has cast this cloud of uncertainty over whether the united states would remain within the deal. but there are also tremendous economic problems within iran, structural problems, problems of corruption that go back 40 years and really longer. i mean the monarchy that some are calling for in iran to
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returning was also riddled with corruption, as is the current regime. so there's been a tremendous disappointment. expectations were raised and now they have been dashed and that's one of the reasons i think for these protests. >> barbara slavin, thank you very much, appreciate it. >> you're welcome. happy new year. president trump's twitter triumph. he takes to social media to praise his own record from the surging stock market to creating jobs. a fact check on that, next. remember our special night? abdominal pain... ...and diarrhea.
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welcome back. it's time for your morning primer, everything you need to know to start your day. we begin with a deadly ambush in colorado. a sheriff's deputy is dead in a shootout in which more than 100 rounds were fired. several other police officers as well as two other people were also hit by bullets. officers were responding to a domestic disturbance call when that attack took place. chief justice john roberts says there will be a crackdown on how the federal judicial system handles sexual misconduct allegations. there will be a team to evaluate whether standards of conduct and procedures for investigating and correcting inappropriate behavior are strong enough. new year, new laws. today marks the first day california pot shops are allowed to legally sell recreational marijuana. dozens of permitts have been issued to expand the market expected to grow by $7 billion annually by 2020. "star wars, the last jedi" has grossed $1 billion in just three weeks. it is now the highest grossing movie in the u.s. for 2017.
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and the top democrat in the u.s. senate, chuck schumer, celebrating the buffalo bills win last night. he tweeted, quote, first time in 17 years the buffalo bills are headed to the playoffs. let's go buffalo! first time that's been tweeted as well. president trump unleerashed series of tweets over the weekend on the economy and the markets. quote, jobs are kicking in and companies are coming back to the u.s. unnecessary regulations and high taxes are being dramatically cut. it will only get better. much more to come. rick newman joins me now, a columnist for yahoo! finance. we should start that the market is not the economy and the economy is not the market. you look at these recent tweets and there's a bit of confusion there. >> yeah, the economy is doing well, though. trump had lucky timing. he came in as the economy was -- recovery was picking up, job growth in 2017 was about the same pace it had been for the few years prior to that. stocks have been doing well because the underlying economy is good and corporate earnings are strong. i think it is fair to say that the stock market did get a
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little bit of extra goose from the tax cuts, which investors have been anticipating all year. they finally happened, so investors kind of got what they wanted. >> i looked at my phone on saturday, i think it was, and i was stupefied by this most recent tweet from the president. if the dems crooked hillary got elected your stocks would be down 50% from values on election day. now they have a great future and just beginning. this is a pretty cahard counterfactual to come out. >> i don't think we'll see economic studies coming out of the white house to prove that. i think the case is easier to make that stocks would be up anyway. they're up because the economy is doing well. i don't remember hillary clinton saying she has a plan to depress the economy and send stocks plummeting. but it is fair to acknowledge that this tax cut, this big corporate tax cut has helped the stock market and probably will still help it in 2018. >> you mentioned that that tax cut law did goose the markets a little bit. you go back to the election in 2016. almost immediately afterward you
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saw investors glomming onto the fact that it could change. does that continue -- does it show signs of continuing, that upward trajectory in the markets? >> trump said he would do several things, tax cuts was the one investors liked the most. there were other things investors did not like at all. trade protectionism, tariffs, tearing up the north american free trade agreement, new tariffs on mexican imports. this is going to be what kind of defines the market in 2018. now that trump has tax cuts out of the way, is he going to turn to some of those things? there are rumblings, yes, he does want to put new rules on chinese imports and things like that, if that happens the markets will react and react negatively. trump is so proud that the stock market is going up on his watch that he may not want to do something that sends it in the other direction. >> he's so proud and this is so integral to his political platform, especially as he looks ahead to the 2018 midterm
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elections. why would smart voters want to put democrats in congress in 2018 election when their policies will totally kill the great wealth created during the months since the election. people are much better off now not to mention isis, va, judges, strong border, second amendment, tax cuts and more. are people getting the benefits he's describing in those tweets? >> it's actually puzzling because with the economy doing as well -- i mean the unemployment rate is at 4%. >> it has been low for a sustained time. >> and the president's approval rating is in the mid-30s. it should be in the mid-50s at least given how strong the economy is. so what's interesting is voters are reacting to things that it's not the economy, stupid, right now. they're interested in other things. i think that's what trump's challenge is for 2018. really he needs to just not mess it up and i think we know he's not going to leave twitter, he's going to continue to tweet. he's going to continue to make controversial statements. who knows what's going to happen with the mueller investigation. and that's what voters seem to be paying attention to, is this chaos coming out of washington,
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when in reality if he just sort of went into caretaker mode on the economy and did no harm, that's probably the best thing he could do on 2018. >> i can't let you go without asking you about wages. i wonder how effective a distraction this is talking about the markets and wealth creation when you look at wages and how stagnant they have been. >> that is sort of the one problem point in the economy right now. i think what trump o-- trump's narrative is your paycheck is going to get bigger because of tax cuts. that's what we'll be hearing all year i'm sure. nobody really has a good solution for how to get wages above -- you know, they're growing around 2% right now. barely keeping up with inflation for a lot of workers. that's one of the reasons some people feel they're not getting ahead or falling behind. there's really nothing out of the trump administration so far except if we cut taxes for corporations, eventually they'll start paying workers more. that whole trickle-down story. i think trump needs a better story on that for sure because i'm not sure much of the corporate tax cuts are going to trickle down to voters by
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november, 2018. >> rick newman, happy new year to you. north korea's kim jong-un fires off a new dire warning for the u.s. during an annual speech on new year's day. a live report from the korean peninsula, next. also coming up, a plane crashes in costa rica, killing all ten americans onboard. some disturbing new details are trickling in. if yor crohn's symptoms are holding you back, and your current treatment hasn't worked well enough, it may be time for a change.
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trust #1 doctor recommended dulcolax. use dulcolax tablets for gentle dependable relief. suppositories for relief in minutes. and dulcoease for comfortable relief of hard stools. dulcolax. designed for dependable relief. it is freezing here in new york. this year times square had the second coldest new year's eve
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celebration on record at 10 degrees or lower as the ball dropped at midnight. later this week a snowstorm could hit the northeast. michelle grossman joins me now. what's the rest of this week look like? it was a cold and lonely walk to work this morning. >> actually there was a lot of people when i walked in but it was cold. dangerously cold as he head out again today. we've had days of this and we'll continue to have days of dangerous weather. we have a reprieve wednesday and thursday and then right back to a cold surge and watching a potential coastal storm. taking a look at weather warnings, windchill warnings, windchill advisories in the dark pink, you want to be careful as you head out today. we're looking at temperatures that are dangerously cold today. over 115 million impacted. that is a lot of people. that is most of the nation, at least the eastern half of the nation where we are seeing windchills 50 below zero in some spots, hard to fathom. as we head out, we're looking at the arctic blast continuing, the jetstream dipping all the way down past texas. that will be the case over the
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next couple of days before we get a little tiny break before the third surge comes in. currently, only 7 in columbus, 1 degree in boston. it feels like 18 below zero, so a good day to stay indoors and layer up. 19 below is the air temperature in duluth, 8 below in rapid city. it feels like 26 below. we're not going to get much better heading towards tuesday morning. tomorrow morning getting the kids back to school, getting back to reality in terms of work, maybe taking the bus, we're looking at dangerously cold temperatures once again. raleigh 13 degrees. so it extends pretty far south. 8 degrees in memphis, 10 below zero in indianapolis. by wednesday, same story. thursday, there's a little bit of a break and then, yes, we are watching the potential for a coastal storm and also watching for dangerously cold temperatures once again this weekend. >> a break of 12 degrees in boston. very good. michelle grossman, thank you very much for that update. kim jong-un has delivered a stark warning in a new year's day address saying it's not a mere threat but a reality that i have a nuclear button on the desk in my office.
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all of the mainland united states is within the range of our nuclear strike. but the north korean leader did leave the door open to talks if only slightly. he called the upcoming winter olympics an opportunity to show unity of the people. kelly cobiella is live in seoul, south korea. let me ask you what he had to say about the prospects for diplomacy, for talks in the near term. >> reporter: this was a real surprise from kim jong-un. we expected him to talk about his nuclear program, not about the olympic games, but there he was saying he wanted the games to be a success, that he was willing potentially to send a delegation to south korea and that he wanted south korea and north korea to sit down urgently for talks about the olympics and also about how to melt the deep freeze between these two countries. to do it independent of any outside parties, the u.s., china, russia. so what's going on here? well, it's possible that the north koreans see an opportunity.
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they want to drive a wedge between the u.s. and south korea. it's possible that the north koreans potentially want some humanitarian aid, something in return, some easing of sanctions in return for playing nice during the games. but the bottom line here is that the south korean president is very invested in having a successful games. he's been pushing the north koreans for months now to take part, believing that's really the best way to ensure safety at the games. he's been pushing or proposing at least that the u.s. and south korea postpone those massive military drills until after the games are over. again, trying to tamp down on the tensions here on the peninsula. so, david, whether there are some strings attached to this very small olive branch being offered out to the south koreans, the bottom line is the south korean president wants this to happen. he said he welcomes the proposal to talk.
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so we may well see it in the coming weeks. >> kelly cobiella joining us from the korean peninsula. thank you very much for the time today. back with me, jennifer rubin and matt here to talk about north korea relations. let's talk about the prospect for foreign relations, for dialogue. given the rhetoric that we've heard from the administration and what we've heard at the united nations, how willingly do you think the u.s. would go to the table with north korea and other nations? >> well, we have mixed messages. on one hand we have secretary tillerson who continues to say we're ready to talk without preconditions. he continues to make his inquiries. and then you have the president periodically weighing in saying, no, there is not a diplomatic solution, you're wasting your time, rex. so it's a little bit difficult to discern frankly what the administration's policy is. i think the point that the report made clear, though, is that there is a gap, a significant gap that's opened up between the u.s. and our asian allies. they don't like this very
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verbose, very aggressive language. they want a diplomatic solution. and to the extent to which there is a separation between the united states and south korea, the united states and japan, the united states and taiwan, the north koreans would be very savvy to try to expand that. frankly, we've shot ourselves in the foot a bit with our asian allies by backing out of tpp, the transpacific partnership agreement. so right now i think the united states would be very well served frankly if we began to repair those relationships, perhaps re-engage in some trade talks and made sure that there is not daylight, to borrow a phrase from the prior administration, between the united states and our allies. >> matt, let me ask you about the relationship between the u.s. and china at this point. i look at one of the president's recent tweets here. caught red handed. very disappointed that china is allowing oil to go into north
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korea. there will never be a friendly solution to the north korea problem if this continues to happen. we remember at the beginning of this relationship between president xi and president trump in florida, there was a lot of familiarity and friendship displayed publicly on the golf course. some months later president trump expressed frustration with what president xi was able to do. what's the status of that relationship here? how tenuous is it at this point given the back and forth that we've seen? >> yeah, i think it is tenuous and obviously that u.s./china relationship is really important given that china has such significant economic power over north korea and their economy. it's important, though, as we focus on the trump tweet there, it's not just about china perhaps selling fuel to north korea but russia. there was a report from reuters just two or three days ago that russia is also providing fuel to north korea. keep in mind, the reason this matters is that the united nations security council just in the last few days has passed a new sanctions package under the
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lordship of u.s. ambassador to the u.n. nikki haley. those sanctions packages, yes, they're not immediate, but they do have an effect in further isolating north korea and putting more economic pressure on them. so look, this is good news in the last 24 hours that the north korean leader is at least willing to begin negotiating with south korea to reduce tensions to get through the olympics. it's obviously a global event, has global security ramifications, global economic ramifications. but keep in mind the preconditions that the north koreans are throwing out there, they're saying, look, the u.s. has to stop joint military operations with south korea. that may be a good idea to put that off past the olympics, but we don't need to separate the united states from south korea militarily. that would be -- that would strengthen the north korean leader's hand when in fact the united states supporting south korea militarily and diplomatically is of particular importance. >> that latest round of sanctions focusing on oil and minerals and how long workers from north korea are able to work overseas. jennifer rubin, let me ask you
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about a diplomatic tact that a lot of people are speculating north koreans are taking, continue to invest in this nuclear program, continue these tests and that's likely to bring people to the table. does that strategy make sense to you? do you think that's likely the catalyst to get folks to the table? >> well, there's two theories of the north korean regime. one is that they're unhinged and irra irrational. i don't think that's been borne out. the second is that they think this is the ultimate bargaining chip. they have a very repressive regime, one of the most abusive, the most brutal in the world. the regime talks about regime survival and they believe that possession of nuclear weapons will allow them to do so. so from their somewhat bizarre perspective, this quote makes sense. the real problem, of course, is that their country is falling apart, starving, economically very backward, is becoming more
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and more isolated and that the only ultimate security for a regime is that its people enjoy some sort of prosperity. so i think the north koreans, and this is a very unusual outreach after a after a year that we have gone through where we have really been escalating, escalating the sort of dialogue, it's a little hard to perceive. and frankly, we should all do with humanity. it's a hard regime to analyze and say we have very little insight in some regards into the regime. and we'll enter to proceed cautiously. i think one caveat, one takeaway from this is the president himself, donald trump should lower the escalating dialogue, the escalating rhetoric. >> thank you to both of you on this new year's day. author of "the right turn" blog. and an american family killed in a plane crash in costa
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rica. we are learning new details as investigators try to figure out what happened. the latest in a live report, next.
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this morning investigators are back at the scene of a deadically plane crash that killed ten americans it. belonged to nature air that went down in a section of the country popular with tourists. the loss hit one u.s. family particularly hard. tim leitner is monitoring the
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story from florida. what do we know about the plane that crashed? >> reporter: hey, david. we don't know officially the cause, but there was bad weather that morning. the plane went down in a popular tourist area. witnesses reported seeing the plane flip mid-air and then crash into a mountain. it burst into flames. this was also a couple hundred yards from the end of the runway. there were 12 people on board. two pilots, ten americans, all 12 people died. five of those people were from the same family in scarsdale, new york. a tight-knit family. this is what a neighbor had to say about that family. >> inconceivable that a whole family should meet with such a disaster. they were a lovely family. >> obviously, family and friends are meeting with investigators
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trying to piece together why and how this happened. >> thank you for the update from miami. new year, new laws. recreational marijuana legal in the nation's most populist state. but finding a retail to buy pot in california may not be so easy. that story is straight ahead. hi, i'm the internet! you know what's difficult? armless bowling. ahhhhhhhh! you know what's easy? building your website with godaddy. get your domain today and get a free trial of gocentral. build a better website in under an hour.
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that wraps up this hour for us. now we have more news with hallie jackson back from south florida. >> back in d.c. and back in the action.
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david, thank you very much. 2018 is picking up right where 2017 left off, at least when it comes to two u.s. foreign policy challenges, north korea and iran. we are told that there is a nuclear button on his desk for an arsenal that could hit anywhere in the u.s. and now ten protesters are dead on the fifth day of anti-state government demonstrations. president trump is up early from south florida tweeting about it today. and as we start 2018, we know it could be a pivot toll year for the russia investigation. so we're looking at what is next for those inquiries in the house and senate and even more importantly the one being done by special counsel robert mueller. and in the new year, that means a new law in california. you can now get high for fun legally, no medical card needed, but the pot is not so easy to find for now. we'll explain that buzz kill and what it means for states all across the country later on in the show. but first, we start with the nbc news reporters following new developments from south korea and tehran spread out around the globe. we start in seoul where


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