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tv   Morning Joe  MSNBC  January 26, 2018 3:00am-6:00am PST

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said the president had not even discussed firing bob mouler. but this morning, nbc news confirms that new reporting from "the new york times," it says, two months earlier he depart just discuss firing bob mueller. he actually ordered his lawyer to fire bob mueller. the independent counsel. now, add that to this chain of events. trump also asked jim comey for his loyalty. he also asked jim comey to drop the flynn probe after he knew flynn had committed a crime. when flynn wouldn't do it, he fired jim comey, the fbi director. he then pressured his attorney general not to recuse himself from the russian investigation. he then pressured his attorney general, jeff sessions, to fire the acting chief of the fbi, andrew mccabe. he then pressured his intel team and top members of congress to
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back him publicly and the c.i.a. director even went so far as to say the russians didn't try to have an impact on the election. and now we know this -- the president of the united states tried to fire the independent counsel, robert mueller iii, who had been put in place because the president of the united states fired the fbi director because he wouldn't give him an oath of loyalty. and because in the president's own words, he wouldn't drop the fbi investigation into russia. and so, there you have it. we're going to have a very busy morning on "morning joe" this friday, january 26th. willie, really unbelievable news. once again, though, michael schmidt, maggie haberman coming through with some incredible breaking news. >> we've got michael with us in
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just a minute. how many times on this program over the last eight, nine, ten months have someone said there's no way donald trump would try to fire bob mueller. it would set up a constitutional crisis. it would cross a line. he can't do it. and i think you and i and mika all said -- really? it's donald trump, you don't think he'd try that? he fired his fbi director which led to the appointment of this special counsel robert mueller. first broke the story, "new york times" reporter michael submit, we'll talk to him. former chief of staff at the c.i.a. and department of defense, jeremy bash. former fbi special agent and msnbc contributor clint watts. former aide to the george w. bush white house and state departments, elise jordan and donnie deutsche is here, how are you feeling, all right, buddy? >> a couple of white nationalists and i got into a little tussle in a bar. >> bar fight. >> mika will be back with us on monday. >> a source with firsthand knowledge confirms to nbc news
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that president trump ordered special counsel robert mueller be fired last june. "the new york times" was first to report the news and that the president backed down after white house counsel don mcgann threatened to resign according to four people told of the matter. the "washington post" adds that mcgann did not deliver his resignation threat directly to trump, but was serious about his threat to leave. according to a person familiar. last night, the white house put out a statement from one of the president's lawyers declining to comment, quote out of respect for the off the of the special counsel and its process, that from ty cobb. this morning, president trump responded to the report, as he met with world leaders in davos, switzerland. >> why did you want to fire robert mule centre. >> fake news, fake news. typical "new york times" fake story. >> fake news, says the president. so two sources told the "times" of what trump saw as three conflicts with mueller. first, a dispute years ago over
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fees at trump national golf club in sterling, virginia, that prompted mueller, the fbi director at the time, to resign his membership. the president also said mueller could not be impartial because he had most recently worked for the law firm that previously represented the president's son-in-law, jared kushner. trump said mueller had been returning to the fbi director. trump allies newt gingrich and chris ruddy discussed the subject publicly. >> i think that what republicans ought to focus on is closing down the independent counsel. because he's not independent. he apparently is very close to comey. we know comey hates trump. you have to assume that that has to leak over to mueller. >> i think he's considering perhaps terminating the special counsel. i think he's weighing that option. i think it's pretty clear by what one of his lawyers said on television recently.
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i personally think it would be a very significant mistake. even though i don't think there's a justification. and even though i mean here you have a situation -- >> you don't think there's a justification for -- >> for a special counsel in this case. but also, i mean robert mueller. there's some conflicts, he comes from a law firm that represents members of the trump family. he interviewed a day before or a few days before he was appointed special counsel with the president who was looking at him potentially to become the next fbi director. that hasn't been published, but it's true. and i think it would be strange that he would have a confidential conversation and then a few days later, become the prosecutor of the person he may be investigating. i think that mueller should have not taken the position if he was under consideration. and had a private meeting with the president. and was privy maybe to some of his thoughts about that investigation or other matters before the bureau.
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>> well of course that logic just doesn't add up for so many reasons. but the timing of course, michael schmidt, the timing around the same time that you had the president of the united states ordering don mcgann to fire the special counsel. don mcgann according to your reports, said no. tell us about your story, tell us about the reporting. tell us if you can, how long you've been working on this. >> well this is stuff that has come up in the interviews that mueller has done in the past few months with white house officials. mueller has focused a lot on the president's conduct in office, what was he doing, why was he so obsessed with loyalty. why was he so obsessed with a person running the russia investigation? he's been interviewing folks from the white house counsel's office, the aides closest to the president to try to understand what the president was doing.
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and the white house has waved executive privilege and attorney-client privilege and allowed all of this to be shared with the special counsel's office, as they sifted through different things, they found different events like this. things where the president was trying to get rid of mueller. for most people it's just astounding that just a month after comey was fired, he thought that getting rid of mueller was a good idea and was the right thing. in order to try to lift this cloud of the russia investigation from him. now of course, their approach is let's just be as transparent as possible with mueller because we have nothing to hide. mueller has gone on for many months and will probably be around for much longer. asking for mcgann in march to lobby sessions to not recuse himself from the russia investigation. and the president saying afterwards that he needs someone to run the justice department who will protect him like rfk did for jfk or holder did for obama.
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so these are events that mueller has keyed in on to understand what was going on in the white house and there's first few months of the administration. >> michael, and all of this certainly goes to state of mind for obstruction of justice and putting this story together, did you talk to people who thought that his actions were actions that robert mueller and the independent counsel staff would look at, as to state of mind, far obstructing justice? >> yes, these are the type of things that help mueller understand whether there's a broader obstruction case here. whether there's a broader effort by the president to get in the way of the russia investigation. what makes this a complicated question, is that obstruction comes in different forms, for there to be a better obstruction case, you need the president doing things outside of his purr in the executive branch. the president telling someone to lie or trying to destroy evidence.
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it becomes more complicated when he's exercising his power. he could fire the fbi director. but under the law he can do that, he can direct the justice department to do different things and he could have pushed them to get rid of mueller. those are the more complicated questions. the cleaner ones are where he would be going outside of his executive power to try and hurt the investigation. >> so let's talk here michael about what exactly don mcgann did. the president's report to fire robert mueller was not carried out when white house lawyer don mcgann refused to order the dismissal. according to the "new york times" report, mcgann disagreed with the president's case and told senior white house officials that firing mueller would have a catastrophic effect on trump's presidency. and mcgann told white house officials trump would not follow through on the dismissal on his own. and the president then backed off. mcgann was also concerned that firing the special counsel would incite more questions about whether the white house was trying to obstruct the russia investigation. according to the order
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appointing a special counsel, hiring and firing power rests with deputy attorney general rod rosenstein since attorney general jeff sessions recused himself. at a hearing last june around the time when trump reportedly made his demand rosenstein firmly said he would not fire mueller. >> if president trump ordered you to fire the special counsel, what would you do? >> senator, i'm not going to follow any orders unless i believe those are lawful and appropriate orders. under the regulation, special counsel robert mueller may be fired only for good cause and i'm required to put that cause in writing so that's what i would do. if there were good cause i would consider it. if there were not good cause it wouldn't matter to me what anybody says. >> at this point have you seen any evidence for good cause of firing special counsel robert mueller? >> no, i have not. >> michael schmidt. i'm struck looking at the date on that, june 13, that's at the heart of when all of this was
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happening. can you describe a little of the confrontation or whether or not there was a confrontation between don mcgann and the president on this? >> well mcgann was very unnerved by this. he knew the catastrophic impact that this would have on the administration. they had already, the comey fire hg turned out to be a complete disaster. it had come out afterwards that comey had asked trump to end the flynn investigation. and here they were, a few weeks later trying to figure out how to stop the president from doing something that they believed would hurt him. but this is something that mcgann has confronted many times as the president's top lawyer. trying to balance the, the desires of his client against either things that are ethical or illegal. and the balancing act that mcgann would do. in this case mcgann was willing to give up his job to try to stop that. a lot of times when white house officials will say is that the counsel's office would try to delay things in the hopes that president would fixate his
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attention on something else. we saw this in march and april when the white house counsel first learned that trump wanted to get rid of comey. they basically misled him about his authorities to dismiss comey, saying that the president, needed cause to do so. in the hopes that the president would find something else to worry about. and that comey would remain in his job. ultimately they weren't able to stop that, either. >> hey, clint so if you just -- take a score card here, of what's happened, what this president has done to try to impede the investigation. to try to, to overstep his bounds in so many cases, as it pertains to impeding the investigation, he fired an fbi director. which is certainly within his power. but unfortunately for this president, he told lester holt on nationwide news that he did it to stop the russian investigation. he told the russian foreign minister and the ambassador to the united states from russia that he, he got rid of comey to
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stop the investigation. to take quote the pressure off as he said. he wanted to fire his attorney general. he wanted to fire rod rosenstein, his deputy attorney general and now we find out that he wanted to fire the independent counsel. and every step of the way he kept getting push-back from his staff members. what's the overall portrait? and what is the independent counsel looking at now when he looks at donald trump, an executive who seems desperate and has seemed desperate at every step to kill this russian investigation. >> yeah. i think this is the missing piece that i was really looking forward to understand why we've seen so many interviews related to the obstruction part rather than the collusion part of the special counsel. and if i had to guess, it's probably because they thought they were under a clock. meaning that if mueller could be threatened with firing or was fired at they point, they wanted to get as much evidence in the books on the obstruction case as possible before that happens.
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and so what we may actually have been seeing particularly in the past month, we've seen a lot of questions about obstruction at the very highest level, interviews with sessions, everybody that was involved, we just hear that mcgann was maybe being questioned for two straight days what we may have been see something a push on the obstruction case, because there could have been a clock out there from the special counsel's office on this for perspective. the other article is how silly the notion is that it is a witch hunt really is. you're talking about fbi director mueller, who by trump's own account has represented his son-in-law through this firm. has actually had membership at his golf course. was interviewed the day before becoming the special counsel, basically to become the fbi director again. so it's really takes air out of that counterargument. >> hey clint, also, has been a republican far, far longer than donald trump has been a republican. donald trump has been given far,
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far more money to democratic candidates than bob mueller ever has. i mean and it's not even a close call. so you're right. when they say this is a democratic witch hunt and you have andrew mccabe, who i guess he's a republican, because he voted in the republican primary. but didn't vote in the general election, you basically have republicans around here, that are the main players in this so-called democratic, this democratic cover-up for hillary clinton. and this democratic witch hunt on donald trump. >> that's right. and i think we should also consider as we've been hearing about the special counsel's investigation, that they went on this obstruction angle, questioned everybody, but that doesn't mean people won't be questioned again. that evidence that they provide, once you get all the interviews this. you then redirect your strategy before you go to the president. this also doesn't necessarily mean they've investigated the collusion angle of this all the way through, either. there could be two totally different teams or multiple
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directions going with this investigation. i wouldn't be surprised if we see a lot of the people who have been interviewed so far, march right back up into the special counsel investigation just to talk about the russia angle. >> jeremy bash, we're talking about june of last year. bob mueller was appointed on wednesday, may 17. this could be a period of two weeks, a month, maybe a little more than a month that president trump according to reporting of michael schmidt and maggie haberman and confirmed by nbc news, was considering firing him. this was something he thought about almost immediately. >> i think the important word in michael and maggie's report something "ordered." he didn't just think about it, the president of the united states ordered his white house counsel to do it. if you look at the statute on obstruction, it says that in addition to whoever obstructs, it says whoever endeavors to obstruct or impede a lawful investigation is guilty of an offense. so that element of endeavor to, or attempt to, is part of the criminal, the elements of the
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crime in the obstruction statutes. that said, i agree with michael's earlier analysis, that this alone probably would not form the basis of a, of a count or indictment or impeachment matter against the president alone. it sort of goes to state of mind. it shows that he was interested in concocting phony cover stories for getting rid of his investigators. and in the case of comey, the phony cover story was hey, i'm looking out for the best interests of hillary clinton. no one ever believed that. and here it was about golf fees and no one is going to believe that. i was interested in the tape that you played of rod rosenstein who said that to fire mueller you need to have it in writing and state good cause. that's exactly what they did with jim comey. they wrote it down and they gave quote good cause, it just was a phony, concocted cover story. >> all right so we have a lot more, we're going to get to elise jordan when we come back. also going to be getting to the
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battered and bruised donnie deutsche to figure out what, what happened there. what angry person took him apart. >> joe i'm going to tell you exactly what happened. >> no, no, we'll hear about it right now. >> we'll tease it out over the break. >> michael schmidt is going to be remaining with us. because we're going to also talk about serious things. and also fascinating, fascinating response from the spin machine boys over at donald trump's favorite network. >> wow. >> we're going to take a look at how they responded to this news as it unfolded. that and much more. and a battered and bruised donnie deutsche when "morning joe" returns. whoooo.
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that's why i fight. we know life can be hectic. that's why, at xfinity, we've been working hard to simplify your experiences with us. now, with instant text and email updates, you'll always be up to date. you can easily add premium channels, so you don't miss your favorite show. and with just a single word, find all the answers you're looking for - because getting what you need should be simple, fast, and easy. download the xfinity my account app or go online today. now tonight for example, they're trying to change the story. at this hour "the new york times" is trying to distract you. they have a story that trump wanted mueller fired sometime last june. and our sources and i've checked in with many of them, they're not confirming that tonight. and the president's attorney
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dismissed the story and says no, no comment, we're not going there. and how many times has "the new york times" and others gotten it wrong? so we have sources tooth just kwon firming henry that yeah, maybe donald trump wanted to fire the special counsel for a conflict. does he not have the right to raise those questions? we'll deal with this tomorrow night. we have a shocking video of the day to bring you by the way. it comes to us from arizona where you see the red suv, high-speed police chase. >> it's incredible. look over there! car chase! >> but didn't bill clinton -- >> look at the bird, look at the bird! >> hannity -- look at the car wreck! oh my god. >> i don't know where to begin, elise. let's not just make it about what we just saw. over this week, and certainly over the last six months we've
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seen this coming from people who are trump apologists. you know, like for instance, people say fire bob mueller. "the new york times" reports donald trump wanted to fire robert mueller. fake news! okay well maybe it's not fake news, and then i am holding up a sheet of paper, here's a secret society and we are going to investigate the secret society. there's a secret society, other congressmen come on the tv and say we are going to look into this secret society. there's no secret society. the desperation, every day there is desperation. and every day, it blows up in their face, elise. but i guess the big take-away here is, just how much people are willing to actually sacrifice their political souls for a man who will never show loyalty in return.
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>> i think we've seen consistently that there are plenty of individuals willing to do that. i think that the political problem with all of this at the end of the day, and this is going to continue to be the most divisive issue in american politics, if the only case that the mueller team has is obstruction and there's no corrupt attempt, there's no you know smoking gun of what crime was committed, i think that politically the country is going to be as divided as ever. because it clearly donald trump has admitted he admitted to lester holt, he admitted to the russian ambassador and to the russian foreign minister, that he obstructed justice, that he wanted comey out, because he wanted to fire, because he wanted to drop the russia investigation but that is not going to be enough to bring this country to any kind of consensus about what actually is happening here.
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>> michael schmidt, what have you learned in all of your reporting about obstruction of justice charges being brought against the president? would it be as an unindicted co-conspirator? what would it be? because the thing is there don't seem to be a lot of co-conspirators. there just seems to be the president of the united states ordering other people to do things that would amount to obstruction of justice. >> there's a complex legal question about whether the justice department could indict the president. and how the, that would be dealt with. would that be something that would go to the courts or go to congress. but i think that folks need to understand that of the two big buckets that mueller is looking at, the questions of russian collusion, the questions of obstruction, there's just so many more things in the obstruction bucket that have to be looked at and examined that we know about that. while there's been a lot of smoke and issues that have come up around the questions of collusion and what trump's aides were doing, there's not a lot of
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stuff that we know that ties him back to questions from the election, and the meetings with the russians. but on the other hand as we see and are seeing now, time and time again there are these different events that went on when he was in office that have to be examined. things like this, things like getting rid of mueller. was, was he simply just exercising his power and thought there were legitimate issues with conflict of interest. or was there a broader thing afoot? does it dovetail with the comey issues. the question of the plane, one of the biggest questions, the president flying back last summer to the united states from europe, and coming up with a misleading statement about meetings that don jr. had had in 2016. those are all things in the obstruction bucket that mueller has keyed on in these meetings with bhous officials. >> joe, here's to me the thing where we got to focus today and the most reprehensible thing. we at this point understand who
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donald trump is. his response today, whether the tape was from yesterday, when asked about this, he said -- fake news, that it's a lie. >> that was this morning. >> absolute lie to the camera because it's not fake news, there are four sources and it's been recapitulated by nbc news. and coming off of yesterday with ron johnson and nunes and some of our good friends in the republican party talking about the deep state and the secret society. undermining the fbi and undermining the news. this continued assault on our democracy. forget the obstruction, forget the actual charge, the continual assault on the things that protect us, our intelligence community. the media, the judicial system. i want to hear today from mitch mcconnell and paul ryan. all of these people -- what do they say about this? i want to hear what they say when they hear the president tried to fire bob mueller. he was asked about, he said fake news.
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what do you say, sir? it's time for the dock roaches to come out from under their rocks and respond what do you say, gentlemen? >> you're going cockroaches, but i think it would be helpful for every member of congress to come out. i certainly would if i were still a member to come out and say bob mule certificate doing his job. he should remain on his job, he should continue that investigation. it's certainly what paul ryan has said before. but after news like this comes out, every single one of them should come out and say it. mitch mcconnell should come out and say it. you just can't have it both ways. you can't have all of the lies and clint, let me bring you in here. the fbi is under attack. the men and women the men and women on the front lines protecting us from terror attacks, be it from al qaeda or isis, they are being under attack every day. from either devin nunes or either ron johnson or whatever
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trumpists at the moment are trying to spin these lies. what does the fbi need? because you've, i know you talked to the men and women of the fbi all the time. what do they need to hear from members of congress to know that at least for some republicans, that have power on the hill, constitutional norms still matter. the rule of law still matters. the sacrifice that these men and women give every day to protect us from radical islamic terror, as donald trump would say, still matters. their sacrifice to this country still matters. what do they need to hear from members from my former republican party to know that conservatives have the fbi's back and have law enforcement officers' backs, like we've
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always bragged that we had their backs. >> for the last 20 years, i'm sure most people in the fbi looked at the gop as the ones that would protect the fbi and its tools and techniques, so that they could do their job. imagine you're andy mccabe, he has been leading most of the terrorism investigation since 9/11, he's been in a leadership role in that state. let's talk about the nunes memo. one of the most critical tools we just went through fighting for, the 702 provisions around fisa. the ability to do electronic surveillance collection this is critical for people that are running counterterrorism investigations. that's now in doubt because you've got a guy who selectively tried to build a memo in a politically charged environment to attack what are really republican people, republican appointees that were fbi directors. so as a government servant. if you spent your whole career, you have to ask yourself, what is going on? the other thing it changes how you do your job. you're not sure what you can
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count on. can i really count on that if i follow the process and procedures, that my text messages aren't going to be misconstrued? can i actually communicate with another agent to do my job? or -- >> clint, can i stop you there? that was my pet peeve about what congress and what the press did to our men and women in the c.i.a. they rushed to them after 2001. after september 11th. and they said, this is what we need to you do. the president, the vice president, the attorney general. members of congress, the intel committee. all were read in on what we needed to do to get information to stop the next 9/11. they went out, they did their job, and then sometime around 2005, 2006, it became an unpopular item. among the chattering classes and suddenly the same people that said go out and do your job suddenly were embarrassed and
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ashamed of what had been done five years before. so suddenly these men and women, who were ordered to go out and do that, and had bipartisan support to do it. suddenly they were having to hire lawyers. and it, we republicans were the ones that were offended that they were being set up to fail. this is the same thing, except domestically, the same exact thing is happening where people are doing their jobs, people are defending us against the next september 11th terror attack, and they're being -- like mccabe, the guy that helped crack the boston marathon bomber case, is the president of the united states is trying to drive him into the shadows, in shame. where are republicans defending these american patriots? >> and we used to think that the
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harder hand, particularly politically would come from the right from the conservatives. now we're looking at the fbi, we're counting on them, the c.i.a., the nsa, on counterintelligence investigations we never conceived of in our country's history. not only the russia influence, but we've been talking about china, conflicting business interests, we just lost more sources in china due to an insider it sounds like, that was just arrested the past couple of weeks. these are critical investigations, how can you even navigate that? who wants to as a government servant, show up at a congressional oversite committee right now to talk about any of these investigations, because you don't know what crazy angle related to defending president trump will come up when you're sitting there in front of the centers or congressmen. >> here's how cheap and political that comment is. the text messages show what he called corruption at the highest levels of the fbi. yesterday was confronted with the possibility that the two were just joking. he said yeah, i guess that's a
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real possibility. maybe they were just joking after he put that genie out of the bottle. already. >> joe can i ask you a question, you spent all your life with congressmen and senators. explain the motivation for the -- because the dow is at an all-time high. is it as simple as that? explain to me the moral and political mindset that these republicans, the republican leadership across the board, will not stand up for just the basic core principles of who we are as a nation. break it down, because i can't figure it out. >> well, i think part of it is, i think at the beginning they were scared of their base. because their base in primaries supported donald trump. you still have 80% of republicans still supporting donald trump. but that's actually a very misleading number. that's supporting donald trump against the ghost of hillary clinton. if it were donald trump against a strong, tough conservative candidate, that 80% would drop to 40%. if somebody decides to primary
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donald trump at the republican primary in 2020, we will find out how quickly that support evaporates. right now, donnie, there's no doubt that a lot of the fear, a lot of the reasons why these members are so, so, so tepid, i will say so pathetic, so weak, is because a lot of their donors like the tax cuts that they got. a lot of the donors like how high the dow is a lot of their donors are saying hey, listen, this guy is crazy, this guy is ripping apart constitutional norms, but i'm making good money and he's getting rid of regulations and this economy is going. so -- unfortunately, willie, the fear comes from many angles, but again who would want any yob that badly that they would be badly that they would be willing to turn on the men and women of the fbi because they had a president who was scared he was going to go down on obstruction of justice charges.
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>> joe, you're making an important part that this is essentially all comes back to money. drain the swamp. or not, republican politicians are still just bowing down to their donors and also to a consultant class in washington, that is making money off of this presidency. that wants to maintain the status quo. and maintain the status quo is more important than protecting democratic principles that the republican party used to stand for. >> you would like to think they could do both things at once. support a conservative tax cut and support the institutions of this country. right now that's not happening. we'll have more with michael schmidt, the co-author with maggie haferman with the piece on the front page of the "new york times." and senator ron johnson's over-the-top warning of a secret society in the fbi there are many attempts by this administration and congressle allies to change the conversation away from bob mueller's russia investigation, they all have fallen apart. we'll run through them next on
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after reading the transcripts of the text messages, do you think it was made as a joke? >> it's entirely possible. let's see what the next texts --
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>> the number of texts? >> do you owe an apology for raising these concerns? >> we'll see what the next texts say. >> that's republican senator ron johnson who raised concerns about a secret society at the fbi. he said it's entirely possible that they were in fact joking. the two agents who were speaking to each other over texts, but he's not rhett yesterdaydy to apologize, he wants toe see what the next texts say. the justice department said yesterday it had recovering missing text messages are from two senior fbi officials involved in the clinton and trump investigations. other stories propagated by the white house and its allies in recent months, the president's accusation of quote president obama's wiretapping. the uranium one deal and the clinton state department. funding for the dossier into trump's russia ties, the fbi text messages, the secret society claims and the hashtag
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#releasethememo which has been linked to russian bots, here's how fox's shep smith characterized it. >> this bebee again with devin nunes. same devin nunes who last year made white house surveillance claims, staged a rush to the white house to reportedly share surveillance information with the administration, but took information from the administration and staged a report of it. at its core, it was pr. and it was bogus. devin nunes wrote the memo currently in question. he will not share it with investigators. the trump justice department wants to see it, he won't let them. the same trump department says it should not be made public. as it would damage the nation. it's classified it could reveal sources and methods. the republican trump appointee, the assistant attorney general, steven boyd, says releasing the memo would be extremely reckless. richard burr, the republican of north carolina, chairman of the select committee on intelligence, has requested a look before any possible
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declassification. look denied. many who have seen the memo say it's misleading, distracting and lacking context. the memo itself is the, is in the conservative discussion mix. while the special counsel investigating russian interference in our democracy is apparently about to interview the president of the united states while seeking to determine whether he's colluded with the russians or obstructed justice. a memo can be a weapon of partisan mass distraction. especially at a pivotal moment in american history, when it behooves the man in charge for supporters to believe the institutions can't be trusted, investigators are corrupt and the news media are liars. context, matters. . >> wow, shep smith for president. is michael steele, let me, let me ask you about the republican party and all of their efforts
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to undermine the investigation, all of the smoke screen, the lies about the obama wiretapping, the lies about the unmacking, the lies about the secret society. the lies about uranium one. the lies that somehow there was a sell of uranium that the russians took over to their country when in fact, no uranium ever leaves the united states. the lies about the dossier funding. the lies about all of this. all to distract for donald trump. it's as if this republican party does not understand that voters are going to their polling places this fall, and this is all going to be part of some of the most devastating 30-second ads shows these members to be guilty of political obstruction of justice. >> i think that's a real big risk for this party at this point because they have spent an inordinant amount of time protecting a man who quite honestly has no interest in protecting them and that's,
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that's stunning in and of itself. you've got the party that's putting itself out on a limb, you're watching senator johnson now, sheepishly get into an elevator because he's laid out a load of crap that he can't himself back up. that no one, no one is buying. and yet this is the month antra continual drum beat of the party. you let the fbi do its job, you let the special counsel do his job and you carry on the business of the country. do not engage in the rank-and-file conspiracy theorys that lead to nowhere. what happens is, all of this to your point, joe, sets in the minds of the voters. they play this back on a reel throughout the summer and the fall, candidates that are running for office are going to be asked about this stuff and that's the last thing a candidate wants to do is spend their time out there on the hustings, talking about some wayward memo that no one has
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seen, so the party is putting itself in a difficult position. and i still have yet to figure out to what purpose. because it leads in my view to nowhere. >> jeremy bash, michael schmidt reported to us earlier that these revelations that president trump ordered the firing of bob mueller came over the course of interviews in the mueller investigation with white house counsel, with aides to the president of the united states. what impact does that fact that the president back in june tried to order or did order the firing of bob mueller but was stopped by white house counsel bob mcgann. how does that play into the investigation? what do you see that leading to the outcome here? >> i think it's relevant that this has been a focus area for bob mueller and his investigators, it shows that they are homing in on the obstruction of justice issue. we talked a little about this earlier. the reason why i think they're so focused on that is because that is presidential conduct and therefore, more significant, it's also personal conduct by donald trump as opposed to
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potentially campaign conduct by his team during the election. and it does go to state of mind. because if he ordered the firing of bob mueller. it shows that he is looking for ways to impede the investigation. into his own conduct. and that he is willing to violate the law and ask people to undertake unethical things. this would be now the third individual, don mcgann would be, who the president of the united states has asked to undertake an unethical action. he asked jeff sessions not to recuse himself. he asked chris wray to undertake a political purge of the fbi and now we have him asking don mcgann to fire the special counsel. >> michael, elise here. what is happening with the deputy attorney general rod rosenstein? how is his standing with donald trump? you know we were just talking off-set about how he comes into the job and he's told to author a memo, six days in, that eventually leads to comey's firing. what about today? where does he stand with donald
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trump? >> i don't think that the president is very comfortable with rosenstein, he's not a long-time political ally. he's a career prosecutor who is from maryland that the president didn't know at all and was brought in basically to run the justice department under jeff sessions, as the deputy attorney general, sort of the chief operating officer of the department. but i think that the president has some misgivings about him. because he is not someone that he's known for a long time. at the same time, there's longstanding questions within the justice department and folks of every ilk that i speak to about this issue that wonder how is it that rosenstein, who was a witness to the comey firing, helped write the memo that was one of the underpinnings of the rationale given by the white house for the comey firing, is still in charge of the investigation? how is it that he was interviewed by mueller, and continues to oversee mueller's investigation?
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and that's something that rosenstein has never really explained at length about in public and something that people you know whether they're trump supporters or they're people that are very skeptical of trump in this whole thing, it that hel in charge. >> even in your reporting in this piece with maggie haberman, you talk about the president considering the option of firing rod rosenstein himself and elevating somebody who might get rid of bob mueller for him. before we let you go, to go back to the hannity segment, the car wreck segment metaphorically and literally, did anyone at any point in your reporting inside the white house deny your reporting that the president of the united states ordered the firing of robert mueller? >> no, in the course of that -- we obviously came across folks that had not heard this but there was no pushback that this was not true and obviously it's comforting as a reporter when
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other outlets, as many as there have been, confirm your reporting. >> i ask because what sean hannity said is that the white house poured cold water on it but the quote from ty cobb is "we decline to comment out of respect for the special counsel and its process." michael schmidt, thank for your reporting. go to "new york times".com and read it. this reporting has overshadowed the president's trip to davos today. in just over an hour he's scheduled to give a speech to the world economic forum. we'll bring that to you live. "morning joe" is coming right back.
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>> reporter: do you think robert mueller will be fair to you in this larger investigation? >> we'll find out. >> reporter: are you concerned? >> because here's what we'll say -- and everybody says. no collusion, there's no collusion. >> reporter: what does that mean? >> now they're saying did he fight back -- >> reporter: but what does no collusion mean? >> john, fight back, it's
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obstruction. >> that was the president speaking to reporters a couple of days ago. we now know he ordered the firing of robert mueller last june but backed down when white house counsel don mcgahn threatened to resign. we'll talk to an attorney as well as ari melber who is calling this the biggest thing to happen in the russia probe since trump fired james comey. also peggy noonan will join us. we have the president's speech from davos coming up in about one hour on a busy morning of "morning joe."
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>> does the president commit to not firing robert mueller? >> the president has not even discussed that. the president is not discussing firing bob mueller. >> but will he commit to it? >> we are cooperating with -- he has not discussed firing bob mueller. >> for the one thousandth time, we have no intentions of firing robert mueller. >> is he setting the stage for firing bob mueller? >> no, there's no conversation. >> there's no way he's going to fire him? >> there's no conversation whatsoever about the white house? >> reporter: are you considering firing robert mueller? >> no, i'm not. what else? what, are you surprised? >> now, despite all of those denials, we now know that the president actually ordered the firing of the special counsel in june but he didn't follow through with that when the white
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house counsel refused and said he would not do it, that he would quit first. welcome back to "morning joe." it's a very busy friday, january 26. willie who do we have? >> we have a busy morning ahead. we have the president's speech from davos in just an hour, donny deutsch fresh off a bar fight on the upper east side, it's vicious up there along with the former chairman of the republican national committee michael steele and joining us conversation, columnist for the "wall street journal," political contributor for nbc news and msnbc, the great peggy noonan. msnbc chief legal correspondent, host of "the beat" ari melber, white house reporter for the associated press jonathan la mere and former u.s. attorney for the northern district of alabama, joyce vance. mika is back on monday. so if you're just waking up, here's the news. a source with firsthand knowledge confirms to nbc news that president trump ordered the special counsel robert mueller be fired last june. the "new york times" was first to report the news and that the
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president backed down from that after white house counsel don mcgahn threatened to resign. that's according to four people told of the matter. the "washington post" adds mcgahn did not deliver his resignation threat directly to trump but was serious about his threat to leave, according to a person familiar. last night, the white house put out a statement from one of the president's lawyers declining to comment writing "out of respect for the office of the special counsel and its process" but earlier this morning, president trump responded to the report as he meets with world leaders in davos, switzerland. >> reporter: mr. president, why did you fire robert mueller? why did you want to fire robert mueller? >> fake news, folks, fake news. typical "new york times" fake story. >> fake news, says the president. two sources told the "times" of what trump saw as three conflicts. first, a dispute years ago over fees at trump national golf club in sterling, virginia, that prompted mueller, the fbi director at the time, to resign his membership there. the president also said mueller could not be impartial because
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he had most recently worked for the law firm that previously represented the president's son-in-law jared kushner. finally, trump said mueller had been interviewed to return as the fbi director the day before he was appointed special counsel in may. joe, that's just the tip of the iceberg in this "new york times" piece that, again, has been confirmed by nbc news. we talked about it last hour. the idea that president trump might fire mueller was viewed by a lot of people as wild. people would come on our show and say it would set off a constitutional crisis, there's no way he could cross that line. now we're learning he has. >> and, of course, deny, deny, deny. they denied that he even thought about it, said it was ridiculous, called it fake news. but peggy noonan, again, this is just the latest of a long line of -- to say curious -- let's say disturbing acts that the president of the united states has taken toward law enforcement. he had his fbi director come in,
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he demanded a loyalty oath, he didn't get a loyalty oath, he then asked that he drop charges or drop an investigation against his national security adviser who he knew had broken the law, comey wouldn't do that. he then fired his fbi director, bragged about it to lester holt, bragged about it to the russians, wanted to fire his attorney general, was pushed back by the breitbart wing of his administration from firing attorney general jeff sessions who wouldn't listen to him and recused himself. did what every lawyer said he had to do. i could name ten other things between that point and where we are this morning. but it's all seems to be desperate efforts to obstruct an investigation against him which he said is a meaningless investigation. what are americans to think of a president who is trying to do everything he can to stop an
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investigation against him? >> well, i think everybody who has observed these actions in the past year thinks the president has sort of -- whether you love him or hate him, he has constantly misstepped with regard to the charges on russia from the earliest days. he always makes things a little worse for himself. he is undisciplined, he says i want to fire comey, i want to fire this one. if the reports this morning from the "times" and the "post" and nbc are true i have no reason to believe they are not, they look seriously sourced to me, if the president did want to fire mr. mueller and don mcgahn stopped him then don mcgahn is a pretty tough guy and a pretty smart guy because if the president had indeeded moved to fire mueller or fired him it would have
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caused a firestorm. the funniest thing about the president is he insists he has no guilt or culpability or complicity in this matter with the charges with russia and yet he acts as if he does. there's a sense he's constantly trying to shut this down because he's afraid. in fact, if he has no problem, let everything proceed, go forward, see how it goes, answer the final report. >> joyce vance, i hear people sayings "okay, he tried to fire mueller but he didn't." what is the significance, if you believe there is some, in the act of ordering the firing even if it didn't happen? >> it's part of this ongoing pattern of conduct that we've seen from the president about the entire russia situation even before he formally came into office. he hasn't treated the threat of
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russian interference with our election the way we would expect a president to, hasn't taken it seriously, hasn't tried to commit the country to an all-of-government effort to find out what happened so you really have to ask why is that? and it goes back to what peggy is saying. he's acted in every way like someone who has something to hide. so this idea that he would try to fire robert mueller so close on the heels of firing james comey goes to the core concept that we always talk about, the rule of law, this president doesn't believe he has to submit to the same sort of judicial process that every other american has to. but this investigation has been properly opened and it should run its course. >> so ari melber, michael schmidt is one of the reporters on the byline of this front page piece. i asked him if anyone had denied the story and he said no one has denied it. what some people in the white house are saying is that donald trump says a thousand things a
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day. he may have said hey, i could probably fire mueller if i wanted to, the way he talks loosely about other things and that it shouldn't be interpreted as an order to fire robert mueller. >> you ask a significant question and the "new york times" reporter who broke the story gave a significant answer which is in the preparation of this entire piece no one denies this was an order. the white house counsel's job and zoot to carry out the orders of his client, the president. the only type of order you see a legit white house counsel not carry out is an unlawful order. within the lines of this story, which has now been confirmed by nbc news and the "washington post" is by implication that the white house counsel, knowing what he knew at the time, felt he could not carry out this order. it's not reported as a dinner conversation or a musing. this is probably the most significant thing that has broken about donald trump and the russia probe ever and it is legally probably worse than the
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comey firing for the important reason and critical distinction that if you want to give the new president the benefit of the doubt on the comey firing or you want to give him the idea that in law we often give people defenses for ignorance, that thing at that time may not have been take within corrupt intent or the way they say in court is corrupt intent might be hard to prove even if you thought it was a terrible idea. this, more so than the comey firing, shows a president with the type of activity, the type of elements of ongoing attempts to interfere were or hamper the outcome of the case along the requisite type of intent prosecutors probe to see whether a crime was committed. don mcgahn may have done the right thing, he may have done a good thing, he may also as an attorney have done the only thing he felt he could do when asked to participate in an ongoing criminal conspiracy, which is the kind of thing a
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lawyer can do. i will close with this point here. you can defend a prior killing when you're a lawyer. but you cannot participate in the coverup or the planning around any future crime. so it may sound counterintuitive if you're not versed in the law to say well, how bad was this, it's not as bad as some things but it may have reached the standard don mcgahn felt he could not legally participate in, and this is the reason that saturday night massacre level threat appears to be the reason it didn't happen. >> joyce, let me ask you, joyce, because the president's lawyers and other people keep saying that the president cannot be indicted for obstruction of justice despite all of the evidence that seems to be right in front of our noses that the president was attempting to obstruct justice in an investigation against his own white house. just to be clear, there is no legal precedent to say that the
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presidentover the united stat president of the united states cannot be indicted, is there? if robert mueller wanted to indict the president of the united states for obstruction of justice that is a question that ultimately would be answered by the united states supreme court, right? >> that's exactly right. this has been an ongoing debate among constitutional scholars, whether you can indict a president or whether he is for arcane legal reasons not eligible to be indicted. so how that plays out here is mueller's team makes that call one way or the other and if they believe that they have the evidence and, you know, i always have to issue the caution that it's a lot easier to convict someone in the court of public opinion than it is in a courtroom where the rules of evidence apply. but assuming mueller's team decides they're there, there's some pretty weighty evidence of obstruction, they either indict a conspiracy that includes the president or the president is a part of an indictment, he's what we would call an unnamed
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co-conspirator and from the context in the indictment it would be clear to everyone that donald trump was that unnamed co-conspirator. >> but joyce, the problem is -- i know nixon was an unindicted co-conspirator in watergate but it seems to me that there aren't a lot of people around the president that are taking part in a conspiracy, most of them are trying to encourage him not to take these reckless actions that could be seen as obstruction of justice. so and do we not have evidence, pretty strong evidence, not just from the chain of actions but the president's own admissions on national television with russians that he was trying to obstruct this investigation? >> once you go on national television and tell lester holt that you fired james comey because you wanted to terminate the russia investigation, it's pretty hard to back away from
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that. again, the prosecutors caution here is that obstruction is a crime that has specific elements set forth within the u.s. code. mueller's team will have to make sure that they can prove each of these elements, that it ties up in a neat package before they move forward. joe, back to your point about there not being a conspiracy to obstruct, one of the things that we don't see on the surface that may be more clear to mueller is how a variety of different actions we've seen from coverup of don, jr.'s trump tour meeting to other events with other players involved, that may wrap together more neatly after mueller has had the chance to interview the 17 some witnesses we're now told he's interviewed from inside of the white house. >> now, the white house's silence has been striking. on a russia-related matter they often kick into ty cobb and say we won't comment. how many times have we seen sarah sanders at the podium say
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"that's for ty cobb, not me." and ty cobb says "well, we won't interfere with the special counsel's comments." but often you get off-the-record behind-the-scenes spin from the white house and that hasn't happened in the last 12 hours or so since the story broke. this there have not been efforts to knock this down, to deny this happened, that the president made these requests. now they fall back often on the president just says things. even earlier this week when reportedly asked andrew mccabe "who did you vote for" the speculation has been "well, he likes to joke." we're not seeing them lean into the defense on this issue. >> i agree, but this is bigger than that. this is a joke. you have a report on the front page of the times at a saturday night massacre level event that was prevented only because someone would not follow through on your order, of course you would deny that. of course anyone who had any reason to be able to say that wasn't true would deny it.
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there's nobody on the government payroll who wants to put their neck out on this one. this is not a normal story. >> i haven't heard a denial. i've heard people say "i didn't know about it, i guess it's possible it couldn't have happened." >> can i ask a sad question that keeps me up and night and we'll know in november of this year. i'm starting to hear a murmur for people who were anti-trump people "well, you know, the economy's so good and everything's going so good." is there a chance that we've got on the a point that to the voting public this doesn't matter? and that to me worries me. more and more. this is before today, but there's always a tomorrow. we keep upping the game on these atrocities. and yet i am just hearing more and more, well, who kind of really cares? and this is frightening. >> let me help you sleep at night, mueller is not worried about the state of the economy. he has blinders on. >> even with that, at the end of the day we have a republican
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congress -- >> what you're talking about is the hope that a lot of folks in the party are spinning on. that's what they're -- that's going to be their anchor argument this fall and throughout the summer is the economy is doing well, the stock market is booming, look, you got $20 more in your paycheck every two weeks. so that's going to be the bottom line answer. but at the end of the day, regardless of what the white house says, regardless of what republicans say, the special counsel will be paid attention to by the american people. if he drops a big one, trust me, that's going to resonate and that will have a ripple effect regardless of where the economy is. >> i hope so. >> we always love to quote what james carville said in 1992 that it's the economy, stupid. it's not always the economy, stupid. when you have presidents who are seen as culturally out of step with the rest of the country the economy doesn't matter as much. peggy noonan, 1994, the economy
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was doing pretty darn well but bill clinton was seen as out of step with mainstream america, republicans won a sweeping landslide. 2006 the economy was doing pretty darn well, the rest of america said i don't like where george w. bush is taking us in iraq and i don't like he did in katrina, i really don't care what the gdp is, i want him and his party out of power in congress. you could say the same thing about donald trump in 2016. if barack obama had taken unemployment from over 10% down to the 4%. so it's not always the economy, stupid, is it? >> no, but war is a serious matter. you know? however the economy was doing in 2006, when two wars seemed to be going bad and nobody who had started the wars seemed to know the path through to get the
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country to the better place and to resolve that, when that appeared to be true the american people turned. on the other hand, when bill clinton got in the kind of trouble late in his administration that was an embarrassment and in some ways a horror to many of the american people he escaped impeachment and escaped being removed from his job because people thought it is the economy at the end of the day and most important i think they were thinking then and maybe thinking now we have no illusions about our leaders anymo anymore. we're in a post heroic era. we don't expect bill clinton to be an example we can hold up in front of our children with shining eyes and say be that moon. we don't expect it of trump, either and we expect mischief from everybody arrayed against him. so there is a real -- if not
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cynicism, total complete skepticism in america about the things that do enthrall us and for serious reasons. but americans are kind of thinking another way. they expect very it will. if they get a good economy, they'll be happy to some serious degree. >> so, peggy, that leads, though, to the next question. i think an incredibly depressing week for people that have been viewing evangelical leaders who, when asked about donald trump's alleged affair with a foreign star said, well -- one, said, well, we'll give him a mulligan. the other tried to justify -- that i saw, i think jerry falwell, jr., said, well, you know what? jesus wasn't really bothered with how the romans were running things, they were allowed to go after barbarians.
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it was -- the justification from these same people who were condemning bill clinton and everyone who voted him to hell was breathtaking this weekend and unfortunately i think a new low point in this justification. >> yeah. [ laughter ] >> well said, peggy. >> i mean, it is embarrassing to watch. sometimes i wonder about those. i understand those who support the president. they have their reasons. i think at the moment they have some serious bragging rights or at least feel they do on the economy, etc. but there's one thing to feel supportive and there's another thing to -- to make excuses, to sow a line yourself that he gets his mess all over you. i've been confused by that. i have not really understood it with the evangelical leaders.
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>> here's the -- joe referenced the quote, jerry falwell jr. tweeted this yesterday talking about his treatment of trump and this story. "jesus said love our neighbors as ourselves but he never told cesar how to run rome." that's his defense of president trump there. joyce vance, thank you very much. ari melber, see you on "the beat" at 6:00 eastern time. lots to talk about, obviously. still ahead on "morning joe," president trump offers an apology, sort of, for reposting anti-muslim videos on his twitter page. how he framed that apology sounded a lot like what he said after taking a long time to disavow david duke's endorsement during the 2016 election. we'll play it for you ahead on "morning joe."
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>> given the amount of offense it caused, do you regret, now, those retreats and do you wish with hindsight you hadn't done it? >> well, you know, look, it was done because i am a big believer in fighting radical islamic
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terror. this was a depiction of radical islamic terror. >> well, at least one video was not what it seemed? >> well, i didn't do it. i didn't go out and -- i did a retweet. it was a big story where you were but it was not a big story where i am. here's what's fair. if you tell me there's horrible racist people i would certainly apologized if you'd like me to do that. i know nothing about them. >> you would disavow yourself? >> i know nothing about these people. >> just so you understand, i don't know anything about david duke, okay? i don't know what you're even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists so i don't know. i mean, i don't know. did he endorse me or what's going on? i know nothing about david duke. i know nothing about while supremacists and so you're asking me a question that i'm supposed to be talking about people that i know nothing about. >> that last one was from february of 2016, the previous
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one was from yesterday "i know nothing about these people." said the president. similar to his "i don't know david duke" defense. joe, he was sitting there with piers morgan saying "i didn't do it" as if amplifying them to a million twitter followers is nothing. of course britain first is a well-known anti-immigrant anti-muslim organization in great britain and everyone said so the minute he retweeted them. >> and he did know it. he knew after he retweeted them because it was a big news story over here. we talked about it a great deal. other major outlets reported it so that wasn't true and, of course, david duke, what he said about david duke that he didn't know who david duke was, of course you could go back to 2000 when people were talking about him running as the reform candidate that -- in that party he said i would never be a member of a party where david duke is a member.
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so either he has dementia and doesn't remember that or he's a liar and in this case it looks like he's just lying. the man just can't tell the truth. it's not in him. >> crying ignorance after the fact. joining us now, republican strategist and host of the radio-free gop podcast back with us making his triumphant return mike murphy. >> great to be here, hello. >> good morninger gop counsel for the house oversight committee and contributor to's think page sofia nelson. good to see you, sofia. and in washington, founding president of voto latino and msnbc contributor maria theresa kumar. the white house has released a summary of its proposed plan for immigration reform that includes a pathway to citizenship for as many as 1.8 million groechundocd immigrants who came to the united states as children. in exchange, the white house is asking for $25 billion for a border wall, an end to the visa lottery system and restrictions on family-based migrations so
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from. is can on-- for spouses and chi. the white house is asking for this to be taken up february 5. maria, let me go to you first, what do you make of the proposed deal or the outlines of the deal? good enough for you in terms of d.r.e.a.m.ers and daca protections? >> i think the president is trying to overhaul our immigration policies and using d.r.e.a.m.ers as a bargaining chip. he recognizes there's a lot of sympathy with americans with the d.r.e.a.m.ers but really what he's asking is incredibly extreme. when you ask flake, when you ask graham what they thought they basically said we're going to hud until the senate and take care of it ourselves because this is non-negotiable. a lot of republicans feel that way, let alone a lot of democrats. >> mike murphy, on the other end, this looks like amnesty to a lot of conservatives. >> i think he'll have trouble in the house gop caucus and conference. it's a political document not a ledgety ogislative one.
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he's trying to position himself as not anti-daca. >> sofia, is there a deal somewhere? it looks on paper like it ought to be easy. we'll give you border security, maybe not $25 billion worth, in exchange for daca protection. >> i think both parties have to do something. this issue has been on the table for a lotz of past presidents and none of them has been able to come up with comprehensive immigration reform. sow -- if trump gets it done, it will serve him well. his base will be the real challenge, though. they really want the wall, they really want immigration crack down, they want people removed, they want travel ban. there's a lot there so i don't know. >> i'm surprised they're not going to the easier politics which is do daca fast, declare the win, take the issue away from the democrats and fight it out on the wall which is not a bad issue in republican congressional districts. >> but i think the challenge for the republicans is that if they
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don't include some sort of funding for the wall they believe it's a loss for the president and the base so what's the reason why they're not doing something that's clean. i think the democrats would love that. >> the white house is eager to get something done. they know that the -- the daca thing is hanging out there. this is an issue the president has gone back and forth on so many times and it's hard to coordinate with republicans on the hill because the president keeps changing his mind. we've seen twice in the last two odd weeks a potential deal blown up because the president agrees to one thing and then demands something tougher. often after consulting with staff. and it is -- we were seeing unhappiness from democrats already with this. some people were saying this bill is already doa and we're seeing unhappiness from conservatives in the house, including his base. yesterday on breitbart the headline was "amnesty don." >> i think i see it -- >> michael -- >> sorry, joe. >> michael, yeah, being called "amnesty don" on breitbart and yet i'm looking at the breaking
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news headlines and i'm thinking $25 billion for a wall that nobody thinks is going to be effective? what you're talking about is putting america $25 billion more in debt so donald trump can go around and brag during campaign rallies that he kept his word. but even -- you even have his chief of staff john kelly who would testify before congress that a wall wasn't going to do the trick. that it was going to be a lot of other things in there. >> that's right. >> absolutely, joe. and i think the $25 billion is, i think, sort of that high-end negotiating point because remember the number was originally 18 and the democrats balked on that. but i look at this differently. i think the president is triangulating in a very interesting way. i think the signals he sent on his way to davos was very clear to me at least to the base. like i'm not going to make you happy so you guys are going to
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go stew in the corner and you've heard that stewing occur over the last 24 hours with miller and others in the white house. and what the president, i think, is doing, is triangulating a deal with nancy pelosi to bring the democrats to the table in the house to get the bill to the house and the bill is going to be fashioned in a way that it gets to 60 votes that it needs in the senate. he want this is to be a part of his legacy despite what everybody else thinks, what he said about wall, doesn't matter. for him, this is something that's almost personal. he wants to get it done and i think he's willing to sacrifice a bit of the base to do it. just my gut on that. >> it's kind of amusing, he's acting like nixon with miller but trying to go to china on immigration. >> but i think the problem is not negotiating with nancy pelosi. the problem is still negotiating with the freedom caucus and are they going to give that to him? >> that's not relevant -- the president sent that signal with his remarks by saying we're going to give a patway to citizenship knowing full well that is not going to fly from the freedom caucus. those words out of his lips says to me he's willing to let them
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stew in the corner because the deal is being made with nancy and the democrats in the house and that alliance that is forming in the senate. >> but michael, can he get realistic? >> i think his bigger challenge is that this proposal that was sent after he went to davos was all the fingerprints of steve miller and john kelly and they're going to try to prevent anything from happening that goes against his base. it's going to be tough because those are the ones that are the hard-liners on immigration and the president listens too the last person in his ear. >> and part of the problem as jonathan pointed out sophia and mitch mcconnell pointed out as we rolled up to the government shutdown is we're waiting to err exa -- hear what the president says on this. he can accept durbin and graham and then one hour later call them to the white house because stephen miller got into his ear and say "we're not going to do it." >> trump has to stand for reelection in 2020 so he needs a wall deal.
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i can't imagine him going back, you're the pollster guy, you tell me, you're the political strategist. can he get reelected if he get this is one wrong? >> i didn't say he was taking the wall off the table. i never said that. >> he's obsessed with the wall. i'm just saying he doesn't need the freedom caucus to get this deal done in the house. >> he's trying to triangulate, the problem is he's all alone except for maybe the senate republicans because his own staff is not on board. dems are being smart on the wall. they said we'll do the beginning, three miles and then we'll win the house and chop off funding. so they're trying to lock in that expenditure. >> sophia, your reaction on the front page story in the "new york times" about mueller? >> well, look, your last segment was a little bit disturbing, ar -- ari is right, peggy is right. but my concern is no one seems to care. i would say to the american people, willie, that you better care because the foundations of this republic are at stake -- free speech, the first amendment, all the things being
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attacked, the news media, the free press and now the president of the united states allegedly orders the special -- the counsel to be fire which had we haven't seen since richard nixon days and nobody seems to be upset about that. that worries me. what's wrong with us that we tuned out and no longer care about these things? that's the legacy of trump. he's dumbed us down. >> polls say they care a lot. he has the worst number of any president since polling. so we've seen, we just need an election. >> that's the handcuff scare. >> sophia, thank you very much. maria teresa kumar, thank you very much. coming up, democratic senator jeff mercury tweameric last night "the fact that president trump tried to fire mueller is a red flag as big as they come" and he joins our table next. plus, we're less than 30 minutes away from president trump's speech at the world economic forum in davos. we will bring that to you live in a matter of minutes. that's all coming up on "morning joe."
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welcome back to "morning joe." joining us now, a member of the senate appropriations budget and foreign relations committee,
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jeff mercury and also ranking member of the house ethics committee democratic congressman ted deutch of florida and former justice department spokesperson now an msnbc justice and security analyst matthew miller joining us in d.c. welcome to you all. senator merkley, a lot to talk about this morning. let me start with the big news on the front page of the "new york times" which is that president donald trump ordered the firing of special counsel bob mueller back in june, was disabused of that idea by white house counsel don mcgahn. your reaction? >> it takes us right back to the nixon era. we've seen that the president has interfered with the process of justice with three fbi directors. it points out a continuous pattern of interference and obstruction of justice. >> congressman, republicans in 1999 voted to impeach bill
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clinton for obstructing justice. here obviously you in your house members if you ever had a vote on impeachment against donald trump would have the evidence he fired an fbi director, that he told an fbi director. he asked for a loyalty oath, asked him to drop an active investigation when he knew that a federal crime had been committed. trying to fire his attorney general for not recusing himself talked about firing the acting attorney general and now, of course, you have him ordering the firing of an independent counsel who is looking into possible crimes committed by him and his white house. does that give rise to the level of an impeachable offense? >> ojoe, you've laid out a case for obstruction of justice, remember, russia attacked us and the efforts to block in investigation have gone on at
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the highest levels. the president -- this news the president ordered that mueller be let go is consistent with everything we've heard thus far as you lay out the whole case. what we should be doing now in the judiciary committee is holding hearings on obstruction of justice that's what is redly apparent. that's what necessary. the president's actions raise the question is this the behavior of someone who has nothing to hide. instead of holding those hearings, joe, my colleagues on that committee are weaving these conspiracy theories that put them on the same side as the russians who are trying to discredit mueller and this investigation. >> guys, let me throw out a question that may be a good idea, may be a bad idea. i'd love to get your reaction. there's a whole swirl, there's a murk, there's people over here saying the mueller thing doesn't
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look on the up and up, the fbi looks like it's a mess, doj isn't any good. people over here saying you're just trying to distract us. everything is more on the up and up than you think. do you get the impression sometimes -- two things. one is why don't we just try to clear the murk up by letting everything go, declassify what needs to be declassified, get the memos out there, just clean up this mess. second, is it possible that mueller himself, he's doing quiet work appropriately, it's being done apart from the daily drama, appropriately, but do you think maybe at this point it would be helpful if he came forward, just said to the american people in an interview, "guys, we are doing our best, we are serious, we are sober, we are fair mind ed. all of these little distractions are no distractions for us. just come forward and say "guys, trust us." i know it's a different idea but
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what the heck, why not? what would you think if that happened? >> i tell you, i think the fbi does its work best and the special prosecutor when they were doing their work. it's not their job to do public relations and that adds to suspicion. over on the house side this nunez memo, now there's a shift memo to correct it, this is the republican team saying we are going to take every tool we have to try to discredit this investigation. you know when that's happening they're worried about the facts. >> but that means there's no way out so we wait for mueller to come through and make his report and by then half the country thinks i don't trust them? i think something ought to be done here. >> well, matthew miller, let me ask you to put the news of --
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the breaking news last night from michael schmidt and maggie haberman into perspective with all the other action this is president has taken in demanding a loyalty oath from an fbi director, asking him to drop an active investigation when he knows a federal crime has been committed by his national security adviser. firing that fbi director, bragging he had gotten the pressure off to the russians, telling lester holt he fired him because he wanted the russian investigation to end and now ordering the firing of an independent counsel set up specifically to investigate possible crimes committed by his white house. put that in perspective. what does it mean? >> we're usually careful when we talk about this case. people talk about there are a lot of things we don't know. i think last night was a reminder that there are probably a number of pieces of evidence that robert mueller has that we haven't seen this are damming to the president. this event took place seven months ago, the white house has lied about it, said the president never considered
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firing robert mueller. we know that wasn't the case. when you add this up with the litany of other obstruction of justice related events, i think if we are talking about a governor donald trump and not a president donald trump we'd be waiting for fbi agents to show up at the governor's mansions with handcuffs. this is damming. what he has going for him is that the justice department has concluded -- most legal scholars but not all agree -- presidents can't be indicted so it's left to impeachment. and now about to whether bob mueller should do an interview. when prosecutors and investigators start engaging in public back-and-forth they go down a dangerous path and that's the path james comey went down that undermined his credibility. it's a good question about needing to fight back against all the people trying to destroy bob mueller's credibility but it's incumbent upon the rest of us to defend bob mueller. republicans and democrat ace
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like to say this is a long time prosecut prosecutor, head of the fbi, a former marine, someone who has always called balls and strikes like he sees them and attempts to impugn his credibility are baseless and should be rejected. >> matt miller. thank you very much. while matt has been talking, we've seen the president of the united states arriving for his speech in davos, switzerland. expect him to speak at 8:00 eastern time, 12 minutes from now. we'll bring that to you live in a matter of minutes. congress i want to ask you about the robert mueller and attacks on his credibility that we've seen. your colleagues in the house talking about conspiracy theories, talking about a secret society, ron johnson digging in his heels, the senator from wisconsin about a secret society based on a text that looked like a joke between two people. how damaging, how important is it to stand up to these and what do you think when you hear these? >> it's vitally important that
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we stand up and in response to peggy's comment, which gets to the same issue, the reason that there are people who are now questioning robert mueller despite the work he's done in this investigation already which, let's remember, has yielded connections between the trump campaign manager and russia, between trump's former national security adviser and russia, a meeting that took place in trump tower between the president's son and russian agents, he's doing his job, people see he's doing his job. the reason there are questions is only because of this concerted effort being waged by republicans in congress and on the outside who have put their own loyalty to the president ahead of getting the truth. they should be defending these actions that i just laid out. they can't do that. willie, when you're elected to congress, you taken a oath to uphold the constitution. my colleague, my republican colleagues who spin these
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conspiracy theories one after another, sometimes taking a step back only when they're forced to, they wind up being on the same side as the russians here. >> true enough, i'm for defending the to be under appreciableable and will say your as good as peebl say you are. here's the big question. are democrats going to run on impeachment. i think that's what your voters want. are you going to hedge. i think you ran the campaign committee for a while. you're an expert. what do you all think. >> certainly some members not running on impeachment. they're running on jobs and health care and education and healthy planet. it's the foundation for families to thrive. in terms of if the issue is in the context is the president doing a good job, which is always part of every campaign, absolutely no.
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absolutely not. >> this point, by the way, this is not republicans poised for such great success. to get to the truth of what happened in this russian attack on our election and when the president takes a whole series of steps trying to fire and demanding firing of robert mueller, looks like obstruction. >> i totally get the argument. this is between the candidate and voters. it's going to be interesting in the election. >> i think that our voters absolutely want to get to the truth. and ease obstruction of justice. these obstruction of justice claims need to be pursued. that's how you move forward. >> you guys can take this offset. senator, thank you very much. congressman, we'll be reading your new post on nmsnbc think
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page. and what congress can do about it. good to have you here. president trump is the first american leader in 20 years to speak at the economic form in davos. address starts moments from now. take a quick break and bring it to you live here on morning joe. i'm a concrete mason. i had severe fatigue, went to a doctor. became diagnosed with hodgkin's lymphoma. i had to put my trust in somebody. we recommended chemotherapy, and then a stem cell transplant. when his disease progressed, i thought that he would be a good candidate for immune therapy to unleash his immune
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you're watching a live shot of davos where donald trump is about to be the first american president to speak in almost 20 years. just as a backdrop, the president is going to be speaking when obviously most of the news media in america and across a large part of the world is talking about how he ordered his own white house counsel to fire an independent counsel, robert mueller. also a deal we haven't talked about much.
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the one he proffered yesterday on immigration. an immigration compromise that many democrats say is too tough. and that many conservatives say is too liberal. breitbart going as far as calling him. the speech of the president of the united states. lets bring in right now the president of counsel and foreign relations, richard haas and richard, reading the reviews from the first round of meetings from the president was interesting. there were quite a few that were surprised how engaged he was including the leader of pakistan. and many others who suggested perhaps they could work with this guy. i think that was an interesting take away. another face nascinating take as how little of an impact theresa may appears to be having. heard of long lines waiting to
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meet macron and yet theresa may speaks moving into a post-brexit world and not a lot of attendees for her speeches. what's you take away so far and what do you expect to hear from the president in the next few minutes. >> nothing better going into a speech than low expectations and a little bit of charm goes a long way. if he doesn't simply go there and basically say on everything, some people will breathe a sigh of relief. theresa may you're right. it's the incredible shrinking united kingdom, potentially one day the united kingdom and future of europe represented by munl manuel macron. the biggest event in the year was clearly macron's victory, joe, and the fact the national
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front. the president's speech, the real question is for him, does he show any flexibility. this is a guy who took the united states out of paris. united states boycotted global my graduation talks. interesting yet he suggested a little bit of wiggle room. interesting debating the trump tax cuts in america over the past several months. the president has actually had a warm reception among some business leaders for those taxes. in fact, taking out a meeting yesterday where international leaders and some world companies, and, again, the reviews not all bad.
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talk about the world fascination of this meeting with trump's tax cuts and also regulatory reforms that they look as very positive steps forward for this country. >> you put your finger on the two things. wind and his sales. he shows up there. it's a reminder the american economy is the most significant. most dynamic and largest. allows the president bragging rights. he's not going to emphasize anti-kbloe global side. he is making america great again and the rest of the world is uncomfortable with him on many levels. his policies and cultural issues and so forth. >> we're getting excerpts in the speech. start momentarily. see president trump on stage in davos.
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think back to the u.n. speech in september. it was about sovereignty. i think he used the word sovereignty 21 times. a line from speech we're about to hear. president says america first does not mean america alone. what do you read into that. >> that's echoes a piece written about six or eight months ago. attempt to reconcile core of domestic policy and foreign policy with what the rest of the world wants to hear. not totally convincing. too many policies which really are america first which translates to america alone. what you're going to see here is a kind of positive spin to say why not use the other day the music. you don't have that much to worry about us. we're not as different as you think. that's the argument from the president. >> wes moore is joining us right now. in is a fascinating body for president trump to be speaking before.
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these are the global elites. what do you expect to hear from him today. >> he ran his race on the fact millions and millions of people were being left behind because of free trade and trade agreements and bad deals that voicemail been crafted and cut. the people still sitting there and understand the fact while we can do a victory lap if we choose to about a rising storei market. the truth is fastest growing poverty as well. as he's having these conversations about the world community about how america is open for business, i think for a lot of americans the question is who is the business with. >> i'm curious and my thought coming into this speech was that the president was going to be really take to the core that
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america first really drive that theme home. before we got on the plane and to your point, i would be interested to see if the president does that stick it to you. he's not going to stay completely on script. all right. i think in various moments where he feels that bravado welling up in him, it's going to come out in a way. it's going to be interesting to see the reaction to it when the president regardless of all this work together, america first is not america alone. the underlying core is us first. this is about us right now. our economy is driving the global economy. not the other way around. something like 84 or 85% of the new welt created went to the top one%. great. donald trump in davos and he can
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figure out how to get along with the richest and most influential people in the world. my question is, peggy, who is representing those people that you've written about so much that have been forgotten. they are not represented in the regulatory reforms which may make their life more difficult at work. they're not represented by the corporate tax cuts. or the tax cuts that helped the top 1%. even the middle class. we're talking about the working poor. the unprotected have never been overly represented in davos. you know what i mean. davos is as somebody said a bunch of billionaires getting together once a year to talk about inequality. one thing i think is interesting, joe, is that the white house, the mainstream
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media, us, the president himself have been playing this moment like it's daniel in the lion's den. sit the economic nationalist america first surrounded by a hostile audience of globalist. that's just not what i'm seeing and i didn't think that was what was going to happen. ting audience is full of people who are like donald trump. they love power. they are fascinated by people who hold power and want to stand next to them. they love money. growth. i was wondering. >> -- sorry joe. >> nobody, willie geist is more mesmerized by power and money. and more impressed by those who have he is let's just say like a
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pig in mud rolling around. >> to me, setting up for all the discussions around there. we're having here as far as obviously walking right into the elitist it's been dumping on. i'm not quite sure what the gain was for going there. >> he wanted to go there. i think willie first time he's been invited to davos. this is very exciting. he likes to hang out with owners of super bowl football teams. he goes around bragging or went around bragging all the time that rupert murdoch was his friend. one of the last great bearings, he loves hanging around the rich and powerful. makes him feel better himself. willie, he is actually in his element right now despite all those populist ads that steve
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bannon put together at the end of the campaign. >> he is basking in it. now the marching band has cleared the stage and president trump is set to address the world economic forum. let's listen. >> thank you, it's a privilege to be here at this forum where leaders and business science art diplomacy and world affairs have gathered for many, many years to discuss how we can advance prosperity, security, and peace. i'm hear today to represent the interest of the american people and affirm the friendship and partnership in building a better world. like all nations represented at this great forum, america hopes for a future in which everyone can prosper, and every child can grow up free from violence, poverty and fear. over the past year, we have made extraordinary strides in the u.s. where lifting up forgotten
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communities creating exciting new opportunities and helping every american find their path to the american dream. the dream of a great job a safe home and a better life for their children. after years of stagnation, the united states is once again experiencing strong economic growth. the stock market is smashing one record after another and has more than $7 trillion in new wealth since my election. risk confidence and manufacturing confidence are the highest they have been in many decades. since my election, we've created 2.4 million jobs. and that number is going up very, very substantially. small business optimism is at
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all time high. new unemployment claims are near the lowest we've seen in almost half a century. african-american unemployment has reached the lowest rate ever recorded in the united states. and so has unemployment among hispanic americans. the world is witnessing the resurgence of a strong and prosperous america. i'm here to deliver a simple message. there hasner been a better time to hire, to build, to invest d grow in the united states. america is open for business. and we are competitive once again. the medical personnel acadeecons by far the largest in the world and just enacted the largest tax cuts and reform in american history. massively cut taxes for the middle class and small
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businesses to let families keep more of their hard earned money. we lowered our kompt tax rate fr from 35 to 21%. as a result millions of workers have received tax cut bonuses from their employers in amounts as large as $3,000. it's expected to raise the average american household income by more than $4,000. the world's largest company, apple, anunnounced it plans to bring billions of dollars in overseas profits home to america. their total investment into the united states economy will be more than $350 billion over the next five years. now is the perfect time to bring your business, your jobs, and your investments to the united states. this is especially true because
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we have undertaken the most extensive regulatory reduction ever conceived. regulation is stealth taxation. the u.s. like many other countries unelected bureaucrats and we have believe me, we have them all over the place. and they've imposed crushing anti-business and anti-worker regulations on our citizens with no vote, no legislative debate and no real accountability. we have cut 22 burr dom as many
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regulations for every one new rule. freeing businesses and workers so they can thrive and flourish as never before. we are creating an environment that attracts capital, invites investment, and rewards production. america is the place to do business. so come to america where you can innovate, create and build. i believe in america. as president of the united states, i will always put america first. just like the leaders of other countries should put their country first also, but america first does not mean america alone. when the united states grows. so does the world. america prosperity has created countless jobs around the globe and the drive for excellence
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creativity and innovation in the u.s. has led to important discoveries that help people everywhere live more prosperous and far healthier lives. we are also working to reform the international trading system so that it promotes broadly shared prosperity and rewards to those who play by the rules. we cannot have free and is open trade if some countries exploit the system at the expense of others. we support free trade. it needs to be reciprocal. the united states will no longer turn a blind eye to unfair
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economic practices. including massive entity elepro theft. state led economic planning. these and others predatory behaviors are distorting the global markets and harming businesses and workers not just in the u.s., but around the globe. just like we expect the leaders of other countries toll protect their interest, as president, the united states, i will always protect the interest of our country, our companies, and our workers. we will enforce our trade laws and restore integrity to our trading system. only by insisting on fair and reciprocal trade can we create a system that works not just for the u.s., this will include the
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countries in tpp which are very important. we agreements with several of them already. we would consider goeshnegotiat with the rest either individually or perhaps as a gro group, if it is in the interest of all. my administration is also taking swift action in other ways to restore american confidence and independence. we are lifting self imposed restrictions on energy production to provide affordable power to our citizens and businesses and to promote energy security for our prenfriend all around the world. no country shall be held hostage to a single provider of energy. america is roaring back, and now is the time to in fact in the
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future of america. we have dramatically cut taxes to make america competitive. we are eliminating burdensome regulations at a record pace. we are reforming the bureaucracy to make it lean, responsive and accountable. we are ensuring ae ining our la enforced fairly: we have the best colleges and universities in the world and we have the best workers in the world. energy is abundant and affordable. there has never been a better time to do business in america. we are also making historic investments in the american military because we cannot have prosperity without security. to make the world safer from rogue regimes, terrorism and revisionist powers, we are asking our friends and allies to invest in their own defenses and to meet their financial
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obligations. our common security requires everyone to contribute their fair share. my administration is proud to have led historic efforts at the united nations security council and all around the world to unite all civilized nations in our campaign of maximum pressure to denuke the korean peninsula. we continue to call on partners to confront iran support for terrorists and block iran's path to a nuclear weapon. we're also working with allies and partners to destroy gee jihadist terrorist organizations and very successfully so. the united states is leading a very broad coalition to deny terrorists control of their territory and populations to cut off their funding and to discredit their wicked ideology. i am pleased to report that the coalition to defeat isis has
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retaken almost 100% of the territory once held by these killers in iraq and syria. there is still more fighting and work to be done and to consolidate our gains. we are committed to ensuring that afghanistan never again becomes a safe haven for terrorists who want to commit mass murder to our civilian populations. i want to thank those nations represented here today that have joined in these crucial efforts. you are not just securing your own citizens, but saving lives and restoring hope for millions and millions of people. when it comes to terrorism, we will do whatever is necessary to protect our nation. we will defend our citizens and our borders. we are also secures or immigration system as a matter
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of both national and economic security. america is a cutting-edge economy. our immigration system is stuck in the past. we must replace our current system of extended family chain migration with a merit based system of admissions that selects new arrivals based on their ability to contribute to our economy, to support themselves financially, and to strengthen our country. in rebuilding america, we are also fully committed to developing our work force. we are lifting people from dependence to independence because we know the single best anti-poverty program is a very simple and very beautiful paycheck. to be successful, it is not enough to invest in our economy. we must invest in our people.
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when people are forgotten, the world become s fractured. only by hearing and responding to the voices of the forgotten can we create a bright future that is truly shared by all. the nation's greatness is more than the sum of its production. a nation's greatness is the sum of its citizens, the values, pride, love, devotion and character of the people who call that nation home. from my first international g7 summit to the g20 to the u.n. general assembly to apec to the world trade organization and today at the world economic forum, my administration had not only been present, but has driven our message that we are all stronger when freesoev soven
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nations cooperate towards shared goals and they cooperate towards shared dreams. representative in this room are some of the remarkable citizens from all over the world. you are national leaders, business titans, industry giants and many of the brightest minds in many fields. each of you has the power to change hearts, transform lives, and shape your country's dest y destinies. with this power comes an obligation, however, a duty of loyalty to the people, workers, customers who have made you who you are. so together, let us resolve to use our power, our resources, and our voices not just for ourselv ourselves, but for our people. to lift their burdens, to raise their hopes, and to empower their dreams. to protect their families, their communities and their histories
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and futures. that's what we're doing in america and the results are totally unmistakable. it's why new businesses and investment are flooding in. it's why our unemployment rate is the lowest it's been in so many decades. it's why america's future has never been brighter. today i am inviting all of you to become part of this incredible future we are building together. thank you to our hosts. thank you to the leaders and inknow vanovators in the audien most importantly, thank you to all the hard working men and women who do their duty each and every day making this a better world for everyone. together, let us send our love and our gratitude to make them because they really make our countries run. they make our countries great. thank you and god bless you all. thank you very much.
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[ applause ] we've been listening to the president of the united states, donald j. trump, delivering a speech to world leaders and industry titans and international influencers and it was a fascinating speech where the president tried to walk a fine line between delivering a message that would play both in davos switzerland and dalton georgia. talked about how america was open for business, and, of course, brought up tax cuts. he said i believe in america. america first does not mean america alone. the president also said he supported free trade, but said it must be fair trade. and actually talked about the possibility of reengaging countries involved with tpp. he also talked about how america had the best colleges in the
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world. the best workers in the world. and that now it was the best time ever to invest in america. he said nation's greatness is more than the sum of its production. it's the sum of their citizens and richard haas, he ended by saying that we are all stronger when free and stronger when sovereign nations work together. obviously richard there is much in that speech that many inside that conference might -- i won't say take offense at. might be rang ld by. the overwriting message that america is open for business, tax regulations and you can make a lot of money by dealing with us. what's you take away.
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she didn't promote fights in the hall. he didn't address many of their concerns, issues, like climate change. refugees, middle east peace. where's the diplomacy on north korea. where is the diplomacy on iran. all of that was essentially left out. it's fine to say america is open for business. actually going to become a lot harder to invest here in many ways. it's certainly going to become more difficult to come here if we're open for business need among other things large number of visas for talented and educated people. it's not clear where we're going to. all in all, i think it was an attempt -- again, not to provoke a fight and to signal the strength of the american economy. i don't care he did a lot of upside. i also don't think he caused any real new problems for the united
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states and relations with the rest of the world. >> joe, i was struck by the lack of energy. >> they sounded a lot like and i'm not saying this in a derogatory manner at all, actually. he sounded much like a mayor of a large american town or a governor going to other states saying bring your business to us. it was -- it was the head of the chamber of commerce for the most powerful economy in the world saying we're open for business. we got the best workers. best colleges and guess what, we don't have all those regulatory burdens or taxes anymore. also said something else that i think was important for him to say. and it was this. this is the message. yes, i'm putting america first. just like leaders of every other
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country should put their country first. i'm only doing for my country what i would expect you to do for your country. that certainly makes this -- and, again. i'm not declaring this man jfk so save your tweets people. i'm just saying that is a message that sort of takes the edge off of the american first approach in davos switzerland. i think that's true. i think because of the reasons that you highlight, the specific things he pinpointed in the speech. the speech will be well received probably in the room by certainly in the united states. certainly by trump's supporters. he is not shy. he is not shy to brag in front of a room full of braggers.
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and indeed he was not. the key sentence for him in terms of where he stands. he looked at the audience and said loyalty to the workers and customers is what you need. these are the people who have made you who you are. that was a way of banking his populous street credit and claiming to be different from a crowd we agree he is not so different from. >> yes, donny, of course this president is graded on a very low curve. obviously there are many things that the president said that most would not say. it was it was the sort of thing american presidents do not usually do when they go overseas, but again, it -- i probably was not a disaster.
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in das vos and probably played wells like dalton georgia. i think the content. you have to give very strongly to your point. rebranding of america first. like hey i'm just doing my job. ceo of my company first. not at the expense of your company. we all do that first we all win. a little return of that. i also felt like i was watching come to new jersey. bring your ads here. i was kind of struck more by actually his delivery. i have never seen a lower energy level from him. where being a content was a victory lap. it was almost i felt like he was almost going to fall asleep at some point. i was struck by the lack of verve. >> he does dial it down for a sober speech. >> it was more than sober.
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>> joe says chamber of commerce. first thing i wrote down on my paper is it sounds like he's given the u.s. chamber of commerce speech. the man who runs robin hood through the eyes of inequality. >> yes. >> what did you hear. >> i'm not hur tsure the person georgia or any other place heard what they want to hear. it's difficult to give a victory lap when people don't feel victory. tellout right now the statement the president made when he said the most important way of being able to fight this, fight poverty is a paycheck. the problem is for a lot of people. they have paychecks. they have two paychecks and it's still not enough to make a sustainable life for them or their families. i think the thing people really wanted to hear and people want to hear from the president from the commander in chief is the
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level ofempathy. we know we're not there yet. we know we have the 40 million people in the country living in poverty. 20 million are children. we know we have a deadline coming up. we're about to watch millions of children lose health insurance, we are not where we need to be. so to talk about how well things are going and i do understand about making the chamber of commerce speech and making it exciting for people to invest in the country. important for people inside the country who have not felt that level of growth to know they are not forgotten. >> engaged with q and a with founder of the world economic forum. you can even see his body language and energy level looks different there. he's been talking about the achievement of tax reform. talking about the first businessman to sit in the white house and how good that's been for the economy. how good it will be for the world. he said if a democrat had been elected. the stock market would have gone
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down 50%. that's just in the comments there. >> one issue, when you say america first, that's okay. you should all put your other countries first. flies in the face of 70 years of history. united states has not put itself first. united states beginning with world war ii has played the leading role in the world understanding that we have to help others and that's good for us. rebuilt europe after the marshal plan. played outside roles. unlike what the president thinks. we haven't lost by doing it. gained by doing it. setting up world trade center. missing from the president's conversation in davos which is ironic given what davos stands for the united states still has a unique role in making the world work. if we don't do it, there's no one else willing and able to step into our shoes and what i think he gets wrong is he always sees the cost of u.s. leadership. never heard one thing today
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about the benefits of u.s. leadership. >> and richard, that's comes from the president's ignorance of history. comes from the crudeness of his approach to international diplomacy. he would look at the marshal plan. as small subset of americans look at the marshal plan. as the united states throwing money away instead of investing in a europe that had been destroyed by world war ii and helping rebuild allies and rebuild trade partners that would help fuel the american century. and i think that's a short side in this. he sees tpp and he sees the limitations of tpp. he doesn't see the upside of tpp. he sees foreign aid and he sees how much it may cost on the bottom line, but he doesn't see
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the cost-benefit analysis of how much it will save us or how helping others ends up helping the united states. he just never gets that far in his analysis, does he. >> no. that's exactly right. t you think about george w. bush what he did in africa to alleviate hiv aids. millions of people out of poverty and alive were it not for what the united states has done in the world. we have benefitted. look how the american economy has thrived over the last 75 years. world peace has been quite extraordinary unlike the 20th century. two world wars. nothing like that. and partial live because the united states and led ask stayed engaged. what i see missing is the largeness about why it still makes sense for this country, not for the unilateral, not to
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be arrogant. not to impose will on others, but to play a large and leading role in the world is something we do with others. and by the way, we tend to be one of the principal benefici y beneficiaries. >> and now that president trump has cleared the stage world economic forum, he will board his helicopter. make his way back to zurich and fly home to washington ending his couple of days there in davos. what did you hear in the speech. >> you know, i think i take a counter view to what is being said at this point about particularly the last point you made. i don't think that's ever been a part of donald trump's ego. it's never been about the rest of the world. i think the american people back him up on that. is the sense we have been cut off and isolated and care about everyone else. that reflected more inside. that's point one. the other part of this though talking about the chamber of commerce part of this, what i took away from it is the line he said we will enforce trade laws
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and restore integrity to the stradi in trading system. on the heels of what he just did. i think the president also is saying this community. we want you to play with us. remember if you don't play right, we have a way we're going to land a stick on you. that also reinforces for a lot of americans back at home the sense this guy is going to fight for our interest regardless. and we'll see how it plays out. i think trump struck a number of cords that are not what we're used to hearing and seeing from presidents in this type of forum. >> weal we were watching the president and having the president talk about america being open for business and the massive economic growth that was taking place this breaking news from "washington post" staff just breaking minute or two ago, u.s. economic growth slowed in 2017's fourth quarter, missing trump targets.
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u.s. gross domestic product abroad measure of the economy increased by 2.3% in 2017. gdp growth slowed in the year's fourth quarter to annualized rate of 2.6% breaking a 2 quarter streak of growth of more than 3%. richard haas, i don't think there are many economists worldwide that would suggest that this president or any other president was going to have an easy time moving growth here or in europe or in japan to 3-4%. we often here that coming out of the white house and we hear the president bragging, but we may be in for a long, long stretch of these type of gdp reports. >> we almost certainly are. we're a large mature economy. the idea that we're going to grow at 4% of something is
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simply not going -- it's just not going to happen. the good news in those slightly lower numbers, joe, is it reduces the pressure on the federal reserve to increase interest rates, but, again, i think everyone i know in the stock market thinks we are looking at 2, 2.5 growth in the next couple of years. returns in the stock market are going to come down. the idea we have 10, 12, 20% returns open ended is not going to happen. that is going to be dialled down. and i think this is just the economic reality that the united states faces. >> so the president is not wrong when he goes down the list of where the economy is right now. he talked about stock market. talked about unemployment. consumer confidence. all these numbers are true. talked about growth in the economy. a lot of it did start under president obama. coming out of the collapse of 2008. can he stand on the stock market alone. can he stand on consumer
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confidence alone? is that an argument that penetrates beyond people who invest in the stock market. >> on the same day the stock market rose over $25,000, we also had a video that was going viral in west baltimore. the video that was going viral in west baltimore was a schoolteacher sitting in a dimly lit classroom in front of his students and the students were all wearing hats and gloves and coats. and these are the ones that had hats and gloves and coats. and at the time the stock market was rising over 25,000, he was asking how they feel and they all in unison said cold. very cold. this is the united states 2018. that we have at the same time we have record stock market growth, we have teachers doing go fund me pages to put space heaters inside their classrooms. the numbers and the growth that we've watched in the markets and the number of growth and
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profitability of the kopgs the corporations is undeniable. we know the numbers of people right now who have sacrificed because they have been told that's the american promise. if i sacrifice now, it will be better for me or my children in the future. and that sacrifice is starting to feel much more like suffering. so when the president talks about you know in this speech when hi says people are forgotten, the world is fractured. i could not agree with him more. unfortunately, we have a lot of people who despite these numbers are still feeling very forgotten in the growth. >> actually, i'm very interested in what you say and i am wondering about the president, a lot of his popularity or reputation is built on the idea of economic growth. that it will increase, go forward. it's interesting to me the
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numbers if for the last quarter of the 2017 seem to be disappointing. i'm wondering what it is about? is there something built into the last quarter of 2017 that explains that? is end of the year. i would think with christmas, things would be rocky and going up. so growth below 3% when he's had some 3%s is interesting. i wonder what it means. it's always possible we could find out in time exactly how much and how deeply the president's popularity depends on that one simple thing, a rising economy. >> yes. peg peggy. obviously it slowed down from the third quarter to the fourth quarter. it was over 3% in the third quarter. i think a lot of people because of the tax cuts, because of christmas, were expecting even though the tax cuts weren't in effect yet, we're expecting it to remain above 3%.
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even though it's lower, it still was much better than in 2016. when i think it was around 1.5%. about the same it was in 2015. you have a lot of economic assumptions in the white house. based on 3% growth, 3.5% growth. maybe even 4% growth. i just don't think that's going to happen. i do think, peggy. and you would probably know this far better than me, americas aren't going to really be hung up on whether it's growth is at 2.6% or 2.9% or 3.2%. i think they're going be more focused on their own confidence in the economy. what are the numbers for consumer confidence? do they believe that they're better off now than they were before donald trump was elected president of the united states?
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>> i think that's right. i think we'll figure out how the tax cuts or fax reform what kind of impact tax reform or the tax cuts is having on regular workers out there in america. are they getting a boost in their take home pay? are they getting an immediate positive reaction? that will mean a lot to people, but, yeah. people don't run around saying hey is unemployment did this or that. is growth at 2.6 or 3.2, but they do notice when people are hiring. they notice when companies are in good trouble. they notice when you've got opportunity. and you can get yourself a job and it's a decedent paying job. they notice as a bunch of people have noticed the fast few months since tax reform. they notice they get a bonus. why would they not.
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>> of course. and donny. you have a lot of people rushing out and trying to say tax cuts are a success. they are a failure. we're not going to know for some time. certainly we didn't know whether ronald reagan was going to be a booming success politically until he won 49 states in 1984. and we won't know the same here. it's just like donald trump going to indiana. talking to people of the carrier plant. saying he was going to keep jobs there a year later the jobs are gone. you had republican hs of course blasting obamacare. a couple of years later and if you look at the poll numbers now, it seems that obamacare is seen as a fabric of american society and most people view it favorably. these tax cuts, we don't know what the impact is going to be. if companies invest because of tax cuts. if people keep seeing benefits because of tax cuts. if hundreds and billions of dollars come back to the united states and repatriated because
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of tax cuts, chances are good it will have a positive economic impact, but we won't know that for a while, will we. >> but there are two scary points. i know you'll appreciate this more than anybody. deficit is one of the big selling points of the tax cut is the growth that's going to pay for them and make sure our children and grandchildren aren't multiplying the debt that becomes unservice able and brins down the economy. once again you can't far terror the tax cuts to these numbers. if we don't see that growth, we're really setting up children and grandchildren to fail. the second thing and elasticity. one thing that brings down society is actually a precursor to an economy really. income equality becomes so desperate and marching to that territory. look at those things both short-term and long-term. might not have sunny skies on
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the horizontal. >> what is the implication of expanding income inequality right now. >> watching it both domestic and international. you know, it's along to be patient and ask people to live on promise and hope. eventually until they start realizing this is not going to be a system that's going to work for them. you know, richard brought up a point earlier where we're talking about afghanistan and we're now in our nation's longest war in the history of this country. wars we have spent trillions of dollars fighting in. if you look at the origins of what brought about the war in afghanistan, essentially was an area in a region that was fought with neglect. it was an area and region strategic decisions not to invest, to watch essentially unraveling because in essence, there was a feeling this would not impact us. and it did. and so this has both short-term and long-term implications in
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the fact not only is this going to fray at our fabric. they're going to be real economic implications of having to deal with forgotten issues. >> i'm struck by how narrow it was. how short-term it was. there was no reference to what is probably going to be the biggest economic challenge, the disappearance of millions of jobs because of new technology. booming stock markets and deregulation is not going to solve that problem for americans, for any of the countries represented in that hall. so my sense is this was an immediate speech. this is not guilty going to be a speech i would argue with significance staying power. >> thank you both very much. be reading your pieces in time magazine. interesting footnote to president trump's day in davos. earlier in the day he met with the president of rwanda who also happens to be the new head of the african union, puts the president's alleged comments a couple of weeks ago about s hole
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what a busy morning here. we learned president trump of course tried to fire the independent counsel robert mueller even though his top white house adviser kellyanne conway looked directly at the american people last year in the camera and lied, saying he never even thought about doing such a thing.
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the russian investigation followed the president to davos where he just delivered a speech, threading the needle between america's global responsibilities and his own nationalist message. lifted straight from the campaign trail. peggy noonan, give us your final thoughts about this very busy day in news from his efforts to fire robert mueller to his speech in davos. >> well, i think perhaps "the new york times" and "washington post" and reporting on the president's idea or impulse to fire robert mueller probably stepped a little bit on his davos speech. that said, i think the davos speech was, will be received relatively well. i think it was received relatively well in the audience. in the u.s. and in the trump core. one observation, donny noted
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that the president, when he was speaking in his speech was somewhat subdued then the president went off to a little interview and is vulgar and colorful. it occurred to me, something i've never seen before, treats a prepared speech like a straight jacket from which he cannot escape. he strains against it. he finally gets through it. then he sits down, does an interview, does a q & a and becomes donald trump again and has fun. i've never seen that, i just thought, point it out. >> michael, it seems the news of the robert mueller firing or the order to fire robert mueller does not bode well for this president. troubled waters ahead. if you look at the string of things, demanding loyalty from the last fbi director telling him to not pursue charges against his national security adviser when he admitted that he
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knew a federal crime had taken place, the firing of james comey, the attempted firing of the attorney general, only be brushed back, wanting to fire rod rosenstein, being brushed back. and then of course the firing after bragging, by the way, to the russians, that the firing would take pressure off of him, that he was no longer under investigation, it leads us now to this news. which obviously i would guess most prosecutors would look at and think that was ominous. >> yes, it is ominous. what you saw today was, you know, two narratives in contrast. you had the president on the global stage, as you said, threading that needle of, you know, american nationalism and economic pop u lis sim with a group of people that a lot of folks look at, sort of scratch their head, knowing that they really don't care about the little guy. you have the little guy, in mueller, laying down some serious tracks here, and now more revelations coming out about the president's own
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behavior, which, while he may brag to the russians have, you know, his actions have taken the pressure off of him, it actually has increased the pressure on him, and those moments are now coming back in full view, joe, and are going to create some real problems for him. >> all right, michael and peggy, thank you so much. and now, as they say on monty python, to something completely different. oprah winfrey's speech at the golden globe awards earlier this month roused calls for her to run for president. before all that buzz, our next guest, "in style" magazine editor and chief laura brown sat down with winfrey for a feature in the issue. in her piece titleled "o, that's good," laura asks the icon about her thoughts on possibly running for president in 2020. oprah replies, quote, i've always felt very secure and confident with myself in knowing what i could and what i could not do.
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so it's not something that interests me. i don't have the dna for it. i met with someone the other day who said they would help me with the campaign. that's not for me. and laura is with us right now. >> good morning. >> this would be passed off as celebrity news, but for the fact that the president of the united states is a reality tv talk show host, and i've heard many democrats speak seriously about their desire for opera to get into the race and run. >> indeed. people are looking for a force for good wherever they can find it. and i think that, you know, how she's excelled in every aspect of her life. and i was lucky enough to be in the room during the golden globe speech and it was just possessing. you know, the way that she -- the command she has, the passion she has. the sureness in the way she speaks and the ease in her beliefs and her security in what she's communicating is -- it's a beacon. and people long for that. and especially as we know every
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day on this show what a divisive time we're in. there's a longing there. whether or not it's something that, you know, that she desires. again, of course, this was a couple weeks before the globes. but -- and i had to get it out before somebody cornered stedman again. that may change, but is that something that she wants? you know, do you want to go through that process. if she could just teleport from here into the oval office without going through that hellish process. but that's not something that happens. so she also said that gayle, gayle king who knows her as well as she knows herself, keeps pushing her, like sending her little notes and tidbits from people in the airport and oprah said just because people want me to doesn't mean that i want to. she's very secure in what she's good at. >> 2020 is going to be kind of a reckoning. either be a pendulum. you know, we tried in washington, and that doesn't work. we have to go to tradition.
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or out-penduluming the pendulum. we need tom hanks or joe scarborough or somebody else. it's going to be interesting. there's going to be a big move want way or the other. it certainly is going to be interesting to watch. >> was there any vibration when you spoke to oprah winfrey that she had perhaps the point of view that she could be president or not be president, but if she just stays being oprah and doesn't run, in a way, that's a position of greater cultural power. >> exceptional power being her. >> except it's not. except it's not. at the end of the day, it's not. >> talk show hosts don't have nukes but -- >> i rest my case. >> the cultural -- i was wondering if she thought no, i don't -- >> she's completely aware of her cultural power. she knew that question was coming. it's just there. she's like, you know what. this happened the other day.
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she's not prepared in the answer. well, i have not considered. it's not that sort of mechanic answer. so i think that's a hard thing to give up. i think we're all going to watch over the next few months and years and the decision will be hers. but that is a tough decision to make, you give up a lot. you get a lot. but i think that the communal longing for that is something that is very potent right now. >> i think the speculation with oprah goes to donny's point that 2020's going to be an interesting playground because it's going to be a story of contrasts. and it's going to be who contrasts best against donald trump. >> i think people just want something knew. >> all right. thank you so much, laura. it's always great to have you on our show. and want to thank all of you for watching today. a lot to talk about. a lot of news out there. obviously, possible evidence, new evidence of obstruction with the firing or the attempted firing of bob mueller. the davos speech and new economic numbers that show the economy slowing down a bit in the fourth quarter.
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and for all of that and much, much more, let's go to stephanie ruhle, stephanie. >> thanks so much, joe. indeed, there's a lot of news and that is why we're here. good morning, i'm stephanie ruhle. starting with a pink slip-up. president trump tried to fire special counsel robert mueller back in june, but was forced to back down when his own lawyer threatened to quit. the president now pushing back this morning with a very predictable retort. >> fake news. >> what's your message today? >> typical "new york times" fake story. >> oh, heavens. and the cloud of the russia probe hanging over the president's marquee speech in davos. where moments ago he delivered his closing argument to the global summit. >> america first does not mean america alone. >> plus, one step forward, two big steps back. the white house proposes a pathway to scitizenship for 1.8 million dreamers but with