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tv   The 11th Hour With Brian Williams  MSNBC  March 30, 2018 1:00am-2:00am PDT

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good evening once again from our nbc news headquarters. day 434 of the trump administration. the president is at the 137th day of his presidency spent at a trump branded property. he will spend the long easter weekends there levering behind a less than rock solid situation. today he said good-bye to hope hicks. jonathan puts it this way. hicks was more accurate described by white house officials as trump's white house woman and providing after firm mags and able to provide bad news with few repercussions. john kelly wasn't at president donald trump's side for crucial decisions on policy moves. kelly wasn't on the call. even as the president appears to be running the white house without kelly's input trump has made a point of pun likely praising his chief of staff which, as you know, can also be
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the kiss of death. >> we have general kelly here, four star, he is doing a great job in washington. i think he likes what you do better than what he does but he is doing a great job. >> something that's been discussed on this broadcast and that is mattis remains on the job.
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the original band of brothers the generals have diminished around him. he does not get along with national security adviser. so it was fun and interesting to overhear the man known in washington spoke as the sec deaf. >> thank you for having me. >> thank you. >> thanks for coming. >> mr. secretary, can i ask you a question? >> as for the president after a nearly week long disappearance from any public setting he got to cut loose a bit before a union audience today in ohio. >> we are now finally putting america first. just this week we secured a wonderful deal with south korea. i may hold it up until after a deal is made with north korea.
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we are launching the next phase of america's economic come back. we are going to rebuild america's crumbling infrastructure. they don't like the winds we have been getting. they don't like that the economy is so strong. i have made some changes because i wasn't happy with the speed with which our veterans were taken care of. we need walls. we started building our wall up. we are getting that suck built. there's a revolution going on out there. i even called roseanne. look at her ratings. look at her ratings.
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>> phillip is back with us and jackie is here, white house editor for the l.a. times. we know where the head of the trump administration is tonight. where is the heart especially on this day when hope hicks left other than keith shiler, his bodyguard that was with him the sbir length of the campaign. this is the closest person to him. >> hope hicks is one of the original aids even before there was a campaign. the early months of 2015 she was on board. today she saw she got a gracious exit from the white house. a handshake and the president brought her out in full view of reporters to have that good-bye. hope hicks is someone that usually shies away from the press. she got a far better exit than rex tillerson.
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there is a lot of anxiety that there may be more departures coming. the president could change his mind at any time. that's sense around the building that surgeons general he had the for the ethics scandal. now trump may turn his attention to someone else. even john kelly, who is again, job standing at the moment seems secure but seen it weighing in the west wing. >> it is odd that a departure or two creates more kind of ancillary anxiety especially now that the boss is in that environment.
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>> and we have seen with one personnel change after another that after the fact you learn that he was talking to people, the friends that he runs into over dinner, plays golf with and he throws out name and asks them what about this person? what about that person? that's not the kind of people that people in washington would like him to be talking to. a lot of people are telling him what he wants to hear anyway. take this week that dr. schulkin was replaced by jackson. he is going to the second largest bureaucracy in our government that is just renowned for dysfunction. it's like a recipe for disaster. >> the departure of shulkin was more known -- i will play for
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you from our 8:00 p.m. broadcast an interview with the now former va secretary. it speaks to the out of nowhere dismissal of him yesterday. >> i spoke to the president yesterday. we spoke about the progress that i was making, what i needed to do from a policy per specific >> that's before you were fired? >> that's correct. >> he made no mention of the fact he was about to terminate you? >> that's correct. >> and then you found out via tweet. >> the chief of staff kelly gave me a call. he gave me a heads up. but that was much after the phone call.
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>> so while not a dead carp inside newspaper inside a bullet proof vest that's the kind of thing that can spread anxiety among employees. >> yes. it was totally out of the blue. there had been press reports that shulkin was going to make an exit. he seems to provide an entire editorial fairy quickly. he seemed to see the writing on the wall. i think none of us are surprised by the way. it was almost textbook to what happened to tillerson. he got a random call saying look out for a tweet. >> and they made sure to leak where he was just to add insult to injury. >> exactly. i looked at all of the people that left the white house. it depends how you define senior staff members. we are losing one essentially every nine days. >> yes.
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>> i looked at the ones that retired and i think mcmaster where trump actually did the firing. every other case it was kelly or someone else. i think it's a remarkable thing especially for the president. >> you mentioned the name of the chief of staff. the kelly sweepstakes are back in play. i heard two television correspondents reporting to say there are renewed doubts and fears about kelly. what are you hearing? >> i think the point made about the rumors seem to pick up every time is a good one. that is where he often sounds out his friends and advisers. what do you think of this? what do you think of that? it is also where they plant ideas in his head. john kelly had a roller coaster the last six weeks or so. he seemed to be in fairly firm footing. he badly damaged him not just because of media coverage. staffers who felt like the version of events were not accurate and they were self-serving.
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he may have been on his way out. after he changed the white house security clearance proceed your a lot of that heat and kelly seemed to reestablish himself. he was no fan of hr mcmaster. we have seen here in the last week or so he opposed the john bolton move. he wasn't in the oval office when the president made the decision to go with bolton. you know, kelly has been taken upon himself to be on a number of the president's calls, domestic or foreign. he was not on the one last week that lead to the president overstaff objections congratulating him. >> michael bolton could be hired for the next opening. about three nights a week i manage to ask one of our journalist contributors how the trump agenda advanced today. i'll ask that to you specifically. this vent in ohio was designed to feature infrastructure.
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what of this plan is ever going see the light of day and who is going to work with this guy? >> you know, this speech couldn't have been better at just underscoring why the president frankly isn't going to go any where this year. many republicans will tell you if only privately this speech was the most disjointed rambling speech i have ever seen. it was like he could go to the teleprompter where he was supposed to talk about infrastructure. it did not get mentioned until one-third of the way into the speech and then give a paragraph from the teleprompter and he was off on any other number of topics, you name them. on a more serious note it was a
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campaign speech. he is going to need democrat votes to pass any infrastructure bill. seriously, this speech from the very first words out of his mouth to the end was a campaign speech he repeatedly derived. democrats said they were for illegals and drugs coming across the board, that they were going to repeal the second amendment. he talked about how people in his audience in front of him needed to get out and vote in the midterms to give him more republicans to advance his agenda. it was a taxpayer financed supposedly official event, not a campaign event. taxpayers paid for what was from beginning to end a political speech. >> let's not forget there was a little roseanne bar. he took another whack at the wall construction going on, claiming credit for it. it is not correct. this is a project that started in '09. it's a wall replacement project, not the trump wall.
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we refer to weeks like this as quiet weeks around here. this is all we have been covering. the two members of the legal team that left before they were on duty, stormy daniels, prime time television interview sunday night, the floating of the pardons, the dangling of the pardons was just last night. of course a cabinet member dismissed. that's what passes in 2018 as a slow week. i think part of that is it is so acclimated to it. it has changed positions. there are three people who have been fired from trump's cabinet which is unheard of beyond someone like ford coming in and replacing everyone.
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it simply doesn't happen, this level of turnover. we are so used to it we sort of take it. we expect him to be gone. it is not remarkable. i think the important thing to note here is what does the white house look like once hope hicks, this stabilizing force, is gone. what happened? the response to that is look what happens with them there. like i don't know how donald trump can be less stable and less erratic than he has been since he was inaugurated essentially. it is his style. he wants to go do things like that speech in ohio where he gets up and the crowd applauds. he wants to basically give speeches that are his twitter account. it has never held much interest for him. i'm not sure how having hope hicks leave, i'm not sure how it gets worse in that scenario.
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>> you know what i have done by calling it a slow week. i have just invited the busiest friday of our lifetimes tomorrow. if we have it we'll invite everybody back. jonathan, phillip, jackie, always a pleasure. thanks to the three of you for starting us off tonight. coming up new reporting on how trump tried to balance america's toughening stance against russia. some of that being forced upon him. later the president says he doesn't know what community college means. the 11th hour just getting started on a thursday night.
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the move came after the u.s. expelled 60 russian diplomats and closed the russian cosolate. president trump has been unwilling to publicly criticize putin. our nbc news colleagues report tonight that behind the scenes president trump has been unwilling to publicly criticize putin. our nbc news colleagues report tonight that behind the scenes trump has recently taken a sharper tone on putin. the shift seems more a reaction challenging the president's strength than a new belief that he is an adversary. putin's claim that russia has nuclear weapons that would hit the u.s. with video simulating an attack.
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so much so that frufrp called the leaders of frans, germany and the u.k. saying the russian leader sounded dangerous and the four of them needed to stick together. now with the all famous capital letter instructions, do not congratulate putin. two officials said trump told putin, if you want to have an arms race you can do that but i'll win. with us we have courtney, national security and military reporter and rick is back with us. he is former editing manager of time magazine. there has been an effort to toughen this president's reaction to leader of russia two has had us under kind of a low motion, electronic attack and otherwise for a couple of years now.
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>> that's right. as you mentioned, we talked about some of the specific times where administration officials, one of them being rex tillerson had to convince president trump why it is important to be tough against russia. one of the ways is to say putin responds with strength, so you need to be strong. one of the things we reported on is that president trump said why did you show those weapons referring back to putin displaying the nuclear weapons right before the election in the show of strength. trump said if you want an arms race you have one but i'll win. so he used some tougher language but our reporting is that he had
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to be pushed along. another specific case was the idea, this notion that the u.s. would supply some weapons to ukraine in their battle against russia. last summer i wrote a story saying there was a $50 million arms package that made its way to the white house. it had been endorsed by the national security apparatus for anti tank missiles. it sat on the president's desk for months. tillerson and others continued to bring it up saying this is still there, will you endorse it. president trump had to be pushed to go forward with that plan. >> rick, it strikes me, while none of this is good these people using a nerve agent to ver lent to be allowed in warfare this is normal. this is the most normal feeling u.s./russian relationship
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certainly of the last 14 months. this is what we do. we eject their folks. they throw out our folks and we bicker as this relationship has been. >> yes. the word that diplomats used is reciprocity. we invade your sovereignty. you toss out some of your diplomats, we toss out some of yours and we are all equal. >> and we try to kill people in the u.k. >> yes. they want the false equivalence where you throw out the same number. that's how they deceive people to act like things are normal. it is normal to be adversarial. i would never want to disagree but i wouldn't agree this is the worst in decades. i would say certainly after the annexation it was much worse. >> yeah. i thought the headline was surprising in its tone.
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hey courtney, the video of the russian weapons, i remember covering it in realtime that night. it's probably not a surprise that it got to the president who takes in so much of his world admittedly so from television, however, when we need a question answered about weapons, we call you at the pentagon. the world can know that you are our in-house expert. were they ever real, the things we saw depicted in that kind of video and computer game animation? >> one of these but an old video. it was from about ten years ago. none of weapons were really a surprise though. they were all part of a larger weapons program that has been laid out and that we know -- we have known the -- the u.s. has known that russia was working towards but the reality is they do have some of those capabilities that were shown
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there. long story short, what hoe -- he showed that day was not a surprise. >> and rick, so much of the utterances of putin is for the folks back home. >> yes. >> it is for public consumption. they love to see strength. putin now gets into a spat with the american president. this probably feels much more normal to them too. >> yes. i think if donald trump listened to his intelligence officers, which we know he doesn't necessarily do, they would say
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mr. president, what he was doing was for hi domestic audience. he was about to be running for president. they like to see strength. the other thing i would say to donald trump is i want you to go back and read george f. that he sent from moscow. >> he is not going to do that, by the way. go ahead. >> everything was laid out but the russians respond to toughness. they have suspicious about the west. they are insecure. he was described by him and trump would learn how to treat this guy. >> you are absolutely right. our thanks to courtney and rick. we grately appreciate it. coming up the republican convention, now a focus of mueller's investigative team. we'll talk about why when we come back. but i'm not standing still... and with godaddy, i've made my ideas real.
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♪ i made my own way, now it's time to make yours. ♪ everything is working, just like it should ♪
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the news agency is tonight reporting that the at the republican national con vepgs quote investigators have asked detailed questions about conversations that jeff sessions then a trump campaign adviser and senator had at a convention event attended by then russian ambassador to the, segei kislyak, so this is someone that
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has been asked about it. they had been asking whether sessions had private discusses on the sidelines that trump gave on n april 2016. sessions spokespersons have denied repeatedly that he had any private discussions. they are also reporteding they are looking into the party platform language. they have been asking how and why information was deleted from a section of the document related to ukraine said another sirs who we requested anonymity. it is the same time jeff sessions also featuring unusual and borderline haunting photography. among the headlines sessions says in the article he stands by his recusal saying i don't think the attorney general can ask everyone educational to follow the rules if the attorney general doesn't follow them. sessions also told time his
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loyalty is not to any man but to a principal. congress passes a law, judges follow the law, nobody is above the law including the judges and including the president. we should also point out this safety tip. the president believes he holds the record for time magazine covers. he does not. that belongs to richard nixon. he also reportedly hates when his own people are on the cover of time magazine. you'll recall it was five months before the abrupt departure. and with us from chicago is joe winebanks and msnbc legal analyst. jill, the first i covered was in 1984 where mario cuomo gave his memorable speech. i have covered a bunch of them since. not a single russian. can you help us point out to our audience how unusual any
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paragraph is that contains meetings with russians in cleveland, a change of the gop platform language to abide by some russian changes? >> i don't know why it hasn't become a bigger story already. it has been clear if the very beginning that the change in the platform that favored ukraine to begin with is one that should have raised eyebrows a long time ago and when you combine that not just with sessions meeting with the russian ambassador at the time during the convention preceding the change in the platform language and with all of the other meetings that happened during the campaign between russians and trump staffer and now with the actions of mueller looking at these i see collusion becoming a major focus.
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we have moved from obstruction being the main effort of the prosecutor to possibly finally getting to the point of what is the relationship between russia and the trump campaign and there are so many connections very evident now. this is one of them. >> before i get back to what jill just made. he famously said he was with the campaign a very short period of time. during the time he was with the campaign this was his baby. this was his convention. >> he joined the campaign to run the convention. >> yeah. >> he was there. he stayed in charge through the end of the august. this was it. he oversaw everything that was happening those four days in cleveland. initial lir it was to beat back a delegate challenge but while there he was the driving force behind this language change to
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make it more favorable to russia and of course ties to russia are of great interest to bob mueller right now. >> there is a cnn report right now that when mr. gates went in he was of course cooperating with the home team. it was made clear to him they weren't so much looking for information for him to dump on his former boss, they were looking for collusion information that you just mentioned, contacts he had with russians that were in the news just yesterday, anything that would tie mr. gates effort, the campaign effort to the russians. >> absolutely. it is clear that mueller already had more than ample everyday go ahead against manafort and didn't need any help but was looking for much more.
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we can tell from the release i think it was yesterday things are moving to fast it is hard to remember if it was yesterday or the day before in the sentencing report where he mentions that there was a lie about the connection between gates and a russian operative. it is one of the worst ties between the campaign and operatives of trump and the russian government. again, we are looking at collusion and the conspiracy between russia. it is a major development and i think gates' role will be
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important. he stayed after manafort left the campaign. he is in a position to know a lot. he was clearly talking to manafort that was in a lot of meetings with the russians. >> based on what we discuss here, what we know, which we always later learn is weeks or months behind what mueller is working on. >> that's right. sit a constant distraction. people in the west wing, a number of them are doing their job for their country feel that it's always overhead. they feel like they can never do that ever again. many of them realizing they concerned about legal exposure to it. there are questions being asked. rick gates was spotted in the white house repeatedly in the first months of the trump administration. he was living at the trump hotel down pennsylvania avenue a few
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blocks from the white house. this is something that they were dealing with all of the time. if i may on the time magazine cover it is very true president -- in fact i spoke to an associate that says trump has stied him in the past that trump believes he should be on the cover of time magazine every week. >> we'll end on that note. i think we better. jonathan, jill, it's always a pleasure. thank you so much for joining us tonight. coming up for us, the latest in this saga of the president versus the porn star when the 11th hour continues.
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stormy daniels suffered a set back today in her legal battle against president trump. we'll try to explain this in greater detail. a judge denied her motion to depose president trump and his attorney michael cohen. daniels is suing the president to invalidate a nondisclosure agreement she signed before the
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election to keep quiet ant the alleged affair with the president. trump denieded the accusations multiple times through white house officials. they said all of this is temporary and they will refile their motion to depose trump and cohen. >> we have to wait until the president and mr. cohen file their motion to compel arbitration. as soon as they do that we can refile this motion. that's exactly what we are going to do. there is language that i'm very pleased with. the court appears to agree with our of the law. it goes with what they said, that this motion had no merit. that is baseless. they are in a lot of trouble. it is not good for the president or mr. cohen. >> an attorney for mike it cohen. this is the attorney for the president's attorney.
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a lawyer friend from new york has called the motion a reckless use of the legal system. >> can you say unwe quiverically that the president was never in any way unaware of the agreement itself. >> the president was not aware of the agreement. michael cohen never told him about the agreement. >> what about the money? >> he was not aware about any of it. >> we should note cohen has satd the $130,000 payment came from his own personal funds, a line of credit and not the trump organization or trump campaign. he was chosen by ken star to conduct the questioning of bill clinton among other notable cases in the light and in the law.
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if mr. schwartz is arguing mr. trump had no realtime knowledge of this payment to stormy daniels then her attorney says thank you for helping to prove my case so the nondisclosure agreement is not binding on my client. does anyone have a case here that you can hear? >> oh, my gosh. there are so many different aspects to this. first of all, yes. this is something i haven't heard a lot of people talk about. it says it the not valid until it is signed by all of the parties. d.d. is one of the parties. the. d.d. did not sign. that's an issue there. if mr. cohen paid this money and
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negotiated this agreement, paid this money without the knowledge or consent of his client he has potentially very serious ethical concerns which i would be happy to mention to you. they tl are prohi bases. first of all, he said he paid out of his own funds. there could be a potential violation there. second, you're not allowed to negotiate something on behalf of your client without keeping him or her informed. third, if stormy daniels and her attorney thought mr. cohen was representing mr. trump that's a big problem for mr. cohen because you're not supposed to make false representations to a third party. then you have the whole campaign situation. a presidential candidate has no limits on what he or she can contribute to his own campaign. if president trump did authorize the payment or did make the payment it's not a campaign violation.
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if mr. cohen made the payment he is like any other citizen. there's a limit on that contribution so he could be in violation of federal campaign laws. i could go on and on. >> people have said that if you one way this is $130,000 spent to effect the outcome of an election. what's the chance he will refile and ever depose the president of the united states do you think? >> he may refile the motion. i think the chancesover him deposing the president are pretty remote and he tried to put the best spin possible on the decision today, which was a procedure decision. number two, he did not take certain steps to trigger certain deadlines including a step for
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the cohen camp to respond. they have quite a bit of time to decide whether or not they are going to respond. the court said something very interesting, which brings up kind of another potential avenue. the court said, look, the president and mr. cohen, they may not file to compel arbitration. then you can go back to state court and try your case or they may file and their response may tell us something so that there's no need for a deposition. all of that could happen. i don't think i have heard anything mention stormy daniels has already been on 60 minutes. she has already told her story. there isn't really much to the story. why not say okay. you know what stormy, you're agreement, you're no longer bound by it. go i ahead, talk to anybody you
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want then the president doesn't have to answer anymore uncomfortable questions. they don't have to worry about being deposed. >> that's why we have him on the air. thank you, as always. thank you very much. >> thank you, brian. what the president said about an american institution helping people all across this country when we continue.
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a word that you don't hear much, but when i was growing up, we had what was called vocational schools. they weren't called community colleges because i don't know what that means a community college. to me it means a two-year college. i don't know what it means. but i know what vocational -- and i tell people, call it vocational from now on. it's a great word. it's a great word. call it vocational and technical perhaps. but use vocational because
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that's when it's all about. people know what that means. we don't know what a community college means. >> president trump seemed to confuse community colleges and vocational schools as you heard there while speaking today in ohio. while he has stressed the importance of vocational training going back to the campaign, he seems to have a problem with community colleges, including perhaps not knowing what they are and what they do. >> let's open great vocational schools so our future workers can learn a craft and realize their full potential. >> and we should have vocational schools. you learn mechanical, you learn brick laying and carpentry. we don't have that very much anymore. i think the word vocation is much better word than in a lot of case as community college. so we need vocational schools. they call them a lot of times community colleges. i don't think it's an accurate definition. >> when the president made this
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comparison back in february, the education reporter for "the washington post" apparently had had enough and attempted to clear up the confusion, quote, trump may think the word vocational is a better way to describe a community college, but in fact the two are not interchangeable. they simply aren't the same thing. vocational or trade schools have traditionally offered hands-on training for a particular career. two-year community colleges provide many of the same features as four-year colleges, including wide curricular offerings in different subjects. the american association of community colleges, look at that map, says there were over 1,100 community colleges as of last
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year. nearly a quarter of our high school students go on to pursue a degree at a community college. for many of us, yours truly included, it was the only real college option after high school. and make no mistake, community colleges are a huge american success story. if anything, they've been let down by the government and the communities they serve in many cases. a whole lot of today's nurses and teachers and business people will tell you they would not be where they are today had there not been a community college in their community. another break. we're back with another thing the president said today after this.
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hello. let's go for a ride on a last thing before we go here tonight. just a short lesson in history before we get to what else the president said today. the arrival of the electric light crushed the whale oil business in this country. while it was welcomed news among members of the whale community. the arrival of the automobile did the same thing to the horse and buggy business. they've never been the same. the sears & roebuck catalogue changed retailing by bringing
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catalogue shopping to rural americans who didn't live near a store but nothing has impacted retailing quite like amazon. they sell everything and you don't have to get dressed or go to bed to go shopping. the president has a problem with amazon. most believe he has a problem with the founder of amazon, jeff bezos, who happens to also own "the washington post." with that in mind, the president went ahead and attacked amazon on twitter today, quote, i have stated my concerns with amazon long before the election. unlike others, they pay little or no taxes to state and local governments, use our postal system as their delivery boy causing tremendous loss to the u.s. and are putting many thousands of retails are out of business. a couple of things here, there's no question amazon has put retailers out of business, but they pay taxes, almost a billion
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dollars in federal taxes last year. amazon has been good for the u.s. postal service. a lot of people believe they should charge amazon more to do it. to the charge of amazon using the postal service as delivery boy, that is their job. they are the delivery men and women in our country. and a word about the postal service as a whole, they do a generally incredible job day in and day out, in snow, rain, heat and gloom of night. paying 50 cents for a stamp to have a letter flown from new york to anchorage or from saginaw from san antonio is one of the last true bargains left on this planet. that is our broadcast for a thursday night.
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thank you as always so much for being with us and good night from nbc news headquarters here in new york. this morning, an nbc news exclusive. president trump irked by vladimir putin's nuclear build up tells aides not to talk about policy moves. an ousted va secretary david shulkin is taking on the white house in a series of interviews after being fired by the president. ♪


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