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tv   Deadline White House  MSNBC  May 15, 2018 1:00pm-2:00pm PDT

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dc" sundays at 7:00 p.m. eastern right here on msnbc. thank you for watching. stick around for "deadline white house" with my friend nicole wallace. it's 4:00 in new york. we begin with breaking news. the "new york times" reporting this afternoon that north korea has cancelled the scheduled meeting today with south korea. and south korean media says the north has threatened to cancel that historic meeting with president trump in singapore in june due to ongoing military exercises between the u.s. and south korea. they quote an announcement from north korea's central news agency which says, quote, the united states will also have to undertake careful deliberations about the fate of the planned north korean/u.s. summit in light of this provocative military ruckus jointly conducted with the south korean authorities. the state department appears to have been caught off guard by
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the news, saying, quote, we have no information on that, let's not get ahead of ourselves, we need to verify it. what are you hearing there? >> the pentagon is working on an official statement we expect to have in moments. it gives you a sense of how surprised they were in this building and the state department by this announcement from the north korean official news agency that they will be cancelling their summit with south korea. remember, this is taking place on wednesday. it's already wednesday in north and south korea. that calls into question this june 12th summit between president trump and kim jong-un. i think the most important thing out of this statement from the korean news agency is the rhetoric. it really appears that kim jong-un is relapsing and using some of his old rhetoric. i want to lead one line to you. the north korean summit in light of this provocative military ruckus -- ruckus is the kind of language that we saw before when they were name calling back and forth between kim jong-un and president trump. now, we don't know directly if
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this statement was from kim jong-un. it's safe to say that he has a fair amount of say on the state media that comes out of north korea. we don't know what this means for the june 12th summit, but it is a big surprise here at the pentagon and the state department and they're sill calibrating their response. >> now, to be fair, the president had a big victory last week in the return of three detainees from north korea. but even on that day, former cia director john brennan warned on our air that he was concerned that the president had been duped by the north, that the president by talking about winning a nobel peace prize saying everybody says i should, by telegraphing his prowess on the international stage as his midterm political strategy, that he had given the north koreans so much information about how important these negotiations were not just to the united states of america, not just to the security of the region, but to donald trump's ploim fatolit
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fate. is there any analysis at this point that the president may have telegraphed too much too soon? >> a lot of times this building, meaning the pentagon, as well as the state department, doesn't quite know the signals that president trump is either trying to send or actually sends. we've seen that on a variety of issues here where this building can be taken by surprise by what the president is signaling, whether that's a tweet on transgender or any variety of issues. >> good point. >> talking about potential military action against syria. i don't want to go as far to say there's a method to the president's madness in some cases. i think the president communicates in a different way. they will let the president communicate. he's the elected leader. inside this building over the last month or so the cautious optimism about the north korean potential for a breakthrough has turned a little bit more towards full fledged optimism. at the same time, there's always been a contingent, especially of those people who have been
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served in u.s. forces korea, 28,000 troops there, they always say we'll see. there's a fair amount of we'll seisms here at the white house. >> please jump back in front of that camera if you have anything else to bring us. joining us by phone is jeremy bash, former chief of staffhe cia and the pentagon. obvious putting all of our hopes basically on a murderous dictator like kim jong-un is high stakes. do you think some of that high stakes gamble is showing just how tricky and powerfulless ll powerless it can be with today's
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news. >> it shows how fragile, how volatile this is. this meeting between the north and south korea was well planned. this is no surprise to north korea. it shows that one of the key issues for north korea is going to be the presence of u.s. military on the peninsula as well as the military cooperation in the form principally of exercises between the republi n of korea and the united states. a major flash point in this upcoming potential summit between the united states and north korea is that the north koreans could demand a halt to military exercises and they could demand a withdrawal of u.s. forces from the korean peninsula. president trump has expressed a lot of interest in that. that has a lot of people in the national security community nervous. i think it would be a very dangerous signal if somehow we halted our military exercises or pulled troops off the korean peninsula. >> what are the inherent dangers in the view of the kind of
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people who work in the two buildings in which you serve, in the pentagon and at langley at the cia of having someone whose own brand is to interconnected with the art of the deal that the deal making almost becomes a message in and of itself, not what you were talking about, the intricacies of the policy making. >> look, a bad deal is much worse from the united states than no deal at all. when i say a bad deal, what i mean is if somehow we do not achieve our key objective which is full denuclearization of the peninsula, meaning kim jong-un gives up his nuclear program, his material, his intercontinental ballistic missile material capability. if we don't get that and in exchange we've ease sanctions or take troops off the peninsula, kim jong-un will be kiting in the cat bird's seat and the united states and our allies will have lost a major strategic objective in asia.
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>> former cia director john brennan telling me last week always a good day when u.s. citizens are returned to the united states, the early morning return of three men held captive in north korea. he said he was worried that the president was being duped by the north koreans p.r. moves and was afraid of what you just describe, of the potential for a bad deal, which i think he would agree with your assessment is worse than no deal. >> and let me flesh that out a little bit. when folks talk about the united states or the president being duped, one of the principal concerns is that north korea will try to drive a wedge between the united states and south korea. traditionally the u.s. and south korea have been firm allies. we've stood shoulder to shoulder. we prepare to fight together and we are ready to fight together. if north korea can actually drive a wedge and say to south korea, look, we've been making all these concessions, we're taking down the nuclear test facility, we are going to
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dismantle our nuclear program, we are going to suspend our tests. and the united states hasn't done anything. you guys and the south and the united states have not suspended your drills or your exercises. you haven't made any concessions. the south says, you know what, we agree with the north. then in effect the north has been able to drive a wedge between us and the south koreans. that is a very dangerous precedent for this upcoming summit. >> i'm going to bring into the conversation some of our friend at the table. d donna edwards, a.b. stoddard. >> we're hearing from the white house and the state department is two things. first this is not a surprise to pyongyang. they knew this exercise was coming. they had time to repair.
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they cho -- prepare. they chose to act this way anyway. the white house is confirming the june 12th summit is still on. but this is a reminder for president trump. the last few weeks have almost gone too well with north korea. the prisoners have been returned. kim jong-un has said he will shutter the nuclear program. he's making noise towards doing that. even if the summit is still on, which again we believe it is, this is a pretty significant bit of saber rattling, trying to show the president this is maybe not going to be as easy as you think. you're not just going to be able to talk into this room in singapore and necessarily get the deal you want. it's also a reminder that even if the president comes out of there, who seems so desperate for a win out of this and to make it a big part of this republican midterm pitch, the fears are he's going to take a less than good deal and try to spin it as a win. this is kim jong-un seemingly
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signaling, hey, not so fast. >> the ironies are almost too rich to detail. we pulled out of the iran deal last week for the very reasons jonathan just outlined. the central argument against the iran deal was that john kerry and president obama were so desperate for a deal that they took a deal that came up far short in dealing with anything outside of the nuclear program. it looks like they're walking into the same kind of sub par negotiating posture with north korea, which is as we've been talking about, their central message, the message that they plan to take to the country to make the case for two more years of republican leadership behind trump. >> it's interesting hans describing that officials at the pentagon have a very we'll see attitude. president trump has said we'll see a few times, but his posture is this is going so smoothly, only i could have even gotten us
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to this. no one ever thought we could get even this far in the planning. negotiations are going well. kim is being open and honorable. and really if you look at it from the outside, look at it from kim jong-un's perspective, he captures people so he can release them. that's a ploy that's always used. sooner or later there is going to be testing. he is looking at donald trump who appears eager for a win. he's also looking at president moon who came into office in south korea really breaking with precedent and eager for a conversation and a relationship. so he has two leaders that he's dealing with in this sort of multifaceted negotiation, which of course involves the chinese, that are looking like they're coming to the table very eager to make a deal. at some point, he's going to feel that power and test and push donald trump's comfort zone and rattle him a little. i think that's what we're seeing here. does it mean there's not going
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to be a summit? why is this guy acquiescing to everything? sooner or later, we're going to find out what he intends. >> donna, you were onset on thursday when director brennan made those remarks that really seemed to cut to the bottom of this, the policy critique being one of concern that the president has been duped,that as you said these prisoners were captured 15 months ago for the purpose of releasing them as a bargaining chip. he has given up nothing. he has given up not even a single nuclear weapon. i think on thursday we talked about the best way forward for democrats. i wonder what you think it is today. do we hope for the best but prepare for the worst? >> i think that many of us were prepared to give the president the credit he deserved for the release of the three americans, but also recognize -- even at the state department, i heard secretary pompeo just over the
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weekend positively ebullient about what the prospects were for negotiation. all of that public posturing has put us in a worse position. in iran they didn't have nuclear weapons. we were trying to fore stall them. north korea is completely different. the reason past presidents have had such a long lag time when it comes to preparing for summits like this is because they require preparation. >> jeremy, let me reset this for our viewers. news breaking just before we came on the air that north korea has postponed talks with south korea, that the decision came as a surprise to u.s. government officials, north korea postponed high hell talevel talked scheduh south korea today citing a u.s./south korean air force drill. all of this calling into
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question whether or not the summit publicly known and advertised by the trump administration between kim jong-un and donald trump in question, at least according to sar south korean government officials. can you speak to the this should represent a moment of unraveling or a step backward, what the -- that the white house has taken talking about a peace prize boyfriend t before the meeting was even scheduled. >> i don't know if we can say it's an unraveling. i certainly hope it isn't. it does show and demonstrate the fragility of this whole process and it shows there are going to be many bumps in the road. this is not going to be a straight line to victory. there's no profit in talking about nobel peace prizes or pats on the back or running on this
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in the midterms. that's all premature and franklyifrankl irresponsible. what we need to focus on is getting the agenda for this upcoming summit aligned properly so that full denuclearization, this critically important set of activities that's going to take years to undertake and verify by the north koreans that those are the main central focus of the discussion, that the withdrawal of u.s. troops from the peninsula is, in my view and i think in the view of many who have looked at this, something that the north koreans want, but is not something that the united states should give. it's not something the south koreans should abide by either. and that the cessation of military exercises, which is of course what kim jong-un is invoking today and saying is the rationale he does not want to proceed with this high level meeting with the sorkuth korean that we're not going to stop those either.
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it reassures our allies that we will not leave asia just because kim jong-un says we should. president trump, the administration is thinking along those lines, it would be better to have no deal at all than a deal that has america withdrawing from asia. >> nbc's hallie jackson has headed out to the north lawn to join us. i wonder if you're getting any reaction yet from the white house. we heard from the state department spokeswoman they were caught off guard by this news. >> are you hearing any official response from the white house? zwlnchts i think t >> reporter: i think the lack of response is it was the pentagon, the state department and the west wing caught by surprise by this. they have to say something at this point.
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they said this afternoon, listen, i don't have any information for you on this. the president has said all along that he would be willing to walk away from this meeting even while it was in the works if he felt like he had to. the question now is if this is the first part of a tit for tat from north korea or a negotiating tactic, how does the u.s. come back to the table? what does president trump do or say, what does john bolton do or say? i expect we'll have something soon. there was an opportunity to actually ask the president about this about five minutes ago. that's because his chopper took off from the south lawn of the white house. the chopper took off. i think we might have a little bit of video of that at some point. but the president did not answer any questions from the reporters who were sort of asking him about that. we're hoping in the next couple of minutes to report the president's destination to you. but again this is very quickly in the last hour has shifted the
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conversation here at the white house and shifted the focus of things. up until now we've been talking a lot about the fallout from that senate policy lunch, whether or not john mccain would come up. zte, that chinese company didn't come up at the lunch. now the question is whats wi has with this summit? >> we were able to confirm that the president is going to walter reed to see melania. usually you're the one imparting wisdom and information on me. the rare occasion that i was staring at my phone and you were talking on tv -- >> thank you. >> if you hear anything in the next 45 minutes, run back out and share it with us. when we come back, a warning from the president from some of his closest friends on television who told him he can't trust his own staff. also ahead, profiles in nothing resembling courage, that
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let's basement. and thanks to these xfi pods, the signal reaches down here, too. so sophie, i have an xfi password, and it's "daditude". simple. easy. awesome. xfinity. the future of awesome. how many leaks can the wing wing spring before donald trump takes to twitter to lash out? we've lost count. here's the president's famed twitter outrage coupled with his daily collusion denial.
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quote, can you believe that with all of the made up stories i get from the fake news media together with the $10 million russian witch hunt i now have my best poll numbers in a year? h much of the media may be truly corrupt by the people get it. quote, the so-called leaks coming out of the white house are a massive over exaggeration put out by the fake news media in order to make us look as bad as possible. with that being said, leakers are traitors and cowards and we will find out who they are. you remember the mooch who in his first days as communications director called a reporter and said this about chief of staff reince priebus, who he believed to be a leaker. >> he's a [ bleep ] paranoid schizophrenic. let me leak the [ bleep ] thing
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and see if i can [ bleep ] block these people. >> now, that all went down before scahe got fired. today we're learning about the lengths that the white house is going to catch leakers. according to one report, sweeps are carried out to track down personal devices that have made it past the lobby and into the building. men wearing suits and carrying large handheld devices have been seen roaming the west wing moving from room to room scouring for devices. if one is detected, one of the men will ask if someone in the room forgot to put their phone away. jonathan, you have been on the leak beat.
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i have been riveted by your reporting on this since saturday morning when i woke up to your sort of anatomy of a trump white house leak. then every update grew more surreal with people calling you to say and another thing and another thing and another thing. take us through the cascading leaks about the leakers. >> yeah. it's hard to keep track. basically what happened was last week as everyone's covered very closely, a staffer or several leaked out that kelly sadler who's on the press team said a very cruel comment about john mccain, that he's dying anyway. the next morning sarah sanders gathered the press and coms team together in the roosevelt room and starts the meeting by saying this is probably going to leak what i say here and that's just disgusting. my report on saturday led with that and i said her prediction came true, here's what happened next according to five sources
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in the room. >> who leaked. >> we're now at a point honestly where it's incredibly easy to get realtime leaks from meetings in the white house and they know it. they feel that they want to put some heads on pikes but they need to find out which heads to put on those pikes. finding proof is a difficult thing, because people who are skilled leakers are very good at covering their tracks. >> you've got this incredible bit of reporting that one of the leakers reached out with an additional quote. quote, to cover my tracks, i usual pay attention to other staffer's idioms and use that in my background quotes. that throws the scent off me. if they spent this much effort on their legislative strategy, he might actually have the poll numbers he believes he has. that's amazing. >> so we always think everything's unprecedented but a
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presidential historian who served in the bush administration reached out to me last night and pointed out that in the reagan era people would do that, they would mimic the way don regan speaks. this is apparently quite an old practice. there are some very committed and skilled leakers in the white house, and long may they survive. >> i'm with you. long may they survive. i want to ask you about an intervention based on jonathan swan's reporting. the fox and friends trying to sound the alarm bells for the president this morning, delivering a blunt message to donald trump warning him that internal leaks are coming from those he trusts, saying the president cannot trust his own staff. >> the president is not getting good advice. he is owed the sanctity of a
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private conversation, but nonetheless wilthere is leaking going on in the white house like nobody's business. >> it's sad that the president cannot trust his own staff who he hired. >> now, this coming from a morning anchor at a network in receipt allegedly of two leaked text messages from fbi agents. this is not a leak free zone either. no one that covers government or politics or the white house is immune to receiving information that a principal may not want out there. i want to ask you to weigh in on that, as well as the tweet that ziems the person yelling the most about leakers is doing the leaking, which was the takeaway people what had from to do not congratulate incident. >> that was when president trump had a phone call with president putin with russia and he had notes telling them don't congratulate him because putin
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had just been reelected. he did anyway. within a day or so, that whole story leaked to the "washington post." >> in the beginning one of the most egregious leaks were the transcripts and the audio of his phone calls with mexico and australia. unbelievable. >> that has fed into the president's existing paranoia about the deep state, believing there are people in the government trying to undermine him. what's happening now is that more and more of the leaks are coming from his own building. this is from the white house. every so often we have these moments where they say we're going to round up and fire the leakers. that hasn't really happened. it certainly hasn't stopped the leaks. to add to jonathan's point, i remember during the campaign this happened where there was one former trump campaign staffer who would use phrases that corey lewandowski, then the
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campaign manager used, so he could give quotes that sounded like corey. >> no one's playing a violin for corey lewandowski. i want to show ykellyanne conwa warning of fallout from this. >> there is all kinds of leaks. some leaks because they disagree with the policies put forth, but none of them are helpful. >> do you expect personnel changes as a result? >> yes, i do, actually. yes, i do. >> some of the stories that kellyanne conway and her colleagues have called fake news have blamed on leakers have turned out to be true. there was a "new york times" report about emmett flood joining the president's legal time. we reported that hr mcmaster
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would be out of his job as national security advisor by the end of march. mike anton called it fake news, screams at one of my colleagues. hr mcmaster was gone by the end of march. often the stories they squeal the loudest about turn out to be true in the shortest order. >> that's absolutely true and it kind of undermines those objections. how seriously are we to take it when the white house denies something if it's quickly verified? why are these leaks happening? it has something to do with the high turnover on the staff. there's some lack of cohesion, i think, within the ranks of the white house where you don't have staff members who feel they have each others' back. they have competing agendas. that's some of the root causes of these leaks.
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we saw more of that i think in some previous administrations than we're seeing in this one. >> jonathan swan, one of the people about whom the most people leak the most egregious things is john kelly. people leak around the rob porter incident. you couldn't get off the phone before someone else was calling to tell you how responsible kelly was, that his initial statement about his reaction was a lie. wherever there's a comment that leaks out of any of his meetings on capitol hill, there's a chorus that sort of sweeps in and makes clear he has a record of sayingsensitive things or things that are not politically correct about women. this is not a group of people that have each others' back at all. >> they sure don't. with kelly, i would say at this point his most sworn enemies are probably outside the white house, but there are several inside the white house too.
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certainly when the rob porter incident happened and kelly put out his version of events, the impulse from a lot of people was what they saw as correcting the record because they believed and said that he was lying about what happened. that was a very -- i would say that that incident really was a line of demarcation with kelly. certain people who had given him the benefit of the doubt even if they disagreed with him or felt that he was imposing strictures that they didn't like, at that point i think he lost quite a few people on the staff. >> we all know what happens next. then come the leaks. jonathan swan, stay on its and keep telling us about it. when we come back, republicans on capitol hill had a chance to confront the president about those offensive remarks about their beloved colleague john mccain. this this this this is my body of proof. proof of less joint pain
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senator, should the white house apologize to john mccain for the remarks made last week? >> i believe so. obviously the president's made it pretty clear he doesn't apologize for things. it's something i don't necessarily agree with. >> does the white house owe him an apology? >> if i had said, that i would apologize. >> of course there should be an apology. >> everything happens for a reason. and sometimes the reason is you're stupid and made a bad decision. i don't know ms. sadler, so i don't know whether she's stupid or not, but she sure made a bad decision. >> today was their big opportunity to speak truth to power, to tell the president today at lunch just how offensive his aide's comments about their colleague john mccain really were, to demand an apology. but because they're republicans and because they're all afraid of the president's twitter feed, none of that happened.
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apparently trump did most of the talking. people in the room say he only got two or three questions. the main topics of discussions, donald trump's accomplishments, the tax bill, north korea and judges. they also talked trade, china and immigration. this is pathetic. not a single profile in courage. they were able to give you pretty honest answers. but they get in the room with the president and have a dear leader moment. what happened? >> reporter: it's a fascinating dynamic here where these republican senators are far more willing to criticize the white house's response to this in public on camera on television than they are in private. the marco rubio answer, which was actually quite long, really sfe speaks to this, a sense of resignation that the president is not going to change, he's not going to apologize, he's not going to walk things back and he's not going to speak the way they want him to speak. so you see it not get brought
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up. these meetings are essentially pep rallies. outside you can hear the rounds of applause the president gets. he's talking about his achievements. they tried to get him talk a little bit more about their collective achievements. but i think the sense is from a purely political basis, who wants to be the one person in that room to stand up and say, this isn't right, mr. president, knowing it will fail and knowing you will be mobbed by people like me the minute you walk out the door. the senators made the calculations it's just not worth it. >> let me read you some of the headlines. on october 26th "new york times" david brooks wrote quote the republican senators greeted trump on capitol hill and saw a president so repetitive and rambling, some thought he may be suffering from alzheimer's. july 7th, trump clashes with gop senator at meeting. october 24th, trump goes to capitol hill to set tax strategy
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but feuds with his own party dominate the day. these meetings don't always go well, but i've never seen the republicans lay down and die so quickly. >> i think you're seeing right now this switch towards the midterm elections here too. you had a new senate candidate mike braun of indiana in the room as part of this. i think all these senate republicans are desperately hoping they can all just pull in the same direction for a few more months. i think that's part of the reason you don't see more rocking the boat here. they need to all be on the same page. >> what would the perils be of rocking the boat? >> i mean, it's become increasingly clear they're not going to fight pack on what he's doing for a chinese phone company, zte. it is a trump branded project in indonesia. they only have expressed their concern about the tariffs and
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protection of their soybean farmers. in red states they don't want to lose elections this fall. in private, they barely even talk about their concerns about trade in public. knowing how much lindsey graham loves john mccain i was surprised he left and tweeted president trump is a true believer in peace. lindsey graham was on the sunday shows talking about how disgusting it was to talk about john mccain that way. it's not only that they don't confront him in private. it is really a nonstop pep rally. perhaps garrett's right that it's just going to rev up even more as they approach november 6th. >> there was an indictment of the press that during the election we did a lot to normalize him. there's some legitimate critique in there. i think more than anything the republicans bear the brunt of the blame for normalizing him
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and now celebrating him. >> i think that's true. for the president, he never apologizes for anything, but what he would have been doing here is simply acknowledging the kelly sadler comment. i think what has happened is that republicans are afraid of the tweets, they're afraid of repercussions in their states. >> they're afraid of the tweets. i'm raising a 6-year-old to not be afraid of things that happen on the internet. >> it's not going to protect them either because any given thing could set the president off. what surprises me is that there should have been a leak. the real leak should have said, well, someone in the room admonished kelly for what she said. of course that didn't happen and the president would never accept an apology anyway. >> what is going on at a white house where the private story where she called megan mccain
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and apologized is actually better than the public message that we'll never apologize for anything. what's wrong with them? >> you hit the nail on the head. it comes from the top down. president trump, it is a live creedo to not apologize. he believes it's a sign of weakness. he judges people when they apologize. when in a rare moment of white house candor amid the rob porter affair it was suggested that we collectively at the white house could have handled that better, he got chewed out by the president. and that he believes it's a sign of weakness. and in particular there's john mccain, who of course is an american hero. on the campaign trail he suggested he was not a war hero because he was captured. even since then he brings him up
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repeatedly as the person to blame for the failure of the republican health care plan. i think that plays a part in this too. >> great part of his legacy. garrett, thank you so much for joining us. when we come back, new reporting on the vice president that might not go over so well with the boss. it started with a discussion, then a decision and now you're working toward something together. can you afford it? is it the right time?
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yes. and you feel good about it. because you're doing this for him in return for everything he's always done for you. at pnc, we're here to help you take steps today to make a plan to borrow and stick with it. bienvenido a casa, papá. pnc. make today the day. metastatic breast cancer is relentless, but i'm relentless too. mbc doesn't take a day off, and neither will i. and i treat my mbc with new everyday verzenio-
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the only one of its kind that can be taken every day. in fact, verzenio is a cdk4 & 6 inhibitor for postmenopausal women with hr+, her2- mbc, approved, with hormonal therapy, as an everyday treatment for a relentless disease. verzenio + an ai is proven to help women have significantly more time without disease progression, and more than half of women saw their tumors shrink vs an ai. diarrhea is common, may be severe, and may cause dehydration or infection. before taking verzenio, tell your doctor if you have fever, chills, or other signs of infection. verzenio may cause low white blood cell counts, which may cause serious infection that can lead to death. serious liver problems can occur. symptoms may include tiredness, loss of appetite, stomach pain, and bleeding or bruising more easily than normal. blood clots that can lead to death have also occurred. talk to your doctor right away if you notice pain or swelling in your arms or legs, shortness of breath, chest pain or rapid breathing or heart rate. tell your doctor if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or plan to become pregnant. common side effects include nausea, infections,
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low red and white blood cells and platelets, decreased appetite, headache, abdominal pain, tiredness, vomiting, and hair thinning or loss. i'm relentless. and my doctor and i choose to treat my mbc with verzenio. be relentless. ask your doctor about everyday verzenio. thank you, mr. president. and this is the greatest privilege of my life to serve with you as vice president to a president who's keeping his word to the american people and assembling a team that's bringing real change, real prosperity. >> i'm deeply humbled as your vice president to be able to be here. it's really great to be here with a friend of mine. the man indiana voted overwhelmingly to make the 45th president of the united states of america, president donald trump. >> isn't that nice?
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in public vice president pence can't stop fawning over president trump, but privately it may be a different story. new reporting in the "new york times" finds republican officials now see mr. pence as seeking to exercise expanse i have control over a political party ostensibly helmed by mr. trump, tending to his own allies and interests even as the president's instincts lean in another direction. trump made sure everyone knows who's boss. a source told nbc news he was the one who asked his former campaign manager corey lewandowski to join pence's political action committee. with us now, white house reporter for politico who wrote about this today in a piece titled "trump puts pence in a corner," describing how the president is stepping in to assert his dominance.
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as with all things trumpian, it goes from the petty like snatching invites to speak to the nra to the more consequential decisions about staff and political appointees. talk about what you wrote today. >> that's right. well, we've seen a couple of occasions like you mentioned, both the nra and davos which was originally pence to go there. trump saw the guest list and decided i should do this and bunted pence off the schedule. leak-- like you mentioned, that's petty stuff. but there are more substantive moves. pence brought in john learner. the white house got wind of this, found out he had signed some never trump letters during the campaign and vetoed him as a choice. you do see substantive hits
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against pence from the president even though as we saw there in his public remarks pence lavi lavishes the praise beyond what any vice president has come close to doing in american history. >> yes. that's true. that's true. let me ask you something. i'm going to put you on the spot. it's something i've heard from inside white house but people close to this white house on the outside that say that pence is protecting himself and fortifying himself for all scenarios including and up to becoming president should donald trump decide not to run for re-election and be found to have done something wrong in the russian investigation. >> that is the chatter. some of the chatter has found its way to west wing who are eyeing mike pence a little nervously. he fawns over the president. if someone started looking at me that way i'd feel uncomfortable. is it a very ambitious
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politician. someone very popular among conservatives and more traditional republicans perhaps than trump is who sees perhaps a lane down the road. it could be 2024 if trump runs again or wins again. there's a scenario. i know there are people close to the president outside of the pi building who have been saying be careful that mike pence doesn't try to make a run in 2020. it's the same kind of talk you hear about nikki haley. another republican who is a popular figure who has taken pains to separate herself at times from the president. pence is doing that very pno so publicly. >> pence has been in the room around the same time o some of these decisions were made. he may have hard conversations about, deliberations about
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firing jim comey. i've never heard him of being someone of special interest to robert mueller. is there anyone that suggests he has any valuable information or has he managed to keep himself out of loop to protect himself? >> it's sort of remarkable to the extent he has done just that. he said michael flynn hadn't discussioned sanctions with the russian ambassador. he later said jim comey was fired because of rod rosenstein's recommendation. both those were untrue and pence escaped controversy there. lots of vice presidents have fought to show they are important and had nothing to do with the room. he's really tried the steer clear of all of that.
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as far as we know, he's not someone who bob mueller is really scrutinized. >> he used to be known as a principal conservative. what is his reputation now? >> that is very tough for someone like senator jeff flake. a good friend of vice president pence going back forever. they were the original tea party insurgents. they were the freedom caucus rebels who could not be tied down to anything they saw as a waste of the government dollar and that included mark sanford in the house before and is back in the house and would make his staff use both sides of sticky paper. jeff flake and mark sanford are critical of the president but remain fiscal conservatives. they are considered rhinos now because they are just not loyal
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to the president. this has been annen kre incredi journey for people watching someone like mike pence. republicans are counting on him. they say you better have an infrastructure in place. you better be there in case the whole thing explodes. that's what he's doing behind the scene. >> we used to be someone of character. thank you for joining us. more on the breaking news we reported. the pentagon responding to that news about north korea. just like us. and just like that we felt a little less alone. but then something happened. we had to deal with spam, fake news, and data misuse. that's going to change. from now on, facebook will do more to keep you safe and protect your privacy. because when this place does what it was built for, then we all get a little closer.
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i'm still giving it my best even though i live with a higher risk of stroke due to afib not caused by a heart valve problem. so if there's a better treatment than warfarin, i'm up for that. eliquis. eliquis is proven to reduce stroke risk better than warfarin. plus has significantly less major bleeding than warfarin. eliquis is fda-approved and has both. so what's next? seeing these guys. don't stop taking eliquis unless your doctor tells you to, as stopping increases your risk of having a stroke. eliquis can cause serious and in rare cases fatal bleeding.
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don't take eliquis if you have an artificial heart valve or abnormal bleeding. while taking eliquis, you may bruise more easily and it may take longer than usual for any bleeding to stop. seek immediate medical care for sudden signs of bleeding, like unusual bruising. eliquis may increase your bleeding risk if you take certain medicines. tell your doctor about all planned medical or dental procedures. eliquis, the number one cardiologist-prescribed blood thinner. ask your doctor if eliquis is what's next for you. we want to update you on the
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breaking news. north korea has cancelled a scheduled meeting with south korea and threatened to cancel the summit with president trump threatened for early june in singapo singapore. the defense department out with a statement saying that the planned joint exercises will go on as planned. the nature of these exercises have been clear for decades. they have been scheduled for a while. the former krrk ia directcia di the turn of events is surprising since donald trump seems enamored with a fire making process. not sure when if ever mr. trump will realize he's not the smartest salesman or even the best negotiator in the world. indeed far from it. >> i think what we need to see now is what the white house response will be. the department of defense pretty carefully measured statement, state department suggesting the
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summit in june is still ongoing. what will the president do. they will say this is a moment. just keep your head down and lean forward. we want the summit to happen in june. you're dealing with a very unpredictable -- two unpredi unpredictable actors. >> he could be baited by a threat to walk away from a meeting he's put a whole lot of stock and import into. >> these military exercises go right up just right before the summit. i think this could blow this up. clean off your fiddles and make sure that you are ready for a summit not to happen. >> i think that he's right. i think we can expect a little zinger from president trump.
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that's what he does and he wants to be a counter puncher. >> that's does it for our hour. mtp daily starts now. >> got to love it. save some miles, i guess. >> that's one way to do it. if it's tuesday, does president trump have the right stuff to deal with north korea? good evening. i'm chuck todd here. welcome to "mtp daily." we have development os on the ph for impeachment and gina haspel who appears to have enough support to be the next director of the cia.


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