tv MSNBC Live With Ali Velshi MSNBC December 20, 2018 12:00pm-1:00pm PST
right now. how do the markets look? >> not good, but better than a half an hour ago. let's see what we do in the last hour of trading. good afternoon, katy. good afternoon to all of you. before i gets to the markets, that's what the "f" serving in congress has come to. that's how one republican, who said the full expletive, by the way, views the chaos that is surrounding efforts to avoid a government shutdown. house speaker paul ryan says president trump will not sign a senate bill to keep the government open for the next several weeks, because it doesn't contain the $5 billion that he wants for his border wall. congress now has just 33 hours to reach a deal or hundreds of thousands of federal employees are going to have to stay home or work through the holidays with no pay. but nbc news reports that the mood has darkened and republicans in the house see little chance now to avoid a shutdown. >> the president informed us that he will not sign the bill that came over from the senate last evening, because of his legitimate concerns for border security. so what we're going to do is go back to the house and work with
our members. we want to keep the government open, but we also want to see an agreement that protects the border. >> all right, democrats, for their part, are holding firm in their opposition. >> democrats are not budging on the wall. we favor smart, effective border security, not a medieval wall. there are not the votes in the republican house for a wall. they are not the votes in the senate for a wall. not now, not next week, not next month or beyond. >> all right. that's not the only battle that president trump is waging with congress. the president's defending his pronouncement that isis has been defeated in syria and that 2,000 u.s. troops stationed in the country will be coming home. some of the harshest criticism has come from his fellow republicans. >> this is an akin to surrendering. we can be successful only if we partner with others.
this undercuts that effort. we've got two choices to fight this war, in their backyard or our backyard. >> isis is not defeated. they're on the ropes. i think it's almost inevitable if we pull out, we'll have to go back at some point. >> all right, i'm going to talk to you about the shutdown. i'm going to talk to you about the other stuff that's going on, the border wall. but i want to talk to you about this. all of this chaos is having an impact on wall street. take a look at this board. as you saw, around 2:15 or 2:30 or so, we saw the worst of the market. it's been -- it improved until about 10 'til 3:00 and now we're starting to go down again. the dow down about 1.8% at the moment. i'm joined by my friend dominic chu from cnbc. dom, i'm trying to figure out what this is. there are a bunch of options, right. it could be dysfunction over congress, could be something to do with interest rates rising. it could be, coming to the end of the year and a lot of people who invest for a living saying, we're not going to see a big improvement over the next several days, so they're getting out of their positions.
what is this? what is making this market go down with this volatility? >> ali, how about all of that you said and more? we're not even talking about like the tax implications for people trying to sell some of this rally here. we're not even talking about the idea that perhaps treasury yields, interest rates are behaving in not the way people had anticipated, given the fed. all of these things and this general sentiment for risk aversion in the marketplace is what's grappling a lot of traders right now. the reason why it's important is because this is seasonably, usually a strong time of year for the overall markets, from a psychological estimate, from a sentiment standpoint. what you are seeing today and what you've been seeing for the last couple of months is a real shift in investor psychology and mentality. and of course, economic concerns are going to play a factor in all of the market volatility. that's the reason why traders are paying such close attention, by the way, ali. >> all right. dom, we're going to keep in close touch with you over the course of the next hour. thank you, dominic chu over at
cnbc. as i mentioned at the top, efforts are underway to avert a federal government shutdown but the prospects are looking doubtful. nbc's kristen welker joins me now from the white house. kristen, what's happened in the last few hours? we started this day thinking that the republicans in the house were getting ready to pass this bill that had been approved, the continuing resolution that had been approved by the senate last night. and then it all went downhill. >> it's been a frenetic past few hours, ali. it started off with a lot of confusion here at the white house about what president trump would do, whether he would sign off on that short-term cr and we quickly got our answer. the answer was "no." he called leaders to the white house. so that he could speak with house speaker paul ryan, kevin mccarthy, and essentially convey that message and say he would not sign a short-term deal that didn't fund the border. take a listen to what kevin mccarthy had to say just a short time ago. >> the president said what the senate sent over is just kicking the ball, just kicking the can
down the road. we want to solve this problem, we want to make sure we keep the government open and work to get that done and have something happen. >> reporter: so ali, in terms of what happened, based on my conversations with sources here and those close to the president, the president has been watching, listening very closely to all of this criticism that he's been getting from his base, from conservative media. laura ingraham, ann coulter, sean hannity, who have been yin and failing to live up to his signature campaign promise, which is to fund and build the border wall. and they really see this as his last best chance to get that done, because, of course, in just a few weeks, democrats are going to take over the house. i can tell you that privately, his allies have been conveying that same message, that if he doesn't get a better deal, effectively, his base is going to start to abandon him. one source telling me, he has been in a tailspin over this. so that is why you're seeing the president lurch back and forth
and was really quiet for quite some time. then this morning, he started to lash out on twitter, and lash out at republican leadership, pointing the finger at them, saying that they had promised to get him funding for the border wall. remember when he signed that omnibus bill back in march and he was infuriated and he said, i'm never going to do this again. well, his allies reminding him of that language, pushing him to hold firm. at this point, it seems like the chances for a shutdown are increasing by the minute. >> kristen, we can watch that closely. but there's also this other matter of the president's tweet and decision to pull u.s. troops out of syria that's been facing a lot of backlash from republicans. there seems to be a back and forth going on now between the president and lindsey graham and others. what's happening on that front? >> well, it's just remarkable president trump, i think, surprised some people within his own administration, as well as republicans on capitol hill, when he announced yesterday that essentially, he believes that there has been victory over isis and it's time for u.s. troops to come home.
what you have is republicans, essentially, including lindsey graham, lashing out and saying this amounts to something that we saw during obama's foreign policy, when he decided to pull out of iraq. and that was sharply criticized, because it was believed that it allowed a void and for militants to essentially take hold. the same concerns hold true here. so president trump lashing back at lindsey graham saying, so hard to believe that lindsey graham would be against saving soldier lives and billions of dollars. why are we fighting for our enemy, syria, by staying and killing isis for them, russia, iran, and other locals. time to focus on our country and bring our youth back home. this is really a part of president trump's foreign policy. it is something he's been talking about since he was a candidate. but, of course, the timing of it is what has gotten so much focus and so much criticism, ali. >> kristen, thank you for your great reporting today. we'll stay very close to what is happening at the white house and on capitol hill with a looming shutdown. let's find out what's happening
on the other end of pennsylvania avenue. nbc's garrett haake joins frus from capitol hill. garrett, answer me this. the president says he doesn't sign the continuing resolution, it goes back to congress, what's the vote situation now in the outgoing congress? is there some way that the president can get what he wants with the republicans who are still in power zblrm a? >> reporter: ali, right now, this is a complete debacle. it's hard to overstate what a shambles this situation is right now here on capitol hill. there's a plan to move things forward a little bit, but there is not a plan among republican leadership to actually keep the government open. here's what republican leaders were saying when they came back from that meeting at the white house about their next steps. here was steve scalise returning to the capitol. >> we had a really good meeting with president trump to talk about the strong interests that we all have in securing our nation's border. this has ban priority of president trump's. this has been a priority of house republicans. and we are going to move today to have add language to the bill that the senate sent over on
government funding, to add $5 billion for the wall, as well as the disaster relief funding that's been agreed upon by both the house and senate for the hurricanes and the wildfires. >> reporter: so ali, a couple of things could happen here. the house could add this $5 billion for the wall money, they could try to have a vote on that, and it could fail. after which there is no plan. or, the house could add this $5 billion for the wall money and it could secede and send it back to the senate, where it could be defeated, because there are not senate democratic votes for it, which is necessary, so it could fail in the senate, after which there is no plan. i don't know if you're starting to pick up on the pattern here, but the bottom line is, republicans don't is a plan to give the president what they want with the votes that are available. >> right, okay. >> there are republicans who are not here in town, folks who are not coming back, there are folk who is don't want to vote for this wall out of principle, even in the republican party. and there's not a way around that. and republican sources i have talked to concede, they think it is better to be seen fighting and losing than to do nothing here. but fighting and losing does not
keep the government open. and that's where we stand right now, with a little over a day to go. >> and it's not that it's close. and that's the important thing for people to understand. if they don't get to an agreement by tomorrow night and the government shuts down, it's not like they're close to an answer. this is a fundamental debate in which the sides are in opposite places. garrett haake for us on capitol hill. let's go to someone in the thick of this. joining me now, new hampshire democratic senator jeanne shaheen who sits on the foreign armed services and foreign relations. the first thing we have to talk about is this. there is not some sort of compromise position on the table, such that if the house republicans don't come up with a pass for the continuing resolution and/or the president doesn't agree to sign one, there's no road that looks like it succeeds here that keeps the government open. >> well, it's unfortunate that
the president has not stuck to the understanding that i had and i think that other members of the senate had, when we voted in a strong bipartisan vote. it was a voice vote. there was so much support for the continuing resolution, but again, the president shows that you can't negotiate with him, because you can't count on any commits that he makes. we have been talking about what to do here for the last several weeks. as i said, there was bipartisan agreement that we were going to pass this continuing resolution. we were going to do it to the beginning of february, to give us lots of time to continue to discuss the issues that are outstanding. and the president signaled that he was going to support that. and now he's flip-flopped on it. so you don't know how to negotiate with somebody whose word you can't count on. >> but as garrett just said, there is some chance that the house could pass a vote with a republican majority that goes
back to the senate. i'm talking to you in new hampshire right now. does that mean you would then end up in washington for a senate vote? >> i think there are a lot of senators who have gone home. last night we were told we could go home. the house and the president were going to be onboard with this continuing resolution, so i assume we would go back. but we would go back, i hope, if we had a solution. but i don't think the votes are there in the senate to put $5 billion in for the wall. and by the way, the president's campaign promise was for mexico to pay for the wall. >> correct. >> it wasn't for american taxpayers to pay for it. so if he's really going to stick to his promise, he should make mexico pay. >> senator, you were in syria a few months ago. what do you make of the president's unannounced and sort of surprising call to take the 2,000 u.s. troops out of syria, that's meeting with opposition kind of everywhere he looks? >> i think this will be
considered one of the worst foreign policy blunders of this century. certainly of this century to date. isis has not been completely defeated. we know there is a stronghold where there is still active fighting going on. we know there are thousands of isis fighters who have melted back into villages, who if we withdraw and the kurdish syrian democratic forces who have been our great partners in this fight are -- don't have the support that they have the opportunity to come back, either as isis, again, or another configuration of the terrorist organization, that's what happened in iraq. we don't want history to repeat itself here. and we don't want to give iran and russia and assad, we don't want to seed influence in syria to them, which we will do if we totally pull out. >> and real quickly, the president tweeted that russia and iran are really upset about
this idea. it's actually -- you're on the foreign relations committee. it would be the opposite of that. they would be most pleased if we ceded influence by leaving syria. >> that's right. they've already indicated they would be pleased about the prospect that we would leave. when i was there in july with senator graham, we talked to kurds, to arabs, to the syrians all along the northeast corner. and they were so grateful for america's being there. and they begged to us stay, not to pull out because they were concerned about what would happen if we left. as we drove along with our service men and women in the cars, the syrians we saw along the roads flashed us a victory sign, because they were so pleased to have americans there supporting them. and to pull out now would say, not just to the kurdish partners that we have and the syrians, that they can't count on the united states, but it would say to any future partners who we might want to have work with us that they can't trust the united states to keep our word.
and that's a very bad signal. >> senator jeanne shaheen, pleasure to talk to you. thank you for joining me. >> thank you. i want to continue the conversation about syria, including reminding people who may have forgotten why the united states is in syria to begin with. it started back in 2010, when the arab spring broke out across the middle east and north africa and all of these countries colored in yellow here. when the spring hit syria, the protest turned particularly deadly. the government fired on a crowd in a contained area, an unarmed crowd. the international red cross within two years had declared this a civil war, by july of 2012. by 2013, the situation had devolved into a humanitarian crisis, with at least 90,000 people killed. that was back then, according to the u.n. several chemical weapons attacks were reported that year, including one that killed almost 1,500 people, many of whom were children. u.s. intelligence found that the syrian government was behind the attack. president trump wanted to launch air strikes in response, but congress was against that.
now, during this time, isis took advantage of the chaos and claimed huge swaths of both syria and iraq. by 2014, it had declared a caliphate or an islamic state. in september of that year, congress approved president obama's plan for the united states to arm and train rebels in syria to fight isis. the u.s. also launched air strikes against the group inside the country. now, by 2015, the u.s. government began sending american troops to syria to serve as advisers or trainers. there are now about 2,000 u.s. special forces backing kurdish militias, who are fighting isis in the northeastern part of the country, where isis has now been reduced to remote pockets of the dessert. they don't control any meaningful towns or village. now here's where it gets complicated. mixed into all of this is russia, which intervened in 2015 and helped turned the tide of the civil war in favor of syrian president, bashar al assad. also in the game is iran, which
has had a growing presence in syria since 2012. it has always supported the bashar assad government. and there's no guarantee as to what could happen next. one of the biggest concerns is that isis, which is estimated to have 20 to 30 active soldiers could come out of hiding and make a comeback once u.s. troops lea leave. and after the u.s. withdrew troops from iraq in 2011, isis took over several of iraq's largest cities and was fighting on the outskirts of baghdad within two and a half years. i want to get kasie hunt over here. she's on capitol hill and she's got some breaking news about the pending government shutdown. kasie? >> reporter: i just spoke briefly with kevin mccarthy, number two in the house right now, the incoming minority leader come january. he used the same language that leaders were using when they came out of the white house, which is that the government will not shut down, but that they will do these border security priorities. add that $5 billion.
the problem with that statement is that we know that the senate is not going to accept that. chuck schumer and nancy pelosi have been very clear and they need democratic votes in the senate. so if the house goes forward with this plan and we're just sort of seeing the contours of it start to evolve, the thinking is that they're going to take what the senate passed late last night, they're going to add $5 billion for the border wall, add some additional money as well for disaster assistance. now, what effect does that have? if it can pass the house, it would then go back to the senate, where it would need to be spads again befopassed again president could sign it into law. but there is a big question as to whether it can pass the house at all. this is the conversation nancy pelosi was having with donald trump in the oval office. you remember, she said, you don't have enough republican votes to pass your wall in the house. there was some talk that they would do a test vote to prove to the president that nancy pelosi was right about that, funnily enough, but they didn't. and now they're talking about doing it now, today. and i've talked to some sources
who say that leadership is operating under the assumption that that will actually go through. they'll send it back to the senate and then it would be up to the senate to take it up or not. there are some who say it could still fail. those aides are telling me if it does fail, then it's going to be back to square one. they're going to have to start all over again. i have to tell you, ali. everybody that i'm talking to here in the house, on the house side this afternoon is saying that a shutdown is starting to feel pretty inevitable. it's really not clear how we get out of this mess. mark meadows and jim jordan and others in the freedom caucus, they are saying that they want to be seen fighting. they don't want to be seen caving. so i guess this is what this looks like. but it's a very tricky place for republicans to be. and there's a lot of speculation if the government is going to shut down tomorrow, it's likely to tsai closed until democrats take back the house on january 3rd. >> so for meadows and jordan and the freedom caucus, who say they're not going to have a better chance at getting $5 billion in funding for a border
wall in february, they're kind of right. >> they don't have dish me-- i the wall is not going to happen. it's simply not. people have said, this is trump's last chance, it's the last train leading the station. it may be a train, but there's no rails underneath. it's not going anywhere. so that's really the challenge. and obviously, democrats will have more power come january. it's a really difficult way to start off, if you are nancy pelosi, but at the same time, they have absolutely no incentive to stay yes to this. and even if you think about the dynamics in the senate, the people that might have voted with donald trump in the senate on an issue like this, they all lost their re-elections with the possible single exception of joe manchin. so, you know, i'm not even clear who has an incentive over there to do it. so, just think it through. if the house passes the $5 billion, sends it over to the senate, what are mitch mcconnell and chuck schumer going to do? there are not the votes for that. they could potentially take it, talk again, make some other additional kind of deal, put it
back together, try to pass it, send it back over here. i mean, we could potentially get into some ping-pong. it's pretty clear the white house was sending a signal to the senate earlier this week that they were going to be onboard with this short-term cr. mitch mcconnell told me as much, i asked him on tuesday, are you convinced you're not going to shut down over christmas? and he was very clear, he said, yeah, i am convinced that we're not going to shut down. and mitch mcconnell is a man of relatively few words. he doesn't say things -- he doesn't speak out of school. if he was saying that then, you know, we felt like we could take it to the bank. clearly, the message got lost in translation. it's a pretty tough day for mitch mcconnell. also, a tough day for paul ryan, ali. >> yeah! >> all of the events of today, this was supposed to be his last day, his last press conference as speaker. everyone was going to kind of go out in a bit of a merry atmosphere. there's a couple of members of congress running around here with like reindeer christmas sweaters on. that was the mood. but the way these events have unfolded, this is republicans under the trump presidency. everything that's happened over
the course of today, it's just not really the way i'm sure that the speaker wants to go out. >> kasie, let me ask you this. one thing we always say about nancy pelosi is she knows how to count votes. she knows that there isn't going to be a democrat who's going to vote for $5 billion in border wall funding. does paul ryan and kevin mccarthy, do they know the same things about republicans about as to whether or not something goes to a vote, you mentioned the test vote, do they know how this would go? because garrett haake said about the possibility of house republicans passing something that asks for the border wall funding, which then has to go back to the senate, where it will most likely be defeated anyway. is there any way house republicans can win this? >> reporter: so we've talked to two very smart sources on the hill team here who have slightly different views of this. so i think that really, we're only going to get the final answer when it actually goes to the floor. and you know, i was speaking to these sources kind of on background in varying context, so i don't necessarily want to
be too specific about who they were. but one line of thinking goes that the assumption is that the border wall money will pass and it will go to the senate. and under that line of thinking, the assumption is that we go to a shutdown, because the senate won't pass that. now, another source said that it's really very up in the air. there are a lot of absences, you know, so when you have 30 people missing on each side, it can be much more difficult for the vote counters to have a full kind of grasp on, you know, who is missing and why. you know, the missing people have tended to be those who lost, perhaps more moderate members from suburban districts, who wouldn't be as inclined to vote for this wall, whereas more of the freedom caucus and more conservative members who were keeping their seats are still around. so, you know, that could tilt it against or rather in favor of the border wall funding. but i think it's really, right on the line right now, ali, i would say some of the leaders, at least are expecting that it will go through. others, a little bit more nervous about it.
if it were to not pass, if -- and we're going to see, i think, unfolding on the house floor, again, i want to underscore, this is still all very fluid. the plan is kind of in motion and could change, but we're expecting in the house, you have to pass, before you vote on a bill, something called a rule that basically sets up the parameters for the vote. those often serve as very key test votes. so sometimes, a vote on a rule is actually the screaming headline or the banner on the screen, right? that could end up being the case here. we could see what seems like some technical, procedural, way down in the weeds kind of thing, that's actually going to tell us whether this goes through. if that does pass, it sends a very strong signal gnat underlying bill is likely to go through, as well. >> all right, kasie, thanks very much. ca kasie hunt, we'll stay on top of this with kasie and garrett. i'll be bouncing a lot in this hour. i've got that and this market. what a thing to look at 317 points lower and hear it's
recovering. i want to keep an eye on that and cover this other big story we've got, syria and the president's tweet that we're getting out of syria and his comments and a video we're getting coming out of syria. i just showed you why we're in syria in the first place. i'm joined now by retired mayor general bob skaicales, a former commandant of the war college. let's talk about this for a second. there are a lot of military people, a lot of strategists, a lot of experts on the middle east who say this is ill advised, to get out of there and create a country in which there remains a power vacuum. add to the list of countries in the world where there is a power vacuum, and in particular one in which iran and russia ascendant and powerful doesn't make any sense. do you have a good argument on the other side? do you have some argument that what donald trump is doing does make some sense? >> you know, i guess in a sort of perverted way, one of the things that he says is that isis is substantially destroyed. that may be partially true, but
to your case in point, it's also irrelevant. and let me explain that. you know, i've been covering the middle east for 17 years and we have many successes and failures to report over this time. but the one -- from a military perspective, the one real amazing success is what the united states and its allies have done to build this enkhacl of 2,200 men and women in uniform in northeastern syria. it's an amazing facility and it does many things unrelated to isis. most important is that it's a cork in the bottle. it's an obstacle that is preventing iran from building, extending the so-called sunni crescent west from iran, across iraq, syria, all the way into the levant in lebanon. the only thing standing in their way is this, you know, enclave that covers about one third of
syria in the northeast. in addition to that, you know, there's an old saying, you don't get a seat at table unless you have skin in the game. by pulling american forces out of this region, we lose all political clout when finally, after a decade and a half of war, all the nations involved will go to geneva and go to the table, we'll just be an onlooker. and here's the thing, ali, what's the price? 2,200 mostly soldiers in this isolated enclave that are doing work that is far great than their numbers would suggest, ali. >> major bob scales, major general bob scales, thank you for your commentary on this. it is important that we understand what's going on in syria and what the right decision and what success looks like. thank you, sir. always good to see you. >> thanks, ali. coming up, the department of homeland security is set to start sending asylum seekers back to mexico to start to wait out the results of their asylum
hearings. kirstjen nielsen made the announcement today ahead of the hearings that she's been a part of in the house judiciary committee where democrats came down hard on her for the death of a 7-year-old girl in custody of border security. plus, amid all of these very serious headlines, the president just tweeted this -- seriously. a clip from when he appeared on the emmys in overalls more than a decade ago. he tweeted this himself. the tweet cites the farm bill signing with the hashtags emmys and tbt. you can't make this stuff up. t p - [narrator] the typical vacuum head has its limitations, so shark invented duo clean.
all right. just last hour, secretary of the department of homeland security, kirstjen nielsen, wrapped up her appearance before the house judiciary committee. she answered questions about immigration policies, border security, and family separation. and as you can imagine, it got contentio contentious. >> i would also ask, on what planet can a humane democratic country deport parents without giving them the opportunity of their children with them? >> do you view those who you
call illegal aliens to be human tor s to be sub-human? >> illegal aliens are human, sir. >> secretary nielsen, the majority on this committee must think you're doing a fantastic job, because they've ordered this hearing so that you could come before us and look tough and remorseless, just in time for the holidays. >> now, starting today, the department of homeland security will be applying a new rule for asylum seekers. migrants who enter the country illegally will be required to return to mexico, if that's not their home country, while they await decisions from u.s. judges on their asylum claims. before, they were allowed to stay in the united states. i'm joined now by nbc's julia ainsley, who's been covering the border. i guess at some point, julia, i guess we have to remind our viewers that we're actually part of an international convention on asylum. and we agreed to certain ways of treating asylum seekers. and it does look like the united states is either looking to not
fulfill its requirements there or to re-write the rules of how we treat asylum seekers? >> that's right, ali. and the united states drove the way on how we treat asylum seekers and refugees. and it is a law, an international law, that it doesn't matter how you enter the country, once you come on u.s. soil, if you come through legal ports of entry or otherwise, you have the rights to claim asylum. that's why a judge put a temporary halt on the other asylum policy that this administration tried to put in place and said if you enter illegally, you simply can't claim asylum. now they've come back in this new agreement with mexico, and it's still a little up in the air whether mexico is fully onboard with this, i'll say that, but with this new agreement, they would want them to wait in mexico. it's called return to mexico, and they're using a part of the law that usually only applies to mexicans. it's countries that touch the united states. so it could be mexico or canada, they're told to go back to their home country while they wait. it's different in this case, because the majority of these asylum seekers are from honduras, el salvador, and guatemala. so we're talking about an influx
of thousands who are waiting months or even years for their asylum case to play out in the united states. and lawyers i spoke to today said, we can expect legal challenges, because it's unclear how the united states is going to be able to guarantee due process. i mean, how would these people have access to lawyers or the american justice system while they're waiting in mexico? >> what's the -- what are they supposed to do? if it's going to take years, will mexico allow them to stay? >> well, the secretary laid out today, you know, that mexico had agreed to provide humanitarian aid, but we saw some pushback from the embassy here, in the united states, the embassy of mexico, saying this might not be a good plan. so we're still trying to figure out how much mexico has agreed to. but this is something they've been negotiating for months now, trying to get these people to wait there. but i think there are a lot of safety concerns. i mean, under those same laws that you laid out, ali, you have to be able to guarantee the safety of asylum seekers. after all, they come here fleeing violence and persecution. >> julia, thanks for your reporting on this, on a continuous basis.
it's an important topic. julia ainsley, nbc news national security and justice reporter. >> thanks, ali. up next, the justice department clears the way for acting attorney general matt whitaker to oversee the russia investigation, despite his history of being critical of special counsel robert mueller. we'll have more on that on the other side. ve more on that on te her side i'm alex trebek here to tell you about the colonial penn program. if you're age 50 to 85 and looking to buy life insurance on a fixed budget, remember the three p's. what are the three p's? the three p's of life insurance on a fixed budget
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only place where chaos reigns. the doj is dealing with a mess over leadership and the impact that could have on the mueller investigation. both the acting director, matt whitaker, and the man nominated to permanently take the job, william barr, he's the guy on the right, are facing questions about their intentions for the special counsel. earlier today, ethics officials inside the justice department told whitaker he doesn't have to recuse himself from overseeing the investigation, despite his previous comments that mueller was, quote, going too far. meanwhile, barr is also viewed as a threat to the investigation, after it was revealed that he wrote a memo over the summer to top doj officials including rod rosenstein, objecting to the idea that trump may have obstructed justice. rosenstein was asked about that earlier today. >> the memo that you made reference to reflect mrs. barr's personal opinion and he shared his personal opinion with the department. lots of people offer opinions to the department of justice, but they don't influence our own decision making. we have very experienced lawyers
and obviously, our decisions are informed by our knowledge of the actual facts of the case, which will barr didn't have. i didn't share any confidential information with mr. barr. he never requested that we provide any non-public information to him. and that memo had no impact on our investigation. >> now the top democrat on the senate judiciary committee that holds confirmation hearings for barr called the memo very troubling. dianne feinstein added, quote, the memo represents a thoroughly crafted legal argument against investigating the president, with pointed conclusions that the president is above the law. the president is not above the law. for more on this, i'm joined by barbara mcquade, a former u.s. attorney and one of our esteemed legal analysts. i'm also joined by ken dilanian, who covers national security and the justice department. ken, let me just start with you. you got some reporting on whitaker, who was asked, what they were asked, and what they told him at the justice department. >> that's right, ali. the story is a little more
confli complicated than we were first led to believe. it's true that whitaker has not recused from the investigation and he's not legally obligated to. but he sought informal ethics advice from the justice department and he was told by an agency ethics official that it was a close call. and if that official were in his shoes, he or she would recommend recusing. now, whitaker has decided not to accept that recommendation and is moving forward in his role to oversee the mueller investigation. but we should understand what that means. robert mueller is not answerable on a day-to-day basis to anyone inside the justice department. what it means is that major decisionses by robert mueller need to be or could be challenged by either rod rosenstein or matthew whitaker. and actually, justice department officials are telling us that rod rosenstein will play the leading role in that oversight, but matt whitaker retains the decision to make the ultimate decision. >> so when whitaker says, whatever happens in the mueller investigation is going to be treated appropriately, not that
we have any reason to doubt rod rosenstein's integrity in this, but what does that actually mean, appropriately? isn't it true that whitaker or barr could take mueller's report and put it in a drawer? >> yeah, they definitely play an important role here of oversight. and recusal is all about guaranteeing the appearances and public trust in justice and what's happening and independence and objectivity. so when you have someone like whitaker, who's been -- it's been recommended to that he ought to recuse, it isn't so much for having a direct conflict of interest, in that he has some monetary relationship or something that could be compromised, but based on prior statements that any decision that they make is going to be viewed with some skepticism by members of the public. and that's why the justice department usually takes a very aggressive approach when it comes to recusal decisions, because of the fear that the public will not trust their decision, whichever way it comes out, either that they favored
president trump or that they were trying to prove to the world that they didn't favor president trump. and that's why most officials take those recusal recommendations very seriously. but as the top official of the justice department, matthew whitaker can refuse the recommendation of his underlings. and it appears that's what he's done in this case. >> so let's talk about the views that matthew whitaker and bob barr have both expressed. there are two ways of looking at what an investigation into the president can look like. one is based on a letter, i guess, or a memo by the department of legal counsel or the department of justice, i think it was in the year 2000, that suggests that you shouldn't prosecutor or you can't prosecute a sitting president, or you can't indict them because of the work involved in being president. and then there's another view, which is sort of a larger constitutional view, that's been growing amongst some people in the executive branch, over the last few presidencies, that executive power is bigger than maybe we interpreted the constitution to mean that it is. both of these guys, whitaker and
barr, do believe in a bigger, sort of more executive authority. >> yeah, and you know, i think the only thing that's dangerous here is that they've expressed their opinions without knowing all of the facts. and it's as, as we know, people have these ideas about opinion bias. once you have sort of set your sights on something and cashed your opinion, it's difficult to be moved off of that. now we have people in leadership coming into their jobs where they have publicly expressed one opinion, where they don't even know all the facts. and i wonder whether once they do learn all the facts, they're likely to move off of those already established positions. and so, you know, it makes you wonder, isn't there anybody out there they could find who hasn't skpre expressed a public view on this? that would be helpful to ensure that the person is coming in with an open mind before making
up their mind and expressing an opinion. >> it would at least address the issue of whether the public thinks it's being treated fairly. barbara, thanks very much. all right. the president at a signing ceremony for the farm bill just addressed border wall with mexico. let's listen. >> at this moment, there is a debate over funding border security and called, so that i give them a little bit of an out, steel slats. we don't use the word "wall" necessarily, but it has to be something special to do the job. steel slats. i have made my position very clear. any measure that funds the government must include border security. has to. not for political purposes, but for -- for our country, for the safety of our community. this is not merely my campaign promise, this is the promise every lawmaker made, it is the solemn promise to protect and defend the united states of america, and it is our sacred
obligation. we have no choice. for decades, washington abandoned this commitment and allowed millions and millions of people to enter our country illegally and over the objections of the american one voiced or voted for a policy, no one endorsed this policy, and no one ratified this policy. it was a total assault on our democracy itself. illegal immigration costs our nation $275 billion a year. you hear many different numbers. you can say billions and billions, but the number that i hear most accurate is $275 billion a year, at least. millions of jobs and thousands of innocent lives. more than 90% of heroin comes across our southern border. heroin deaths have tripled since
2002. every week, this illegal heroin kills at least 300 americans and costs our nation over $230 billion to $289 billion or nearly $5 billion a week. i spoke with president xi of china and he has agreed to make fentanyl, another one of the big, big problems, and probably, i think it's just gone to number one, kills 80,000 people a year in our country, he's going to make that a major crime in china. and if you get caught, you pay a major penalty, it's called the death penalty. and it wasn't listed as a crime, until i spoke to him. so i appreciate president xi for doing that. that's going to have a tremendous impact. [ applause ] every day, ten known or suspected terrorists try to gain entry into our country.
every day, 2,000 illegal aliens try to cross our borders. they try. we get most of them. it's hard without a wall. every year, 50,000 illegal children are smuggled by coyotes and criminals into our country and in the last two years alone, i.c.e. officers arrested criminal aliens charged with or convicted of 100,000 assaults, 30,000 sex crimes, and 4,000 murders. it's rough stuff. yet the democrats continue to oppose border security, no matter how many innocent people get hurt or die. ridiculously and dangerously, certain people want open borders, which allow potentially massive crime. our nation has spent trillions of dollars and sacrificed thousands of brave young lives defending the borders of foreign nations. i am asking congress to defend
the border of our nation for a tiny fraction, tiny fraction of the cost. essential to border security is a powerful physical barrier. walls work. whether we like it or not, they work better than anything. in israel, 99.9% successful. i spoke to benjamin netanyahu, prime minister, two days ago. we were talking about it. he said it's 99.9. he came up. i didn't ask. i said 99.9% successful. we have proposed a steel slaft barrier to halt the deadly flow of these smugglers and terrorists. every day we provide our i.c.e. officers the resources they need. i think it will be bipartisan. illegal immigration also strains public services that americans
depend on, and illegal immigration drives down wages for the neediest americans. no one who calls themselves a progressive should support illegal immigration. open borders hurts poor americans more than anyone else in our society. in life, there are certain principles worth fighting for, principles that are more important than politics, party or personal convenience. the safety and security and sovereignty of the united states is the most important principle of all. if we don't stand strong for our national borders, then we cease to be a nation. and we betray our commitment to the loyal citizens of our great country. i look forward to signing a bill that fulfills our -- >> president trump talking about his position on the wall. russian president vladimir putin is praising president trump's announcement that isis has been defeated and that u.s. troops will be leaving syria. during a year-end news conference, putin told reporters
he agrees with trump and the presence in syria was not legitimate because it was not authorized by the united nations. joining us now to take a closer look is bill brouder, ceo of hermitage capital management. a champion for the magnitsky act used to impose sanctions on russians and others for human rights abuss. also a critic of vladimir putin and the russian government and has accused him of a number of crimes. they still have an active arrest warrant out for you. fascinating in the barrage of tweets the president sends you can miss some of them. he said that iran and russia are very disappointed that the united states is going to pull out of syria. that's simply a lie. >> well, it's simply not true. the u.s. unilaterally pulling out of syria is the biggest christmas gift that donald trump could give vladimir putin in any circumstance. this is something that vladimir putin wants more than anything
for the simple reason that with the u.s. out of syria, basically vladimir putin has got free rein over the whole country. and that's something that he wants, and that's something that he has now gotten. >> what happens? what is the effect -- never mind syria because we spent time talking about syria earlier. what's the effect for u.s. relations with russia or how we're trying to hold russia to account when we end up leaving a place like syria that we know russia wants influence over? >> well, the big problem is that we're not done with syria. syria is the flash point of the middle east. and by pulling out of syria, the next time there's an issue that we care about, whether it's in the trump presidency or a future president, we're going to have to go to vladimir putin and ask him for permission to do whatever we want in syria. and that's an absurdity. we have a strategic position in syria right now. you don't give that up for anything. >> one of the things you've said in an article recently on nbc
news.com is that the world is underestimating the threat of nuclear war. what do you mean by that? >> well, i think that vladimir putin is a guy, a sociopath. he has more nuclear weapons than anybody else. and if he's ever put in a position where he fears for his own life, he would start a nuclear war. that's the -- that's who vladimir putin is. and so we're in a totally different world than we ever were before where there's a soviet politburo and united states government. you now have a criminal in charge of russia with an arsenal of nuclear weapons. >> do you have any sense two years into this administration that things are going to get better rather than worse in terms of this president's handling of russia and the idea that there's a new congress coming in, does that give you any new hope? >> i had been very hopeful up until today that whatever donald trump's love affair was with putin, it wasn't being exercised in policy.
up until today, sanctions weren't being repealed. ukraine was being supported. and various other things. but all of a sudden, in one day, two things have happened. one is that the united states has given putin this syria gift. and the second is the -- the withdrawal of sanctions on oleg d deripaskas companies. that's troubling. >> bill browder is the ceo of heritage management capital. heritage management capital.
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all right. we have a minute left in trading. let's have a last look at how trading is going on. the dow is not at its session lows. still pretty bad off 520 points or 2.3%. let's see what happens in the next little while, whether it's an up tick or down tick, but this has brought the two-day losses to more than 800 points. the five-day to more than 1700 points. let's see where these markets are for the year. that's where they are down for the day. take a look at the one-year chart. i want to look at the percentages. i want to ask if they have the percentage losses we've seen on the three major markets for the year. all right. there we go. 7.7% so far on the dow. that's what you're down if you started investing at the beginning of the year.
8.1% on the s&p 500 which looks more like your portfolio. 6.1% on the nasdaq which is now officially in a bear market. i'll see you back here at 10:00 p.m. for "the last word" and then tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. eastern. thanks for watching. "deadline white house" with nicolle wallace starts right now. hi, everyone. it's 4:00 in washington, d.c. donald trump folding in the face of extreme pressure from his base on funding for the border wall. after a visit from freedom caucus members mark meadows and jim jordan, who you might recognize as the tips of donald trump's spear in his war against his own justice department. trump announced he would not sign legislation to avoid a government shutdown. the president now clearly hostage to his base as he likely views them as his only bulwark against possible impeachment. and the political damage that could ensue. with every organization he has ever run now under