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tv   MTP Daily  MSNBC  December 21, 2018 2:00pm-3:01pm PST

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admissi ambition is a terrible drug. >> the opposite of madness. >> the theme of the day. kim atkins, charlie sykes, and aaron blake. thank you. that does it for our hour. i'm nicolle wallace. "mtp daily" starts right now. high, chuck. >> nicolle -- >> i'm like is he ready? it's before 5: >> i almost needed the seven-second delay button. it would have been me and mazie hirono. but then u.s. senators say anything these days, right? well, if it's friday, is this the beginning of the end of what we have known as the trump presidency?
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good evening. i am chuck todd here in washington. at this hour there's chaos in the white house, at the pentagon, and, yes, on capitol hill. thanks to one person, the president. and we're going to bring you the latest on all of it. oh, and by the way, the stock market just had its worst week in ten years with the nasdaq in bear market territory. welcome to what is going to be one hell of an hour here at "mtp daily" as we build towards the possibility that history will see this moment after the jim matt mattis resignation repudiation as part perhaps the beginning of the end of this presidency. we have news from capitol hill where the president has been marching his gop troops toward a partial government shutdown, now potentially hours away. but there appears to be some exit strategy in the works. what we're hearing is it would end up looking like a white house cave again on border money, at least through the lens of ann coulter and rush limbaugh. at this hour, there is also growing panic among some democrats and top republicans
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after one of the last guardrails on this presidency, defense secretary jim mattis, unexpectedly announced he was quitting, and he did so loudly, in protest because of the president. we have the latest tonight after nbc's exclusive reporting, the government officials and people familiar with the matter expect bob mueller's bombshell report to drop much sooner than anticipated, perhaps as early as mid-february. folks, usually a presidency is tested by a crisis. people have been talking about just wait until this president is tested. but in this case, the presidency itself is perhaps the crisis. we begin tonight with the chaos on capitol hill. with less than seven hours until a critical chunk of the government shuts down as the gop is scrambling to find a deal to save itself from another self-inflicted wound. so let's joined now by kasie hunt. at the white house is geoff bennett for us. we have tonight's panel, jeremy bash, a former pentagon chief of staff, nbc news national security analyst, neera tanden, former adviser to president obama and hillary clinton. and hugh hewitt, an msnbc
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political analyst. kasie, let me start with you. obviously there is a lot of chatter. white house negotiators went to chuck schumer's office, seemed to walk out, walked over to the house. that sounds like a ping pong strategy has developed, but it sounds like it's an acknowledgement that democrats have all the leverage. >> it's fundamentally an acknowledgement of that, chuck. there's a reason they started in schumer's office. but i think you have it right. frankly this is a much better scenario standing here at 5:00 than it was even at 2:00 because people are talking. for a long time, there were no conversations going on. what has been building here over the last couple of hours is pressure to get a deal, pressure to avoid a shutdown. there's still a lot of big question marks as to how exactly we get there, but the conversations at this point seem to center around perhaps reviving the seven appropriations bills. those are massive spending bills, combined -- i'm sorry,
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they would include $1.6 billion in border wall funding. there's a question about whether schumer goes for this at this stage. we're hearing the white house is signaling the president may go for it, but those are the real big questions here. so we're watching the floor. we're expecting chuck schumer and mitch mcconnell at any minute to go down to the floor and at least give us a little bit of insight as to how they might proceed with this. >> kasie, correct me if i'm wrong. 1.6 billion was the original offer chuck schumer made, right? >> basically. there was $1.3 billion. essentially we're right back where we started if this happens. this has gone in a giant, useless circle that has wasted a lot of energy, perhaps caused stocks to drop, and really given the president quite a few political headaches that were completely unnecessary. >> well, let's go to that cul-de-sac right now called 1600 pennsylvania avenue. geoff bennett, is the white house acknowledging that -- are they finally acknowledging reality, that they have a math problem when it comes to the
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senate? >> reporter: yeah, right. that's what at least a few white house officials are telling our hallie jackson and kristen welker, that the president might be, underscore might be, open to accepting that $1.6 billion in border wall funding that was already locked in by the senate. but where we stand right now, chuck, is what had republicans nervous some ten days ago when president trump sat there in the oval office across from chuck schumer and nancy pelosi and said he'd be proud to shut down the government, that he picked one of the biggest fights of his presidency that almost would certainly end in a government shutdown. and he did it at one of the points where his leverage was the lowest. so what i think was fairly revealing today was that you heard republicans like bob corker not only complain about the outcome, but the process. he said there is a tyranny of talk radio, that the president was onboard with this government funding plan until he was goaded into being against it by the likes of ann coulter and sean hannity, and that the president was more concerned about his own political standing than he was about the welfare of the federal
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government and keeping the lights on past midnight friday -- midnight tonight. >> all right. geoff and kasie, you have to hang around this hour as we await to see what this deal may looks like. it sounds like we'll be checking back in within minutes there. but let me take this to the panel. hugh, i'll let you start. it's the talk radio wing that basically dragged the president back from this deal, and now apparently he's inching back. what's the point? >> i had no idea i had such power. in fact, if we had this power, we wouldn't be withdrawing from syria because the talk radio wing is very deeply against that. however, i think what happened is the president did get an enormous amount of heat from one person, rush limbaugh. and one person with the largest daily audience in america. >> you know how absurd this sounds? >> i know. but that one person has 20 million listeners, and 20 million listeners is four or five times as large as any cable show. so the president is not ill advised to take into account whatever rush is --
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>> senator corkers says, we have two talk radio show hosts -- i don't know if ann coulter hosts a radio show host. -- who basically influenced the president, and we're in a shutdown mode. it's just that's tyranny, isn't it? neera, i don't think you could have written that quote any better for bob corker. >> i mean we all think it's a game, but the stock market seems to be in a free fall. federal workers don't know what's going to happen. we have the most dysfunctional government that we've had in my entire lifetime, and that's what happens when you basically listen to two talk radio show hosts in a country -- or one tv show host, one talk radio show host in a country of over 300 million people. donald trump is not the president of the united states. he's the president of the right wing of this country, and that is why we have so much dysfunction. >> you know, jeremy, you have been, i would say, a product and a participant in the functional
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aspects of government, particularly in the intelligence community, defense department. so you talk to a bipartisan set of folks who i know are shaken by the messed up norms in all of this stuff. but some of this is just trump being a disruptor. we kind of knew we were going to get this. >> well, he does like to govern by chaos. but when there is a leadership vacuum and crisis and chaos is in fact the substitute for leadership, that's a very dangerous scenario, not just for domestic priorities, not just for the functioning of our government, but for our national security. i think our adversaries are watching tonight, and they're actually emboldened by the fact there's chaos in washington. we'll talk of course about what's happening at the pentagon and elsewhere. but when they see the fact that the government cannot operate, they can't even pass an appropriation for one month to continue operations, that sends a horrible signal to our friends and allies. >> as a tactic at this point, i'm sorry, when i hear threaten of shutdown, i sort of now shrug my shoulders.
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the public doesn't even hear this anymore. isn't this a useless leverage tactic now? >> i mean, look, it does have impact -- >> it has impact on people's lives, but nobody gets anything out of it. it's not work. >> the big challenge is the president has zero leverage, right? every time you go through something like this and you try to exert leverage and you don't have it, you become weaker and weaker. and i think the odd thing about this whole situation is the president is trying to -- donald trump is trying to exert leverage, and he has a democratic house coming. the politics only get worse for him. he shuts down the government, how he is going to open it up again when a democrat, nancy pelosi, is going to be the house speaker? >> the interpretation is the president is trying to create leverage having give it away in the oval office meeting. >> he did it over a year ago. daca for the wall. >> now he's trying to dig a trench on, i will not shut down. there are 480,000 people who
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will not make their mortgage payments and college tuition payments. it's a real deal, an important deal. on the other hand, i think he's in a better position today than three days ago -- >> so he went from 1.3 to 1.6. >> he went from nothing to 1.6. >> not really. he had 1.6 a week or two weeks ago. >> but it was done by three days ago. >> he had the whole wall. you could make a case for a brief period, which would have made the left wing of the democratic party insane. >> last winter. >> yes. he had the whole wall. >> bad deal maker. it's bad deal making. >> he has not expanded the political appetite for the wall. >> that is something that -- >> isn't that -- >> and by focus on the fence, by border barriers, he's doing a good thing. but what i can't understand is he had a great week. the bipartisan prison reform bill was a -- >> wait. hugh, hugh, hugh, jim mattis basically resigned as defense secretary because he said his boss does not see eye to eye
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with 70 years of american foreign policy. that wasn't a good week. you can't call that a great week. >> i started by saying the bipartisan prison reform bill is a big win. >> could have been a big win. >> and the resignation, the decision on syria, was a very bad decision. i've written about that in "the washington post," and the think the consensus of the conservative foreign policy establishment is that it's a bad decision. but that doesn't mean that he is in a worse position at the end of this week because he had lost last week to chuck schumer. this week at least he's back in the game. >> i couldn't disagree more. >> the other thing that happened earlier in the week, was last week cohen was sentenced in the mueller investigation and the szny investigation. this week the flynn sentencing came up and it was delayed in part because the judge wasn't buying the trump legal echo chamber argument that he was somehow hot boxed by the fbi, and the judge said i'm not going there unless you want me to throw you in jail right here, right now. i think this has been a trying time for the president. he's felt closed in by the
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investigations. he lost the midterm elections. now he's ordered the defense secretary to pull our troops out of afghanistan and syria. the defense secretary quit over it. the president is really lashing out, and he's out of control. >> if i can just push back, as soon as you come up with a new defense secretary, whether it's jim talent or tom cotton, that will settle down, and the department of defendant will salute and take the chain of command very seriously as general mattis did on the way out the door. as soon as you get a new secretary of the interior, the zinke problems go away. it's going to be donald trump at 45%, waiting for the democrats to self-destruct when they nominate a hard left candidate who says abolish ooi.c.e. >> the idea that you're savoring that there's going to be a hard left candidate, keep doing that. but the truth is nancy pelosi was -- is becoming speaker in part because the country was enough with the chaos. we want to stop the chaos. and everything the president's done since november 6th is to
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demonstrate why there was relief that there's a check on this president. i think you'll continue to see that. i think the idea that the president is doing a great job and this week is really great is you're in an echo chamber of your own. that is not how the country is seeing it. >> no, i'm at msnbc. i'm definitely not in my own echo chamber. >> republican reaction to mattis, mitch mcconnell, who does not like to be seen as publicly crossing this president, says, i am particularly distressed that he is resigning due to sharp differences of america's global leadership, not a singling out any party. marco rubio, we put that one up. we are headed towards a series of grave policy errors which will endanger our nation, damage our alliances and empower our alliances. adam kinzinger, referring, i believe -- i forget the re-tweet he was looking at here. but just over the president's tweet saying that he's ignoring sound military advice. >> it's been an axiom of
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republican foreign policy theory that isis loves a vacuum, that russia loves a vacuum. what does donald trump create? a vacuum. there can be some discussions about how he would take down our force structure in afghanistan, in syria. what would be the rules of engagement for strikes against isis targets. i think those are legitimate issues. but when you announce out of the clear blue sky without consulting, you say, we're out of here because i want one win every day to -- >> i want this bring up this reporting that we have that both pompeo and mattis and other members of the national security team had prepared a list of talking points when the president was on the phone with the turkish president, erdogan, and the whole goal was to get him to back off a potential attack on the kurds. and instead, apparently the president decided to accept the advice of erdogan who said pull
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the troops out. does that not alarm you here? >> oh, i am a lot alarmed that the president -- >> that erdogan had more influence over the president of the united states than mike pompeo. >> again, i can't go all that way because my sources in the state department say that the secretary and ambassador bolton remain firmly convinced that the president is executing a strategy that has a gap in it. now, i spent an hour with general mcchrystal yesterday. he's very worried about soleima soleimani. the president is indifferent to this. meanwhile, though, pompeo and bolton are trying to pop back up. saudi arabia and jordan and egypt, and they are effectively pursuing that. general mattis was not 100% with that strategy. >> can i just say also i think we're undermining the fact that when you look at the president's foreign policy over the last year and a half and this week
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the withdrawal from syria is only part of this. all of this actually demonstrates a kind of keen kinship at the very least with russia's interests. it is not in our interests. it is in russia interest. and i think the thing we should focus on is we had a secretary of defense write a letter, in which he did not say very many positive things about donald trump, and did say that the president of the united states was not taking our adversaries seriously and did not have a keen understanding of malignant interest essentially. i think that should deeply disturb any american. >> the president and secretary mattis have had disagreements on the paris accord, on the jcpoa and now on syria. >> the jcpoa, the iran deal. >> a long-standing series of disagreements. that he is leaving is not a crisis in the -- >> what i would argue is all the more reason why this is a crisis. here's why. i know jim mattis. he has had policy differences
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with him. i was in meetings where he had differences about policies with respect to taking military options off the table in iran. he doesn't quit over mere policy differences. he quits when the national security interests of the united states are in peril. he's a patriot. that's the mode that he wrote that letter in. >> let me pause this conversation and let you take a listen here. i've got republican senator james lankford from oklahoma here. by the way, we are awaiting mitch mcconnell and chuck schumer. they're supposedly going to come to the floor to announce the process way forward, not necessarily the deal. senator lankford, i appreciate you coming on and sort of -- look, your plans are probably all over the map just like ours are this hour, so i appreciate that. first, can you tell us any more than what we're hearing about rumors of at least a deal on how the process might work? what can you tell us? >> i can't. i'm more focused actually on the product than i am on the process. there's a different group of folks working on the process. i think there is the possibility we could get a deal. it probably wouldn't be tonight
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based on the text and language, but there's lots of ways to be able to do a short-term cr to be able to keep things open while the negotiations are still happening. we'll see what they pull together on process. >> i was just going to say, is that what this is likely going to be is some sort of deal that allows the president, allows democrats to both say we're going to continue this conversation in 2019? >> i would hope we actually continue it tomorrow. we're close enough in so many other issues that we should try tow resolve it now. i think that's best for the american people rather than being able to extend this out. i didn't support a february 8th time period for a cr. i don't think it's a good idea to drag this on little by little. i think it's better to get the whole thing done rather than stall it. >> how would you explain why the president hasn't been able for over a year to get the republican party united on a plan before trying to negotiate with the democrats when it comes to the border wall funding? >> again, there are areas we do have agreement on. i think there's wide bipartisan
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agreement on trying to be able to get something on border security. when you go back to the senate proposals on our appropriations bills, there's $1.6 billion in there for border security that could include any kind of fencing, anything like that. but there's a wide agreement we need to do something on border security. obviously the president wants to do a lot more. originally the president requested $1.6 billion at the beginning of this year for border security. that's what the senate included. that's what we were going to do oversight on. the $5 billion is a larger number, but clearly there are a lot of things that can be done and should be done along the border, whether it be ports of entry or other areas that are already needs out there. >> i can tell by the way you're describing it, i can sense what a compromise language might sound like from the senate. we'll see if the white house signs on. let me move to another topic which was really animating the folks around this table, and that is the jim mattis resignation. there seemed to be a lot of concern from many of your colleagues in the united states senate about not just him leaving, but the letter he wrote
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explaining why he decided to leave. where are you on this? >> yeah. it's difficult when you see the secretary of defense say that the president needs someone who is more aligned with him on policy. that clearly shows a difference there. i just got back from afghanistan last week, meeting with all of our folks there for several days. there is a tremendous need in afghanistan, and so we see somewhat the pullout in syria as a canary in the coal mine in the administration to say if they pull out of syria, just dramatically like that, if that happens as well in afghanistan, all the blood that has been shed in afghanistan for 17 years all goes for naught. the taliban has a massive resurgence. isis is on the grow and al kqaea is not defeated. there's an ongoing peace negotiation happening now in afghanistan. we want to see that peace negotiation have an opportunity to be able to finish. they've made great process there. the two main goals, reconciliation in afghanistan and having long-term basing there to be able to fight isis and to be able to fight with al
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qaeda are exceptionally important. we also think that's putting down with syria as well. so clearly the secretary of defense and the president were at odds on that. the secretary of defense walked away. i think he was a good strong voice in the administration, and we'll see what the administration does. >> we talked about the troops aspect of syria and afghanistan. but there's another part of his letter, and it's this. i believe we must be resolute and unambiguous in our approach to those countries whose strategic interests are increasingly in tension with ours. it is clear that china and russia, for example, want to shape a world consistent with their own authoritarian model, gaining veto authority over other nations security decisions to promote their own interests at the expense of their neighbors, america, and our allies. senator, when you read that, that is essentially the secretary of defense saying the president doesn't share the same vision of american foreign policy broadly that every president has since harry
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truman. >> i'm not sure that's fully borne out in every area. i have a real concern on turkey. i've expressed that loud and clear, over and over again. the turkey that we're dealing with now doesn't seem to be the same turkey we were dealing with a few years ago. erdogan is taking it in a very different direction in their outreach to russia. what the president has pushed on is areas of trade with china and less so on the military side. so from a national defense side, the secretary of defense obviously is saying he wants to see the same effort on pushing against russia and china on the defense side as we are on the trade side, and he's probably not wrong. >> are you at all concerned about the reporting that indicates secretary of state pompeo and secretary of defense mattis had specific talking points for the president in his phone call with the turkish president, erdogan, that says the whole goal was to get erdogan to back off his attempts to basically go after the kurds in northern syria. and erdogan was trying to get
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the president to pull u.s. troops. and the president of the united states disagreed with his secretary of state and defense and instead sided with erdogan. does that concern you that the turkish president has that much influence? >> so let me say this two ways. obviously i wasn't in the meeting. we're all getting secondary reporting. >> i understand that. >> second, the president is the commander in chief. he's making some of those foreign policy decisions. so he has the ability to do that, to not have his advisers choose. he gets to choose. but on top of all that, i would say i share the same view of what you're describing from the secretary of state. i have a great concern on erdogan and the direction he's taken turkey, what he's trying to do to the kurdish penal. the kurds have been staunch allies to us for a very long time, and i think our engagement with the kurds as saved their lives for a long time. for us to be able to walk away from a long-standing ally not knowing what the turks are going to do with them, i think is a mistake. >> how do you plan on voting
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on -- or examining the president's next nominee for secretary of defense? my point is this. are you going to be looking for somebody that shares your world view, or are you going to be looking for somebody who's qualified, but you'll acquiesce if they don't share your world view, but share the president's world view? >> so i always look at nominees based on obviously are they qualified, number one. the president gets his preference. there's some people i'm going to vote for that i don't particularly care for, but the president is going to get his preference. i'm going to give some deference unless i think they don't have the qualifications to be able to do it. but if i get my preference, i'm going to get someone with more of a world view like jim mattis had, very respected worldwide, very respected in the defense community, exceptionally sharp. >> given that letter, do you feel like you should be holding the line a little bit stronger on that? does it give you second thoughts about how much deference you should be giving this president? >> i would say only watching some of the other nominees the president has around him, like
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mike pompeo i have a lot of trust for. very sharp. good, solid leader. very knowledgeable on the issues. gina haspel from the cia. we can go on and on with some very qualified people that are around the president. he continues to pick very qualified people, i think we'll be in good shape. it's going to be the president's choice at any point whether he listens to the advisers around him. the president is always the decision maker. >> i hear you, but does it bother you at all we now have a former secretary of state who the president fired who has since said the president doesn't read and has said unlawful things? we have just discussed what jim mattis wrote on the record about why he's quitting, and of course we had an attorney general ended up resigning, that the president would consistently insult. how much harder is it to recruit good people to work in this administration? >> i've said this before. i don't treat my staff the same way the president does. if i have a problem with a staff member, i don't tweet about him. i actually pull him in a office and we talk about things. if we can't work it out, then
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they're gone. but typically we're going to work it out face to face, not back and forth certainly on social media. he has a very different style on that. that's not the style i have. that's not the way i'd want to treat my staff or my family, but that's the way that he does it, and there are a lot of people that love it that way. they love the transparency of it. just not my favorite. i come from a more biblical world view that if you've got a challenge with somebody, work it out one-on-one. >> is his leadership style making you question the faith you may have in his leadership skills? >> i would say only as i watch things like the trade proposals, it does concern me with trade. he has said over and over again, trust me, we're going to get the hard things done on trade. but it's been very messy and very noisy, and there have been a lot of people that have suffered economically through this process. the hope is long-term it can get cleaned up. he's going to go with his gut. that's who he is. >> senator james lankford, republican from oklahoma, i think i speak for everybody that works in washington. we hope everybody gets home for the holidays here with paychecks
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in hand. thank you very much. >> i hope it gets resolved quickly. thanks. >> let me go back to the panel. i have to say james lankford is a very careful -- he's always very careful. he's not a bomb thrower. what did you hear throw? >> there are a lot of bromides. the president is the decider. here's the bottom line. if you substantively evaluate the president's national security decisions, people like james lankford, people like marco rubio, people like tom cotton, and even people who may be nominated to replace jim mattis fundamentally disagree with the president. it's going to be hard for the president to find a secretary of defense who is going to carry out orders to withdraw our troops precipitously from syria and afghanistan. so i think the president is kind of stuck here. he's either going to have somebody who fundamentally disagrees with him and we're basically back in the same mattis paradigm, or he's going to have someone who is not qualified and can't do the job. >> neera, there's a group of republican senators that i'm always constantly think the temperature you constantly need
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to take, and he's in them. i always find him. you sort of see how much should trump worry because those are the -- to me, it's those, that group, the lankfords, the toomeys, the blunts, that were never enthusiastic for him but didn't walk away either. they're somewhere in between corker and, say, cotton. >> i actually thought this conversation was one of the reasons why democrats won the house back, and it's because a james lankford who obviously disagrees with donald trump on a whole range of issues is unwilling to say, you know, america was kind of resting on a bunch of adults in the room, and they are systematically leaving or being fired. and we should -- a lot of americans are worried about the fact that jim mattis is leaving, and they don't feel like there's any adult in the room. and there's no republican senator who is willing to offer real leadership. and i appreciate hugh has a different view, and the republican party has a different view. but just to be honest about this, a lot of independents in
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america, a lot of moderates, not hard core democrats, not hard core republicans, want adult leadership around donald trump because they do not trust his instinct. they don't trust the tweeting about our foreign policy before you talk to your advisers. and the fact that the republican party is unwilling to say no to this president is one of the reasons why so many moderates and independents voted for a -- >> when we say adults in the room, mike pompeo and john bolton and dan coats and gina haspel, these are part of a coalition government. they're on the president's team. i have often said to chuck, this is a coalition government. sometimes the president goes with the traditional republican foreign policy establishment, and sometimes he goes with rand paul. when that does, cracks in the ice develop, and those cracks can bring down the whole coalition. >> we're going to sneak in a quick break here because i think we're still a few minutes away from when obviously whatever potential process deal was in the works has not been fully
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baked yet. so let's sneak in the break. the panel sticks around. much more of this breaking news as it comes out when we come back. shaquem get in here. take your razor, yup. alright, up and down, never side to side, shaquem. you got it? come on, get back. quem, you a second behind your brother, stay focused. can't nobody beat you, can't nobody beat you. hard work baby, it gonna pay off. you got this. with the one hundred and forty-first pick, the seattle seahawks select. alright, you got it, shaquem. alright, let me see.
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simple. easy. awesome. stay connected while you move with the best wifi experience and two-hour appointment windows. click, call or visit a store today. welcome back. we've been following the breaking news. we are waiting for mitch mcconnell and chuck schumer to get onto the senate floor and speak. i've got jeremy bash here, neera tanden, and hugh hewitt. for what it's worth, the house voted to come back in tomorrow. so you know what that means. the ping pong will begin. it likely means there's no way they get the process done tonight. we'll have the shutdown, and the question is how fast is it here. the politics of a shutdown, i'm starting to question whether it even matters anymore because i think the public is so numb to
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these threats. >> i do think that there's so much chaos in washington writ large that this shutdown seems to blur with every other kind of crazy thing that -- >> it wasn't even our lead story this morning. jim mattis on the "today" show was our lead story. government shutdowns, people are like, it's just a constant state. >> it depends if it's over a week and it opens back up on a monday. but i think the problem here and the actual question is how do any of these people get out of this? just as a reminder, two weeks from now, nancy pelosi will be the speaker. the democrats will control the house. so how trump actually imagines his leverage going up when he's losing political power -- i mean hopefully they'll resolve it this weekend. >> let's unpack that for one second. the way this would normally go with be mitch mcconnell would go to paul ryan and say put the bill on the floor and we'll be done. in two weeks, they can't do that. >> accidentalexactly.
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>> it really is going to get worse before it gets better. i take your point, chuck, that the power of a shutdown -- >> i forgot there was one earlier this year. >> it was over a weekend. it opened up by monday. it's different when it's like two weeks. >> the 2013 shutdown, which was supposed to have destroyed the republican party, led to massive wins in 2014. >> whoa, whoa, whoa. >> obamacare. >> the website blew up on this -- >> stuff happened in between. >> that's the point. >> that's going to happen this year. a democratic presidential nominating process along with speaker pelosi wielding a very confrontational style, subpoenas flying, and we may have an international crisis at any moment with the new sec def. i think a lot depends on what the president puts in to jim mattis' place. >> people's views of the economy are also shifting. not just the stock market, but people are more nervous, more anxious. as you're mixing in all the
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variables, it's likely we'll have a slower economy. and the fact that we have any instance in which the president is playing with people's pensions by all the gyrations of this week, it seems i think more and more people will be annoyed. >> for right now, for what it's worth, the president is tweeting out pictures of the steel slat barrier on twitter, because apparently according to reporting, he says the wall is no longer good, so do steel slats. jeremy bash, i want to ask you a simple proposition. what does it say that jim mattis resigned and vladimir putin applauded the syria decision? >> well, it shows that russia ultimately obtained an important strategic victory not only by getting rid of an important russia hawk in the administration, but more fundamentally by trump actually working his vision of american foreign policy on the rest of the government, the departments and the agencies. it's long been russia's goal to
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collapse american institutions in the world. institutions like nato, another international alliances are seen by the kremlin as a threat to them and to their interests. and russia wants a smaller america. russia wants an american withdrawal, a weaker america, and that's what he's getting. >> hugh, i thought of you this morning when the "fox & friends" brian kilmeade, sarah sanders things happens because it was on your radio show where you pushed back on the whole founder of isis business and all this. can we play that because it was a remarkable moment on the president's favorite tv channel. >> sarah, he's giving russia a big win. vladimir putin praised him. he also is doing exactly what he criticized president obama for doing. he said president obama is the founder of isis. he just refounded isis because they've got 30,000 men there and they're already striking back. >> i have to respectfully and vehemently disagree with you. the idea that the president has
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had anything to do with helping isis re-emerge is absolutely outrageous. >> leaving is helping. leaving is helping. >> brian is 100% correct. when president obama scampered in 2011 from iraq, al qaeda and iraq transformed to isis and it became a nightmare that became mosul. by leaving syria, we are urging the black flags to return or even worse, sulemanny. if the president is listening, it's an old irish saying. when everybody says you're drunk, you'd better sit down. and everybody says this is a bad decision, so he needs to resif it. >> it is a decision just to say -- in all of this, it is a decision in which russia's interest is in our withdrawal. russia and iran's interest. a lot of people have been complaining that barack obama was weak on iran. there's nothing weaker towards iran than existing syria. >> jeremy, you know, there's part of me that says, okay, you
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know, it was part of what the president says. you know, you never get advice from the pentagon that says remove troops, right? no military official says this is the right time. >> we need less. >> that's right. you never hear that from a military commander. give us less troops, sir. is there a kocogent case in you mind, to pull our troops from seer wra and afghanistan? >> our troop footprint is fairly small, and most of the thing they're doing there are counterterrorism operations or training the local forces. i think both of those are the appropriate missions. we don't have a large ground combat operation. it's mostly focused on, again, hitting these targets and training others to do that work. >> it's more training in syria, and it's a little bit more than that in afghanistan. >> and more fundamentally, though, what's happening in both places, we're trying to effectuate a political solution. and our military presence provides some leverage. it's not just about bringing people home because everybody is for that. no one is against that.
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even by the way, the commanders. even the generals are okay with bringing our troops home. what they don't want is to take military options off the table and weaken our hand on the diptdic end. >> are you more concerned about a draw down in afghanistan or a draw down in syria? which do you think is more dangerous to our interest? >> i think i would be concerned about a precipitous draw down in afghanistan. our footprint in syria is fairly small. but the way the president announced the syria drawdown, honestly if we were taking homes hundreds of troops at a time or a ba toll onat a time, i would be comfortable with it and redeploying them. what he's essentially said is we're out. i'm disregarding the advice of our generals and our military leaders, and i'm basically seei ceding the territory to iran. >> i do think there is a larger conversation in the democratic party about afghanistan per se, in which there have been --
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>> how much patience, right? >> a generation. it will be 20 years in a few years. so i do think that is a broader conversation. a vrariety of leaders have had that conversation. precipitously leaving is a question. >> we're going to sneak in another quick break. the holding pattern continues as we wait to see. >> the empty well. >> if there is action on the senate. we'll be back in a moment. ring) it's open! hey. this is amazing. with moderate to severe ulcerative colitis, are you okay? even when i was there, i never knew when my symptoms would keep us apart. so i talked to my doctor about humira. i learned humira can help get, and keep uc under control when other medications haven't worked well enough. and it helps people achieve control that lasts. so you can experience few or no symptoms. humira can lower your ability to fight infections, including tuberculosis. serious, sometimes fatal infections and cancers,
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welcome back. we are expecting to hear from mitch mcconnell momentarily, but let me bring in chuck rosenberg. joining me also is ken delainian along with pete williams. ken, let me start with you on the whole back and forth about the acting attorney general here in matt whitaker. what is the ultimate fallout inside the justice department when they now know you have ethics officials who said, well, you know, if you were to press us, we would have recommended recusal, but it's ultimately up to you. what does that mean going forward? >> oh, i think it's very significant, chuck, because, you know, prosecutors take the appearance of impartiality, the appearance of impropriety extremely seriously. that's what you had here. you didn't have a legal reason
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that he had to recuse. you had a bunch of criticism of a pending investigation. he essentially pre-judged the mueller investigation. now he's supervising it. and the ethics official in the justice department said, you know what? this is a close call, but on balance, i think he should step aside. and he said, thanks for your advice, but i'm disregarding it. now, you know, he's told associates that he understands that he's under a microscope with this investigation. >> right. >> every move he makes is going to be learned by the hill. and i think that's one of the reasons why if you notice, he's left rod rosenstein essentially in charge of the sort of day to day management or supervisory role of the mueller investigation. but he still has authority over major decisions like whether to subpoena the president. and the question is will we know if he's blocking any of those decisions. >> right. >> or what decisions he's making there. >> chuck rosenberg, considering that the ethics officials concluded that out of an abundance of caution,
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mr. whitaker should probably recuse himself, what would they say about bill barr if he's confirmed to be attorney general, considering he wrote essentially a legal analysis for the president and his legal team about the mueller probe? >> you know, chuck, very good question. i mean that might come out the same way. here's what i mean. what bill barr wrote is something that i strongly disagree with, but it's not crazy. i mean it's a very robust view of the article 2 authorities of the chief executive. serious, sober people hold that view. i don't share it, but i understand it. so that said, it might be a similar situation where the ethics officials say to attorney general barr, you know, there's no mandatory recusal. >> right. >> you're not required to step down. but similar to matt whitaker, there is an appearance issue. by the way, going back to matt whitaker and what ken said, ken is spot-on. his analysis is exactly right. you don't want to get close to
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the line when you're a prosecutor. you don't want to even be able to see the line. so if someone suggests to you that there's an appearance problem, the smart thing -- the prudent thing to do is to recuse yourself. it's not that hard. >> chuck, let me ask this. i asked you about bill barr's legal analysis. what if that's coupled with the fact that he also met the president and essentially interviewed with him to be his lead personal lawyer in the mueller? are those two -- now that you put those two facts together, do you think would that still lead to the same decision, or do you think they would be officially making the recommendation that you need to recuse? >> yeah, so you're much closer to a mandatory recusal when you're talking about either a financial or a personal or a political relationship. if bill barr was interviewed to be trump's lawyer, for instance, i don't know that to be true, but bear with me on the hypothetical. >> right. >> and learn theed things from
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president that he would only have learned as a precursor to an attorney-client relationship, i think you're much, much closer to a situation where you might have to step down. but, again, you're still going to have an appearance question. and we're not talking about some trial attorney in the bowels of the department of justice. we're talking about the attorney general of the united states. bill barr is a very principled man. i truly believe that. but i think there are some very serious questions you're going to have to ask him at a senate confirmation hearing, and i worry deeply about the appearance of a conflict. >> ken, let's move to yours and pete's scoop from last night having to do with the mueller report. it appears to be coming sooner rather than later. what should that tell us about the remaining handful of people that have never interviewed with him and have always been rumored to be potential targets? roger stone, donald trump jr. in particular, perhaps even a jared kushner. >> well, jared kushner did have a seven-hour interview. hi almost forgotten that when i
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was reviewing the bidding here. but it doesn't tell us anything definitive, but most legal experts would say if you look like you could be an important witness in a case but you haven't been interviewed, you might be a target. and, you know, just because robert mueller, as we've reported, is expected to file a report to the justice department by mid-february doesn't mean he's not also going to file a series of indictments. we just don't know. in fact, i was surprised frankly when we learned or were told, and it's not just lawyers in the case. justice department officials have been told to be ready for mueller to file his report in february. don't forget, he does it confidentially to the attorney general, who then decides what to do with it. and it doesn't mean necessarily that's the end of all the investigations. in fact, the southern district of new york appears to be proceeding on a different track. you have the new york attorney general. there may be loose ends of the mueller investigation. in account fla, mike flynn won't be sentenced for at least three months. but it does appear we're reaching some sort of end game
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on the central questions of this investigation, russia collusion and obstruction of justice. >> chuck, add your expertise as a former prosecutor here. if we know the report is coming basically in about 50 to 60 days, how would you be feeling if you were donald trump jr. knowing that fact now? >> well, i'm not sure i would be very happy to be donald trump jr. under any circumstance, chuck. but, you know, going after ken is pretty easy because i have to agree just with the smart things he said. there are ten tackles of this case in different parts of the country. so the mere fact that mueller may write a report or a part of a report or a chapter of the report doesn't mean there isn't more prosecuting and investigating to come. i think the eastern district of georgia has a piece. the southern district of new york clearly has a big piece. and by the way, don't forget about state prosecutors, including the attorney general of the state of new york. and so my guess is that being
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donald trump jr. or somebody who is part of the trump foundation or the trump organization is not a very comfortable place to be right now. >> ken dilanian, chuck rosenberg, i will let you guys go on this. much appreciated on that. we are still waiting for mr. mcconnell here. let's go to kacie hunt on capitol hill. look at that. perfect timing. live television. >> disaster relief and border security. within the republican conference there's strong support for the president's reasonable request for more resources to tackle the urgent situation at our southern border. republican support the house passed bill which includes additional border security funding and we're eager to complete the remaining appropriation bills which the senate has already passed. however, obviously, since any
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eve eventual solution requires 60 votes here in the senate, it's been clear from the beginning that two things are necessary. support from enough senate democrats to pass the proposal at 60 and a presidential signature. as a result, the senate has voted to proceed to legislation before us in order to preserve maximum flexibility or productive conversation to continue between the white house and our democratic colleagues. i hope senate democrats will work with the white house on an agreement that can pass both houses of congress, and receive the president's signature. colleagues when an agreement is reached, it will receive a vote here on the senate floor. i move to concur in the house
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amendment to the senate amendment to the house amendment to the senate amendment to hr 695. >> the motion is pending. >> as we said to president trump a week ago, his wall does not have 60 votes here in the senate let alone 50 votes. that much is now clear. democrats have offered three proposals to keep the government open including a proposal offered by leader mcconnell that passed the senate a few days ago. we're willing to continue discussions on those proposals with the leader, the president, the speaker of the house and the leader of the house. all five are necessary to get something done. yiel yield the floor. >> mr. president. >> senator from tennessee is
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recognized. >> i want to thank the two leaders for what they have done today and what they have done even though i know some people tuning in my not understand what just happened. the understanding that has been reached and i want to thank senator flake and johnson and others is, we're not voting on anything else in this chamber relative to this issue until a global agreement has been reached between the president and these two leaders and the leader of house. there won't be test votes. not going to be tabling vote. the vice president has been over here with his members negotiating already. what this does, i think, is push this ahead to a negotiation that yields result and does the best we can to keep from shutting down government or if it does shut down, shutting down very briefly. i want to thank the two leaders for agreeing to go forward in
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this manner. it allows us to move forward in a positive way. yet it keeps negotiations alive. only a bill can pass this chamber that has all of their agreements. i thank them for going forward in this manner. >> it was just explained how this was going to work there. the ball is in the white house's court it sounds like because i'm guessing democrats made it clear he isn't getting 5 billion dollar so it's all about what the white house is willing to accept. >> reporter: that's right, chuck. bob corker laid it out pretty well. i want to make a quick note. that's the longest vote in modern senate history. that vote has been held open since about 12:30 this afternoon. >> congratulations. >> reporter: a little bit of history made there. really, as you know, process
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hurdles here in washington can be big steps forward. they are often confusing and sometimes it's two steps forward and three steps back. the big wild card remains president trump. the fact that his son-in-law and mike pence and mick mulvaney were here negotiating. it means they want to be in the room. they want to try to avoid this shutdown. we still have a long ways the go. i think the president is still a very unpredictable wild card here. it sounds like we're getting indications those conservatives in the house, they may not be on board with this appropriations process idea that the senate has been focused on and that we talked about at the top of the show. that could throw a wrench in it since those were the people on the phone with the president convincing him not to do this last time around. we will see. i think what senator schumer said about having all of those leaders in the room and you'll note he mentioned kevin
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mccarthy. mccarthy is pretty beholden to the freedom caucus now. the phrase that came to my mind i'm not going to say on national television but they have a lot of control over him. he will be speaking for them. the house voted to come back at noon tomorrow. there won't be any votes before then. seems like we are headed for, at least, a brief shutdown, chuck. >> thank you very much. i'll let you get back to getting scoops before you got to go over to the other network. how are they going to handle this? if they keep the government open, he will not be getting that 5 billion. >> they got him by the suspenders. >> that's a very eloquent way of putting it. >> got a nice laugh. >> i should do radio. i'll do radio on christmas eve morning. they're going to crush every
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republican who stands against border security. this is not a trump issue. this goes back to 2004, 2002. they've got to get some fencing. if they don't, we'll be in a shutdown for a long period of time. >> i think fencing is okay. it's the big beautiful concrete slabs of wall with slats that's kind of ridiculous waste of money in eyes of most. it's fake issue. that's the thing. it's fake issue. border, a concrete wall will not help immigration. this is a phony thing invented by people on the right and the president is just milking it. >> at the end of the day, i think what corker is saying we're heading towards caving by donald trump. i guess i would say to all the conservatives who think this is a smart deal of the president or what is the answer? the president is still president of the united states. people still hold him accountable for what happens
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with the government. whether there's a shutdown or not, nancy pelosi will be speaker in two weeks. how is he planning to get a better deal. >> let me paraphrase ann coulter. he didn't lift a finger over the last two years to create a process that could have succeeded in finding the money. >> let's not over estimate. >> he had no ability to do that. >> that's what border security is. fencing does matter in part of that. i think we ought to go big. they ought to do daca. go big right now. >> does the president want a deal or does he want the issue for 2020? >> i think he want a deal. >> do you think he would prefer deal or having the issue? >> i would never agree with ann coulter about anything but there
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was a deal last winter. dreamers for the wall that this white house rejected. i don't think that deal exists anymore because we're heading towards a situation where they need 60 votes and nancy will be speaker. i hate to break it to the conservatives in america but there democrats are coming to town and they have to negotiate with both sides. that's what people voted for in november. that's what will happen. >> democrats need to learn how to do some -- how do you talk about border security going forward to that center right voter in the middle who doesn't like donald trump? >> i think you talk about the importance of security. pushing security out in the way john kelly talked about. i think you talk about technology. i think you talk about border patrol agents. you talk about reforming the justice system and administrative law system. i think you talk about the whole package. i think when you talk about concrete wall, you're talking about cement, that's not the
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solution. >> will the president be there before christmas in florida? >> yes. >> yes. >> probably. >> looks like sit too. will rush limbaugh be seen with him hwhen he's down there? >> yes. >> maybe he'll be mad. that's all we have tonight. remember if it's sunday it's "meet the press." i'll be speaking with dick durbin. coverage continues. "the beat" with ari melber. i got the announcement of an announcement of a deal to have a deal to create the process to create a process for the deal. maybe you can figure out another version of this. >> i don't know if i can figure it out but i think you're on the right path of the narration of it which is a lot of complication for what still looks like are you keeping it open or not? we have a lot tonight. what is your tip for how to understand what's real as the night goes on and the shutdown looms? >> i guess how does the
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