tv Weekends With Alex Witt MSNBC December 23, 2018 10:00am-11:00am PST
good day, everyone, i'm alex witt here at msnbc headquarters in new york. we begin this hour with breaking news as the president has announced that secretary of defense james mattis who was supposed to stay in his post until february is now out effective new year's day, and it just so happens the president's
new acting chief mick mulvaney spoke this afternoon. >> i think the president no longer relied on mattis to be able to deliver the president's vision. the president has to know i don't have to agree with the president on everything he asks me to do, and i don't think he expects that. he hires people to hear other input. but if he asks me to go with everything he agrees to, i can't serve him well. >> before we get to the subject of the shutdown overall, let's talk about this from the president. how is it being read? >> reporter: alex, any change from the president is always a huge event because the secretary is the most consequential member of the cabinet. so the president, after
previously saying that jim mattis would leave the administration in february, today he accelerated that timeline via tweet. so the president says this. i am pleased to announce that our very talented deputy secretary of defense, patrick shanahan, will assume the title of acting defense secretary january 1st, 2019. patrick has a long list of accomplishmen accomplishmen accomplishments. previously at boeing, he will be great. the president saidutive at boei he's been with the president, mattis' resignation is seen as a complete rebuke of trump's view on his decision to withdraw troops from syria and his decision to order the pentagon to withdraw troops from afghanistan. but there is another dimension to this, too. because now we have an acting secretary of defense on top of having an acting attorney general, a chief of staff with
an acting title, at some point we'll have an active interior secretary, we have an acting epa director. there are no deputies at the department of homeland security, at hud or the va. this is an incredibly vulnerable time for this administration to have all these positions unfilled or staffed by people with acting titles, alex. >> it is quite extraordinary. i hadn't thought about it in that perspective, but i agree 100%. let's also talk about the latest offer from the white house to reopen the now shuttered government, at least partially so. where does that stand? >> well, the first thing folks should know is that there is no real deal on the horizon. mick mulvaney did the sunday show tour today, and he even said he thinks this shutdown could last into the new year. but he did say that the white house has backed down from their $5 billion demand in funding to build this border wall or this border barrier that president trump says he wants, but he said he hopes that democrats can come
up from their 1.3 billion offer. so here's what mulvaney said on one of the shows today. >> i think it's important that everyone understands the language that everyone is using. the president tweeted out a picture yesterday, the steel fence, the steel slatted fence and so forth. that's what we want to build. in the democrats' mind, that is not a wall, so they have offered us $1.3 billion to build the barrier that we want, but then go on tv and say there is no money for the wall. we want to build what the president tweeted out, it doesn't have to be a 30-foot-high wall of concrete. the counteroffer we gave them yesterday was between those two numbers. >> reporter: i tell you this, though, the longest this goes, the aides tell me the worse it is for the president. his negotiating doesn't get any better if this goes until january 2nd or january 3rd, and it's democrat nancy pelosi who gets to reopen the president.
he is likely to get less money then than he's likely to get now, alex. >> the president now, he can't get down to mar-a-lago at this point, right? but he's not going to be alone for christmas? >> no, the white house announced last night that the first lady would return here to spend christmas with the president because he is staying here through the shutdown. it's not just that government workers are having to work and they'll get paid retroactively, it's also the secret service who keeps the president safe and apparatus around him safe. they are effectively also having to work for free until these negotiations are through, alex. >> they let their security go for vacation all for naught now.
will there be a response from the president or does a response have to wait? >> there is no staffing from the republican or democratic side, at least not what i've seen, and i've walked all over this complex. >> lots of echoes, huh? >> yes. >> to follow geoff's comments, the president has a phone in his hands, so who knows what he will be tweeting or saying over the next couple days as he remains in the library. as it stands right now, mick mulvaney asked the chief of staff about possibly going to january 3rd, the mandate when the new senate starts, and nancy pelo pelosi says when and if this partial shutdown continues, they can really, in the course of a few hours, pass a spending bill to reopen those parts of the government that are closed over this holiday season.
the senate has already demonstrated they have the votes to do that. they passed the spending bill without the president's $5 billion for a wall, a slat wall, a barrier, sagebrush, whatever you want to call it, that they want to put down there right now, whatever the negotiating position is, as trance apparently semitic it may be. following again your discussion with geoff, it's hard to see how the politics work in the long run, but you know what, we've been surprised before, we'll probably be surprised again, alex. >> okay, vic, thank you so much. appreciate all that reporting. we're joined right now from a democrat from kentucky, also a chair of the house budget committee. a welcome to you on this pre-holiday weekend. i'm curious the amount that you're willing to give the president for border security. have you decided on a number, and what will you demand in return for whatever you are giving him? >> what we would demand in
return is a sensible policy. you know, alex, we gave the administration 1.3 billion, i think, in the last budget year for border security. they haven't spent that. this really isn't about a fence or a barrier or a wall, this is manhood measurement for donald trump, that's what it is. he's also proven himself impossible to negotiate with. this is the guy who wrote "the art of the deal "snoor" but you tell him one thing and have him change his mind in another. 1.6, i think, is a place democrats would feel comfortable for providing border security. again, we want something that is sensible, and virtually everyone you talk to says a border wall makes no sense. barriers are a proper and necessary part of the border security equation, but by no means everything, and we have
video, you've seen, of mick mulvaney saying the same thing back in 2015. >> right. so let's talk about how long this thing is going to last. nothing can happen before thursday at the very earliest. mick mulvaney says it's going to go until january 3rd. >> that's up to him and up to the president. we democrats have given the administration three very, very sensible options for keeping the government open. and remember, there are seven appropriations bills that are yet to pass representing about 25% of discretionary spending for the government. six of those have no controversy surrounding them. we could pass them and get all of those people back to work immediately without any disruption. the only one where there is controversy is the homeland security budget and over the border wall. let's pass a continuation resolution, give us a couple months to work on that but pass all the other ones. the commerce department is one of those. i have about a thousand census
bureau workers in my district who won't be paid and will be furloughed. but that's totally necessary. again, one of the tragedies of this dispute is that this was actually an example of really sound and responsible bipartisan governments. all these appropriations bills had been agreed upon in a bipartisan way, and the president, because of his dispute, because he wants to uphold a campaign promise that, by the way, he's breaking because mexico is not going to pay for the wall, he messes everything up. >> there was a senior administration official that insisted yesterday, yep, mexico will eventually pay for the border wall. but let's take a listen again to mick mulvaney, and i remind our viewers about his position. he holds the director of the white house budget office, right, the mlb, and he's also the chief of staff and here's what he had to say about this. >> we really think we're in a good place in terms of getting the wall built and also to get mexico to participate in our border security.
>> but none of that is mexico paying for the wall. >> technically you and i both know it can't work exactly like that. i can't spend any money on a budget that the department of homeland security can't actually spend money from mexico, we have to get it from the treasury. >> technically you and i both know it can't work exactly like that. >> he's right, and he said he'll get it back from mexico, saying tariffs and mexico will pay for it indirectly. none of that is true -- >> is that something that you think people who voted for donald trump had a good grasp on? when he went out there during his campaign and he said, mexico is going to pay for the wall repeatedly, do you think most people interpret that to mean, we're not writing the check for that, mexico is writing the check for that. >> i think a lot of his voters take that literally and i think
he meant it literally. unfortunately, it was never going to be true and won't be true. he said in the last seven days if we built the wall, it would save us hundreds of billions of dollars. hundreds of billions. that number he just pulled out of his hat. there is no evidence of that, there is no basis for saying that, but he'll say anything, and that's what makes it very difficult to figure out what a negotiating position is with him because he's just very volatile. >> so other than your furloughed census employees in your district, what are you hearing from people in your district? how much are athey paying attention to this, to this partial government shutdown? >> not much. most people are not going to feel it. there are still a lot of people who feel they are not particularly sympathetic about what they perceive to be paper pushers, bureaucrats, and of course we know that the vast
majority of these people who are going to be not paid over the next few weeks involve people like, eironically, border security people, the customs and border protection force, 55,000 of them, fbi, tsa, the airport screeners, people who are vital to the security of our country. and that's very, very sad. but i think most people think of government employees, again, as bureaucratic types when that is anything but the truth. >> representative john yarma, thank you so much for visit ingwith me on this sunday. >> thank you, alex. president trump has grown more sure of his own judgment and more isolated from anyone else at any point since he took office. took office where you can explore the world knowing you can always find your way home. ♪
a new report in the "new york times" today painting a picture of the president growing increasingly frustrated with his advisers. the "new york times" writes, now, the president who once declared that i alone can fix the system increasingly stands alone in a system that seems as broken as ever. joining me now, the co-author of that piece, peter baker, correspondent for the "new york times" and msnbc political analyst, chief of political magazine and author of "power up" newsletter. welcome to all three of you. given how we started this conversation, peter, there seemed to be some disarray going
on at the white house. pretty consistently, what is different this time around? >> you're right. for two years we see a president who seems to be at war with his own government at times, frustrated with the chairman he appointed in the federal reserve, frustrated with his own justice department, frustrated as we now see with his defense secretary. the last few days have basically brought a clear, stark picture how much that is leaving him isolated from the people around him. he's now on his third chief of staff, his second secretary of state, his sixth communications director, and he's about to head into a two-year period in which the challenges are going to get much, much more daunting for him, whether he fully realizes it or not. the house is about to become controlled by democrats, and at some point robert mueller will come out with some findings that will put him presumably on the defensive. >> so peter, with whom is the president surrounding himself? is there anyone he trusts?
>> that's a good question. he trusts his family, but he feels removed at times from his son-in-law and daughter who are serving in the white house. he tells outside friends that he doesn't have any friends in the white house anymore, that he feels isolated and abandoned. he calls them up and looks around at people in his office and they say none of them were there in the beginning, so there is a real sense on his part feeling like he is at war every day and yet he doesn't have the troops around him to support him. he suspects they're not really on his side, that they're undermining him and he wonders about their ulterior motives. he doesn't like the idea that he's being watched. it's a presidency at a midpoint that's in real transition, i think. >> also something he wrote, a very interesting assessment on the president and the midterms and who won. you're saying he's glad the
democrats won the midterm elections. what do you mean by that? >> now he has an antagonist, now he has a foil. that may be a cover-up for an election lost, but there is a point for this. he does like having a fight, he likes having something to go after. remember, both bill clinton and barack obama lost control of parts of congress in their first midterm elections like donald trump and yet went on to win reelection in part because they had somebody to play off of and tell the electorates, see, i'm better than those guys. that's what president trump wants to do here. >> so he would rather be sparring with nancy pelosi. >> that's right. >> mick mulvaney gave a new timeline for a shutdown agreement today. here's what he said today. >> we had given a counteroffer to mr. schumer late yesterday afternoon and immediately i think thereafter the senate went
into recess until at least thursday. it doesn't mean it will be until thursday until we hear something back, but i don't think things are are going to move very quickly here the next few days. i think it's very possible the shutdown will go beyond the 28th and into the new congress. >> chuck, what's your reaction of how things will stand now and how you see this playing out? >> trump has made the wall into this symbol of his entire presidential aspirations. and what that's done is actually raised the price of it in a psychic sense. the democrats don't want to budge and they would be seen as capitulating the president. before he put his foot down, it seemed like there was going to be a deal and now both sides are dug in and there's no real end in sight. somebody is going to have to back down. the longer it goes on, the more likely it's the president.
>> mulvaney also said the president is fine now having a steel barrier. there's the president tweeting out that it doesn't have to be a concrete wall. jackie, how much does the definition of the wall even matter at this point? does that have the ability to sway democrats if it's not this 30-foot-high monolithic wall across the border? >> the contention about the wall was never its structure or how beautiful or artistic it was. i think that's just something the president threw out there thinking it would make it more palatable for democrats to embrace. i think blake hit it on the head. this is something that is the cent centerpiece of trump's campaign and he is digging in with these campaign promises. back to feeling increasingly isolated in the white house, one of the few trump supporters still left is stephen miller, and that's one of the only
people who has really gone out this week to push trump's idealogical beliefs, the wall being the center point of that. exactly what the wall looks like i don't think matters here. it's the articulation that trump put forward of why a wall is needed. that's just not sitting well, not just with democrats but also with republicans. even rand paul went on this morning to say he is not going to support the wall. you had william hurd who represents 800 miles of border who said there is no need of a wall. and the administration hasn't even spent the 1.3 billion that was already appropriated to go towards border funding. >> blake, is there still an incentive to reach a compromise? >> on some level, i think
democrats want the government to reopen. trump has a big megaphone and after saying that he owns the shutdown, he's been trying to blame democrats for it, and mitch mcconnell, senate majority leader, has chimed in. democrats are going to come up with a small minority in the senate, and chuck schumer is under pressure from the democratic base not to capitulate, but he's in a tough position because he doesn't really have a huge cadre in the senate to push back against republicans. >> let's go to mattis right now, and blake, let's start with you on this. you wrote about the mattis legislation in your last piece. you're not surprised. what was the breaking point? >> i think it's surprising he's lasted so long. it's been clear for, really two years, that he was serving a president whose agenda he did not support.
he saw his mission as preserving several years of bipartisan policy who has a president that sees it differently, wants to get the. fought that agenda, slow-walked it. and then it quickly followed, we learned he wants to pull 7,000 troops out of afghanistan. none of that really seemed to have been done with mattis' buyinand supposedly he denied that news. the timing was pegd to the syria move, so it's like he had it filed away in his desk and he pulled it out on a day when he just had enough. >> peter, what do you think?
are you surprised he lasted this long, to blake's point? >> well, yes and no. to blake's point, yes, of course. i'm surprised in the sense there is such a disparity of views between secretary mattis and president trump. president trump is a firm believer that the united states shouldn't be involved in these overseas quagmires. it's a waste of time, money and lives. that's been consistent on his part. secretary mattis believes the opposi opposite, a standup to our allies occurred. i believe mattis said he wouldn't leave until he's walked out. apparently he did reach a point of breaking. what you see today is the president was going to ask him
there's new reaction today from the border deal. trump and whitaker are having what many call improper discussions about the russia investigation. take a listen to this. >> the president of the united states is discussing a case in which he is implicated with the attorney general. that is wrong at every level. >> this is the president ignoring the rule of law, ignoring decades of precedent and policy. this is exactly what we feared about whitaker's appointment. this is a real assault on the rule of law. and we are going to carefully scrutinize every single action by matt whitaker. >> joining me now is attorney becky legrand and former prosecutor liam brand. liam, i'm going to pick up with you, but listen to what adam schiff is saying, a new assault on the rule of law. it's a pretty strong statement there. do you agree with that? >> i basically do, alex. it is a strong statement, but it
is the case in this situation. we don't know exactly what was said between whitaker and the president during that meeting, but just the fact that whitaker is maintaining his position over this investigation, even when his own ethics lawyers have told him to recuse himself, is a real problem for the legitimacy of the department of justice and for his position. that's the whole purpose we have a nonpartisan civil service, so they can give advice like this apart from partisan politics and it's being disregarded. that underlines the whole legitimacy and the clarity. >> it's interesting and definitely worth noting, rebecca, that cnn specifically says the president did not order to stop this investigation. even if the president is not directing whitaker, could this not be considered obstruction? >> potentially it could. but in truth my feeling is that
what we've already seen signs of, particularly in the cohen sentencing documents that came out last month, means that we don't need to debate, is this going to be something that's on the edge of obstruction? i think all signs point to the obstruction here being at the heartland of what obstruction is. at least we know from the flynn sentencing memo that -- sorry, from the cohen sentencing memo that cohen provided information about circulating what turned out to be knowingly false testimony at the white house before he provided false testimony. that's the kind of obstruction that neither whitaker, nor bill barr, nor any other lawyer that hopes to keep their bar card can deny. i don't like it for the same reasons liam says, it upsets me, it challenges the norms we take for granted in this country. but i don't know that there is any lawyer in america who is going to be able to ignore what appears to be the evidence here
that keeps coming out. >> so, liam, if the president appears to be trying to interfere with a criminal investigation into himself, how dangerous is that? >> i think it's really dangerous on two levels, alex. i think it is dangerous for him personally, because if he's actually interfering in any way, ins insinuating what should be done, insinuating he wants to take it off what would be its natural course, that is a legal problem for him. but it's more problematic for the precedent it sets up for our administration of justice and for our legal structures, that you have a president who has been told he is a subject of the investigation, that he is -- that if he is taking steps to move it away from him or direct it any direction, he is interfering with the administration of justice in a way that undermines the whole process now and undermines it in
the future because now this precedent has already been set and broken and it's a real problem. >> okay, so rebecca, there is an unnamed company owned by an unknown foreign government now suggesting to take its subpoena battle with what is believed to be the special counsel all the way to the supreme court. is the supreme court under any legal obligation to step into this fight? is that a guarantee that the supreme court would take this case on? >> no, absolutely not, and my guess is they won't, or at least won't do it immediately. the company has been ordered to either comply with the subpoena or pay $5,000 a week as a penalty. now, i don't know what sovereign wealth fund this is, but most sovereign wealth funds can probably afford $5,000 a week for some time, so i doubt this is something the supreme court is going to jump in on, and if they did, frankly they might be resolving some nerdy legal details about the sovereign immunity rather than anything that goes really to the heart of
this investigation. who knows, we don't know really anything because everything has been so secretive. the degree of secrecy here is intriguing and incredibly illegal here. they shut down one of the floors at the d.c. white house. it's a big floor, i can tell you. it's certainly intriguing but i doubt this becomes something that the supreme court jumps to take up. >> well, as we get more information on this and other things, i will speak to you both again. rebecca, liam, good to see you. day two of a partial government shutdown with no end in sight. the president's acting chief of staff says they made an offer to democrats, and they're still waiting pto hear back.
kayla: our dad was in the hospital. josh: because of smoking. but we still had to have a cigarette. had to. kayla: do you know how hard it is to smoke in a hospital? by the time we could, we were like... what are we doing? kayla: it was time for nicodermcq. the nicodermcq patch with unique extended release technology helps prevent your urge to smoke all day. and doubles your chances of quitting. nicodermcq. you know why, we know how.
nicodermcq. not long ago, ronda started here. and then, more jobs began to appear. these techs in a lab. this builder in a hardhat... ...the welders and electricians who do all of that. the diner staffed up 'cause they all needed lunch. teachers... doctors... jobs grew a bunch. what started with one job spread all around. because each job in energy creates many more in this town. energy lives here.
he says it's an issue of border security. i think we know better. it's an issue of his own political insecurity. when the right wing starts screaming at him, he just pushes back and disassembles in front of us. we have now reached a level of destruction i've never seen before. >> for more let's bring in our panel. jonathan alter, daily beast columnist and political analyst, also former nevada state gop chairwoman, and anita shaw, analyst and managing editor at red force strategies. you guys are regulars. it's good to have you back. amy, what about senator durbin and what he said there?
is it alarming to you that the president appears he based his decision on what critics from the right said? >> not at all. this is something he campaigned on and he made this a promise, so this should not come as a surprise to anybody on the left or the right. >> okay. all right, jonathan, you can react to that. i heard you -- >> he reversed himself. yes, he campaigned on this but it was only a matter of days ago that he was willing to go along with all 100 members of the u.s. senate, all republicans in the u.s. senate, to have a continuing resolution and not shut down the government and have this issue revisited in february without this sort of damacles of a shutdown that hurts a lot of people in this process. so it's this president that's playing this game of chicken, he owns the shutdown. and if you dispute that, rewind the tape to the meeting in the oval office with chuck schumer
and nancy pelosi, and the president said, i own the shutdown. >> he does, but to amy's point, he says we shouldn't be surprised and i don't think she's troubled by that in the least, but are you troubled by jonathan's first point there? does it seem like the president gave to the senate, we got this, we passed this, it was a unanimous vote, here you've got this, and then all of a sudden rush limbaugh starts criticizing and ann coulter calls him gutless and all of a sudden he flips and changes his mind. does that bother you? >> i hope he's not taking his advice from ann coulter. i do agree with her sometimes, not 100%. again, this is something he campaigned on and he made a promise he is going to stick to it. what i find more disturbing is the fact that you have somebody like chuck schumer who has voted for funding in the past, multiple times, and we don't seem to hear what the alternatives are, if they're just against a wall, is it because president trump wants the wall, do they just want
portions of the wall? do they just want more bodies at the border? do they want to have more -- what do you call it -- drones in the sky? they're not giving us options. >> so, reena, did the president buy himself some political ka capital here by saying, i'm fighting for what i cam poindpa on, i made a fight for this and i'm not backing down. if he did not battle over this, the prospect of keeping his base, arguably his only support, could be zero? >> i think that would be giving donald trump a little too much credit. i think we're at a point really, essentially, where we should see the president for who he is, a man who lacks vision and strategy. this is an elementary schoolyard brawl, in my opinion. i think what's happening here is there's been a tug-of-war. obviously the wall is something he campaigned on and cares about
so much that he continues to let it be front and center and realize that essentially his base is going to abandon him if he doesn't do something beyond the justices, right? so this wall is really it for him, and i think we're at a point where we just have to say that the president is putting the republican party, putting the country in a worse off place because of his lack of vision and strategy. this is not what great leaders are made of. he's had an awful week in washington, and i think the wall is the only thing he's clinging to. sadly it's a racist wall. there are so many other things we should be talking about. really the undertone of this debate has been hijacked by people on the right like ann coulter and rush limbaugh, people who spew hate on the regular. we've allowed them to take over the national debate and allowed them to essentially hold our congress hostage. there is a bad place we're in right now, alex. i'm saddened to call myself a republican. anyone who stands with this
racist wall really shouldn't call themselves republican because it's anti-american. >> amy, i can see you want to react to that. >> yeah. the only thing i agree with her on is the fact that it's a schoolyard fight, unfortunately. we have already had this discussion in the past where you've had democrats ask for, what was it, roughly 690,000 daca folks to have extended into citizenship, and then the president tripled that and they still didn't expect it on the democrat side. senator reid, very famous from the state of minnesota, says the art of legislation is compromised. but i do believe that we should sit down and listen. we might need to support funding for this wall or portions of the wall, whatever it may be. i believe both sides need to sit down and come to a compromise on
both of these. >> do you say that because the democrats are taking over january 3rd? would you have said that earlier in this 2018 term? >> yes, in fact, i'm on the record saying that. >> this border wall makes no sense. it will allow congress to spend ourselves into oblivion. it will cost billions and billions. >> what's the alternative? >> high-tech options. high-tech options. >> we have to deal with the reality here, the democrats control the house in a matter of days, so the idea of spending billions and billions of dollars on a wall is dead. it's just simply not going to happen. and we need to start talking in realistic terms. now, amy is right, there could be a compromise where you see work on the dreamers, in
exchange for modest, maybe a billion and a half, for additional border security. >> do you think that's really going to help him, because the president, he walked away from. i think at the end. day. i think there will be some kind of compromise. they have to event. for trump to be asking for more money for the wall at this point is pre pposterousreposterous, e since they haven't spent the money they have. so instead of talking about these d bateebates, although important ones, my guess is it will be moderate border security in exchange for protecting the d.r.e.a.m.ers and then they'll reopen the government.
>> we'll see if that's prophetic or not, my friends. coming up next, this hour's breaking news that the president decides to take james mattis out of the job earlier than expected. what that means for the administration and the president's foreign policy, next. but hey, at least you still have time to get the ford vehicle you've always wanted. just get to the final days of our holiday sales event. see you sometime between now and january 2nd. so you can end your year on a high note. ford. built for the holidays. it's time to get our best offers of the season.
back now with more on the breaking news on this sunday. the president today pushing defense secretary james mattis out the door sooner than expected. the president tweeting that the deputy defense secretary will be taking over on january 1st. joining me now david please former cia officer who provided daily intelligence briefings to the fbi, also author of the book "how to get rid of a president." david, welcome back to the broadcast. >> thank you. >> let's get to the general who said that he would be sticking around until february, the president said that he was officially retiring. why is the president ushering him out the door? >> it certainly looks like the president doesn't like the attention james mattis is getting and frankly the positive attention james mattis is getting. look, since his letter came out people have been praising his even-headed look at national security factors, the things like alliance relationships and long-term strategic interests of the united states that he hints at in his letter.
well, that's the opposite of the decision-making process by which the syria decision was made. i think that contrasts between the positive coverage of how james mattis wrote about his departure and the president's decision-making process has just highlighted that tension and made it hard for the president to want to hear that for two more months until secretary mattis wanted to leave. >> i do think the president was basically pretty tired of hearing people say that james mattis was the only adult left standing in the room. >> yeah, it's a met for that has become tired any way, there are probably other people in various agencies and departments who are doing a good job of trying to prepare this president as well as possible for national security decisions, but james mattis was there from the beginning. james mattis was somebody that on the military side a lot of people put faith in and said at least we know that there is a bulwark there in an ultimate scenario where things are really going downhill, maybe in an actual war, we feel better having jim mattis in that seat.
without him things are a little bit less predictable now. >> you mentioned that letter, which he reportedly, jim mattis, i should say, asked 50 copies of that letter to be distributed around the department of defense. would you expect his deputy, the manhole be stepping into his shoes, patrick shanahan, to share mattis' world view or president trump's view? >> it's hard to tell. we don't have a lot of reporting yet on exactly what shanahan believes politically, but we do know that he came into office and has served with secretary mattis for a long time. he has in a sense learned what it is like to be the head of the department of defense from this esteemed man. that has to rub off. you can't work with jim mattis for that long and not get a sense of why he is respected and to get a sense of how he incorporates intelligence into his decision-making instead of just acting on a whim. the flip side is we don't know what lessons he learned from this clash with the president. is shaan-going to learn i need
to be like jim mattis and put my head down and not do a lot of public commentary to irritate the president, or do i have to come out even stronger and support the president's policies. >> david, can you answer fairly quickly when is a good time for u.s. troops to leave syria? why someone in peoria, illinois, should not want them back home? >> the issue relates to what the united states wants to get out of the commitment in syria. if the goal is to simply have troops on the ground to feel good about it, well, that's one thing. that's not the strak jik logic here. the strategic logic is two protect the kurds who have been supporting our strategic objectives to try to maintain the fight against isis which can resurge at any time and to make sure that the long-term interests in the region both alliance relationships and potential down sides if we are not there don't get out of control. now, having a series of meetings, i've been in a lot of planning meetings when i was at cia and state and those are
laborious, frustrating meetings week after week to try to get policies hashed out so they can reach a presidential decision but there is a reason for that process and that's to avoid an unforced error like this one. >> well said. have a good holiday. >> thank you. you think you had a pussy holiday schedule, a government shut down, troop withdrawals and the departure of his defense secretary. all that and more at the top of the hour. etary. all that and more at the top of the hour
IN COLLECTIONSMSNBC West Television Archive Television Archive News Search Service The Chin Grimes TV News Archive
Uploaded by TV Archive on