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tv   Hardball With Chris Matthews  MSNBC  December 24, 2018 3:00am-4:00am PST

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ices tofhe post office only cheaper get our special tv offer a 4-week trial plus postage and a digital scale go to and never go to the post office again! secretary mattis came in, he met with the president, they made the decision and he won't leave for another couple of months. they have a good relationship. we expect him to continue to have a good relationship. the president has a great deal of respect for secretary mattis. he's going to stay on for another couple of months, i think that's a great indicator of the type of cooperation they have. >> let's not forget he's not just walking out the door, this will be an orderly process and it will continue to be a good relationship over these next couple of months. well, of course, those comments didn't age very well. in a tweet yesterday donald trump abruptly moved up the departure date of defense
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secretary jim mattis. jump tweeted, i am pleased to announce our very talented deputy secretary of defense, patrick shanahan, will assume the title of acting secretary of defense starting january 1st, 2019. now, senior pentagon and administration officials tell nbc news that mattis learned of his exit and learned that it was being moved up by two months in a phone call, not from the president, of course, because the guy that actually made you're fired a catchword is terrified of confronting people in person. no, our secretary of defense learned from secretary of state mike pompeo rather than the president himself that he would be leaving on january 1st. on thursday trump tweeted that mattis would be retiring with distinction at the end of february, but "the new york times" reports that, quote, trump had not read mattis'
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resignation letter nor understood the stinging rebuke of him. the president grew increasingly angry as he watched a parade of defense analysts go on television to ex told ma 'tis' praf ri. another aide said until he decided on sunday that he had enough. on sunday president trump tweeted what appeared to be his response to mattis' resignation letter, quote, when president obama ingloriously fired jim mattis i gave him a second chance, some thought i shouldn't. actually, no, mr. president, everybody thought that was actually your best selection. donald trump went on to say i thought i should. interesting relationship. but i also gave all the resources that he never really had. allies are very important but not when they take advantage of you. the president wakes up at the white house this morning not traveling to mar-a-lago for the holidays as planned because of his government shutdown. that government shutdown he claimed he would take credit for
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and he is. much more on that fight in a moment, but trump has not been seen in public since friday and according to the "new york times" advisers say a furious president is cursing at aides while consumed by the multiplying investigations into his business because that's what this is really about, his campaign and his administration. reading from their report, for two years trump has waged war against his own government, convinced that people around him are fools. angry that they resist his wishes. uninterested in the details of their briefings. he becomes especially agitated when they tell him he doesn't have the power to do what he wants, which makes him suspicious that they are secretly undermining him. by all accounts trump's consumption of cable television has actually increased in recent months, that's not good for anybody, as his first scheduled meetings of the day have slid back from 9:00 or 9:30 a.m. to roughly 11:00 many mornings.
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during what's called, kwoel quo constitute testify time, trump watches television in the residence for hours, reacting to what he sees on fox news, while in the west wing he leaves it on in most mornings in the dining room. quote, can you believe this, he has said, as he scanned the torrent of headlines. i'm doing great, but it's a war every day. why is it like this, the president has asked his aides, with no acknowledgment that he may actually be playing a role in this madness. so that's just part of where we find ourselves on this christmas eve morning, monday, december 24th. i hope you're having a great christmas eve. i know i am. with us we have historian, author of "the soul of america" and rodgers professor of the presidency at vanderbilt university jon meachum. columnist and associate editor for the "washington post" david ignatius, we have pulitzer prize
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winning columnist and associate editor for the "washington post" and msnbc political analyst eugene robinson, washington bureau chief for "usa today" susan paige, and republican communications strategist and msnbc political contributor rick tyler. so, david ignatius, let's keep score. i mean, this is not exactly the sort of show we can pre tape for christmas eve in the middle of july. too much going on. >> you couldn't really plan this one. >> no, couldn't plan this one out. so i thank all of you so much for being with us this christmas eve morning, it certainly means a lot to us and i know it means a lot to our viewers. so there is a "washington post" article entitled "a rogue presidency" that stated where we are pretty well. the federal government is shut
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down, the stock markets are in free-fall, foreign allies are alarmed and foreign adversaries like russia are cheering. so, david, where are we? >> joe, we have used language to try to explain to viewers the chaos, disorientation in washington, the sense of disruption to traditional policies so many times over the last 18 months, it may seem stale, but this week we really experienced it. this week washington was rocked with decisions that shocked even close trump supporters. after secretary mattis' resignation i talked to a half dozen people who i describe as close, they keep their counsel about trump, and they just shook their heads. i think for republicans on capitol hill this has been a week when they really worried about the course of this administration that they've
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tried to support. for our allies around the world, the kinds of things that you hear from them this week, what's happening to you? we're worried, we're frightened about america's direction. i will talk later a bit perhaps about my interview with the syrian kurdish commander who is going to take the brunt of president trump's sudden decision to pull u.s. forces out of syria, his language to me was heart breaking. this was an america that he just didn't recognize. so this has been a week before christmas that defied all of our previous concern and language. this one felt different to me. >> words do seem to fail us, jon meachum, because, again, what i feared, sometimes we keep talking about rogue -- the rogue presidency and we keep talking
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about it in dramatic terms because so much of what we're seeing we've never seen before, but in moments like these words fail us. i want to read -- i'm just getting into andrew roberts' "churchi "churchill" which i have a feeling i've just blown -- blown the surprise for about five of my relatives who probably bought all of -- bought this for me for christmas. sorry, i already have it. but he has a quote of churchill up front, study history. study history. in history lie all the secrets of state craft, and that was from a 27th, 1953. this is a man who saved civilization in the summer of 1940, he, of course, made terrible mistakes before and after, but he was prepared in 1940 for what came. i would guess that leaders like
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general mattis understand the same thing. but in donald trump we have somebody who is avers to studying history, who has contempt for those who know about anything that go before them. we heard the "washington post" quote, he gets angry when people tell him that certain things he wants to do are against the law. this is a rogue president and the question is at this point what in the world can congress do, should congress do? >> i think it's up to congress. i also think it's up to all of us because the -- far too often the -- what we see in washington is enabled by the fact that washington is more often a mirror of who we are than it is a molder of who we are. there's still a remarkable number of americans who are willing to give the president a pass on these things that as
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david was saying have shaken the basic institutions in a -- if not unprecedented, in a scary way. i think the closest analogy to where we are is probably the second half of 1865, '66, '67 where we had a president who was simply not commensurate with the challenges of the office. andrew johnson had been put on the ticket to bring along some border states, he was a democrat, he was a tennessee unionist, but basically he was more -- wildly more sympathetic to the southern cause than lincoln was and he was a man without a party and there were threats of violence, there were questions about the war breaking out again after an mat particulars and after ford's theater and johnson would give wild speeches. washington's birthday he gave this conspiracy-minded speech saying things like, why is it like this?
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and why is it a war every day? so if you are in a paragraph where the only analogy anyone can come up with is andrew johnson, it's not a great holiday. if you are in a historical zone. the other thing i'd say about churchill is one of the last things we know he wrote, which was in the mid '50s in the history of the english speaking people's, he wrote, the future is unknowable, but the past should give us hope. and that's something to cling to because these institutions, these american institutions, were built to confront and, god willing, survive moments like this, but those institutions only work if elected officials and all of us actually engage and think out what are the true limits to what we as in the broadest sense of we the people, will accept. >> and that is a reason, gene, i
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think to be grateful this holiday season. for me this year has been about american institutions, actually proving that they are bigger than any man, bigger than any woman, and that madisonian democracy in 2018 is actually quite strong. but what do we do, gene, when it does appear that this administration is terminal? this administration will not survive. what do our leaders in washington do? what do editorial page editors do? what do people in news programs, presidents of network do? what does everybody do working together to make sure that this administration that is terminal does not behave in a way that creates not only a governing crisis but a pandemic not only across this country, but across the world?
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>> well, those institutions you talked about, joe, are really going to have their work cut out for them in 2019. it is incredible. look, i agree with you that this -- we seem to have entered -- you called it terminal -- an unacceptable zone, a kind of end state of this administration where we have total chaos. government is shut down, the markets are in free-fall, we have a treasury secretary who perhaps accidentally further destabilized the markets over the weekend with ill-advised phone calls to the heads of the major banks saying, don't worry about anything, so, of course, everybody worries about everything. >> and, by the way, no the only, gene, asking them to not worry about anything, but also going, hey, by the way, are you liquid? >> yeah, right. >> if something went really badly when the markets opened up, are you going to have enough money or are there going to be
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runs on your bank? don't do that from exclusive resorts in mexico. not good. >> no, not good at all. it just brings to mind the, frankly, abysmally low quality of number of people in important positions in this administration. so, you know, the thing that is -- there are many things that are important about general mattis' firing, and david ignatius is right that the on the ground impact is going to be on the kurds in syria, but the psychological impact is he was the -- he was seen as the sturdiest pair of guardrails we had to keep this administration from going catastrophically off track and with mattis gone it's hard to have that kind of
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confidence. so we are reaching a point where we all have to wonder can we take two more years of this and if we cannot, then what are we going to do about it? that's the question that i think we're going to face in 2019. >> it is -- it's a question, i think, susan, that a lot of republicans are facing right now. i'm sure you have noticed, i'm sure everybody on the panel has noticed this weekend that an awful lot of republicans that have bitten their tongues over the past two and a half years since donald trump won the nomination and quite a few supporters of his, apology gists of his have actually come out and started being critical of donald trump over this past weekend. i have somebody close to me who has been a trump supporter for some time who on twitter has publicly spent the weekend asking some tough questions, and that doesn't usually happen.
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no, i'm not talking about mika. brit hume, i think, noticed this as well, and he said, too much of the criticism of trump has been overblown. too often about things that neither didn't happen or didn't matter. that is not true of the syria/mattis issue. this is a big deal. both in the substance of it and trump's decisions and the way the whole episode was handled. and it does seem that for many trump supporters and i will say also some trump apology gists, this was trump crossing the rubicon. this was, as one historian said, this was basically jacksonians in the trump coalition rising up and saying enough. >> you know, one of the surprises of the past two years has been the willingness of top republicans, including congressional republicans, to
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accept president trump's provocative rhetoric and some of his outrageous statements in the interest of policies that they supported, but i wonder if at this point we're going to see changes especially in the senate with republicans. we heard that from pat too many. he yesterday on "meet the press," a more critical tone. the other thing that's going to change as we go into this new year, of course, is democratic control of the house which gives the opportunity and, in fact, the inevitability of a kind of congressional oversight we haven't seen in the past two years. it's about to begin. i wonder if president trump's behavior over the last few weeks represents him kind of girding his base against two things that's going to happen, house democratic investigations and the mueller report which seems to be ready to come out perhaps in the next six weeks or so. >> rick tyler, we've been talking about mattis, but the government is shut down, and i
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know -- i know as a former republican legislator, you say the word shut down -- ted cruz accused me in 2013 of having flashbacks and being too scared of government shutdowns, and i said, you're damn right, ted, i have flashbacks and i'm scared of government shutdowns because that never ends well for republicans. it never does. and here you have a party that saw the worst losses in the midterms just about a month, month and a half ago, since watergate. they lost about 350, 400 state legislative seats, they lost important governorships that are going to have a big say in redistricting and how this country is run over the next decade, and here they have a president who last week calls in nancy pelosi and chuck schumer, says, hey, i'm going to shut down the government, i'm going to take credit for it, and then mitch mcconnell comes up with a deal that will get the president out of it and he hears rush
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limbaugh and ann coulter get upset and so he blows up the deal. not based on what republicans want, not based on, you know, what conservatives want, not based on what anybody wants, but it's the talk radio contingency. how loyal are republicans, rank and file republicans, who have already seen their party just drobbed over the past month, how long are they going to hang on on this ride with this guy? >> joe, that remains to be seen. it's been a little surprising that it's been two years, but i think there is some hope in all of this in that if you look at the presidency from a historic perspective, most of us on the panel now are currently sitting in an unoccupied city except for donald trump who is so isolated in the white house by himself and he continues to isolate himself. the reason i say there's hope is because the way this constitution republic is
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structured -- can you imagine if donald trump given the force of his personality was actually able to make the government work the way he wants to? it doesn't work and it's all dysfunctional now because he doesn't understand how to make it work. the city doesn't operate by the force of persuasion -- i'm sorry, the force of personality, it actually operates on the force of persuasion and it starts with giving the people a vision of where you want to take this administration. what does it look like in four years or in his case now in two years for his reelection? i couldn't begin to articulate what donald trump -- where donald trump wants to bring us. so he has not done the hard work of convincing the american people that he deserves reelection and that's why you saw what you just mentioned in the last midterm elections, why the democrats won so decisively is because this presidency is in crisis. but, again, i would say it is not designed to work this way.
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we really have a government that's based on one word and republicans don't like to hear it and sometimes democrats don't, either, the word is compromise and you have to work with other people because it's a shared power of government, thank god, and you have to work with people and work with the american people to convince people the direction you want to go, and if you don't it dee involves into dysfunction and i think this is about as dysfunctional as it gets, but i think we'll survive it, too. >> and we will. the "wall street journal" this morning editorialized about the phoney shutdown, talking about how donald trump's, quote, wall isn't what america needs, it's not going to stop people from getting into the united states of america. and also talked about just the tyranny of small differences. this is just donald trump shutting down the government because a couple people on talk radio told him not to take the deal that everybody agreed on. you know, we're going to next block we're going to get to
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david ignatius' really important piece on the kurds, some of our most loyal allies over the past decade who we are on the verge of abandoning again, but before we do that, jon meachum, i thought, you know, this is going to become a christmas eve tradition where parents are going to wake their children up on christmas eve and they are going to all sit around the christmas tree, if they have a christmas tree, and you're going to tell them stories which with will promptly put them right back to sleep. do you have any good historical christmas eve stories about mill lard fill more and franklin pearce sharing eggnog? anything that will bore us to death? >> you're going to regret this. you may already regret it before we already get there. >> i do. go ahead. >> christmas eve 1929 the oval office caught on fire. >> really? >> can you imagine under -- yeah. can you imagine under the administration of herbert hoover a more appropriate metaphor?
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so he is in the state dining room in black tie hosting a big dinner for the staff and the cabinet, the kids, the marine band, and the west wing goes up in flames, there is an electrical fire. being at one with the people herbert hoover in black tie with a cigar goes over and watches the firemen try to save the oval office. so if you are looking for a metaphor for where the country was headed into the end of the 1920s, into the 1930s, herbert hoover's oval office being set on fire is about as good as it can get. >> that's a good one. >> if you want to go further back, we will wait a few minutes and i will come up with some things. but it really is, kids, sugar plums meet c-span. here we go. >> did hoover's wife run and go and cut a portrait out and save maybe car in he goy or a rockefeller portrait or anything like that like dolly madison did in the war of 1812?
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>> i kind of like mrs. hoover. she actually wanted the band to keep playing. so it's like the titanic. they kept playing the christmas carols to keep everyone happy while the west wing is burning. it's 1929 so, again, how much better kwo that be? >> it couldn't be any better, jon. the kids are so grateful for that story, as are we. state tuned, kids. still ahead on "morning joe" we are officially in day three of the government shutdown and not a creature is stirring on capitol hill because they're gone. we are going to have the very latest in what the "wall street journal's" editorial board is calling the phoney shutdown war. plus, as we mentioned, treasury secretary steve mnuchin assures america's bankers that everything is fine, the problem is none of them were asking if anything was wrong. it kind of freaked them out. you're watching "morning joe." we will be right back. we will be right back.
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calling the phoney shutdown war.
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mcguirk's title is the special presidential envoy to the global coalition to counter isis. how is it that the president doesn't know his -- the point person in the battle against isis? >> you know the answer to that, the administration is thousand -- the executive branch of government is millions of people. i have no idea who that person is. >> you don't know brett mcguirk. >> never heard of him until yesterday. there is an obama pointy who saw an opportunity.
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>> he was a rehnquist clerk, he served throughout the bush administration, he was a lifelong republican, he is not an obama appointee. >> did he take that position under the obama administration. >> he was held over from the bush administration. this is not a democrat, sir. >> i'm certain he is well known in the folks who follow this topic. the fact that the president of the united states doesn't know him i don't think should cause anybody any concern. >> wow. i don't know what to say. forget about the death of expertise and the death of experts, that's just contempt. for basic competence, the state of the white house, now that we're down to the d team, not very good, david ignatius, and seeming -- david, the fact that neither the acting chief of staff or the president knew who that was is not short of extraordinary.
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talk about the president who claims to know more about isis than all of the generals, being as ignorant of what has made our fight against isis successful, and also you write today about the state of this abandonment, this cowardly betrayal of the kurds by donald trump. where does this leave the kurds? >> in a mess. joe, first, about brett mcguirk, it is shocking. brett mcguirk is this president's point man against isis. he doesn't seem to realize it, but he is the person who leads our global coalition to fight this deadly adversary in the battle that trump just claimed spuriously that he had won, that he didn't even know who his principal diplomatic adviser was tells you everything. so i wanted badly because, as you know, i've had the good luck
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to be able to travel in syria a number of times, to talk with the person who is most affected by trump's decision and that is the commander of the syrian-led, kurdish-led, syria democratic forces militia that's been doing the fighting against isis. so i arranged through our special forces to call him last night at his headquarters inside syria, we talked on an encrypted line for about an hour, and, joe, even in this period where just so many things that we see break our heart, i found that listening to this man talk in this quiet, careful, dignified way about a betrayal by the united states, which had promised a week before, they had sent an ambassador to see him who said, we won't be leaving until we have enduring victory against isis, until all iranian troops are out, until we have a
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stable political settlement for syria, a week later trump on a whim, it seems, after a phone call from president erdogan in turkey pulls the plug, leaving this guy holding the bag. his troops are on the front lines against what's left of isis in the far eastern part of syria and what blew my mind, i will end it with this, joe, after expressing shock at at what america had done, i said, so what are you going to do tomorrow morning? and the answer is he's going to the front lines where he's still got 10,000 troops who are fighting as hard as ever in the mission that they used to fight jointly with us, now they're fighting it alone. they suffered 29 dead since president trump announced that he was baling out. 29 dead in this fight, and they're going to continue it because they know it's the right thing to do.
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i close my piece saying in this holiday season when we think about keeping the faith, here is a reminder of the kind of ally we are betraying in pulling these troops out of syria. >> let's bring in right now the national reporter for nbc news, josh lederman, josh, tell us about mcguirk's departure and the president's reaction not even knowing who his point man was on isis. >> right, just as the president is claiming that he's done more to destroy isis than anyone else and that he gets credit for defeating the islamic state group, but at the same time doesn't know the guy that has been working on this for years and has been america's point man on this. look, brett mcguirk was already planning to leave in february, his departure moved up significantly by the fact that he felt like he simply couldn't serve in this administration anymore after spending the last years going around the world to
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the 60 some odd countries that have been fighting with the u.s. and supporting this coalition at america's request that, look, come, join this fight, put your men and women out on the battlefield with us because the u.s. is committed to syria's future and to making sure that it's not a safe haven for extremists to once again plot attacks on the west. there was simply no tenable way for brett mcguirk to continue in that job after the president willy-nilly on a phone call with president erdogan of turkey decided, do you know what, forget it, we're pulling out. >> so talk about the conversation and the president being assured by erdogan that it was okay for the united states to basically cede syria to assad, to russia, to iran, to isis, the remnants of isis, and to turkey. >> right. so this is something that foreign leaders seem to be growing more and more adept at as the trump administration
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approaches the end of the second year, which is if they know what the president's underlying instincts are they can often exploit that and basically manipulate him by playing right into that. so everyone knows that trump wanted to pull out of syria and was basically being talked into staying by his advisers. so erdogan gets on the phone with trump and says essentially, look, you are supposed to only be there to fight isis, isis is basically defeated and, do you know what, i will give you my word as a friend, we will finish off the islamic state for you. that's according to a description of what erdogan said, provided to nbc news yesterday by senior white house official. and trump essentially says, all right, do you know what, fine, you finish off isis and we will go home. now, what all national security experts who have been following this know is that in addition to the islamic state problem what erdogan is really concerned about, perhaps even more than isis, is those syrian kurds who have been fighting with the u.s. against isis, but also have
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their own territorial ambitions for some autonomy in northern syria and that erdogan is planning to go ahead with this operation to essentially wipe out the kurds that we've been working with east of the euphrates river and trump essentially giving him a green light to do so. >> okay. nbc's josh lederman, thank you so much. and, gene robinson, this sounds way too familiar. remember when the russians were dropping bombs claiming to be fighting against isis with us when all they were willing doing were killing assad's rebels fighting against assad, and now you have erdogan who is either suckered the president or got a willing president to leave syria and so now instead of, again, fighting isis, just like the russians, they're going to start killing others, in this case they will be killing kurds, the very people who were pushing back against isis. >> yeah, i mean, you could --
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there's a lot of arguments about proper u.s. policy in syria, what our policy ought to be, but i think there's near universal agreement that the worst thing to do is to cut and run all of a sudden on a whim the way president trump has decided to do it. as david said, it puts the kurds in a terrible position. president erdogan, like other authoritarians around the world undoubtedly has had drawn up a detailed psychological profile of donald trump and what buttons to push and how to push them. he is successful at it. vladimir putin is successful at it. others, the saudis are successful at it. they've learned that this guy has -- you know, has buttons and
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if you -- and if you push them the right way you can get him to do what's in your interest, turkey and russia and others, and not necessarily what's in the interest of the united states. because what you do is you feed donald trump's ego and people, you know, who are good at that and who can stomach doing that can have a lot of success with donald trump. >> how ironic the same president that said that barack obama invented isis by cutting and running in iraq, and he said that throughout the entire campaign, and continues to say it, will in the words of brian kill immediate at fox news, if that's the case then donald trump is reinventing isis by leaving syria. coming up, president trump's grand plans for his long touted
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wall now down to steel slats. we will explain that and the continued claims that mexico is going to foot the bill for it all and maybe they will pay for all of our christmas presents, too. more on that when we return. hen. my experience with usaa has been excellent.
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i will build a great, great wall on our southern border and i will have mexico pay for that wall. mark my words. >> mark his words. now the president has forced a government shutdown because he's insisting that american taxpayers pay for that wall. what gives? >> and if you ask the president he will point to immediately to something else that didn't get a lot of news in the last couple weeks which is this new u.s./mexico/canada agreement, the u.s. mca which is so much better for us in the nafta deal that american workers are going to do better, the government is going to do better and you can make the argument that mexico is paying for it in that fashion. >> none of that is mexico paying for the wall. >> it cannot work exactly like that. i can't spend any money at the office of management and -- of budget, the department of homeland security isn't spend money for mexico, we have to get it from the treasury. >> because you're not going to get it from mexico. you were never going to get it
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from mexico. everybody said you were never going to get it from mexico and you know -- you know back when you were talking about donald trump being a terrible human being and talking about how stupid the wall was, you know that donald trump was lying to voters when he said that he was going to build a wall and get the money from mexico. and yet you go on tv shows and -- for god knows why, destroy your reputation, you had a good reputation as a deficit hawk when you were in congress. i don't understand it. never will. why people throw themselves under the bus for donald trump. it never ends well for them. so as our on chris hayes reimagined the chance at the trump rallies for 2020, donald trump will be going out saying what are we going to build? the response, aesthetically tasteful steel slats. who are going to pay for it?
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the net growth resulting from a mildly renegotiated trade deal. susan paige, doesn't exactly pack the same punch, and also doesn't really justify politically a government shutdown that is making less and less sense even to donald trump's strongest supporters. >> one thing that's remarkable about what mick mulvaney said yesterday on the shows is somehow calling it steel slats would convince democrats it wasn't a ball and it would be okay to support it, which it is not going to happen. if president trump could not get funding for his wall when republicans controlled the house and senate, why in the world is he going to be able to get funding for the wall when democrats take over the house? that's one reason this shutdown doesn't make much sense because his negotiating position doesn't get stronger if he waits until the new congress, his negotiating position gets weaker. democrats have zero incentive to
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give him any money for his wall. >> and, susan, he listened -- again, he listened to rush limbaugh and ann coulter who were scalding him on twitter and on talk radio, despite the fact that he had been given a deal that republicans wanted him to go with. and so -- i mean, the "wall street journal's" editorial board put it best this morning, they're out with a blistering op-ed that's called "the phoney shutdown war." criticizing president trump over his strategy for instigating and now navigating the government shutdown. it writes this, this is the "wall street journal," trump can't decide what he really wants and seems to have no political strategy for achieving whatever it is. this is the "wall street journal." first he surprised everyone by taking public ownership of a possible shutdown in a meeting in the oval office with democratic leaders. by the way, this is the "wall
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street journal" saying this. then he agreed to senate majority leader mitch mcconnell's proposal to fund the government for two months to move the funding debate into the new year when democrats run the house. then the freedom gop house caucus and talk radio hosts stomped their feet and trump flipped back to welcoming a shutdown, and tweeting that, quote, it could be a long stay. i don't know if i told you, but this is a conservative "wall street journal" editorial page asking the question to what end? trump shutdown tactic is to hold his breath until the other side gives in. this didn't work for newt gingrich in 1995, though at least newt was battling bill clinton over major reforms in the entitlement state. trump is holding his breath over a mere $3.4 billion in spending for a piece of political symbolism. and, rick tyler, as i have said
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forever, this is a $5 billion payoff for a political punch line that donald trump can deliver at political rallies. you've got american soldiers that are yanked out of syria and put on the border between texas and mexico, again, for more political symbolism. this is a battle over nothing and it is republicans who are going to get obliterated by it. >> well, joe, first let me say ma mick mulvaney has joined the ranks of horrible human beings. but, look, advocating for the wall where walls can make sense in certain urban areas and we have walls where they do make sense, arguing over a wall is like arguing over the pony express. so instead of sending your packages by federal express or ups overnight, to get them there by tomorrow, christmas, which some will deliver, it is arguing about the pony express. it technologically just makes no
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sense, it's all regressive, it's backward looking, it won't stop illegal immigration, it certainly won't stop drug trafficking where you can take a quad drone and lift 30 pounds 30 miles easily, it's only going to get more like that. so building a wall is a complete waste of money. >> and, jon meachum, again, reading the "wall street journal" who has at times defended donald trump in ways that i found maddening, the editorial page, this is what they say about building the wall, building the wall across the entire 1,954 mile border would be expensive and it wouldn't stop illegal immigration, since most illegals arrive by overstaying their legal visas. again, this has been the insanity of this whole build the wall argument for three years now. first of all, we have a net
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negative flow going back into mexico and we did during the entire campaign, which we pointed out every day, but secondly, even if you build a wall, even you have the "wall street journal" saying that doesn't work because most illegal immigration immigration is from people over staying their legal visas. >> two things about this. one is the "journal" is speaking from a place of classical conservatism there, the "journal" at its best has embodied the idea of the free flow of people, ideas and goods. it was a kind of a conservatism that was embodied by president reagan who talked about improving on the sermon on the mound as only ronald reagan could do, making a city upon a hill into a shining city on the hill, talking about the free trade and the idea that after adam smith a competition created more wealth, created more liberty. you can argue that all you want but at least that's a principled view. i would disagree with the phrase
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political symbolism. the wall in donald trump's land, trump land is not a symbol, it's the whole damn thing. it's the embodiment of the politics of fear over the politics of hope. if he gives up the wall he's basically admitting that the whole thing was a fraud. i think the whole thing was a fraud. but he's not going to admit that. and the people and you and i know them, you and i are related to them, they tend to be in more rural, more southern, more western places, but not all. they believe that caravans are coming, because they are told that. they believe that immigrants, illegal immigrants are on crime sprees because that's what they've been told and they have been told that this wall will fix america, it will keep these people who don't look like us
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from taking over america, from moving into jobs, from changing the culture. the wall is the whole thing. and so we could argue the politic tactics of this. six months from now no one will remember this shutdown. if you're a trump supporter and you don't deal with the fact that your entire vote is basically and your support is basically built on the idea that you're going to ineffefeeffecino keep people out on a country that was built on bringing people in, it's going to break. >> it's a fever whipped up by a series of political lies. we don't have an immigration crisis right now. we did a decade ago when we had
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illegal immigrants rushing across the border and i was the first one -- again, very conservative when it comes to -- i was going to say i'm really conservative when it comes to immigration and i want people coming to the united states legally. if i thought a wall would make it harder for floods of illegal immigrants in the future to come to the united states, i would support a wall. it doesn't do anything. >> no. and i want to thank john meacham for pointing out this is a class classic liberalism or classic conservatism. reagan's quote was tearing down a wall not building a wall. visa over stays are the biggest source of illegal immigration and you know which country has the most visa over stays. i don't want to pick on the canadians but it's the
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canadians. >> isn't that a boot. >> so why are we concerned -- why aren't we concerned? because they are white people. i've gotten over this fight in the last week. we've seen and john meacham is right it's the whole thing. it's all about keeping nonwhite people from crossing the border, the fears are all race based. >> rick tyler, thank you so much for being with us this morning. we do appreciate it. hope you have a great christmas. up next senator bob corker revives his classic hash tag. alert the daycare staff. we'll talk more about jim mattis' exit from the administration as the president refuses to let his defense secretary dictate his exit after his stinging rebuke of donald trump. don't bother quitting because you're fired.
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out after the show. still with us we have historian and author of the soul of america" john meacham, david ignatius, eugene robinson, washington bureau chief for u.s. today, susan page and let's bring in charlie sykes and msnbc correspondent garrett haig. charlie, let's begin with you and ask the age old question, have you finished your christmas shopping? >> oh, in case my wife is watching really close. really close. >> you're getting close. okay. i have the same answer for you. john meacham, i'm sure you bought all your duck boots and your khakis, and the preppy
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stuff that you are buying. >> it was a big moment when jay press got on amazon prime, i got to tell you. that was huge for me. >> that was big for all of us. so, john, donald trump is now been on the national stage politically for the past three, three and a half years, we're moving into year four in june, it will be four years since he went down the escalator with melania, who by the way is flying back up to washington, d.c., flown back up to washington, d.c., there will be no more mar-a-lago christmas this year. we've been talking about, at least i believe, his administration is terminal now. he won finish out his term. but i'm wondering what accounts for the durability? what accounts for the 35% that he still has stand