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tv   MSNBC Live With Hallie Jackson  MSNBC  December 24, 2018 7:00am-8:00am PST

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>> happy holidays ammon. this morning, the secretary sent packing. president trump booting jim mattis from the pentagon. the defense secretary had expected to leave in two months but the president had different plans. why he's forced mattis out early and just who is the man that will temporarily take his place. on this christmas eve, we wish we could tell you we're on the eve of a deal to reopen the government, but we are not. the white house and congress still far apart when it comes to money for that border wall. administration officials now warning the shutdown could go well into 2019. but don't stress. we do have a heartwarming story for the holidays. do you remember also on? that's the seven-year-old that was heard crying when immigration officials separated her from her family. well now she's back with her mother in texas and mariana atencio joins with us her story. but first, i want to get straight to nbc's geoff bennett
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who is live at the white house. geoff, we're learning more and more about just how mattis was told he was leaving early. what can you tell us? >> morgan, great to see you. two senior administration officials tell us secretary mattis learned of his revised end date in a phone call yesterday from secretary of state mike pompeo rather than from president trump directly president trump's outsourcing the delivery of bad news. he usually leans on john kelly to do that sort of thing but john kelly, as we know, is also leaving the administration at the end of the month. so these sources tell us that president trump grew angry, frustrated after he read that strongly worded resignation letter that mattis submitted. that resignation letter, as you well know, was seen as a sharp rebuke of the president's actions and his world view but it wasn't just the letter, morgan. the president, we're told was also upset over the news coverage that painted mattis as the last adult in the room.
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so the president's decision to effectively fire mattis and pull troops from syria, this has caused his conservative allies to question his thinking. as evidence of, that look at this exchange on fox news as they were talking to mercedes schlapp, a senior communications official here. >> this is something where the president listened to many people in the process and made this decision to move forward on syria. >> can you name an adviser the president has that recommend he pull out 2000 troops? >> i'm not going to get into the internal discussions of how the decision was made. >> so that as you can see is a hot topic so the deputy secretary of defense is stepping in. patrick shanahan is a former boeing executive who joined the administration in 2017 and since he's been part of the pentagon, he's taken the lead in helping create the space force. donald trump wants that to be the next and newest military
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branch. that's how shanahan got on donald trump's radar. morgan? >> geoff bennett live from the white house. geoff, thanks so much and happy holidays to you. joining me now, josh letterman, national political reporter for nbc news and jamil jaffer. we also have jeff mason, white house correspondent for reuters and the staff writer at the hill. josh, mattis wanted to stay to ensure a smooth transition but now that the prospects of that are out the door what are your sources saying happens next. how will everything get handed over? >> our housources are telling u that in about a week or so defense secretary mattis will leave the building as defense secretary and will be replaced in the interim by patrick shanahan. he is a former boeing executive. he was senior vice president there. he has a background in engineering. he knows how to run a large
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organization and handle a lot of complicated bureaucratic stuff but frankly not any experience dealing with foreign policy and making those decisions about war and peace. whether he will be nominated by the president to be the permanent secretary of defense or whether someone else will be brought in, we have to wait to hear from the president. >> we've had secretaries defense with no military experience before but shanahan would be succeeding a four-star general. why is that an important part of the equation? >> well, it's important because there are a lot of decisions the president will continue to be making that involve how to use our troops, where put people in harm's way and where to pull back and a lot of folks that had been around the president in the first two years that had that expertise, including kelly, the outgoing chief of staff, h.r.
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mcmaster who was the national security adviser, michael flynn the first national security adviser, those people are gone now so the president is not going to have people around him who have vast military experience and can say look, mr. president, you might want to do x but this won't be good for our troops because of y. >> and honestly this resolving door has a lot of people concerned. geoff, i want to bring you in. the "new york times" writes, quote, the president has grown increasingly angry as comment e commentators have described mr. mattis in near heroic terms for standing up to mr. trump and making his resignation count as no one else in the president's circle has done. if we peel back the curtain, what's the big-picture look into the president's decision making? why did he do what he did in the way he did? >> well, a couple factors. contrast the fact that he's asking mattis to leave early the
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fact that his original tweet after getting that resignation letter but apparently not reading it was to be -- to give praise to general mattis, to say he was retiring and doing so with distinction so just reading into the shift in his tone suggests he was upset with the news coverage, upset with the rebuke that was more than implied in the letter from jim mattis so you can analyze that as such and i think picking up on what josh quite frequentally said, there's a shift in the types of people the president is going to for advice. at the very beginning of his administration there were question marks over the fact he seemed so comfortable with military leaders having them as chief of staff and secretary of defense and now he's moving away from having generals around him perhaps because they challenged him so much. >> it's interesting. you mentioned this shift in tone
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but jamil and melanie, i want to ask you about the reaction. i want to show you what republican senator pat toomey had to say about the confirmation process for the next secretary of defense. take a listen. >> could you confirm somebody that you didn't share a world view with as secretary of defense? >> so let me say historically i have been very willing to defer to presidential nominees but on this i think this is so important and the president's views are so divergent certainly mine that i think i'll be much -- this one will be tough. >> he said it's going to be tough. jamil, how stuff this confirmation expected to be? >> well, i think it will be a ruff one. the president's decision to pull out of syria precipitously, his decision to press mattis aggressively and force him out is something republicans are concerned about to a one they have opposed the president's
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decision to pull out of syria so the next secretary of defense will have to answer questions about how do you work with a president where your views and his views diverge from conser conservatives in congress. >> melanie, what do you think when it comes to this confirmation process? >> i think jamil is exactly right. it will be difficult because republicans and democrats alike will be looking for someone who is willing to challenge the preside president. so they'll face whoever this nominee is, a lot of questions about how to handle certain situations, including the decision to pull out of syria and afghanistan and that will be a difficult position for someone just nominated by the president, wants to look like they're standing up for and being on his side but at the same time willing to challenge him. that's a difficult thing. and there's the question of who would be willing to accept the nomination which is a whole different question. >> and doubling down on something you said about the strength of the military, we have a brand new trump tweet and he tweets we are substantially
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subsidizing the militaries of many very rich countries all over the world while at the same time these countries take total advantage of the u.s. and our taxpayers on trade. general mattis did not see this as a problem, i do and it is being fixed. jamil, why would he tweet this now? >> well, look, the president is obviously very upset about what secretary mattis said in his resignation letter. the secretary was you have to about his views on allies and his views on china and russia. the secretary clearly has a strong view that these are our enemies. the haiti has bepresident has bn russia than most conservatives would bre would prefer. the president is entitled to have a secretary of defense that agrees with him so the secretary is right to resign but the hard part here is how do you get the president to a place where he isn't making decisions on twitter, where he's listening to people around him and making hard decisions in the best interest of our nation? >> speaking of hard decisions,
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this is not only t only tweet making headlines. in fact, josh, i want to go back to something trump tweeted earlier about his conversation with president erdogan of turkey. how does this fit into the mattis narrative? he's talking about eradicating whatever's left of isis in syria saying he's a man who can do it plus turkey is right next door. >> trump had been getting criticism for how can you say we're pulling out of syria when all of our national security officials tell us there were several thousand isis fighters that remain on the ground in syria and so the president now has an answer to that. that answer is don't worry, turkey will take care of it. as we reported over the weekend, a senior white house official telling nbc news that on this fated phone call between trump and erdogan the turkish leader said mr. president if you pull outover syria i give you my word as a friend we will deal with the rest of isis.
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those who study this are concerned about the fact that we'll outsource fight ieg sis to turkey, a country that has other interests in syria that don't necessarily align with ours but the president sees that as a way to say we'll get the job done and the u.s. doesn't have to be responsible. >> and it will be interesting to see how the president reacts from heat he's taking from top leaders within his own party. thank you all so much for joining us this morning. the government shutdown now in its third day and while federal employees work without pay, congress seems to be taking the christmas holiday off. but when they come back, are things likely to be different? as negotiations all over the border wall, many government agencies might ring in the new year in the dark. i knew about the tremors.
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>> i think that it's very possible the shutdown will go beyond the 28th and into the new congress. i don't think things will move very quickly for the next couple days. >> that was incoming acting white house chief of staff mick mulvaney predicting the government will remain partially shut down into the new year. according to the "new york times," normally fevered washington found itself mustering little more than a collective shrug about the shutdown. democrats and president trump still locked in a stalemate over that border wall. now the president claiming on twitter in the last hour, quote, virtually every democrat we're
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dealing with today strongly supported a border wall or fence. it was only when i made it an important part of my campaign because people and drugs wur pouring into our country unchecked that they turned against it. democrats are offering $1.3 billion for border security and even though the president initially demanded $5 billion the white house is signaling that number may be negotiable. let's get to mike hacapitol hil. mike, where do these negotiations stand right now? >> you talk about the "new york times" article that says washington is sort of shrugging. there is a dreary ritual aspect to this. a couple factors are at play today. christmas eve is a federal holiday. tomorrow christmas day is as well. the pay period ended for federal workers last saturday so they will receive another paycheck. the soonest they would have a paycheck that would be effective would be january 11. on the political side of this, while a lot of who is to blame
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for shutdown and both sides want to avoid blame, it's been shown that in past shutdowns, voters by election day, if that's the metric you're using, have forgotten about. this of course we can't forget about those 800,000 federal workers who are furloughed although half of them are required to show up even though they're not guaranteed to get a paycheck. usually almost always congress will pass something that allows them to get back pay so that goes into the anti-climactic feel around here today and there isn't a soul up here in terms of members of congress though some facilities, public have facilities that vacationers and tourists won't be able to see but we have heard from an strait is
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-- administrative official, mercedes schlapp was on fox a little earlier. here's what she had to say. >> at this point as mick mulvaney mentioned it's up to the democrats in the sense that we've offered them a deal, we'll see what they come back with, our goal is to get between $1.6 billion and $5 billion. the democrats need to step up to the plate. it's up to them to stop the shutdown. >> a lot of this shouldn't be taken as face value. a lot of this is talking points and public positioning trying to determine where public opinion is going to come down, where the pressure points are, pun thing that appears to be more and more certain is that this may not be resolved until at least january 3. that's the constitutionally mandated day when their new congress comes into session. democrats take over the house, nancy pelosi said she can pass something within hours to keep the -- reopen the government and send it to the senate so we'll see what happens then but it's
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looking like we could be settling in for a long one. >> you mentioned public positioning because it's tough to watch this debate over blame when so many people are out of work. mike, thanks so much. joining me now, a.b. stoddard, associate editor and columnist for real clear politics as well as the former press secretary for the democratic campaign committee. ab, i want to start off with you over blame. i want to listen to what republican senator bob corker is saying about this shut down. take a listen. >> this is a purposefully contrived by just a few months ago the president could have received $25 billion in border security. this is a made up fight so the president can look like he's fighting. so this is something that is unnecessary. it's a spectacle and candidly the whole thing is juvenile. >> juvenile, contrived fight.
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after that interview the president went after him on twitter and corker wrot wrote #alertthedaycarestaff. >> i think that that will be the pressure for the shutdown that we seem to think will go on for a while. the president wanted a shutdown. he said in the oval office to the democratic leaders as we all saw on cameraly take the blame for the shutdown and i will own it and won't blame you. later that day he said i'd be willing to shut down the country over border security. his supporters told him to shut the government down so even allies of the president will tell you he wants to be seen as fighting, he wants to fight. how it ends, however, is murky because he doesn't seem to understand the political peril an extended shutdown would bring
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him. it was $24 billion for a 16-day shutdown in 2013. this is a partial shutdown but it costs none s money. some workers on contract never get repaid. you get workers and governments not collecting fees. this is an irresponsible exercise but the idea that the democrats will budge if they take power january 3 is laughable so i think it will be republicans like senator john cornyn and mitch mcconnell both up in 2020, joni ernst in iowa up in 2020. cory gardner in colorado who say maybe on january 10 you know what, mr. president, would be great if you stopped the shutdown. >> it's interesting you say the president wants to be seen as fighting and when you talk about whether or not there is carrying, politico reported a former white house official said the wall is important but it's
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more the underlying anti-immigrant message that's the key. doug, is that true or false? >> it's aer have important part of trump's message to his base. remember there were two components to the wall. there was building the wall but there was mexico was going to pay for it and trump failed on the second part so i think he sees the danger in not trying to get the wall built for his supporters and i think that's why he's conducting himself in this way. this is the third shutdown under this president which is unprecedented and it's up to him to come to the table and actually negotiate with democrats and congressional republicans. last week he was all over the place. no one knew what he wanted so it's hard for congressional republicans or democrats to make an agreement when he is being swayed by what he sees on television and in the far right
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blogosphere. >> doug, i have to ask. when we were covering the midterms and these trump rallies, even before the rallies would start i would see people chanting and making songs about the border. this is something his base is really riled up ant. do you think the fact that he said the $5 billion is negotiable, we can come down to one, will that politically hurt him? >> we saw last week he was hurt from when it looked like he was willing to take a deal that the senate past for robust border security funding and then he caught flak from fox news and laura ingraham and ann coulter and he walked back and decided to make a fight on this so i think he is definitely being swayed by what his base is calling on him to do. this anti-grichlt message that he has been pushing ever since he got into the race he feels like is central to wholess and
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this he can't lose it so he's obviously willing to shut down the government. he's probably willing to keep it shut down for a while and that's unfortunate. our economy right now is unstable. we saw that with the stock market and i think the longer that the government stays shut down the worse it is for not only families of federal workers but also our overall economic situation. >> ab, i want to ask you. this is also about leverage and the democrats will have more leverage after january 3. how do you see this playing out? >> that's what's so hard because to sort of see the pressure point, the breaking point, because he's enjoying the fight. democrats are saying you want to push it off until we have a house majority? not a problem with us, you'll have fewer votes then. and as i said, where does the pressure come from? republican members trying to win in 2020? it's interesting. the senator -- senator corker is right. the president was give an great
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deal on daca legalization for $25 billion for the wall. he turned it down. why? members of the freedom caucus and his immigration adviser told him that was tantamount to amnesty so it's hard to know if trump wants resolution forhe just wants a fight from now until no november of 2020. resolution is pretending he's building a wall without the next fight will be hard. it's his singular issue and he prefers offense to cut ago deal that some people can say he sold out on. i don't know how he'll cave. >> but the people who are getting hurt, we're talking 800,000 federal workers from parks and museums who are not sure if they will get paid before the holidays so if this shutdown continues, very briefly, doug, is this going to cost us what democrats and the
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president can't agree on? >> absolutely i'm not sure the president cares. and again this is about his -- i believe this is about in his mind his political survival and he has to make this fight. he failed to get fund from mexico so he's digging in here catching pressure from the right and throwing a temper tantrum and it's unfortunate for hundreds of thousands of folks who will be directly impacted. >> the fight for political surviv survival. thank you both so much for joining us. >> merry christmas. >> merry christmas to you. and wall street is open for a short day of trading on this christmas eve holiday with stocks bracing for yet another wild ride. coming up, we'll look at how the turmoil in washington is actually impacting your wallet. and why a call from the treasury secretary that was meant to calm jitters may actually be doing just the opposite. and we also have a live check of the markets. so far the dow is down more than
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300 points in the first hour of trading. stay with us. ur of trading. stay with us well, how are the massage chairs working out for everyone? i dunno. i'm still a little stressed about buying our new house. well, it's a good thing we don't have to worry about homeowners insurance. geico can help with that. we can get homeowners insurance help from geico? well, sure. and they could save us a bunch too. mmhmm? i'm starting to feel better already. get to know geico and see how much you could save on homeowners and condo insurance.
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the dow is hoping to rebound after losing 1600 points.
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it made for the worst week since the great recession ten years ago so what can we expect snowed let's bring in cnbc's john harwood. john, how is this news going to hit those nervous investors? >> badly. we see that way the way the market opened going down 350 or more. i don't know what it's doing but it's been significantly down just shy of 300 points right now. i think there's a couple things going on. one is there's weakness in the global economy going forward. everyone anticipated that once the stimulus from the tax cut and spending increases wears down in 2019 we'll see economic growth slowing to well under 3%, slowing further in 2020, rising possibility we get a recession in 2020. larry summers said the chances are now 5050 or better that we have a recession so there's that concern but you have this growing sense of crisis
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surrounding this white house and this president. we have a president of the united states who has proven definitively that he's not capable of doing the job effectively and that was underscored by the hasty pushout of general mattis over the syria decision. then excel rating that over the weekend. then the departure of great mcguirk, the anti-isis coordinator. there's concern about the stability of the president, the stability of the white house and it didn't help anything when steve mnuchin made the call to heads of banks and treasury put out a statement that was the equivalent of announcing people who walk into a movie theater "we are highly confident there won't be a fire during this movie." it was not something that proved to be effective. >> you mentioned the instability of the white house and the weakness of the global economy. how does that impact my wallet
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or your wallet? what about holiday shopping? is this hurting consumer confidence? >> everything that is negative surrounding the president has the potential for hurting confidence. we've seen good retail sales numbers in this christmas season but where it impacts you and others and it debends on how close people are to retirement. people close to retirement are seeing their 401(k)s go down, that's the high anxiety situation for somebody like you who has a long, long time to work. >> i hope. >> well, of course, it's not that big a deal because markets go up and down and younger people can ride this out quite comfortably but people who are older who what watching these savings accounts, they're getting nervous. >> we hope they don't stay nervous. >> treasury secretary steve
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mnuchin called the heads of the six-largest u.s. banks on sunday hoping to reassure them after the worst week for the market in a decade. well, he tweeted about the call saying in part we continue to see strong economic growth in the u.s. economy with robust activity from consumers and business. we have basil smikle, my old friend the democratic strategist as well as rick tyler, remember strategist and msnbc political analyst. basil, i have to start with you. we have steve mnuchin calling the tops of these companies trying to reassure them but he's vacationing in cabo san lucas are the optics something he needs to be concerned about? >> the optics are bad but that's nothing new for this white house. i heard earlier he's using the tweet answering a question nobody asked which is quite funny. a good colleague of mine said in 1948 robert merton talked about a self-fulfilling prophesy and this is the exact example that
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was used. he's doing more damage by engaging in this tweet than helping the situation. >> and by trying to play offense but what's interesting is this timeline. first president trump takes credit for this booming economy but as soon as the stock market takes a hit he blames the chairman of the federal reserve for raising interest rates last week and now there are reports he's even asked aides whether he has the power to fire the chairman. why the back and forth? >> look, in a sense the fact that president trump took credit for the economy, low interest rate -- sorry, well, there have been low interest rates, low unemployment, the stock market booming, he got so entrenched in tying himself to the economy whereas let's say he came in and the economy was weak you could say tvgs the previous president, the previous president. but that's over. any declines now are 100% attached to him and politically it's disastrous.
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>> so he knows he has to take ownership at this point. >> he won't take ownership. >> you don't think that will happen? that's not a christmas eve gift we'll get. >> that's not a possibility. >> basil, i want to go back to this tweet over the weekend. this is what the treasury secretary tweeted. he said i never suggested firing chairman jay powell nor do i believe i have the right to do. so but basil why bring that up? we know the president can't fire the federal reserve chairman. >> he could try to find a way but it would cause so much more turmoil than it helps the situation that there is no point and that's why no one has tried to go down the path. and the fed's monetary policy isn't affecting the markets, it's the president's fiscal policy, tariffs, tax breaks for the wealthy and the general overall tumult of the zrags so without the wall the only thing he may have the ability to hang his hat on is the economy and he's losing the narrative.
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that's where the problem is. >> and given how tumultuous this is, let's look at the reaction. let's listen to what chuck schumer these say. >> president trump is plunging the country into chaos. the stock market is down another 500 points, general gnat thys is stepping down and we know he has real disagreements with the president on syria. and on the wall and now president trump is throwing a temper tantrum and creating the trump shutdown of the government. >> rick, we just heard john at cnbc talk about this very same chaos and its effect but is this fair. can we blame president trump for all of these things schumer just mentioned? >> i'd like to say no, but yes. these are all self-inflicted by
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the president. he has destabilized the market by -- i believe it's because we don't have a deal to trade with china and he's declared himself -- the president, we have the shutdown. the shutdown isn't that big a deal. there's a small sliver of difference between what's going on here and we aren't talking about money, but look, building the wall would be like hiring the pony express to deliver your christmas packages. we've so gone beyond the technology. the wall is not an effective use to stop illegal immigration and by the way, visa overstays are the biggest source of illegal immigration and the biggest offender is canada. i love canada and canadian bus that's the truth so why aren't we outraged by canadian visa overstays? we're focused on the borders
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because the president appeals to the worst instincts of his base and is creating fear. >> basil and rick tyler, we prooesh yapt it. supreme court justice ruth bader ginsburg is up and working after she had two malignant growths removed from her lung on friday. doctors in in new york city say there is no evidence of remaining cancer. the 85-year-old has been treated for canneser two other times but she's never missed argument. the court is scheduled to meet in two weeks. there is unimaginable destruction in indonesia, a tsunami seemingly out of nowhere killing hundreds and this morning the threat is still not over. a live report as a search for survivors continues.
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time left to get to people trapped beneath the rubble while they're still alive and there's also a worry about a potential second tsunami. this is a real threat because the volcano that experts believe caused this tsunami is still active. it normally takes the force of an earthquake to trigger a tsunami wave. not in this case. experts believe a volcanic eruption triggered an underwater landslide. this is a thousand foot tall mountain in the middle of the sunda strait, a part of it collapsed, sliding into the sea with enough force to set off the deadly ten foot all the tsunami wave. that volcano is very active. it erupted last night, shooting smoke and ash into the skies. if there's another partial collapse of the wall, that could trigger another deadly wave which is why folks are warned to stay away from the coastal areas. that complicates search and rescue operations but crews have
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been working around the clock to get to trapped people. hospitals have been overwhelmed with victims. the army has stepped in helping with the recovery and this is now the second deadly tsunami to strike indonesia this year. 2500 people killed in september and we remember all of those devastating images from 2004, the day after christmas when the deadliest tsunami ever recorded claims more than 230,000 lives. saturday's incident a lot smaller in scale but that's not going to make it less painful for those who lost loved ones and those awaiting word about their missing loved ones as we speak. >> speaking of devastating images, you showed us the image of a collapse that happened at a concert. watching this, this is the kind of thing that's happening and people are still trying to recover from. lucy, what do we know about the people inside that building? >> morgan, this was the performance by a indonesian pop
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band 17, they were playing a concert at an outdoor tent stage on the beach. they had just started the second song of their set when this powerful wave boost through, sweeping away the stage, the band, the audience. the lead singer ended up posting a tearful message on instagram where he told fans his manager, the guitarist and base player died in the tsunami. two members of the band still missing. his wife also still missing. he later posted a photo of the pair in paris saying it's your birthday, hurry home. that's one of the hundreds of tragic stories to come out of this disaster in indonesia. j. >> just seeing his tooeears ande pain and anguish many people are feeling. lu lucy, that you can so much. we have an update on the little girl that became the face and voice of president trump's zero tolerance policy. that's seven-year-old allison, do you remember her?
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the cries of a seven-year-old girl first heard six months ago became a flash point in the controversy surrounding the trump administration's decision to separate families at the border. take a listen. >> in court documents the trump administration says it separated more than 2800 migrant kids at the border and 161 migrant children are still in government custody. we have an update to the story. >> reporter: this seven-year-old might not be a face you recognize. but she has a voice many have not forgotten. her cries took center stage of
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the immigration debate over separated families in june. nearly a month later she was reunited with her mother, scind. now she's preparing to walk across a new stage at her school's christmas show. christ. >> reporter: she wants to be like other little girls in america, getting ready for school, doing homework and playing in english. one, two, three. what have you learned in english? >> how are you? >> reporter: very good. how are you? >> very good. thank you. >> reporter: her mother, cindy, is also learning english at the local church but staying in the u.s. is no guarantee. they say they came here fleeing gang violence in el salvador.
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their family lawyer fears for what might happen to them if they're denied asylum. >> they risk going back and meeting the fate of death. if they lose, then having to be sent back to their home country, they don't deserve that. because of the situation back home. >> reporter: complicating matters, cindy cannot currently file for a work permit at this stage of the process. they get by staying with family and money gifted to them by a nonprofit. >> reporter: still j s, she has big surprise for little alison. for now she's focussed on what's waiting for her under the christmas tree. but what she really wants to to stay.
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>> her resilience and faith is amazing. how quickly she's assimilating as we. and the significance of the first bed. her mom said this little girl was independent, and now she's sharing a bed with me, but after the separation and all the trauma she's endured, they're hoping the first gift will restore that independence. >> and what got me is when she said it was worth it. that long trip was worth the journey. what happens to her now? >> you read all the headlines that we cover about asylum, but being with that family is revealing how families are living through it. i interviewed the lawyer. she said this family's case is based on gang violence.
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they have practically zero chance of getting this asylum approved, and 48 hours later the guidelines for struck down. now it's in their favor. it was a christmas come early and hope for the first time in a long time for this family. >> hope right in the nick of time. thank you so much. we'll be right back with today's big picture. stay tuned. ure. stay tuned
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today's big picture is from
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italy have santa claus swaps his sleigh for a kogond la. this is aboard traditional va nee -- venitian boats. s that this is -- this is an annual event. this is been going on for the last seven years. craig melvin is here. we're happy to have a nice christmas story. >> i love it. i like it when you speak in italian. >> well, italian isn't my language. you weren't ready, were you? >> i enjoy you in this space. you coming back tomorrow? >> thanks. we're on the "today show" tomorrow. >> that's right. merry christmas to you and merry
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christmas eve today. early exit. president trump reportedly seething over the coverage of jim mattis's exit. so he sped up the process telling the four star general to leave two months before he planned to go. also market confidence. steve mnuchin calling heads of the country's six biggest banks trying to shore up confidence in our financial system. but did those phone calls help or perhaps make investors even more nervous? >> and shut down showdown. the government partially closed for business and there's no end in sight. the president does not seem ready to budge on his border wall ask. congress does not want to give them the money to pay for it. meanwhile, thousands of federal employees working without pay this week. most members of congress? not even in washington d.c. we'll dig into that in a moment. we start this morning with that early exit from the pentagon. general mattis told that he will be out asse

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