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tv   MSNBC Live With Katy Tur  MSNBC  December 26, 2018 11:00am-12:00pm PST

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result. >> exactly. >> and they slept beautifully. thank you so much. good day, i am chris jansing. we're now into day four. it is the first official workday of the government shutdown, no end in sight. there are lots of closed federal officers today, as 800,000 federal workers are not getting paid, even though about half of those, people whose jobs are considered essential, have to show up for work anyway. but president trump isn't backing down. he's refusing to sign a funding bill unless money for a border wall is included. here he was in the oval office, speaking to reporters on christmas day. >> i can't tell you whether government's going to be open. i can tell you it's not going to be open until we have a wall, a fence, whatever they'd like to call it. i'll call it whatever they want. the only way you're going to do it is to have a physical barrier, meaning a wall. and if you don't have that, then, we're just not opening. >> well, the immigration battle continues. an investigation is now underway
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after an 8-year-old guatemalan boy detained by border officials died in new mexico just minutes before christmas day. he's the second migrant child this month to die while in custody of u.s. immigration officials. it's worth noting that amid reports of another dead child and federal workers worried about whether they'll be able to avoid the christmas presents they'd already bought, the president was tweeting, "poor me," and blaming the democrats. msnbc's garrett haake is on capitol hill. also with us, jake sherman, senior writer at politico. phil rutger, white house bureau chief for "the washington post," and an msnbc political analyst. julia ainsley is nbc news national security and justice reporter. happy holidays to all of you. garrett, look, the president isn't showing any signs of budging. and democratic leader nancy pelosi gave quite a quote to "usa today," saying, first of all, the fact that he says that we're going to build a wall with cement and mexico is going to pay for it, while he's already
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backed off of the cement, now he's down to, i think, a beaded curtain or something. i'm not sure where he is. so if we don't know where he is, where are we? where is everybody with this shutdown? are we looking at 2019 here, garrett? >> it's sounding increasingly likely that we are looking at a prolonged shutdown, because the sides are too far apart, but there's something to pull from that quote from nancy pelosi. this is apparently negotiating in the trump era. there's a lot of trolling going on here. she talks about the president backing off of this idea of a concrete barrier. and it has been interesting to listen to the way the president has talked about the wall over the last few weeks, because we have seen this change from the giant concrete structure that mexico would pay for, to talking about steel slats, to talk about a fence or whatever. this ultimately might be the way out of this stalemate here, is this question of semantics between what is a fence and what is a wall? because democrats have said, they would be willing to spend money on border security. they'd be willing to spend money
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on things like pedestrian fencing in the place that it is needed. but they don't want to see money spent on a big medieval, the term they often use, a big, medieval wall. the money is negotiable. the language that would allow everyone to declare victories, trump could say he got a wall and the democrats could say he didn't, may ultimately be what this comes down to. all of that being said, the players in this drama are scattered across the country today, and we do not see a lot of the top-level negotiations you might expect to see if we were anywhere close to getting out of this thing. >> yeah, basically, it doesn't seem like anybody's doing any work on this right now. and jake, kevin hassett, the economic advisers, talked to reporters about the impact of the shutdown. i want to play part of what he said today. >> the impact on the economy and the market from the shutdown. you guys aren't concerned, at all. even if this would go on for several weeks? >> that's correct, that in the
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end, a few weeks' shutdown is not going to be something that has any kind of effect on the outlook. >> that's an economist speaking, he's not a politician. but are lawmakers and federal workers adds unconcerned about the impact of a shutdown and the fact that, you know, people have gone their merry way and now we're negotiating by trolling each other on social media? >> i mean, listen, this is a partial government shutdown. it's 25% of the federal government, but it's critical parts. it's the treasury department, it's the department of homeland security -- >> yeah, and if you're one of the 800,000 who's not getting paid, it doesn't really matter now, does it? >> right. >> there is a story about a guy who was talking about, he had to hold off on his recently deceased wife's headstone, buying her headstone, because he wasn't going to get paid. >> right, so there will be personal impact for people who are not being paid and who will have to be paid retroactively when this is solved. but it's important to note, it's going to have big impacts for the president. because the closer this gets to january 3rd, when democrats take
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over the house, the worse it is for the president. he has his most leverage right now, when republicans still hold the house, even though as garrett noted, nobody's in the capital. i was just up there, too. it's very quiet and the players are skif scattkind of scatteredt the country, as garrett rightly noted. he's not going to get $5 billion for the border wall. and his allies on capitol hill say that they're not going to settle at $1.6 billion, which is the bipartisan agreement. so this is becoming very difficult to see how this gets solved in the coming days and weeks. person i speak to think it's going to get resolved at earliest, january 3rd, when democrats take over the house of representatives. >> meantime, the president is tweeting, telling reporters there's no movement here. he wants this wall. retrome pl let me play a little more of what he said said about that. >> yesterday gave out 115 miles of wall in texas. in texas. and it's going to be built, hopefully rapidly.
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i'm going there at the end of january for the start of construction. that's a big stretch. so it's all being built -- the new piece, the new section is very, very exciting, what's going on there, and you'll see it. we're almost having a groundbreaking, it's such a big section. it's probably the biggest section we'll get up. so while we're fighting over funding, we're also building and it's my hope to have this done completely 500 to 550 miles, to have it either renovated or brand-new by election time. >> so phil rutger, it's getting done, it's very civil rigexciti. this sounds like a president who thinks he's holding a winning hand here. tell me what you think about where we are right now? >> a couple of things, chris. first of all, the announcement that he made about that 115-mile section of the border, there are a lot of questions that we have that are unanswered about that.
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we don't know where, exactly, on the border that is or what the bidding process was like or how much it's costing u.s. taxpayers and so forth. so setting that aside, the president feels like -- >> well, let's not set that aside. and i understand what -- but he said that this was getting done. he said that he had taken care of it. we know nothing about it. there's no dpoumocumentation of nothing, right? >> and we've been trying for two days now to get answers from the white house about that, and they have not provided any information to back up what the president is saying. we should also point out, by the way, cruhris, that the presiden for months now has claimed that huge parts of the wall are already being built, already done. claiming this is a victory. and that's just not true. that's not credible. there are existing barriers along the border that have been renovated in some kind, but the idea that his wall has been built is not true. >> and it's part of this bigger
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picture, of the president, who says that we're in danger. we have to build this wall because we're in danger. it's the same reason that he put new policies into place at the border. and julia, you've been covering this border security issue all throughout. now we have a second child just this month in custody who died. customs and border protection, i understand, is making changes to the way it handles child migrants in custody. they're going conduct secondary medical checks on all the kids in their care, reviewing kid policies, reviewing custody options, and you've got these capacity issues that they have admitted, they're looking at options for more medical assistance, but i guess the question is, why it took two deaths before this policy was put in place. could this have been anticipated? who's really looking into this right now? >> it certainly could have been anticipated, chris. we reported back in june, my colleague, courtney kube and i
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that there were already backups, where no immigrant is supposed to be held for more than 72 hours. but they were seeing young children, even infants and toddlers who were staying there for up to a week or more. and that's what happened in this case. this young boy was transferred to two facilities before he ever was able to get medical attention. and in the case of jacqueline caal earlier this month, she came to a border processing facility in a very remote area and had to go on an hour and a half bus ride before she ever got medical attention. so some good news, they are putting more medical professionals at those checkpoints. right now, depending on how you enter, it could be a very long time before you actually get any kind of attention, get your vitals checked, or have anyone who could really care if you came in, in a really desperate situation with your health. that should be improved. but the capacity issue, that's something they're just reviewing. they haven't committed to doing yet. and that could be really key. right now the reason we see those backups is because i.c.e.
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can't take these people in. they're at capacity. they reached out two days ahead of time, trying to see if he and his father could be transferred to i.c.e. custody, where they have more space, they're equipped to deal with people for a longer period of time and to handle emergencies like this, but he wasn't able to be transferred. and in order to build up that capacity, it could come down to another debate that we're seeing just like this, where i.c.e. and congress would have to fund that additional capacity and possibly turn away beds that are now being held for people who were arrested internally inside the united states and then transferred to i.c.e. before they're deported. they would have to make more space in order to deal with this humanitarian situation, rather than carry out some of the president's priorities on deporting those in the united states already. >> yeah, these are federal workers, many of them, they're being put in an untenable position, because they don't have the space, they don't have the manpower that they need to deal with the numbers of people that were created by these policies and we just heard from steny hoyer, the democratic
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whip. he issued this statement. after the new democratic majority begins, the house will hold hearings on this young boy's death and the death of 7-year-old jakelin caal earlier this month, as well as conditions under which thousands of children are being held. jake, january 3rd, in addition to maybe being when all of this starts to potentially get settled in terms of the shutdown, also welcomes in a whole new era in how the house is going to handle these kind of things. >> absolutely. and it's not just on this issue, but the white house has been mostly free of oversight and of criticism and of public vetting of its decision-making process for the last two years, and from the people that i speak to both on capitol hill and the white house, it's not clear that they've adapted to this new reality, where every single decision they make will be subject to review and not private review, not talks and meetings, but public hearings on television, where senior officials are going to be dragged in front of members of congress for hours at a time and
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covered on all the cable networks and the news. so this is a whole new world for the president. and for this white house. and they don't have much backup. i mean, the democrats that were elected in november were elected on the promise to resist the president and to oversee and to be a check on the president, so i just think it's going to be, as you said, an entirely new political dynamic. >> and you still have, garrett haake, and you talked to these folks every day, republicans who, whatever their stand on national security may be and how that might reality to a wall or might relate to funding for border security, every day that goes by have got to be increasingly nervous that voters out there are looking and saying, congress, which is held by the republicans, what is it, the third time in the two years that the president has been set. they've shut down the government? and they can't come to an agreement over what is a tiny fraction of the overall federal budget. >> that's true, chris. but you have to think, those
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last two government shutdowns ultimately didn't really end up being the things that hurt any of these members in congress as much as we thought it might at time. people survived these things and moved on from it. so i think people might be a little bit inured to the idea that this one won't hurt as bad. but if we're still in a government shutdown into early january, that changes the game a little bit. and the dynamic will change when democrats have control of at least one of the levers of power here. because although a democratic house can't force the president to sign anything on their own, they can show up and say, we've passed "x" or we've passed "y" to reopen the government and create that contrast with republicans, who would then be the ones essentially not moving to reopen the government. and there are some republican senators, remember, republicans will have a little bit more wiggle room in their majority, but there are some republican senators who are willing having to start thinking about 2020 and how they want to play issues like this. how closely do they want to be tied to the president on an issue like the border wall,
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which isn't popular nationally. so, the political dynamics will be interesting, as you point out. we have to keep this in perspective. $5 billion is a ton of money to you or me. but compared to a $4 trillion federal budget, it's not that much money that they're actually fighting about right now. >> yeah. garrett haake, jake sherman, if you will rutger, julia ainsley, thanks to all of you. and we have breaking news on wall street, markets sharply higher after what was the worst trading week since 2008. the president blames the fed chair, but should he? we have more on that, coming up next. should he we have more on that, coming up next look, if you're not the lead dog, the scenery never changes. that's why this is the view for every other full-size pickup. and this year, it's déjà vu all over again 'cuz only the ford f-150 gives you best-in-class torque, best-in-class payload and you got it, baby... best-in-class towing. this is the big dog! this is the ford f-150. it doesn't just raise the bar, pal. it is the bar. hurry! 0% financing for 72 months on ford f-150 ends january 2nd.
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we've got breaking news from wall street. rebounding today from its worst christmas eve plunge ever. check this out. stocks rising sharply right now. the dow up a 574 points. despite the rally, cnbc's john harwood reports the president has unsettled wall street and
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washington. quote, the end of 2018 makes clearer every day that the president himself represents a fundamental problem for america's economy and national security alike. trump's erratic behavior and weak leadership that unsettled wall street and washington, and there is every reason to expect things will get worse. with me now, john harwood, cnbc's editor at large. matt mccardy is former white house chief of staff to president clinton and currently chairman of mccalendary associates. give us sort of the big picture as well as what we see going on tod today. >> well, the big picture, chris, is that we have a presidency that's in danger. we've seen that the mueller probe is getting closer to the president. it's already ensnared his personal lawyer, his campaign chairman, his national security adviser, and that suddenly is against the backdrop of an economy -- >> i need to interrupt you, john, i'm sorry. we are just getting breaking
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news, the president and first lady melania trump have gone to iraq to visit the troops. this comes on the heels of a lot of criticism, frankly, over the last 24 hours or so that he was the first president since 2002 not to visit with the troops. we have gotten a tweet from sarah sanders saying "president trump and first lady traveled to iraq late on christmas night to visit with our troops and senior military leadership to thank them for their service, their success, and their sacrifice and wish them a merry christmas." hans nichols, who does double duty for us, both at the pentagon as well as at the white house, tell us what you know. >> reporter: well, the president apparently has landed in iraq, according to sarah huckabee sanders. there are photos from the reuters news agency that put him in western iraq, at the al assad air base. now, chris, that's significant because it's an indication that the president might not be going to baghdad, where there could be a political conversation about the long-term presence of u.s. troops inside of iraq. you'll remember just last week, the president announcing he's withdrawing 2,000 u.s. troops
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from syria. they are there in that region to fight isis. the president claiming victory over isis, even though the military coalition there just this morning putting out press releases, saying that they continue the air campaign against isis, because that fight is still very much ongoing. so, the president eventually, finally, has visited troops in a war zone. it's taken him almost two years into his presidency. you'll recall that with president barack obama, he went in april of his first year. president george w. bush, of course, led the invasion into iraq and then he visited thanksgiving in 2003, starting this tradition of visiting troops during the holidays. president trump now, somewhat belatedly, following up on that. chris? >> and of course, it was president trump who called president bush's addition to invade iraq the single worst decision ever made. and many people have sort of put those, what they consider to be those mistakes together. people including supporters of the president, who have been
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extraordinarily critical of his decision to withdraw troops from syria. but this is something we have seen from presidents before, right? there is a long history of this. when i covered the obama white house, every year at christmastime, he was in hawaii, he would go to the marine corps base there. previous presidents have often made those unannounced trips, obviously, for security reasons, right? >> reporter: yeah, there's a great deal of secrecy on these trips. i've been to several of them with president obama, both to iraq and afghanistan. you can't even tell your spouse, your family where you're going. depending on where you land, you either do a corkscrew landing directly in, which minimizes the profile of air force one as it's coming down, from enemy fire, from my potential terrorists that would wish the president of the united states harm. there have been some security lapses. you'll recall when secretary of defense jim mattis in 2017 visited afghanistan, and around the time of his visit, there was a rocket attack on the airport. now, he wasn't directly in
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danger, but he was concerned, secretary mattis, about operational security. so there is a great deal of security on these trips. the press pool is with the president of the united states. we'll be getting their reports here shortly. and i think we have to see where else he goes. you'll recall that on thanksgiving, when he talked about visiting the troops, he said he was going to go maybe see some people in kuwait. you have some 40,000 u.s. troops stationed across the middle east. let's see where else he goes and crucially, chris, what does president donald trump say? is he going to acknowledge the drawdown in syria? could he potentially announce a drawdown from iraq? you'll recall that he claimed that president barack obama was the founder of isis for leaving iraq too soon. we'll see what he says about the u.s.' long-term commitment. i suspect the iraqis, as well as u.s. allies will be listening. chris? >> all right. stay with us, if you will, hans. and i know you'll let us know when you get more information about the president and his travels and anything that we get
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about his interactions with the troops. i want to bring in mark kimmitt. can you just tell us in the big picture why it's important, why presidents do these trips and what it means to the troops? >> well, it means a lot of troops. i first had a president visit me on deployment in christmas in '97 when president clinton visited us in bosnia. in 2003, we were in iraq when president bush visited us on thanksgiving. and i think it's important for your audience to know that these young soldiers are not swept up in this great debate that's heading inside of the beltway. they're just glad to see their president, whomever it is, whatever party that president is from, they just know that when the president comes out, he represents america and he's demonstrating that america cares about what they're doing on the ground. >> what is important in terms of messaging to them? is it enough just to show up or? what does he have to say, particularly in unsettled times
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like these. the defense secretary is on his way out. what can he do to, if, indeed, they're sort of separated from the politics of this, nevertheless, give them assurances about what their mission is and how they should view it, going forward. >> well, i think the first thing he's just going to simply say is, thank you for what you're doing over there. thank you for being deployed at a very tough time over there. but i think he's also going to have an opportunity, not simply to talk to the troops, but have a chance to talk to the mission commanders on the ground. he's just announced a ground withdrawal from syria. and they wonder what that really means. the senior commanders are wondering. does that mean we'll still conduct air strikes? does that mean we'll provide intelligence to troops on the ground. they have a lot of questions about what's inside the president's head and what the president is going to authorize for this mission going forward, because they're the ones that are going to have to do the on the ground planning and the on
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the ground tactical operations to affect that withdrawal. >> well, we also know, and we have heard reports, there was one in particular over the weekend, in the "wall street journal" about military leaders who didn't know whether they were going to get official orders, whether their orders were going to come through by way of tweet. so in terms of those interactions, those higher-level interactions with the folks who have to carry out, frankly, orders that are maybe not clear to them. they see something tweeted, they haven't gotten the official orders that have come down from the pentagon. how important is it for them? >> well, we've always had a term inside the military called military scuttlebutt. it proceeded twitter by about 300 years in the u.s. army. so for the senior leaders, it's easy. they can pick up the telephone and call centcom and centcom can call the pentagon. now, i think with the proliferation of the capability
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to communicate, skype, telephone, tweet, so on and so forth, they're not going -- there will be some unanswered questions, and that's why it's important for the president to come out to answer those questions. >> i want to bring in matt mcclardy and get you to weigh in on this, about what this means, especially at a time when it's not just symbolism, but at a time you had brett mcgurk leave welcome the defense secretary resigning. he put out a very pointed letter about how he disagreed with the direction that this president was going in. put this into that context for us, if you would, mac. >> chris, it's a critical time. pr president trump has been, as you know, not visiting the troops. i think he did the right thing going to iraq. i think unlike just a mission to bolster the troops, to show
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gratitude, appreciation, this will be one where people will be hangingen every board in terms of policy. it also, i think, chris, shows as we were beginning our segment, about the stock market, how demanding the presidency is and get a team in place and settle things done. >> i want to go back to the way things have been unsettled. we talked a lot about the course of the last four or five days about the resignation of the defense secretary, but also brett mcgurk, who some people may not know as well, special envoy in the fight against isil or isis. and he resigned again, same reason. he had a strong disagreement with the president's decision to resign from syria, and a strong disagreement with the president's statement, as many people did, including many conservatives, that we have defeated isis in syria. and mcgurk had warned about this
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just a week earlier. do we have that sound? if we have the brett mcgurk sound, i would like to play it now. okay, well, we don't have it, but this is exactly what they were concerned about, a premature withdrawal. so when you have all of this going on and the president makes a decision to go, can you at all take it out of that context? do we look at this, mac, and just say, okay, the president has made a decision as presidents have beforehand, there are troops who are serving abroad in harm's way, we're going to go there for the holidays and let them know that we appreciate them, or do you have to look at it in a political context, as well? >> i think you have to look at it in a broader context. politics is part of that. but chris, the most sacred responsibility of any president of the united states is commander in chief, to keep the american people safe and we entrust that responsibility to the brave men and women who dedicate their lives and their careers to doing just that. so this needs to be a
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consistency in the policy, and certainly, secretary mattis was highly respected, as was special envoy mcgurk. and they're basically saying, because after 9/11, this peace and change to personal security, in terms of terrorism, they're saying this opens the prospect for renewal of isis, just at the time, from what i understood and read and studied, just at the time when we had an opportunity to really complete the mission with isis, or at least drive forward the isolation and demolition of isis. >> let me play that sound. we have now pulled up that sound from brett mcgurk, take a listen. >> obviously, it would be reckless to say, well, the physical caliphate is defeated, so we can leave. nobody is saying they're going to disappear, nobody is that naive. so we want to stay on the ground to make sure that stability can be maintained. >> we're talking about years? >> not going to put a timeline
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on it at all. >> do mission commanders see this face-to-face as an opportunity for them to help the president understand, someone who does not have a military background. someone who has just lost two key members of the defense staff, do they see this as an opportunity? >> well, first of all, let me correct the record on a couple of these issues. brett mcgurk already resigned from the job about a month ago and said he was heading over to the hoover institution. why he felt it necessary to resign again is beyond me. the second thing is, i spent 30 plus years in the military and enjoyed every day of it. and i agreed with the decisions about 90% of the time. but i think it's important for your audience to also know that the military was getting us into an open-ended situation inside of syria that even brett mcgurk said, we're going to keep it
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open ended. the u.s. mission there was now expanding to training 40,000 troops, which would take a number of years. and there would inevitably have been a peacekeeping operation, where that would keep us in there for another couple of years, at least. so i just wonder in we recognize back here that the military was trying to pull us into a mission that could have lasted at least a decade and that is legally questionable, and candidly, i think that those issues need to be kept in consideration by those legions of critics that are saying digging out of syria was the wrong thing to do. and the last thing i would say is, isis is around the world. it is not only in one small part of syria. we've got to fight isis not only in syria, but in the sinai and dozens of other places, where
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either isis or their affiliates are krocropping up. let's not get myopically focused on syria where the only place that isis is operating. it's operating around the world and we have work to do around the world. >> would you say that if the president says that isis has been defeated, that that's premature? >> well, it's certainly the case that they have not by destroyed inside of syria. that's fully accepted. defeat, militarily, is that they are no longer able to continue their mission , and candidly, that's where they are right now. but mcgurk is right we need to keep pressure on them to make sure they can't start operations again outside of that area. and frankly, that's what we have allies to do. that's what we're doing in iraq. we've defeated and almost destroyed isis in iraq and it hasn't been done with american troops, it's been done with iraqi troops and local forces in syria can keep that same pressure on, aided by american air strikes, aided by american
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intelligence, aided by american training outside the country, but the notion that this whole mission is falling apart, because 2,000 troops are pulling out, i think it just doesn't bear up under scrutiny. >> let me go back to hans nichols. i understand, hans, there is some more reporting about the president and first lady's trip. >> reporter: chris, that's right. according to the associated press, which is traveling with president trump t, the presiden has no plans to pull out of iraq. that's significant, because there are 5,000 u.s. troops there, that are continuing the fight as part of a broader coalition against isis. now, he also says that he thinks the rest of the world will come around to his decision and his way of thinking of pulling those troops out of syria. again, according to the associated press, reuters is reporting some of this, as well. he says the u.s. troops in iraq will be able to go back into syria and hit isis very hard. just to give you an update, chris, on what the situation there on the ground looks like, most of the caliphate, most of the territory that isis has,
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had, has been taken away by this counter-isis coalition. that involves the u.s., the french, the british, providing support to a largely kurdish force on the ground. but there are some 2,000 to 2,500 isis fighters in syria that are still left in the middle euphrates valley, and across the region, the estimates, this is from the pentagon itself, 15,000 isis fighters, all told. so the u.s. will stay in iraq, so it's not extending the brawl from syria to iraq. he has also said, people should expect deputy secretary of defense, the soon-to-be acting secretary of defense, patrick shanahan, the stay there for some time. that's an indication that we will have an acting role at the defense department. remember, jim mattis resigning over that decision to withdraw from syria. it looks like shanann could be there for some time. >> i also want to bring in ash carter, mark jacobson, douglas
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oliphant is a former director of iraq for the national security council during the george w. bush administration. mark, let me ask you about what hans nichols just reported, of the many questions that the president answered on his way returning, he says he's in no hurry to name a new defense secretary. that shanahan could be there for a long time. and i wonder if it's business as usual when you have an acti ini director or does it leave everyone, particularly in an administration where i think you're going to have potentially at least five major senate confirmation fights starting in 2019, does it leave people with a little uncertainty. >> i will be the first to say i'm disappointed that secretary mattis is leaving. i think the president would have been in a much better position had he encouraged to secretary mattis to not only stay on, but actually listen to secretary mattis. that said, i'm not that concerned about the transition in the department of defense. i've spoken to a couple of
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senior administration officials who are not always in line with president trump and they have no worries about what's going to happen at the pentagon in terms of the internal ramblings. and as we know, secretary mattis was fighting it out with the white house anyway, he wasn't being listened to. and i think both the civil servants and the political appointees at the pentagon can weather this transition, even if it takes months. i agree with your suggestion, i don't think the senate will be in any hurry to kirm peep. although, historically, they have been very willing to fastrack secretary of defense nominees. my concern is more with the white house actually being able to find someone who's willing to serve and who they deem worthy of the position. >> so let me ask you what you think the significance beyond the symbolism. you see the faces on the members of the military and they're doing the selfies with the president. this is a good affirmation for them. they're out there, it's the
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holiday season, they get their pictures taken, it's something they'll have for the rest of their lives, that they got to meet the president and the first lady of the united states. whatever you think their politics are, that's a pretty big deal for a lot of people, but in the larger, is it more policy of oriented sphere, does it matter? >> well, i'm glad the president finally went. it's been two years and that's two years too long. this is one of the first things that a wartime president should do. but for the troops, this is enjoyable, no matter what the politics are. so far, i haven't seen what president trump has done with visits whether to the cia or to the troops where he politicizes it and starts talking about jim comey or the mueller investigation. and i think that's good. let's keep him focused on the troops. it's a sacred obligation to lead as commander in chief and it's one of the most important things he can do. let's have him go visit the troops in afghanistan, let's have him go visit the troops regularly. let's keep it going, and that
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would be a good thing for president trump to do in the future. >> do you think, doug, that there is -- what's a good word this, without making it sound too simplistic. a good learning aspect to this. whether you're a president who has served in the military or not, just speaking face-to-face with some of these commanders and getting a feel for how things are on the ground and what they think about it. >> certainly, no how experienced you are, no matter what you think you know about a situation, there's no substitute for being on the ground as far forward as you can get and speaking to the commanders that are there. i think that's pretty incontrovertible. >> so what would you hope that the president could get out of this trip? >> i don't think there's any specific policy that anyone would hope the president could get. it's the intangibles. it's him having seen the troops, perhaps understanding a little
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more of the nuances of what's happening, but that would be true for any wartime president. get a real feel for what's going on with the soldiers and not have it translated through five layers of bureaucracy. >> in his remarks to reporters, doug, he says he defends his decision to withdraw troops from syria. this is a quote from reuters, a lot of people are going to come around to my way of thinking. is he right about? >> well, it's been very interesting that we have not heard that having our troops in syria is on extremely dubious legal ground. generally, the only time you can have your troops in a foreign is at the invitation of that country or a u.n. chapter 7, in which the u.n. puts that country in receivership and lets you have your troops there. we have neither of those in
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syria. it's unclear to me as a matter of international law under what authority our troops are operating in syria. so i think removing that ambiguity, as general kimmitt was saying, there is some real value to that. the situations in syria and iraq are very, very different. in iraq, we have a government we can partner, we're working with, we're there at the invitation of that government. in syria, none of those things are true. >> but this is a president who has been known to change his mind, to tweet one thing, do something else. say things that are simply not true. he did say, according to the associated press, that he has no plans at all to remove u.s. troops from iraq, from that country where he was when he was make those comments. so mark jacobson, when he says things like that, is it calming? does it give people a sense of security, or is it, like, let's
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see? >> i think there's that instance of like, thank god he didn't say, let's pull all of the troops out of iraq. we're not sure what he's going to say the next day or what the longer term vision is for iraq coming from the white house. but to put an analytical spin on this, i think there is something different for the president with regards to the fight against isis in iraq. i think he's always been uncomfortable with afghanistan and always been uncomfortable with the syria situation. i think his advisers and him have come to some sort of agreement that, look, you have to have this presence in iraq, not just for dealing with isis, but they are looking east towards iran. and that makes me uncomfortable. but in the end, we need consistency from the white house. so far, we haven't had it. let's see. maybe they've turned a page at least on iraq here. >> joining me as well, mika oyang, vice president of national security program for the national think tank, third way. and i wonder what you think as you see these pictures of the president and the first lady in
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iraq. look, i think it's important that the president goes and visits the troops, but he's doing this backwards. his decision to pull out of syria when the fight against isis is not quite finished, quite, but not close, and going to visit the troops after that. typically what you would want is a president to go out to visit the troops, see what's going on on the ground, have conversations with his generals, actually meet with the secretary of defense, instead of slamming the door on him, and then make a decision about what the right thing to do is here. instead, he's done this all backwards. in fact, the way he's done this, even if it is the right decision ultimately, the way that he's done it will cause more chaos in the region, because it's a precipitous withdraw, not coordinating with our allies. he's putting the turks in grave danger from our nato ally, and what he's going to do will wind up more chaotic than if he stopped and thought about it.
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>> so the headline here will probably likely be, and we don't necessarily have all the comments he might make, whether it's on air force one or whatever, but likely to be that the president visits the troops, right, makes a christmastime visit with the first lady to visit the troops. we'll see more of those pictures of the president and the selfies and sitting and talking to some of the leaders. but what will be some of the headlines, say, in our allied countries or our countries in that region likely be? >> i think that they will be concerned that they weren't consulted as to what would happen. our allies in jordan, in israel, are struggling with the chaos that is coming out of syria and iraq. and if he doesn't go to baghdad, it's not clear what they will do with the remaining u.s. support for isis or against isis and what they'll do without the u.s. president striking isis in syria. i think the headlines will be quite confused as to what the
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president's doing, especially if he's not actually consulting with allies on the ground. >> we're in a very different situation, general kimmitt, than we were when we were in vietnam or when we did some very short military wars under president george bush. we are in a situation where we have the longest wars in history, our longest engagements in history. and frankly, on a day h-to-day basis, unlike when walter cronkikro cronkite used to come up during the vietnam war and we would see the faces of those who were lost, it's not something inform their minds every day, even as so many americans continue to put themselves in harm's way. so what would you want the average american to take away from this, as we see the faces of the people who are away from their loved ones in this holiday season. >> again, wii think the standar answer and the right answer is that the president cares.
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he cared about us in iraq in 2003 at thanksgiving and now he cares about the troops on the ground now. i would make one observation, though. the decision making process that was just described by your previous guest is absolutely incorrect. most of these decisions are typically made back in washington, d.c. with general bowtel and the entire chain of command talking about these issu issues. the commanders on the ground are consulted, but typically in private, because obviously, what you don't want to do is get the troops going, what's going to happen, what's going to happen. so i think the decision-making process was the correct way, which is consultation in washington, d.c., and with the combatant commander, a secure video teleconference with leaders on the ground. and that's the right way to do it and what was done here zp. >> let me wrap this up with hans nichols. you know how these trips work, and you went on several of these
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trips with president obama. when will we see, hear more from this trip from the president? >> reporter: well, we're likely to hear the president address the troops. weapon don't know for certain if that's been part of the schedule. all we know, the comments so far are two reporters traveling with the president. but i think it's important to note where the president isn't going. it doesn't look like he's going to baghdad or visiting troops in afghanistan. that's where the motions are in place to withdraw some 7,000 of the 14,000 u.s. troops there. the president is sending a signal by where he isn't going. according to those reuters reporters, his next stop is going to be ramstein in germany. this looks like it is a one-off trip. it's in western iraq, not going to baghdad. and i think key committee iques will he meet with political leaders in iraq. >> hans nichols, thank you all.
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mika o'yang, doug ollivant, thanks to all of you. we really do appreciate it. and we're watching our other breaking news. this strong day on the markets. here are the numbers. the dow at this moment up 561. that's right in the middle of a rough stretch of trading. we'll be right back. a rough stretch of trading we'll be right back.
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markets up after one of the worst weeks in trading. let's go back with me to cnbc's editor at large. we were talking earlier about the unsettled feeling on wall street. so put this in perspective for us. why is it up now? does it mean anything in terms of should we look at this and say maybe wall street's nerves are calm now? >> they're calm today, certainly better than they were a few days ago. the underlying state of our economy is pretty good. so there is reason for people to chill out. but what we've had as we were starting to say in the previous segment before we got the news about the president, he has been under legal and political pressure. democrats taking over the
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congress, mueller probe getting closer. against that back drop he has been acting erraterratically. you have the chaos of the trade war. you've got the decision on syria that led to the early resignation of secretary mattis. you've got the reversal on the government shutdown. you've got the president's comments musings about getting rid of powell at the fed. >> which it's not clear that he can do. is that right? can the president just decide -- what happened to the separating the feds from the politics? wasn't that the point of having the federal reserve? >> absolutely. and the independence of the fed and the fact that you can't simply fire a fed chair unless you've got a good reason, for cause that is used. all of that lends the impression of an administration that is not stable. today is a little bit better.
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the president hasn't tweeted in about 24 hours. i do think that not only is the trip to visit troops in iraq good news for the troops, but i think it may be appreciated by investors as a sign of at least for a moment the things that a normal president does. this president is now doing them. >> the chair of the white house council of economic advisers talked to hans nickels who we saw at the white house and he asked him about the fed chair n chairman, jerome powell. i want to play a little of what he said. >> is the fed chairman's job safe? >> yes. 100%. >> it's not in jeopardy by this president? >> absolutely. >> which kind of contradicts the president himself who sort of indicated he wasn't so happy with powell on many occasions. is that part of why you think today's rebound happened? that the calming? >> it didn't have the backing
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from steve mnuchin and then people said who asked about a liquidity problem. >> why is he calling banks? >> what you have is the president's advisers doing what they can to mitigate the impact of his behavior. this was a somewhat more successful attempt by kevin hassett. the problem with an unpredictable president is you never know what will happen next. with this president, what is he going to say? how is he going to react to the next setback or bit of bad news? he has been sitting in the white house residence watching television and tweeting at enemies and that does not reassure anybody. >> and reacting to what he hears from conservative pundits. always good to talk to you. happy holidays. more more ahead. we'll be right back.
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more more ahead. we'll be right back. still isn't "to-done". 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.
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good afternoon. we begin with that surprise visit made by president trump to troops in iraq. sara sanders saying the president and the first lady making the trip starting last night, christmas night. it comes at a time when trump's middle east policy is in flux as americans back home are dealing with a government shutdown. it has been 111 hours since
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parts of the government closed the doors with nearly 800,000 workers are not getting paid even though half are working anyway. we got word from congressman mark meadows. he sees no sign of the president backing down from his demand from funding for a border wall. they are misreading him and the president backing that up a short time ago telling reporters traveling with him to iraq that he is prepared to wait whatever it takes in order to get border security. let's start with the white house with noobc news. we have seen reports coming in from a small group of reporters who are traveling with the president. what are the headlines so far? >> the president appears to be up and away. he spent three hours on the ground in western


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