tv Deadline White House MSNBC October 15, 2019 1:00pm-2:00pm PDT
thank you for taking the time. appreciate it. >> thank you very having me. >> that wraps up this hour for me. can always find me on twitter @chrisjansing. thanks for watching. "deadline: white house" starts right now. hi, everyone, it's 4:00 in new york. turns out the whistle-blower had plenty of company in his concern about donald trump asking the leader of ukraine to dig up dirt on the bidens. from none other than conservative fixture and former national security adviser for donald trump john bolton. according to the testimony from one of bolton's deputies, fiona hill, a russia hawk who worked for donald trump until this summer, bolton claimed, "i'm not part of whatever drug deal sondland and mulvaney are cook bing b i cooking up." mulvaney. and sondland, of course, donald trump's ambassador to the eu who's in the middle of trump's pressure campaign against the ukrainian leader. the source tells me today that sondland was, quote, trying to deliver hunter biden to trump in
hopes of being considered as a secretary of state candidate in a second trump term. fiona hill in more than ten hours of testimony yesterday testified that bolton described rudy giuliani as a, quote, hand grenade who's going to blow everybody up. according to a source close to hill, she expressed flashes of anger during her testimony at the spread of conspiracy theories and told house investigators that the only person who benefits from those efforts is vladimir putin. hill has also said bay this source to have testified that there was, quote, absolutely a quid pro quo for the meeting with trump. meaning that zelensky was expected to open investigations that would damage the bidens before a meeting with trump would be scheduled. "the new york times" reports on hill's depiction of a deep and acrimonious divide that emerged at the highest levels of the policymaking process. describing a rather unholy alliance between giuliani, sondland, and mulvaney and john bolton and his allies pushing back.
from that "times" report, "mr. bolton got into a tense exchange on july 10th with sondland. the trump donor turned ambassador to the eu. who was working with giuliani to press you crane to investigate democrats. hill testified that mr. bolton told her to notify the chief lawyer for the national security council about a rogue effort by mr. sondland, mr. giuliani, and mick maul vain ulvanemulvaney. ms. hill testified mr. giuliani and his allies circumvented the usual national security process to run their own foreign policy efforts leaving the president's official advisers aware of the rogue operation but powerless to stop it." hill also implicated the president in this surreal bit of testimony. also reported by "the new york times." she reportedly described confronting sondland about the ukraine operation and when she asked him who put him in charge of ukraine, sondland replied, quote, the president.
hill was the first white house adviser to testify in the impeachment inquiry. a source close to her testimony told me that the tense back and forth with the white house counsel's office in advance of her appearance yesterday was an effort to clear the way for more white house adviser to cooperate with a congressional probe. that is where we start today with some of our favorite reporters and friends. with us from the "washington post" white house reporter ashley parker. associate editor for real clear politics, a.b. stoddard. nbc and msnbc national affairs analyst john heilemann. also co-host of "the circus." at the table, jason johnson, politics editor for the root. and former democratic senator claire mccaskill. i wanted to talk to all of you since this news broke, but i have to start with you, claire, matt miller, our friend of the show, had some sort of sharp words about, i think the spirit of it was when john bolton emerges as the white knight, it says a lot about the villains in the story. >> yeah. i look back with nostalgia at a time when we thought of john bolton as kind of a bad guy.
as it turns out, he has some character in there. and even though i may disagree with him on some policy, i think he may emerge from this as a key figure. if they get him in front of this committee with the subpoena and he is honest with the committee, i think the full breadth and depth of the malfeasance that was going on as it related to using the presidency for politics is going to become very, very clear. >> a.b. stoddard, i've also been dying to talk to you. and i want you -- i was pointed to the legal breakthrough which was really overshadowed by the dramatic color that fiona hill brought to life in her testimony yesterday about john bolton trying to stand up to really, you know, talk about three stooges which is i think what donald trump refers to the three primary opponents in the gop. i mean, three stooges are clearly rudy, sondland, and mulvan mulvaney. but it was pointed out to me by someone familiar with clearing the way for hill's testimony
that it's not insignificant that this marker was laid down about the limitations legally of executive privilege. this is a letter from hill's attorney. "executive privilege likely does not apply to information which is to longer confidential and has come within the sphere of public knowledge through broad disclosures. matters which have been made public through affirmative actions of the white house."ges transcript. "and/or media reports not protected by executive privilege because they are by their very moisture no longer confidential. we understand that deliberative process privilege disappears all together when there's any reason to believe --" and i lost the rest of it, but the point there being that once the white house released the transcript and people are name checked and donald trump put his own once private phone call out into the public sphere, the policymakers are free to testify. >> absolutely. and although donald trump
continues to tell everyone in his twitter feed that the whistle-blower has misrepresented his conversation, we all learned about the conversation by reading the transcript his white house released and that has led to an impeachment investigation because he solicited the help of a foreign country in interfering in next year's election and asking them to investigate his political rival. it's interesting, the end of your sentence from the lawyer, or paragraph from the lawyer, is about when there's reason to believe that there might have been misconduct in the government, so set aside what the white house has made public and they've made a lot public, the lawyers have confirmed that politically sensitive and potentially illegal or highly dangerous conversations the president had with world leaders were put on a separate server, saved for military secrets and covert operations, the lawyer for fiona hill was making the case that executive privilege is -- that the white house tried
to impose upon her testimony is not a shield for corrupt activities. and the lawyer made clear that when there is a belief, a suspicion that there is government misconduct, that the executive privilege no longer applies. and that was what she was coming to tell the committee and she did so under subpoena. >> john heilemann, rudy giuliani is a hand grenade. so testified fiona hill yesterday. seems like a moment. >> yes, i mean, look, i think, nicolle, you talked about some of the legal implications of what we learned yesterday that kind of have gotten obscured busine by this extraordinary back and forth between rudy giuliani and john bolton, the notions of high explosives being thrown around here, hand grenades, atomic bombs, all kinds of stuff, the drama, melodrama of that, not sure i'd want to be compared to
any of those things, maybe a neutron bomb that blows things up and leaves buildings intact. the most important things as we go forward are two things, one of which related to the appearance of mick mulvaney in the picture. we had previously talked about the three previous stooges who had the high stooges at the high table, rudy giuliani, bill barr, and mike pompeo. we now have mick mulvaney drawn into this, so currently people who should be subpoenaed, i would guess almost certainly will be subpoenaed are the secretary of state, john bolton the top national security adviser at the time, the white house chief of staff, arguably the second most powerful person in the united states of america, and then, of course, donald trump's sort of criminal lawyer, rudy giuliani, who's sort of the criminal lawyer without the lawyer part. all of them, i think, now being kind of pushed in the middle of this then secondly, the notion that amid all the name calling and the concern that john bolton expressed, according to hill, the notion that he expressed that concern in the form of
saying, we must go now and speak to a lawyer, we have to go now to the head lawyer at the national security council, we need someone in the white house counsel's office involved in this, would suggest that bolton was not merely alarmed, upset, outraged, by what he saw unfolding in front of him, but that he had at least -- at least suggest that he might have been thinking or was thinking that the president of the united states and his lawyer, rudy giuliani, were possibly engaged in a criminal conspiracy. and i think that is enormously significant in no small part because it means there's a record and the record of that -- of that outreach to the counsel will exist and can also be subpoenaed. and so if you think about the various days in this scandal that have happened over the course of the last 3 1/2 weeks, i think in terms of where this investigation is going now, directionally, and how wide the net now is, how significant the people caught in that net are, and what the picture we're now
getting of how bad this is for donald trump, yesterday was a big, big deal. i won't say the word that joe biden would say, but you know what i'm saying. >> i know what you're saying. ashley parker, let me -- let me ask you to pick up on i think what john heilemann laid out in terms of just hitting pause on what we now understand to be the size and scope of the alarm. john bolton, donald trump's national security adviser, sent his deputy, fiona hill, not just to the counsel's office, not just to the chief of staff's office which is when you go -- when you think you might be in trouble, but to the person in the counsel's office in charge of national security. that's, like, really big, holy bleep kind of trouble. but that's big -- that's -- i worked in the white house for six years, never went to that guy. what does it say that john bolton thought there were legal implications for the plays being run, not over in ukraine, not
out of the u.s. embassy in ukraine, not out of the ambassador's residence, but in your paper, there are references to the wardroom. we should explain what that is. it's a private dining room right underneath the oval office. if you take a broom and poke it, i think you hit the oval office. gordon sondland was running this off-the-books dark op that so alarmed john bauolton out of th wardroom of the west wing. >> well, that's exactly right. i think what you're seeing here, and john got at this, there were any number of people inside the white house who were deeply alarmed and upset by what was going on. and unlike some iterations of people in the white house who are alarmed and upset, these people, a lot of them, you know, when we see the testimony coming out, they took action. they tried to put in the guardrails and the safeguards and they had the confrontations and they made their opinions known. so, there was bad behavior, there were people flagging this bad behavior, and that sort of
brings me to another point which is someone of the reasons why the house democrats seem to have hit a certain amount of momentum, which is something they have long struggled with, is if you sort of read between the lines here, there's actually a lot of willing witnesses who are eager to go up and testify. and so as soon as they get that subpoena that gives them cover to kind of defy what the white house is saying, unlike in some -- in the mueller investigation, in some other things that we in the media and investigators have been trying to get to the bottom of, you have people who basically, their attitude is, what i saw alarmed me and bothered me, i sounded the alarms inside the white house, inside the west wing. i sounded the alarms to the highest level and now i am more than happy to go sound the alarms to these congressional committees and tell everything i know. so not every witness, but there's a number of very willing people who saw a lot and are more than happy to share. >> and what's so amazing, jason, is that not one witness, not fiona hill, not the accounts of
john bolton, not kurt volker, no one puts donald trump on the side of ethics. no one puts donald trump on the side of anyone other than rudy giuliani running a shadow foreign policy outside of the state department, running investigations outside of the fbi, gathering intel on foreign leaders outside of the cia. let me read you this just because it's -- it's going to end up in the history books of yesterday. i think as john said, i agree with him, it was a huge day. "at one iona hill confronted sondland who inserted himself in dealings with ukraine though it was not part of his official portfolio according to people informed about hill's testimony, he told her he was in charge of ukraine, compared to alan hague's declaration he was in charge after ronald reagan's assassination attempt. according to those who heard the testimony." not only were these people empowered by the president and rudy giuliani, they were a little bat bleep crazy. >> they were all running -- what this really speaks to, nicolle,
the fact the power -- trump runs this white house, buy extensiy like some sort of feudal lord. rudy giuliani cut this deal, cut that deal. there's a level of disorganization and irresponsibility that is offensive to people who get into these positions because they care about keeping our country safe. what i think has been positive about some of this is not that the president hasn't been able to chase out every single ethical person in washington, we still have enough functional individuals, still have enough people who believe in country over this administration enough to say, hey, maybe we should do something about this. and i'm with claire, look, there's little or nothing john bolton has ever done that i would agree with, but the fact that he said we should not have a secret cabal of people -- >> a drug deal. >> a drug deal, i mean, literally, it's from the movies, like the calls are coming from the white house, right? the fact that he said this is where this has to stop is a good sign that some people still care about this country. >> a.b. stoddard, i want you to watch this tape of donald trump explaining why john bolton left.
>> i told him, john, if too many people, you're not getting along with people, and a lot of us, including me, disagree with some of your tactics and some of your ideas, and i wish you well, but i'd like you to submit your resignation, and he did that, and i really -- i know he's going to do well. i hope he's going to do well, and i wish him well. >> so that wasn't date stamped but i believe it was somewhere around september 10th. it was right after -- september 11th. it was right after the calamity, like p 11 calamities ago of donald trump wanting to hunker down with the taliban at camp david which seemed unbelievable. we all projected onto that statement that that was about people that disagreed with john over bringing the taliban to camp david, but is it possible, i mean, i'm just reading this reporting, it's possible that the people he didn't get along with for sondland, who will have his day on capitol hill thursday, who said that the president empowered him on ukraine. mulvaney who's intimately involved in putting the hold on
the military aid and rudy who was running a shadow foreign policy. it looks like the people that john bolton might not have gotten along with were the ones running this off-the-books op for the president. >> that's right. what's interesting is long before john bolton left the white house he had been marginalized and isolated and when the president took -- president took his theatrical step into the demilitarized zone with kim jong-un, the national security adviser john bolton had been marooned in mongolia and was not a part of anything of consequence because the president knew how he felt about the president's wims or changing policies on north korea, iran, a whole bunch of hotbeds. it really was clear that mick mulvaney, the acting chief of staff, and he was pretty proud of it, was running -- created his own national security council within the white house
and they had sidelined bolton and secretary of state mike pompeo had not spoken to bolton in a long time and was also freezing him out. and so what we did not know was that bolton was probably making life very complicated for these other people. that we were not, you know, at the time aware were running a sort of a de facto, separate, secretary of -- i mean, state department and national security operati operation. that's gordon sondland who's the eu ambassador, had no business running a ukraine operation, as you say. a black ops ukraine operation with rudy giuliani. and so, bolton knows way too much even if he wasn't a part of things, he had people there, he knew everything that was going on. i have no idea if mick mulvaney and these oath peether people g of the fact he and fiona hill were horrified and went to the nsc council on this. certainly they had policy disagreements. bolton was being shut out. and it might have been, obvio
obviously, risen to the top with trump that he was not facilitating the capers that sondland and rudy giuliani were on at the behest of the president. >> so, claire, the white house counsel, person designated for national security, was really busy with this ukraine call because the cia general counsel came over and talked to that person, too. >> yeah, by the way, a couple of these lawyers made referrals to doj. >> right. >> criminal -- >> what happened to nose? >> they went away. but, you know, i got to cure everyone. i think we have to stop calling this a shadow foreign policy op. >> right. >> this was no foreign policy. this was a political op. >> a shakedown. >> the idea that rudy giuliani is working pro bono to try to re-elect the president by tak g taking, frankly, illegal steps to engage a foreign government in an american election, which is illegal on its face, and then further is trying to help him win election and is doing it pro
bono which is against the law. you can't give pro bono to a campaign. and at -- and this sondland guy, what is the deal with him? you know what he was? he was a hotel developer. >> right. >> this isn't a foreign policy guy. this is a guy who trump probably liked because they talked about hotels and he wanted to be rich and he wanted to be in the circle. what is he doing saying he's in charge? i mean, who is letting these people run wild? well, we know who it is. it's the guy who's in charge who thinks it's okay to have rudy giuliani and some hotel developer out there trying to engage a foreign government in trying to impact his political opponent in next year's election. >> all right. no one's going anywhere. this is too good. after the break, rudy giuliani is defying those congressional subpoenas as evidence mounts that he was connected to his now-indicted business partners. new reports say they paid him $500,000. that's a lot. the latest on the investigation
out of sdny into rudy giuliani. also ahead, donald trump's former envoy to the coalition to defeat isis calls on the white house to release the transcripts of that call that green-lit the military operation that's left u.s. allies dead and strengthened russia and syria. we'll go to the region for a live report. the debate goes on. democrats take the stage for the very first time since the impeachment inquiry into donald trump began. we'll go inside the strategies of the 2020 candidates facing off in tonight's presidential debate. all those stories coming up. lin? liberty mutual customizes your car insurance so you only pay for what you need. that's a lot of words. only pay for what you need. ♪ liberty. liberty. liberty. liberty. ♪ aleve it. with aleve pm. pain happens. the only one to combine a safe sleep aid. and the 12-hour pain relieving strength of aleve. so...magic mornings happen. there's a better choice. aleve pm.
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there's breaking news related to one of the two investigations converging today on the president's personal attorney rudy giuliani. nbc news has just confirmed that giuliani plans to defy a congressional subpoena in the impeachment inquiry into president trump. for documents related to his ukraine conduct. this as new details emerge about the criminal investigation also has giuliani in its cross hairs. "the wall street journal" reports, "federal prosecutors in manhattan are examining rudy giuliani's business dealings in ukraine including his finances, meetings, and work for a scity mayor there according to people familiar with the matter. witnesses have been questioned about mr. giuliani since at least august by investigators who also want to know more about giuliani's role in an alleged conspiracy involving two of his business associates as people said." a timely report in the "washington post" reveals giuliani was paid around $500,000 by one of his associates arrested last week on campaign finance charges.
a financial connection, no doubt, of interest to those investigators. ashley, a.b., john heilemann, the table, are here. ashley parker, so much of that is from your paper an your colleagues. rudy seems to be in more trouble than he projects on fox news. >> yeah, well, rudy is caught up in all of it. and we sort of investigations i will lead yet and all the details of what might be problematic. if anything of that $500,000, he was paid by someone who was arrested as they were trying to leave the country, but sort of blanket -- even if you believe rudy's strategy with the president which is winning the war of public relations, it's not good. it's not good when you're paid $500,000 by an associate who is now arrested and under investigation. it's not good when you are being forced to defy subpoenas to investigative committees on capitol hill.
it's not good when your public defense for having not done anything wrong is you were representing your client, the president of the united states. and as of now, the president has been fairly loyal to rudy giuliani. it's worth noting that just about everyone in the president's circle is incredibly frustrated with giuliani, but the president does credit him with being loyal and in some ways being effective during the mueller investigation. so trump is still being largely publicly loyal to him, but we've also seen this before with michael cohen. the president is loyal until he is not. i think that's something giuliani also has to be aware of and have in the back of his mind. >> john heilemann, there's just so much more similar between rudy giuliani and paul manafort. rudy giuliani and michael cohen. rudy giuliani and mike flynn. than there is rudy giuliani and don mcgahn. don mcgahn ultimately cooperated with the mueller probe, when he had to face uncomfortable choices sort of chose the country, tried to walk that line and still work for the president. rudy giuliani seems to make different choices.
>> yeah, decidedly and defiantly different choices, and as you said, nicolle, it seems to me that the main -- the main implication of what you're saying, which strikes me as obviously true, is that michael cohen is in jail and paul manafort is in jail and don mcgahn is not in jail, and if you had to ask me which side of the line rudy giuliani's in danger of being, that's another way in which not just his attitude and his temperament but i think that as this thing expands and deepens, simultaneously, i think the questions surrounding rudy giuliani's criminal exposure are going to become central to this investigation and i'm not predicting where that will end. i'm not saying he will end up in the same place as paul manafort and michael cohen, but i'm saying he's in trouble and he's very much at the center of behavior that attaches itself to elements of the criminal code. and whether or not he's able to elude that kind of -- that kind of implication or not is an open
question. that's the ballpark we're playing in now whether rudy giuliani broke the law, helped the president to break the law, campaign finance law, and other laws related to criminal conspiracy. so, yeah, it's -- he's very much at the center of this. he's in a really, really large amount of trouble. >> and, john, my only -- my only sort of grouping of those individuals is that everyone that comes close to donald trump gets exposed. candidates for chief of staff i'm told earlier this year -- >> yeah. >> -- asked for a budget for a criminal defense lawyer. anyone thatle comes in contact with donald trump has criminal legal exposure. >> right. >> seems like someone like don mcgahn, chief witness in the mueller probe, managed to walk that line whereas cohen and manafort and flynn failed and it would seem that everything is publicly facing about giuliani including lunching with the two indicted criminals now charged -- >> right. >> -- by the southern district -- suggests that he's heading in a different direction. >> well, that's what i meant, nicolle. all i mean to say is, yes, you
have -- anybody who -- everybody around donald trump has had to lawyer up, but the fact is you have to lawyer up, doesn't mean you're in serious jeopardy of running afoul of the law or ending up in jail, and i think there are -- i'm not sure that i think there was ever -- i understand that don mcgahn like everyone else who was involved in the various things he was involved in had to lawyer up, but i think because don mcgahn, there's been no evidence deduced that i know of that don mcgahn engaged any criminal behavior and the fact he was in the end willing to abide by the basic -- the basic rudimentary codes of what legal ethics compel meant that ifn the end he ended up no facing what paul manafort and michael cohen faced and i do think rudy giuliani has flouted those conventions throughout. we have made jokes now for two years, three years, about how rudy giuliani's not really a lawyer, he's more of a tv lawyer. and his behavior, to be a political lawyer, to be a public relations lawyer, has been
totally outside what any normal sense of how, like, lawyers are supposed to conduct themselves if they're behaving as lawyers, i think that's now put him as enormous risk. >> i think if you're mike pompeo and still entertain a fantasy about having a career as an elected official, if you're mike pence, you want to be the guy standing should this not work out for donald j., the model exists and it is don mcgahn who served this president, confronted this president and maybe john bolton sort of was a student of that model, but rudy giuliani clearly is not. >> and here's the thing. giuliani has so much exposure, right? i mean, he can be in trouble for acting as a foreign lobbyist, he can be in trouble domestically for campaign finance reform. he can be in trouble for things he's done in the state. he's got a three-front war. he naively thinks donald trump is going to come down on a white horse and protect him, we all know that's not going to happen. juligiuliani seems to think tha going to work out. look at somebody like mike pence, he's been able to, thus far, pretend he doesn't know what's going on. now, none of us believe him. right? so far, most of the microscopes
haven't really bore down on him. i think it's very clear. mike pence compared to juligiul, compared to trump, compared to a lot of these people, compared to even corey lewandowski, he does not have the bombast or even the media skill to protect himself if any of this heat comes on him, so if there's anybody who might want to flip in this situation, it's him because he's not going to be a ible to talk s way out of it, charm his way out of it, he'll face consequences others aren't able to escape from. >> the trump base might not attach to him if he doesn't do what you're saying. >> ashley parker, thank you for your paper's great reporting, all your great reporting, and spending time with us. after the break, more proof that russia got everything it wanted and more out of its efforts to get donald trump elected. his old friend, vladimir putin, now filling the power vacuum left by the united states in syria. that sad story next. taste fresher and more delicious? only eggland's best. which organic eggs
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situation in northern syria is escalating today. the woe"washington post" report "russia announced on tuesday its units are now patrolling between the turkish and syrian militaries near southern syrian town. in a sign that moscow, a key ally of the syrian government, was moving to fill a security vacuum after u.s. troops were withdrawn from the area." russia literally filling the void left by the u.s. in a tragedy of donald trump's own making. this war began after trump's call with turkish president erdogan where he essentially gave turkey the green light for their military operation. finding out exactly what was said on that call is crucial, as former special envoy to the global coalition to defeat isis, brett mcgurk, noted on twitter writing this, "given the predictable consequences now unfolding before the entire world, if it's true that trump warned erdogan not to invade northeast syria, release the transcript. let's see." meanwhile, the president just announced vice president pence and secretary of state pompeo are heading to turkey tomorrow.
joining us now from the turkey/syria border, nbc news senior international correspondent keir simmons. keir, tell us everything you're seeing and picking up. >> reporter: well, you know, nicolle, when you and i talk, when i'm in the studio there, or places around the world, we always try and tell it straight, don't we, and just cut through the diplomatic niceties and the nonsense and give people a picture. i think i have to be straight with your viewers, right now, at this trip by the vice president and the secretary of state is, frankly, pretty meaningless. i think, honestly, it has more to do with giving the impression in washington they still have control in some way here than it does in actually really intervening because despite vice president pence's call for a cease-fire and the announcement by president trump of sanctions all through today, we watched continuing fighting and on a day like today when you see a russian guy on video walking around, apparently, a just evacuated american base, when as
you just described, the russians say that they are now policing the line between the syrians and the turkish forces, and when the chairman of the joint chiefs has to get on the phone with his russian counterpart to talk about the security of russian -- the remaining russian military on location, then i think we have our answer charge here and much america has been pushed to the sidelines. >> keir, there's so many restraints on active duty american military to speak out about what this must feel like, but plenty of retired military have described in various news accounts feeling like a dagger through their heart. abandoning our allies. the kurds. what are you picking up about what this experience is like, literally leaving our kurdish allies on the battlefield to die or run into the arms of our enemies? what is that -- what does that look like on the ground? >> reporter: yeah. i don't -- the kurds are
absolutely realistic about what it means to do a deal with president assad. the risks of that. they wanted to be allied with america. they wanted that. and they have been let down. and on our way to do a live shot, only a while, a day or so ago, you know, we're traveling and there were kurds on this side of the border on the turkish side and we run into some kurdish villagers and ask us, who are you? we say, we're from american television. they say, oh, americans, cowards. it's just one anecdote, nicolle, but i think it gives a fair reflection of the way the kurds feel right now. and you can't really blame them, honestly. >> keir, this is a part of the world where there are not a ton of young men who want to be american allies as much as the kurds do. what are our prospects for re-establishing credibility in the middle east? >> reporter: it's a great question. look, i mean, let's be honest,
it isn't the first foreign policy crisis that america has faced around the world. america has huge influence. a huge military presence. huge cultural influence. so let's not kind of talk the country down too much. the country that both of us have such huge affection for, but, you know, at the same time, it just goes back to putin, doesn't it? you got president putin right now in saudi arabia, in saudi arab arabia, an american ally, and on the phone directing and peacemaking and doing deals over syria. that kind of sums up where we are right now. let's not forget, we talked about this before, it's not just the russians, it's also the iranians. this is about the ability of the iranians now to have supply lines through syria to hezbollah in lebanon. this is a profound shift in the diplomacy of the middle east, in
the facts on the ground in the middle east and you just got to say that all of this came about because -- because president trump wanted to withdraw, frankly, a handful of american special forces and military. >> claire mccaskill, before donald trump got on the phone with the turkish leader, there was no military operation in syria. as soon as he hang up, it began. there is no other variable here. >> it's interesting, pence said he didn't give the green light. the president just tweeted this morning, "let them fight." that's what the president said this morning. so, clearly, he gave the green light. and here's the deal. you know, turkey has been in nato. turkey could come under the influence of a strong american president. it has happened many times over the last 50 years. where turkey has been our ally and we have been able to influence the actions of turkey.
along with a strong alliance of nato members. not this time. this president is getting rolled. he got rolled by erdogan. he got rolled by kim jong-un. he's getting rolled by putin. putin's not only in saudi arabia, by the way, signing massive deals on trade, he's in uae today. so he is actually, you know, running circles around the president in the middle east, and, you know, and there's israel, you know, they've got to be a little worried at this point because this is empowering iran even more because he pulled out of the iranian deal without any substitute. so things are a mess here because we have a president who thinks the strength of his personality is going to win over bad guys or he just can't recognize bad guy s when he see them. >> the truth is the weakness of his character is going to get our allies killed if it hasn't already. keir simmons, come back tomorrow. thanks for spending some time with us today. stay safe. after the break, hunter
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do you regret being on the board to begin with? >> no, i don't regret being on the board. what i regret is not taking into account that there would be a rudy giuliani and a president of the united states that would be listening to this -- this ridiculous conspiracy idea. >> you never thought this might not look right. >> you know what, i'm a human. you know what, did i make a mistake? well, maybe in the grand scheme of things, yeah. but did i make a mistake based upon some unethical lapse? absolutely not. >> that was hunter biden. joe biden's son. defending himself for the first time against donald trump's smear campaign. insisting his involvement with
the ukrainian gas company was in no way improper or unethical, adding up to what he described there as poor judgment. that interview coming at an interesting time, though. in matter of hours joe biden will be on stage in ohio for the fourth primary debate where he and his fellow democrats will now almost certainly be asked about former vice president biden's son. a.b., john heilemann, the table, are back. john, how's this going over there? does this change the sort of strategy or the approach? do they -- do they -- what do they do with this? >> well, i think -- i think, nicolle, the reality is that the biden campaign has been consistently slow on trying to deal with this moment in which the vice president has been placed at the center of the most obsessively focused on story in american politics right now. he's the only democrat who's part of this story because donald trump has made him part of the story. obviously, the attempt to manufacture, dig up dirt on hunter biden is what set this
whole thing in motion in some sense. so that is a challenge to any presidential campaign, as you know, when a big giant story happens, every candidate has to deal with it in some way. if you happen to be implicated or involved in that story, it presents a different set of challenges. i think the campaign is widely seen by others in the race and by some inside the campaign as having been kind of halting in its approach to it. biden has now done a couple of different speeches in which he tried to embrace it in one part, which is to say this is a preview of the general election. donald trump was going after me and my family because he's scared of me. here, this is what it's going to look like. it's me and donald trump. he's done that part of it. left the hunter biden part largely unaddressed even as questions have remained that the media has asked over and over again. hunter biden today finally stood up on his own, i think on his own initiative and said, enough, i'm going to take this on. i will say although i think it was a risky strategy, there are also huge risks involved in being slow on this front.
i think you have to, if you're joe biden you have to play the hand that you're dealt, and i think at this point, even though the risks entailed, having him do this interview this morning on the morning of this debate were considerable, i think hunter biden did pretty well. and i think that democrats on this debate stage are not inclined to attack a joe biden over hunter biden. they're not inclined to attack hunter biden at all. so if he could pull the debate -- the interview off, it would work to joe biden's advantage. i think hunter biden came across as human. he owned the thing. i think in the end that this thing is likely to work to joe biden's favor in the long run and in the short run tonight on this debate stage. >> a.b., you wrote one of the best and smartest pieces about how the biden campaign should deal with these asymmetrical attacks and i'm going to botch it if i try to summarize it, so just remind us what your thoughts were about how they should and could respond. >> well, like john, i thought that they were late to this and that joe biden had the stature to come out and give a huge sort
of address to the nation about this. i encouraged the campaign to sort of dare to include some surprises so that the news would travel and potentially go viral and get a lot of ears. the vice president's first comments on this came late at night in reno, nevada, and nobody knew anything about them because we were in the middle of the wishistle-blower and everything else. i also suggested they sort of counterprogram all the things rudy giuliani and the president and the president's sons have been tweeting and saying at rallies and everything to really make sure that they're, you know, attacking all the falsehoods and maybe even have a video. they have been slow. it's been very painful for the vice president, clearly, because his son has really struggled. and i think that what we all know and hunter biden was trying to own up to today is that children of powerful families get ludicrous book contracts and jobs that no one else would get.
and it's cronyism. he did not cross any ethical or legal lines, but he got it because he was a biden and i thought it was actually smart of him to say that in the interview. that he's gotten, you know, most of his opportunities interview, that he's gotten move his opportunities in life because of his last name. the jumping on him even after the interview by don junior and the chairwoman of the republican national committee is beyond laughable, and it's gross. they're attacking him for nepotism when jared and ivanka made $82 million last year in the white house. it's something the bidens and the dnc have to continue to stay on, which is what the trump children are still doing during this presidency to profit off of the presidency. >> all that is laughable and gross is where we pick up right on the other side of this break. don't go anywhere. with fidelity wealth management you get straightforward advice,
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turning north korea into boca. >> what will the democrats figure out that they don't have to respond to every ridiculous trump attack? if a 5-year-old comes up to me and says you're a dumb dumb head, offto show him my ph.d. hunter biden shouldn't have done this interview at all, ever, certainly not on the night of the debate. he should have said, i'll show my tax returns right now, this is about the fact that trump is afraid of my dad because he's the best candidate for president. that's all he had to say. the one saving grace is the democrats probably won't attack him on it tonight because if you attack joe biden on ukraine, you undermine the impeachment, and that's something democrats won't do. >> here's the thing, i disagree a little bit. i think it's fine that hunter biden did this interview. i thought he was in a little bit of a defensive crouch, i agree with you that the thing to do now is, you don't win campaigns on defensive. you win campaigns on offense. and by the way, this is a little
bit like swiftboat in that they went after something that was an asset of kerry. joe biden's character is his asset. so the most grifting president in the history of our country, all of his kids grifters. they all have the nerve to go after joe biden and his family for somehow using their office inappropriately, when they are which a chi ka-ching, ka-ching, every single day. they have got to get themselves going into an offense i have. i watched this with hillary clinton, she kept thinking, known is going to think this is a problem. and this administration, by the way, their emails, what a joke that whole email thing was. but she never really took it seriously enough to pivot and punch hard. that's what these guys need to
do. the bidens, particularly joe, he needs to turn and go like a scalded cat against the president and his kids. >> we'll be right back. t and his >> we'll be right back or make me feel like i'm not really "there." talk to your doctor, and call 844-234-2424. dad: oh, hey guys! mom (on speakerphone): hi! son (on speakerphone): dad, i two goals today! vo: getting to a comfortable retirement doesn't have to be an uncomfortable thought. see how lincoln can help.
we ran out of time. i could have talked to these friends for another hour. my thanks to all of them and most of all for you for watching. stay up late with us tonight at the debates. "mtp daily with chuck todd" starts now. welcome to tuesday. it's "meet the press daily." good evening, i'm chuck todd here in washington where the white house risks losing control of two presidency-defining battles as administration officials defy the president