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tv   Deadline White House  MSNBC  October 16, 2019 1:00pm-2:00pm PDT

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have said this is a terrible thing to do. pulling out and not defending the kurds who have been on our sides for so long, letting russia step in. this has long-time consequences and far-reaching consequences far beyond the turkish/syrian boarden. >> congresswoman, thank you so much. we appreciate that. that's going to do it for us. "deadline: white house" with nicolle wallace starts right now. ♪ hi, everyone. it's 4:00 in new york. breaking this afternoon on the impeachment front, the growing body of evidence against the president as more witnesses from inside his administration speak out and tell an errily similar story about president trump's objectives hijacking the diplomatic and national security policy process. the "new york times" reports that former national security adviser john bolton's top russia deputy, fiona hill, who testified for more than ten hours this week, was so
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concerned about trump-appointed e.u. ambassador gordon sondland that she sounded alarms within the intel community calling him a national security threat. from that stunning "new york times" account, quote, in her testimony ms. hill described her fears that mr. sondland represented a counterintelligence risk because his actions made him vulnerable to foreign governments who could exploit his inexperience. that report raising the stakes for sondland's planned deposition tomorrow before house investigators. and it's not the only damning headline sondland faces. he's also named as one of the unexpected and unconventional officials put in charge of donald trump's ukraine policy by white house chief of staff mick mulvaney. mulvaney facing increased scrutiny of his own today. "washington post" reports, quote, in late may, mulvaney organized a meeting that strict control of the country's relationship with ukraine from
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those who had the most expertise at the national security council and the state department. instead, mulvaney put an unlikely trio in charge, amid worrisome signs of a new priority pressuring the government in kiev to deliver material that would be politically valuable to president trump. that's according to more explosive testimony yesterday from a current state department official named george kent who also testified that those three unlikely officials named themselves, wait for it, the three amigos. that sondland who's emerged as a figure at the center of the whole campaign against ukraine, kurt volker who turned over those damaging text messages that clearly show concern among u.s. diplomats over tying military aid to a political campaign designed to benefit trump and rick perry who has been subpoenaed in the impeachment inquiry. today the testimony from state department officials is ongoing
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and supports the narrative that qualified officials were sidelined to make room for the amigos. the deposition just wrapping up in the last hour from michael mckinley, a former adviser to secretary of state mike pompeo who is believed to be testifying about his alarm regarding the politization of the state department. "the washington post" reporting that he's adding his voice that marie yovanovitch has stood in the way. the unwillingness of the state department leadership to defend yovanovitch or interfere with an obviously partisan effort to interfere -- to intervene in our relationship with ukraine for the political benefit of the president was too much for him. that's according to one person familiar with his testimony. so it should surprise no one that donald trump's impeachment and his removal from office now
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has the support of 52% of the american people. that's in a new gallup poll. in terms of where that puts him in the history of impeached american presidents, well, bill clinton's impeachment never had more than 35% support in the very same poll. that's where we start today with some of our favorite reporters and friends. with us at the stable jim, deputy white house chief of staff in the obama administration, the most distinguished fellow heather mcghee and tim miller. plus, former assistant director for counter intelligence at the fbi frank figliuzzi, and with us from "the washington post," national security correspondent greg miller. greg, i am going to start with you. your byline is on some of the juiciest scoops in your newspaper today. take us through what you're reporting and what you know since that paper went to print. seems like the news cycle's only accelerated. >> the headlines are just coming in waves from this testimony in the past week. and the story we have up to day
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is largely how mulvaney is now much more at the center of this inquiry because of how connected he is to key developments in this unfolding kind of ukraine scandal or drama. and among those important revelations was, as you just pointed to a moment ago, his role in basically taking authority for the u.s. relationship with ukraine away from the experts at the white house and the state department and handing that over designating these three officials who we now know from texts and other evidence were more willing to pursue the president's critical objectives. >> you know, greg, i am sort of glad you took down the bright lights and brought out a flashlight. we should shine it on mulvaney for a while. it's my understanding that fiona hill testified as all the state department officials have. but she was a west wing
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official. she testified to this hijacking of the policy process. and this is what made john bolton furious and he expressed that anger as he's sometimes known to do. but the second piece of what i understand to be emerging from your reporting is that there are now questions and signs pointing to mulvaney's role in halting that aid while this pressure campaign was underway to get zelensky to commit to investigating barisma. can you flush that out for me? >> that's what i was trying to say a minute ago about how when you look across the timeline here and the chronology, he's there at really important moments and important decisions putting the so-called three amigos in charge of pursuing the president's agenda in ukraine was one. that happens very early. but then months later it's mulvaney who, remember, is still the director of the office of management and budget even as he's acting white house chief of staff who hits the brakes on the
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funding aid that the united states $400 million worth of aid that was flowing to ukraine. he stops that. and his office that stops that just a week or so before that fateful call between trump and the leader of ukraine. >> frank figliuzzi, this feels like a really important development that greg and his colleagues have un-earthed and reported on just this week. and this seems like -- this is a gut, i don't have any reporting to point that this is an orchestrated effort, but it feels like there is now a ripening of what could be an effort to throw mulvaney under the bus on the military aid. to say, oh, the president had no idea that the aid was help, mulvaney did it. >> well, first, if we're using the organized crime family model, it's now looking like mulvaney would be someone we call a captain or a crew chief. he is running a crew. and, nicole, i almost hope that
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they are going to throw mulvaney under the bus. here's why. he's the closest we are going to get to the president as to attribution and guilt and consciousness of guilt for the president. so if he's pressed hard and he's facing exposure, criminal exposure, he may well say i'm not going down for this president. i will tell you that i was instructed to do this, this, and that with the so-called three amigos or to use the trump term bad ombres is what they really are. he'll tell us a story of not going outside of usual career professional channels to do something because we can't trust them. but not because we can't trust them to do the right thing, but because we can't trust the career professionals to do the wrong thing. and we know we're doing the wrong thing. >> and, frank, i mean, the evidence is now hiding in plain sight. just to pull your mob analogy to perhaps a tortured place.
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but he's basically sort of sitting at the restaurant taking credit for some of what happened but just giving us a cover story. here's from the "new york times." mr. mulvaney has told associates that the administration paused the aid to try to push ukraine to more robustly fight corruption. not to uncover dirt on mr. trump's rivals. a former doj official pulls me there was no anti-corruption agenda in the trump administration internationally or domestically. that is a crummy cover story and a confession to the crime of tying the aid to a condition. >> yeah. so while we're all ringing our hands over the doj policy or memo that you can't indict a sitting president, here comes mulvaney wide open to criminal exposure here. if he's the guy who essentially orchestrated the quid pro quo, if he is the guy holding back the money implying a threat or that, you know, we will do something in return for this, he's wide open for criminal
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exposure. and i would assert someone's looking at him right now in terms of that. >> greg, let me just bring you back in, your colleague writes of that revelation. this is supposed to be exonerating mulvaney's claim about fighting corruption. but it's an important concession. if it's true, mulvaney is privately acknowledged a direct link between the freeze of the military aid and trump's pressure on ukraine to fight, quote, corruption. is it your understanding that fiona hill testified to that or any of the other witnesses that have been in this week? >> well, of course it's important that fiona hill -- when she leaves on july 19th the white house, that is days before the call. and that is in fact shortly before she become as wear of the cessation of the flow of aid. but to go back to frank's point, i think that, you know, the idea of this fighting sort of a broader agenda to fight corruption is something that the president has embraced as a sort
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of talking point and an explanation for all of this here. but those who are inside this effort and those who were raising alarms about this came to see those words as kind of a code that the fight against corruption in ukraine meant elevating prosecutors and ukrainian officials who were going to follow the president's agenda at the expense of others including the u.s. ambassador who was sort of yanked out of the way of this largely for that reason. >> it is so trumpian. the fight against corruption was the highest levels at the executive branch to corrupt the u.s./ukrainian relationship. >> it is absolutely his playbook. accuse your enemy of doing exactly what you're doing. and so that if anything comes back to you, you can always give a false equivalencely. mean, this is someone who ran his closing argument was about draining the swamp. and so many of us were concerned when we saw what happened to the
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state department when it was just gutted, when we knew about russian interference. it's like we need people and we knew that we had a man in the white house who knew nothing about the rest of the world except for his own business interests. and to see that story coming to roost with the testimony today saying basically if there had been more career hands at the wheel we would not have had people who were just there to basically sell out the country for donald trump's own personal private interests. >> tim, i know you know gordon sondland. i will get to sondland in a minute. i am stunned by the gallup number, the 52%. i expected when the president confessed to the misconduct that the public would be supportive of an investigation more transparent than the mueller probe. but i am stunned that we are at 52% of the american people who support his removal from office a year before an election. >> it is a really shocking number. and i think what it is doing is it's putting the republicans and the trump defenders who were not the full maga, the anti-
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anti-trump crowd into a really tough spot. i've got an article. >> name names. who are you talking about? >> everybody in the senate. portman, exactly. lamar alexander. he is a specific example. he put out a press release that says bad but not removable, not impeachable, let's let the voters decide. but this argument doesn't make any sense because the thing that you're saying is bad is that trump was trying to interfere in the very election that you say should render a judgment on whether he can stay in the presidency. that argument doesn't hold water. so, you know, honestly it's kind of the rubio argument which is that this is all a farse and he's just joking which is totally immoral and bankrupt. but i think the corner that trump's folks are going to be backed into looking at these numbers is to just go full partisanship fake news this isn't real. because they have gotten
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themselves in such a tough situation that you really can't spin yourself out of this situation. >> and the problem with any sort of conspiracy theory sticking to this is that all that parade of witnesses, those include political appointees. fiona hill worked for one of the most conservative national security advisers, gordon sondland, we don't know what he's going to say tomorrow, but he's got a lot of exposure himself. what do you make of how this story is being received by the american process? >> we are at 52% ten days into this investigation. >> that's true. >> we haven't had a bunch of things that are going to come out. these investigators are going to do their job. we are going to have more facts come out. and with the three idiots or the three amigos starting this whole process, i mean, they're not going to be able to get their stories straight either. and you have some of these people like sondland, the more he gets looked at, this is going to be a very, very big problem for him. the american public can be
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watching this for the next month or two. and in the middle of this, they are going to be seeing this every day. and this fatigue that you're seeing swing voters have right now, just saying enough, enough, enough, is going to get worse and worse for trump. this 52% number is a number to really watch because if it gets above 55, 57, 58 he suddenly can't get re-elected. so then if you're cory gardner or these people up for election in tough states, you start to say why am i fighting for this guy anymore, what are we doing. if you're mitch mcconnell you start to say this is more water than we can handle. >> i want to end with you, greg miller. your paper i think over the weekend reported that sondland is expected to say that -- and our viewers have followed every twist and turn. but i want to go back to this text exchange. it was one of the text exchanges released by one of the very first witnesses kurt volker, and it was an exchange where bill
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taylor wrote it's crazy to tie military aid to a political campaign. sondland wrote back i don't think that's what's going on here. what you wrote in your paper was that sondland plans to testify tomorrow that his source a guy who's told 13,000 lies so far, no other source, no other verification. donald trump told him to tell the diplomats on the ground no, that's crazy. is that right? >> yeah. i mean, when we saw that text after it was released after volker's appearance, it jumped out at everybody because it was so scripted, right? it looked like a scripted denial like something you would throw out there when you know you're under surveillance. there's a time gap there between when taylor says this that this is crazy and sondland replied. in that window he calls and speaks with president trump. and president trump the same president who coached his, you know, and managed the response
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to the trump tower meeting in the russia investigation was scripting a response for his ambassador in this case to spit out something that looks exonerating at first blush but is something else once you understand the full-backed story. >> and, grelg, other than that, what are you looking tomorrow from sondland, what will your questions be from those people who listen to that deposition? >> yeah. so, he is indicated that he's going to try to walk this really narrow tightrope in which he's going to say that he thought this was all about corruption and never connected the bursa company probe that trump wanted to biden. i think that's going to be a difficult sell to say the least, right? because giuliani and everybody are making that abundantly clear throughout this process. i guess i mean obviously what will be important is to what extent do we get to read tomorrow on which sondland is starting to think of protecting himself and providing information that is damaging to
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other people in the administration, perhaps mick mulvaney if not the president. >> and to get ready, everyone should read the profile in your paper, his wife who runs the family business speaks out. it's going to be really interesting. greg miller, thank you for spending some time with us. after the break next time donald trump wants to complain about the investigation into his call with the leader of ukraine, he can walk downstairs to his home office and shout at the top of his lungs at his own staff because the "new york times" reports that the white house is now investigating the lawyer who made the decision to place the transcript of that call on a top secret server. we will bring you that new reporting as well as the latest on the criminal investigation into rudy giuliani out of the office he once ran sdny. and donald trump's blunder as he doubles and triples down on the politics of betrayal. russia does a victory dance. we'll bring you trump's latest policy coup for putin. those stories coming up. whole ns like...
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and speaking of witch hunts, the senior administration official confirms to nbc news the white house is now leading its own review of itself and the process surrounding that now infamous july 25th phone call between donald trump and ukrainian president zelensky. the "new york times" is the first to report this story. they write, quote, president trump has for weeks sought to unmask the whistle-blower who shed light on his ukraine dealings. but instead aides have fixated on one another. advisers began a fact-finding review that some fear is a hunt for a scape goat. so what exactly are they looking
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for amid already high tensions in the white house, particularly between the offices of the chief of staff and the white house counsel following the release of that call summary "the times" reports, quote, the lawyer's inquiry centers on why one of their colleagues, deputy white house counsel john eisenberg placed a rough transcript of the call in a computer system typically reserved for the country's most closely guarded secrets. we are waiting for peter baker from the "new york times" to join us. but let me start with you, frank figliuzzi. why would an internal investigation focus on the white house lawyer who put this rough transcript in a server saved for code word intel and who it's also been reported that he took the meeting when the whistle-blower first approached her about his concerns. >> i think we would ask this riddle. when does an investigation
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become retaliation? because that's what this sounds like to me, nicole. it sounds like cover for going after the guy who trid to do the right thing, the guy who actually has to answer the question by saying you really incriminated yourself and compromised these calls. so they wouldn't see the light of day so what we could protect you from being accused of a crime. so if you don't want us to stick it in there, then we can release it publicly and let everyone see what you're doing here. so it looks to me a lot like retaliation. it looks like they are going to say -- here's where this is going to go. we found somebody who misused the classification system. this stuff was never top secret compartmented. shouldn't have gotten in there and we're going to have to let him go. which sends the message to anybody who wants to do the right thing you've got to get out of here.
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>> the person in the white house counsel's office assigned to the nsc being under investigation by the white house for putting that transcript of this call between donald trump and the ukrainian president in a server that would seem to be used only for code-word protected intel, things like human intel. he also is the lawyer who met with the cia general counsel when the whistle-blower approached her. tell us more about what this investigation is meant to yield, whether are they looking for a scout they looking for answers, are they looking to halt the practice of putting embarrassing and/or criminal material into code word-protected servers? >> i will tell you what they are trying to do is get information so they can explain and defend themselves better in this impeachment inquiry. one of the things the house democrats are focused on is not just the actual phone call itself but how it was handled. is there a cover-up, does this amount to something that violates standards or perhaps even regulations in stashing it in that super secret classified server. but at the same time a lot of people think it's more than
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that. it is in fact a search for a scapegoat at least to a lot of people. they worry inside the white house whether they are finding is that they can throw under the bus and, you know, theres a lot of nervousness right now inside the west wing. >> peter baker, we will pull back the curtain and show how we put these shows together. you were a minute late because there was some breaking news. >> well, we just had speaker pelosi congressman hoyer and leader schumer emerge from the white house saying that they had been there to meet with the president to talk about turkey and syria but that apparently the meeting devolved into a very heated exchange between the president and the speaker and the democrats that they stood up and walked out because he was treating speaker pelosi so rudely. they say that he called her a third-rate politician and said that she would be sympathetic to communists related to isis in the region. they said that congressman hoyer
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and a half dozen presidents he's never seen one act like that before. and speaker pelosi said that she thought the president was having a, quote, meltdown. >> i have watched him seem to spiral just as the day's gone on today. let's watch that tape. we'll talk about it on "the other side." >> she was shaken up by it. and that's why we couldn't continue in the meeting because he was just not relating to the reality of it. >> the president had no plan, no real plan for containing isis other than relying on the syrians and the turks. then why did we spend a decade, billions of dollars and lost lives in trying to curtail isis? i am going to quote one of my favorite republican senators, sadly not there, tennessee senator bob corker said in 2017 donald trump has not yet displayed the competence for the office he now holds. i heard that in pelosi and
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schumer. any other reporting on what exactly was communicated between what appears like two sides having different conversations, not even clear they were talking about the same thing? >> well, yeah. they said that impeachment did not come up. but you can obviously imagine the sub text of this conversation is supposed to be about one of the biggest issues confronting the united states. president trump sees the speaker who says she is leading an impeachment effort to potentially charge him with high crimes and misdemeanors. that context obviously flavors this kind of a meeting even if it wasn't explicit. when he goes after her and calls her a third-rate politician he is expressing frustration with a congress who is what he sees is more focused on taking him down. somebody who seems to be spiraling in his public
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pronouncements and his over the top language these days. so it was certainly not a productive meeting obviously and captures some of the tension and the pressure and the stakes involved right now here in washington on both the domestic and the foreign fronts. >> i don't want to gloss over the meltdown description because it's uncomfortable. but i just want to ask you, peter baker, your colleague described a story we decided not to cover today but it the context of the speaker of the house describing a meltdown from this president i want to bring back up magee haberman's tweet that donald trump attempted a jerry springer-like reunion between two grieving british parents whose 19-year-old son was murdered by an american diplomat's wife, i believe, in a vehicle killed in a car crash. he orchestrated last night a meeting between the grieving parents and the woman who was allegedly involved in that car crash retraumatizing this family. this family wasn't expecting that. he today talked about the
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syrians being no angels and having lots of sand to play in. josh live tweeting some of the president's public pronouncements today on syria. just talk about this cover in the last 15, 20 hours and the reporting from magee and others about the president's public pronouncements. >> well, these are the actions of a president who doesn't have a process around him. as you know, nicole, better than anybody, a president who doesn't sort of randomly meet with people or randomly call allies from the last few years. he said basically we fought because we gave them money and basically accused them of opening the jails intentionally to put pressure on him. you know, the meeting with the family was painful and clearly not arranged to anybody's satisfaction. why he got himself involved in that particular case in a personal way this way is hard to imagine. most presidents wouldn't do
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that. obviously he had a conversation with boris johnson so the issue had been raised with him directly. but any normal white house staff would have tried to either prevent anything like that or make sure it was set up in a way that would it would yield a successful outcome, not the kind of traumatic event that we saw on television. >> peter baker, i am told you have scoops to un-earth, news to break. we are going to let you go. thank you for spending some time with us. frank figliuzzi, i want to come back to you really quickly. we have talked about what foreign leaders assessing this president sees. and i want to talk about nancy pelosi's reaction. calling syrians no angels, talking about sand that they can play in and blowing up this meeting with nancy pelosi and chuck schumer. where are we? >> we long ago crossed into the
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red zone with this president. it's no longer entertaining or amusing. he is spiraling down into a dangerous, dangerous posture. he's operating now almost in total isolation. he's making the call to try and orchestrate this peace-making between the family of the deceased and the u.s. diplomat. that's his doing. he's coming up with, hey, let me allow turkey to move into syria and abandon our allies and tell u.s. special troops that they have to cut and run and retreat. and now i can't deal with the house and senate confronting me with my poor decisions. he is in a corner all by himself. and if you're a foreign leader trying to assess him, you actually don't know where this is going except that he's incredibly vulnerable. >> when we come back, donald trump spent the day trying to rebrand cutting and running on u.s. allies as some sort of preverse strategy. but the russians don't care what
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we call it. they've already got what they came for, how the only coherent this morning about donald trump's incoherence is that he has delivered once again for putin. they're america's biopharmaceutical researchers. pursuing life-changing cures in a country that fosters innovation here, they find breakthroughs... like a way to fight cancer by arming a patient's own t-cells... because it's not just about the next breakthrough... it's all the ones after that.
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i'll also say one other thing. he was insulting, particularly to the speaker. she kept her cool completely. but he called her a third-rate politician. he said that there are communists involved and you guys might like that. i mean, thifrms not a dialogue. it was sort of a diatribe not focused on the facts. >> that was senator chuck schumer a few moments ago at the white house describing his contentious meeting with donald trump. donald trump now desperate to justify his decision, his green lighting of an effort that resulted in pulling troops out of northern syria. donald trump now trying to distance the united states from the ensuing conflict. take a listen to what he said
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earlier. >> that has nothing to do with us. and the kurds are much safer right now. but the kurds know how to fight. and as i said they are not angels. they are not angels, if you take a look. it's not our border. we shouldn't be losing lives over it. it's a lot of sand over there. so there's a lot of sand that they can play with. i view the situation on the turkish border with syria to be for the united states strategically brilliant. >> too much to unpack. if it's such a strategically brilliant plan, though, then why on earth are the vice president and the secretary of state heading over there to speak to the turkish president about the brilliant plan? joining our conversation chief public affairs officer for move on.org. just as we sat down this meeting blew up at the white house. we have heard from senator schumer and speaker pelosi. she described a meltdown from the president. i have watched his public appearances all day, and that
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was actually the best the region and said the kurds are no angels. he was even weirder at a bilat with the italian leader. >> the president is a small petty man. and he's actually a national career risk to our country. this is where we are with the president of the united states, the commander in chief. look, donald trump's actions, what it does is it's a win for erdogan, it's a win for iran, and it is a betrayal to our men and women in uniform. it's a betrayal to our allies. this is what he does. he never has a plan, he's erratic and he's controlled by our foes and steps on our allies. and now he is a clear present danger. >> karine, i believe karine whatever she says. but don't believe her, believe putin. putin thinks this. putin thinks that the moves in
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northern syria are clear win for russia. >> for sure. and, look, even trump allies. lindsay graham, all of his teatimes didn't get him anything it turns out because he's out there angry tweeting at the president about how this is a win for putin and syria. i think that, you know, folks as you are seeing going to the hill to testify who are inside the room recognize that they have lost control of this. and, you know, look, we have spent a half hour now talking about all of the erratic things that the president did today. we did not even mention the fact that he offered a completely psychotic conspiracy theory about 2016 that has been repeatedly debunked about trying to find the dnc server that i think jim must have hid somewhere in ukraine. [ laughter ] it's absolutely crazy. it makes no sense if you try to follow it all together. and, you know, that doesn't even get mentioned in the top list of his outrages today underneath the communism and the sand and everything else. >> look, i take the note, and we
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try to -- >> no, it's not a criticism. >> but it is. and i guess the point is corker said it. corker said it out loud and on television, republican senate chairman of the senate foreign relations committee before he retired tried to limit donald trump's nuclear authority. he said donald trump didn't display the competency for the job he has. but he's the only one. >> i mean, i think maybe bolton will. i think in our weird timeline, maybe the season three reveal will be the hero of the resistance might be john bolton. >> gosh. [ laughter ] >> it's pretty unusual. he doesn't mind it. >> i'd rather have someone who's a senator with a vote, right? you have more than half of the country saying we want this man removed. that means a plurality of republicans and i think that number is only going to go up. it is time for senators to act. >> who would it be? >> who do you think? >> we had over a hundred house
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republicans today vote with the democrats to condemn his policy. vladimir putin spent tens of millions of dollars to get this guy elected and today his bet paid off very well. we've had a consensus on what is the americans' best interests in the region. we've had a very clear policy in this region. in one week he walks away from it and has -- i think tim's words were psychotic response, and i think that's a very fair assessment of the situation. and you've got a president that is crumbling in front of us. his chief of staff is under investigation. his personal attorney is now a national joke. >> and under investigation, under a criminal investigation. >> and meanwhile over half the country is already trying we should get rid of this president and we barely started the investigation. this thing is coming unglued. this afternoon he made nancy pelosi sit there and listen to his wrath. but the prosecublem is no one i telling him what's good and
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what's bad. and you have donald trump programming his own horror show every single day on international television. >> frank figliuzzi, what is a country to do? >> the country is first i think and foremost to lobby their elected representatives to do the right thing. i think when you see the polling at 52% for removal, we are reaching the pain point for members of congress in the senate who are understanding their constituents are fed up. and those who voted for trump because he was going to make america great. ask yourself this question. is making america great handing russia a foothold in the middle east without a shot being fired? is making america great telling u.s. special ops forces you've got to cut and run and retreat right now? is it abandoning our allies? is it referring to the entire middle east region as a place with a lot of sand? if you were to give trump a blank map of the world and he could find the middle east region he'd take his sharpie and apparently write the word "sand"
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across the entire region because that's all it means to him. is that hmaking america great again? >> heather, i want to show you some of the senators you called for senators. i came up with two candidates. here is lindsay graham. >> i am looking to president trump to change this. i will do anything i can to help him, but i will also president trump's worst nightmare. i will not settle on the sidelines and watch a good ally, the kurds be slaughtered by turkey and watch iran move into syria and become another nightmare for israel. this is a defining moment for president trump. he needs to up his game. >> feels like he might have it today. >> this is a very interesting sort of interest convergence, right? when it was just about what ukraine did, what he did with ukraine, lindsay graham was
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giving lots of cover. but this is an ideological religious piece for the conservative right where there is a sense that this is to be pro christian and pro israel you need to be supporting the kurds. it's just fascinating. this is what is the bridge too far. it doesn't matter, i will take it. >> you will take the bridge. >> that said i think what we're seeing in the public opinion polls rising is that many lay republicans, right, in their terms lay republicans are saying i would like someone else. i was looking in some public opinion the other day about millennial conservatives. and the majority of them 50% wanted someone else to run in this next election. >> i'll just say it really quickly. lindsay graham is not going to become the president's worst nightmare. i think that's the easiest prediction we can make on the show. up next a letter from the president you have to believe to
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receive. we are joined with a live report on how america and americans will be received. that's next. t.
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nbc news has just obtained a letter from donald trump to the president of turkey that made us do a double-take. so weird we had to check with the white house to make sure it's real, and that was our delay. it is. i want to read you the whole thing. dear mr. president, let's work out a good deal, exclamation point. you don't want to be responsible for slaughtering thousands of people and i don't want to be responsible for destroying the turkish economy, dash, and i will. i have already given you a little sample with respect to pastor brunson. i have worked hard to solve some of your problems. don't let the world down. you can make a great deal. general moslem is willing to negotiate with you and he's willing to make concessions that
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they never would have made in the past. i am confidentially enclosing a letter. historically will look upon you favorably. it will look upon you forever as the devil if good things don't happen, don't be a tough guy, don't be a fool, second exclamation point. i will call you later. sincerely donald trump. i have no words. >> well, i have no words either about what to say about the letter. i did before we read that letter, i had gotten this quote that it was interesting about their call. they talked. in the beginning this all started with a talk between the two of them. i'm not really sure why a letter was necessarily. maybe trump thought it was going to be a pr coup to send out the letter. maybe on the other cable network they will like it. but after the trump call what the turkish adviser said was
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president trump and "endgame" have reached an understanding over precisely what this is. trump knows what the scope of this operation is. and i think as we look into what happened we need to know what happened on that call on that c. trump might now try to back off and say erdogan's being a tough guy. he's over stepping. but erdogan is saying he knew exactly what was going to happen. >> all right. nbc news international correspondent key ra simmons is in the turkish capitol. kier, just take this letter into sort of the fabric that you weaved to us about what they think there of america and our leader right now. >> yeah, nicolle, well the question -- one of the questions is how exactly president erdogan would receive a letter that talked about him as, you know, potentially a fool. he's a proud and stubborn leader. is that the kind of diplomatic language that works? but that's not really the crucial thing about this. the crucial thing about this
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letter is that it seems to be dated october the 9th, which is days after the phone call in which the president is thought to have given the turkish leader the green light. so by the time this letter is sent, here in turkey, president erdogan already has his military moving. he's about to start firing the first shots. and in a sense, it kind of sums up what's profoundly wrong here. you know, these -- this isn't a game. this isn't twitter. these are -- this is a military. moving to cross a border. you -- you can't just play with this and that, i think, is what president trump appears to think that he's doing. and now, nicolle, standing here in ankora, waiting for the vice president and secretary of state to meet with president erdogan, effectively to use a completely appropriate analogy, the president is sending his vice president and secretary of state here completely unarmed. you can imagine the conversation
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with president erdogan. when they say to president erdogan, we want a cease fire, president erdogan says but your president, president trump, just described the kurds as some of the worst than isis. and i'm fighting them. so why do you want a cease fire? they might say to him, well look, this is not in america's interest -- interests -- and erdogan can turn around and say, but your president just said that if russia wants to get involved, that's fine. he's completely undermined his own -- his own vice president and secretary of state. and -- and they are trying even now to say that they'll ask for a cease fire. but at the same time, secretary of state saying that he doesn't want divide from turkey. it is -- it's extraordinary diplomacy if you can even call it that. just another point, nicolle, one comment from president erdogan that i thought was fascinating.
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today, saying the trip to the united states is an issue. we will evaluate after discussions with the delegations that are coming here. i read that as suggesting that president erdogan now is threatening that he may not come to the white house. the trip that he has planned to make if he doesn't get what he wants in these meetings tomorrow. it's stunning. >> stunning connection about the date, keir. but obviously, this decision announced by the white house sunday night. that's four news cycles before. by wednesday, what was happening here in the states? donald trump was getting crushed politically and there was news coverage on all the networks, including the one he likes, about whether or not his syria policy would imperil his impeachment situation among senate republicans. it's a really important note. i also want to ask you, though. it's not like turkey's the only actor donald trump has to deal with. putin has now reengaged erdogan. tell us about that.
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>> that's exactly right. president erdogan has been on the phone with president putin. it's reported in russia that he's agreed in the coming days to go meet with president putin. so the messaging is pretty clear to president trump. i have another friend. so i can negotiate here. i -- i have leverage. now, look. the reality on the ground in syria is that not everything is going president erdogan's way. we're hearing now that the pro-dough mass cuss syrian forces are in kobani and that russian forces are at least surrounding that famous town where the americans and the kurds fought isis. that is inside the 20-mile corridor that president erdogan has said that he wants to create inside syria. so the facts on the ground aren't going entirely turkey's way. but i've got to say and i said it yesterday, it appears to me right now that the negotiation
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is going to happen through president putin. not through president trump. not through vice president pence. not through the secretary of state. >> it's stunning. it's stunning. even when he blunders, it benefits putin. >> look. you listen -- listening to you read that letter, it's clear he's over his head. he is over his head. and not only that -- >> but is that generous? is putin in his? >> clearly, i mean that is clearly part of it. look. the president of the united states is unfit. he's erratic. he's unfit. and now, he's putting our allies in danger. i mean, these have really clear consequences. and our troops in danger. so where are the republicans? >> you know, i want to just say because we're about 24 hours out from a democratic debate where we saw a totally different reality. right? where, you know, this talking point republicans are saying now which is quite rich, which is if you're impeaching, you're not doing the country's business, right? of course, the house of representatives under pelosi's
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leadership has passed dozens of bills that would put government back on the side of working middle class families. and you heard a bunch of that last night from the democrats. you also heard from two veterans and a bunch of people who are ready to be commander in chief that this could be a different day in america. and i think the more we have these split screens of the chaos, the corruption, and then an incredible field of candidates, the more americans, including swing voters, are going to say, you know what? it's time for something new. >> all right. keir simmons, thank you again for being here. please stay safe. we're going to sneak in our last break. be right back. neak in our last break. be right back. that our new house is haunted by casper the friendly ghost? hey jill! hey kurt! movies? i'll get snacks! no, i can't believe how easy it was to save hundreds of dollars on our car insurance with geico. i got snacks! ohhh, i got popcorn, i got caramel corn, i got kettle corn.
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i could talk to these friends for another hour but we're out of time. my thanks to john pierre, heather mcgee, and most of all thanks for watching. that does it for our hour. "mtp daily" daily with chuck todd starts now. if it's wednesday, top democrats just walked out of a meeting with president trump on syria. saying the president had a quote meltdown. we're going to talk to someone who was in that meeting up ahead. and what will republicans do as american foreign policy starts looking more and more like russian foreign policy? plus, more trump administration insiders are speaking out in that impeachment inquiry. going to talk to a member of congress who was inside the room today as a former official sounded the alarm about wha

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