that's it for the first friday of 2020. how was that first week of 2020? buckle up, folks. my thanks to david jolly, alexia, jason, most of all to you for watching. "mtp daily" with the fabulous katy tur in for chuck starts now. welcome to friday. it is "meet the press daily." i'm katy tur in new york for chuck todd.
and we begin today with the threat of a major military conflict with iran as the u.s. braces for some kind of retaliation after president trump ordered an attack that killed one of iran's most powerful military and political figures. that strike, near the baghdad airport, killed qasem soleimani. the commander of iran's elite quds force and one of the most influential figures in the region. a short time ago, president trump spoke publicly for the first time since that strike, which was carried out less than 24 hours ago. and he said soleimani was plotting attacks that would have killed americans. >> soleimani was plotting imminent and sinister attacks on american diplomats and military personnel. but we caught him in the act and terminated him. under my leadership, america's policy is unambiguous to terrorists who harm or intend to
harm any american. we will find you. we will eliminate you. we will always protect our diplomats, service members, all americans, and our allies. >> you're looking at live pictures of the president speaking to evangelicals right now in miami where he just reiterated his claim that soleimani was preparing a major attack. but the trump administration has yet to release any evidence to back up those claims. iranian leaders have vowed revenge for the attack, although we don't know what exactly they're planning or when. but that warning has triggered security alerts at u.s. embassies across the middle east. the state department also is urging all americans to leave iraq. and amid the escalating tensions, the u.s. is deploying thousands more troops to the middle east. also, defense officials tell nbc news the deployments are not in response to the strike that killed soleimani. the strike killing soleimani, meanwhile, has divided congress
with republicans praising the president's actions. and democrats, while not upset about soleimani's death, angry that they weren't consulted before the attack. some were also cautioning the president against declaring war in iran without congressional authority. and all of this is unfolding in the middle of the debate over the president's impeachment trial in the senate. at the start of an election year. let's get the latest. i'm joined by my nbc news chief foreign correspondent colleague richard engel in erbil, iraq. nbc hans nichols who is in miami. and nbc national security and pentagon correspondent courtney kube. richard, you are on the ground there. this happened in baghdad. closer to where you are than -- than where we are, certainly. what's going to happen next? what are we expecting for tomorrow? >> we're expecting a lot of tension. a lot of volatility. and potentially, violence on the
streets. tomorrow, officially, there are going to be mourning celebrations. there are going to be shiite militias are going out on the streets and they are going to be celebrati celebrating martyrdom of qasem soleimani and also a militia leader who was in the same convoy, apparently he was receiving qasem soleimani from the airport. they were driving out of the airport when they were hit by american drones. so they will be having these funeral celebrations. vows of revenge across baghdad tomorrow. and they're not supposed to be held very far away from the u.s. embassy. and these are the same shia militias, the same people who are out on the streets for the last couple of days who were attacking the u.s. embassy. breaking security cameras. then they pulled back. the situation appeared to be deescalating and then of course this attack at the airport when
qasem soleimani arrived. was meeting these militia leaders. so that's what's happening tomorrow in iraq. this will certainly be a day when the u.s. embassy will be on its -- its highest state of alert as those attacks on the embassy were taking place, there were a lot of american aircraft in the sky watching the air space. watching the diplomatic facilities. wondering if these protestors might come back. giving them some advanced warning so that the diplomats who -- at several stages had to hunker down in safe rooms could take precaution. that's what's expected tomorrow. there are others in this country who are worried about this. i spoke to the iraqi president. he's been calling for calm. the iraqi shia religious leadership are calling for calm. but tomorrow is not at all going to be a calm day. and i think that's why the u.s. state department said americans who are in baghdad should get out. americans who are in iraq should get out. some american contractors who
worked at oil firms have already been evacuated out of the country. tomorrow, in specific, could be a very, very volatile day here in the country. then qasem soleimani's body is supposed to be transferred to iran where there will be more similar kind of martyrdom celebrations there. and then -- then the big question is will there be some sort of reprisal attack which could really be at any time or anywhere? or never take place? so we hear these vows of vengeance but really no indication if, when, or how that'll happen. >> courtney, the president has said that they were -- and mike pompeo said this as well -- they were trying to stop an imminent attack that was being planned by soleimani. they haven't given any evidence. are we going to get evidence of that? what are people at the pentagon saying? >> no, i don't get the impression we're going oh get the evidence certainly from the
pentagon or any kind of intel source. whether the white house decide to put something out, possibly who knows. but not from this building. you're right. they haven't put out any specifics. we are getting little pictures from people on background about some of the locations that they were concerned soleimani was directing attacks. they were syria, iraq, and lebanon. we now know that soleimani traveled to both syria and to lebanon recently. and then of course arrived in iraq last night. u.s. officials now saying they believe he went to those locations to approve final plans for some sort of an attack that they were saying was imminent. general mark millie, the chairman of the joint chief, spoke to a small group of reporters late today and talked a little bit -- he wouldn't talk about the specifics of the intelligence. but he did say over and over and they believe soleimani was directing these attacks and that they were actually imminent. he said he has absolute certainty, 100% that soleimani was not only planning for these current imminent attacks but that also he was planning for
others. and millie, of course, talked about soleimani's long history with the quds force and attacks that have killed americans and iraqis and coalition forces in the -- in iraq and specifically in the region over the years. katy. >> nobody is -- is -- is mourning -- nobody in america at least -- is mourning the lost of soleimani and nobody is arguing with -- with how devastating his leadership has been. and how murderous it's been. do people at the pentagon feel that it was a good idea to target the -- the iranian country's second most powerful man? the head of its military in a way like this to assassinate him on -- on -- on foreign soil in iraq? do they think that's going to make us safer? >> so, you know, it's funny. i expected a large outpouring of military -- no one's going to go on camera or on record on these kinds of things of course. but i did expect there would be a large outpouring of people who would be expressing doubt on this. what i am getting is a lot of
military and defense officials who are saying, look, he's -- he's got so much blood on his hands. and talking about the risk that this action obviously incurred. generally millie specifically actually on that. he said, look, of course this action is risksy. but he said inaction in this case was far riskier which again i have to point out the u.s., at this point, they are not giving us any specifics. and we also have to point out qasem soleimani, he at the direction -- he's directed a number, eight, nine, maybe more different aw iranian-backed shia militia groups not to mention the quds force he directs, they pose an imminent threat to the u.s. in the region. and they have for years. so if, in fact, the u.s. really wants to make the case that that is why they carried oh thut for this specific particular imminent attack they say was coming, they really should provide the evidence, katy, and tell us exactly what was coming.
>> certainly because i mean, you'd be forgiven for going back to 2003 in the lead-up to the invasion of iraq and the hangover that's been over this country since then on the reasoning that we were given to go into that country. and the reasoning turning out not to be true. hans nichols, the white house keeps coming out and saying imminent, imminent, imminent. but again, they're not giving evidence. are you getting any indication that there is a strategy behind this? that they're prepared for what might happen next? and then what could happen after that? >> well, rhetorically, the president prepared to warn the iranians he had specific targets inside their country. you know, he just started talking here with this crowded miami mega church and the president topped off his remarks with the death of soleimani. and it's an indication of how quickly less than 24 hours after his death, it's already become part of the president's speech. he talked. he started talking about al-baghdadi. killed by a ground raid. and then into soleimani.
there is a slight difference with the emphasis on slight, katy. on how the president is described the reason for doing this in the last two, three hours than he did this morning. in the last two, three hours he's making the argument that you just suggested. that there's an imminent threat and they did this on the doctrine of preemptive self-defense. what we heard this morning was more from the president's twitter feed and that is, a, that iran's on notice there could potentially be a war. and also the idea soleimani had killed a lot of americans and this was retribution. the retribution argument is thinner legally than the preemptive doctrine of self-defense. so it seems, and i stress seems, as though the president's settling on the latter argument. it's clear it's a political winner with him at least for his base. we've been interrupted several times here by chants of usa. and he's just promised to hold the senate, take back the house, and of course keep the white house. katy. >> richard, listening to this, i mean, you covered the iraq war. you've covered that region for a long time now.
you've seen the -- the -- the ups and downs of what's happened. what is your reaction? >> well, this is an old score. and i'm not surprised that there are not many people inside the pentagon who are wringing their hands in worry about this. if you look at the current generation of people in the pentagon who are in power, a lot of them are veterans of the iraq war. they spent time there. they grew up there. they earned their command there. and qasem soleimani played a very decisive and very bloody role in the iraq war. there were two sides to the iraq war. we remember a lot of it as sunni insurgents that like baghdadi, like others, who were carrying out terrorist attacks. who were beheading people. beheading hostages. and that u.s. troops and u.s. marines were fighting against them. there was another side, however, to the war in iraq that the troops remember very, very well. and that was the battle against the shia militias.
a very deadly phase of the iraq war. and qasem soleimani was absolutely instrumental in that. killing hundreds of american troops in iraq between primarily the years of 2007 and 2010. so this was a -- this was a -- an old score that now, according to some, has been settled. the question is, will it lead to a new set of un -- unintended consequences? will iran now respond? or will iran decide to keep its powder dry? let us also not forget iran does have lots of proxies. iran has a lot of ability to inflict harm in the region. it can cause chaos. but if it gets into a straight-up fight with the united states, iran will lose. it has serious economic problems. there were tremendous domestic protests in iran over the last several weeks in which hundreds of iranian demonstrators were violently repressed. so this is a -- a volatile time for iran.
and i think it's interesting to see that the iranian proclamations that they will carry out revenge are also usually included with promises that the people should be patient. that there will be american blood spilled in exchange for the blood of qasem soleimani. but the iranians are going to have to be patient to see it. >> richard engel. ha hans nichols and courtney kube. with me now is william cohen, who was defense secretary during the clinton administration. also, a former congressman and senator from the state of maine. william, in looking at what has happened in the last 24 hours, the president has said that he did this to stop us from going to war. what's your reaction? >> well, the fact is we've been in a war. we've been waging an economic war against iran. and we've also been engaged in low-level anti-terrorist
activity combatting and trying to defeat iran on the ground. but reverse the situation. if the iranians were to target, for assassination, let's say our secretary of defense or chairman of the joint chiefs, is there any doubt that we would see that as an act of war? and so i don't think it's any question that the iranians are going to see this specific act as an act of war. but the real issue is going to be where are we going in the future? and here i have just a -- a couple of recommendations. number one, the president needs to get in touch with the -- at least the top leaders of the house in the senate. and lay out as much as he can or as much as they can the specifics of why this was so imminent. why he had to take this action against this specific individual. and i think they have to do that to satisfy congress.
if this is something that was really necessary under the circumstances because there is going to be some reaction by the iranians. they can't afford to -- over what period of time remains to be seen but they can't afford to do nothing. that would be a concession of defeat. basically, of surrender. and i don't think that's in the iranians' history. they've been around a lot longer than the united states. and so i think that they need to respond in some fashion. then the question becomes can it be calibrated in a way that we don't react with overwhelming force? which is something i think that president trump has threatened to do on multiple occasions. so it's -- it's a success for the moment. the real issue is what is the long-term strategy for the region? the president has sent conflicting signals. one day, it's we're getting out. we're getting out of afghanistan. we're getting out of iraq. we're getting out of syria. and so they're sending that signal and yet now we're sending more people back in. so it's going to present kind of a push me, pull you exacerbatsi
where we say one thing and do another. and that leads to confusion, miscalculation, and i think the iranians miscalculated. i think they miscalculated by saying, look, the united states on the way out. let's send them a message while they're on their way out and attack these various news installations and people. so i think we've contributed to kind of a miscalculation on the part of the iranians because we didn't react when they launched a couple of attacks on the saudi oil fields. we didn't attack or respawn when they took down one of our drones. and they saw what we did by giving the turkish president erdogan free reign to go in against our friends, the kurds. i think they saw this as weakness on u.s.'s part. and they could take action and we're not going to respond because we're coming home. that's just, you know, that's a -- to me, at least, a plausible scenario what they were thinking. what they were doing. >> what happens if the iraqis kick us out?
>> well, the benefit will obviously be to the russians and to others. china, as well. made that point. i think it's a valid point. they can kick us out. the question is do they want us out? do they then want to be subject to the overwhelming presence of the iranians? there has been great discontent within iraq in recent weeks and months that the iranians have been exercising too much influence. and so do they really want the u.s. completely out, have no embassy? i don't think so. but that might happen. if they do, well, we'll say we're on our way out. we'll pick up and leave. but if we do so, we'd have to destroy that compound in the process. and not leave it for others to move in to something that we have constructed. >> let me ask you quickly one other question. retired cia official has told nbc news that the american public needs to understand that we may lose american lives after
this act. should -- should americans be -- be awaiting that? and do you think this is something the administration weighed in making this decision? >> i think they have to. this is one thing that the military and giving the best advice as possible to the president say, look, there's going to be a reaction. there's likely to be attacks on either innocent civilians or military compounds, military personnel. whether in europe, in the middle east, in africa. others that are vulnerable. there's likely to be a loss of lives coming from this, which is not going to be -- that's -- that's -- that's what happens when you get into a war. and this is, in fact, a war by another name apparently. >> former defense secretary william cohen. thank you very much for joining us. appreciate it. >> sure. >> and ahead, as tensions boil over with iran, could the president's impeachment end up getting overshadowed? and isn't that exactly what the president might want? our round table weighs in next.
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welcome back. by taking out iran's top military commander, president trump has made one of the most consequential decisions of his presidency. and he's done it while lawmakers negotiate over an impeachment trial in the senate. the threat of war with iran could have major political repercussions for president trump. and there are certainly questions to be raised about the president's motivations right now because mr. trump himself believed in 2011 and 2012 that a president would use a military conflict with iran to help their re-election chances. i'm joined now by the former u.s. ambassador to iraq, chris hill, who is now nbc news diplomacy expert and a biden supporter. also, here with me in new york, beth fouhy. and msnbc contributor and commentary magazine editor john. ambassador hill, i want to start with you. this administration ask asking us to trust them right now when
they say that they have -- they had evidence that there was imminent attack. they haven't provided us with any evidence. do we have reason to trust what this administration says? >> well, i think a lot of people are asking that. i do believe that they will be able to show something certainly in the next few days, perhaps next week when they ha've talke about senate briefings, to the effect that the iranians were helping these shia militia groups. who, by the way, are iraqi shia militia groups. but helping them to attack u.s. forces. this is nothing new in iraq. i mean, my experience there when i was ambassador was they tried to blow up my motorcade when i say down in the south. and i must say when americans think of these shia groups, we think, gee, we help these people be liberated from a brutal sunni dictator, saddam hussein, and
this is the gratitude we get. and so i think what is -- what has been the case is the iranians have pushed these groups, paid these groups to be very anti-american. and soleimani has been absolutely in the middle of this. now, you can ask about the timing of this. this is impeachment week. what is the president thinking? and i think what he's thinking is he needs to take some of these foreign policy failures, and i would include north korea in that category, and try to figure out how to, you know, through some type of alchemy, how to turn them into success. in fact, this iran decision is a deeply, you know, there are a lot of risks to what he's done on this -- on -- on soleimani. and we'll have to see how this ahead. >> for the iraqi citizens that have died in the war in iraq are astounding. i think it's upwards of 200,000
civilians who have died. i mean, us being seen as somehow a force for good there, i think we're well past that point. eddie glaude. and -- and when this administration goes out and -- and -- and assassinates somebody who is in such a powerful positioniran. nobody likes, i'm not defending the man in any way. i just wonder who the president is -- is trying -- appealing to with a decision like that. after all, he is the one that ran on getting out of the middle east. ran on the dumb decision that got us into the iraq war. he ran against george bush's legacy. in military strongholds like south carolina, he beat this drum a lot. so who is he actually talking to when he's deciding to do something as provocative as this? >> i don't know. maybe his base? i mean, i'm not sure. when we listen to the chants in
miami as he taughts what he's just done, we hear usa. >> doesn't matter what he does. >> right. kind of uncritical patriotism. but we should be clear here. one, we should exhibit a healthy dose of skepticism about what's coming out of the white house. they've been lying to us for three years straight. and so i'm -- >> there are people out there who would argue that administrations have been lying to us for a lot longer than that. especially, when it comes to the middle east. we just saw the afghanistan papers and how military officials and administration officials, across the board, have been telling us something when something else is going on entirely. >> we can stipulate to that claim but we can still make a difference. there's lying and then there's lying. right? so there's a way in which the lies of the trump administration stood out because it's so daily in some ways. and also, i just want us to take a step back. there is a kind of casualness that has attended our conversation around the assassination of general soleimani. and this has nothing to do with trying to redeem his character.
it has something to do with who we take ourselves to be. and as -- as -- as an american citizen, as a person who wants to step back and think about what does it mean for the u.s. to engage in the assassination of a state actor? i want us to be very, very careful in how we talk about this. so, one, we need to be skeptical about their rationale for doing it. two, we need to understand what it means for the american government to engage in such acts. >> okay. i got to back. a, soleimani is in baghdad. he's not in tie raehran. he's not in iran. he is in baghdad. >> show me proof of what he was going to do. >> we know what he did. >> imminently, he was going to. >> i'm not talking about that. here's what happened over the last month. we had an iranian shiite backed militia supported by iran attack an american position. three americans wounded. an american contractor killed. we had this totally bogus attack
on the u.s. embassy. following actual demonstrations in iraq against iran. there were hundreds of thousands of people in the streets of iran protesti protesting -- of iraq -- protesting iranian interference inside iran. and you have the head of the revolutiona revolutionary guard corps that is a confirmed terrorist organization, the state department under obama and trump called it a terrorist organization in baghdad. he was not on his own soil. i mean, so the -- the idea that somehow there was no provocation. the iranians had been testing us for six months. they shot down a drone. trump almost pulled off a military strike against them and pulled back at the last minute. they -- they shot holes in tankers. >> i'm not arguing that. i'm wondering if going after the second in command in iraq, that there was a plan to go after the second in command in iraq, which
would -- >> in iran. >> i'm sorry, in iran. which would -- would be akin, people are saying, to going after our defense secretary. something like that. >> you want to call our defense secretary a terrorist who is responsible for -- >> there are people in the middle east who would say that. >> they might and they can say whatever they want to say. then there are the facts, which are, you know, 500,000 people have died in syria as a result of iranian meddling and support for ba chshar al-assad. >> hundreds of thousands of civilians have died during the wars we've been waging in the middle east. >> if what you want to say is we don't have the moral standing to strike somebody who is -- >> no, i'm not saying that. but i am questioning the evidence. i'm questioning the evidence. i'm being skeptical of the evidence. because they haven't shown it to me. i'm being skeptical because of the hangover this country is under from 2003. beth, something. >> i have a totally different point to make. and that is to your question to
eddie about who is -- who is -- you know, harkening back to 2016. i mean, you were there over and over again. one of the reasons that donald trump sort of distinguished himself in that big republican field is he was saying done. we're done with this kind of foreign policy. let's get back. let's focus on our -- our homeland. our roads and bridges. our people who are addicted to opioids. and you know what? that was a very, very appealing message to a lot of trump voters because they are the ones, people from rural areas. >> they're the ones fighting the wars. >> they're the ones going to fight the war. so i don't know that the base is really going to be that supportive of this. i mean, yes, he can sort of rouse up a crowd and say usa, usa, when you've done something sort of macho and at least in the short-term successful. but it very much contradicts sort of where he has stood in many ways. >> and that is the larger point i was getting to. ambassador, i want you to jump in on this as well. the president ran on this. he ran against getting into wars in the middle east. he ran against spilling more american blood in the middle east. does this spill less blood,
american blood, in the middle east? >> no. i think if you -- if you stack up the odds -- if you stack up the odds, it's very likely that this is going to get bloodier. and we're going to be more involved. and the idea that we've made iraq or the region a safer place is highly questionable. iran is not usually taken its retribution in far off places. it does so in the middle east. and that's where we have to be involved. and you can see already we're talking about more troops there. so i think this is going against the idea that we're going to disengage from the middle east. but i don't think it's the right way to engage. you know, trump always talks about forever wars. his real forever war he has is on the foreign service. he doesn't want to use any diplomats on these things. so i think we're in for quite a rough ride in the -- in the period ahead. >> so far, we haven't even touched what happened with the iranian nuclear deal. ambassador chris hill, thank you very much.
doprevagen is the number oneild mempharmacist-recommendeding? memory support brand. you can find it in the vitamin aisle in stores everywhere. prevagen. healthier brain. better life. welcome back. democrats in congress are demanding more information to back up the president's claims that he took out soleimani because of an imminent attack on american lives. they're also pressing the administration for its strategy amid the escalating tensions with iran. joining me now here in studio, one of the democrats leading the call for more information and a
coherent strategy from the administration, new york democratic congressman elliot ingel. congressman, thank you for being here. have you been briefed since the strike? >> well, i was briefed today by the vice president, who called me. but prior to the strike, i knew nothing about it. i heard about it on watching tv. >> can you tell us what the vice president told you? >> well, he told us what basically they've been saying. that soleimani is -- was a bad guy. i knew that. he certainly was a bad guy. and that they had -- they caught wind of the fact that he was planning strikes on american interests, american citizens. and that they've had to -- to act now to stop him. that was, essentially, what he said. >> do you expect to see evidence of that? >> well, i think we -- we should. i think we must. you know, i feel very strongly about our constitution.
and the congress is the legislative branch is a co-equal branch of government. we don't have dictatorships here where the president decide what he's going to do and everybody sort of walks in lockstep. it would have been better if we would have been informed ahead of time. >> do you see this as an act of war? >> well, i think it certainly looks like it. you know, soleimani's a bad guy and i'm not going to grieve for him one -- one iota. he was a bad terrorist. he -- he was responsible for the deaths of many, many people, including americans. but the question is, what is the best way to respond to it? is this the best way? and are we not getting ourselves involved in -- in, god forbid, another mid-east war? aren't we tired of all these wars over the past 20 years or so? >> did you raise any of your concerns with vice president pence? >> well, i raised my concerns in terms of what i'm saying to you. and he said that -- that they
had good word that he was planning more attacks. and they had to take him down now. >> did you want to hear from the vice president? or the president on this? >> well, the vice president was a member of congress and served on our foreign affairs committee for many years. and i know him personally. >> are you confident he has all the information? >> yes. i may not agree with everything he says but i'm sure he represents what the administration is doing and wants to continue to do. >> are you confident that this administration has a strategy for what might happen next? have they looked and gamed out the scenarios for what happens tomorrow or next week or next year? after an attack like this. >> no. quite the opposite. i get the feeling there's no strategy. that it's sort of a fly by the seat of your pants diplomacy. and that is very worrisome. you know, the president even for the past few weeks has been talking about i'm not getting us
involved in wars or getting us involved in situations. and here it is just a short time later where suddenly assassinating somebody to put us into position where we might very well go to war. so i don't feel there's any consistency with this president or this administration. and i feel very strongly that congress ought to make determinations. congress is supposed to be, according to the war powers act, consulted and -- and told beforehand. before there's any military actions or any actions like assassinations. we weren't told. that's very disturbing. >> did you ask vice president pence about a strategy? and if so, did he -- did he have a response? >> well, we didn't -- we didn't really talk about strategies. we -- we talked about the reasons that they did this. that he was a dangerous guy, according to the vice president. and that he -- he was going to kill more americans and mastermind more deaths. and so we had to take him out
before he took more of our people out. that was essentially it. >> when you talk about the war powers act, are you going to be holding any committee hearings? >> oh, yeah, we intend to be very, very active. you know, we passed a bill which went through the house and passed to deny moneys for any kind of war with iran. we passed that ndaa. it was removed when we had the conference with the senate and i know that we're going to be looking at that again. to see if there are ways congress has the power of the purse and we are a co-equal branch of government. and we can't just go along with what any administration tells us to do. we have our constitutional duties and we will utilize them in the foreign affairs committee will be active in it. >> who will you be calling as witnesses? >> still not determined yet. but guaranteed we're going to -- to not be quiet. you know, again, soleimani's a
terrible guy and the world's better off with him not around. but the question is, you know, we've already -- we went to war in iraq. and we were told that there were weapons of mass destruction. turned out not to be. we -- we were in a war for a long period of time. and it didn't turn out the way we had hoped. and i think the american people, frankly, are tired of wars. i know i'm tired of wars. and this is not the solution. yes, he was a bad guy. there are plenty of other ways that we could have dealt with him. >> congressman eliot engel. >> thank you. >> next up, democratic presidential candidates take aim at the president over the air strike with dire warnings about war. strike with dire warnings a war. like quitting every monday hard. quitting feels so big. so, try making it smaller. and you'll be surprised at how easily starting small... ...can lead to something big. start stopping with nicorette
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last 20 years, it's that taking out a bad guy is not a good idea unless you are ready for what comes next. >> instead of provoking more volatility in the region, the united states must use its power, its wealth, and its influence to bring the regional powers to the table to resolve conflicts. >> he deserved to be brought to justice for his crimes. but no matter how reviled he was in the west, he was a senior figure to the iranian government. and there's no doubt that iran will, in fact, respond. >> the threat of war with iran could scramble the 2020 political landscape. is that what the president wants? we're back with the round table and more "meet the press daily" right after this. aily"
americans are compassionate and hardworking. we aren't failing. our politicians are failing. that's why i'm running for president. to end the corporate takeover of the government. and give more power to the american people. that's how we'll win healthcare, fair wages, and clean air and water as a right. i'm tom steyer and i approve this message. our president will start a war with iran because he has absolutely no ability to negotiate. he's weak and he's ineffective. so, the only way he figures that he's going to get re-elected, and as sure at you're sitting there, is to start a war with iran. unto rt natalie we have a president who doesn't know the first thing about negotiation. we have a real problem in the white house. so, i believe that he will
attack iran sometime prior to the election because he thinks that's the only way he can get elected. isn't it pathetic? >> welcome back. that was donald trump during the obama administration revealing how he believes a president might start a conflict with iran for their own political benefits. beth, eddie, and john are here once again. donald trump has always been very good at projecting. could we call this future projection? >> it's funny. i mean, it's funny to hear it. >> i know, i know what you mean. >> but it's also interesting how he looks remarkably the same nine years later. that was one thing that struck me is that -- >> i think it's -- i'm taking this seriously because donald trump has always been very literal. when he says something, he's literal. he means what he says. and i don't think -- he doesn't speak with a lot of nuance. he's not playing three dimensional chess. i think it's a fair question
with everything we've seen whether the president thought this was a good idea for his election year. >> so, we actually -- we were discussing this at the break. back in 1998 when bill clinton was being impeached there was also a military action that he directed that was against iraq and it was to, you know, search out and degrade weapons of mass destruction. and immediately the complaint was "wag the dog" which was a movie at the time. >> great movie. >> great movie. we haven't heard this this time. there are a lot of questions about why donald trump did what he did. you haven't heard anybody yet say he's doing this to draistra from impeachment. at this point people are accepting on its face he felt the need to do this however strategically he does it. >> he said president obama didn't know how to negotiate. they negotiated the 2015 iran deal. donald trump didn't negotiate out of it.
he just pulled out of it. he was going to negotiate after that to make a better deal. that hasn't happened. >> but the iranians won't negotiate with him. >> he's also going to negotiate with the north koreans and that hasn't happened. >> i think it's important for us to cut to the chase. this is a very scary moment for my son, for your child, for everybody's child. this is crazy. and freud and young would have a field day with this guy. but the one thing i do know is this: that is thousands and thousands of american soldiers and troops will be put in danger because of the vanity of donald trump, his narcissism. all the things we know about him, we've been talking about him. >> you think this is about vanity and narcissism. >> it seems to me reasonable to conclude given what we've been talking about for three years that this is rooted in his vanity and narcissism. >> is this what happens when you just lose credibility? >> well, that is a problem and it is a problem for, you know, serial kpexaggerator and someon
who says his crowds are the biggest, when he needs you to believe him, a lot of people have difficulty believing him. having said that, what we were talking about earlier is very much on point which is everything we know about him suggests that he did not want to do this, that this is not a thing that he wants to do. he believes that american involvement in middle eastern military action is foolish and stupid, and he shouldn't do it and obama was stupid and bush was stupid and everybody is stupid. and so if he has taken this step against soleimani, this is an act against his own interest and this long-held belief that we see from 2011. >> so, what is the motivation sf. >> no, i'm saying the motivation could be that they actually have really serious intelligence that it was going to be a whole lot worse, that eddie finds difficult to believe, but the fact that -- >> anybody paying attention to wars in the middle east in 2003 would find that hard to believe.
>> but you yourself said he spent the whole year of 2016 saying this was something he was not going to do. >> but doesn't this then get to the point that he really does need to disclose some of the evidence that drove this decision? >> yes. >> he says there was an imminent threat, mike pompeo said there was an imminent threat. >> and if soleimani is dead, why not disclose the evidence. >> it's only 18 hours, 20 hours since the strike. i mean, i'm just saying, like, you know, we don't know how -- >> but when you come out and you take responsibility for it and you say this was an imminent attack, why not say this was an imminent attack, here's what we knew. >> because -- because let me just speculate. what if soleimani deputy, the guy that is the body man that travels with him is somebody we turned and we have information from him -- >> what if. but what if. i don't know. >> what i'm saying is we don't just instantly reveal highly classified information. nobody does. that's irresponsible.
i mean, i'm not -- again, you can be skept able of it, but there are actually answers to the questions. >> i think it's our job to believe as skeptical as we can be especially as a lead up to a war if that's what we're going to. thank you very much. we will be right back. thank you. we will be right back. people go to learn about their medicare options... before they're on medicare. come on in. you're turning 65 soon? yep. and you're retiring at 67? that's the plan! well, you've come to the right place. it's also a great time to learn about an aarp medicare supplement insurance plan, insured by unitedhealthcare insurance company. here's why... medicare part b doesn't pay for everything. only about 80% of your medical costs. this part is up to you... yeah, everyone's a little surprised to learn that one. a medicare supplement plan helps pay for some of what medicare doesn't. that could help cut down on those out-of-your-pocket medical costs.
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press on nbc." chuck todd will be there. among his guests, secretary of state mike pompeo. you're going to want to watch that. also kasie dc will be back. "the beat" with ari melber starts right now. >> hi. we join you tonight as the world is reeling after the covert strike killing a top iranian military commander who was in baghdad. we have experts who report out what this all means and how to understand what comes next. tonight we also bring you a report about commander qasem soleimani, one of the powerful leaders in the middle east. he may not be a house hold name in america, although that could be changing. before we turn to the