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tv   Lockup Wichita Extended Stay  MSNBC  February 11, 2017 7:00pm-8:01pm PST

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due to mature subject matter, viewer discretion is advised. it just comes from my imagination. just whatever i imagine, i can put on the paper. >> an inmate with incredible artistic abilities is charged with a terrible and tragic crime. while another inmate's seeming obsession with jail food causes problems. >> he's hungry. he doesn't see anything but the food. whatever's in his way, he will try to go through to get to it. >> and -- >> we both kind of agreed on this open relationship type of deal.
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>> um-hum. >> swinging. >> an unconventional marriage ends in a deadly act. >> when that boy left that gun, it became reality. you smelled the gun powder, you see what you have actually done. wichita is the largest city in kansas, but many who live here see it not as a metropolitan center, but as a river town. and on the banks of the arkansas river is the city's best-known landmark. the 44-foot tall keeper of the plains was created by a native american artist to honor the spirit of his people. but when there's trouble on the
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plains, it often gets sorted out downtown at the sedgwick county jail. most of the 1150 men and women incarcerated here are only charged with crimes and are awaiting trial at the resolution of their cases. while the inmate population is usually near or at capacity, the same cannot be said for the staff. >> we have a staff shortage here that we haven't seen before, and now everybody's having to work a ton of overtime. we're really trying to figure out how to combat that problem right now. it's not a glamorous job. lot of folks have no idea what you do in here and the only time they do know something has occurred is because somebody got in trouble. they never know the good stuff that you do every day. >> sheriff jeff easter has dozens of job openings inside the jail. >> we graduated 25 recruits two weeks ago. that was for 67 openings. 67 openings is almost a whole shift. the deputies are strained beyond
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belief. i'm seeing them go to other jobs, sam's and walmart and those type of things because the pay's a little better, the benefits are a little better. that's when we go okay, what do we have to do to retain folks. insurance benefits is an issue i hear all the time. so those are things from my end i have got to start talking with commissioners and stuff so we can hopefully hire more people and retain them. >> sheriff easter has even expanded the range of jobs available to inmate workers or trustees. >> sedgwick county jail. >> such as answering the phones. >> we do not have anybody by that last name in our facility. how do you spell the last name? >> the trustees have limited information about other inmates but can look up pending charges. >> you said pierre, p-i-e-r-r-e? okay. well, i do see on our system he still is down in booking. it shows on the computer that he
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was booked at 11:13 p.m. and that's when he first got here. all righty. yep. you're welcome. you too. bye. whoa. >> what? >> her son's booked on first degree murder. came in last night. >> soon after, pierre washington was formally charged with first degree murder. he has pled not guilty but acknowledges shooting his wife to death and then calling 911 to report it. >> i told them what occurred and accepted my fate. i was arrested immediately and actually while i was on the phone making the call, before the 911 call was finished, they were already there. dropped the phone, put my hands up and dropped to my knees and they took me in.
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never been in trouble before. never been arrested. this is a first for me. i didn't picture any of this. i pictured a long happy marriage. just raising my family. taking care of my family. being there for them. >> washington says his wife's involvement with another man became too much to bear. >> she said you know, i really like david, i feel like he's a person that's going to be in my life for a very long time. it crushed me because i knew what it meant immediately. my eyes swelled up with tears and i felt like i had lost her. like even before i physically took her i felt like i had already lost her. >> washington's mother asked a private defense attorney, sara swain, to meet with her son. >> i have had contact with his family, who has given me a very interesting version of events of what led up to the day when this allegedly happened, where he killed his wife and then reported that to the police. >> though she has not yet been
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retained, swain agreed to meet with washington a few days after he was charged. >> i would like for you to tell me if you feel comfortable doing that, tell me a little bit about right at the very end and honestly, i don't even know how much of that you remember. >> to begin, my wife and i been married for seven years. been together ten. we got two children together. we have been through a lot together. >> washington says the relationship began to decline so he and his wife decided to try something new. >> we both kind of agreed on this open relationship type of deal. like swinging or -- yeah. this would just be for fun and it was supposed to actually help our marriage grow stronger in a sense. you know, the basic rules were we are still a husband and wife, you know. we are going to put each other first. we're not going to spend too much time with these other people. it will just be purely for
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entertainment, you know. >> it seems like a really terrible idea. >> yeah. i was told that but i felt like, i mean, we were together, we were ten years strong. i felt like we can make it work. >> so what i'm trying to do in my own head is take what you're telling me and reconcile that with the fact that she's dead and you called 911 to report her being dead. >> washington says he and his late wife diana became involved with joanna and david bean, but that the relationship between diana and david became more intense when david separated from joanna. >> when she asked me if david could stay with us, i kind of envisioned this. i didn't want it to come true but i envisioned he want -- he was going to come stay with us but it wasn't going to be a temporary thing. he was going to try to make it more than temporary. he was going to try to overstay his welcome. he was going to try to move in on my wife.
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the woman i married, it wasn't her anymore. she said she was falling for him. it was a shock to me because i didn't want to split up with her. >> washington says diana was on the phone with david bean when he shot her. as a result, bean might have been called to testify in the case but just two days ago, only six days after diana's death, david bean died in a traffic accident. >> very, very interesting developments. >> from what i saw on the news and from what my mother told me, it was a semi on the holder that had broken down, had his flashers on on the cones down. plowed right into it. died instantly. >> my job is to take all the information that you have given me and to start looking for all of the pieces of evidence that the police didn't bother looking at because this is certainly one of those cases where it may not
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be a question of who did it but it's definitely going to be a question of why that person did it. and all of those factors will play into our defense, okay? there's a lot of work to be done. this is like step one of ten million steps that we have, and this is mission impossible, right? we have nothing to lose. you have nothing to lose by us doing everything we can. you know what you're looking at. if we get anything less than you convicted of premeditated first degree murder, that's a victory. >> coming up, pierre washington gets a visit from his mother. >> i think he temporarily went insane from the possession of the devil taking over his whole
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body, mind and soul. >> and -- >> then he starts using his hands and you can see the speed at which he's working. >> an inmate's relationship with jail food leads to trouble. tiki barber running a barber shop? yes!!! surprising. yes!!! what's not surprising? how much money david saved by switching to geico. fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent or more. who's next?
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call today. comcast business. built for business. all right, gentlemen, at this time i'm going to [ inaudible ]. have a seat at the table and i will begin chow service. >> inmates at the central county jail in wichita are like inmates at most jails when it comes to their opinions of the food. >> they feed you the same amount of food they feed a 9-year-old in elementary school, they feed grown men and it just doesn't work. >> she hates the chicken here. it's like gummy, chewy. nancy calls it fancy feast. like the cat food. >> alpo? >> nine times out of ten it got beans in it. they bean us to death. they love giving us beans. >> deputy wiesner, however, holds a different opinion.
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to him the meals are a nice employment perk. >> it's one of the best trays. i don't know, it's like chili or something. >> you don't know what you're eating? >> no. >> but it's good? >> yeah. i think they're good. lot of other deputies would say no, but simple, so i like simple. it fills me up because i don't eat before i come to work and i eat here and it holds me over until after work. so it's not that bad. >> while meal distribution is usually a routine procedure three times per day, it has turned into high drama for adrian zonker. surveillance cameras capture a deputy trying to restrain him after he tried to grab trays off the food cart. this isn't the first time zonker has caused problems. >> possession of contraband, criminal threat, batteries. mattress, he had a bowel movement on the tray, he was drawing on the walls. he's on ad seg, administrative
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segregation because of his continuous behavioral issues. >> as an ad-seg inmate, he is confined to his cell 23 hours a day and has lost most of his privileges. >> a lot of his stuff stems among food. kate be if something's wrong with his food or he believes something's wrong with his feed, a piece of bread isn't quite right or it took 15 minutes longer to get there than what he thought it should, he will start to act out. he will tell you it's for payback. that's what you get for -- because this is how i'm being treated, this is what you get. >> got any more, adrian? >> if it's up to me [ inaudible ]. it's stupid, irrational but to
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me, i know two wrongs don't make a right. >> he's been in and out of jail on conviction for criminal use of a with and various parole violations. he recently pled guilty to assault and battery and is awaiting sentencing. they reveal surveillance footage of his latest rules violation inside the jail. >> the inmate is being served breakfast this morning and the deputy is about to open his door to serve him his styrofoam tray. he gives him his styrofoam tray and thinks it's all good and all of a sudden zongker comes out to get extra food. >> he's obviously going for the trays. he tries to stop him so he doesn't get hold of one as a weapon. >> he's taken to the floor as a deputy who also slips in the process. once the deputy gets up, zongker takes more food trays and goes in his cell. >> the sole deputy assigned to the unit decides not to engage
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zongker any further and instead calls for backup. >> at that point, adrian goes back in his room and you can wa wait for additional people, for a safer environment, to go get the rest of the stuff. >> because the threat's no longer there. he's got the food trays. he's inside. once they come in, they can actually clean this mess up and take control from there. >> part of it is causing issues for us and part of it is he wants the food. you're in an environment where you don't have a whole lot of things but food is one thing he can do that with, and once he gets it, now he's already gone through the hassle so he's going to eat the food. >> once he knows they are coming to his door he will speed up and get a little faster. now he thinks they're coming in to get this food so he will start licking and eating everything he can eat. >> now he dumped everything into the styrofoam tray, the one he thinks we're not going to take. the ones we are more worried about are the hard plastic trays that are going to be more apt to be used as a weapon. he's smart enough, he dumps everything off of those trays and is now licking them clean. >> he's giving the brown trays back. >> tosses them to the door.
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because that's what we're after. >> then he starts using his hands and you can see the speed at which he's working. >> backup deputies arrive but there's little they can do at this point other than collect the plastic trays from his cell. since zongker is already in administrative segregation, there are no further sanctions they can take against him. >> if he's in here doing something he could possibly hurt himself or has a weapon or is doing something, you can make that assessment of we need to go in right now. but in this case, all he's doing is sitting there eating trays and there's no need to rush in. they have the opportunity right now, you can see somebody's at his door and you can start talking to him and hopefully get him to just pass the stuff back out the door to you without ever having to go in. >> there's no need to do anything also to him. he's already locked down. you can't get locked down any more than he's already locked down. that's it. >> adult day care is not a first time inmate pierre washington describes the jail. >> here i am, this regular guy, no tattoos.
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it's easy to see by looking at me, like this is a foreign land to me. >> this can be quite a shock. he's going to be surrounded by people that sadly, this is their lives. this is what they know. the term being institutionalized, that's not just a made-up term. that's the truth. there are people that literally know nothing other than the criminal justice system. >> it has been two weeks since washington was charged with first degree murder in the shooting death of his wife. if convicted, he faces a sentence of 25 to life. washington says the last two weeks are helping him prepare for the worst. >> just learning how to get adjusted and you know, making forks because it's hard to eat. you ever try to eat noodles with a spoon or apples with a spoon, it's a little difficult if you can't stab it. forks will save all that. cups, it's very important to stay hydrated. your body is 70% water and you lose a lot during the day.
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what i do is guesstimated these are six ounce cups. i drink about 120 ounces a day which is the equivalent to a one gallon jug. i calculated i have to fill up at least 20 of these six ounce cups to equal that. every morning i will fill them up, line them up and throughout the day, chug them. there is so much bravado and masculinity here, i came out of my cell without my shirt on to let the guys know i'm a man, too. you're not going to push me around. i can handle myself. i'm new to this world but i can swing with the best of them. >> washington says it was a different kind of swinging that led him to kill his wife, diana. they became involved with another couple, joanna and david bean. washington says he feared his wife was going to leave him for david, who died in a traffic accident a few days after washington's arrest. on the night of the shooting, washington drove his wife to a
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local park. >> we got into a heated argument. she pulled out her phon and called david. i felt at that point she had lost any feeling for me and she was calling him to come confront me. i was angry. i couldn't believe she was doing this. and just everything just reached a point, you know. it was all very fast. i don't even know if i looked down the sight. i just pointed and pulled. >> according to police, diana was shot seven times. >> it was like a dream, you know. but when that bullet left that gun it became reality. you smelled the gun powder. you see what you have actually done. my mind was racing. i didn't know what to do. got back in the car and just drove. >> diana's body was still in the vehicle when washington drove away. >> kept the gun just for protection. the weapon that was supposed to protect my family, my wife and my children, was used to kill my
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wife. it's funny, in an instant how one decision can just affect so many lives. >> washington drove to a friend's house, where he called 911 and reported the shooting. he then waited outside for police to arrest him. his mother recently sent him a memorial card from his wife's funeral service. >> i won't see that smiling face again. i do miss her. i still love her. i could never give anybody my heart like that. like i don't know, whatever happens to me from here on out, whoever i meet, if i meet somebody else or whatever, whathave you, they'll never get my heart the way she got it, you know. i'm destined to be this cold shell of a human. >> coming up -- >> i just started, i draw what i'm dreaming or what i imagine. that's when i started evolving.
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i went to another level. >> an inmate artist is accused of murdering his twin brother. z. z. it releases a cooling sensation in your mouth and throat. zantac works in as little as 30 minutes. nexium can take 24 hours. try cool mint zantac. no pill relieves heartburn faster.
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the goal at the sedgwick county jail in wichita is to eliminate any item that an inmate could possibly use to harm another. that even includes regular pencils. but the jail provides an alternative. >> flex pen. it's not a preeencil. >> the whole point of a pencil is to sharpen it. kind of makes it an easy go-to weapon. with a rubber pencil, no matter how sharp you get it, it's a rubber pn siencil. >> it's going to bend. some people who are artists can draw really well with these things. i don't understand how. i have a hard time writing with them, much less drawing anything. >> the pencils have done nothing to deter luis alvarado from pursuing his passion. >> i ain't never seen anybody draw like him. he's like professional, real detailed. he sits there with the pencil and just the littlest stuff.
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>> is this what you're working on now? >> this is a dream i had. i'm trying to sketch it out -- >> before it fades away? >> yeah. >> lot of detail. >> yeah. >> be interesting to see if they still had colored pencils what it would look like. >> his family mailed him copies of some of his paintings from home. he says he's self-taught and began drawing at age 2. >> with time i just started, i draw what i'm dreaming or what i imagine. that's when i started evolving into like, i just went to another level. my inspiration really just comes from my imagination. just whatever i imagine, i can put on the paper. at the mar-a-lago resort a short while ago we got notification that president donald trump and prime minister
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shinzo abe would be addressing the press pool there as well as other officials that drown in florida regarding this north korean missile test that the south korean news agency was reporting as a ballistic missile test. we also heard from the president a short while ago, not commenting officially on that missile test, but he did appear with the prime minister for a photo op among the press and when he was asked a question about the north korean missile test, he did not have a response. a short while ago, among other indications we got, we were told that the press pool that travels, the group of journalists that travels with the president, was once again asked to reassemble at that mar-a-lago resort you see on the left-hand side of your screen. in fact, dan schavino tweeted out about 9:45 p.m. we could expect a statement from president donald trump, as well
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as prime minister shinzo abe, that they would be delivering a joint statement at approximately 10:30 p.m. eastern time. so we expect that statement to get under way momentarily. when it does, we will certainly bring it to you live. again, to recap for our viewers that are joining us, this day began with both the prime minister of japan and president donald trump on what appeared to be a relaxing day, first a few rounds of golf in florida followed by a working dinner. it was at around that time, around 7:00 p.m. eastern time, that word came out of the south korean news agency attributed to both the joint chiefs of staff of the south korean military as well as south korean officials that in fact, north korea had launched a projectile into the sea of japan. that was confirmed a short while ago that in fact, it was a ballistic missile. we have also gotten confirmation
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from the white house that president trump was briefed on this situation. this is, in fact, the first time that president trump is dealing with a north korean missile test. this is the first time that north korea has carried out such a test in the three weeks that president donald trump has been in office. prior to him joining -- i should say prior to him taking the oath of office in january, the president had actually tweeted about this. in fact, i think around january 2nd he said north korea was in the final stages of developing a weapon capable of hitting the u.s. at the time he said twheehat wo happen. that was prior to him taking the oath of office. since then, this is now the first time north korea carried out a test. i would like to bring in kelly o'donnell who is traveling with the president and brings us more. do we have any idea what
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president donald trump as well as prime minister shinzo abe are expected to say? >> reporter: we do not have the specifics but i think it's important to note that this gives the prime minister of japan an opportunity to speak directly to the japanese people when it's just after noon on sunday. he has a full delegation of his media press corps in addition to his soon senior officials. this is very, very important for the japanese. at the same time, we have been given guidance that president trump will make a statement following the prime minister. this comes at a time when it is unusual because there has been what is known as a lid in white house coverage. they had planned to have no additional coverage of events today and then changed their minds and very abruptly put this news conference together or this statement in front of cameras. you see the chairs assembled. members of the japanese and
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american press corps are there. we don't know what the announcement will be, what the comment will be, but it is something that is a test in a new presidency. it was expected that there would be provocation from north korea to challenge donald trump. this is being interpreted as such a provocation and it is important to note that donald trump spent a considerable amount of time on the phone with china's president xi just the other night trying to work on that relationship and of course, china and north korea have a strong alliance and now having the japanese prime minister spending three days with the american president, this also has a very asia-centric aspect to it where these incredibly powerful nations are sizing up the president and also trying to get a sense of how they will play in a new trump world. >> i recall the news conference that took place at the white house i believe on friday when the prime minister and the
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president held their joint news conference. i would say the bulk of that news conference was dominated by economic issues and the issue of north korean, possibly north korean missile test did not feature very highly in any of the questions that were asked to either president trump or the prime minister. so this has been somewhat of a reminder, really, of what's at stake in the u.s./japanese alliance beyond just the economic interests between the two countries. >> reporter: absolutely. economics often will play into national security issues and of course, china is the big player in that part of the world and donald trump has presented himself as a strongman figure wanting to take a very tough position against any aggression from nations like north korea, iran and this is a real test on the world stage. how much has he been briefed, what is he aware of tonight,
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what is his intentional message. we don't know. white house officials told us to be prepared for a significant statement but we don't know how to measure that yet in a donald trump administration. what does that mean? we can tell you that a senior delegation of the japanese officials have been with the prime minister so there are certainly the assembled minds in his government are traveling with him at the palm beach home of the president and first lady. earlier today it was melania trump and mrs. abe doing what first ladies do when there are these important meetings. we saw that part of the hospitality of this visit. this is the very serious unpredictable nature of national security and what can these leaders project. again, the time difference is critical because it is already sunday afternoon in japan. a very different time for the audience. here we are on a saturday night when americans are thinking about other things, and may not be as aware of these events. so it's a test for president
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trump. it is a test for his relationship with the prime minister of japan and the very uncertain volatile, unpredictable leader kim jong-un of north korea. >> kelly o'donnell, stay with us. i will come back to you in just a moment. i want to cross over to seoul, south korea. we are joined by nbc news correspondent keir simmons, who has been following all the developments from that part of the world for us as it unfolded with reaction out of south korea which was i believe the first country to confirm in fact that this missile test had taken place. keir, we heard kelly saying the japanese prime minister expected obviously to make these statements with a certain eye back home, knowing that his countrymen and others in the region are watching very closely how these two countries respond to this missile test. no doubt the south koreans are going to be watching this news conference as well for some indication as to what might come out of both washington and tokyo.
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>> reporter: yeah. the south koreans now have moved to make their own statement ahead of this, in fact. the acting president of south korea in a fairly substantial statement saying, confirming that north korea has launched a projectile seeming to be a ballistic missile and saying that the government of south korea is working with the international community to ensure north korea gets deserving punishment for their action. the acting president of south korea describing that the launch of this missile as a blatant violation of the u.n. resolutions, clear military provocation, and saying they are prepared for all situations. so a very strong message from the acting president of south korea. you will remember that there is a political crisis here so they have an acting president who is also the prime minister, but that message will be read by washington and by the prime
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minister of japan as an indication of what south korea wants to see from its ally in washington. the question now will be what does the president say, how does he respond, because this is not the first missile test by north korea. it is one of very many. a drumbeat of missile tests we have seen over the years, if you like, combined with nuclear tests. the real fear is whether north korea at some stage manage to put together the missile tests with the nuclear tests and come up with a nuclear missile. that's certainly not what they have tested here and we don't know how long before they manage to get to that capability, if they ever will. in fact, there are many things we don't know about north korea's capability. that's one of the difficult factors among the many difficult factors for the new president. >> keir simmons, stay with us. take a listen to this press conference. we have been given an official
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two-minute warning from the press pool. that means if things go according to schedule, sometimes they don't, but if they do go according to schedule within the next two minutes or so, we should be seeing both the japanese prime minister and president donald trump addressing the media. we continue to see a little bit of activity as dignitaries and others make their way into that briefing room at the mar-a-lago resort. we are expecting the prime minister first to speak. we will certainly try to bring it to you live as that happens. not sure if he will be speaking in english or japanese, or if in fact they will be making any kind of joint statement, if both officials will be speaking. we are going to listen to it right now. japanese prime minister shinzo abe. [ speaking a foreign language ]
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>> north korea's most recent missile launch is absolutely intolerable. >> translator: north korea must fully comply with the relevant u.n. security council resolutions. during the summit meeting that i had with president trump, he assured me that the united states will always with japan
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100% and to demonstrate his determination as well as commitment, he is now here with me at this joint press conference. president trump and i myself completely share the view that we are going to promote further cooperation between the two nations and also we are going to further reinforce our alliance. that is all from myself. >> thank you very much, mr. prime minister. i just want everybody to understand and fully know that the united states of america stands behind japan, its great ally, 100%. thank you.
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[ speaking a foreign language ] >> reporter: do you have anything else to say? >> you were just watching there president donald trump and prime minister shinzo abe addressing the joint news conference there, and we begin with actually the prime minister, shinzo abe, who spoke for about a minute through a translator, first addressing the audience in japanese, highlighting that north korea's missile test was quote, intolerable. he also called on north korea saying that it must comply with all u.n. security council resolution. he also reiterated that throughout his meetings with president trump, he was given
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assurances that the united states would be 100% behind japan and that the two gentlemen would work together to further cooperation and the alliance between the two countries. let's go back now to kelly o'donnell. let's talk about president trump's comment. very brief, very short, saying simply the united states stands behind japan 100%. >> reporter: very much in the voice of president trump, his style. what i think is striking about this is that the statements are the predictable support that needs to be expressed at a time like this, but to have an event with the trappings around this of bringing back two press corps, bringing national and international attention to it, this statement sort of gives us a preview of how these kinds of international crises or provocations could be handled in a trump white house, with this kind of very public stagecraft
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and messaging where the two leaders come out, express their unity, express their demands for new conduct from north korea, but this level of attention would normally, in past presidencies, have merited a more significant step, perhaps military action or repositioning of military assets. this was a much more subtle kind of event in terms of what they said, expressing this long-time unity and a pledge to work together to try to resolve this. so in many ways, what i'm saying is this stagecraft seems bigger than the actual event itself based on the information we have about what north korea has done. obviously as we talked about earlier, this seemed much more intended for a japanese audience with their leader in the united states and needing a way to reach his home country and president trump provided that.
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so it is also a way to get a feel for how donald trump will handle international unpredictable events and he did it in the classic style. few words, strongly stated, and they took no questions. >> interestingly enough, we know the president had been briefed on this situation, perhaps even when he first came out for that initial photo op with the prime minister where he didn't respond to the shouted questions about it. obviously a few hours have lapsed since then. the message coming out of the white house tonight, certainly the president had more to do with the alliance with japan saying the u.s. stands behind japan 100% but absolutely making no reference to the actual missile test. not condemning it, not saying there would be further course of action. not even going so far as to what the prime minister of japan said which is that north korea must comply with u.n. security council resolutions. that might by any measure be considered given the gravity of
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the situation a very odd situation, that the president did not go so far as to condemn the north korean missile attack or even offer any further course of action going forward. >> reporter: the president showed restraint, not wanting to say something he would need to retract or adjust later, perhaps wanting to have more guidance and briefing about consequences, about what would be said, and i think the original intention was for this to be an opportunity for prime minister abe to speak and i think president trump probably evaluated that as the host, he could not go without participating but that was imperative given the place of the united states in the world and the relationship between these two countries, but he played it much closer to the vest than we are accustomed to seeing from donald trump. a clear statement, one that is safe tonight without getting into the details and we just don't know at this point how the u.s. wants to respond to this.
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but it's a way to have a visual statement, a partnership on display and without going so far as to make what may be a hot situation even hotter. >> okay. we have complete coverage on this. i want to play this sound bite one more time of president donald trump making those comments at that press conference or i should say at that news conference with shinzo abe. take a listen to this. >> thank you very much, mr. prime minister. i just want everybody to understand and fully know that the united states of america stands behind japan, its great ally, 100%. thank you. >> so it was a short statement but certainly a significant one for a lot of u.s. allies in asia. i want to cross over now to nbc correspondent keir simmons in seoul, south korea, who has been following this story for us. those words, as short as they
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may have been, as concise as they may have been, as not far-reaching as they may have been, they are certainly going to be welcomed by countries like south korea, who are seeing the u.s. make a commitment to its ally japan 100%, to quote the president. >> reporter: i think they will be welcome. i think there are different ways to view what the president said. on the one hand, you can overreact to a situation like this. north korea has been testing missiles over many decades. there is almost a drumbeat of tests, if you like. a nuclear test in many ways is more significant because it is less common. so there will be a sense, i guess, that the president is being measured and that's a good thing because you can rachet things up in a dangerous way. on the other hand, i suspect there will be many in the region who would have hoped for more from the president than that and will be looking for a more expansive statement from the
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president than that. after all, the acting president of south korea has talked about this as a clear military provocation and has said that it demands a significant response so south korea has laid out its position and it will be looking to washington to see if washington stands behind that position. what you got from the president there was a statement that he stands 100% behind the prime minister of japan. honestly, that is not the same as saying that the u.s. stands behind its other allies in the region including significantly south korea and it's obviously not the same as condemning the test itself. clearly the president would want to condemn this kind of a test and it may well be that he's waiting to make a full statement as kelly mentioned, he's standing next to the prime minister of japan. perhaps he felt the diplomatic, the right diplomatic thing to do was simply talk about japan for this particular statement. certainly in the region as we --
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at this point now after that news conference, in the region, we don't yet have a clear indication from washington of what washington's view is and what the president's view is of this missile test and leaders here will still be waiting for that. >> from seoul, south korea, want to bounce to beijing, china and bring in our nbc correspondent in beijing. let's talk about how, this is perhaps going to really put the u.s./china relationship in a very intense focus very early on. what do you make of the president's brief comments, how they may be interpreted in beijing? >> reporter: well, there has been no immediate official response yet from the chinese side but whatever the response is going to be, i don't think any side here is going to want to try to rachet up tensions on the peninsula. no doubt the trump administration is going to be pressured in china and the
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government here to try to use its sway with north korea. north korea is china's ally. china one of north korea's only allies. increasingly, beijing has been frustrated by these provocations on the north korean side. china, even joining the u.n. sanctions last fall in response to that fifth nuclear test and deciding to slash coal imports from north korea and they have been following through on those sanctions. i think what this does, it really puts into sharp relief the importance of that phone call between donald trump and xi jinping the other evening. there had been a lot of speculation on why the two sides had not been talking for so long. of course, it was trump's tradition on the one china policy that seemed to be standing in the way. once he made that very public agreement at xi jinping's request, there was the sense that perhaps the u.s. and china
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would be able to move beyond that hurdle, beyond that obstacle, in order to address some real issues. north korea being one of them. so there's probably going to be increased communication on both sides while this test by north korea is not a complete surprise to either the u.s. or china. there will be more pressure on the chinese side in order to influence north korea to try to temper these provocations. >> janice, we look at the relationship between the united states and china, particularly under the trump presidency, pretty much at least so far only through the economic lens. certainly very tough comments and rhetoric from president trump first as a candidate and since as a president, but now we are going to see the u.s./china relationship once again in the spotlight of issues of national security, particularly when it comes to north korea. when it comes to the issue of national security, and the issue
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of north korea, how wide of a gap is there between china and the united states on missile tests like the one we saw this evening? >> reporter: well, the gap would certainly be narrowing. i think that was the indication of china being on the side of u.n. sanctions that fall. china always stood beside its ally even though it has been increasingly frustrated but most certainly under kim jong-un, the government in beijing has been disenchanted. there were times in the past when kim jong-un was dismissive of xi jinping, something that wasn't taken well here, so there is a sense that the warmth of the relationship between the two countries, china may not be as willing to go to bat for north korea as it might have been in the past. that doesn't imply that it's going to be completely on side with the united states. china has issues certainly with
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the defense system that will be deployed by the end of this year. china was very public in its condemnation last week during the visit of james mattis to the region in saying that the system is going to compromise china's own security and will really do nothing to ease tensions on the peninsula. so china will keep the system as a bargaining point if it is going to be expected to exert more pressure on pyongyang. >> to say the least that china will now have certainly a bigger role in the trump administration if in fact, the trump administration tries to levy new sanctions through the united nations on north korea or if in fact, it tries to escalate any kind of military presence in the region. i will ask you to stay with us. from beijing we will bounce over to our pentagon correspondent, hans nichols who is with us on the phone. speaking of the military
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presence, u.s. military presence, the first visit of the new secretary much defenof defe mau mattis, to the asia region was a stopover in japan. talk about the significance of that trip. what if anything did general mattis affirm to american allies in the region? >> reporter: good evening. mattis' message was similar to what we just heard from president trump, the importance of alliances. that's been a consistent theme throughout all of mattis' meetings with his counterparts, south korean, japanese or most recently, his german counterpart. they are stressing alliances. here are the questions the united states military, to shift gears slightly, the questions they have about north korea's missile program. number one, have they figured out reentry. this looks like it was an intermediate missile but not the intercontinental ballistic missile that gives a lot of concern. looks like it was an intermediate one but how
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accurate was it. are they able to get it up in the air or do they have any sense muof how to bring it downn to a target. the second question is whether or not north korea has miniatureized nuclear weapons. that's a question you get different answers within the pentagon. some folks think they have made that step, others aren't so convinced. those are the two big questions. then overlaying all this is missile defense both domestically in the states and the system that is in the process of being deployed in south korea. secretary mattis reaffirmed the commitment to go ahead and get that system up and operational in south korea. >> let's talk about the american military posture in asia, if possible. you were talking about that missile defense system that's potentially a source of provocation for some countries like china. certainly north korea will look at it with a bit of hostility
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that the u.s. has that umbrella in place over that part of asia. how likely is it to see a robust military response given this test that we saw this evening? >> reporter: we don't know because we don't know how different the trump administration is going to be to the obama administration. we should note that missile launches, tests like this, regular is the wrong word but they do happen fairly frequently. i can think of three or four in the past five, six months and in general there's a statement from the white house, national security committee. it doesn't really rise to the threshold of a presidential condemnation. we didn't hear condemnation from president trump there. we heard him reaffirm the importance of alliances. then what i think everyone kind of needs to recognize, all the talk of ballistic missiles and all the worry about nuclear potential, there's a conventional component to that. there are 35,000 united states american troops just a few miles south across the dmz sitting,
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not sitting around, but they are in south korea and they have great capability and great readiness. >> hans, i will ask you to stay with us as well. i want to bounce back to kelly o'donnell in florida and talk a little bit not necessarily about what was said, but in terms of what was not said. the lack of condemnation from the white house on this nuclear test. when you juxtapose that with this statement that came out shortly after the test by iran with its ballistic missiles, very different reactions between those two. just a matter of week, if you will, a week or so difference but very different responses. >> reporter: well, diplomatic communication and that's very much what this is tonight, the potency of what is said can be measured in words so being more measured, more restrained gives the white house and to some
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extent, the relationship with japan more time to evaluate this. in addition, we know the leader of north korea is considered one of the most unpredictable figures on the planet and is often seeking to be put on the same sort of level, the same standing as other world leaders, so a more muted response in some ways does not give the gratification to north korea for provoking a response. having said all of that, this is still a very new administration that has made clear that with japan, the issue of north korea is a high priority. the president has said that and of course, in the relationship as it is also extended to the sensitivities with china, this is very important in that asian neighborhood of the world and the different kinds of relationships the u.s. has with china, with japan, with south korea. so the president tonight saying very little but what he did say
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is impenetrable. the u.s. relationship with japan is solid. the 100% behind, that's very much trump-speak. but not going further than that. so i really think as we look at what happened tonight that it was more an event for the japanese prime minister with president trump almost playing a supporting role, allowing another world leader to speak first. that's highly unusual. and it is also a sign of respect and of partnership. so some of the things that we can analyze in a moment like this is to look at how it was laid out, what was the body language, what were the specific words, what was the tone, and how would it be likely received on the other end, whether in japan, in north korea, by other partners around the world. and this was a do-no-harm statement by donald trump. affirm a relationship with japan but don't provoke anything further and don't set into motion an event that they may not have fully planned out as of
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tonight. >> kelly o'donnell traveling with the president in florida. i will ask you to stick with us as we reset as we approach just seven seconds away from the top much the hour. want to recap for all our viewers joining us across the country what has happened. a short while ago, we just saw president trump and the prime minister shinzo abe make their first official statements since the test that was carried out by north korea and as we go to air in this 11th hour, i'm ayman mohyeld mohyeldin. i want to play the comments we heard a short while ago. take a listen. >> thank you very much, mr. prime minister. i just want everybody to understand and fully know that the united states of america stands behind japan, its great ally, 100%. thank you. >> again, by my count that


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