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tv   Hardball With Chris Matthews  MSNBC  April 11, 2017 11:30pm-12:01am PDT

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pg&e learned a tragic lesson we can never forget. this gas pipeline ruptured in san bruno. the explosion and fire killed eight people. pg&e was convicted of six felony charges including five violations of the u.s. pipeline safety act and obstructing an ntsb investigation. pg&e was fined, placed under an outside monitor, given five years of probation, and required to perform 10,000 hours of community service. we are deeply sorry. we failed our customers in san bruno. while an apology alone will never be enough, actions can make pg&e safer. and that's why we've replaced hundreds of miles of gas pipeline, adopted new leak detection technology that is one-thousand times more sensitive, and built a state-of-the-art gas operations center. we can never forget what happened in san bruno. that's why we're working every day to make pg&e the safest energy company in the nation.
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welcome back. this week the trump white house faces, as we've seen, crises, threats, high-stakes meetings with allies and enemies around the globe with russia, syria, north korea to name a few. earlier this evening, i spoke to congressman dan donovan, a new york republican representing staten island, part of the borough of brooklyn. he sits on foreign affairs and homeland security committees, and i started out by asking him about the president and whether unpredictability is actually a foreign policy. >> i don't know if it's so much unpredictability as it is reacting to circumstances that occurred like the attacks in syria, what's going on in north korea. the commander in chief of our armed forces, the president, has the ability and the responsibility of taking action when he sees it necessary. at times he has to consult congress. at times he just has to inform congress. so i think what we've been seeing recently is his reaction to what's happening throughout the world.
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>> he's also learning that the business of red lines or any line is a tough one. barrel bombs, which according to one comp yewtation were dropped at a rate of every five minutes during the year 2016, dropped mostly from helicopters on civilians. they often contain chlorine gas. what do you do about categorizing that as opposed to a sarin attack on the civilians we saw this other day? >> well, the president wasn't in office back in 2016. but, you know -- >> they're still being dropped. >> after seeing what happened the other day, the films of that, i have a 22-month-old daughter. i had difficulty watching those films with those fathers holding their babies. but, you know, something had to be done. what we did was -- what the president did was a measured, i think, appropriate response. we bombed the air base in which we believe and have confidence that that's where the attacks originated from. we did not touch any of the
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areas where we believed the russians were utilizing that air base. so we attacked the people who we believed were the ones that attacked those innocent civilians. >> staten island is a very patriotic place. are you willing to tell the young men and women who volunteer to wear the uniform that they may have to enter a place like syria in a heightened stance? >> i think when people put that uniform on, those brave women and men that you're speaking of, they always know that's a possibility of that happening. i have great trust in our military leaders. we've educated people at annapolis and west point. they've become admirals and generals. it's my belief that the president will listen to their advice. they usually lay out a number of options, and with those options, they lay out the risks of each of those options and then the president makes a choice of what he thinks is the best course of action for the united states. >> what do you do about north korea? unpredictable madman. do you think the answer is possibly unilateral, possibly the u.s. alone? >> i would hope that the chinese would help us there, brian.
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in fact, i think the chinese may feel the threats of what's happening in north korea. there's a madman leading that country. he's unpredictable. the united states, i would hope, never have to do any of this alone. we're better off doing things in a coalition. even what we're doing in syria is better if our allies are joining us. but the president had the president of china, president xi downtown in mar-a-lago last weekend, and i hope that was one of the things they discussed, and i hope the chinese actually join us in helping us with what's happening in north korea. >> i have to get your reaction to sean spicer today, who has apologized fully for his remarks but said from the podium that hitler didn't use chemical weapons against his own people and said that some sort of holocaust centers were used instead. >> yeah, i think since that time, sean has apologized, trying to make a correlation, an analogy that really didn't fit. certainly what happened, the atrocities that happened with
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hitler will never be forgotten by the people of america. and certainly what's happened in syria shouldn't be forgotten either. >> i have to talk to you about town halls. are you a town hall kind of guy as members of congress go? do you conduct town halls? >> i haven't, brian. i had an event in brooklyn which was disrupted by people who appeared to be professional disrupters, professional protesters. what it did was it disenfranchised the people that came there to exchange ideas, to hear how i felt about health care, immigration. today i've been meeting with small groups in my office. they get a one-on-one, 20 minutes, 30 minutes with me for me to address their concerns. in addition to that, we've been doing these teletown hall meetings. last month, 14,000 people participated and got to ask me questions. it's not disruptive. people get their time with me and they get to actually hear what i have to say. >> members of congress in both
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parties, not just republicans, don't have a lot to brag about coming home for this two-week break. >> no. we promised the american people we would repair our broken health care system. we haven't done that yet. i was going to be a no vote. i told the president that. i told the vice president. i told all leadership in the republican party. i didn't think what was being proposed was the solution for what's wrong with the affordable care act. our health care system is broken. it needs to be prepared. in my opinion, this would have hurt new yorkers, would hurt the people i represent, and as being the only republican in new york city, i feel a responsibility not just to the people in my congressional district but the people throughout new york city. >> congressman donovan represents a red district in the middle of an otherwise blue state and blue city. thanks for coming in tonight. coming up, why there's so much attention on the state of kansas tonight in the political world as both parties watch a special election that will echo across the country. steve kornacki at the big board with election returns. can you believe it? when "the 11th hour" continues.
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welcome back to "the 11th hour." with everything else that has been going on tonight, it also happens to be election night in kansas. a big surprise, this special election for a house seat got competitive. they sent in some big guns, and we have some breaking news on the results. steve kornacki back with us tonight and at the big board. hey, steve. >> hey, brian. here it is. we are back because it's an election night. quick backdrop here. republicans at the last minute got very nervous about this district. it is in kansas. it's around wichita. we were starting to wonder why were they so nervous. then the results came in tonight, and i can show you there was reason for them to be nervous. the headline, the republicans are going to hold this seat. ron estes, the republican nominee, has won this special election over james thompson, the democrat. the margin, though, is 53-46. let me put in perspective why this is an incredibly close
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margin for this district and what that could mean. bigger picture in american politics. remember, seven-point win tonight for the republican. this district just last november on election day, donald trump won it by 27 points. a 20-point drop from trump in november to estes in this inspect election night. this is where the district is here. another piece of perspective. seven points. how about this? this district in kansas. let's go back a generation. congressional races in the fourth congressional district, at 7:00 tonight. look at this. 31 in the congressional race last november. 34, 30, 23, 32, 30, 35, 24, 12, 19. you got to go back 20 years to find a single digit congressional race in this same district. you got to go all the way back to '94 to find a six-point race. so this is a historical tightening. democrats do not run this close in this district. what is going on here, and what does it potentially mean nationally? well, two things here.
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democrats will point to this. they will say this is a sign that democratic voters in the trump era are more fired up than they've ever been. you throw a special election in a republican district in the middle of kansas in the april, and they will turn out. that's what democrats will take from this. they will say that portends big things everywhere for them. republicans will say, hang on a minute. there is another factor in this district in kansas that we're overlooking nationally. that is the governor of kansas. sam browneback. new poll today, his approval rating is about 20%, one of the least popular republican governors in the country, and this republican candidate out here, estes, very closely tied to him. there have been signs even among republicans of blowback with brownback, so republicans will say maybe there's other factors here. what does it mean nationally? we've got five special elections this spring. all eyes after tonight especially, one week from tonight, the suburbs of atlanta. this is one democrats think they can win, especially after tonight. everyone going to be watching this next week, brian. >> all these presidential
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appointees have left their districts, gone to washington, leaving those openings. steve, thank you. steve's coming over here when we come back. reaction to those results. the day's other top political stories including this new swipe at steve bannon by the president when "the 11th hour" continues.
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be forewarned, this is a new era. this is the trump era. the lawlessness, the abdication of duty to enforce our laws and the catch and release policies of the past are over. >> a very tough set of remarks didn't get very much credit today. the sessions era has started at the justice department. going through the new immigration policy of the trump presidency, jeff sessions was today. speaking of members of congress who happen to be republican who go home during this two-week break and have a town hall meeting, joe wilson, republican, south carolina, his place in
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history is set in stone as the first member of congress to heckle a president as he did to barack obama, yelling "you lie." look at what happened to joe wilson at his town hall meeting last night. >> all efforts to make sure that -- [ audience shouting ] >> a very positive issue. [ audience chanting "you lie" ] >> you know what they say about payback. steve kornacki left the big board and has joined us. also with us tonight, an msnbc contributor, our friend charlie sykes. gentlemen, welcome. steve, this may call for a judgment, but you see so much of
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this material come and go, especially republicans, especially the one we had at this desk tonight, saying why he doesn't have town halls. why do they always say they're professional agitators when sometimes they are constituents, part of the resistance, and they're fired up? >> the special election we were just talking about now and the several that are coming in the next few weeks, that's why i think they're so important. it's the psychology of the average republican member of congress and the democrats for that matter. if republicans see signs in these special elections that those protesters showing up at these town halls represent something more than just the base of the democratic party, something broader, something that could threaten them, then i think you're going to see a lot more defensiveness. you're going to see when they show up and do these things, you're going to see a posture that tries to accommodate these folks much more. if we were looking at a result out of kansas that was a 30-point republican win, i think they'd go on saying age tators. these things affect the
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psychology of elected officials. >> charlie sykes, i thought of you today because i know your deep feelings on the subject of the holocaust and just what became of our dialogue in this subject in our history today. >> well, rather extraordinary. i'm not saying that sean spicer is a hole oh caust denier or an anti-semite, but he was a complete moron, the lack of historical perspective, the lack of insensitive was appalling. i almost felt sorry for him because every time he tried to apologize or to clarify, he actually made it worse. so, again, i understand that he apologized, and he said all the right things. but it is the lack of sophistication and the lack of knowledge. the man is so obviously, you know, out over his skis on this particular job. earlier on the program, you were talking about the fact almost parenthetically that we may be steaming toward a nuclear confrontation with korea. >> the president called it an
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armada. >> exactly. these are our serious times. these are tremendous issues. and to have someone like that bumbling his way through, you know, what ought to be a substantive discussion is not reassuring. >> on the nationalist front, i have this to show you gentlemen. "the new york post" published tonight an interview with president obama about bannon. quote, president trump, forgive me. i have obama p r from the last segment. i like steve, but you have to remember he was not involved in my campaign until very late. where have we heard that before? i had already beaten all the senators and all the governors, and i didn't know steve. i'm my own strategist, the president goes on. shades of the manafort defense. >> well, you never want your boss to say, i like so and so but. you also don't want to be in a conflict with a family member because family always wins. these are pretty simple points. that was certainly not a
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full-throated, you know, vote of confidence in steve bannon. >> steve, there's two worlds going on here. there's the outside world, and there's the function of government. there's the machine running in the west wing with several missing pieces. it's early yet. there are so many vacancies. >> yeah. well, part of that is from what i understand, the control that donald trump wants to exert over every individual opening, sort of the unwillingness, the refusal, the inability to delegate. also i think what you're seeing with that comment about steve bannon,ne othe things that keeps coming back to us mr. donald trump, every politician and every president to some degree is like this but it's much more pronounced with trump. if he has a sense that one of his subordinates is taking even a little bit of the spotlight from him, he does not react well to it. i think you've had all these stories the last few weeks that bannon is the philosophical sort of mover and shaker behind the scenes, that trump's version of nationalism, he got from steve.
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i think that has not sat well with donald trump. >> i think that's exactly right. that whole president bannon thing. that's what got to him. when people started referring to him as president bannon, bannon gets himself on the cover of "time" magazine. only one person in that white house should be on the cover of "time" magazine. >> gentlemen, thank you. sorry it was a lightning round. so much to talk about. appreciate you staying late with us. coming up, why something the president said on the campaign trail more than once may come up in a meeting on his schedule tomorrow. hey allergy muddlers
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we strongly support nato, an alliance forged through the bonds of two world wars that dethroned fascism. [ applause ] and a cold war and defeated communism. but our partners must meet their financial obligations. and now based on our very strong and frank discussions, they are beginning to do just that.
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in fact, i can tell you the money is pouring in. very nice. >> last thing before we go tonight, president trump's comments about nato, the north atlantic treaty organization, the strongest, most successful transoceanic and fully international bond of the post-war era. as they say in diplomacy, trump's comments have migrated on the subject. as recently as angela merkel's uncomfortable visit to washington, trump has said member countries are not paying their fair share for membership in this alliance. and you'll recall during the campaign, candidate trump raised concerns the u.s. wouldn't be there for our allies. >> no. we don't really need nato in its current form. anyway foe nato is obsolete. >> i don't say get rid of nato, but we're going to readjust it. you know what, if they won't do it, bye-bye. that's it. >> i think nato is obsolete. nato was done a a tim when you had the soviet union, which was
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obviously much larger than russia is today. i'm not saying russia is not a threat, but we have other threats. >> do you think the united states needs to rethink u.s. involvement in nato? >> yes, because it's costing us too much money. >> we have all of these countries, and they're not paying. they're not paying. and we're protecting them. and the question is if such and such a country were attacked, are you willing to start world war iii because that's essentially what's happening, right? they don't pay. they said, but we have a treaty. so they have these articles. donald trump wants to give up nato. no, no. i want them to pay. >> it is against na backdrop that president trump tomorrow will host the nato secretary general. they will meet largely behind closed doors, but there will be a joint press conference, and we will bring you live coverage of that event tomorrow, 4:00 p.m. eastern time. that's going to do it for this edition of "the 11th hour" on a busy tuesday night. thank you for being here with us. good night from new york.
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tonight on "all in." >> you had a, you >> communication breakdown. >> to draw any comparison to the hol oh cost was inappropriate. >> from foreign policy to the basics of governing, new signs of confusion and chaos in an understaffed white house. then -- [ booing ] >> republicans face their constituents. >> you lie! >> the energized resistance as kansas republicans fight to defend a congressional seat. plus, why a top white house adviser -- >> the era of the pa ja ma boy is over and the alpha males are back. >> has made a pro-nazi group proud. >> number one, i am the least anti-semitic person.