tv Morning Joe MSNBC February 20, 2018 3:00am-6:00am PST
romney. the last election shoufz been won except romney choked like a dog. he choked. he went -- i can't breathe. >> here's what i know. trump is a phony. a fraud. his promises are worthless as a degree from trump university. >> like old times. i've had a wonderful evening with president elect trump. >> wow. and to complete the full circle, donald trump has now endorsed mitt romney for the united states senate. >> we'll see what happens. >> you see what happened after chamber lain said peace in our
time. >> with us here in washington we have politic senator sam stein. >> great to see you. >> editor of the washington post, and new york times reporter. good morning. >> sam, just on the bump in, you and i have a different view of that. your view is? >> for people expecting mitt romney to be this anti trump persona in washington, d.c., you know, it was always a bit -- what happened last night sort of proved that which is a man who two years ago said he would not have taken trump's endorsement if he had known about all the things that he said about the kkk, took president trump's endorsement. i know he needed to do it to get to a place, but it was a defining principle of this
modern mitt romney which was he was going to be a force against and a force against donald trump. and first step out of gate was to take trump's endorsement. >> two things. first of all, a couple of days ago before anybody was saying in the republican party, now donald trump was saying it it was courageous for mitt romney to say we can't sit by and say there is nothing we can do about these shootings. he was the first one to sort of put his toe into that water which trust me, conservative, i know. that's hot water. like, even if you do something that 90% of americans abort, the nra, for instance, they do not care that i'm like 95% pro gun. if you are -- if you do what mitt romney did, they go to war. they care about the 5%. that's how they raise all their
money, but by the extreme 5%, but i just want to say, if you can call the prt of the united states a phony and you can call him a fraud and you can bring up the lawsuit that bothers him more than any other lawsuit in the world and he still endorses you, that -- you know, you know what you call that in baseball? you call that a w. that's in the w column. mitt romney wins. >> i think the white house is really concerned about what mitt romney is going to be in the senate and you know, another voice potentially a strong voice at times against president trump and at crucial times and i think that's -- so let's see what happens, but i'm kind of looking forward to it. >> and heidi also, a smart move for a white house that's not always smart. they didn't like drooiive the pe into the ground this time. okay, we don't want him there.
we can't get hatch to stay. he's not going to do it. let's make peace. that's actually what you do. >> they made peace in this 24 hour time span and if you want take the argument out of it, remove the man, mitt romney -- >> why would you do that? >> and reduce this to politics, look at the state he'll be representing. look at state that during the primaries where you saw some of the most anti trump ads that redounded to the benefit of the candidates out there. utah is a state that remains deeply skeptical of this president. so i think we haven't seen the end of mitt romney busting out and taking positions that differ with the president and even being critical of the president because he can. >> but in this case, mitt romney, in one of the most
skeptical states comes out ahead of everybody else and says i support -- we should look into the possibility of expanding background checks. >> the rest of washington follows. i think this might be a very interesting relationship and donald trump does know as he goes into november, he's got to get out of this box. he's got -- he's got to follow up on what now appears to be the successes of the tax cuts, which now more americans like than do not like, and -- and again, try to safe some of these republican seats. >> you know, what would be really interesting is would be if mitt romney became a moral voice on issues that in a way that the -- that is, you know, it's consistent with utah with the mormon faith, with this respect for moral values as opposed to a president who is donald trump. that would be interesting. >> well, our evangelical leaders
who have acted so crazily that they've given up their faith for access to power. sno >> we've known the romneys for a long time. they know the rigors of running for the office and the fact that he wants to serve in the senate is admirable and courageous at these times and if that tweet was his only way of accepting the president's endorsement, that's only polite and i'm excited that he is -- i'm exciting that he's jumping in. i think it could be good for the country. we need good people like mitt romney. >> and there are a lot of good conservatives out there that are holding their fire, they haven't been as negative toward donald trump as people say like me and
people like myself and several others, and mitt romney is actually a great -- a great focus for them. a great hope for them that somebody will come in and be a traditional conservative. richard wrote a column saying conservatism is dead. this is conservatism in washington, d.c. conservatism in washington, d.c. is dead. richard is right, you need to read that if you get a chance. mitt romney, though, is an opening and he is an opportunity to return as he said in his -- his speech to the conservatism that was the conservatism when i was here cl is a conservatism of balanced budget, of less debt, of opening your arms of illegal
immigrants across the world, basically of looking forward and saying we are strong, we don't have to crouch, be in a crouch position. we can fling open our arms to the world and we can beat anybody on any given day. >> absolutely. >> that's basically his message and it's a message that a lot of conserve tif conservatives are going to be excited about. >> president trump is said to be open to bipartisan legislation to shore up the nation's background checks system. the white house is referring to a bill introduced by chris murphy and republican senator john cornyn. the senators crafted the bill after another shooter killed dozens of people in a rural texas church last november. it instead strengthens existing law to prevent criminals and domestic abusers from obtaining fire arms. a senior administration official
tells nbc news that the language may need to be tweaked and that discussions are on going, but the white house is open to it. with congress on recess for the week, it is students, kids who are seizing control of the gun debate in washington. staging this lion yesterday outside the white house. it's one of the many demonstrations we're seeing across the country friday from the newly minted but mushrooming never again movement made up of never again young people demanding action. >> if you expect us to just, you know, brush off everything, you're wrong. we are here. we are the never again movement and we're going to march on washington, d.c. and demand change. governor scott, senator rubio, president trump we're coming for you and we're coming for any other politician that accepts money from the national rifle association because change needs to happen. children are dying and it needs to end now.
>> i think it's important we come together because adults are not doing it. >> the people who are deeply affected by the shooting, the people who saw it are the people speaking out. >> we've gloun up with this t. we were born after columbine so we're tired of it. >> we are only kids. >> right. just want to go to school. tomorrow students from parkland florida are expected to travel total has see to ca total -- to tallahassee. >> what's your take on this? is this something, a flash in a pan type situation or do you think this is -- it seems like it might be the beginning of something a bit different. >> you never go broke betting on the nra. you know, that's been the record. however, number one, i'm so proud of these kids. number two, there does seem
potentially something different this time and the difference is the kids who at that school in parkland who immediately said, you know, this is ridiculous. look at this. look at, you know, that's my friend. >> right. >> who sat next to me in class who's now dead. and we have to do something. that's a powerful, powerful message from those messengers and if it spreads, if it can catch fire, they're planning marches, they're planning actions in tallahassee and in washington, and also there's this time, congress isn't around, it will be interesting. they might have to do something. >> what's so interesting too, is what they're asking for is not what most people, even hillary clinton, gun group -- gun
control groups have been asking for. it's far different than what they were asking for 20, 25 years ago when bill clinton and others were speaking openly about going after handguns. we're past that now. we're way past that now. >> talking about background checks. they're talking about military style weapons. i mean, that's what this debate has been narrowed down to. >> and i don't think these kids are going away. even if congress acts on this extremely extremely modest measure that is now going to be hailed as some kind of huge break through on capitol hill, no, this is to make sure that the states are getting correct information to the feds. it's doing nothing in our system to update our background check laws and to take us back to 1993, 1994, the intention of that law was universal
background checks and what's happened in the interim period is something that we couldn't have foreseen, the internet. the gun show loopholes so we can't even act to update the original intention of the brady law which was to have universal background checks. now, that would be, you know, progress going forward, but we're now in such a horrific state in terms of gun violence in this country that you do see these kids going with assault weapons, going for something that just a few years ago that was considered nonstarter on capitol hill. >> and you have a situation that even conservatives that are absolutists on guns, they're starting to ask questions about it and that is, why are we having so many of these copy cat type mass shootings at high schools and that is -- you can look -- if you look overall, crime rates are dropping in most
places. you look just in this particular situation and again, what, three of the biggest mass shootings of all time have happened in the last five months, three of the top ten have happened in the last five months and it seems that almost all that we're seeing these days are they're using the ar-15, that the pentagon wanted to use in vietnam because it was more lethal. >> ar-15 and aggrieved male and that it's ushlgly what we have here and this is the case as well. i guess i'm not as optimistic. how many times have we been on the set in the aftermath of the shooting, this one feels really different. >> right. >> and you know, days go by and we just -- something else happens. now, i will say this. i think the opportunity for
change is not on the federal level. i think it's on the state level. you see an actual stage take place like connecticut for instance. i don't know if it's going to happen in florida, but it's not inconceivable that things like upping the age for the purchase of an ar-15 to 21, but then i go back to a few things. one is a congressman, one of the highest ranking members of the house of representatives was shot with his colleagues you are rounding him and a congress ma'am wwam was shot in the head. about 40% of the house. nothing happened and so we have grown numb in a way to this. the nra is very potent in their strategy here which is they take their time, they don't say anything and they put the brakes on everything. remember bump stock legislation? >> well, and perhaps -- perhaps
and i know this will shock everybody around the table. but perhaps he's right. >> i'm shocked. >> thank you. >> perhaps you do look at the state level with connecticut passed some really sweeping gun control legislation after newtown. >> yeah. >> and of course for all those that say i have the right to carry around whatever the hell i want to carry around, no, you don't. connecticut proves justice wrote it right. thomas doesn't believe that, but scalia does and the rest of the court does. so if you want -- i think you're exactly right. these students have a much better chance of having an impact on the state level and places like tallahassee even though that's one of the most
conservative pro gun states in america but they have a better opportunity to make change there instead of up at washington, d.c. >> but the issue is guns don't respect state lines and that will always be an issue, but will it help? i think everything helps. every little bit helps. >> if we're talking about a 17-year-old kid or a 19-year-old kid that's in the state of connecticut, what is the -- >> it will help -- >> there is not one, but i'm saying as long as an 18 or 19-year-old kid can buy -- again, i will say again, the weapon that was more lethal than the m-16 in vietnam and the article about the atlantic in 1981, 37 years ago saying american soldiers died in the jungles in vietnam because they didn't have an ar-15. you can kill more, as long as an
18 or 19-year-old kid can buy that in florida or connecticut, it's going to be easier for them to do that in florida than connecticut. so if we're just talking about this subset of gun killings like at high schools, actually state legislation could make a difference. >> and we've seen that it does, because the fact of the matter is even though it's obscured because we're a union of states and people can take guns across state lines the fact are the states that have stricter gun laws there are less of these mass shootings and less gun violence period and so it can have an effect buzz here's what i think. nothing is going to change, but it could change after this next election if these children are out there protesting and if the referendum is that after this election lawmakers lost seats and they did so in part because of this issue, it finally will
have changed that paradigm. >> younger people going out to vote, that would make a huge difference even before this because millennials are so against -- if you look at the polls donald trump. i will say though, what everybody's going to have to figure out is, new york city has some of the toughest gun laws in america. their crime rates are lower than the 19 5050s. they can't come up with statistics to compare the murder rates in new york city. you compare that to chicago and the murder rate up there over the past five years and it's been an epidemic. that's something that if -- if we care about doing more than just waiting, that's something that we need to look at, what is working in chicago or what is working in new york that is not working in chicago. >> 40% of the guns that are
recovered are registered from other states. we can only do so much at the state level. they're out there. >> statistics that are just extraordinary and i can't believe every single conservative, even pro gun absolute itseisists wouldn't be concerned about. i heard only 3% of crimes committed with guns are committed by people who bought the guns. i read a statistic like it's 7 or 8%, but why wouldn't everybody be -- be for doing whatever we can do to make sure that if you sell a gun, if you give a gun, if you transfer a gun to somebody who uses its in the commission of a crime, you're going to be a part of a conspiracy of that crime. just whatever we can do to make sure that -- that legal gun
owners are legal gun owners and those who aren't legal gun owners are going -- if they use guns for the wrong reason, there's going to be a deterrent effect. >> gun makers are liable like everybody else. >> but there's different tracks to this because you've got to get the guns out there back in and there are millions. >> that's not going to happen. >> you can do buyback programs. >> and since australia did in 1996 they haven't had another mass shooting so yeah, you can do voluntary. >> you have to do multiprong. >> all right. still ahead. another power l congressman hangs it up on capitol hill. what's going on with that latest exodus from washington. >> and president trump attacks
his predecessor. >> he criticized barack obama. >> be very reflective this president trump's day. number two, attack the president you are most jealous of. >> and michael schmidt will join the table for that. >> and the dubious ones only. >> do you want to apologize for bill for all the times you oo'v insulted him on the morning joe? >> bill karins, as good as he got. >> a couple moments. >> he gave. >> i'm worried about my career too. >> so what do we got? >> it's going to be 70 in d.c. today. tomorrow could almost be 80 degrees. >> we're going to go put on some
speedos and lie rouout. >> what is going on here? >> all right. bill, take it away. >> all right. so for our morning continues in kansas city, overnight we had freezing rain and now it continues this morning and that's extending up here to iowa and also wisconsin. a couple problems with this crazy weather pattern for february. 5 to 7 inches. we're going to have some serious flooding problems all the way up to the southern great lakes. frozen ground. itz's february and here we are dealing with temperatures that are going to be crazy warm. d.c. could be about 70 degrees. nashville 78. here's the record highs possible today. even rochester, new york,
lexington is going to smash your record near 80 today and tomorrow washington, d.c. has near 80 degrees in february. could easily break that record high. same with boston. you getz the picture. incredible warmth across the board on the east coast. as our middle of february certainly looks and feels like the middle of april. washington, d.c. 70 degrees today. 78 tomorrow. nature is going to be confused. you're watching "morning joe." we'll be right back. places you really want to go. with the united mileageplus explorer card, you'll get a free checked bag. two united club passes. priority boarding. and earn fifty thousand bonus miles after you spend three thousand dollars on purchases in the first three months from account opening plus, zero-dollar intro annual fee for the first year, then ninety-five dollars. learn more at theexplorercard.com
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or mikey inside the newsroom because you're so young? so i'm going to call you mike. mike, you are skeptical and you're skeptical that this -- that maybe the media has gotten over their skis on the gates plea deal with mueller bespite these reports of, you know, queen for a day possibilities. tell us why you're skeptical. >> these things can go back and forth when there's a plea deal. you look into the reports that there was something in place that rick gates was going to plead and flip on paul manafort which would be the latest turn, the newest development, putting the latest pressure on paul manafort. we weren't able to get there on that. maybe this is something that had fallen apart recently and maybe this is something that could happen, maybe looking for a better deal. there was a question about some of his lawyers whether he was going to be changing lawyers or whatever, these things are going
to go on as they move forward. will they be able to get more leverage on manafort? >> are you skeptical because you couldn't get confirmation or are you skeptical because of some of your sources are saying you should be skeptical? >> i think both. but we struggle with that. there are different things that come up that we have to try and figure out are true or are not. sometimes because we don't have the sources to get there. the president was -- was upset this weekend after initially being told that the indictments were positive and then he started turning on the news saying people were -- this is a shock saying negative things about him saying how could you be shocked if you were donald trump that the media is going to say negative things about you, like a geico ad, it's what we do. bu but what is your take? so many people have different takes on what happened, what mueller did on friday.
what is your take? what's your team's talk that's been following this from the beginning? >> so bob mueller doesn't like doing press but i think bob mueller understands the press and the power that he needs to have the public on his side if one way or another and i don't think you can help but look at that indictment and think well, maybe mueller's trying to say to the country, hey, there really was something here that went on and even though you can make an obstruction case without an underlying crime, that's a notion that's not really true, if you're the average person, you're saying there really was something there. there really was a conspiracy underfoot. >> and that's something that donald trump's supporters has said collusion is not an underlying crime and we're hearing just bad law being thrown around there. you can't be found guilty of obstructing justice if there's not an underlying crime.
you can't indict the president, that's just not true. but all that being said, when bob mueller puts this down, he says hey, republicans, fox news, there is an underlying crime and here it is. and it does seem that that makes things next to impossible for donald trump if he wants to fire bob mueller now. >> i would never say next to impossible with donald trump. i mean, we had this discussions with how he would never fire comey. one thing on the friday stuff though. there's been a lot of coverage of bob mueller. we knew nothing about that stuff and it reminds us that there's so much that we still don't know. >> and that i think we can look at what we know and not project this where we think it's going, but we also can look at the president's tweet storm over the weekend which seems to be like some sort of reaction to those
indictments, the special counsel's indictments against russians who interfered in the 2016 election. president trump continued yesterday pointing the blame at others. >> he blamed the 1978 pittsburgh steelers yesterday. >> some question his lack of action on russian meddles in 2016. he began by wishing people a great, but very reflective president's day, which is nice. you think about the beauty of our democracy and the power of the presidency -- sense of duty and honor that the job requires and spending the morning and early afternoon in florida he tweeted, obama was president up to and beyond the 2016 election so why didn't he do something about the russian meddling? >> that actually, not that he should do it on twitter but that's a very legitimate question to ask.
i get a far less problems with the president of the united states asking that question than saying obama was crawling around in trump towers and tapping my phones. >> it's still more flailing. >> there's a -- you can really feel them -- >> that's something that you get your press secretary to go out and say. >> that is a question that people think a lot. >> it is a legitimate question. schiff asked the question. what does he call him now? little schiff? >> he's going to be coming overused. >> and this is why i'm glad mitt romney is jumping back in in a little way. >> that's the problem is that when donald trump needs to make a real argument, people don't always listen and what point are we really going to need to listen to the president and people are going to tune him out. >> i think he's tuned out a lot. >> so the purpose though, of -- at the end of the day you sort
through everything and the purpose of that also might have been for mueller to say, i've got this. i've got a lot more. so funny, he puts things down and people immediately go, he's going to be impeached. >> and people go, there's nothing here. when he brought up papadopolis, this guy keeps secrets better than anybody else. >> they don't even return our e-mails anymore. >> that's insulting. >> but the thing here is like you said, is he laying a predicate? because this only covers the social media aspect of the campaign and what we do know about the hacking is that unlike with the social media aspect, the trump campaign openly and quite transparentally
wick ki lea wikileaks. we know there was some communications that took place between the trump campaign and that is the fascinating question as to what extent with mueller with this narrow portion of the investigation setting some kind of predicate for conspiracy. >> i also think that you need to look at sort of the broader picture here, which is they -- the -- the outline of the case that he put on this criminal complaint is that our election system is incredibly vulnerable so hugs harussian hackers and w doing nothing to stop it from happening again. he said i can't say i've been specifically directed to bluntly stop russian meddling. it's such a remarkable statement
to say when you're heading this close into 2018. so we are vulnerable to this happening again. >> i actually had a call from somebody who had a super visor of elections. he's involved on the national level on things. what we're hearing in the media is not true and he's been free. th eve all been briefed and what happened in 2016 and what happened in 2018 and i wonder if we don't hear it because of the bureaucrats that are doing it are fearful they may upset donald trump because to do that is to admit -- >> would be to undermine the
result. >> that would be there was something out there in 2016. so you don't want to hold press conferences going, we've been spending the last six months making sure that what happened in 2016 doesn't happen in 2018. and then you'll lose your job. >> i want to -- i do want to finish up with a question with you about bob mueller because a good source -- really good source told me a few days ago and i wonder if you've been picking this up too because i talked about the possible indictment of the president, that bob mueller at the end of the day is a conservative with a small c. he is not going to indict anybody if he can't bring that indictment home and he is not -- he's going to do everything he can do to make sure he doesn't break china in america's constitutional republic. the possibility of him actually indicting the president is next to zero because that's not who
bob mueller is. it's much more likely if he builds a case for the president, he'll build that case and then like john robertson, obamacare will say, it's not my job to do the voter's job. we're going to uphold obamacare and they can do their job in the voting booth and mueller, it's not my job to diet the president and kick him out of office. are you hearing that's more of his long-term approach? >> well, we don't really know with him. the one thing on the indictment question is that if mueller were to try and do that he'd have to go through rosen stein, the deputy attorney general and he would be able to stop something like this. some folks say look, bob mueller is a prosecutor, he's probably deeply offended by what donald trump has done legally and has done otherwise to the justice system and he may think that donald trump is such a threat that he has to do something like
this. there is justice department documents that say that you shouldn't -- you shouldn't indict the president ern though you could do it but at the end of the day it comes down to who's overseeing the investigation who's rod rosen stoo stein for now. >> now we're going to turn to something completely different. >> what do we do here? >> i will tell you that -- >> oh, he's the michelin man again. >> he's put on the inflatable -- >> he's going to fly away if we don't get to him in pyeongchang, south korea. >> i like the coat. i make no apologies. >> you are a confident man. >> peace has broken out in the korean peninsula. so willy, how are things doing over there? what's the latest?
half pipe. he does flips and twists and double corks and all that stuff in the air. she won a bronze medal in that event. if you're looking ahead to what to watch tonight itz's lindsey vonn. she won the gold in the downhill in von kooufr eigancouver eight. you'll see it on prime time tonight. so she's been training. they ty they take these training runs and she was asked why she stood up for the last few meters of the run. she said i slowed myself down because i didn't want to finish first in training. her line was, i like it when other think they're faster than me. so be ready for her to come out and stomp it in the downhill tomorrow. so america, there's been a lot
of talk they haven't won as many as people expected them to do. the united states could win a gold in lindsay vonn does what she came to do tonight. >> isn't that our motto, i like it when people think they're faster than us? >> and she did it again today. she checked the gate to slow down a little bit. >> so far, it's all strategy. >> yeah. do many people come up to you and remember what you and i did in 1994? when we won ice dancing? >> yeah. >> the pairs dancing. it wasn't an official event at that point. it was you and i in the parking lot so no medals awarded. we inspired so many young skaters around the world. >> go away.
>> you know what? it's like they gave us a gold medal in their hearts. >> you need to go now. willy, come home. >> coming up this morning, republican -- >> it's a blimp. >> why does he do that? >> i don't know. i saw that in austin powers. you pull the string and he floats up. >> i think it's too confident. all right. republicans got flagged for the recent tax cuts bill but now the american public seems to be coming around. even some democrats. the washington post robert costa joins us just ahead on "morning joe."
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laughing their asss off in moscow. but you say they're laughing at him. >> i kind of think they are. >> i don't think that's what he meant. >> you know, look at that tweet storm from the president over the weekend after the mueller indictment going after anybody except vladimir putin. you know, if the desire was to weaken and confuse and vex american democracy and the american president, they've certainly done that and now they have donald trump sort of foiling as he did over the weekend over -- but for not much money, right? i mean, it was cheap for putin to set up this troll farm. >> it was not much money. it has to be kept in perspective. >> it's one of the greatest investments. >> absolutely. >> and disinformation and in the
intel community trying to stir dissent in other country, it's remarkable the payback they've gotten from a president in denial from democrats enraged by a president in denial from the press that covers it day in and day out. >> with no consequences, with zero consequences. congress has passed a few sanctions, the president won't apply them. i mean, no consequences at all. i say it's a win-win-win for vladimir putin and lose-lose for us. >> i think it hurts us in a big way down the road. >> that said, though, again, at what point are we going to look up and figure out that even though the russians are our rivals, even though the russians are trying to undermine much of what we're doing across the world that we need the russians, whether it's on north korea, whether it's on eastern europe, we need to be friends with -- not friends but we need to have a more constructive relationships with the russians.
>> i'm going say something that i've never said before and i'll probably never say again. where's dick cheney when you need him? >> oh, my god! >> because i think he would -- he's wrong on everything but on this he would come up with some way of getting at putin that would send the message we've been trying to send which is yes, we need to work together but you have to cut this out. you do this again and -- i don't know what that is but i think he would. >> how is it, gene -- we're to go, but isn't it remarkable in the 21st century we have had three presidents who've played vladimir putin completely wrong. george w. bush that looked into l his eyes and saw his soul, you saw barack obama whispering let me get elected and then we'll have more space to work and then you have donald trump who obviously knows that putin has something on him and he's compromised. we've had three presidents in a row that have misplayed this guy.
>> during the cold war we knew how to play russia. since the cold war we're learning and we haven't learned. >> eugene, thank you very much. >> thank you, gene. coming up, what should we make of president trump's endorsement of mitt romney, one of his fiercest republican critics. the "new york times'" peter baker and the "washington post's" bob costa weigh in. plus, donald trump jr. took over his father's business along with his brother with the understanding that they would have no role in government. so why is don jr. now set to give a foreign policy speech in india while promoting trump condos? >> we'll be back.
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indulge in irresistible freshness. febreze unstopables. breathe happy. with mitt, he came out and was very nasty, i thought he was a better person than that. i did help him, i raised money for his campaign. we had a fund raiser in my apartment at trump tower and because everybody's shoes were so wet i ruined my carpet, that's why i -- this carpet was wiped out. and nobody thanked me for the carpet. hey, maybe i can send mitt a bill for carpet ruined, right? >> this was -- yeah, man, it really tied the room together. >> this was a valued -- >> tied the room together? >> my rug. >> were you listening to the dude's story, donny? were you listening to dude's story? >> i was bowling. >> that rug really tied the room together, did it not? >> it did tie the room together. >> and mitt went and ruined it.
>> it's tuesday, february 20. in washington we have nbc news political reporter heidi przybyla, chief white house correspondent for the "new york times," peter baker, political reporter for the "washington post" and moderator of "washington week" on pbs, robert costa and the co-founder of axios, mike allen is with us as well. good to have you on board with us. >> peter, what do you make of the detente between utah and trump tower? >> well, there's not a lot of choice. mitt romney is going to win this race no matter what, he's going to sit in that seat and why alienate somebody from the start. there's so many more months ahead to alienate, why start off that why. >> and bob a lot of people were very cynical and snarky about mitt romney thanking the president for the endorsement but mitt romney was every bit as tough on the president as the president was on him. wherever somebody would endorse me that i had gone after aggressively, i put that down as
a win. isn't this a win for mitt romney? >> yes and no, there are many people within the republican party who would like him to be a proxy for the establishment of the gop, to be a voice against president trump and this gambit by the president via twitter, he's saying actually, you're part of the party that i now own. >> but pick your fights, right? romney can pick his fights? i was talking about a few days ago after the shooting of parkland he was the first major republican to say hey, we have to do something. you saw other republicans follow, james langford and others and now you have john cornyn working? >> he'll be a heavyweight and you could see that on domestic policy. the key question with romney, let's say he gets elected, what will he say on foreign policy when he's in washington? will he be a more hawkish voice on russia? on interference, will he be a foil to president trump or will he just try to blend in into the wallpaper. >> peter, russia is his issue, isn't it? mitt romney predicted this all
those years ago. >> even democrats say mitt romney had a point in 2012 when he said russia was our greatest geopolitical foe and president obama kind of mocked him for it and today that doesn't look so good for president obama. it looks like russia is a more serious adversary than we were taking perhaps at the same so romney has credibility on the russian history. >> heidi, you've seen over the last week, week and a half that you have not only republican appointees of donald trump and the intel community but also republican senators who seem to be showing a bit more independence than they have. >> in his own aides, mcmaster. >> mitt romney just might become an instant leader. >> he might slide in with good timing here because now that mueller's findings are coming out, you can no longer deny and stay quiet about what president trump previously called a hoax and like clapper said this is
the beginning, other shoes will drop and mitt romney has to be careful not to be so far aside from his own conference that he becomes an island to himself but there is an opportunity there as this investigation continues and like clapper says, other shoes drop. >> mika it was clapper which donald trump and a lot of donald trump and democrats said he just takes donald trump. this past week you had donald trump's hand pick choice at the fbi, his hand picked choice at the cia, his hand picked choice for dni, hand picked choice for national security adviser saying the same thing, russia interfered in the election. >> that's the ground work being laid. mike allen, axios's one big thing is about special counsel robert mueller, you're reporting his team doesn't leak information but last week's 37-page indictment of russians provided a number of clues about what he's up to.
what are the clues? >> mika, this is picking up on what you were saying with schmidty earlier that even though mueller doesn't leak, he tells us a lot so look at that indictment, we see mueller is moving fast. i was told by a source close to the investigation this is not going to take years like whitewater and bill clinton. that was a a lot of reporting and investigating done in nine months. we see he's bringing in the whole federal government, as you've seen the russian intel in there included a lot of sources and methods he's clearly using the intelligence community and something we see he's going for is quantity, volume. he's laying out a conspiracy. that means once there's a conspiracy when people are involved in it, when people abet it, you can charge them and you can look for tax charges and others. what's next? you were talking earlier about
dnc and the podesta e-mails. i'm told mueller is going to come to some conclusion about how those were hacked. i would look for charges related to dnc and podesta hacking. >> let's talk about the pacing th of this, peter baker. my first introduction to you is when i bought "the breach" which you say is coming into a tv some time soon. >> cool. >> but you really dug in on the clinton impeachment and investigation. compare the pace of what ken starr did with the pace of what burre bob mueller did. >> well, mike is right that white water seemed to drag on for years partly because in the end there wasn't a crime that the special counsel, the independent counsel, charged in that case. in the case of the perjury and objection involving monica lewinsky he moved relatively quickly. from january to august, basically, september. so this is on a same similar
pace at this point. we don't know where mueller is going. i think might is right that he'll tell us more about the hacks and give us a conclusion about whether he thinks if conspiracy existed, what crime could have been there. you talk about whether there is a crime. hopefully he'll answer the questions. >> and what's the attitude of republicans on the hill now. how has it changed with the intel chiefs coming to the hill saying listen, you guys -- without saying this basically could have said you guys need to stop saying that this is fake news and a hoax. this happened and then with the indictments on friday you notice a change of attitude some republicans? >> i am in my reporting. it's an interesting question because one thing to pay attention to if you're trying to see where the republican party is going is this wave of retirements on the gop side. who just announced their retime ov over the weekend, tom rooney, a
member of the intelligence committee from florida. he's saying i've had enough, i'm going home after ten years. but he could be a more candid voice that he's retiring. you see a lot of retiring republicans are starting to say we're not running for reelection, we don't care about being in the good graces of president trump. it will add a new dynamic on capitol hill. >> and you have trey gowdy, people in really important powerful positions that are retiring. >> they are retiring. >> maybe corker. >> maybe, maybe not. >> these politician ace founs their retirement and then say i'm not so sure about that people often say "they're calling me back" but you talk to lawmakers, they want to come back. >> i remember when i decided to leave and i left in the middle of my fourth term and i had -- i just had to go home for -- i had two kids in middle school and
was basically told it's time and i remember somebody -- a member of congress who retired voluntarily two years before and we were eating in the congressional lunchroom and he leaned over and he goes "don't do it, don't do it. it's cold out there." i got to say, it's not -- it's not that cold out there. >> reporters, we joke around town that some of the saddest people in washington are former lawmakers because once they lose their staff, the people picking up their dry cleaning, they've got to hustle at a law firm, have to get clients, it's a different life. >> it is a different life. i got home and all those people weren't around me and i said "this is kind of nice." so heidi, i want to ask you the same thing the attitude on the hill among republicans that is talking to bob about all of the retirements, it does seem like something happened last week.
there was sort of a turn where people said listen, we're not going to go out of our way to trash donald trump at home. people still like donald trump, 80% of republicans like donald trump. at the same time when the curtain comes down i won't be center stage. >> it's a confluence of events. look at the detail. those lawmakers sat down and read through that indictment, all 37 pages and they saw how detailed it was, the number of staffers that were dedicated, the 15 million dollar budget. there's no way that you can deny this any more. but i think it's a confluence, joe, and that they're also looking at what's happening, for instance, like bob says in these special elections, they're looking to pennsylvania where we have this special election coming up. >> does lam have a chance of winning that? >> i think he does, the latest polls have him down by three points but the fact that he is competing there in a district where trump won by 20% and now
polls are showing that he has a 42% strong disapproval rating i think some of these democrats who come in with a strong economic populist message that was supposed to be trump's message have a chance of competing so it's a combination. >> but there's a problem in pennsylvania that you know ab t about. before yesterday, before the supreme court handed down a decision on gerrymandering that's really going to help democrats six, nine months from now, both parties have to be looking at that race and saying do we really want to spend tens of millions of dollars for a six-month congressman? >> right. >> because everything changes six months from now so suddenly, yes, so a win by the democrat would be devastating for republicans but a win by a republican just means they hold the seat for six, seven, eight more months. >> right. that's a small ball calculation
so i don't know how much money they'll deploy going further out but the broader tapestry happening with all these races and the overperformance which we've discussed on so many occasions is what is troubling to republicans and i do think, though, that would be a symbolic scalping,c scalping. these things have an effect on expectations and morale and so far that reason i think it could be important. >> expectations, fund-raising, candidate recruitment, morale, all those things. >> joe? >> yes, mike? >> there's one more and it's related to morale. what we're seeing with these departures is a continuing very bearish view right over my shoulder about what's going to happen to republicans. they think with the tax cut message they'll be better off but these people leaving think
they're going to have a speaker pelosi they're almost convinced of it. the republican tax plan has seen a surge of support for americans since the law was passed in november. according to the survey monkey poll, half of americans approve of the new tax law, up 14 points since december, 46% say they disapprove, down 11 points. even support among democrats has ticked upward with 19% of democrats approving of the tax plan, up 11 points since december, 79% disapprove. republicans also remain high on the plan with 89% approving of the cuts, up nine points since the law was passed. 9% disapprove. >> the republicans have done a great job on this. the president has talked about companies that have given money ba back, heidi was talking about the chamber is sending people out to knock on doors to canvass. they have had a real grass-roots
push to take this to voters and say this is what this tax bill is going to do. >> look, donald trump is if nothing else a successful salesman, right? and what he has sold is this idea that the economy is doing really well and that you should feel good about things and the truth is the economy is doing okay, it's doing roughly the same as it was in the last couple years under president obama but president obama was always much more reticent about selling it. >> he was always afraid and i think i read this in one of your articles, barack obama was afraid to sell the economy bath because he was always worried about the glass half empty, what about income disparity, what about people that haven't risen out of their dire needs, i can't say the economy is great whereas donald trump just says the economy is great, the economy is great. and you hear reporters on the air, you hear journalists on the air going "well, of course the economy is better than it's been in the past 50 years" but it's not. >> on consumer confidence, on
polls, this has gotten through, it's penetrated to the country that, yeah, the economy is doing well. and obama was petrified. people like us would sit there and hold him to account for overstating things and president trump couldn't care less. >> that's the difference between a college professor and a reality tv host. >> one other thing, though, that obama could have used the bully pulpit, yes, and trump does, but obama did not have this massive machine behind him to promote the tax cuts. we're looking at millions and millions of dollars being spent by some of these outside groups that are aligned with mike pence's pac, paul ryan's pac and those are the guys who have college students out that we know of, at least 30 to 50 districts in these key districts door knocking, they're spending millions of dollars on ads. the chamber now in a story i reported last week is encouraging thousands of companies to send out notes to their employees saying, hey, your paycheck may have gotten
bigger and here's why. so the promotional campaign that's behind this cannot be underestimated. >> but the corporations are doing -- the large corporations that employ millions of people, they're doing extraordinarily well. they've made a ton of money. i've talked to several ceos who say "i can't believe how much money i've made on this tax cut." they've passed along a little to their employees and suddenly their employees are going -- by the way, for people out there saying a thousand dollar bonus in a paycheck is not enough to make somebody go wow, this is good for me, they're isolated. that's a lot of money. >> but some lawmakers are saying maybe that bonus, or that cash, isn't enough to keep them in office. you talk to republicans in the house, they're saying if it was just about the tax bill, if we could count on those gop groups
to bolster us then we could keep running for reelection, we think we'd maybe keep the house. but those suburban voters in the districts that are swing district, it's not just about the tax cut. it's about president trump, his temperament and these issues keep coming like curveballs each week. now it's gun control. suburban parents are wondering where are these republicans, where are they going to go on gown scroll yes in part about the tax cut, republicans feel good about it but these midterms are about a lot of issues. >> absolutely. >> i'm so glad you said that. mike allen, i want to go to you on this because you and peter baker and i are the only ones on set old enough to remember this clearly. all of you were spring chickens, very young. >> yeah, that's it. 1994, everybody was saying the economy is great, it's the economy stupid, the economy is doing better. i never ran on the economy. i ran on keeping government out
of health care, keeping the government out of this, keeping the government out of that. and it was about cultural trends. bill clinton represented the worst excesses of the 1960s cultural revolution. people didn't vote in the midterm then just like they didn't vote in the midterm in 2006 on the economy because the economy was doing well. these off-year elections often are just people going wait, wait, wait, this party in power has gotten too far out in front on cultural issues and donald trump seems to be patient zero here, patient x or whatever. he's the most divisive cultural figure we've ever had in the white house and is the sort of person that makes people stand in lines for eight hours in the driving rain just to vote against people who support him.
that was a chris matthews question, by the way. we love chris but i asked you a question -- i made a statement and i want you to respond to it and say "right, joe." you can disagree. >> joe, you are so right once again! but this time you actually are. so you ran on power, you ran on passion and excitement and all the energy was with the newt republicans in the '94 revolution and that's what we're hearing in the country now that the excitement and energy is with democrats and that republicans are a little bit hang dog and bob walked through some of the reasons why. not only are they discouraged but they are flinch ago little bit. they know these curveballs he's talking about are coming and that's not a way to run a campaign or a party. >> and peter, i don't want to minimize the great turnaround on
the tax cuts by the gop because they should be heartened by that. but, you know, i've been saying all along in the midterms people aren't going to be looking at tax cuts. now in 2020 they'll ask themselves am i better off today than four years ago? but that's not what midterms are about. >> it's what have you done for me lately. by the time people come to vote that will have been 12 months earlier. and a lot of different controversies and tweet storms will come up and so many things will be on their minds. remember, barack obama put tax cuts in people's paychecks, too. not quite as much as a thousand dollars but a lot of tax cuts in the stimulus package, people forgot about it, didn't give him much credit for it and people moved on to other issues. >> can i ask you a quick question to completely drive alex crazy who said we have to go to break. >> we've already done that. >> does anybody think the
stories of these two women and the payoffs to these two women does anybody think that either these two stories -- no matter how big the stories get -- are going to change the vote of one trump voter in america? bob? >> well, we'll have a test next month. illinois and texas have their primaries. if democratic candidates come out of there talking about russia, talking about these payments maybe you'll see that kind of message but at this point, democrats are talking about those issues with core democratic voters but not swing voters. it's the economy, jobs, president trump's temperament, not necessarily the details. >> mika, do you think any trump voter will change their mind? >> trump voters, i think some of them don't want to hear any of it and they support them. >> what about you, peter? >>. >> and of itself maybe not, there's a brick in the wall. there's a certain fatigue
setting in among some people who might be open against president trump. not his core supporters but other people who are saying let's give the guy a chance, the economy is doing well, but if they feel like it's one more thing, here we go, here we go. >> everybody knew the "access hollywood," everybody knew and if there was one group it was going to shift it would be evangelicals and what we've seen is they've doubled down in their support for him. you have people like david brody doing his book on trump's deep faith so that group isn't moving. >> i don't think anybody is going to move on this and the david brodie book, i read an erick erickson book and he got to a part, mike allen, where he said donald trump's conquests with women was his yearning to find god. >> oh, my god so i'm skeptical to say anybody's vote will change. >> based on that, i think he might have some conversions
right here on the show. but i'm going to buzz in with no but, not a single trump supporter, of course, that's baked in. but axios tells you why it matters. and why it matters of these two women's stories is they say that no longer feel bound by their non-disclosure agreements, by the agreements they signed to keep quiet and that is a long tail problem for this white house. there are a lot of people out there who have signed nda's related to this operation. >> i think that peter's right. it's another brick in the wall but nobody's going to be talking about on the campaign trail. if something big happens, and i don't know what the hell that could be, if you shoot somebody on fifth avenue and that won't even do it, maybe it's one more brick in the wall when somebody looks back and says okay, he did this, the russians and this but right now i just don't think it moves a single voter. >> i'm completely confused by
the evangelicals that are supporting trump so blindly and writing these books that are fawning all over him and finding his faith. like i don't understand it. it's vexing. >> he gave them what they wanted on the courts. >> what do you mean? >> it was a bargain. the supreme court. i feel like they have a golf game through him and got excited and wrote whatever he wanted to hear. it sounds so transactional and completely against everything they stand for. what planet are we on. >> i think it's transactional, i think people like erick erickson have been writing columns suggesting that this is a long-term problem for the evangelical movement in the short run i think if donald trump runs against hillary clinton in 2020 -- >> well, that was the problem. >> that won't happen. i think there are a lot of evangelicals in alabama and in
virginia who said you know what? i'm not going to call ten of my church friends. because most of my friends that support donald trump who at the beginning said you're being too tough on donald trump are now saying yeah, i still support him. >> i'm thinking back to '76. jimmy carter comes out and the country was in a bad spot after watergate and the democrats said i'm going to connect with the evangelical community. where is that democrat today? there's an opportunity there. >> and there are a lot of trump supporters that are friends of mine. i'm just so exhausted, why does he have to tweet? they weren't saying that six months ago. >> peter baker, bob costa, mike allen, thank you all. still ahead on "morning joe," is donald trump ignoring the worst attack on america since september 11? our next guest asks "imagine if, after 9/11, the president said the united states could have been attacked by china or lots of other people rather than al
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>> the indictment alleges that the russian conspirators want to promote discord in the united states and undermine public confidence in democracy. we must not allow them to succeed. joining us now, senior adviser at the center for strategic and international studies and a senior national security analyst for nbc news and msnbc, juan zarate. also with us, columnist for the "washington post" and senior fellow at the council on foreign relations and author of the book "the road not taken," max boot. max, your latest piece for the "washington post" is entitled "trump is ignoring the worst attack on america since 9/11." and you write in part this, "imagine if after 9/11 the president had said that the world trade center and pentagon could have been attacked by
china or lots of other people. imagine if he had dismissed claims of al qaeda's responsibility as a hoax and said that he really believed osama bin laden's denials. imagine if he saw the attacks primarily as a political embarrassment to be minimized rather than as a national security threat to be combatted. imagine if he threatened to fire the investigator trying to find out what happened. that's roughly where we stand after the second-worse foreign attack on america in the past two decades. the russian subrerversion of th 2016 election did not, to be sure, kill nearly 3,000 people, but its longer-term impact may be even more corrosive by undermining our faith in our democracy. and that's one of the clearest most concise assessments of what's happening now with this presidency that i've ever read. >> i personally think it was -- >> except your columns, of
course. >> that was garbage, my three-year-old could have written that. i'm kidding, max, it was great. perfectly put. max i want to ask you after that garbled introduction by me what have you noticed over the past week? do you have more hope over the past week with the intel chief standing up and saying this is what happened, there has been interference, the mueller indictment is coming out on friday, republicans saying we want to get to the bottom of this. you have been a fearless voice out there like me, a former republican, a current conservative who spoke out against some of these excesses. do you feel any better today than you did, say, last month before the four intel chiefs came out and spoke truth to power. >> i have to say i feel like goldilocks today because i'm sitting in your chair in new york. >> hilarious.
>> that's what i feel like. but in terms of whether i feel better, not really. because there is more evidence now, it's incontrovertible but the commander-in-chief still doesn't accept it and i'm cheered to see robert mueller and the fbi working along fearlessly investigating what happened but it's -- what's stunning to me is trump refuses to accept it. he's the only person in washington who won't accept the russians attacked us but he's the most powerful person in washington and it's not just a question of accepting that the attack occurred but doing something to prevent future attacks because we just heard the intelligence chiefs say the russians are going after the 2018 election. they're out there all the time taking advantage of the parkland shooting, taking advantage of the release the memo hashtag. they're attacking us all the time and trump refuses to do anything about it. we need a commission like we had
a 9/11 commission after the 2001 attack to figure out how to defend america against this ongoing subversion of our democracy and trump won't do it which makes you think why won't he do it? . the most benign explanation you can possibly have is he is letting his vanity overcome his devotion to his job. that he can't have anything that taints his glorious election victory so he won't protect and defend the constitution of the united states but the more sinister explanation and one that there is a lot of evidence is that he has a lot to hide and he liked the fact the russians attacked us in 2016 because he benefitted from it so he wants them to attack again in 2018 and 2020. >> he actually said in a press conference, "russia, hack hillary clinton's e-mails and find the 33,000 e-mails." so, again, if this is all a conspiracy, it's all a conspiracy not only done in broad daylight but usually done in front of lester holt or the entire washington press corps.
but one i want to push back just a bit. friday's indictments did get the president to move from some 400 pound guy in new jersey to now saying well, yes, yes, of course the russians tried to interfere with our elections. i've always said that. of course not true but he has moved in that direction, he's now just saying it didn't have an impact. >> that's right. and i think that's part of the power of the mueller investigation which is he's bringing facts to the table and i've said this before mika, you've heard me. part of what we need to watch is what director mueller is doing is he is looking at this from a counterintelligence perspective. he's coming from the outside in to look at how the russians have established their influence campaign and he's laying out the facts. he's obviously taking the indictments he can that are right in front of him but he's laying out the case, he started with the social media campaign that started in 2014, he laid it
out. as you said, joe, you can't deny the facts. that's the beauty of the investigation, the work of a prosecutor and investigators to lay out what you have in front of you. >> and when he has names, when he has russian agencies -- >> bank accounts. >> when he has bank accounts. >> budgets. >> when he has wire transfers, budgets, all of these things, a backbencher who already looked foolish going on fox news saying this is a witch-hunt and it's fake news cannot say that anymore. they just -- i mean fox news can't let them come on and say that anymore because it's just false. >> and then you get to max's point which is at some point you have to start turning your attention to the fact that the russians have not only devised this as a campaign to deal with 2016 but this is part of their strategy. you see this in the threat assessment put forth by the intelligence chiefs. this is a strategy the russians are using not just in the u.s. but other parts of the world.
it's going to continue to happen it's a very dangerous demonstration effect. the chinese view what's happening, non-state actors, terrorist groups see that we can be thrown into confusion and chaos and eat our own young when controversy is created. and the fact that it's laid out in the indictment the russians have played on the social divisions and political divisions and are playing right to the heart of our democracy, that's a real problem and that's max's point. >> it gets to your point, which is we're having a conversation that's based largely on the facts of the indictment and the criminal complaint and you made the point that people can't go on fox news and say there's nothing there there. but if you watch fox news, that's precisely what they're saying. >> they're still saying this. >> this exonerates trump because they never alleged collusion in the indictment, that this is all pointing back to barack obama as trump said on twitter yesterday, that he should have stopped this
and he didn't take action when he knew that russia was meddling in the election. and the question is -- and maybe this is for max -- how do you have these dual conversations? how can you forge a consensus when there's two ecosystems that have basically dramatically different interpretations of what is -- what should be, i would say, a simple fact structure here. >> that's right and i saw this in the reactions to my article online. i was getting flamed by all these trump trolls who were saying just the most craziest things. they were accusing me of being a prussian propagandist, me of being a leftist so somebody who wants to defend against russian attacks is a russian propagandist and a leftist and somebody who wants to ignore the russian attacks is putting america first. this is the orwellian logic of the trump movement and i agree and i think joe being too optimistic here. the ability of republicans to deny reality is pretty darn strong because they will basically say reality is anything that donald trump says
it is. >> so to your point the president just tweeted "thank you to "fox & friends" for the great timeline for all the failures the obama administration had against russia, including crimea, syria, and so much more. we are now starting to win again." juan? >> heidi? >> i have a question for you -- >> i swear, i do not know -- >> you set that up. we were your straight man, sam. >> this is a very small person. >> mike allen said earlier that it's his reporting that the next wave of the mueller investigation will be the wikileaks. so what are the dangers for the trump administration and for trump officials given what we know which is that mueller was trying to level these charges of conspiracy to defraud the u.s. but that these actors, the americans in that case, were unwitting participants. in the case of wikileaks we know
and we have on the record the trump tower meeting. we have the electronic communications with julian assange and we know there was intent there get information and on the back end that information was used to great effect and frequently by the president. >> what you've described is exactly right. if you're viewing this from the outside in you see what's happening. you the broader sense of what the russians are trying to do with the campaign, what mechanism they're using, wikileaks is part of that. that then gets closer to the touch points with the campaign and the folks associated with the president and then the question is what's the collusion or compromise of the campaign and even the presidency. so i think what director mueller is doing is moving outside in and where you see the disconnect of the narrative and this question about what is put on fox news or what we cover here, there's an inside out view of the world as well which is if
there's nothing demonstrated or proven about the campaign itself, that's the narrative. where i see mueller going, though, is with this counterintelligence approach which is outside in, getting closer and closer to the u.s. person touch point on the inside. >> and you see the president feeling that in realtime with every tweet and every obfuscation. you can literally see how these indictments and every little piece of news that comes out about what mueller is doing is setting off a panic. >> i think part of it is the president worried about his perceived legitimacy, his standing, the legitimacy of the election in 2016 so anything that obviously undercuts that is part of it. he's also worried about this getting closer and closer to people he loves and trusts, his family, et cetera, so this investigation is going far and wide and deep and the real question for director mueller at the end of the day, we can't forget this, is he's probably
looking for evidence that the u.s. government is compromised in some way. does the russian government have as part of its campaign some on going influence or compromise so he's going to be looking for that. that's why the bank account records are so important and why anybody who's subject to an investigation from director mueller and prosecutors of this type should be worried. >> because they'll new year's eve to give it up. juan zarate, thank you. max boot as well. >> max, we want to get you back some time soon to talk about lance dell and what hiss recomme recommendation would be in afghanistan. >> thank you, max. still ahead, ethical alarm bells are sounding as donald trump jr. arrives in india for a trip that will mix foreign policy with the business of the trump organization. >> they don't do that, do they? the trumps. >> no, they don't. and playboy bunnies and foreign stars are not paid off, either.
donald trump jr. is in india for what is being called an unofficial business trip but on friday he is set to give a speech on indo pacific relations at the global business summit in new delhi where indian prime minister modi will also speak president trump has not divested himself from his business, instead turning day to day operations over to his sons don jr. and eric who, in exchange, would apparently have no role in of any kind in the government. in addition to the summit, trump jr. is meeting with indian developers, building apartment complexes throughout india and wealthy indians who have bought units in a string of trump-branded developments who then, according to local newspaper ads, also paid a substantial fee to have dinner with the president's eldest son. president trump vowed to avoid new foreign business deals while
in office and the projects trump jr. is promoting were reportedly set in motion before the election. still ahead, the president uses a tweet from a top facebook official to discredit the mueller investigation and now that official is apologizing. we'll discuss that and whether facebook will have its fake news problem fixed before the midterms. "morning joe" is back in a moment. why create something
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counsel collin stretch testifying in front of the senate judiciary committee on russian election interference in october. facebook is now grappling with a new wave of criticism following bob mueller's indictment of 13 russian operatives for interfering in the u.s. election. the indictment not only showed that facebook and instagram were particularly central to the alleged russian effort, but that the social media giant was ill prepared to handle it. adding fuel to the fire, facebook's advertising head rob goldman took to twitter on friday after the indictments were handed out writing, quote, there are easy ways to fight the russian campaign. adding, quote, i have seen all of the russian ads and i can say definitely that swaying the election was not the main goal. >> that's really unbelievable. that is unbelievable that facebook, who is obviously -- and i think, mika, for good
reason the at the center of a lot of inquiries and a lot of concerns, that facebook would go out and have one of their leaders say that, draw that conclusion. >> goldman's tweet storm cited reaction from the president who cited those comments to support his claims that russia's actions did not affect the election. goldman later reportedly apologized to his company in an internal message. >> he needs to apologize actually to the public and he needs to apologize to all -- to facebook users, mika. >> i think facebook is slowly, way too slowly realizing the power the of their platform and they've got to take responsibility for it. >> and it's not just the ads. it's more than that. it's the fake news. it's 150, 160 million people reached by lies that the russians were trying to spread? >> it's certainly not the last we're going to hear about
facebook's role in all of this with the midterms right around the corner. coming up, we're going to talk to the m.i.t. trained professor. >> is it me? >> no. >> i didn't teach at m.i.t. that's right. plus, nbc's andrea mitchell joins us on that. and the emerging push by younger americans calling for new rules on gun safety. they took that message straight to the white house yesterday. that is all next on "morning joe." ♪ burned me up and down, shno way to cool it. ♪ ♪ ♪ every time you kiss me it's like sunshine and whiskey ♪
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welcome back to "morning joe." still with us in washington, politics editor for the daily news, sam stein. nbc news national political reporter heidi prisbella and joining the conversation coauthor of "the president's club" michael duffy and nbc news chief foreign affairs correspondent and host of andrea mitchell reports, andrea mitchell. >> something fascinating is happening. the new york post obviously a murdoch-owned newspaper and a paper that obviously donald trump, it's the first one that he reads every morning, the murdoch paper has been pushing a more rational approach to background checks and trying to put pressure on the president or encourage the president to move
forward. and i want to show the inside here because it is fascinating because donald trump is moving on the possibility of background checks, doing something on background checks. but you look across the top, and the headline across the post, how many times, how many times. andrea, there is no one in the media that donald trump respects, reveres more than rupert murdoch. and it appears rupert murdoch is a very important voice here and appears to be having an impact on the president. >> they did a big editor equal, as well. he has a vehicle. the cornin intil a bill with
bipartisan support. there was an amendment on the so i had house side that passed already that would expand, conceal carry permissions beyond initial states. which won't pass the in the senate. so this is marginally increasing background checks. you've got the voices of the young people, which is extraordinary. this is a cultural change. is it enough? we saw after newtown the incredible blocking of any action after 20 or more kindergarten children were killed. i think this could be a kind of cultural change we haven't seen because of the young people leading the way and going to tallahassee today. will this president actually move? his campaign took $30 million from the nra. that is a big number. he's going to cpec this week. he's going to face the kind of
opposition in his face. so he has to weigh all these equities. but this is a moment for donald trump. it is a moment. it also seems that the pace is quickening. i remember in 2012 after newtown, my position on military-style weapons changed. and we talked about it for like two months straight on the air and one of the reasons was because they said, listen, what happened to the 1990s is the pace is quickening now and it's quicken ed even more. now you have country music fans being gunned down in las vegas. you have christians being gunned down in church pews in texas. you've got children being gunned down in schools all across america. this is something that republicans and democrats and independents can look at and say, all right, not exactly sure
was going to stop this, but you just crossing your arms and saying we're going to do nothing is no longer an answer. it's a moment for trump, but it's a moment for all the people in the congress behind us who didn't act at all in the afternoon math of all of those things you just mentioned. this for some reason seems to be triggering one, but we're not there yet. he said he's open to it. he actually actually endorsed cornin-murphy yet which would reset the standard for what kind of mental healthing despair or problems that you have so that a court could then bar you essentially from getting a gun. at the moment, that standard is very high. you have to basically have a judge do it or you have to be committed. that's a pretty high standard which the mental health community really likes. >> but heidi, you look back i think there is movement here.
you look back to 2012, you were telling a heartbreaking story about a father coming to capitol hill a week or two after his first grader had been slaughtered, cut down in gunfire the friday before christmas break and the republicans basically refused to come. >> i was there when neal heslan somehow found the strength within himself, weeks after his child was murdered, to come and face congress because he felt that this was something that he needed to do. and he was the only parent, by the way, who -- you know, the emotions were still so raw at that point found it within himself to come there. i was covering it as a reporter. i was in the back. i have to say, it was one of those few moments as a reporter when i was truly stunned that half of that bench, where the republicans is sit, was empty. >> the republicans boycotted the meeting. >> grassley was ranking member at that point and he came
because he had to. but there was no penalty. that's the thing, joe. in our politics, in our system, there was no penalty forrer that. and as a matter of fact, neal h had eslan was later smeared online by this connecticut pro gun group would went into his record and found some unrelated things -- >> it was a reward for nra money and in the gridlock now that we face in congress, it is fueled by money. and that is with what these kids are calling out. that's when they say, you know, president trump, what about the money that you've taken. and to all of their leaders and you've got a senate race with luke scott, you've got a lot at stake here. >> you also have marco rubio in florida, the last remaining republican in america, at least he was in the 2016 race that suburban voters liked. that was his strength. he won in iowa, he won in minnesota the because it was more suburban-type voters.
this is something for marco rubio to worry about a lot more than, say, a senator from alabama. >> this is a case where i think the culture is changing. right. >> everyone can react to this new generation who was the post columbine generation of kids and they don't want to live this way. >> right. >> and if it's not in this cycle, it will be in the next cycle, but that time is coming and the suburban voters are not going to take this any more. they're hearing it from their children. >> just so conservatives and people who are extreme on guns think that this is just sort of some liberal insight from me who actually very conservative, let me talk about another issue. that they may understand more. and that is abortion. you are seeing poll numbers move on abortion for banning abortions after 20 weeks. why.? because for the past decade, younger americans have been
going in and they have been seeing 3d imagery where they can look into the womb. and if some activist says your child is a lump, i must tell you, i've had four kids. i've never once had a doctor go to me, hey, we've got your lump. look at your lump's profile. andrew -- or jack, who is 9 years old now, i knew very early on. i said oh, my god, that profile, he does not have my nose. that's a beautiful nose. and that was early on in the process. but this is an example of science, technology changing that is going to change the politics of abortion where suddenly, again, viability when jack was born early, you go into the nicu and kids even 9 years ago were surviving 24 weeks in. this is an issue that culturally is going to change. americans, younger voters are
going to become more conservative on abortion because they see their child very early on in the womb. the same thing is going to happen with guns. your kids are watching other kids getting gunned down in schools. that's going to have an impact. >> science is changing politics in both those cases. and, you know, peggy noonan wrote an interesting column on saturday. she had a proposal at the end that said the right should give on late term abortion -- i'm sorry, the left should give on late term abortion and the right should give on some of the these gun restrictions, particularly with respect to assault weapons. and that that is a vote, she said, for life in general. and she cited young peoples as a changed political factor. >> i'm glad you mentioned that. she is ahead of the curve in all of these cultural issues. i think peggy has a unique sensibility. >> it was an interesting trade up. >> when i'm reading actual newspapers on saturday morning. >> you know one thing that is
different, joe, also about the gun issue today is not just this outspoken student lobby now it's people like al hoffman, the to andrea's point. what if we haven't even this after these other massacres, stood up and said i'm not cutting any more checks until you change your positions on gun issues. >> it's pretty remarkable. i will say something that you just can't underestimate, and andrea, you'll remember this. the environment now versus the environment back in the '90s. you know, there was the -- there was waco, there was ruby ridge where the atf did act abdom abhorrently. there was talk of about anning handguns. the issue was really up for grabs in the early to mid 90s. well, that's changed. again, i talk about heller all
the time, but heller in 2008 in scalia's opinion completely change the equation. you can protect yourself. you can protect your family. that's changed the debate. >> well, dianne feinstein, who was the leader on the original assault weapon ban in 1994, because of her experiences in california with mass murders, she is now proposing a change in the age for people who can buy these horrible weapons. that's the kind of reasonable thing. you know, it was ronald reagan, really, because of jim brady and his personal connection that helped the brady bill go through by changing his position on guns when we were all covering that. >> in '94. he actually made calls to congressman like scott klug saying i needs your vote here. ronald reagan put that over the top. >> and it was assigned in 1993 in the white house by bill clinton the same day that he awarded the medal of fro come to
the woman for whom this high school is named and he asked her to stay and attend the brady bill signing. >> that's incredible. >> that assault ban in '94 was almost a congressional accident. hardly anybody was around when it happened. >> she was a freshman senator. >> so i'm willing to believe the culture is changing, but i also know culture runs away ahead of politics. we just don't now how much ahead it runs, but it's ahead. there's a gap. don't expect anything real fast on this. it just defies logic. but the gap may be narrowing. >> at the ends of our last hour, we told about how facebook is facing new scrutiny following bob mueller's indictment of 13 russian operatives for interfering in the russian election. the indictment not only showed that facebook and instagram were particularly central to the alleged russian effort, but that the social media giant was ill prepared to handle it. joining us now, associate professor at the department of information studies at ucla, remesh swinivasen, he's the
author of the book "whose global village." how much does facebook truly understand -- i don't know if it's fair to say the responsibility it bears, but the power it has? >> i think quite clearly, based on what we're seeing in terms of facebook's responses. it's quite clear that they think that they can solve the problem in-house in secretive and in nontransparent ways. so in technology circles, we often have a saying where we say, if you're not the customer, then you're the product. and in this case, russia was the customer and we, hundreds of millions of americans, were the product. specifically our data and our attention via facebook. >> do you think facebook has made any significant changes? do we have a reason to believe that they -- internally, they're going to be responsible enough? so we don't have to worry about
2018 being a repeat of 2016 where over 160 million people read what the russians wanted them to read? >> i'm not particularly optimistic about that, joe. sorry to say. i think that most of the responses are denying their role in the recent election, are denying how important they are, but we know that they're extremely important. they're much more widely used as a source of news than any other source of information, any other media source in the united states. and so what that means is that if you can actually basically steer people and their accounts and their attention to get into more and more extreme contents, you can rile them up, you can divide and conquer them and this is exactly what we see happening. remember, $100,000 was spent to access over 150 million americans. at the same time as $80 million was spent on facebook by the trump and clinton campaigns.
so for $1 is 00,000,000, you ca such massive effect on people's minds and attention and it's just by manipulating their data. >> sam stein. >> yeah. my usual caveat that my wife works for facebook, so i'm hopelessly conflicted here. and then i'll do my job, yada yada yada, but if you were given cart blanch control over facebook and they said, listen, we don't want to have the influence like we did in 2016, we want to be completely above board for 2018 and 2020, tell us the three steps we should take. what would they be? >>en fantastic question. be very clear with us about what data of ours it is using to influence the so-called news stories or advertising. basically, they're advertising stories that we see. which what happens is they tell us look at these news stories and then they invite us to join
various groups and on those groups are tools that normalize our behavior. that's step one. it should be explicit about our data. second and extremely importantly, facebook's algorithm and the artificial intelligence systems that it uses to power its algorithms drive us to see more and more extreme content. it hits the lower part of the brain stem in some way. basically, it gets us more and more refd up. there's part of us as human beings where we get driven by that content. third, and i think most importantly, facebook needs to be extremely transparent about where the funding comes from and ban all sorts of bots from its website. so it needs to be clear and transparent and it's making some steps in that direction. but the other two steps are not being unchallenged. facebook thinks it's can resolve the issue in-house. it thinks it can do so by simply dealing with the problem in a way that's not transparent. but their lack of transparency,
the pb that depends on facebook is the problem. >> mike. >> the mueller indictment mentioned not just facebook, but instagram and twitter. will it be harder in this case? >> it's a really good question. so the tweets responding to the issue, i know he backed up on some of those. he started to point to twitter, as well, in disinformation and sort of shaping and manipulating people's minds. it's important to note that some of these issues definitely could apply to twitter, but facebook was much more central and also, we need to remember the that instagram is owned by taken. instagram is owned by facebook so that means all the data goes to the same place. so the issue here is if you want to resolve problems with instagram, we have to do so in similar ways.
customers here were being affected in transformative ways by the information we see around us. we're protecting our banks, we're protecting our military systems, but we're not protecting ourselves from social media infiltration here. >> all right. ramesh, thank you very much for being on this morning. >> it's great to be back. thank you both. up next, we go live to the white house or the latest reporting on president trump signaling potential movement on gun safety, though so far he stopped short of using the word "gun." and we'll hear from the students who took the fight yesterday to washington. we're back in just a moment. don't we need that cable box to watch tv? nope. don't we need to run? nope. it just explodes in a high pitched 'yeahhh.'
i think that it's really important that we come together now since adults are not doing it for us. >> why do you think this time will be different? >> this time will be different because the people who saw it are the people speaking out. >> we've grown up with this. we were born after columbine. so we're basically tired of it.
>> we are only kids. >> students around the country are seizing control of the gun laws debate in washington demanding change and their push may get an important boost from the white house. joining us now from the white house, nbc news national correspondent peter alexander. peter, what are we expecting from the president? >> we're hearing from aides that the president has been moved by the pictures and words that he's seen. how does that translate to action? we'll wait and see. the president is supportive of the gun bill sponsored by john cornen. this is a narrow bill. to be clear, this is important, this would have done nothing to prevent the school shooting in there are. it was to deal specifically with the gap after that november church shooting in sutherland
springs. this doesn't create any new retirement for states. frame it this way, the president's latest budget propose equal would cut funding by about 15% for the two federal programs that provide on money to the states to improve their reporting of the data for gun background checks. even as he says that, the money apparently isn't there, at least from this white house's view. let me show you another thing that made news overnight. this was the latest in what had been a feud between mitt romney and the president, this other item making news overnight. we heard from the president saying that he will back romney's u.s. senate bid tweeting, quote, mitt romney has announced he has moved from the senate from the wonderful state of utah. he will make a great senator and worthy sesser to orrin hatch. romney tweeting a short time later, thank you, mr. president, for the party. i hope over the course of the campaign i also earn the support
of the people of utah. he said he regretted trump's endorsement. he said if trump had said four years ago the things he said today about the kkk, muslims, mexicans, i would not have accepted his endorsement. that's what the political world looks like today, mika. >> peter alexander, thank you very much for that view of the political world today. up next, president trump uses become bearack obama's owno defend a claim against him. we'll fact check his claims. keep it right here on "morning joe."
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we want everyone to work safely and come home safely. i live right here in auburn, i absolutely love this community. once i moved here i didn't want to live anywhere else. i love that people in this community are willing to come together to make a difference for other people's lives. together, we're building a better california. so president trump has been tweeting up a storm this morning, hitting on a number of topics including russia's interference in the election. >> he's obsessed with that. robert mueller has gotten into his head with those indictments on friday. he's freaked out. he's panicked. >> do you think that's what it
is? >> yeah. he's totally panicked about that. it's unbecoming. his lawyer should tell him to stop tweeting about that. >> a short time ago he wrote, there is no serious person out there who would suggest somehow you could even rig america's election. there is no evidence that that has happened in the past or that it will happen this time. and so i invite mr. trump to stop whining and make his case to get votes. president trump noted that quote was prosecute from president obama president obama just before the election adding, quote, that's because he thought crooked hillary was going to win and he didn't want to rock the boat. when i easily won the electoral college, the whole game changed and the russian excuse became the narrative of the dems. andrea, you have some important context for that statement. >> well, the context was that candidate trump was claiming that the election was rigged. and he was -- obama was in the
rose garden with the italian prime minister renzi and he was being asked about these baseless claims that hillary was rigging the election. and president obama said, no, that's not the way we do things here. he was with a foreign leader and he was basically saying that it was a false flag to be telling americans that their votes were not going to count. >> that said, ruth, going after president obama -- >> ruth marcus is here. >> ruth marcus is here with us. she seems to be writing an op-ed every three hours today. >> like some other people i know. >> very motivated. but, ruth, the if the president wants to find a weak spot in the democrats' argument against him, barack obama is a great place to start because barack obama knew, he was warned, he didn't do anything and they hide behind mitch mcconnell, that's fine. but there's only one president. and if a foreign country -- what mitch did was despicable, but if
you're the president of the united states, commander in chief and you're being attacked by a foreign enemy, you should respond, right? >> absolutely you should respond. and if people want to say that barack obama did not do enough behind the scenes, that he was not vocal enough out front, totally fair game. the washington post has done some terrific reporting on that. however, it must occur, even to president trump, that he is the one who has been president since january 2017 and he is the one who has failed to take action now. it's also, it seems to me, to be very possible if not likely that maybe we know a little bit more about russian interference now than barack obama did back then. >> and it is hard, mika, for donald trump to attack barack obama for doing nothing when donald trump has been president for a year and a half and has done nothing. >> right. and obama administration officials regretted not taking stronger action, but the downtown of homeland security
and director of national intelligence did publicly state in october of 2016 that the russian government had directed cyber attacks in the election, a carve that then candidate trump discounted three days later as politically motivated. >> notice anytime anything wrong happens, they like to say the russians -- she doesn't know if it's the russians doing the hacking. maybe there is no hacking. but they always blame russia. and the reason they blame russia is because they think they're trying to tarnish me with russia. i know nothing about russia -- i know russia, but i know nothing about the inner workings of russia. >> it seems donald trump undercuts his own argument there on the debate stage. >> he's changing the goal posts every time he talks about this. >> denying that the russians had any interference in october. >> and everyone was reporting it in october. the white house did take steps. they just were worried about
going too far left which is funny because he claims that was the reason why they did it in the first place. they're reluctant to take steps was based on they didn't want it to appear to be that way. he changes the rationale for his statements every time. >> and the fact is, president trump did not do this in the briefing room and arguable by should have because he let jay johnson from homeland security and the director of national intelligence put out this statement. so it was not widely covered and that's bad on us. but the bottom line is here, that president obama then did sanction the russians and it was to reverse those sanctions that mite mike flynn was meeting with kislyak during the transition. so the trump officials were meeting with the russians to talk about reversing those sanctions and the fact is that congress has approved sanctions that this president has not put in place. >> guys win cannot believe we're letting president trump to get us to play his game and talk about president obama. what has president trump done
since he's been the commander in chief? the intelligence community has described this as an attack on america and he is in dereliction of his duty. where has been his telling putin, hey, knock it off. don't do it. instead, we hear, well, putin believe -- i believe that putin believes that he didn't have anything to do with this. come on. this is not presidential. >> sam stein, one thing that we have done in this segment is we have played a tweet or shown a tweet from donald trump saying why didn't barack obama do anything about russian hacking. and then we showed a clip from october of 2016 where donald trump is attacking barack obama for doing something about russian hacking. and then andrea brings up that barack obama sanctioned russia for hacking and then donald trump had his national security
adviser reach out to kislyak to talk about reversing the sanctions that barack obama set up. now, even for people who are easily swayed by fake news, even dupes that read facebook posts by bots and believe it and forward them to me and ask me if they're true, this is an easy enough timeline for anybody to pick up. that donald trump is just not telling the truth. >> sure. and ruth is right. there is a thread line here. one consistent thread line is donald trump has been more or less an apologist towards russia. he wants to get u.s. russia relation toes a better place, as he claims. but in reality, he has excused a variety of actions by moscow and the kremlin to destabilize this country because they benefited his election. i will add one point. and it's kind of remarkable that his name was not been mentioned in the entirety of this discussion. but one of the reasons that barack obama wasn't more
forceful in the lead up to the elections is because senate republican leadership, primarily mitch mcconnell, encouraged him not to do so. mitch mcconnell refused to sign on to a bipartisan letter that would condemn russia for its actions in the elections. he did so because he thought it would be too partisan. mitch mcconnell's role in this has been largely unappreciated. but it did play a role in not ringing the bells louder prior to the vote. and i think, you know, when the historians look back at this, they will have to assess not just whether obama didn't do enough, but what role mcconnell and paul reason played in preventing him from doing more. >> ruth marcus, you write in "the washington post," trump's staggering dereliction of duty, h.r. mcmaster is in the news and apparently in the presidential dog house for stating the obvious that evidence of russian
interference in the 2016 election is now really incontrovertible. so it is appropriate to take as this column's theme the title of mcmaster's book on the vietnam war dereliction of duty as the past several days have shown. president trump's failure is dereliction on a grand, unprecedented scale. why? >> he's the president. it's his job to make certain whatever happened in 2016, instead of having arguments, these backward looking arguments that are actually unresolvable about whether the russian interference affected the outcome of the election, we can't -- i don't know that anybody can figure it out. even if we couldn't figure it out, we have not running a do-over. he is the the president. that makes it his number one job to make sure, in addition to keeping us physically safe, that this is not going to happen in 2018 to our democracy and this is not going to happen in 2020 to our democracy. never again. and he should be the first one
outraged at russians that they did this to our election, that they caused people to have questions about the legitimacy of his presidency. he is so thin skinned, his ego is so fragile, or maybe there's a more sinister explanation, i don't know, that he can't allow that possibility. and it has caused him to be absent from his major responsibility. >> absolutely. >> you know, andrea, and the question is how are republicans going to respond? how are they going to look? i remember in 2005 and 2006 telling my republican friends on capitol hill when george w. bush was driving up record deficits and was sounding like woodrow wilson on foreign policy, i said you do know at some point this man is going to be out of the white house and you're going to be judged for how you acted when he was in the white house. >> this is far worse. >> and they should stand up now. and grassley and others have been since the mueller indictment saying it is obvious what this indictment says. mcmaster was doing his job.
and i think everyone should be concerned if mcmaster pays a big price for being honest at that munich conference. >> absolutely. >> it's happening again. they were at work over the weekend in the wake of the florida shootings, these russian sites and in efforts to manipulate not just our elections, but our whole unity. >> that's incredible. "the washington post's" ruth marcus, thank you so much. >> good to see you. and before we go to break, a quick update from capitol hill where tom rooney of florida announced yesterday that he will not seek re-election. the tampa bay times reports that rooney, the deputy whip for the house republicans, has expressed frustration with the constant partisanship in washington. he becomes the 28th house republican to quit politics, d according to "the washington post." >> and so many like congressman rooney are key players in the
republican party. chairmen and subcommittee chairs. >> it'sen an exodus. "morning joe" is coming right back. >> what do you think generally about sanctions against russia? >> i think we have to get on with our lives. i think computers have complicated lives very greatly, the whole age of computer has made it where nobody knows exactly what's going on. >> it seems like you have a tendency, just looking at it from the outside, to doubt american intelligence when it comes to russian hacking. i'm trying to better understand why it seems that way. >> well, i just want them to be sure. it's a pretty serious charge and i want them to be sure. and if you look at the weapons of mass destruction, that was a disaster. and they were wrong. and so i want them to be sure. i think it's unfair if they don't know. and i know a lot about hacking and hacking is a very hard thing to prove. so it could be somebody else. and i also know things that other people don't know and so they cannot be sure of this situation.
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the trump administration is walking a tight rope between remoting american businesses overseas while stamping out nuclear proriver ragz. saudi arabia is looking at building a pair of nuclear reactors in the country. as "the washington post" points out, the reactors are a matter of international prestige and power, a step towards matching the nuclear program of shia rival iran while quenching some of the kingdom's domestic thirst for energy. that bitter rivalry is the topic of a new front line documentary and we'll talk to the filmmaker next on "morning joe." so, that goal you've been saving for,
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we're the finders. we work here at comcast spotlight, and we have the best tools for getting your advertising message out there. anywhere, any way your audience watches. consider them found. why was it that this extremism came from your schools and from your mosques? >> it was the provocation of the iranian revolution created a reaction in the sunni world, then translated into extremism and violence on our streets. >> so you blame the iranians. >> in part, yes. and in part, i blame ourselves also in hindsight because are there things that we could have done? probably. but at the time that this was all -- that all these forces were being unleashed, you deal with them at the time. 30 years later, you can go back and say, could things have been done differently? of course.
>> that's an important reflection on your part, i think. i think a lot of americans feel that they never hear that from the saudis. >> but that's the reality. that's the nature of life. you learn as you go. >> that was a clip from the upcoming two-part pbs front line documentary "bitter rivals, iran and saudi arabia." part one airs tonight and the second part next two. joining us now, veteran writer, producer, reporter and correspondent for psb "frontline" martin smith. also with us for this conversation, the co-host of "morning joe" first look, ayman m moh had yeldinp. >> tell us what you wanted to accomplish when you started out writing about this conflict. >> i think what we wanted to do was to highlight a rivalry that is behind many of the modern wars we see in the region and in iraq and syria and how now in
yemen ands also to look at the roots of that. there's a misconception in the west that this is a rivalry that is sectarian fundamentally in nature. and and that it does play out in sectarian terms. sectarianism is weaponized or used by people in power both in tehran and riyadh, but essentially this is a political power struggle for control of the middle east. unfortunately, it's been tearing the region apart ever since 1979. we wanted to shine a light on that. >> david. >> so martin, david ignatius. i want to ask you, with the crown prince of saudi arabia pushing such an aggressive anti-iran line with israel similarly going after iran every place it can, are we heading towards a war in the middle east to contain iranian expansion or do you think this can be defused
short of that? >> well, as far as a direct war between iran and saudi arabia, i don't think that is necessarily in the cards. both of those countries, oil fields are right there along the gulf, where they would conflict. so it would be to their detriment to be running bombers over those oil fields and engaging directly with their neighbor. but if you ask most people in the middle east whether there is a war in iraq and syria and yemen again, there's certainly a war. and the saudis and the iranians have squared up on either side of that. >> ayman. let me ask you, you mentioned it's not rooted in sectarian tensions. what are the geopolitical fault lines between iran and saudi arabia? what is iran trying to accomplish in the region? because when you look at some of its allies, they're not necessarily -- arab sunnis in places like gaza, where are the
gee ple political fault lines? >> yes, they do at times back syrian forces. syria coming to the aid of assad, he's an alowite. they have a long relationship with the syrians. but the population of syria is predominantly is lly sunni soe fig so they're fighting on behalf of assad's army which is sunni. i ran has established itself as a revolutionary state and coming with that is a lot of insecurity. they have few friends except for syria in the region and they feel, in order to establish their own security, that they need to -- they need to control other states. but they need also to rally their own population under a revolutionary banner. revolutionary governments, whether it's cuba or whether it's in terrain, have a need to
continue to push and be revolutionary states. >> martin, about the internal situation in iran, the extent to which we have really a restless unhappy angry population in iran, what's your judgment about that? are we in a situation now where this revolutionary regime is finally running out of gas? >> i'm not so sure, you know, the -- there have been warnings in the past that the revolutionary regime has been on the ropes and put down those kinds of revolts. people were upset with high food prices, unemployment. they're also protesting the fact the islamic revolutionary guard corps is spending money abroad and the new budget was released that showed the money going for their foreign operations and that angered a lot of iranians who feel that the money should be spent at home. but i'm not so sure. they have put down this recent revolt that started just before
time now for final thoughts of the morning. joe, why don't we begin with you? >> okay, i will go to andrea. andrea, your final thoughts? >> just that we don't know if we're at the beginning of a cultural change but i think these young people are way ahead of the politicians and politicians should watch out. >> we've been talking about two stories. the mueller investigation and shootings. they've merged together in one piece now that we know there are twitter accounts linked to russian bots that immediately after the shooting in florida went in, began to divide people and activate on those two issues, pro and active gun control. which means the russia investigation and the florida shootings are really now one story because until we fix one, we're not going to get the other fix. >> heidi. >> we don't know where we are in this cultural shift. but we do know one thing. there will not be measurable
shift unless this next election comes and goes and the awe tupsy is some lawmakers paid a price for not speaking out on guns. >> pairs ice dancing, a great sport, we medded mmedaled in it really, when willie and joe both did it remarkably well in limbally hammer in '94. >> yes, we really did, '94, revolutionaries. so just like andrea said, we don't know where the cultural changes are going to go. we don't know what's going to happen in the mueller investigation. and anybody who says they do are lying. so for liberals who say donald trump's going to be indicted and impeached or for republicans who are saying that he's off the hook, don't listen to them, don't believe them, they have no idea. >> that does it for us this morning. stephanie ruhle picks up the coverage right now. >> thanks so much, mika, thanks,
joe. tha thanks, joe. we have a lot to cover, starting with never again. as these young people bury their classmates, survivors of the parkland shooting and students across the country mobilize, demanding congress step up and take action on guns. >> the kids we talk to. >> what a difference two years makes. >> donald trump is a phony. a fraud. his promises are as worthless as a degree from trump university. >> your word is your bond? now mitt romney accepts the president's endorsement on twitter. this time. no frog legs dinners necessary. and blurred lines. don jr. arrived in india to help sell apartments. that's right. but with a speech scheduled