tv MSNBC Live With Katy Tur MSNBC April 9, 2018 11:00am-12:00pm PDT
its staunchest ally -- russia. >> i like to begin by condemning the heinous attack on innocent syrians with banned chemical weapons. it was an atrocious attack. it was horrible. we are studying that situation extremely closely. we are meeting with our military and everybody else and we'll be making some major decisions over the next 24 to 48 hours. this is about humanity. we are talking about humanity. and it can't be allowed to happen. the u.n. security council will hold an emergency meeting next hour after dozens of civilians were suffocated in a chemical attack in rebel-held -- in a rebel-held suburb of syria. according to rescue workers, at least 40 people are dead. videos of the aftermath are atrocious. the bodies of lifeless men, women and kids, many found dead in their own homes. the syrian government has denied
responsibility. moscow claims the attack was, quote, fabricated, a lie perpetuated by rebel forces. the attack comes a year after more than 80 people were killed in a chemical attack in northwestern syria. it comes just days after president trump announced that he wanted to pull u.s. troops out of syria. and it could serve as a defining moment for john bolton who comes face to face with this crisis on his very first day as national security advisor. it took the president just 63 hours to respond to last year's chemical attack in a move that garnered bipartisan praise. trump ordered a military strike on a syrian airbase. on is under the president condemned the latest assault via twitter an warned there would be consequences, "big price to pay," he said. the big question we're asking today -- what is that big price? >> will you allow taking action against the saudis, mr. secretary? >> i don't rule anything out
right now. >> he says we've taken care of isis, time to get out. next thing we see is a chemical strike? yes, i think he is pushed up against the wall to take significant action, not just a pin prick. >> it feels like this is going to be larger than a unilateral pin prick. >> it should be larger than unilateral. this is something that should involve all of humanity. >> drl has already struck back with an air strike, israel has, with its own. but russia is warning the west. a statement issued by moscow's foreign ministry says military intervention under invented and fabricated pretexts in syria were at the request of lawful government there and russian military personnel. it is absolutely unacceptable and could lead to the most serious consequences. we'll hear directly from the white house on this in a moment. press secretary sarah huckabee sanders is scheduled to brief reporters within the hour. but first let's get to our team of reporters for the very latest. nbc's kristen welker joins us live from outside the white house.
nbc's bill neely is in beirut, lebanon. also joining me, ashley parker, white house reporter for "the washington post" and an msnbc political analyst. krit t kristen, how much pressure is the white house facing right now to respond to this attack and what could that response look like? >> i think they're facing an immense amount of pressure, katy. you heard president trump in those remarks today clearly infuriated by these images that he has seen. we know that he had a conversation with france's president, manuel macron, and this statement was very forceful saying that there will be a strong response, that he wants to have a joint response, effectively saying that he is looking to allies as he comes to a final determination which he says will happen in the next 24 to 48 hours. now in addition to that cabinet meeting, obviously there was a national security meeting earlier today as well. in terms of the pressure that he's getting, you have some
voices, including senator john mccain, saying that the fact that president trump just last week said he wants to pull out of syria may have emboldened assad. and now they are calling for very forceful action. it was a year ago that president trump launched air strikes against that syrian airbase. what has been referred to as a pin prick, really. clearly didn't deter assad from taking these additional actions if and when it is confirmed if in fact the syrian government is behind this. president trump tweeting earlier today, if president obama had crossed his stated red line in the sand the syrian disaster would have ended long ago. animal assad would have been history. now that of course a reference to the fact that former president obama did say it would be a red line for syria to use chemical weapons against its own people. and even when that happened, the obama administration didn't take military action. instead they struck a deal to try to get rid of syria's chemical weapons. the fact that you continue to
see these types of attacks is an indications that not all of the chemical weapons were destroyed in that effort, katy. so president trump weighing this in real time and he has a new national security advisor, john bolton, starting today. >> let's get more on that, ashley. it is john bolton's first day. he's a hawk on russia. how is he going to be influencing the president? >> well, to put it this way, john bolton is sort of overly simplistic terms is never not hawkish. that is almost always the position he is pushing. he's sort of saber rattling and bellicose. so that's what the president is going to be hearing from him. i have to say, the president on one hand, he likes that tough talk, and he sometimes likes being forceful. but in a lot of ways, ideologically, he and john bolton actually diverge. the president says america first is his view and we should be in less foreign conflicts. he's wanted us to withdraw from
syria. so the president is going to hear some of the tough talk he likes from his new national security advisor. but on these particular chemical attacks the president has been more willing to be forceful but everything he hears is not going to be in line with what he necessarily feels in his gut, and so it is an open question as to how influential bolton will be able to be on all these issues. >> bill, you've been to syria. you've seen the civil war there and daniel and destruction it is causing, the way it is ripping apart lives down there. what is at stake here for the syrian people? >> oh, gosh, you've heard me say this before, katy -- there is so much at stake now, as we've heard not just for president trump's reputation, but for the reputation of the united states to really be an agent of change. because clearly, almost as soon as russia entered this war things began to change. aleppo fell.
duma is about to fall. but the ability of the united states and the west to really influence things is in -- last year president trump spent 59 cruise missiles into a syrian airfield. that did not deter president assad. so they're watching not just in syria but across this region for what president trump will do, and the allies, like emmanuel macron of france will do next. >> and israel already responded last night, bill. >> yeah. the really interesting thing, katy, is that israel has struck inside syria dozens of times. overnight, yet again we understand that, according to the lebanese, four israeli f-15s were involved in that attack. according to the russians, they fired eight missiles, five were shot down, three got through killing around 14 people. among them, apparently, iranians and members of the iranian-back
lebanese militia group hezbollah. israel did, according to two u.s. officials who spoke to nbc news, israel did inform the u.s. beforehand that it was going to take this action. russia, of course, has condemned that saying that that was a dangerous decision to strike the airfield. and russia is full of threats, full of warnings. sergey lavrov saying, number one, our guys have been on the ground. there was no chemical weapons attack in duma over the weekend and also saying if the united states should take military action, that could have serious consequences. so it's hard to keep saying this situation could escalate, but every time we think it couldn't escalate further, it does. so, yes, this is a very fragile situation over the next 48 hours. >> bill neely in beirut, lebanon. nbc's kristen welker outside of the white house and ashley parker of "the washington post,"
you're going to stay with us for a little bit later, ashley. joining me now, former independent senator from connecticut, joe lieberman. he's now co-chair of no labels and united against a no-nuclear iran. >> great to be with you. >> what do you think the president should do in this scenario? >> first i want to express my gratitude that the president has expressed the outrage he has at the use of chemical weapons by assad. the world is so full of turmoil that there's a way in which we can grow numb and accept the unacceptable and using chemical weapons against your own people is unacceptable. now he's got to act and -- >> what does that acting need to look like? >> i think it's got to be military and it's got to hurt the assad regime. he could strike at syrian airplanes on the ground. he could hit militarily significant buildings. he's got a lot of tashtrgets an
the capability in the u.s. military to do that. it is first to punish assad for this up acceptable use of chemical weapons. but now it is also to make clear that the united states under president trump will not be bullied by the russians or the iranians to hold back. that would be the worst message to come out of this. so i think he will not. >> senator mike lee of utah is saying that before any action is taken, any force is taken, he wants congress to vote on it. do you think congress needs to vote on this? >> no. i think this is well within the president's authority as commander in chief, under the constitution, to take action. i mean to go into a congressional debate -- oh, my god -- imagine the days and months two take. and in the meantime we look at these videos, these tapes of these poor syrian innocents suffering from chemical weapon attack. >> there are folks out there
that are making a link between assad's actions and the president's words. "washington post" says a year ago president trump's new administration announced that removing assad from power was no longer a priority of u.s. government. soon afterward the man known as the butcher of damascus launched a sarin attack that killed more than 80 syrians. trump responded to that. he also brought up syria again last week. he said, we'll be coming out of syria, like very soon, let the other people take care of it now. i want to get out, trump added last white house at a news conference with baltic leaders. do you think there is a link between the president of the united states pulling back, not focusing on ssyria, not mentioning it as a priority and assad being emboldened? >> the truth is, we don't know. assad has been brutal and a butcher since 2011. of course, before. but 2011 his people began to rise up and ask for freedom
opportunity, et cetera, he killed them. he killed them with weapons and not chemical weapons but he killed them. but there is that danger and when presidents speak, there are consequences. so when president trump said at the rally last week that we had stopped isis and we'd be out of syria soon, i think it was a mistake. but now he's, in a way, corrected that in reaction to this use of chemical weapons by assad and i don't think we're coming out of there any time soon, and we shouldn't come out of there any time soon. in afghanistan, president trump has made clear our exit will be based on conditions on the ground, not time, not deadlines. we ought to do the same in syria. >> you sound much more diplomatic than your good friend, john mccain. your former running mate. >> this won't be the first time. >> he's placing the blame pretty
squarely on the president. he says president trump last week signaled to the world that the u.s. would prematurely withdraw from syria. bashar assad and his russian iranian backers have heard him and emboldened by american inaction assad has reportedly launched another chemical attack against innocent men, women and children, this time in duma. mccain has been very critical of this president. he hasn't been that tough on russia. he said he's been tough on russia. the president himself has not come out and forcefully said this will not stand, this support of the assad regime and doing this to its citizens but president putin is not okay and we're not only going to strike back at syria but we're going to strike back at russia with sanctions or something else in order to get them to realize it. >> well, that's really a big, big step. i think the important thing in response to the reaction of the
russian government to this gas chemical weapon attack is basically to challenge president trump as to whether he's going to be pushed back by a threat from the bullies in moscow or whether he's going to go ahead and punish assad, as he said he would do. i'm encouraged -- incidentally, i think the president -- going back to the campaign -- has not been tough enough on putin as he should have been. but in recent weeks he's really called out putin for his behavior, including saying that putin, russia and iran -- >> that was in a tweet though. does he need to do something more than just tweet about it? >> well, in fairness, he has sanctioned russia for other misbehavior of theirs in recent weeks. but i think the most significant message to russia, which rushed in when president obama moved back from syria, and now occupy a pivotal role there, is for the president to make clear that threats from russia are not going to stop the united states
from acting against assad who the president has called an animal. and i think in this case he's right. >> i want to get just one question on no labels. your goal is to put country before party. how do we get back to a time where we put country before party? >> first, it was just a demand for everybody. a demand of their member of the house or senate in washington, put country and constituents ahead of party and ideology. second, no labels tries to bring together republicans and democrats. we've got in the house and the senate two bipartisan groups working in both chambers now. third, we're getting involved in politics. we've created some pacs and we're supporting moderate candidates, problem solvers in both parties, primaries, against people who we think are too partisan and too ideological. the country has stopped functioning and that's why a lot of americans, including me, are angry, disappointed and
frustrated that our problems are not being solved. we could do a lot better and hopefully we did. >> i hear that wherever i go. do better, get along. i misspoke a moment ago, you were al gore's running mate. >> that's all right. >> it wasn't a long enough weekend. let's put it that way. thank you very much for being here. we appreciate it, sir. >> pleasure. this time tomorrow, facebook's ceo mark zuckerberg will be getting grilled by what's expected to be uniformly unfriendly lawmakers, republicans and dems alike. senator bill nelson met with zuckerberg today. he joins me live next. nelson is also about to face a tough re-election fight. we'll get his reaction to his new oopponent, florida governor rick scott. whether it's a big thing, small thing,
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have you checked your facebook account today? the company started to notify the 87 million users who had their data improperly shared with cambridge analytica. why today? well, you have to imagine it has something to do with mark zuckerberg testifying in front of congress tomorrow. he faces the senate judiciary and commerce committees. zuckerberg was already on capitol hill today to meet with lawmakers of both of those committees. after the senate tomorrow, mark zuckerberg will head to the house, on wednesday. congress has already released his opening statement in which zuckerberg lays out what happened with cambridge analytica and russian interference and the changes facebook plans to make.
photo, "we didn't take a broad enough view of our responsibility and that was a big mistake. it was my mistake and i'm sorry. i started facebook, i run it, and i'm responsible for what happens here. senator bill nelson joins me now as ranking member of the commerce committee. he met with mark zuckerberg this morning. senator, thank you very much for being here. do you buy mark zuckerberg's apology? >> well, i buy his explanation, that they tried back in 2013 and '14 and finally put it in place '15 to not let your friends' personal information be sucked out of your facebook account because you've been seduced to fill out some personality profile. i accept what he said. but the purpose of my conversation was to hear him,
and then to clearly try to get him to understand, if we don't change things, none of us are going to have any privacy any more. >> what is he going to change? >> well, that we will get into in the detail. but he has made that change. i personally tonight think it was sufficient. i think it is a step in the right direction and going forward i think we're going to have to have some serious -- a law that sets up a regulatory framework. otherwise, we literally will not have any privacy and we will be subject to bad actors, particularly foreign nations and rogue nations of taking our information and undermining or democracy. >> to be fair, is congress equipped to regulate facebook, to regulate so many, to regulate an industry that relies on
innovation and speedy innovation? the average age of a senator is 61. the average age of a congressman or woman is 57. it is one of the oldest congress' in history. that data industry is very much a young person's game right now. are you equipped to keep up with them in order to regulate them properly? >> congress is not. but congress can pass the law and let the regulatory agencies, the fcc -- federal communications commission ought to be involved in this. right now the federal trade commission is involved because it has to do with triesing. the deceptive advertising is why they're involved. but this is a telecommunications issue of the utmost gravity of privacy by just exactly what you suggested, the rapidly changing and developing technology. it's not the copper wire and
telephone of yesterday. it's new ways of communications. >> you have a new challenger in your senate race, florida governor, republican rick scott has thrown his hat into the ring. here is how he announced this morning. take a listen. >> we shouldn't be sending the same type of people to washington. we should say we're going to make change. but we can't sit here and say we're going to do the same thing, we're going to get a different result. i'm not accepting the same result. >> how will you be running against rick scott? >> well, rick scott will say and do anything that he thinks will do in order to try to win an election. and i've always had the philosophy, katy, that if you just try to do the right thing, the politics will take care of itself. >> charlie cook though of the cook political report, the prognosticator of these sorts of
things, is calling you one of the most -- or the most vulnerable democrat on his list. you're in florida. it is a battle ground state. it is a state that the president won. it is a state that he's still pretty popular in. what are you going to do to appeal to florida voters? does that mean embracing ideas that you agree with the president on or does that mean going the other direction and appealing to the more progressive, the more liberal voters in the democratic party in florida? >> katy, this is going to turn on a lot of issues. for example, you can go to the beach in florida and look out there and you don't see any oil rigs. that's not just a local issue. i passed that law in the last decade to protect the largest testing and training area for the united states military in the world, which is the gulf of mexico off of florida. that also protects our $60
billion a year tourism industry. or, katy, you can go to the other coast and look at cape canaveral. there is a revived space industry, both commercial, as well as nasa. we're now preparing to go to mars. i've had a lot to do with that and the nasa law of 2010. so on so many issues you're going to see a contrast with us and you're going to see who in fact has gotten something done. >> well, what side is rick scott on? are you saying that he wants to see oil rigs out on the coast? >> well, for seven and a half years he has. that's why i say, he'll do anything to try to get elected. so right at the end you get secretary zinke to come down and say florida is off-limits to drilling. well, next week the hearing was, no, it isn't off.
it's still to be drilled by the trump administration. so these kind of political stunts are going to go on and there's going to be a lot of contrast between the two of us. >> florida senator bill nelson, senator, thank you very much for joining us. >> thanks, katy. turning back now to facebook and mark zuckerberg's testimony tomorrow. emily chang is a bloomberg technology anchor and author of "brotopia, breaking up the boys club of silicon valley." mark zuckerberg's on an apology tour. he's sending out new dictates on facebook. there's this idea that everyone can know now if they are -- if they were scraped by cambridge analytica. this is video of him walking to meet senator feinstein. is this apology going over well with lawmakers? >> so i think we heard a healthy dose of skepticism from senator nelson just a few minutes ago in
your interview. i think the next couple of days are really going to tell. i have a suspicion he is going to be grilled tomorrow and the day after that. but really it is going to be up to users. do users believe that they can trust facebook. it is not just zuckerberg, by the way, who's on an apology tour. i sat down with sheryl sandberg, coo of facebook last week and she also said i feel deeply personally responsible. we made mistakes. i made mistakes. there is a big question though, is this too little, too late. this is after 2 billion users may have had their public data scraped after potentially 87 million users may have had their data improperly handled by cambridge analytica. bottom line is facebook doesn't know where that data is or what's happened to it. >> here is what he says in his prepared testimony for the house about the steps that they have taken. he says the company's working to safeguard the platform, make sure developers don't get access to so much info moving forward. they're investigating other apps
and he says they're making it easier to understand which apps users have allowed to access their data. bill nelson wouldn't get into the specifics of the confers that he had about what zuckerberg is doing to fix the problem, but he did say it does not go far enough. if congress looks to regulate facebook, will they be able to do it adequately? >> that is a really important question. i do think that up to this point these tech companies have shown they can't necessarily regulate themselves. we can't necessarily depend on the leadership of these companies to regulate these companies or know where to draw that line. i think that facebook has a really important -- they're in an existential crisis right now. is their main customer connecting the world or the advertiser. i think over the last several years maybe they've gotten confused. we hear mark zuckerberg talking all the time about how important it is to connect the world. that is why this is a free
service that's paid for by advertisers because people in third world countries couldn't buy facebook if they wanted to. that said, they have built an entire business leveraging the data that we, the users, share with facebook. so we can't simply say we're not in this to make money because facebook is more profitable than almost any company in the world. >> is this a case though where the genie is already out of the bottle? mark zuckerberg's going to go in front of congress. he's going to testify. it is either going to go well or it is not going to go so well. but ultimately three weeks, four weeks, two months, a year from now, facebook is still going to be around and people will not remember any longer and they'll absent mindedly click the "okay" to the user agreements and we'll be in the same scenario we are in today. >> in many cases, katy, the genie is out of the bottle. 2 billion users potentially have had their data scraped from the service. 87 million users have had their data potentially improperly used
by cambridge analytica. facebook doesn't know what's happened to that data. facebook can't get that data back. where these new rules and new policies could make a difference is if facebook says today, we're not going to collect that much information as we have collected before. we are going to give you more control over your data. we're not going to let advertisers have access to as much information as they've had access to in the past. but that's a very difficult calculation that facebook is going to have to make and it could seriously limit their profits. that said, there is no indication the business model if self-is going to change. so without some sort of fundamental change in the way that facebook does business, then very much nothing is changing at all. the apology is just an apology. it really matters what happens after that. >> is the apology more hollow considering what he said about russian interference after the election, scoffing at they idea that facebook had anything to do with it? >> that was extremely glib.
mark zuckerberg used those words to describe tim cook's description of the position that facebook finds itself in now. he's admitted that saying it was a pretty crazy idea, to think that fake news influenced the election, was wrong. he admits that he was wrong about that, he admits he didn't take it seriously enough. i also asked sheryl sandberg, i said do you think facebook played a decisive role in the election of donald trump. and if so, how do you feel about that? the reality is at this point they don't know the answer to that question. we don't know the answer to that question and therein lies the problem. what she did say though is that they are incredibly concerned about that possibility. so, yes, it's a 180. i don't believe that there were any necessarily malintentions involved here. but i do think there has been a huge rec koning in just the powr facebook has and also the responsibility facebook has to make sure that these things
don't happen again. >> emily chang, thank you very much. the facebook hearing starts tomorrow at 2:15 during our hour. you're going to want to tune in for that. there is also this next hour -- apple co-founder steve wozniak joins my colleague ali velshi to speak out on why he deleted his first facebook account. his first interview. things are looking ugly for chief of staff john kelly. we'll take you inside the white house on why kelly is not only losing influence but patience with president trump. we are also waiting for the daily white house briefing to begin. sarah huckaby sanders will have a lot to talk about. the president said he might make a decision on syria as early as today. we'll bring you that briefing live once it begins.
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and accessories for your mobile phone. like this device to increase volume on your cell phone. - ( phone ringing ) - get details on this state program call or visit who is next! it wouldn't be a normal week in washington if we weren't looking toward the perpetual revolving door at the white house. today it's president trump's chief of staff, john kelly -- again. "the washington post" reports he lost a lot of credibility. president is ignoring his advice, he's leaving work early, and has even threatened to quit
multiple times. it is all in this new piece from the "post's" white house team, how john kelly faded as white house disciplinarian. let's bring back ashley parker, white house reporter for "the washington post." one of the authors on that. and an msnbc contributor. ashley, you had a really, really, really, really great quote in this article and i'm going to read it. kelly is the latest high-profile example of a west wingic russ, tied in trump's orbit only to be singed and cast low. nearly everyone who has entered the white house has emerged battered, rendered a punch line. former press secretary sean spicer, a justice department target, former national security advisor, michael flynn, or a diminished shell fired by presidential tweet, former secretary of state rex tillerson. harsh, but fair, i would say. what happened to john kelly? why did it go so sour? >> so for this story, we had heard a number of sort of
damning anecdotes but what we really sought to do was understand his arc of eight months into this administration. if you remember, he came in on what some of his defenders said was sort of unreasonable and inflated expectations. but this was a man of honor and integrity, a four-star general who is going to bring order and discipline to this white house. so some of the way things went wrong, people on sort of both sides say this was never actually really going to last. in general kelly have you a military man, you have someone who's rigid and believes in a hierarchy and chain of command. in president trump you have a chief executive who's free-wheeling, who's impulsive, who actually likes to govern in chaos and so this relationship was never quite going to work out. in terms of some specifics, we got a line in the piece. there were a number of moments where basically it was the president wanting to do something, general kelly telling him he couldn't in a lot of instances, and then both of them kind of erupting at one another, the president being frustrated
he was being chained in, he felt. and general kelly being frustrated that the president was sort of uncontrollable. so you now have general kelly threatening to resign on a number of occasions. i will say, some people say that those were sort of less tangible threats and more venting of frustration and the president himself kind of calling around asking friends how do you think he's doing, what do you think, which is never a great sign with this president. >> ashley, the president isn't listening to him. is white house staff listening to john kelly any longer? >> so the short answer is -- yes and no. what is striking again is that you sort of have in recent days and weeks see the sort of leaks we saw under the president's first chief of staff, reince priebus, who was not particularly respected in that white house. so general kelly certainly did lose the support of a number of staff. there were a couple incidents. one was the handling of the rob porter scandal where the staff basically believed he was being
dishonest or trying to sort of spin the facts that make himself look better. and so the staff does -- some of them respect him a little less, trust him a little less. that said, they all still work for him and at least to his face are quite respectful and responsive and do what he tells them. so it's sort of a yes and no. >> if john kelly goes, who replaces him? >> that is a fantastic question. we hear all of these names all the time. i don't think they're worth repeating here because the new theory -- this is one that steve bannon floated publicly but one that i check privately with a number of people in a position to know -- there might not be a chief of staff. there might be a number of people who directly report to the president. because at the end of the day what we're seeing here is john kelly is chief of staff. he still does talk to the president more than any other person. he still does wield some influence but he's not really a traditional chief of staff. whether you replace him with someone or you don't, the president is always going to be
the same way -- he is his own communications director and his own political strategist. he's also going to be his own chief of staff. >> ashley parker, great reporting, as always. let's dig deeper into this with none other than chris whipple. he literally wrote the book "the gate keepers, how the white house chiefs of staff define every presidency." forgive me for my tongue-tiedness. donald trump, no chief of staff. how is that going to work? >> well, kelly -- it appears that kelly's wings have mentally been clipped, they've been lopped off. i'm reminded what bill clinton's chief,er once you're no longer speaking for the president, they can sense it, feel it. if that's the case, donald trump has drawn exactly the opposite
lesson from the first year of the trump, the lesson he should have drawn, which is that you cannot govern effectively without an empowered white house chief of staff. other presidents have tried it. it always ends badly. >> what specifically happens when you don't have an effective chief of staff? >> for one thing, you have a continuation of -- i mean donald trump has learned nothing from his first year of governing, as far as i can tell. he still doesn't understand the difference between campaigning and governing. campaigning is demonizing and dividing. . governing is billing coalitions. donald trump desperately needs a white house chief of staff like james a. baker iii or leon panetta who helped reagan and clinton respective live figure out how to govern, how to build coalitions. donald trump has no idea how to do that. >> do you think that is the goal though, to govern? or is it a continuation of the 2016 campaign in order to campaign for 2020? >> well, but if your definition of governing is being a human
wrecking ball and simply tearing down everything obama did, then i suppose you could say that trump is governing successfully without a white house chief. my definition of governing would be getting things done. if you voted for donald trump, and you're wondering what happened to "the art of the deal" -- >> people will see he got tariffs, he got neal gorsuch in. syria. >> if you ever wonder what happened to renegotiating nafta, renegotiating tpp, what happened to renegotiating the iran deal, what happened to the wall, you have to ask yourself what has he accomplished? a white house chief of staff, it's his job to help a president figure out how to do that. bill clinton was able to get budget surpluses done because he empowered irskine bowles to go and do the dirty work and get it done.
there would have been no reagan revolution without jim baker. for all their vast similarities, if donald trump wants to be jimmy carter, if he wants to be a one-term president, or worse, he should continue doing exactly what he's doing without an empower chief. >> chris whipple, thanks very much. appreciate your time. author of "the gate keepers." the president came to the defense of his epa administrator the other day saying scott pruitt is doing a great job despite all that mounting pressure and all those terrible headlines about scott pruitt's ethics. unbelievable. is next.
it is also now clear russia has betrayed its obligations to end the regime's chemical weapons program. the president and his team are consulting closely with allies and part iners to determine an appropriate response. as president trump clearly stated, there will be a price to pay. we all on our members of the international community to share any information related to this attack and to hold the perpetrators and their sponsors accountable. and we call upon the syrian regime and russia to open the area to international medical assistance and international monitoring. and with that i'll take your questions. john. >> the president was pretty definitive today in saying that this was an attack with banned chemical weapons. yet there hasn't been any concrete proof of that. russia insists that there is no evidence of chemical weapons. what makes the president so sure that he is willing to make such a declarative statement? >> the president is confident. he's been briefed by his national security team and being kept up to date constantly and
regularly on the intelligence around that, i can't get any further beyond that. >> do we have any proof at this point in fact a chemical weapons attack. >> once ten i can't get beyond this the comments we already made but we are confident in those comments. >> weeks ago the president was talking about wanting to leave syria very quickly. now you are saying there is a price that has to be paid. does the president believe there are some things that are so aappreciates, the word he used this morning that the united states are in fact the world's policemen and it demand response and presence of the united states in the region. >> the president wants to bring the troops home after we complete the mission to eraitt rad kate isis in syria. at the same time he want to deter chemical attacks on civilians. >> has the president been briefed that his comments about
wanting to leave syria could have played a part, emboldened astad and played a part in these attacks? >> the only individuals that played a part don't reside in this country. and i think we have made very clear who we think is responsible for these attacks. and to try to conflate that and make this on any party and blame on this president is absolutely ridiculous. >> he has criticized others for signaling military plans. it seems to be what he was doing here. does he regret the comments he made. >> the president has been clear he wants to make sure we have the defeat of isis. we have also been clear in our actions as you have seen after previous chemical attacks what this president has done. and i think we've been very up front on that. >> sarah? first the news out of syria about aparent strikes carried out overnight, does the president believe israel was behind the strikes?
was the president given a heads up by the israeli government? >> i can speak only for this government. at this time the united states is not conducting air strikes in syria. i can't go beyond that. >> from the white house perspective, did the white house get a heads up about strikes in sir yachbl i can't go further than commenting on behalf of our government i can tell you clearly at this time the united states is not conducting air strikes in syria. >> backan deterrence. you said the president wants to make sure the assad regime can't conduct attacks like this in the ud future. last year when the president launched those cruise missiles he said that was a deterrent. what changed between months ago when the assad regime wasn't using chemical weapons and this strike right thousand. it seems to be on the heels of the president making the comments about wanting to pull
u.s. troops out of syria. you can see the timing and the reason for the questions. why is the president's deterrence on the asaid sad regime now failing. >> the president wanted to be clear that with the defeat of isis he wanted to bring our troops home. at the same time he wants to make sure that assad is deterred from chemical witnesses atension on innocent civilians. we think you can have separation. >> didn't the president by saying he wants to get out of syria essentially give a green light to assad to do this, as john mccain suggested, that the united states was leaving, was kind of pulling up and leaving it to --? >> look, we are still there. i think it is outrageous to say that the president of the united states green lit something as atrocious as the actions that have taken place over the last several days. the president once again made very clear how he feels about those types of actions when this incident took place roughly a year ago.
and we are going to continue looking at all of our options on the table currently. >> that emboldened assad, that this was sending a message to assad. >> i think the message we sent to assad was very clear, both in the president's words over the weekend and in our actions that we have taken in the past. roberta. >> has the president's attitude toward [ muted ] putin changed because of what has happened. >> the president has always been tough on russia, as he said last week, as i echo toed again when asked about it. this administration and this president have been tougher on russia than previous administratio administrations. i think you can see that both through the actions we have taken and in the comments over the last several days. >> he singled out vladimir putin in the tweet yesterday. does he feel that he can still sort of find some common ground is work with him on various thing. >> the president still feels that if we can have a good relationship with russia at some
point that that's a good thing for the world. but at the same time, this president is going to be tough on russia until we see some changes in their behavior just as we have done every day over the last year, and as we've outlined multiple times before, both from the president and as i have done from this podium on many occasions. john in the back. >> thank you sarah. two questions on the foreign policy front. given the situation on syria and your statement today, could the president be in the process of forming an alliance with president macron in france and prime minister may in britain not unlike that envisioned by the previous administration with france and britain when the first reports of chemical weapons came out? >> certainly we have a great relationship with both countries, and are continuing conversations with both the uk as well as france. hope to work with all of our
allies and partners in a response. sorry, second question. >> prime minister orban, an admirer of the president, who has said many find things about him, won a loond slide re-election. will the president call him? are there any plans to extend an invitation for a state visit or a working visit to prime orban? >> i'm not aware of a scheduled call at this time. if there is one we will keep you posted and likely have a readout to follow. john. >> thanks sarah. today is the first day on job for john bolton as the skushl nart adviser. perhaps you can bring him out here one time and he can take our questions. >> here here. >> i will be happy to tag him in. >> thank you. in 2013 on fox and friends he said i think if i were a member of congress i would vote against an authorization to use force in syria. he continued i don't think it's
in america's interests, i don't think we should in effect sake sides in the syrian conflict. is that a point of view that ambassador bolton is bringing to the table now as national security adviser. >> the point of view that matters most here at the white house is the pre's. as ambassador bolton himself has said he is certainly here to serve as an advise you but ultimately the decisions being made are the president's. and the comments he has made previously are personal. and he's here to carry kout the president's agenda. >> scott pruett had a $50 a night pental on capitol hill and trap ill the expense for detail. can you explain what the president meant when he said spending was more but it was okay. how does he justify that? >> he was referencing a report done by the epa.
in that it sites that the apartment was at market value and goes into other details. that's what the president was reflecting. >> $50 a night was market value according to the epa. >> yes, according to the office of government ethics. >> traveling spending is okay to. is he okay with pruitt taking first class travel and tripling the size of the detail spending is that okay? >> again, we are reviewing each of those components. i know there was a much larger number of security issues surrounding the epa administrator than in the past. but for specific questions beyond that i would refer you back to the epa. >> were those security issues or were those included in a police report? because there has been reporting across the country no one found death threats or police reports that jeopardized his life or safety. what are you talking about when you --? >> i can't kmep about police reports but i do know there have been a number of questions raised.
again, we are continuing the review. until that's complete i would refer you back to the epa beyond than. >> sarah, two questions on syria. with all that's happened with russia with the sanctions last week and now the strong words associating russia with the syrian attack, there an expectation or a feeling that relations, diplomatic relations with this erosion or our country with russia are eroding. >> we've been very tough on russia for quite some time. i think the only people that didn't understand that or see that were members of the press who continually questioned that. now i guess people are concerned that we are being tough on russia. i guess i'm confused on which way you want to have it. the president would like to have a good relationship but that's going to be determined by the actions that russia takes. and we are going to continue pushing forward. >> second question, the items on the table, beyond strikes, is there a thought or on the table
regime change with assad? also, where does diplomacy play in this even with the stiks and all that you are saying is on the table? >> i am not going to get ahead of any potential options the president may or may not take. we are reviewing a wide range of options. >> this morning the president was talking about the potential impact of chinese tariffs on american farmers. and he said farmers are patriots for being willing to take a hit had. then he said we'll make it up to them. what did he mean? >> the president has worked with his team to term how best to respond to china's attack on american farmers. and he has asked the department of agriculture to protect our farmers and we'll present a plan on specifics of that shortly. >> would you consider like extra crop insurance subsidies that are often put in the farm bill for market fluctuations? >> i'm not going to get ahead of potential options, b