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tv   MSNBC Live With Craig Melvin  MSNBC  April 12, 2018 10:00am-11:00am PDT

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go to war in syria. i think we need to think these things through. we need to not carte blanche that the constitution does give just carte blanche, you know, permission for the president to do whatever he wants. do you think the iraq war was a mistake? >> when i was running machine shop in kansas at the time so i don't have an ex-temp rainious view. >> how about opinions now? >> okay. i may well have had an opinion. >> now, was there -- >> my opinion now is we clearly had -- we had bad intelligence. one of the few directors. in spite of all the enormous resources. we did, we had that intelligence. >> we did geopolitically the wrong thing. we got rid of the enemy in iran. we made it worse. we brought chaos to the middle east. we're still suffering the ramifications and repercussions of the iraq war. your president said it very clearly. he says the iraq war was the single worst decision ever made. once again, i'm concerned that
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you won't be supporting the president. that you will be influencing him in a way that i think his inclinations are actually better than many of his advisers. that the iraq war was a mistake. he was against being involved in syria at many times in his career. so i think he does have good instincts. and my main concern is that will you be one who will listen to what the president actually wants instead of being someone who advocates for us staying forever in afghanistan. another iraq war. bombing syria without permission. so these are the advice you will give and i guess that's my biggest concern with your nomination, is that i don't think it reflects the millions of people who voted for president trump who actually voted for him because they thought it would be different. that it wouldn't be the traditional bipartisan consensus to bomb everywhere and be everywhere around the world. that's my main concern. i just want to make sure that's loud and clear to everyone, that is my concern. >> thank you, senator paul. >> thank you, senator murphy. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, director. good to see you. this is an extraordinary article i believe from late last year in
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the new yorker what speaks to china's rise coinciding with an american retreat from the globe. i think we've all seen that as we traveled the world that the presence the united states used to have just simply isn't there. and other countries are taking advantage. this article in part describes relatively routine meeting of the wto in which they were negotiating trade rules for agricultural and seafood. something the united states used to is a big role at. it quotes someone in attendance saying, to two days of meetings, there were no americans. the chinese were going into every session and charteling about how they were now the guarantee p tors of the trading system. the article makes the case that trump is china's biggest strategic opportunity. i've seen this. we've all seen this at multilateral meetings that we used to see major u.s. administration presence. there's virtually no presence.
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and other countries are taking advantage of that. what do you think about the scope of our presence at some of these rule setting meetings? what are your plans for the future? >> senator, we need to be there. we need to be active. we need to be capable. we need to be value added. we need to come prepared to engage and work for america's interests in these multilateral discussions. i think you described wto in this article. sounds like we share that sentiment. i couldn't tell you why we weren't there. i don't know if it was an absence of people or the absence of focus. i view those as important to get the international rule of law that's in accord with our view and not the chinese view in that particular instance. you have concerns and i will do my best to make sure we're there and we're capable. >> appreciate it, that answer. i want to get a little bit of clarification with respect to an answer that you gave senator menendez at the outset coming back to that meeting with the president on march 22nd. senator menendez has asked you
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whether there was a discussion about steps you could take to try to frustrate the investigation. and you said that i don't recall what the president asked me that day. is that your testimony, that you don't recall what he asks? >> yes, and i want to be -- i don't recall if he asks anything that particular day. i know the date. i know the meeting to which you're referring. i don't have -- i don't recall -- i don't recall the specifics and i have answered every question about that meeting and others. >> i asked the question because you answered two different ways. you said i don't recall what he asked me that day. but then you also said, he has never asked me to do anything that i consider inappropriate. >> those are entirely consistent, senator. if he asked me to do something inappropriate, i'd remember. >> let me give you another chance at a different question.
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senator coons asked you in an earlier round whether you agreed with the characterization of the mueller investigation as an attack on american, an attack on all we stand for. i don't understand why your participation in some of the elements of that investigation would render you unable to tell us that you don't believe the investigation is an attack on america or an attack on all we stand for. i don't think it compromises any of the work the cia does in that investigation. i think it's really -- i think it would be really troubling if you don't believe the mueller investigation is an attack on america so i want to give you a second chance on that. >> give me a third chance. these are complex legal issues. special counsel's involved in. i've done my best as cia
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director to separate each and every element of that. there's just -- it is a minefield, senator murphy. i want to be -- i want to be on the far side of the line with making sure that i don't create challenges for the special counsel's office, for the two legislative committees they're engaged in this. so with all due respect, i just -- >> i think there were things that relate to the special counsel -- anyway -- >> by refusing to condemn attacks on the special counsel i mean, really over the line attacks that aren't shared by republicans here in congress, you are frustrating the work of the special counsel because you're associating yourself with some very poisonous political attacks. >> senator, i have worked diligently myself and i have put demands on the team that works for me to go out of our way to make sure we were delivering for each of those three investigations. it is difficult. they've asked for complexion information that was classified.
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we've shared information that goes well beyond what has previously been shared. we've done so with the am of ensuring that the special counsel and the senate intelligence, house intelligence committee have the information they need to conduct their investigations and you should know we'll do that today and tomorrow and if i'm confirmed at the state department, there as well. >> in the time i have remaining, coming back to the authorization question in syria. you said you bleach telieve the president has the authority to strike syrian forces. what is the -- what statutory authorization do you draw on to make, to come to that conclusion? >> senator, i believe that the president has that authority. he certainly has it under article two of the constitution. >> what's the limiting factor, then, with respect to article two powers? if he can strike syrian forces with no existing statutory authorization? >> senator, there are rings of law review articles written in answer to that very question. it gets -- it's a highly fact-based analysis. there are scores of attorneys
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strewn throughout the cia, throughout the state department, throughout the white house. >> give me one limiting factor. >> yes, senator, i would -- if you go -- if you make a commitment, right, if you make a commitment that would be traditionally viewed as a class cat case for war, then the constitutions are required. this has been a tussle for the legislatist branch for an awfully long time. you know my views. i think it was senator kaine who said coming from the place you do have deep respect for what it is you all are looking for. >> normally a limiting factor would be an imminent threat or attack on the u.s. -- >> there's a very definition in the war powers act. there's statutory definition that's contained there as well. i can't recite it -- >> it's an attack -- the war powers refers to an attack on the united states. there's been no attack on the united states from the syrian regime, correct? >> senator, that's correct. >> and there's no imminent
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threat of attack on the united states from the syrian regime. >> i'm just trying to be very careful. yes, i think that's correct. >> at the end of my time, but -- i don't think we're to the bottom of this question yet, thank you. >> senator, i'm trying to -- you're asking me today to conduct complex legal analysis with legal conclusions and so i do want -- i know what's important and so i'm trying to do my best. i'm at the same time trying to make sure i don't have some statement i made -- >> i understand -- >> -- i parsed the language correctly. >> to the extent there's not an identifiable constraint on article two power, we're out of the business of declaring war. >> if i could, i'll use another 30 seconds of my time. i think that even on this committee, there's wide disagreement over that. i know senator sheehan and myself, i saw public statements over last few days. both agree that the president has the ability to make surgical strikes.
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president obama carried on for months activities against libya i disagreed with on policy basis, but he had that authority to do so. least he claimed he did. so look, i think this is a subject of debate. and i think it's proven of our witness to not try to analyze the very details of that on our own committee. we would debate that on both sides of the aisle at length. but i thank you for having this conversation. we'll look forward to having the follow up. >> thank you, chairman. director, congratulations for your nomination. thank you for your service to the nation. thanks for coming by and visiting with me. taking the time to discuss the critical issues of national security. and i concur completely with you and the presidential authority to use a military force in syria. i wanted to stay with syria for a few moments if i could. because what we've seen assad has continued to use chemical weapons, killing thousands.
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>> we have been following the senate foreign relations committee hearing for president trump's nomination for secretary of state mike pompeo. we will go back to that hearing in just a moment. we have some breaking news to bring you. in the last hour, president trump talked about syria. he said that he is still having meetings about what action the united states might take against the assad regime there. and that a decision will be made fairly soon. courtney kube joins me now with some breaking news that the president and his team will certainly be taking into account. courtney what have we found out? >> well, my colleague ken dilanian and i have learned today the u.s. now has blood and urine samples from some of the victims in this attack in syria last weekend and those samples according to u.s. officials tested positive for chemicals, both chlorine -- the majority were chlorine but there were also some that tested positive for a nerve agent.
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they're not saying for certain whether that was sarin. but historically the syrian regime has used a combination of chlorine and sarin. there's also other intelligence that has come in now that is pointing to this. u.s. officials are now fairly confident that, in fact, this was the syrian regime that carried out this attack, craig. so one thing to keep in mind is a pattern that we've seen out of the syrian regime. when they're attacking an area, going after an area, they will pound it with mortars, with artillery, for weeks, for months, however long it takes to take back the area. when they get towards the end, when it look like the area's about to fall for the regime, they have historically, you know, in the past they have used chemical weapons to be sort of the last straw that breaks the camel's back, that takes out an area. what we have seen now is that in fact that region that area where this chemical weapons attack was carried out over the weekend has now fallen to the regime.
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that would be consistent with their past behavior. what we now know is there are blood and urine samples that have come from victims of this attack over the weekend and they have tested positive for chemical weapons, craig. >> as you are certainly aware, the syrian -- the official syrian line is that it wasn't them. we heard from the ambassador to the united nations earlier today and yesterday. to what degree of certainty are these officials confident that it was, in fact, bashar al assad who was behind these attacks? >> well, you'll often hear intelligence officials talk about level of confidence in a low-level or high-level. the people i spoke with were not willing to characterize it as one or another. they would not give me the actual analysis. but they are saying now they have increasing evidence that, in fact, it was the syrian regime that carried this out. you'll recall last april in 2017 the sarin gas attack that they
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responded to by hitting a syrian airfield. there was overhead, there was photos of a crater in the road. after the tomahawk strikes, u.s. military spoke about how they had evidence of how the chemicals, when they -- after they were struck, after they struck, how they dissipated into the area. we don't have that kind of specificity at this point. we are hearing more and more now that there's more confidence that, in fact, it was the syrian regime that carried out this attack. >> there have also been some talk that other countries were conducting similar tests on samples. do we know any more about that? >> not from any of the u.s. allies. we no thknow that opcw, an international monitoring organization, has been granted the authority to come in and test. one group we've heard from is the russians. they said they've gone in on the
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ground and vehaven't found any evidence of chemicals. now it seems the united states has something that is more tangible. people might be wondering where does the u.s. get this? there's not any u.s. military on the ground operating near this area where this attack occurred last weekend. but they often will get samples from, you know, other u.s. elements that might be on the ground there. they get them from ngos, from human rights groups that in the area. historically, they have been able to get these kinds of samples that allow them to run forensics after an attack. >> all right, breaking news here, again, from courtney kube, our military national security correspondent there in d.c. syrian samples testing positive for chemical weapons. that according to at least two sources, two official sources. the question now of course becomes what next. we will continue to follow that story. for now, let's go back to the confirmation hearing for mike
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pompeo. this of course president trump's nominee to be secretary of state. >> historic analysis there is not optimistic. that is, it is a -- almost a talsman. that there is not enough coercion. there is not enough capacity for kim jong-un to make the decision to give up his nuclear weapons arsenal. i hope that tailsman is wrong. that's the effort we've been engaged in. your point about the sanctions is relevant about a chance to talk to a whole handful of people who were involved in the six-party talks. in each case america and the world released the sanctions too quickly. we didn't have the verifiable deal we hoped we had had. and in each case the north koreans walked away from that deal. the intention of the president and administration to not do that.
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before we provide rewards we get the outcome. it is a tall order. but i am hopeful president trump can achieve that through sound diplomacy personally and through the offices of the state department. >> the final question with regard to human rights, the rule of law, i appreciate your opening statement and the comments about your commitment to human rights around the world. because if we don't who will. you know, secretary of state, again, your commitment to promoting and protecting these principles across the globe are key so i appreciate your comments. >> thank you. >> senator. >> thank you very much. earlier it was note ed thd that oath, you've taken it several times, to support and defend the constitution. recently, president trump has talked about a domestic enemy.
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saying that the execution of a search warrant by the u.s. law enforcement authorities on michael cohen's office constitutes an attack, i quote, an attack on our country in a true sense. do you agree that is an attack on our country? >> senator, i have always believed the rule of law matters. i continue to believe that. multiple times, individuals have asked me to comment on statements that others have made. friends of mine have made. adversaries of mine have made. those who are coming after me. today, things that i believe. i believe deeply in the rule of law and will continue to do so. >> do you think that the rule of law does enable appropriate warrants? >> absolutely. >> thank you. turning to north korea, john bolton said it's legitimate for the u.s. to respond to the
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current necessity by striking first. secretary defense mattis had a different view. saying war with north korea would be catastrophic. do you lean more towards john bolton's view or secretary of defense mattis' view? >> i lean more closely to the president's view. which is to continue the pressure campaign. to build a coalition. a diplomatic coalition around the world. to put pressure on kim jong-un such that we can achieve the united states goals without ever having to put one of our young men and women in harm's way. >> does the president have the constitutional authority to conduct a first strike on north korea without authorization from congress? >> senator, again, i'm not going to comment on a hypothetical with complex legal matters. >> well, you've done so before, back a while, when the question was in regard to committing resources in libya.
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you put out a statement regarding a letter to barack obama informing him the administration had been in violation of the war powers resolution unless authorization from congress is obtain order the military withdraws operations from libya by sunday, june 19th. and then you commented and you said specifically the country -- that country, libya, does not pose a threat to the united states, nor do we have vital interests there. did you believe, as you said then, that there is a constitutional limitation on the ability of the president to conduct war without an authorization from congress? >> yes. thank you. in that context not so long ago there is a lot of discussion that in regard to syria, if
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president obama put grounds on the troop in syria it would constitute a foundation for impeachment. we had members of the senate, including members of our armed services committee, members of the house and i'll just quote one of them, representative jones said no president, democratic republican, should have the authority to bypass the constitution or the will of the american people. he said if one of our troops goes to syria and is killed, i will introduce articles of impeachment. did you share the view it would be in violation of the constitution? >> senator, i don't recall if i did or if i made a statement with respect to that at that time. i simply don't recall. >> just to clarify, in the case of libya, you did see that there was a line being crossed? >> yes, senator, i believed that. >> the argument at that point was under our nato mutual
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defense and nato action, but you still felt that didn't give the foundation for action in libya? >> yes, senator, i believed what i think you said described as a letter, not a statement. i believe what i said in that statement. >> it is an issue of great concern here, the boundaries. certainly i think some of your earlier caution about presidents succeeding their constitutional authority are caution we'd like to hear in your role as secretary of state. it's often the case when people make the journey. will you not forget the constitutional responsibilities? >> senator, i promise you, i will take equal consideration in the same way did i that day in 2011.
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as i have done in a cia director. i will continue to do that. >> john bolton noted it was legitimate for the u.s. to response to the current necessary posed by striking first. do you agree with that? >> senator, could you -- i'm association might you repeat it? >> john bolton argued that it's legitimate for the u.s. to respond to north korea's nuclear weapons program by striking first. do you agree with that? >> again, i don't want to wade into a hypothetical about what conditions it might be appropriate, not appropriate. we're a long ways from that. >> john bolton argued that cuba was developing bye logical weapons and it was appropriate for the united states to go to war against cuba. did you agree with him? >> senator, i'm not going to -- his words speak for himself. >> no, it speaks for him, but he's not here. you're here. >> i am deeply aware of that.
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there's a factual -- >> did you agree we should go to war with cuba? >> no, senator. >> how about -- >> i haven't at any time said we should go to war with cuba. >> how about in regard to his beliefs that hussein had hidden weapons of mass destruction and we should go to war with iraq? >> senator, i think -- i may not have expanded efetch ain't he. i've read the history. the intelligence community had that assessment and was incorrect about its assessment at that time. >> i'll just note, the reason i'm asking you these questions is there's a lot of concern in america and a lot of people are paying attention to this hearing. they're asking the fundamental question, are we assembling a war cabinet of john bolton and mike pompeo that are going to result in devastating counsel qu consequences and perhaps
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engaging in another poorly thought view mistake like our war on iraq that has resulted in a huge loss of american lives, a huge loss of american resources, enormous instability, including iran developing an enormous track of influence from iran through iraq through syria to lebanon and yemen and people want to know whether or not your views are close enough to boltons in his advocacy of force in virtually every situation, that we are going to have a very dangerous arrangement on the key two advisers to the president of the united states. >> if the chair will indulge. >> i really won't. >> many people have gone significantly over time and i'm just one minute. >> well, since you're begging, go ahead. >> thank you. not begging. in fairness. >> senator, i'm sorry, might i get you to reframe the question or ask the question one more time? i apologize.
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>> yes. many people in america -- >> you heard the question. just answer it. >> if the -- >> are you forming a war cabinet? >> yes, senator, i've been part of this cabinet. i watched it thoughtfully deliberate about all of these things and i can tell you every day at the forefront of our mind is how can we find solutions that avoid us -- that achieve the american objective but avoid us putting a single american in harm's way. if i continue as a cia director, i will continue to hold that in the forefront of my mind. >> thank you, thank you very much. >> senator portland. >> thank you, mr. chairman. director pompeo, thank you for your willingness to step up and serve again. i imagine it's hard to leave the cia, given your tenure there, which was successful, where you've built a lot of close relationships. but you're taking on a new task. it's a different task.
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cia is primarily an organization that informs policymakers. now you get to be a policymaker. i think you've got a good background to do so. i'm enjoyed getting to know you over the years. weep talked about some tough issues. we talked about soft power. and kind of the suggestions made today, a guy with your back ground, particularly military background, do you really believe in diplomacy and soft power? you've got an impressive background. you were on the house intelligence committee. you were number one in your class at west point. you also went to harvard law school. i won't hold that against you. and you're magna cum laude, but you did serve in the military. you served as a cavalry officer patrolling, as i recall, the iron curtain at the time. and so i guess my question for you is, because there's been suggestions that you'd be too quick to turn to military options, how would you respond
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to that? >> senator, i said this -- i can't recall if i read it this morning but it was certainly in my opening statement. there are few people like soldiers who appreciate diplomats and good diplomatic work. you train, you prepare, you want very much to be prepared if america calls upon you. but you are counting on the fact that there will be diplomats around the world resolving these challenge, pushing back on these conflicts, preventing the very activity -- >> given you -- >> you have my commitment -- >> you know who you sound like, you sound like colin powell. >> i'll take that as high praise. >> well, look, for those who wonder can you be a military officer and also be a good diplomat, i think he is someone who proves the point. highly regarded at the state department. combat officer. like yourself. someone who had a strong military background. and he was very effective at the diplomacy part.
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and of managing the foreign service as well. something you and i talked about a lot in our meeting was your management approach. and i told you i thought that our morale problem at the state department was real and we needed a fresh start there. i enjoyed working with secretary tillerson. i think his lack of appointees being confirmed by this body was one of the problems. but for whatever the reasons, there's a morale problem. and i'm not going to ask you to repeat what you said to me in private. i was encourageld because you didn't talk about the drill sergeant. i heard that today. because i've been -- i've been listening as well today. and -- but you did in our meeting talk about the respect you have for the foreign service. and your beliefs that you cannot just improve that morale but get people motivated, feeling like they're important, make a difference. there's a lot of talk about libya today. and your views. there's talk about syria today and what's going on in terms of the decision making. let me broaden this a little bit
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and ask about something that our committee's struggling with right now. which is this notion that we have an aumf, the authorization for the use of military force, that dates back to 2001. and 2002. and has not been updated. how do you feel about that? do you think we should update the aumf? >> i do, senator. i actually was part of a team on the house side some years ago to -- that worked on that, worked with that on the white house. we weren't ultimately able to be successful. i do believe it is important that we achieve that. that we have a new set of leaders in the united states congress who also provide that authorization. i think the one we have works. i think it provides the authorities that the president needs today. but i would welcome working alongside you to achieve -- i think you used the term refreshed aumf. >> i think it's very important. honestly, i don't think it's not inappropriate to say that some in the administration have not been as forthcoming to try to get to a decision here. because a number of us believe
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that it ought to be flexible as to reach, as to groups. we do believe the president has inherent authorities within the constitution as commander and chief that need to be respected. but it's just not tenable to say we're relying on aumf that goes back to 2001. that was, you know, 17 years ago. so we would like to work with you on that. in our meeting, we talked about how russia and other countries, china included, have pursued extensive disinformation and propaganda campaigns. i think we're kind of missing out on that. both with the diplomatic front with the state department and the military front. it's kinetic, it's military but it's also disinformation. other countries have figured that out. most of them, like iran and russia and china and others are using north korea, using disinformation in a very sophisticated way. it wasn't just about our election, which i believe the
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russians did meddle in our election. and i think it's well beyond that. by the way it happened before, it's going to happen after, unless we do something about it. these operations use a range of tools, cyberattacks, hacking, troll farms. go on social media. they fund think tanks. organizations. senator and i have done a lot of work on this. to set up a global engagement center to give it the funding it needs to be able to push bag. i'd like to know your views on that. specifically, do you agree with me on the severity of the threat that's posed by foreign government propaganda disinformation to u.s. interests and to our allies? >> yes, i do. i think it's a real threat. one that has been underappreciated for years now. it has become cheaper, faster, less attributable. so its power has increased the capacity for malign actors to
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use these information toolings in ways they just didn't have available to them 20, 30 years ago. it also makes stopping it more difficult. and require a more comprehensive effort. we've had a small role at the central intelligence agency pushing back against it. and i know there's been lots of talk about the global engagement center. in the event i'm confirmed, i promise you, i will put excellent foreign service officers, excellent civil service officers on the task of developing out that capability and using it his in a robust way. >> i'm encouraged to hear that. we made progress getting some funds starting it up. will you commit to helping implement this in an aggressive way, including ensuring we have the right staff there to be able to pursue this critical mission? >> i will, senator porter. >> i just got back from ukraine. i only have a minute and a half left. i just got back from ukraine. and as you and i talked about,
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ukraine unfortunately is ground zero for what's going on to figure out the disinformation. but it's beyond that. i was out at the contact line and saw the military activities as well. do you support the continuation of providing defensive lethal weapons toe ukrainians? >> senator, i do. >> would never recognize the d annexation of crimecrimea? >> obviously, it would be a president's decision but yes, i think it would be completely inappropriate to do that. >> because of its aggression in campaign should remain until russia implements the agreement, halts its aggression? >> i do, senator. >> we're beginning the second round now. they'll be five minutes. i haven't heard from -- so you ready? >> might we take just five minutes? >> yes, we'll take a five-minute
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recessi and convene again at 1:40. >> thank you. >> we have been watching the senate foreign relations committee confirmation hearing of mike pompeo. we heard from senator corker. senator corker from tennessee, chairman of this committee. they're going to be taking a five-minute recession. while they do that, we will try and unpack some of this. the hearing started shortly after 10:00 this morning. trump's nominee facing questions on russia, facing a number of questions on the mueller investigation. also the rule of the state department itself. pompeo serving as a cia director, he was tapped to fill that slot at state after the resignation of mr. trump's first secretary of state rex tillerson. we call it a resignation but it would appear to most that mr. tillerson was ousted. joined, now, by nbc news capitol hill correspondent garrett haake. nbc news white house correspondent kelly o'donnell. p.j. crowley, former assistant secretary of state under obama.
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wesley clark, former commander. and garrett, let me start with you. just outside that hearing room. what is the consensus so far there on mike pompeo's appearance? >> i think pompeo has probably helped himself so far today. has been the stance he's taken thus far on russia as a hostile actor in the united states corner of the world. and on beefg beefing up the state department in general. i want to play a little bit of sound of those kinds of moments just for a second. >> what behavior has the kremlin shown it indicates it wants to get along with the united states? please share it with me. >> senator, i take a back seat to no one with my views. threat that is presented to america from russia. >> will you argue that we need to go ahead and imt pliplement
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rest? >> yes, ma'am, everyday. if i may take just a moment. >> please. >> there's more work to be done. there's more work to be done on other sanctions, provisions as well. vladimir putin has not yet received the message. i spoke with special counsel mueller who interviewed me. requested an interview. i cooperated. at statement department there are too many holes, too many unfilled positionings. everyone's stretched thin. >> craig, so if the russia pror portions of that tape will help pompeo with democrats. his other answers to questions about mueller, whether firing mueller, firing rosenstein would be a violation of the rule of law. he gave very noncommittal answers to the frustration of a number of the democrats on the committee. that could potentially still pose a problem. the answers about syria and the potential about the united
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states government to use force there is something that obviously was displeasing to some of the democrats and at least one republican rand paul who has said he plans to vote against pompeo's confirmation. i suspect we'll see senators trying to drill down when the second rounds gets started. >> also confusing to a lot of folks watching and listening. who have been following mike pompeo's career. one of the senators in the room noted when he was a congressman, he was opposed to the idea of a president unilaterally striking other countries without congressional approval. whether it be libya or syria. now all of a sudden, that's a position that seemed to have changed to a certain extent. p.j., let me come to you, sir. mike pompeo, is he a shoo-in? >> i don't think he's a shoo-in. but i think he has some -- shown that he is qualified to be, you know, the secretary of state. there are some, you know, questions. i thought senator booker had
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some very sharp questions about, you know, his personal views regarding things like gay rights and how that might influence how he manages his department or represents american values around the world. by the same token, i think he had -- he showed a strong institutional imperative in sharp contrast to rex tillerson. he understands the importance of resources. as we just talked about, he understands the importance of having a full team on the playing field. >> general, it was also interesting to hear mr. pompeo acknowledge that he does not have any evidence that iran has not been in compliance with a nuclear deal. general clark, what else has struck you so far? the first four hours of this hearing, 3 1/2 hours of this hearing? >> so i thought it was important that he said diplomacy first. use of force when diplomacy fails. i thought he struck very closely
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to the middle on this, on the issues of supporting the president's view. he wouldn't come down on bolton's side on some of these issues. i know there's concern about the president's authority to use force. democrats need to ask these questions. but the truth is presidents of both parties have used force without congressional authorization in the past. so i think we have to be very careful and whatever the concerns might be about the current president, still have to recognize that you have to preserve the authority of the office and so thus far from what i've heard from pompeo, i think he's been very middle of the road. >> mr. pompeo, if confirmed, replaces rex tillerson who is a washington outsider to say the least. what do we know about how pompeo's leadership style would differ from a rex tillerson? >> well, i think you can see
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both in pompeo as well as in bolton definitely more alignment with the president on how to deal with issues like iran, taking a more hard line and more holistic stance, navigating around, but i think overall what you're seeing is this recalibration. recognizing this emerging great power competition with china with russia. that will increasingly become the focus in a host of spears from trade to security issues. syria is just a piece of that in that broader u.s./russia competition. i think we need to be looking of course at north korea and when we talk about arms control, this was something that the president raised a couple of days ago and the combination of the development of disruntive technology is creating a more unstable paradigm. you label that with a nonproliferation threat. and that really captures the
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picture of what bolton and pompeo are going to be focusing in on their recommendations to the president. >> what are you hearing from the white house on both how pompeo is doing and any plans for syria? >> well, i have been in the west wing. this is all through the different offices on television and favorable comments about the way he has possessed himself and responded. also important to remember mike pompeo, unlike prior cia directors, spent part of every day with the president, just about every day, personally delivering his daily briefing. in past administrations, it was often a high-level intelligence staffer. so going forward, if confirmed, pompeo would likely be seen around the world as somebody with a direct and close relationship with the president, something that did not exist in the tillerson era. something that did exist if you think back to clinton and rice
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with george w. bush. that relationship critically important. in terms of the syria issue, our reporting suggests a meeting this afternoon with the president and his top officials from the national security counsel to review the next days of options or to have an update. the president himself saying he would have a meeting today and that decisions would be made some time soon. so there is a sense here there is additional progress and discussion going on. not a sense of imminent action based on just observation in the west wing right now. >> there's been news that the president expected an adviser to look at rejoining tpp, the transpacific partnership that trade alliance if you will that he withdrew from roughly a year or so ago. what more do we know about that? >> well, it was intended to be a hedge against china in the world
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when the united states was part of the transpacific partnership. today meeting with lawmakers and governors who represent states that have a big agricultural presence. who fear the impact of china, u.s. trade, trade war or tough trade relations. so what the president did according to senators who were there is instruct kudlow, his new director of the economic council and u.s. lighthouser, the u.s. trade rep, to get to work on reconfiguring a transpacific partnership as a way of bringing the u.s. and allies in a power bluff to try to counteract the economic force of china. this is a big move when you consider the president very ceremoniesly got out of that agreement and of course he has been a trade centric president through much of his rhetoric as a candidate and now in office. >> all right, kelly, thank you. big thanks to all our panelists. let's go back in and listen.
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new jersey senator bob menendez questioning mike pompeo. >> just give me the elements -- >> so the other objective is to achieve a diplomatic outcome such as there's more stability. so this is a diplomatic task. so that we get to a place where the syrian people can ultimately govern themselves. our goal is to make that a post-assad syria one day. >> let me move to another part nearby in the world, iran. is it in the united states national security interest to withdraw from the agreement without a strategy for what comes next? >> senator, i'm confident that whatever course the administration takes, we will have a strategy. so you're answering question it is in the national security interest to withdraw because you have a strategy? >> it is in the national security interest no matter which course we take on, we should develop a strategy to
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achieve the objectives that i think we all share to prevent iran from -- >> if the president unilaterally withdraws in may, what does the administration intend to do? what will you be recommending in terms of reinstituting the sanctions on iraq and on those countries who engage with iran? >> as an active policy discussion around all those issues and how this will proceed, the objective is very clear. the on je objective is to fix t short comings of the iran deal. >> does that mean snapping back sanctions? >> i don't want to speculate. >> i'm not -- here's the problem with the nominee, director. you want me to put my faith in you. but i can't do that blindly. i have to have some sense of what you'll be advocating. is it to put bangback sanctions? because the sanctions depend on
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whether the europeans are going to be in sync with us. if they're not and we push back sanctions are they going to ultimately come along with us or are they going to reciprocate and say we're going to put sanctions and tell our companies not to do it? if we don't snap sanctions back? this is the critical question that i'm look to understand what you will advocate for. it's not that you come as a candidate here who hasn't had dealings in this issue. as the cia director, you have had dealings with this issue. wi that's what i'm trying to glean here. >> i have at the deep urging of the sitty avoided being policy discussions. some have critiques me for entering those discussions toomp. with your permission, it's hard to hypothesize about what the conditions will be in may and how close we'll be.
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to speculate on how we might respond. it's difficult. i know that what you're asking. it's a hypothetical situation about which we still have a number of facts that are unavailable. >> i was asking you for a strategy. not goals. i don't think a strategy is one you presently occupy. so it's just -- make it a lot easier for me when i have to vote on you to understand what you'll be advocating for. >> senator gardner. >> thank you, mr. chairman. director, thank you again for your testimony. i think you've done an incredible job today. challenging us and also being forth -- being very forward in your answers. i appreciate that today. and it will serve you well as secretary of state. i look forward to supporting you. there's been some news that was made. while you were in the testimony
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earlier today by president trump. i think he's directed according to the news reports ambassador lighthighser along with larry kudlow to open up the new possibility of reengaging in the transpacific partnership. and so leading into this question on china, the national security strategy released into 2017 says china and russia challenge american power, influence and interest, attempting to erode security. to expand its state model. china is using economic inducements and implied military threats to persuade other states. i talked about the militarization of the south chinese seas. they're planning to conduct life-fire exercise in the straits of taiwan. can you talk about this perhaps including even tpp, how that can counter china's influence and what we need to do?
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to make sure we have a policy toward china? >> senator, i was -- that news was news to me. but i've watched the administration and -- by the way, for my -- i supported of record is clear. there is an economic component to what china is trying to do. we need to be engaged. it is a diplomatic component to the economic activity as well. we need to be deeply engaged there. i'm confident this administration will do that. >> thank you, director pompeo. talking a little bit about southeast asia and our challenge right now, how many fighters right now from southeast asia do you think are in syria today? >> how many -- >> how many islamic fighters from southeast asia do we estimate are in syria? >> senator, i don't recall the number. there are many. >> have we seen those go and return to southeast asia as well? >> we have. >> how is our coordination with those southeast asia nations, philippines, other places in terms of addressing, monitoring
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and combating as they move back? >> without giving too much detail, it is better in some places than in others. but much as we deal with our european partners and our partners in the middle east, we do our best to track these -- president trump just started speaking at the white house. these are scheduled to be comments on tax cuts for american workers. we do not know if he is going to be taking questions but let's listen in. >> -- special place, special building right behind us, the white house. we're going to discuss our massive tax cuts that are growing paychecks all over our country, they're creating jobs and expanding the american dream, just like we said would happen. that's the way it's happened. i want to thank all of the members of congress here today who helped us pass these
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incredible tax cuts and reforms into law. for years they haven't been able to do it. they were unable to do it. not since ronald reagan and we topped that one. but they called it tax reform. we discussed that. right? we discussed it. i said we have to call it, not tax reform. nobody knows what that means. that could mean a tax increase. we have to call it tax cuts. so we called it tax cuts and jobs. and guess what? we got is passed. i also want to recognize a great friend of mine and a man who's doing a fantastic job, vice president pence. mike? stand up. thank you. and members of my cabinet. they are working tirelessly. we have secretary mnuchin, secretary acosta, administrator mcmahon. thank you. please, stand up.
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and all of the members of congress and senators, thank you and congressmen and women, thank you very much. most especially i want to thank all of the american workers in the audience. we have a lot of them who have traveled here from all over the country. they wanted to be with us. this event is dedicated to you, the hard working americans who make our nation run. you love your country. you provide for your family. you're proud of everything you've done. you've got that great extra strength that other people don't have. and you cherish a wonderful thing called our great american flag. and now because of our tax cuts, you can keep more of your hard-earned money. larry kudlow's very happy about
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that sitting in the front row. right, larry? good. he says yes. married couples won't pay a dime of income tax on their first $24,000 of income. a typical family of four earning $75,000 a year will see their tax bill slashed in half. nobody thought they'd ever see that. they'll have a lot more money to spend. and we didn't get one democratic vote. that's tough. in fact, i have to say, they want to increase your taxes. if they ever got into power, they have stated that they want to increase your taxes and spend money on things that you don't even want to know about. so we've doubled very importantly the child tax credit. they want so many other things and people have wanted other things, and frankly, we fought very hard.
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we've taken care of our military for the first time in many, many years. $700 billion. we're going to have the strongest military that we've ever had. and can you think of a better time to have it? right? this is when we need it. we're going to have it. $700 billion. and next year, $716 billion. also in that bill, $6 billion for opiod and helping us out with that horrible, horrible problem. the fact is, we don't care about the donors and the special interests. we only care but and your family and, really, making america great again. that's what we care about. that's why we're here. from the day i took the oath of office, i've been fighting to drain the swamp.
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and sometimes it may not look like it, but believe me, we are draining the swamp, and there are a lot of unhappy people. you can see that every day. all you have to do is turn on the news. every time you see me hit, you know i'm draining the swamp and people don't like it. but we're also defending the american worker. we're making incredible trade deals. we're taking nafta, one of the worst deals ever made in the history of trade, and we are redoing it. and it will be a fair deal for the americans. we lost thousands of factories and millions of jobs because of nafta. thousands. think of it. thousands of factories. millions of jobs. we're turning it around. already chrysler is coming back with auto plants. many companies are now in michigan, ohio, different places, pennsylvania, they're building beautiful brand-new auto plants. nobody ever thought they'd see that happen. we've created 3 million new jobs
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since the election. unemployment claims are at their lowest level in nearly 50 years. think of that. 50 years. something i'm very proud about, unemployment rates for hispanics and african-americans have reached the lowest levels ever recorded. ever recorded. think of that. very proud of that. remember i used to say at rallies, what do you have to lose? guess what? what do you have to lose? you have the lowest levels ever recorded for african-americans, hispanics. i'm very, very happy about that. and by the way, for women, the lowest levels in 19 years. so we have really good numbers. and something a lot of people didn't think was going to
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happen -- wages are rising at the fastest pace in over a decade. we're cutting record numbers of regulations. we've cut more regulations in a year and a quarter than any administration, whether it's four years, eight years, or in one case 16 years. should we go back to 16 years? can we do that? congressman, can we have that extended? you know the last time i jokingly said that, the papers started saying he's got despotic tendencies. no, i'm not going to do it. unless you want to do it. that's okay. we're also unleashing american energy and american energy independence. we're now an exporter of energy. we're doing ten -- think of this -- 10 million barrels a day. nobody thought they'd see this.
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10 million. in fact, it is going to now be 10.6 million. we're crackdown on unfair trade deals. we're taking strong action to secure our border, stop illegal immigration and restore the rule of law. and we've passed the biggest tax cut and reform in american history. more than 5 million workers have already received a tax cut bonus, a pay raise or a new job, thanks to these really massive tax cuts. millions more -- millions more are getting higher take-home pay. no one has been more energized by our tax cuts than american manufacturers. with us today is the president of the national association of manufacturers, jay timmons. where's jay?
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jay, stand up, jay. thank you, jay. for 20 years their organization has surveyed american manufacturers all over the country they survey. and it is a great organization. and they have never before seen the levels of optimism that our tax cuts have delivered. is that a correct statement, jay? it's dangerous to ask you that because if you say no, i have a problem. thank you, jay. it's true. so true. in fact, today there is even more good news. and i wanted all of you to be the first to hear it. according to the latest survey by the national association of manufacturers, projected job growth for american manufacturing has just reached a new all-time


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