tv The 11th Hour With Brian Williams MSNBC December 9, 2019 11:00pm-12:00am PST
as a result of that, he is now going to likely face articles of impeachment tomorrow. >> abbot michael mcfaul, thank you very much for joining us. really appreciate it. that is tonight's last word. "the 11th hour" with brian williams starts now. tonight as the democrats promise to make more news on impeachment in the morning, after ain day spent showing the homework in the case against trump, the report that the president told us could reveal a coup, an overthrow of our government, and the deep state effort to spy on him -- it didn't say any of that. plus why was jim comey uninvited from tomorrow's morning's edition of "fox & friends" and what happened to his former boss, rudy giuliani? tonight we'll talk to someone who knows. today, more republicans are pushing russian disinformation with a straight face, passing along conspiracy theories when they know the truth. why one reporter said tonight it felt likepo truth itself was on trial as "the 11th hour" gets
under way on this monday evening. good evening once again from our nbc news headquarters here in new york. h this was day 1,054 of the trump administration. we have breaking news tonight about the news that is coming ea tomorrow morning. both politico and "the washington post" were first to report that committee chairs plan to announce the articles of impeachment during a press an conference in the morning. politico reports democrats, quote, plan to unveil at least two articles of impeachment on tuesday, charging president donald trump with abuse of power and obstruction of congress. the judiciary committee plans to vote on the articles on ci thursday. nbc news has also confirmed these latest developments, and this comes after another marathon hearing on the hill in which democrats and republicans in the house judiciary committeo faced off over the evidence f compiled thus far against the president. during the hearing, republicans
made a point of bringing up the repeatedly debunked theory about ukraine meddling in our 2016 election.eo as you watch this, remember this is russian disinformation. >> a systemic, coordinated an russian interference effort does not meanff that some ukrainian officials -- some ukrainian officials -- did not work to oppose president trump's candidacy. >> republican lawyer steve castor was later pressed on the extent of the president's repeatedes contacts with russia. >> take a wild guess, mr. castor. how many, times has president trump met with vladimir putin or talked to him? >> i don't know the number. >> it's 16. >> dokay. >> how many times has president trump met at the white house with president zelensky? >> um -- >> it's zero. and who is president trump meeting with at the white house tomorrow? do you know? >> i'm not -- >> it's russian foreign minister
lavrov. >> theer conspiracy theory abou ukraine, this russian disinformation even got an airing this weekend from texas republican senator ted cruz, who willen be a juror at any senate impeachment trial. >> do you believe ukraine meddled in the american election in 2016? >> i do, and i think there's considerable evidence of that. >> you do?er >> chuck, let me point out the game the media is playing a question that you've asked a he number of people. t you've said to senators sort of aghast, do you believe that ukraine and not russia interfered in the election? look,on on the evidence, russia clearly interfered in our election. but here's the game the media is playing. because russia interfered, the media pretends nobody else did. ukraine blat nt a interfered in our election. >> also today the justice department watchdog delivered to that long awaited report on the
fbi's russia investigation.ss trump has insisted the intelligence community was spying on him and his campaign as part of the, quote, deep state conspiracy. >> they were spying on my campaign, and it went right up to the top. how did it start? you had dirty cops. you had people that are bad, fbi folks. before i ever even announced, they were spying. i was spied on. what they did to me was illegal. they spied on our campaign. who would think that's possible? >> today the department of justice inspector general michael horowitz issued his nearly 500-page report, which found no evidence to support those claims. quote, the fbi had an authorized purpose when it opened crossfire hurricane, the investigation into the trump campaign, to obtain information about or protect against a national security threat or federal crime. we did f not find documentary o testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced the decisions. the i.g.'s report did find,
quote, serious performance failures along the chain of command of the investigation. trump responded today with a misrepresentation of the findings while promoting the investigation now being carried out by u.s. attorney john durham at the direction of attorney general bill barr. >> this was an overthrow of government. this was an attempted overthrow, and a lot of people were in on it, and they got caught. they got caught red-handed. i look forward to the durham report, which is coming out in the not too distant future. >> let's do this again. the bottom line here, the president has for months said he was the victim of a spy ring from inside our government, an illegal conspiracy, an attempted coup as you heard him say again there, an attempted overthrow of his government. and this, of course, was none of that. durham, for his part, weighed in on the i.g.'s report today with a statement thats read in part quote, while our investigation is ongoing, last month we
advised the inspector general that we do not agree with some of the report's conclusions as to predication and how the fbi case was opened. that brought this report from james comey, fbi director for and during the early stages of the bureau's russian inquiry. >> what is he doing talking about his work? he'sg supposed to be a professional. if you must investigate, go get facts andve then show them to t american people, but don't be part of the sliming of the i.g. and the department as ath whole. do your work. >> fordo good measure, attorney general barr drew this conclusion from the same i.g. report we justlu talked about. the inspector general's report now makes clear that the fbi launched anhe intrusive investigation of a u.s. presidential campaign on the thinnest of suspicions that, in my view, were insufficient to justify the steps taken. there you have it, and here for our a leadoff discussion on a
monday night, nancy cook, white house reporter for politico. katie benner, justice department reporter for "the new york times." and robert costa, national political reporter for "the washington post" andrt moderato of "washington week" on pbs. robert, let's start with what's happening tomorrow morning. theserr articles of impeachment. we'll work our way back. number one, how did they narrow it down? and, number two, is it enough? is it sufficient to take the caucus and keep it together all the way through? >> based on my conversations with house democratic aides tonight, it will be sufficient to get the support of the house democratic conference. speaker pelosi believes and our lieutenants believe they have the votes for abuse of power, possibly contempt of congress. you see chairman nadler at the judiciary committee, on "meet the press" on sunday, now on monday meeting with his members, trying to articulate in private conversations exactly how to this narrow and focused so
they can move forward this week. >> nancy, another first is coming for this president, and that could be his reaction to seeing actual articles of impeachment come out. just yesterday he tweeted or re-tweeted 101 times. it 1 was just a sunday. what could the reaction be in this case? >> well, i r think that the whi house, you know, today was feeling really good about the fact that republicans have been so united against impeachment and they were feeling really good about polls that show that impeachment is not necessarily playing well in battleground states. but i think it's really an open questionan how the president reacts tomorrow morning when the democrats unveil what the actual articles of impeachment will be. i think president trump tends to take these things very personally. he tends to feel very attacked. and despite the white house aides' best efforts to say that the president is focused on policy or that he's busy working, we can see from his
twitter feed that he is obsessed and consumed by impeachment, and i think we'll just see more evidence of that tomorrowment i thin it will be fascinating to see how he reacts on twitter, how he reacts in his conversations with the press in the oval office andti what the y at the white house is like as he tries toou go about his busines while he g feels personally und siege. >> katie benner, back to your beat and the report that came out today. i saw former federal prosecutor elie honig wrote tonight that in the oldha days, an attorney general who had accused a government of spying on a presidential candidate might resign on the day when the counterevidence comes out. obviously not going to be the case here. i didse note devin nunes on fox news tonight speaking unchallenged about a spy ring as if nothing had happened. what happens now? >> okay. so,ka yes, just quick top line, the report indeed was a mixed bag. it does say that there was no illegal spying. it says that this was predicated
lawfully and of course it says that there was not political bias in there opening of this investigation. of course we alsoen see that th fbi certainly, you know, broke rules later on in its application to wiretap carter page. i think going forward what we're going to gosee, because the president has already said that he believes another investigator, john durham, is going to give him the results that heiv wants, that bill barr has already said he believes thatid spying happened and stil trying to figure out whether it was legally predicated. and he batted down saying -- we're now going to see a situation where we have a federal prosecutorer basically underos tremendous pressure to deliver results of an investigation that has been pre-judged not only by his boss, the attorney general, but by the president. that's going tohe be a very triy situation for him to navigate. it's goingm to raise questionss to whether or not this investigation could be fair. and tove his credit, john durha hast, a great reputation as somebody who is fair.
also we need to keep in mind that the muddying of the waters, one that we saw in congress today when people are saying what's p true, what's factual, what we've seen with this re-airing of conspiracy theories around ukraine that have been largely debunked and are unfounded, is that this also has anat impact. so h when you see these argumen, you see people trying to attack facts, we see the results of that. and one of the results is that we're not probably going to see an article of impeachment around the muellerf report, this huge investigation that turned up all sorts ofne very damning evidenc against the president, in part because the waters were so muddied, it might be difficult to getie the votes on it to maka credible argument. >> indeed robert costa was our mutual friend peter baker of the "new york times" who wrote tonight that it was as if truth itself was on trial today. the republicans were working very hard in that hearing room on the house side. in your talks, robert, with sources in the republican senate, the next t chamber in a
of this, is confidence running as high? >> there is a belief inside of the senate cloak room, the republican cloak akroom, that president trump maybe has a few retiring republicans to worry about. some of the names floated to me by several senators and aides include lamar alexander of tennessee. but he remains quite mum whenever i confront him in the senate hallways. he says he remains a juror. he doesn't have anything else to say at this point. and so you see a republican party watching president trump drawing 20,000 people in florida. president trump will be in hershey, pennsylvania on tuesday, and they wonder even if they broke, what would be the reward for themselves politicallye as they look towa re-election in 2020. i know many people think it's only about conscience at this point, but for so many of the people i cover, it's about power and politics as well. >> nancy cook, as robert just said,be the president has a ral in hershey, pa, tomorrow night.
might we be safe in assuming -- how to put this -- it will be impeachment-infused? >> i would say that would be a huge understatement. i was with him last week -- or two weeks ago, excuse me, at his flor florida rally in sunrise right before thanksgiving, and that was aboutha 90 minutes. half of it was all about impeachment. he seemed quite angry at the rally. the crowd was giving him a huge response. they were really cheering him on asal he ranted about impeachmen and that was before the articles of impeachment came out. so iof think it's a good bet to say that this rally tomorrow night will be very impeachment-focused, in part because i think the white house sees it as a very positive talking point for them in these key battleground states like pennsylvania. >> katie, an i.g. report like the one that came out today could be simplifying. it could have a cleansing effect
on an institution, but i'm getting more and more of an indication that it will only complicate things for the way you laid it out. >> of course. when your boss decides that part of your conclusion is not correct, it's going to complicate things because then people have valid reason or defenders of the president say that they now have valid reason to attack this report. one thing that we should not ou forget, though is that chris wray, the director of the fbi, he has said that he accepts all the conclusions in this report, including some of the extremely searing criticisms that the inspector general had for the fbi. sp valid criticisms about actions taken by the fbi in its efforts to wiretap a former trump campaign associate. you know, chris wray has said he is going to take remedial action. he is going to look at all the employees involved in this decision-making. you're right. this could have been a very cleansing moment for the fbi. it couldor have been a moment where the fbi gathers itself together after a few very difficult yearsth and moves
forward. we can hope that that still does happen. it's important that it happens because weha are going into another election in which there is bound a to be election interference, where we'll see foreign government erinterferen, and wee need to have faith in this institution that it can help i arrest that problem and investigate it. >> bob, before i let you go, we're going to do an entire segment on rudy giuliani coming up in this broadcast. but i i have to ask are republicans saying to you in the nooks and crannies along the hallways in the capitol that in their toview, rudy has become whatever thedy opposite of an asset is toit this president? >> so many republicans i've pulled aside at the capitol feel like it's not just rudy giuliani who's been swept into the riptide of this ukrainian conspiracy. it's they themselves, rank and file republicans, who feel compelled tofe speak out, citin different articles about ukrainian officials taking an opinion in 2016 and framing that as interference even as fbi director chris wray states
explicitly in an interview today that ukraine did not interfere. there is no evidence at the fbi that ukraine interfered. so it's giuliani symbolizing where so manys republicans hav now found themselves in a position arguing against the position of the fbi without much room to maneuver and with no plan to get out of that space. >> three of the very best in the business. we never take your long hours for granted. thank you, the three of you, so much for starting us off tonight. coming up, former fbi director james comey speaks out after today's i.g. report. he explains why his appearance on the president's favorite morning show might have been canceled. and later, yet another ukraine report in the works, this one being put together by that guy as "the 11th hour" is just getting started on a monday night in view of the washington monument and the white house. ( ♪ )
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it was all made up, two years of sitting silently at the fbi while you're lied about and finally the truth is out. it was lies. there was no treason. there was no conspiracy. there was no tapping of trump's wires. there was no putting informants in the campaign. it was all nonsense. >> put succinctly, president trump fired the now former fbi
director jim comey back in 2017 for his handling of the russia investigation. today current fbi director chris wray stood by the institution he now leads while acknowledging some changes are needed. >> it's important that the inspector general found that in this particular instance, the investigation was opened with appropriate predication and authorization. but the inspector general did find a number of instances where employees either failed to follow our policies, neglected to exercise appropriate diligence, or in some other way fell short of the standard of conduct and performance that we and that i as director expect of all of our employees. but, again, we are -- i am ordering 40 -- over 40 corrective actions to address all of those things.
>> with us tonight, former u.s. attorney joyce vance who spent a quarter century as a federal prosecutor. joyce, john durham, a standing u.s. attorney, today commented on an ongoing matter, gave us a status report. is that something you did as a u.s. attorney enjoying the same rank as he has, and is that any better or worse than what comey did with hillary endearing him to so many democrats? >> so, brian, that's not something that u.s. attorneys do. we don't comment onion going investigations except in very carefully enumerated situations. often we'll comment, for instance, on opening a civil rights matter so that the community understands that doj is looking at it. but to make this sort of a comment, qualitative comment on the investigation, to say that his results are different than the inspector general's results and to talk about the fact that
that's due to his access to other kinds of witnesses is extremely unusual. it's extremely inappropriate, and i think that you're right. we have to look at this sort of obvious comparison that will be drawn between what he did and what jim comey did. if there's one lesson that we can learn from jim comey's discussion of the clinton emails investigation, it's that there are good reasons behind this doj policy that prohibits talking about an investigation prior to an indictment because often because we're human, we get things wrong. information can be misleading and incomplete. and when it happens in conjunction with an election or with our political process, it can have a damaging impact on the country. >> because we are the news media, everyone tonight is spinning up cable newsgate. here is jim comey talking about his rescinded invitation on "fox & friends" tomorrow.
>> i offered to go on "fox & friends," which i gather is a very important program for supporters of the president, and they agreed last night to book me at 8:00 tomorrow. i figured i can't change the minds of fox viewers about president trump, but i can change their minds, i hope, about the fbi by giving them actual facts. then after the report came out, they canceled my appearance. they must have read the report. >> all right. so, joyce, all kidding aside and all cable aside, does this matter, and is doj missing an opportunity to kind of steady the ship and say, all right, we've all read it in black and white. the i.g. report is now out? >> you know, so many sort of spinoffs from that whole process, right? if comey does, in fact, go on trump, which i suspect he'll do tomorrow, one hopes that the headline or the chyron would read "there was no deep state" because that's what the inspector general's report
concluding. i think that probably won't be the case, and comey will want to discuss information that might not fit in with their narrative, but it's important, i think, for all of us to expose ourselves to narratives that are contrary to what we might believe upon occasion. this is an opportunity. as far as doj goes, really their handling of this whole situation is mystifying, brian. it's very hard to understand, and i think it seems safe to say that the attorney general's assessment of the inspector general's report is about as accurate as his summary of the mueller report was. the american people are smart and savvy, and as they have the opportunity to read at least the executive summary of this report, they'll see that it's different from what the attorney general is peddling. hopefully people will ask questions about why that's the case and what they're trying to hide. >> joyce vance, it is always a pleasure. thank you for coming on and explaining all this after another eventful day in the
news. appreciate it very much. and coming up for us tonight, the close trump associate that bill barr is reportedly calling a liability behind the scenes. we'll have more on that story when we come back. developed it. align helps to soothe your occasional digestive upsets, 24/7 with a strain of bacteria you can't get anywhere else. you could say align puts the pro in probiotic. so, where you go, the pro goes. go with align, the pros in digestive health. and try align gummies, with prebiotics and probiotics to help support digestive health.
information. i have not spoken to him about that information. i hear he's found plenty. >> came back from someplace. the president's personal lawyer today announced he's almost ready to tell congress all about his trip to ukraine. >> i was going to do an outline of it and try to present it at the convenience of the republicans in congress and the attorney general at the end of this week. i should probably have it ready on wednesday or thursday. i don't know exactly when it will be made public, but it should be ready by then. i worked on it all weekend. >> so we have that to look forward to. new reporting from "the washington post" this weekend indicates trump's closest allies are warning him about rudy's actions overseas, and we kboequ. in several conversations in recent months, attorney general william barr has counseled trump in general terms that giuliani has become a liability and a problem for the administration according to multiple people familiar with the discussions. the conversations. in one discussion, the attorney general warned the president
that he was not being well served by his lawyer, one person with knowledge of the episode said. for more, we are very happy to welcome to this broadcast political consultant and a veteran political journalist andrew kurtzman. he has written the book on rudy giuliani. there it is, "rudy giulianigiuliani: giuliani: emperor of the city" about his years as mayor. we are happy to announce he's working on a new book on rudy giuliani. first of all, thank you for coming in and welcome. >> thank you. thanks for having me. >> there on my bookshelf at home is your original book, and i picked it up the other day and leafed through it, having read it contemporaneously. i know you get asked, what do you think happened to rudy? i'm going to add to that question, were there people in his life who saw this coming? >> well, you know, i think he's made a lot of choices about how to use his fame from 9/11 that he may end up regretting.
but i mean he's in too deep right now. he's in this moment where, i mean, it's almost a surreal moment where the president of the united states is on the brink of impeachment, and giuliani is in ukraine still looking for dirt on joe biden. and it's almost as though everything has come down to this moment for rudy giuliani. like he needs to come through with the goods on biden just as the u.s. attorney is thinking about indicting him. this is an extraordinary moment. >> for people who don't live in the new york area, who are watching tonight and didn't know much from rudy giuliani, i think your title "emperor of the city" would have been a consensus title. >> oh, absolutely. >> if you polled new yorkers. remind people how big he was at that time and his hold over the city at that time. >> absolutely. this is even pre- 9/11. >> right. >> giuliani took over new york at a time when things were kind of spiraling out of control, when the streets were kind of,
you know, given over to crime and also just a sense of anarchy. and giuliani kind of came in there, like very firm in moral beliefs and said this is right, this is wrong. people do not have a right to urinate at the street. so kind of an arkic was the situation that even such a self-evident comment was like a revelation to new yorkers. it was a case in which he kind of uses bombast nfor a good reason and he helped clean up the city in a very kind of authoritarian way. >> his reputation as a prosecutor was this. walking guys out in front of their co-workers while wearing cuffs. >> right. >> he was a hardliner. what about the irony of the fact that he is being looked into at his old shop where his portrait hangs as a former u.s. attorney, southern district of new york? >> right. well, i mean it's unbelievable. the fact that he is facing
potential indictment by the same office he used to run, i mean you couldn't make this up. it's why i'm writing a second book. who knew this would be kind of another chapter in giuliani's life? but in 25 years of covering him, i don't think i've ever seen giuliani apologize for anything, say "i made a mistake." you know, you're not going to see it now. he's made plenty of mistakes, right? i mean he wagered his fame from 9/11 on a disastrous run for president, and then when that fell apart, he kind of lost his 9/11 halo. and then he kind of took a very strong rightward turn and has been kind of heading rightward ever since, to the point where he's kind of on the far fringes of kind of trump ideology and trying to prove this conspiracy theory that he may never be able to prove. >> and the need for money, the desire for money, what paul simon calls the open palm of
desire. the eveall of this predicated o the emperor of the city you wrote about. >> giuliani was 56 years old on 9/11. he's 75 now. people change. people evolve. obviously someone along the line, someone who never cared about money. it was just a kind of -- his m.o. was always power. somewhere along the line, money became very, very important to rudy giuliani. he owned something like six houses. he's in the middle of an expensive divorce. you know, he took on kind of sketchy clients from authoritarians around the world and made a lot of money and somewhere along the equation got a little complex to the point where right now people in the white house don't know who his clients are. and when he comes in and talks to trump, they don't know what his agenda is. he's kind of created this vortex that is confusing even the white
house. >> let's go atteare his friendst him that you know of? >> yeah, his friends are concerned. a lot of people have a lot of respect and admiration for such an accomplished person, such a smart, even brilliant man. they kind of are concerned about kind of where he's gone, where his life has led him, the fact that he's on the brink of indictment potentially. the president is on the brink of impeachment. who knew that the trajectory would lead him here? there are a lot of people saskatchewani scratching their heads but a lot of people who still specrespect giuliani for a larger than life career that he's led. >> congrats on your second book and good luck. andrew kirtsman our guest here tonight. coming up, did our government intentionally mislead the public on the war in afghanistan. we'll talk to someone who once wore four stars on his shoulder.
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in reporting what's being compared to a modern day version of the pentagon papers, "the washington post" has obtained thousands of pages of government documents that appear to reveal that our government wasn't always telling us the truth about the war in afghanistan. the post gained access to the confidential documents after a three year fight over a freedom of information act request. they include 2,000 pages of previously unpublished notes of interviews with people who played a direct role in the war, including our generals, diplomats, afghan officials. quote, several of those interviewed described explicit and sustained efforts by the u.s. government to deliberately mislead the public. they said it was common at military headquarters in kabul and at the white house to
distort statistics to make it appear the united states was winning the war when that was not the case. nbc news has not independently verified the documents and interview notes as obtained by "the washington post." the military times asked senior military leaders about this report. they put it this way. army command sergeant major john troxell, the senior enlisted adviser to the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, army general mark milley told reporters that while he had not fully read "the washington po " post's" afghanistan papers story, he disagreed with assertions that either the troops or public had been manipulated into believing a certain narrative about the war. i've been to afghanistan ten times in the last four years in this job, and i feel that we've never been lied to and we are continuing to move forward, he said. back with us again tonight, retired four-star u.s. army general barry mccaffrey, decorated combat veteran of vietnam, former battlefield
commander in the persian gulf. general, there's so much to talk about. the war in which you served in vietnam was, of course, that was the origination of the modern talking point to throw off american opinion. body counts, kias, wounded in action, et cetera. you advised the pentagon on this report in '06. you're quoted in "the washington post" story. this was to many the original war post-9/11. no iraqis knocked down our buildings on that day, and yet why are we still there? >> well, that's the question at hand, isn't it? you know, when you look at this war, brian, it's been a giant endeavor, gone on for a generation. three quarters of a million american troops have served there. it's a real war. we've had 23,000 killed and wounded in the u.s. forces, never mind our allies and the afghans. and one could argue that it's on
the verge of collapse right now. my trips in and out of there -- and i came in under the auspices of both a nato commander from europe, and i go over there under the legitimacy of the centcom commander. i talk to battalion and brigade commanders, i talk to the afghans, karzai down to village chiefs, and i come back with a pretty distinction impression of a war that at the tactical level was being fought brilliantly. i mean these battalions, engineer battalions, infantry special operations forces are just incredibly competent and courageous. at the operational level, you know, the ambassador, the senior generals in country, they change out every year or two. so there was no consistency of what they're trying to do. then i think at the strategic level, the president of the united states, three of them, there never was a time where they wrote down their political
objectives. we simply didn't know what we were doing. it wasn't even mission creep. it was mission fantasy. we were creating a democracy in a shattered country of afghanistan. >> and how could you be candid with the about to be second lieutenants who you looked out on in your classroom, your lecture hall, teaching at west point after having returned from afghanistan? >> well, you know, again, from the military perspective, if you give a military unit a mission and the resources to accomplish it, they're going to get in there. >> yep. >> and the entire time, they're going to remain positive. they're going to tell you, you know, misled the american people, i think it would be more likely to be concerned about the general officer level where we're misleading ourselves into seeing success, glacial progress. by the way, there were some things happening. kabul went from a bombed out city like hamburg in 1945 to a
place with television stations and universities and a parliament building and, you know, an army and a police force. so sort of the trappings of a modern state were appearing. but at the central government, it was a corrupt, incompetent, tribal mess. and by the way, the other thing was we ignored this gigantic opium poppy crop growing up all throughout southern afghanistan. it's like 84% of the world's supply of heroin is coming out of that country. that was a gusher of corrupt money fueling the taliban and corrupting the government forces. >> there is that. while thanking the general for his candor, he has agreed for reasons known but to him to stick around and spend another segment with us. so we'll do that. coming up, we're going to talk about the latest in this triple murder, also being described as an act of terrorism at a u.s. naval air station by a
we are learning more about the shooting at the pensacola naval air station that left three sailors dead. authorities say mohammed al shamrani, a second lieutenant in the saudi air force gunned down the sailors last friday morning before being killed by police. the gunman was a visiting trainee at the base. the fbi is now investigating the shooting as an act of terrorism. the navy says all three victims were students at the navy air base. 23-year-old ensign joshua watson, 19-year-old airman mohammed haitham, and 21-year-old airman apprentice cameron walters. on saturday, president trump spoke with the shooting. >> i spoke with the king of saudi arabia. they are devastated in saudi arabia. we're finding out what took
place, whether it's one person or a number of people, and the king will be involved in taking care of families and loved ones. and i think they're going to help out the families very greatly. >> back with us is retired u.s. army four-star general barry mccaffrey. barry, before we talk about these young men, just to that moment we just witnessed, ben rhodes, nsa staffer during the obama administration, said this on twitter. very strange watching trump and pompeo essentially issuing statements on behalf of the saudi government. general, to the extent that every day is all new territory for us, that is certainly new territory. >> yeah, it sure is. look, it was an enormous tragedy. the saudis have a very shaky regime. you know, ci population in country despises the ruling family. the sunni muslims, many of them have been radicalized either overseas or in saudi arabia.
there's a constant terrorist threat inside the country. mbs has terrorized his own members of the royal family, turning into a dictator. so saudi arabia is a very shaky place. but back to this issue, the foreign training program of the armed forces is vitally important to the united states. there's 5,000 or so trainees here. we teach them not just mechanical skills, hand-eye skills, tactical training, how to fly an aircraft. they're in all schooling system all the way to the top. i had a greek army lieutenant colonel as my partner at the army war college years ago. we get an enormous amount out of it. the biggest threat normally we face in this population is they defect and hide here rather than go back to their home country. we almost terminated the afghan program because they weren't going back to fight. so it's extremely important. they've got to go relook at the
vetting process, particularly with a thousand some-odd saudis we've got here. >> here we are two weeks to go until christmas. the pictures of these three are heartbreaking. they are kids as no one needs to remind you. these are the kids who fight our wars. >> yeah, no question. it was a great loss. to be killed at home by, you know, an officer from an allied service. but, again, to underscore the fact that we do need the saudi military to be a partner in middle east deterrence of the iranian menace in the persian gulf. so there's no question that the saudis buy all of their technology from us -- army, navy, air force. their officers get trained here. u.s. civilians maintain much of their equipment, and that's a benefit to u.s. national security. there's just no question. >> thank you for stressing that. general barry mccaffrey, always
bird sounded like he was from waltham, mass. that may be because caroll spinney was from waltham, mass. caroll spinney was a u.s. air force veteran who became a puppeteer extraordinaire and from 1969 all the way to 2018, he was the distinctive voice of big bird and oscar the grouch. caroll spinney died this weekend at the age of 85, and tonight harry smith has our look back. ♪ >> reporter: caroll spinney was a remarkable man, a puppeteer of immense talent whose most important character was a bird. >> happens to be a kid that's a bird, 8'2". >> a giant bird whose voice was tiny, a voice so pure and true that it do not help but be heard. >> you mean that's the alphabet?
>> that's right. >> la, la, la. >> reporter: spinney himself was a gentle man who loved his craft and took pride in his creation. >> well, kids, are you all set for a little christmas story? >> reporter: he knew quite well that big bird had a big influence on a tender audience. he knew his bird would never betray them, make fun of them, trick them. >> just awfully nice to be able to have a job where you're doing just what you want to do when you're a child, and that's what i do for a living. >> reporter: on the other hand, spinney was also the hand and voice that sprang from a garbage can. >> oscar? >> i'm not home. >> reporter: oscar the grouch was a comically cross curmudgeon who complained and contradicted many a happy moment on "sesame street." >> oscar's kind of cool. it's fun to play somebody very different than oneself. >> reporter: he was the glass half empty to big bird's overflowing heart.
spinney did both. yes, remarkable. >> why do people make their houses so small? >> reporter: big bird's costume was massive and making big bird work from the inside out was no small thing. it took energy and strength and resilience. and spinney did this until just a few years ago is remarkable too. we had the opportunity to see him on the job a few times. >> hello. >> hello, big bird. >> hi there. >> how are you? >> big bird, good to see you. >> reporter: his care and concern and dedication were always more than abundant. it takes a special person to become the caretaker of something or someone so treasured. >> i'm a lucky man. i'm a lucky bird too. >> reporter: that special person was caroll spinney. >> and that is our broadcast for a monday night as we start a new week. thank you so much for being here with us and good night from our nbc news headquarters here in new york.